Alpine Hiking Nepal RTW2018 Travel

Poon Hill: A Short Trek in the Annapurna Region of Nepal

Poon Hill is a very popular trek in the Annapurna Region of Nepal — and for good reason. It’s a great way to get a taste of the  mountains if you have a short period of time.

The highlight of the trip is hiking up to Poon Hill see the sunrise over the mountains. Poon Hill is 3,210 meters tall and the views are amazing! It’s also fun to share the experience with all the other eager trekkers.

How long does the trek take?

Most people take about 4 days.

If you have a more relaxed pace, you could stretch it into 5 or 6 days. There is plenty of food and accommodation along the way to stop where you’d like.

We did it in 3 days, so shorter is entirely possible if you’re used to hiking in the mountains. We were heading off to another trek right after, so we had a reason to move things along. If you’re not, no need to rush!

What do you eat?

Carbs. So many carbs!! For lunch and dinner, we ate dal bhat. Every place makes it a little bit differently. It’s usually has white rish, lentil soup, a potato-based curry, a vegetable and a pickle of some kind. While you’re eating, they come back to give you a second helping of whatever you like. For breakfast, we eggs, potatoes and bread.

Meat is often on the menu, but is generally not recommended because it cannot be refrigerated very well. You can also find Snickers, soda, beer and rum everywhere, though it’s not cheap.

The menu at every single tea house in the Annapurna Conservation Area is the same. I don’t mean sort of similar. I mean identical. By design. The food is the same. The prices in the same town are all the same. The costs go up as you get higher in elevation, as the food has to be carried up the mountain by humans or animals. Here are photos from one of the tea houses.

Attempting to negotiate food prices won’t work and is considered offensive. This fixed price system is in place to help all tea house owners make a decent living.

What about water?

Bottled water is banned in the Annapurna Region to help limit plastic waste. Tap water in tea houses comes directly from nearby streams without being treated.

You may find it alarming how close farm animals (and their poop) and outhouses are to the streams you’re drinking from. So you should bring something with you to treat water. You can also buy boiled or treated water at tea houses.

Are baby goats the cutest? Yes, yes they are.

Where do you stay?

Poon Hill is a tea house trek. This means you will be staying in charming buildings with other trekkers. You’ll usually have your own room with 1, 2 or 3 beds. Sometimes they have attached bathrooms and bathrooms are shared. Our guide told us that when it gets busy, trekkers sometimes sleep in beds the dining room. We were hiking in shoulder season, so we did not!

Most places we stayed at Western toilets, a sink with running water, showers with warm-ish, and electricity that worked at least half of the time. Most of the toilets along the trail were squat style.

If you’re used to tent camping like we were — it seemed super delux. If you’re used to hotels, well … this may be an adjustment.

Can you reserve places ahead of time?

You probably cannot. And do not really need to. Our guide called ahead a few times for us, but it was mostly to save us a nice room at a preferable spot.

Can you charge your phone? Can you get wifi?

Almost every tea house had electricity and wifi. Sometimes the electricity was free, sometimes you had to pay per hour to charge your phone. Wifi usually costs $1-2 USD, but was available everywhere.

Do you need a guide?

You do not need a guide. There are so many people hiking Poon Hill, it would be nearly impossible to get lost. It felt like a parade much of the time. You also do not need a guide to help you translate. Menus at each tea house are in English, which include food and lodging options. You can just point at whatever you want.

However, we absolutely loved having our fabulous guide! Ramesh knew where the best places were to stop. He coached us along on hard days, which was quite an delightful break from having to motivate ourselves. He showed us berries we could eat along the trail and made us a fresh fruit salad every night. He taught us Nepali card games and board games. He answered our questions and taught us about Nepali culture.

We also got to check out a different hike than we had planned. After to Poon Hill, we went straight on to Mardi Himal Base Camp. It’s a new hike that is similar to Annapurna Base Camp, but way less crowded. We would have never thought of that by ourselves.

The company we used was Adventure Mountain Express.

How do you behave ethically?

We asked our guide what we should include in a blog post about trekking in Nepal. We were expecting for gear advice or ideas on where to go. But he said the most important things were respecting local culture and customs. I also saw the similar advice printed many places while we trekked. Here are some of the important points:

  • Ask permission before taking photos of people.
  • Do not give candy, pens or other toys to children.
  • Women should dress modestly. This means covering our shoulders and knees, not wearing running tights and not wearing backless shirts show your sports bra.
  • Couples should not show any affection in public. You may see Nepali men walking around holding hands, but this is out of friendship.
  • Don’t point at people or places with one finger. If you want to make that gesture, use your whole hand.
  • Don’t step over someone’s legs if you need to go by them, as your feet are considered very dirty.

Questions? Suggestions?

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