Downtime in Pokhara

After coming back to Pokhara, I spent some time to unwind after the rigors of trekking through the Himalaya. It was wonderful to sit in the garden  of my hostel, drinking many small pots of milk coffee and reading the Kathmandu Post. It had interesting quirky news items and unfathomable cricket stories: England were 167 for three at tea after winning the toss and making first use of a pitch with good bounce but minimal sideways movement. I gathered that England was doing well… An item about rhino conservation brought the news that the Nepalese Army was instructed in the use of cameras, binoculars and GPS, which was about time one would think. To stress the importance of this training it was reported that more than 70 rhinos were killed in Bardiye National Park. Only that was between 2001 and 2003, which is a staggering 15 years ago.

Big monkey, Kathmandu

Big monkey, Kathmandu

Some people seem to think that trekking around the Annapurna is a perilous undertaking and that a guide, or at least a porter guide, is needed. I want to  explain the advantages of going it alone. First of all, I don’t think there is any  danger of getting lost on this trek. In the high altitude areas, the path is very clear and the direction is obvious.  At lower elevations, where there is at times a plethora of small paths used by local farmers, there is a more imminent threat, but getting lost here is hardly dangerous just because of the many people around that are happy to point you in the right direction. The only exception would be snowfall at the high pass on the circuit and I was determined to take no risks in case it would start to snow…
This brings me to my second point. It is easier  to minimise risks by having more time, making it possible to wait till conditions improve. This is also easier done when having no guide, so that adding extra days is never a problem. When I was sick for a day and had another extra day to recover, I had not to fret over running out of time or paying my guide his daily wages for the extra days where I didn’t need him.
Last of all, I have seen quite a few guides that I was happy not to have hired Some were babbling harmless nonsense all the time and some were outright disagreeable.  Having no guide means there is no requirement to be sociable. As for company: I have met many other trekkers and guides that were perfectly happy to talk to me. Even though I had taken the precaution of bringing a book, it is telling that I hadn’t finished it by the end of the trek.

Of course, having a guide can be very helpful as half the time I had no clue which mountain I was looking at… But it doesn’t comply with the Tao of Cheap…

Face on wooden door Kathmandu

Face on wooden door Kathmandu

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