When I first got my posting as Ambassador to Nepal, I imagined all the wonderful treks I could do in a country renowned for its mountainous beauty. But 19 months into my 3 to 4 years in Nepal, I became worried that I was going to waste the opportunity. I’d let work get in the way.
By late 2018, my wife Emma had already completed 2 treks: one to Mardi Himal with my daughter in January and the other was an October trip to Langtang with some old school friends. Their wonderful stories and photos were triggering an unhealthy level of envy. So when a trip to Thorung La fell through, I decided I had to commit to a trek. My daughter Elsa’s arrival in November from Australia was all the excuse I needed to clear my work calendar.
Very unreasonably, I gave Rasuwa Treks one week’s notice. I further complicated matters with advice that my time was limited - I could only get away for 5 days. The company's Operation Manager, Gagan Raj Neupane, proposed a trek to Khopra Ridge. It was a path less traveled, and described as well worth the trip. At 3,700m it posed no altitude risk but promised awe-inspiring views including Annapurna South and Varashikar and Niligiri mountains. On the way, panoramic views of the Annapurnas would be a permanent feature, wandering along yak trails over highly undulating terrain. Phone coverage would be intermittent. Perfect.
The first day included a flight to Pokhara and then a 2-3 hour trek to Tadapani (2,450m). It included a walk through an oak and rhododendron forests which must be fantastic when in bloom in April (a reason to go back). The walk offered views of the Annapurna Range culminating in an enjoyable sunset over the mountains.
The second day was a 6-hour walk to Dhankharka (3000m), through the rain forest, and featuring regular glimpses of the spectacular Annapurna range and Fishtail Mountain. Day three began with an early-morning wake-up to experience a mountain sunrise and 360 degree panorama, then a three-hour walk to Khopra Ridge. Describing it would do it injustice, so I won’t. From that magnificent highlight, on day four it was a downhill trek to Swanta (2200m) and a view of Mt. Dhaulagiri. Day five was a comfortable 5-hour walk to Ulleri (1800m). It was five days of glorious and positive interaction with Nepali people, culture, cuisine and environment.
Finally, I got to do the trek. In the next twelve months, I plan to be better organized, and have already planned trips to Gokyo and Humla planned. Trekking in Nepal is highly addictive, in a nice way!