Rudra is trek and hike fanatic and this time around when he was here in Deerwalk Nepal, we planned to trek around Manaslu region. The participants for this trek were Ashish , Manish, Pramod, Rudra and I. Among the 5 of us it was Manish and I who were doing this kind of trek for the first time. All our preparation for the Trek was done and the checklist of medicine and first aid was all set. We headed towards Arughat in Gorkha from Deerwalk premises at noon. Arughat was our destination for the day. It was 3 hours drive on highway to Dhading Besi from Kathmandu. From there onwards the bumpy road started. Locals told us that it was 3 hours drive and we did stop at times to ask the way towards Arughat. It was getting dark and we all were growing impatient. Finally we reached Arughat and it took us more than 4 hours to reach there. Thanks to the bad road. A local hotel owner whose hotel rooms were already booked suggested us to go to Hotel Himali and called the owner of the hotel to confirm the rooms for us. Luckily, we were relieved to hear that there were rooms available. The hotel owner Mr. Kanchha came to pick us up at a crossroad to make sure that we don't lose our way. All of us gathered on roof top of the hotel after a quick shower and had evening meal with some chilled beer to mark the beginning of our 5 day long trek. Rudra inquired about the routes to get to Dhunche from Arughat and soon our plan to get around Manaslu reason was in a limbo as we started finding alternative routes. The cook of the hotel did suggested us few alternatives but we decided to stick to our plan for first day and decided to head towards Machakhola. Day 1 (Arughat to Machakhola) As per Rudra's instruction we all got up early in the morning and were all set at around 5.30 in the morning . We left hotel with our backpacks and then all of us were on our way to Machakhola. Our first pit stop was Sotikhola which according to locals was around 5 hours walk from Arughat. Soon the nature took us over with the sights of lush green terrace farming, snow clad mountains and buzz of Budhi Gandaki river. After walking for about an hour or so we stopped at a place with 2-3 small tea shops and had our breakfast there. The sound of Budhi Gandaki river didn't leave us and we were informed by a local that the road and trail ahead are fascinating. We reached Sotikhola pretty earlier than we expected and took a little break. The road to Sotikhola was also a motorway and from there onwards the donkeys takes over the transportation of goods to high altitude places. The trail then was really challenging with lots of uphills and downhills, the river crosses, the slippery ridges, and some really narrow cliffs. Finally we reached our another pit stop, Lapubesi. Lapubesi is a beautiful Gurung village with farming slope terraces. Where there are few basic teahouses and nice campsites, health post and telephone service are available. We had our Lunch there in Hotel Laxmi. The owner of the hotel was really cordial and made an awesome Rara Soup and local lentil for us. We still had to walk for 4 more hours to reach Machakhola. The locals whom we met on the way surprised us with the way they were walking on those stony, rough and jagged trails. We made sure that we take quick breaks in between to give our legs some time to relax and also make sure that we are on time to reach our destination. The snickers, walnuts and water that we carried along gave us the boost we needed to walk in such difficult trails. On the way we were making plans to go to Dhunche instead of Manaslu. We were in no mood to return the same path and on top of that we all do not wanted the jeep ride back from Arughat to Dhanding Besi. So after talking to some locals on the way, we had another option of going to Gorkha Bazaar. Whatever option we had, the first concern for us was to reach Machakhola and the trail was giving no signs of letting us get comforted. Soon, we reached the banks of Budhi Gandaki river and the soft sands did give some respite to our tired legs. Machakhola was near now and we could see some settlements. We reached Machakhola and Pramod and I went for hotel search. There was total of 4 hotels in Machakhola and we chose the best among them. The hot shower and a good meal at the hotel was a big relief for us all. We then started to plan out our options ahead. The 3 options we had now were Dhunche, Tsum Valley and Gorkha Bazar. Dhunche was out of question because we had to cross Ganesh Himal to reach there. As we had already left our option of going near Manaslu and since we wanted to avoid the same way back to Arughat, we ruled out Tsum Valley too. So the final destination for us was now Gorkha. Instead of high altitude trek, we were now heading for Mid Mountain Treks with lots of culture to witness, traditions to look forward to and some great views of green hills and villages. We spread out the map of Manaslu region that we got from hotel owner and started exploring. The hotel owner suggested us to take the route through Gumda. He also gave us the name of couple of individuals (Surpaan Gurung and Farsi Mailaa) from villages ahead who could be of help to us. We all went to bed hoping for even better trails and experiences ahead of us. Day 2 (Machakhola to Gumda) On a chilly morning at Machakhola, we decided to travel to Manaslu. The local hotel owners informed us about all the possible routes from Machakhola to Manaslu. After much brainstorming, we concluded that we should head towards Gorkha. We decided to get to Lapsi Phedi first, and then take help from residents of the locality for further route guidance to reach Gumda. Next day, we were ready to head for our trek at 6:00 am. After few hours of trekking, we realized that we were travelling in the wrong direction. Fortunately, the friendly locals directed us to the right route. The strange thing was, no matter how far we walked the locals kept telling us that our destination was an hour away. It made us skeptical. We finally realized that we were our own pathfinders. The road was steep and along most of the route, the trails had been missing. We used electricity poles as hints for remembering routes and sometimes, hills were our guides. Finally, at around 10:30 a.m., we reached Lapsi Bote. As much as we knew, we had to find Mr. Surpaan Gurung who was a local resident school teacher and owner of the only home stay in the peculiar hamlet. However, the hospitality and food was delightful. Mr. Gurung and his wife served us authentic cuisine which included Kodo roti, Sag, Makai, Lapsi ko achar, Local Honey and tea.
