In Photos | Striding Along The Annapurna Sunrise Trek

When a photographer embarked on a three-day hike to Ghorepani village, a tourist-free Nepal offered him a joyful disconnect.

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Even though summertime treks have incessantly remained popular in Nepal, there is something oddly serene about trekking in winter which lets novice trekkers like myself stride at our own pace. Walking routes and places for shelter are relatively free of the bustling crowds that are usually found during the peak trekking season. The lack of crowd also became an important point to factor in, when we embarked on this three-day-long trek during the pandemic in 2021.

The Ghorepani-Poon Hill trek, also known as the Annapurna Sunrise Trek is a mere microcosm of what the larger, more difficult treks in Nepal have in store, but it still qualifies to grant excellent insight into the lives of the Nepali people and the local culture. The three-day trekking route to Poon Hill spans a 40-kilometre roundtrip making it one of the most popular trekking routes in the Annapurna region. It presents a magnificent panoramic view of the Himalayas in its epilogue; finishing off at an altitude of 3200 metres.

The trek cuts through several Gurung and Magar settlements, traversing a colossal number of stairs, streams and hanging bridges. Our route started from Nayapul and ended at Poon Hill, cutting through several villages like Tikhedunga and Banthati in between. Our trail was mostly deserted, with an occasional trekking group bypassing us by on their descent. Marking a sharp contrast to the bustling streets of Kathmandu, our ascent was donned with foliage that took shades of desaturated wintergreen; intermittent groups of mules meandered up and down the path, while  tea shops along flatter terrains invited us in for warm ginger and lemon teas.

A winter trek also meant having to deal with fickle weather. Occasional patches of morning sunlight lit up the terraced farms as we passed through. We had also come across unexpected bouts of winter showers that did not fare too well with our humble trekking attires. The teahouses we stopped by for the nights were sparsely occupied. Most of them had a huge single furnace in the living area, around which owners and guests huddled at the onset of dusk. Pleasant conversations about how life progressed in our respective realms and an immeasurable number of warm beverages were exchanged during these gatherings.

The village of Ghorepani formed one of the concluding points of our trek. An otherwise bustling area in the peak season, Ghorepani seemed like a shadow of its summer self during our visit. An hour’s trek upwards from Ghorepani comes Poon Hill where one is welcomed by an uninterrupted panoramic view of the Himalayas, featuring mega peaks like Dhaulagiri, Nilgiri, Machhapuchhare, Annapurna II and Lamjung. The weather up at Poon, as fickle as it was, presented us with the tiniest of windows to peer through the winter clouds at the sun-basked summit—truly a brief moment, marked by eternal poise and blissful contemplation.

 

Also Read | Scaling Nepal’s Mammoth Mountain

 

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  • Rahulnath is a freelance travel and editorial photographer based out of Kerala. With a graduate degree in the liberal arts and a teeming interest at the intersection of photographs and cultures, he seeks to capture intimate and poignant narratives through his images, spanning digital and analog formats alike.

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