Thursday, July 4, 2013

Eiger, Moench & Annapurna

Annapurna South & Annapurna 1

on the way up...
Remember the last post, when I told you about us, going for an eight days trekking to the Annapurna Base Camp (ABC)? The above sunrise picture is proof that we made it. We hiked through fog, clouds, heavy monsoon rains and were in a constant fight with leeches, but we made it. Eventually we were up and back down in Pokhara within only five days. Local guys and guidebooks keep telling you that ten to eight days are needed, but since we only had good views on the very top, we decided to speed up to Sherpa velocity.The guys carrying all the supplies into ABC do it in four days and earn 3'000 rupees for one turn.
The trek itself is nothing extreme or ''super tiring'' like other travelers might tell you. It all depends on your speed, should you really be fed up with all the stairs and the too big backpack you brought along, there are plenty of locals along the way, always ready to be your guide or porter for a few rupees. That we walked most of our time through typical monsoon rain did not matter at all, after a certain altitude, the rain turns to fog, later the fog will make space for clean fresh Himalayan air. The sights we eventually got from ABC were outrageously beautiful and unique, nevertheless they still reminded me a lot of certain places in Switzerland. Here are some more pictures for those who stay at home:
Mt. Hiunchuli & moon

Annapurna South with some first shafts of sunlight

Mt. Machhapuchhare

Annapurna 1, reclected

Yes, the trekking was beautiful indeed. Since it took us only five instead of the planned eight days, we had some days to fill in our itinerary. Hmm, what to do in the Nepal Himalayas during monsoon season..? Exactly, kayaking and paragliding! Spontaneously we booked a four days intensive training for kayak beginners and headed off for the Trisuli river. Due to the low season, we were the only guests staying in 'Camp Amsterdam' (yes, the name has its reason), some three hours west from Pokhara. We had four great days, chief guide Akash and his friends ensured plenty of training and lots of fun. Our days were filled with paddling and eating local food, the nights were filled with singing and drinking local roxy (rice wine). Legendary chef Bissal made sure we would get enough 'sandwiches' for our different hungers...

30/06/2013 self portrait

Bissal, chef.
The self portrait above is one of more than hundred, I made one on every single day of my journey, starting with a picture of fresh shaved Georg sitting in the train towards ZRH airport. At the end of my trip, I will do my best to arrange a nice time lapse movie. This will then answer the redundant question; 'did this trip change you?'. The movie will be posted here, as the last post (until HornToBeWild is reactivated for a next trip, e.g. Tripoli to Capetown).

Kayaking itself is loads of fun. Fred and I were total rookies and never touched a true kayak before. The four days were intended to give us a good introduction to the sport and to teach us the survival essentials. 'Surviving' really is what we were focusing on, when we paddled down rapid Trisuli for the first time..! Contrary to the season, the water levels are very high due to the monsoon rains. We must have looked totally lost in those huge waves and whirlpools, struggling to bring our kayak fully under control. Likewise starting to ride a motorbike in Ho Chi Minh City, starting to kayak in the Himalayas during monsoon is a true baptism of fire, Eskimo-role ahoi! Unfortunately I don't have any footage of us kayaking available right now, we did all of it with Fred's GoPro camera, which is totally waterproof and shock resistant. Contact me once I am back for some videos and pictures of us flipping over in rapid, cold and brown water.

After four days we were happy to grant our muscles and grazes some rest, we drove back to Pokhara. A short interruption of the daily monsoon madness allowed us to go for a paragliding flight from top of Sarangkot mountain. So far it was a tandem flight, however it reinforced my intention to go for a pilot license as soon as possible/reasonable. While flying over water buffalos and rice fields I thought back, thought about our time in Nepal and concluded that I definitely have to come back one day. The mixture of culture, geography and nice people is unique here, Nepal became an unexpected highlight of the trip.

Para- para- paradise

Pokhara from Sarangkot (or Interlaken from Niderhorn?)
 Yet another highlight and probably the last one is awaiting us. Tomorrow morning we will leave for India, crazy Varanasi is our destination. We will see how we cope with the local culture of death and birth, I am very excited.
A last picture (there were many this time eh?) is showing a typical Tibetan food, which the Nepali people happily introduced in their kitchens as well, Momo's. A recipe is available on request, so is a dinner, if you bring some imported Gorkha beer.

Momo's, that good, I could not even take a picture before I had my hands on  them...

Next post will come from India, country no. 8, last one.

stay tuned,  GH

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