Ghandruk Trek 2 Days: A Short Beautiful Hiking Trail in Nepal
Last week I had an opportunity to visit Kaski District and made a plan to do a short hiking of Ghandruk within my limited short leave. I had total 4 days and had to be back home on the 4th day. That left me with 2 days of hiking. I made a plan to hike small section of Ghandruk loop trail that starts from Syaulibazar and ends in Kande after Australian camp. Ghandruk loop trek is very short beautiful trail in Nepal on foothills of Annapurna range. My cousin tagged along.
How tough is the trek?It ain’t tough. It will never feel like you are in survival mode where you have to take your own food, search for drinking water sources and make your own camp like you see in youtube videos of wilderness in Pacific Crest Trails thru hiking. You will always feel among settlements. You will be hiking through forests, paddy fields, river lines, bridges and villages. You hike with your own pace for there is no race.
There is no problem with food & water availability since you will be passing settlements in every 2 hours in average. If you just want Mineral Water then be informed that it is expensive in hiking trails. Price goes upto 4 times what you pay in city. We just refilled and drank regular water for free. Carry your own water bottle and don’t use too many plastics. Water is clean but if you need more safety then you can get your own filtered Bottles or water filtering tablet and simply use that to refill mountain water through local taps. This will save you from the extra expense because you will need to drink lots of water to keep yourself hydrated during hike. Getting hydrated is the most important factor in hiking.
The only difficult part and preparation you need is your physical fitness. You will be hiking through the steep trails and steep downhill which is going to take most of your energy. Do small practices of hiking uphills with normal backpack at your place. But with slow pace you can make it easily. Just listen to your body to take regular 10 minutes of rest. Hydrate often.
What to carry?While hiking downhill your calf gets lot of pressure so have a good trail runners or hiking boots to absorb the shock to minimise the pressure. Choose good and lightweight boots or runners. It never rained during our day hiking so we never needed waterproof boots. Waterproof boots can be nuisance if your feet sweats a lot from inside. I prefer non-waterproof and it can be sun dried fast incase they get wet when you are treading close to waterfalls in trails.
Make your backpack light, less than 10% of your body weight. I carried just a pair of trouser and short, three t-shirts. One good breathable and reliable light rain jacket will be enough. We hiked in early October. Hence, invest in good quality light rain jacket and don’t buy cheap fake from the streets. At night it may get a bit cold so you can bring one extra layer of lightweight sweater and muffler that you can wear inside your rain jacket. Bring good pair of socks for hiking to avoid blisters. Better to wear 2 layers of socks when hiking with liner socks.
In most of the lodges you will have charging points in your room so charging your electronics won’t be a problem. Incase, something goes wrong you can carry a power bank.
How is Food?Food is good based on what your expectation is. Flavour will not go wrong with traditional food but If you are ordering foreign dishes like pasta or pizza then flavour will differ from what you expect in your hometown. Traditional food of vegetarian Dal Bhaat is more popular and a wise diet for your hiking because you get all carbohydrates from rice, rich proteins from lentils(dal) so don’t shy away from multiple servings. All vitamins will come from local organic vegetables. Vegetarian plate is unlimited(like buffet) so you can ask for multiple serve of rice, lentils and vegetables until you are full and intake of calories is must. Furthermore, don’t immediately go hiking after having your food.
Hygiene and Sanitation.Bring your Hand sanitiser as you get sick from how you eat. So having germ free hands is important. You will not have any problem with wash rooms in this trail. They are clean and found in all settlements. You may have to pay in some but if you use washroom of tea house where you are eating then it should be free of charge. Hot showers are available in almost all lodges but ask before hand. Water will be cold but you need a shower to maintain your hygiene but many makes it optional so it’s all upto your lifestyle. Bring your own soap and towel because you won’t get them there. Rooms with attached washroom will have more chargeable than common rooms where washroom is common for all. Common washroom are clean for they regularly maintain it.
