The Journey Annapurna Base Camp
For many years, I had always wanted to trek in the Himalaya, but not being so fit and active, I felt somewhat shy to go. Doubts cross your mind, what if I can’t make it, what is I fail, how hard will it be, can I deal with the altitude. Questions that can be answered by advice from others in theory, but only truly in practice by oneself. To use a well worn phrase, “you will never know until you go”. If you have a dream or desire in life, sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and go for it.
The first time I went to Nepal I was quite an inexperienced traveller and a zero-experienced Annapurna Base Camp Trek Guide. I joined a group tour with a reputable international company and got a fine introduction to the culture and the ways of life. With the group we completed a simple trek around the Pokhara. This gave me the taste for trekking and my eyes yearned towards the horizon and the snow capped Himalayan peaks beyond. I enjoyed our short trek, the organisation, the fun of being in a group and ease of having porters and the security of having a guide. But as many people do, I felt that something was lacking, the trek if anything was a little too “organised” and it was hard to grasp a real sense of the people and culture of Nepal.
As my experience grew I, soon learnt that there was more to travel than organised tours. Better, real life experiences where to be had away from the worn tourist trails, out from under the gaze of our guide and the jibes and complaints of fellow travellers. Two years later, on my return to Nepal, my friend and I decided to venture into the Annapurna Himalaya. We defiantly did not want to join a group and we talked long and hard about the pros and cons of going alone or hiring a guide. Giving in to our inexperience and uncertainty we decided to hire a guide and a porter from a reputable company, giving us total felxiablity and security at the same time. It was a choice that proved its worth when we found ourselves in Mukthinath at 3200 meters, an impending storm on the horizon and a three hour trek in front of us back to the Tea House. Without our guides intimate knowledge of the weather patterns we would have been stranded, but acting upon his advice we returned to the lodge before the storm hit and where able to sit out the snow storm that ensured in warmth and safety. Our decision was potentially lifesaving, especially as we heard two days later that a group of climbers had not heeded advice given to them by their Sherpa’s and had since perished on Dhalugiri.
Though our trek took us from Jomsom to Muktinath, my heart desired Annapurna Base Camp, and so with the flexibility of hiring our own guide and porter I split from my friend and headed along the route to base camp. This journey was perhaps one of the defying moments of my life. My porter was there for me to guide the way and bear the burden of my pack, but he was quite and unobtrusive leaving me to my thoughts and to inhale the pure magnificent of this region. The higher we trekked the harder it got.
On route to the village Deralui was a particularly tiring day for me, soft soaking rain fell and the air was really chilly. I lagged well behind my porter who had gone ahead to get the packs out of the rain. As I arrived at the village, one last flight of stairs stood before me and the salvation of the Tea House. I looked up and there was my porter smiling down at me and bidding me to come up to the dryness and warmth of shelter. He made me laugh and he gave me the will to go on, he also knew the best places to stay, the best food to eat and he certainly showed me what trekking in this beautiful country is all about.