Winter Annapurna trek with family
Benefits of trekking as a family
- Introducing nature to children.
- Teaching children a healthy lifestyle.
- Bonding as a family unit.
- Learn about different cultures.
- Learn that their limits can be expanded/stretched.
- Become more adventurous in trying out new things.
- Learn how privileged they are.
Family Annapurna Trek during winter
Andrew had done a helicopter tour or Everest Base camp with his CEO and another colleague in 2013 April. He had promised to return with his family, which he did at the End of December 2017. So we tailor-made the family adventure program for the Stanleys. The Stanley family consisted of Andrew, His wife Shea, 8-year-old daughter Tatum, and 6-year-old son, Jase. As usual, several emails and Whatsapp messages were exchanged, discussing their needs and support for the trek. The idea was to make it comfortable enough for the children to do the trek easily and safely. I organized two porters with modified traditional baskets to carry the kids whenever they got tired during the trek. We decided on a 6-day trek to Ghorepani, with Poonhill being the highest point at 3210 meters.
Pokhara and the beginning of the Trek.
The Stanleys arrived from Hong Kong at 10.30 pm on the 27th of December 2017. They had arranged for a vehicle to bring them to the Yak and Yeti Hotel. We had arranged to meet the next morning at 6.30 am for breakfast and leave for the airport at 7.15 am for our flight to Pokhara. The flight took off on time at 8.25 am. The views of the Himalayan peaks were visible and stunning during the flight. We were greeted by magnificent views of the Annapurna range at Pokhara airport. We drove to a hotel to store their excess luggage, which wasn’t required for the trek. We had a few things to be done in Pokhara before driving to our starting point at Nayapul. The drive to Nayapul took us 90 minutes, where the rest of our support team was waiting for us. There were six of us to look after a family of 4.
We hiked a short twenty minutes before stopping for lunch at Birethanti as we had begun a bit late. We started trekking at 2 pm towards Tirkhedhunga, our stop for the first night. The hike is pretty walking alongside the clear and beautiful Burungdi River with several impressive waterfalls and whitewashed houses on the trail. Sadly like most parts of Nepal’s trekking trails, there is a fair-weather road, and passing jeeps can make the trek a bit dusty. However, this is a small annoyance compared to the beauty of the scenery. The family did well during the first day’s hike. Jase was a bit reluctant to sit in the basket to be carried, but he rather enjoyed the ride once he was convinced to do so. We finished the trek in a shorter than usual time, which was two and a half hours. Upon arrival, we had hot drinks before going to our rooms to sort things for the night before dinner. The Stanleys went to bed early as they were tired from the previous night’s late arrival and the first morning’s early start. We parted after deciding on being woken up at 7 am.
Day 2. Banthanti 2300 meters.
Our staff woke the parents up with our exclusive ayurvedic drink. I was later informed that the adults loved the concoction they were given in the morning (they asked for the recipe and continued to drink this in the morning back home). We started the trek after breakfast. It was a steep climb on steps that usually takes two hours with a gain of 500 meters. Jase was carried for most of the hike while Tatum did most of the walking despite the steep ascent. It took us only one hour and thirty-five minutes to reach Ulleri, where we stopped to have a hot drink and enjoy the view of Annapurna South. The hike is less steep from Ulleri to Banthanti, and we took less than an hour to reach our destination for the day. We arrived in time for lunch. Our lodge was busy serving food to a large group of Nepali student trekkers. We had a relaxing and free afternoon. The children were kept busy with their colouring books until dinnertime. Our team had prepared Thai green curry and stir-fried vegetables with oyster sauce for the parents while giving the children the option to choose what they felt like eating. The adults complimented us for the tasty dinner. They retired early, as it was the second day of hiking, which wasn’t usual for the children.
Day 3 Ghorepani 2850 meters.
This day’s hike is in thick Rhododendron forests with stunning waterfalls and a Pretty River. Tatum walked the whole way to Ghorepani without being carried. We arrived in Ghorepani in time for lunch. I discussed with Shea and Andrew about going to Poonhill in the late afternoon for sunset rather than sunrise the following day to avoid the crowds, to which they agreed. We left for Poonhill at 4 pm and arrived there after 45 minutes. The weather was clear mostly except on Mount Dhaulagiri 8167 meters, where clouds blocked part of the peak. We were rewarded with a beautiful sunset, and the family was happy with the decision. We returned to Ghorepani in time for dinner and had another early night.
