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Charity Trek to Poonhill for autistic children of Bahrain.

Poonhill charity trek

Charity Trek to Poonhill for autistic children of Bahrain.

27th – 3rd November.

A friend from Bahrain contacted me to organize a Charity trek to raise Alia National School funds in Bahrain. Alia National School is for children who have autism and Down syndrome. This was the second time a charity trek was organized to raise funds for this school. The first time was arranged in February 2011. A group of 8 trekkers came from Bahrain. The group consisted of 4 Bahrainis – a family of 3 and a single Bahraini gentleman, an English couple, A Swedish gentleman, and his Filipina wife. The whole trip was just a week long. Most of them arrived a day earlier than the planned day.

Kathmandu to Pokhara drive.

We left early at 7 am to avoid the heavy traffic coming out of Kathmandu valley in our private van. Our driver took us through the back roads avoiding the main highway. We were out of Kathmandu valley in an hour; I have heard stories of how it has taken as much as 5 hours to get to their homes once they reach the valley. The drive was relatively uneventful, with a few toilets, a coffee break, and a lunch stop at Gunadi, about 40km outside Kathmandu. Despite being a mere 200 km distance, the winding road takes about 7 hours to reach Pokhara from Kathmandu. A couple of group members ran to our hotel’s bar when we arrived. We checked in and agreed to meet in an hour to walk, do some hiring of trekking gear, and window-shopping. Most of us stuck together for a dinner of Galette and barbecue at the French Creperie, Khahare, Lakeside, Pokhara.

The Trek.

We left Pokhara after breakfast on a 90-minute drive to Nayapul, where we alighted from our van and got into three jeeps for a further 45 minutes of the off-road ride to our starting point of the trek. Our support staff of porters, assistants, and our trekking chef waited for us at Nayapul, where we changed vehicles. Our support crews were introduced to our trekkers before we started our trek. The first 25 minutes of our tour were undulating with short ascends and descends until the village of Tirkhedhunga. I came to learn that one of our trekkers was afraid of heights. However, she crossed two steel suspension bridges within the first 30 minutes and three more wooden bridges until the end of this trek. The following two hours were a steep uphill climb on Ulleri village steps, where we stopped for lunch. We had a relaxing lunch break that was 2 hours long. The lodges make their food freshly after it has been ordered. It can take between one hour to ninety minutes, depending on how many different dishes are ordered and the number of trekkers who have ordered their meal. We only had one more hour of trekking before we stopped for the night at Banthanti.

A family at Pokhara

A family at Pokhara

The Hike to Ghorepani.

We woke up to a bright morning after a windy night, which blew away the clouds making the Himalayan peaks visible. The hike takes place in a beautiful forest setting at a much gentler gradient. The trekkers stopped for numerous photos in the picturesque setting. The forest we walked through is radiant with beautiful Rhododendrons and Orchids during spring. We stopped for an early lunch at Nangethanti as the walk was only three and a half hours long. Our trekkers from Bahrain enjoyed the warmth of the sun, and a couple of them enjoyed a bottle of beer. The beautiful forested walk continued for another 90 minutes before we reached Ghorepani. Ghorepani is set on top of a hill with stunning views of the Dhaulagiri and Annapurna range on clear days. It was cloudy when we got there. However, some peaks became visible as the air temperature became more refreshing when the clouds descended.

Poonhill for Sunrise.

View from Poonhill

View from Poonhill

We got up at 5 am and left the hotel at 5.20 am for Poonhill for sunrise. We could see a line of headlamps both in front and behind us. Ghorepani has many lodges, and it is one of the most popular spots for trekkers. It is a junction for trekkers to come from 3 directions. We saw that it was a foggy morning as the early light hit us on the way to Poonhill. Several groups of trekkers were on their way down as it was both hazy and cloudy. We heard cheers from the excited trekkers when the views got clear as we got close to our destination. We arrived on time for the clouds to clear up in time for sunrise. Our team treated the trekkers to a cup of hot chocolate, which was much appreciated. We returned to Ghorepani after admiring the views and having taken photographs. We finished packing up our duffel bags before having breakfast.

Trek to Tadapani.

This was going to be the longest day for the trekkers from Bahrain as we had hiked an hour to get to Poonhill, 45 minutes down for breakfast, and we had four and a half hours more to go. We started the hike with an ascent up to Deurali pass and began descending to Banthanti, where lunch was pre-ordered by our staff. It was chilly, and the weather had turned cloudy at Banthanti. We were glad to be moving after lunch to get warm. We had 20 minutes of undulating terrain in a Rhododendron forest before descending to a small stream; the final leg of this day’s hike was a 45-minute climb to Tadapani, our destination for the night. Everyone in the group was tired and went off to bed by 7.10 pm after dinner. There was some family feud going on at the lodge where we stayed. Most of our group members heard when they first went to bed but soon fell asleep; that was how tired they were. Our staff had to go and ask the family to stop their racquet. Fortunately for everyone, they stopped quarrelling.

On the final day of the trek.

Last night dinner in Pokhara

Last night’s dinner in Pokhara

We woke up another gloriously clear morning with panoramic views of the Annapurna range at Tadapani. It was a moment for everyone to capture the beautiful mountains. We left Tadapani after breakfast. We had another morning of trekking in beautiful forests before we reached the Gurung village of Ghandruk. We trekked past the village to the road head for lunch. Our trekking chef had prepared a Thai meal for lunch that everyone appreciated. Then, we boarded a bus for our 3-hour journey back to Pokhara. The trekkers bid farewell to our support crew upon reaching Pokhara, and we agreed to meet at 8 pm to go for our final dinner together as a group. We decided to go to Moondance – one of my all-time favourite restaurants in Pokhara. Everyone enjoyed their meal and, as usual, loved their Lemon Meringue, which comes highly recommended. The group was going to split up at Pokhara as some had an extra night in Pokhara while others had an extra night each in Pokhara and Kathmandu. Overall it was another successful trek, and most of them will return for more treks.

The following day 3 of us went to the airport to catch our domestic flight back to Kathmandu. I bid farewell to the couple that flew back to Kathmandu at the hotel. I had a lunch meeting with a new group that had arrived the previous day – the autumn trekking season is in full swing.