Wednesday, 7 October 2015

The hike to Sarangkot to see the Himalayas!

So the morning was just chill time, and packing. I kept my bed at the hostel so I didn't have to re-check in on my return as it was getting fuller by the day. Me and Maren skipped Yoga as we knew we'd be hiking for most of the afternoon so didn't want to exhaust ourselves. Then we met Anna at the Centre Point along Lakeside at 1.30pm - the Spanish girl we went out with on Saturday, who is volunteering with a local school and knows us through Lutie.

After buying some snacks, topping up water bottles, and making sure we had everything we needed we set off, direction North side to find the little dirt track which would be our way up to Sarangkot. The guys who returned from it yesterday reckoned it would take us 2 hours, but we had given ourselves longer as we aren't great hikers, it was the heat of the day, the sun would be on us the entire time and we would need breaks! lol

It took us around half an hour to reach the beginning of the hike, and almost from the word go it was at a very steep incline with either very pebble-y paths, dirt track, or rocks! Luckily I came prepared this time wearing shorts and trainers, and I had packed very lightly. It was so so hot, and the directions were good up until a point when we hit two paths, with no indication which way to go, but luckily our guess turned out to be the right guess. Along the next path we stopped for a quick break on some rocks and to admire the view of the lake below already; after only half an hour of hiking we were already pretty high up.

A few seconds later a young Nepali guy called Raj (he was born in India and moved to Nepal when he was a teenager, his parents are Nepalese, he now works in Pokhara) stopped as well. He was on his way up to Sarangkot too to see his cousins, friends and family. So we chatted to him for a bit and then decided to head up together; unofficially we had taken him on as our guide, and probably a good chance we happened to meet him because otherwise I think we would have gotten lost! The paths became unclear and we would of ended up going the long way - not the 'Nepali way' that he showed us (basically the hardest way possible, but it was quicker!)

We kept going for another half an hour and then stopped again, this time along with a few local men and their goats! Again we stopped to take photos as by now we were pretty much halfway, and very high up - we could even begin to see the mountains and the para-gliders were right over the top of us which means the village where they take off from wasn't too far - yay! Still we had another good 45mins of hiking to go before we were even in Sarangkot, let alone the view point!

So off we continued, carrying on the Nepali way - a little bit up a little bit down - sweating our arses off! Once we had reached the Sarangkot Paraglider take off point we hit the road, which meant that we were at least near the village. However, our Raj had other ideas, rather than follow the road round, he would take us the very steep way past peoples houses up the side of the mountain to reach the base of the view point! This was all ok because it was supposed to be quicker and more direct, but it also meant that it was so steep my little legs were basically rock climbing the whole way. Along the way though we passed his Cousins house and the Nepalese being the friendly welcoming people they are, he and his wife invited us all in for tea and a rest. It was 4pm by now so we had a bit of time before we had to reach the view point for sunset, so of course we accepted.

The tea was AMAZING and we got to spend some time with their gorgeous little girl (around 3 years old maybe?) and the neighbours little boys who had seen we were there and wanted to come and chat with us. They had such an amazing spot on the hill, you could see the lake and the mountains from their front door. The mountain people of Pokhara (Gorung Cast) are supposedly the poorest cast, however I believe they are completely rich in life and views, they just seem so so happy living a simple life, with no real perception of money, no real need for money - most things they get they exchange or make, and they live in the most stunning areas of the country, away from the cities.

So after we finished our tea and our biscuits we said our goodbyes and continued up, we had half an hour left Raj reckoned until we hit the bottom of the hike up to the view point, which would then take us another 20 minutes. At this point we were done, and wanted to just get there, so after saying goodbye to Raj we just headed straight up, pushed through the sweat, the pain and the breathlessness and we made it by 5.30pm! Just in time to see the mountains in daylight before the sun began to set...
and my god were they stunning!!

The view point takes in the whole of the Annapurna Range, Including Fishtail Mountain at a height of over 8000 metres, plus the valley below and the hills beyond. It was stunning. We just spent the time taking it in, taking pictures and enjoying one of the best views in the world. Sunset was at approximately 6.30pm and it was also stunning, turning the tips of the snow-capped peaks a pink-ish orange colour, the the sky a similar colour, shrouding the valleys and lake in mist; it was so picturesque and atmospheric! I've seen some incredible sunsets in my time travelling and this one definitely made the top 10 list. However, it turned cold pretty damn quickly, much colder than 800 metres below us in lakeside Pokhara (Sarangkot is at 1500 metres - as high as Ben Nevis in Scotland, and 500 metres higher than Snowden in Wales). And because I was all sweaty and salty and smelly I didn't want to put my jacket on until I had showered lol.

Once sunset had finished and Sarangkot and the mountains were shrouded in darkness we descended to the village below to find accommodation for the night. The first place we stopped at didn't have hot water, so we carried on until we found the Lake View Hotel, for one night in a triple room, with a balcony view of the Lake and Pokhara, and hot water and wifi, we paid £2.50 each! Score! So we took it instantly and had our showers so we could order some food as we were starving. Food was slightly more 'expensive' but it was still cheap in UK terms for a prime location. Once we had eaten we stayed up chatting for a bit and taking in the city lights waaaaay below us. Then we hit the sack as sunrise tomorrow was at 5-5.30am so we'd have a very early wake up call to hike back up to the view point for it.

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