Do I need a guide?This is a very easy hiking trail in context of direction. I already mentioned that you will not feel any kind of survival hiking scenario here. Hiking trails are very obvious and you will find important direction signs in every sections. All signs are in english. You can always ask locals if you need help with direction. My top advice will be that whenever leaving any settlement always ask for direction to just confirm if you are going in the right direction. It’s not difficult to communicate, just make some effort to pronounce the name of next stop or have screenshot of name in your phone or written in paper and show it to the local person if that person is having difficulty understanding your accent. Just make sure they understand the name of your destination and they will show you the direction with hand sign and basic english like straight, left or right. Only very primary information you need is names of your next settlement or stops so do a research on it or just buy a map from book store and research it. Do a thorough research on how much time it takes to hike from one settlement or stop to next. Make a note of it. If you are fast and durable hiker then you can always stretch miles and go to next stop. There is no rules that you have to stay in particular settlement in a particular day. Being alone or with your friend gives you a free will on deciding the suitable tea house for yourself and making trivial decision for staying, eating and time management. Watch my youtube video to see how obvious the hiking trails are. Take time with taking in scenery and nature. Don’t rush.
Altitude Sickness.Maximum altitude you will get at is 2100m / 6889ft. You will be good.
Day 1, We reached Pokhara city in the evening after 8 hours of bus journey.
Day 2, we boarded bus from Baglung bus park in Pokhara for Syaulibazar - our hiking starting point. Two paths leads from here. One is a dirt road for vehicles that goes up on the left and second path is hiking trail that goes straight on the right. Take a hiking trail through paddy fields. It may be different crop based on season and month you are hiking in. We hiked in early October and this year monsoon really stayed late so monsoon was still over us. This put us to witness more green flora and lots of waterfalls in trails. The trail is very clean and made up of rocks or thick stones. It is very obvious so we never needed map to figure out the direction. If you tend to get confused of direction people will always guide you. Our plan was to hike to Ghandruk village for night stay on day 1. It takes 3 hours to reach in average. We were making videos, taking photos and enjoying in our pace so it took us 4 hours to reach village. Try to avoid the dirt road meant for vehicles. There will be a few sections where you will have to walk on dirt road until you meet hiking trail again.
We stayed in Ghandruk for night in homestay. We wanted to see the view of mountains next morning before we start hiking again to Landruk village. Weather was crisp clear until 9 morning. We got a clear spectacular sight of Annapurna south, Hiunchuli, Gangapurna, Annapurna III and Machapuchare.
Day 3, we headed for Landruk. According to information from locals It takes 1 hours and 30 minutes to reach village. We took 2 hours 30 minutes with our video shooting and sightseeing. First half of hiking to Landruk is full on downhill and second half is very steep uphill. Landruk is little low in elevation compared to Ghandruk. Our original plan was to visit Jhinu first to dip into Hot Springs before hiking to Landruk but we were short of time. Jhinu is another 1 hours 30 minutes but you should consider 3-4 hours assuming you will spend time in Hot springs. We continued hiking to reach next village Tolkha where we had our dinner. We reached village after 12 noon. I would recommend to have lunch here. Intake your calories because next hiking will be steep uphill. So have some rest and stretch your muscles. We resumed our hiking to Pitam Deurali and hiked steep uphill trail of stones. We reached Pitam Deurali where you get good view of Pokhara and Dhampus village but unfortunately we were shrouded in clouds. It was cold up here. We took 10 minutes rest after hiking steep uphill trail. We resumed our hiking to our next stop Pothana. First 30-40 minutes are straight trail through wet forest. You will see what I mean because sunshine hardly penetrates and moss are laiden on trees. Next section you will hike downhill. Overall easy hiking section. Beware of leeches during wet season. We avoided grassy path and walked over stone trails in this section.
Our final destination for Day 3 was Australian Camp where we stayed for night in lodge. It was difficult to get the rooms there because almost all the lodges were booked. Be careful during peak season. We enjoyed next beautiful morning view of mountains and sunrise. Unfortunately it rained in the night and we didn’t get to see sunrise. Clouds cleared slowly in time and finally we had a visual of mountain range.
Day 4, After basking on sight of beautiful mountains from Australian camp we headed for Kande - another last 35 minutes of hiking downhill - our highway stop where we boarded our bus back to Pokhara city.