Ghorepani Poonhill Trek – Beginner’s Guide to a Budget-Friendly Short and Easy Trek in Nepal
If one wants to go on a trek in Nepal that is not very challenging or long, the Ghorepani-Poonhill Trek is the one to go for. The Ghorepani Poonhill trek allows you to undertake an adventure without sacrificing the chance to see beautiful villages and wonderful natural scenery. One of the more famous treks in the Annapurna region, the Ghorepani Poonhill Trek combines both natural and cultural attractions along the trekking trail. This trek can be completed in little more than a week, and is budget-friendly but still spectacular.
Easy on the Eyes, Easy on the Body, and Easy on the Wallet
A drive or a domestic flight from Kathmandu to Pokhara at the start is itself a sightseeing adventure as one gets to see the snow-capped tips of mountains. After arrival, a one-and-a-half-hour drive from Pokhara to Nayapul already hints at the beautiful sights that are to come. The sight of the Mt. Machhapuchhre (6997m) follows the vehicle all the way to the destination.
The relatively easy trek begins at Nayapul, consisting of walking on mostly flat trails. The Bhurungdi River keeps pleasant company during this part of the trek while walking through villages like Birethanti and Tikhedhunga. As one walks further on, a slightly more challenging part is to climb up more than three thousand stone steps to reach Ulleri village! A 6-hour trek from Nayapul concludes at Ulleri.
Depending on the time of day, one can either stop at one of the guest houses at Ulleri or continue trekking for four to five hours to reach Ghorepani village. From there, it takes about an hour to climb up to the top of Poonhill, which is considered to be one of the best view points in the country to see some of the tallest mountains of the world. This part of the trek is usually scheduled for early dawn the next day, so as to not miss the beautiful sunrise and the sight of mountains glistening in the sunlight. Descending back to Ghorepani, one walks further on to Ghandruk village and arrives there in about nine hours. This Gurung village is one of the most welcoming destinations across the entire country and is bound to exceed all of your expectations. The backdrop of the Himalayas and surreal Gurung hospitality is more than just a pleasant experience. From Ghandruk one loops back to Nayapul on a four-hour descent on stone steps and forest trails.
Special Features on the Ghorepani Poonhill Trek
Exciting trails and enchanting scenery
Trekking from Ulleri to Ghorepani (meaning “horse’s water” – a rest stop where travelers could find water for their horses) is steep and peaceful and gazing down from uphill one can see the vast greenery of terrace farms and dense forests only sparsely populated by human settlements. From certain viewpoints at Ulleri, one can see the stunning Annapurna mountain range. A forest full of beautiful and bright red rhododendron flowers mark the passage to Ghorepani. One enters Ghorepani through an archway painted with the words, “Welcome to Ghorepani, Poonhill”. From this wonderful Gurung village, too, one can see the Annapurna Mountains. With vivid blue and red tinned roofs, the village is itself a picturesque sight to see.
Climbing up to Poonhill is another unforgettable part of the trek. The anticipation of seeing the mountains up close, so close that it almost feels like one could touch them, excites even the most unenthusiastic of trekkers. Waking up early and hiking uphill to meet the sunrise, the panoramic view of the mountains on the horizon is extraordinary. Three of the world’s ten highest mountains – Dhaulagiri (8167m), Manaslu (8163mm), and Annapurna (8091m) can be viewed from here!
Ghandruk, where nature meets culture
After descending back to Ghorepani, walking further on leads to Ghandruk, another beautiful village with its local Gurung culture – a mix of both Buddhism and Hinduism – still flourishing. The local ‘dhal bhat’ (pulses and rice) served at guest houses and restaurants in these villages is both tasty and energizing, as proven by the sturdy and energetic villagers, with even the older locals walking much faster than the visitors, leaving the tourists gasping to catch up. A visit to the local museum of Gurung history and culture can be another nice addition to the trip.
Annapurna Conservation Area and its bio-diversity
The forest that spans from Ghorepani to Ghandruk is another major focal point of the trek. It is one of the biggest rhododendron forests of the world. As part of the Annapurna Conservation Area, which is the largest conservation area of the country, it houses many species of flora and fauna that add to the beauty of the region. The forest is a paradise for birdwatchers and butterfly enthusiasts, and white-throated kingfishers and langur monkeys can be seen often.
Unique culture and lifestyle of the locals
With quaint and traditional Nepali houses, streets paved with natural slate, and colorful Buddhist prayer flags fluttering in the breeze, the villages are beautiful and still follow a traditional way of life. The main ethnic groups of the region, the Gurungs and Magars, give a glimpse into their cultures through their food and clothes. Horses and mule trains, carrying goods to and from the villages, become friendly fellow travel companions to the trekkers. All throughout the trek, rivers, waterfalls, streams, suspension and wooden bridges are a common sight, adding to the overall charm of the trek.
Conclusion The trails that the locals have always taken for their daily commute have now become a way for visitors to experience the extraordinary beauty of the region for themselves. Overlapping with the Annapurna Base Camp Trek on a few occasions, the Ghorepani-Poonhill Trek is one that can be savored again and again. And what makes this trek a unique is that only a few days of easy trekking is required to enjoy a lot of beauty. Moreover, the trek is also budget-friendly and allows you to enjoy the beauty of the region while not having to spend much. Cornfields sway in the wind, rhododendrons mark the paths, people go about their daily village life, and magnificent mountains form a glorious backdrop on the Ghorepani Poonhill Trek.