Poon hill trek – a child friendly classic Nepal trek
Ghorepani Poon hill trek is one of the short trekking routes in the Annapurna region that can be done in 3-5 days. After some research we decided this would be the best route for us. It is long enough for Paul and me to enjoy, at 3210m, the altitude in not too high for the kids, and if done in 5 days we were hoping the daily treks would be short enough for Ingrid 8, to be able walk all they way.
Over 5 days, this trail takes you through beautiful local villages and rhododendron forests with panoramic views of Nepal’s most famous peaks from Poon Hill – Dhaulagiri, Nilgiri and Annapurna South. The trail can be congested in high season October – February, but was almost empty when we were there in August, at the end of the monsoon season.
Its a 1hr drive from Pokhara to Nayapul, the starting point of the trek. From there you make a circuit over 5 days from Nayapul to Hille (near Tikhedunga), then Ghorepani and Poon Hill followed by Ghandruk and Landing before finally returning to Nayapul and Pokhara.
Basket case solved – gaffa tape saves the day!
In order for us all to enjoy this trek, the most important thing we had to consider was how to keep Scott happy and motivated to walk as much as possible. Scott is physically strong and usually happy to walk for about an hour or so most days. Unfortunately, just before starting the trek he was really ill for a week with a tummy bug and had to take 2 course of antibiotics to recover. Needless to say, we were a bit were worried about how he would cope in the hills after being so poorly.
In planning or trip to Nepal, we had already considered getting a porter to help Scott round the trail and with the recent tummy bug illness we decided at the trip could only be done with a porter that could help us carry Scott all the way round the trail.
We booked our team consisting of 1 guide and 2 sherpas, through Funnys travel in Kathmandu. 1 sherpa would carry our big backpack and 1 would carry Scott in a traditional Nepalese basket.
As we arrived in Nayapul, ready to head off it became clear that the typical basket we had agreed that Scott would be carried in did not exist. The guide and sherpas suggested they could carry Scott on their back and shoulders for 5 days, which was not what we had agreed nor would it be safe or comfortable. We watched in disbelief as the team set about constructing a make due carrier basket, which promptly broke. Without a safe carrier construction for Scott we would have to go back to Pokhara and try again in a few days once it had been sorted out to our satisfaction……not ideal.
Its amazing what you can do with a pocket knife and some gaffa tape. Paul finally took charge, bought another basket and made a safe, comfortable and strong carrier with gaffa tape, some rope and a bit of insulation material ….finally 2 hrs later we were ready to go.
Day 1 – Up, up and away
We started our first walk up from Nayapul to Ghorepan on a trail initially made up of an old gravel road. Eventually we were crossing streams, passing rice paddies and teahouses on lingering stony path that slowly took us up higher in the mountains into slightly cooler and more manageable temperatures.
It was not a difficult walk but the very hot and humid weather made it hard work still. Scotty was in the basket most of the time, snoozing while Ingrid walked every step with a smile on her face. She had been looking forward to this trek for a long time and was happy to finally be on our way.
Finally after 5hrs walking, at Ingrid pace, we were pleasantly surprised to find our accommodation for the night. A large and clean teahouse with comfortable beds in twin rooms with delicious food on offer.
After a quick dinner and some games with our sherpas we called it a night getting to get some sleep in preparation for the early start and long trek the following day.
Day 2 – Stairway to heaven, 4080 steps to be exact
After a good night sleep and and eggs and pancakes for breakfast we set off on 8hrs relentless climbing 4080 steps, 1300m elevation. to Ghorepani. Thankfully it was overcast most of the day and we all felt strong and excited to climbing up ever higher and higher in the mountains into the cooler air and the lingering clouds.
After enjoying a typical vegetable Thali lunch and a couple of tea breaks along the way we finally arrived at our overnight stay in Ghorepani, 500m below the peak of Poon hill. A lovely warming wood burner at the centre of the common space in this teahouse made it a lovely and cosy place to hangout and a good spot to dry damp socks and shoes. We were all exhausted after the 8hr trek and had a very early night.