The delicious brunch was worth five hours of trekking.
The delicious brunch was worth five hours of trekking. After the meal we took a break for one hour. Later, we thanked them and resumed our trek towards Gumda. Since we were reenergized after the break, we effortlessly reached Gumda at around 5:00 p.m. There, we stayed at the Centre Hotel and Lodge. The owner of the lodge was none other than Farsi Maila, whom we were referred to by the hotel owner at Machakhola. Farsi Maila was the name given to him by villagers and his real name is Dhan Bahadur Gurung. The evening was cold once again so the owner of the Lodge, Mr. Dhan Bahadur Gurung and his wife prepared a Bon fire for us. After another pleasant meal we were in bed by 8:00 p.m. The experience was tiresome but very enjoyable. We were very grateful for the locals and appreciated their efforts to help us, especially Mr. Surpaan and Mr. Dhan Bahadur for their hospitality and our pleasant stay. Day 3 (Gumda to Barpak) We got up early as usual, had tea and some breakfast, ready to continue the journey. As usual we asked the locals for the day's briefing, they were pointing towards the village on the other side of a small river and gorge. I was thinking to myself that it's going to be a tough day, first going down and then climbing up. As we started to walk, the only thing that came to my mind was the uphill climb and if we could find a easier way to the other side. After walking for half an hour we reached Yamgaun, at this point I tried to convince my fellow trekkers that we should take the recently constructed and easier road, but they insisted that we take the shorter route, even if it was a harder one. So we followed the shorter path, and then we got lost. We didn't know which way to follow since there were multiple small paths so we had to make our own path to the newly constructed road. After then there was not much action, the path was relatively easy, surrounding beautiful and nothing to worry about. We were hoping for the sky to clear so that we could see a glimpse of the Manaslu, but that didn't happen, we thought we saw the Manaslu but I am not sure if we really saw it. After some shortcuts through the winding road we reached a point from where we could see Laprak village, the village was around 15 minutes downhill from that point. Since our way was across the top of that mountain we all agreed that we won't be going down to the village, we would have loved to see the village but we were all too tired to go down and then climb up. We started the uphill climb to reach to the top of Gupsi danda, the altitude was increasing, the temperature was dropping and it was a getting tough, especially for me. When I reached the top, all my friends were already there, there was a film shooting going on, we stayed for a while and watched an action scene being shoot. The uphill was over, now we had to climb down for more than an hour to reach the destination. It was a gruesome downhill, even for a person like me who loved descending. Barpak was a beautiful village, clean and well managed. The path inside the village were paved with stone, it felt really nice to reach there. We were glad that the downhill was over and we would get some rest. With hungry stomach we started to look for a lodge to stay for the night. We learned that there was a good homestay facility in Barpak and people usually come there to enjoy the village and homestay. So we decide to stay at a homestay. Our host family were nice and welcoming, they really treated us well. If anyone is planning to visit Barpak I would suggest to go for homestay rather than a lodge. Day 4 (Barpak to Saurpani) We had a great night at Barpak, good food, hot shower, plenty of time to relax and playing cards. Like all good things, this pit-stop had came to an end and we had to move along. Our hosts bid us farewell with some tika and local flower garland after serving us some breakfast. The head of the family even showed us the way we were to take after a short tour of the village. We had to reach Saurpani that day, which was around 6 hours for the locals, so we estimated it will take not less than 10 hours for us. The path to Saurpani was as usual, steep downhill which made our knees hurt and uphill climb which tested our stamina. Since we hiked our way through some uncommon paths, we sometimes lost our way. We had to walk through fields, bushes and forest following the electricity lines. We reached Kulgaun after around 2 hours of hiking. We saw some orange trees full with ripe oranges, hungry and thirsty, we couldn't resist those oranges, we had to eat them. But the problem was that, we couldn't find anyone at the owner's house. After some calls, the neighbors brought what we wanted and we devoured the oranges like we had never had any of those juicy fruits. I still salivate when I think of that moment, those were some tasty oranges. Since we followed the road constructed for the tractors, we had to walk long winding path, the road took us to the corners of the mountains. Whenever we thought the mountain was over, there would be another unseen part of the mountain still to walk. Sometimes it was frustrating, sometimes it was fun. We used to talk to the villagers and people walking along the road, it was an amazing experience. We never stopped asking the time to reach our destination and we always got the same time whatever distance we covered. We reached Saurpani around 5 in the evening, since we weren't taking a tourist route there were no lodges