Day 4 Tadapani 2650 meters.
The hike to Poonhill the previous was also decided because it would cut this day short by ninety minutes. We woke up to clear views of the Dhaulagiri and Annapurna range. The hike began with an uphill climb for an hour, and the peaks greeted us with gorgeous views. Many trekkers on the trail made us even more pleased with our decision to have gone to Poonhill the previous evening. The path becomes undulating after the first hour of the climb before descending steeply for another hour till we reached Banthanti for lunch. This is a different Banthanti from day 2. This place is usually quite cold; I had arrived early to order lunch to save time. We started our final ninety minutes of the trek, which consisted of an undulating walk for 20 minutes before a short 20-minute descent to a small stream followed by forty-five minutes of a steep climb to Tadapani. Tatum did the whole 5 hours of trekking on her own without being carried. Jase walked more each day. It was New Year’s Eve, and we were once again rewarded with a gorgeous sunset. Our team made an Italian dinner that consisted of Tomato soup sprinkled with oregano and croutons, pasta made with mushroom sauce, shitake mushrooms, tuna, and Parmesan cheese. Our team had also made a healthy salad of seasonal vegetables blanched for safety, soaked in extra virgin olive oil, lime juice, and sprinkled with chia and flaxseed. We were the envy of the other trekkers in the lodge that was full that evening.
Jhinu Danda 1720 meters.
The first day of 2018 started with amazing colours in the skies and fantastic sunrise on the Annapurna Range. We started our day after breakfast, as usual. We began the trek with a reasonably steep descent for about 45 minutes in a Rhododendron forest followed by terraced fields all way down to Gurjung River, which took a total of ninety minutes. We had a twenty-minute climb from the river to a village school, and the trail levelled out for another 25 minutes to the last houses of Gurjung. It was still early, but we decided to stop for lunch here as we were unsure if the lodges further ahead would be open as it was the “off-season.” We had a couple of short climbs before descending to Jhinu Danda. The family and 4 of our crewmembers ordered dinner before going down to the hot springs. Dil and I stayed back to prepare Hummus as a starter for the family. They arrived after dark in time for dinner. Everyone in the family was pleasantly surprised with our starter, and it even went well with the children.
Syauli Bazaar 1100 meters.
The day’s hike started with a downhill descent to Kimrong River, followed by a short climb before the New Bridge trail descends. The path is undulating from here on. We had to leave the main trail climb steeply as road construction continued, and an excavator was pushing down rocks onto the main trail. It was quite tricky to descent down on slippery, loose dirt and stones to the main path again. Our staff did very well negotiating this part with Jase in the basket. We hiked along the Modi River from here on. We stopped to drink water at Kyumi, and I pointed out the hives of wild cliff bees to the family. The honey from these bees – Apis Laboriosa (the giant Himalayan honey bee) can be Hallucinogenic depending on the season. It is the most massive bee in the world. We continued to Siwei for lunch, where two of our staff had gone ahead to order the meal to save time. We only had to walk forty-five minutes to our stop for the night at Syauli Bazaar. The family and some of our staff spent time on the Modi River banks during the afternoon. This was the last night of the Family trek. We prepared a Japanese meal for the family – just earlier in the day, Shea had said, “I don’t think we will eat Sushi in Nepal.” They were pleasantly surprised when our trekking Chefs Dil Kumar and Chandra Rai brought out Sushi, Tempura for starters. They were further surprised when Miso soup, rice, seaweed plus vegetable sprinkles, salad, and stir-fried vegetables were served. Andrew was generous enough to offer the team to drink as much Rakshi (local alcohol) last night. We had some dancing after dinner to celebrate another successful trek. Everyone went to bed happy.
Back to Pokhara.
We had booked a jeep to pick us up at Syauli Bazaar to bring us back to Pokhara. It was a thirty-minute ride on the fair-weather road before we reached the main highway, and it took a further ninety minutes of driving to reach Pokhara. We parted ways with the boys in Pokhara after they were tipped. I bought the family to Pavilions Himalaya, and our service ended. They have two nights stay in Pokhara before flying down to Chitwan for some Wildlife Safari for a whole day before flying back to Kathmandu to catch their return flight back to Hong Kong.