Day 3 – Above the clouds at the break of dawn
Ingrid and Paul had decided to climb to the Poon hill peak to catch the sun rise over the mighty Annapurnas.
They set off at 4 pm in the dark with puffer jackets and head torches while Scott got some more sleep and rest ahead of the days longish walk. The climb to the top in the dark took about an hour.
After watching the sure rise we all had a breakfast together, chocolate pancakes and eggs. A quick rest and then we set off on a 7 hr walk up and down on winding trails through the clouds forest.
After a tea break and then lunch in a beautiful spot along the river we had to get raincoats and umbrellas out for the last hour walk to our over night stay number 3 at Ghandruk.
Wet leaves and vegetation meant leeches were out and about. There are lots of warnings about leeches on the trails in August in the guide books and on the internet. However, we found the leeches to be few and far between, very small and pretty harmless. Once we found them on us they were easy enough to flick off without causing much pain or discomfort. Scott was actually very excited to find one inside his trousers. Must have got there during a pee break.
The over night stay in Tanipani, was our least favourite. Dirty and smelly toilets in the teahouse and a pretty rough restaurant made us all a bit uneasy. We were too tired from walking to think too much about it and enjoyed clear views on the Annapurnas when we woke up the next day.
Day 4 & 5 all downhill from here
Our first clear view of the snowcapped Annapurna range at the breakfast table at Tanipani gave us the energy we needed to walk the days trek 5 hrs downhill. Trails were wet and slippery after a rainy night but Ingrid did great and Scott walked his longest distance so far despite a big leech bite on his leg. We enjoyed a slow lunch at a beautiful village of Thadipani on the way down.
Beautiful scenery and coours along the
Our last days walk down to Nayapul was our least favourite. Part of the trail was along the main dirt road through some larger villages with a lot more people and even cars along part of the way. Typically this was the day with the best view of the mountains. What a great way to end this amazing 5 day trek!
Poon Hill – a great trek for mountain lovers with kids
The Ghorepani Poon hill trek is not the most adventurous mountain experience if on your own, but with 2 young kids in tow is a great mix of hard walks on easy trails broken up by tea and lunch breaks along the way. The walk itself is interesting as it follows part of the old Trans-Himalayan Salt Trade Route.
Most of the the trail is made up stone slabs and staircases that head from village to village and some of the time you walk on simple trails and across small streams and through rain forest like foilage.
We quickly slipped into a pleasant rhythm of eating, walking, eating, playing cards, drinking tea and sleeping.
We all loved the trek, Ingrid especially and have since also done long treks in China, Thailand and rock climbing in China, Thailand and Vietnam. As we continue down to South America we have our harts set on more fantastic treks.
Good to know about Poon hill trek
- Poon Hill trek can easily be done without a guide just following a good map. Also, in high season there are lots of other trekkers on the trail that are all going the same way. If we had done this trail without the children, we would have done it alone. As this was our first big adventure in he mountains with the kids we felt safer having a guide with us.
- Packing is simple, since you don’t need to carry tents, sleeping bags, or food but can enjoy sleeping and eating in one of many lovely teahouses along the way. We packed 1 large backpack with a change of clothes, micro towels, silk liners, games and electronic essentials that the sherpa carried and a smaller day pack with water, snacks and raincoats, which we took turns carrying. We left our big bags at our hotel in Pokhara as we would return tenth same hotel after the trek.
- There are plenty of teahouses along the way of Poon Hill trek where you can stop for food and drinks and to stay over night. The overnight teahouses are like simple, clean guesthouses with basic beds and food on offer. Some of the smaller teahouses along the way just offering tea, coffee, drinks and snacks.
- August is the end of the monsoon season in Nepal. While on the trail we had rain most nights night and 2 days with half hour long showers. We also had leeches, and some cloudy days. However, if you want enjoy the quiet time in the mountains, walk at your own pace and if a bit of rain down not bother you then end August is a good time to go.
If you like walking in the mountains and want to introduce your children to this fantastic adventure then Nepal & Poon hill is the way to go!