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Dreams should come true with ease, or almost with ease

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Author: Kateryna Dovzhenko, 31, Kiev, Ukraine
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Why Nepal? I had a dream to see the 8,000 meters not in a picture, but in person. Why trek around Annapurna? The opportunity to see several eight-thousanders, to walk over a lot of suspension bridges and to see the mysterious Rhododendron in bloom.

After researching the providers of this trip and gathering feedback from friends/colleagues, the choice was on Kuluar.

Tickets were bought in January, all nuances were agreed (thanks Oksana) and quietly April started.

On Oxana’s manager recommendation I chose AirArabia and it was optimally comfortable. I met the first member of the group in Borispol, and we flew. One more member joined us on the connection in Sharjah, and we almost arrived in Kathmandu in full body. Thanks to Misha, we promptly received our visas and luggage.

Kathmandu greeted us with hospitable cab drivers, dust, and sunshine. Under Misha’s clear guidance we found a hotel and at the hotel our guide found us. From this point on we relaxed as we already had our Max and he knew everything.

On the day of arrival, with Max’s help, we finished packing. Anyone who is planning this trip, feel free to ask the guide questions about gear, a lot can be purchased in Kathmandu not all the money in the world and not dragged from home. In my case, there were rental poles that I brought with me, whereas you could buy them on the spot for $15. Also mandatory to purchase are hats and mittens, on the lake Tilicho and on the pass they are very useful (warm buffet will not save).

In the evening, Max took us to dinner and told us what to expect. At first I thought he was joking, describing our trek as a feast, but he wasn’t joking, we ate a lot, very much. Already before bedtime we met the fourth member of our group and went to bed.

Our little group hit the road.

Many hours of road and getting acquainted with the first Guest House. Honestly, from the descriptions and reviews I was preparing for the worst, but it turned out very nice. A kind of version of the Soviet recreation center, double rooms, plywood walls and castles from my childhood. Dinner introductions, pleasantries from Kuluar, and breakfast reservations.

First day on the road. I look around with my mouth open. Everything is unfamiliarly beautiful. We walked not on the road, but on a path parallel to it – we’re tourists).

Трек вокруг Аннапурны

It didn’t take us long to get to the lunch point. As it turned out, even in food Nepal teaches you to take your time, because they start cooking it after you order it, so lunch takes two hours. And then, at the first lunch, the wonders of our guide’s backpack began. Max had a burner, coffee and even cups!!! Max brewed coffee for the whole group and it was a small feast (what the menu calls coffee is far from coffee). After resting and refueling, we continued on our way. And unexpectedly quickly got to the place of overnight stay, as far as I’m concerned – it was the best Guest House on the whole route, very cozy and still at that altitude, where you could have dinner outside. Among the mountains under a funny umbrella.

The early exit didn’t seem so scary anymore, after having breakfast we hit the road. Gradually gaining altitude, the scenery was changing. That day we climbed Rhododendrons and in the evening we saw our first peak, Manaslu, in the light of the setting sun. It would seem that here was a dream come true, but the process was set in motion, the mountains were calling higher.

It was getting cooler each day, but the sun did not give up its position, and you should not forget about sunscreen, even when it seemed to be foggy and in the morning you were already going out in a fleece. Today we had already reached a decent altitude and stopped at the View Guest House. In front of us were Annapurna 2 and 4. On the recommendation and participation of the guide, the female part of our group woke up before dawn and watched the peaks light up with the dawn rays – it was very beautiful.

The transition of a lifetime was the transition to Manang. We walked for a long time, it was hot and our energy was running low, but we made it! And of course our Guest House was on the other end of the village, and the last steps were given with difficulty (probably the altitude began to assert itself), but on arrival, the force magically appeared. The shower did its job, and also the pastries, which were excellent here. In the evening Max went with us to a tasting of Tomba – a local alcoholic beverage in a cafe for the locals. I did not like tomba, such a hot brew, but sea buckthorn juice mmmmmm, it’s very tasty.

Трек вокруг Аннапурны в апреле

Yay! Today is a day trip. Radial exit to Lake Gangapurna and the joys of idleness. The most active went to see the temple, but it was closed.

Tilicho base camp – sounds cool, but you have to walk to it. Our Nepali guide/porter did not want to go there and strongly discouraged us, but we are tourists, and most importantly – our guide is a tourist, not just a guide. Thanks to Max we finally went there because it was that unforgettable acclimatization trip. The first part of the trip was not easy, I even managed to fall behind the group, so that I overtook it in the end, but was left without tea. We had lunch in a luxurious lodge with a fantastic view. Despite the infernal headache, the beauty of this lodge will stay with me forever. And after lunch was the most interesting part of the route – the hills. The place where we learned what is “Fann elevator”, we learned to listen to the rocks and not be afraid to “go” down on them. These are the moments when you realize how much an experienced guide means, and you come to understand that he is not just trustworthy, but necessary. The phrase “Don’t be afraid, go, if anything I will catch”, said in a calm and confident tone is worth a lot. Thank you, Max!!! We spent the night under the breaking snow.