or tea houses. Every tourist passing through the village stayed at Mr. Bikram Shrestha's house, so did we. He was a nice guy with a welcoming family. We stayed in his house like we were his guests. The only entertainment we had was playing cards, so we made sure we had some of that. Day 5 (Saurpani to Gorkha Bazar) Last day of the trek and we all knew that it was going to be the toughest day of the trek so far. We had planned up our destination a night before as planned with Bikram Shrestha and we knew that we need to walk atleast 12 hours to get to Gorkha. Sachin made sure that he jotted down all the name of the places that we have to pass by. It was 4 :30 AM that we all woke up and started getting ready for the long day. It was very kind of Mr. Bikram Shrestha that he woke up early in the morning to come with us so that we do not get lost on the way. He walked with us for about 20 minutes till the point that we can carry on ourselves and then we bid farewell to him. Hundi Khola was our first landmark to reach. We lost our way for a bit in the fields but that has been a bit of a theme for us during this trek and it was not for the first time that we lost our way. After a while, we found our way and made it to the bridge which was our first landmark around 6 : 30 AM .
The most memorable part of this trek was the crossing the stream and there were no bridge so we had to either take our shoes off to get to the other side or to step on a slippery rocks.
The most memorable part of this trek was the crossing the stream and there were no bridge so we had to either take our shoes off to get to the other side or to step on a slippery rocks. Somehow we crossed 5 such streams and some were pretty dangerous as the water was flow of the water was pretty heavy. Never to forget, we had pomegranate and oranges as we had nothing to eat and no shops for tea. After crossing all the rivers we had to take our path from the jungle and this was yet another pretty tough way to get to our next destination, the power house. For the second time in the day, we lost our way in this jungle and all of us started finding our way through, finally we found the way and we reached our destination at around 9 : 00 AM. It was an uphill climb after this and we had to make our way through the paddy fields to get to the top of the hill. We had not have our breakfast so far and there were no tea shops around. After walking for about an hour and half, we got a place called Bahakot and there was a shop where we had some tea and eggs to fill our stomach. After 2 hours of walking we reached our next stop at Deurali. It was at Bida Shrestha's restaurant that we had some chicken, vegetables and beaten rice to eat. Her husband had a chicken farm and also run a school in that area. It was a tasty food that we had there and then we knew that we needed to hurry up as we don't have much time to reach our destination. We headed towards our next stop Ghyampesal. Guess what, for the 3rd time in the day, we were on a wrong way which we thought was the short cut to Ghyampesal as suggested by Bida Shrestha's husband. We meet two ladies on the way and just to confirm we asked them where this road leads us and they replied "Arughat"!. Thanks to those ladies who guided us to the correct path. Walking continued and it was quite a dusty path that we had to walk. We were already tired as we had already walked for about 6 hours already for the day and we knew that our destination was still long way to go. We reached Ghyampesal at around 2 PM and Khanchowk was not that far from there. It was amazing to see that there were Muslim population in that village and its said that the majority of the Muslim population is in Gorkha. We reached AahaleBhyanjyag at around 4 PM where we stopped to refill ourselves with tea, bananas and other snacks. We all knew that it was our last sprint so we kept on walking even though we were very tired. NareshworBhyanjyang was our last milestone before reaching Gorkha. It started getting dark so we had to take out our lights and walked in the dark. It was getting darker and darker, every time we see a mountain and think that it’s the last one there will arise another mountain and another and another. It was at around 7 that we reached the outskirt of Gorkha Bazar and 8 PM we reached at Hotel Vision where we stayed for the night. Travelling to new places enjoying beautiful scenery is always good but what it made a great trek is the company of the people that I had. It was a nice company of Rudra, Sachin, Ashish and Pramod. Those jokes and chats during the trek made it more interesting. Rudra was very good at building rapport with the people, he will talk and crack jokes with most of the people that we meet on the way. This was another take away from the trek, that trekking is not only about travelling to new places and enjoy beautiful scenery, it's also about getting to know the people of that place and to know a little history behind them which is the most interesting thing. The most funny and unforgettable stories for me in this trek was, couple of instance when Ashish lost his way and then came back a long way to catch up with us, Ashish taking me and Rudra to a bakery factory when we were tired and looking for Sachin in Barpak village, people at Gorkha telling us that our hotel is 15 mins walk where we already walked for almost an hour and still an hour to go and not to forget an old 79 years old man greeting Rudra "Namaste Ba!". Of course, this was an unforgettable trek.