Probably the scariest day of the whole trek for me. We went up to Tilicho lake to acclimatize. It was scary, painful, nauseating, hard, cold and very beautiful.

On this day continued the wonders of our guide’s backpack. Believe me, in time to drink a pill is worth a lot, and your guide knows when this most “in time” comes and gets the pill from his backpack, and he also has spare gloves, in case yours ran forward together with the backpack on the shoulders of a very operational colleague. And when you reach the finish line from the last breath, and in fact the middle of the route of the day, because you still have to go down, he carefully sits you on the seat and gives you tea, and says that you did well. I made it through the day thanks to Max and his calm and confident instruction, though I understand what it was like for him to walk slowly in the wind and snow when he could do it much faster. After the descent everything went away, the pain and weakness remained in the past, but the experience was remembered by the body and it will help me a lot in the future.

Божество-хранитель озера Тиличо

On this day we got to see the rash in action. It was interesting and not at all scary. Visiting the view lodge again and already turning to the finish line. This day was a very beautiful descent through a Nepalese birch grove. There is wonderful light for photos. A guest house with an awesome shower and delicious yak steak. Such a place of strength before the pass.

The last crossing before the pass was frankly weird, I thought we were going downhill all the time, but it turned out we were going uphill. The views are insanely beautiful. It’s especially cool when the helicopters fly just below our feet. Birds flying almost overhead. The lunch spot was a pleasant surprise – soft couches, cinnamon rolls, and delicious coffee. We were so tired that most of our group snuggled up for a lunchtime nap right in the restaurant. After a good night’s sleep, we went storming the last 800 meters to our sleeping spot. It was a long 800 meters. The companion from the Celestial Empire with an umbrella was a real joy. So, step by step we reached our destination. After a good meal and having planned our earliest exit – 4 am is not a joke, the female part of our group bought 2 hot-water bottles for 5$ and went to sleep in their apartment with a view of the mountains.

The pass I was so afraid of turned out to be serious, but not scary. In the dark and through the snow we set off. Max went with the female part of the group, for which we thanked him very much. Again the miracle backpack came into play – there were mittens for my frozen hands. By 8 a.m. we climbed the pass, hooray!!! A mug of tea – and forward to the descent, the weather would not wait. If you think that climbing the pass is the hardest part of the day, you are wrong. It turned out to be more difficult and longer to descend 1800m. Take care of your knees and don’t spare elastic bandages. We descended to a wonderful place with very beautiful temples and incredible springs, which, as it turned out, later change the karma, do not miss the opportunity. Our group reunited with the men’s half and we took a jeep along the river bottom to almost civilization.

На перевале Торонг Ла

A 20-minute flight into summer.

Flying on local airlines is curious. Small airport, small planes, but so serious. Bag check, check-in, stewardess. The main thing is to sit at the window on the left and look at the mountains and vegetable gardens. In just 20 minutes the plane brought us into summer, to the glorious city of Pokhara. For me it was the cherry on the cake of the whole trip. It was a beautiful promenade with a million cafes, hundreds of stores with souvenirs, and mountains all around. A mandatory item on my personal agenda was a massage after the trek, and it was done. I recommend Jiva Cafe & Spa – great service and quality massages. The boys took a risk to go to the barbershop, the risk was justified by half, but as you know, the risk is a noble thing, and in the nobility of our guys was not denied).

In the evening, after buying cheese and wine, we wanted to sit on the roof of the hotel, but then the rain fell on us all day trekking, but we are already experienced tourists with a mountain pass under our belt did not lose heart and stayed under the roof. But our soul demanded a roof, in between rains we found a beautifully shining roof in the sky and, of course, went there, blessing that roof was with a roof) The evening was a success, our team made it and safely made it down.

In the morning we did get to the boats, and greeted the dawn from the water. It was worth it, don’t be lazy to wake up at 5 am. And then the bus to Kathmandu and many hours of travel awaited us. The saddest thing is that we only found out about the availability of air conditioning in the minibus when we approached the city. In Kathmandu, after checking into the hotel, Max took us to the local market for spices and other local delicacies. The evening was a little sad because it was the last time our team had a full dinner.

We spent our last day in Kathmandu running around the sacred sites. We fed monkeys in one (cut bananas beforehand), watched the sacred river in the second, and walked around the stupa in the third. Max, as always, saved the best for dessert.

It was an incredible adventure with incredible people. Nepal teaches steppiness and the mountains silence through the noise.

Huge thanks to our guide Maxim Gorpenyuk, he is incredibly cool, very interesting and absolutely no fear, he really knows how to be in the most incredible situations, the main thing is to listen to him. He is also very patient and caring.

Also thanks to the guys for those 15 days, Alya, Murat and Misha, not for nothing we were brought together by Nepal, such different people in one such small group.

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