A truly relaxing day on our Annapurna basecamp trek turned out to be the day when we walked to the village called Dovan. After enjoying the truly amazing sunrise at Poon Hill, we passed through the jungles (monkeys!), then followed a picturesque trail through some farmers’ houses until we reached a peaceful terrace with perfectly cut grass. It was the moment to be with yourself – you could lay down, practice yoga or even take some time for proper vlogging (like I did).
Everyone from our group seemed to be engaged with this place in their own way. It was hard to leave in the end – it seems like a perfect place to stay overnight and meditate. We had a slightly different goal for our trip, so packed our bags and moved on, to the next spot.
From Dovan to Machapuchare basecamp
Another day, another climb. This time it gets more serious. This day is similar to the first day of our trek. We force ourselves to take the steps, constantly fighting with our own demons. The valley seems endless, and we need to cross it before lunch. One step at the time, breathing heavily, we gain 1200m in height.
The landscape changes drastically. No more jungles, only rocks and small bushes. We see new animals – reminds of a hamster, but the size of the duck. The sun is hidden behind thick clouds. We are in the clouds now. It’s surreal, but somehow great. It gets easier to breathe, because the air is moist. Finally, we get to put our rain jackets on.
A few hours later, breathing gets even harder. You can feel the altitude in your skull. Almost there, just a few more kilometers. Finally, like an oasis in the middle of a the desert, we see blue roofs of the MBC. We made it to Machapuchare Base camp – 3700m.
The night at MBC
Before we crush in our cold rooms, our guide Alex urges us to take a short walk. Let’s gain another 100m in height, so we can sleep better. Okay, no problem, we made it this far. We drop our bags, put our warmest clothes on and set off towards the snow-covered peaks. The area is so different – only rocks and grass.
The river is carrying melted snow and you can see the powder everywhere. It’s a cold place. Mentally, we prepare for a really chilly night and little to no sleep. It’s worth it, I keep repeating to myself. It must be worth it.
The dinner tastes like nothing before. Exhausted, we drop in our rooms, leaving all the thermal layers on. In a few hours we would need all of those layers to get us going. The sleeping bag was at its best that night. I never regretted getting the warmer version, despite its heavy weight.
Annapurna Basecamp trek – final destination
The routine was the same like in Poon Hill. This time, however, we made a wiser choice and left the lodge 30 minutes earlier than the rest of the group. So there we were – the two of us with Nepali guide, in complete darkness, with only tiny headlights, at freezing temperatures, at 03:30 in the morning, making our way towards the small lights on the horizon.
Surprisingly, it was much easier than any other hike we did on the hot, sunny day. The trail is quite flat, with gradual incline. Many other trekkers passed us along the way, but we made it to the final destination right in time for sunrise.
I can’t say the feeling was overwhelming. Surely, it felt like mission accomplished, but the most valuable lessons were the ones I learned along the way. Standing in the ABC and looking at Annapurna mountain range being now closer than ever before, I felt a lot of respect towards these giants. We, the people, are way too small. The mountains decide, whether they let us ascend them or not. It’s foolish to think you can conquer them.
The last two days of the trek are rather exhausting, with lots of steps descending into the valleys. That’s when I truly learned to use my walking sticks – they are knee saviors! By the time we reached Djinu Danda, I was already fed up with walking. This is when Himalayas got an amazing surprise for us – hot springs!
The baths were so relaxing, that we stayed there almost until it was too dark to walk back. Water temperature was around +40C. I wish I could have stayed there longer, because my aching feet needed the treatment so badly.
The night we spent in Djinu was one of the most memorable ones, too, as we were forced to stay outside due to „night guests“ in our room. Luckily, outside temperatures were pleasant and the terrace was quite spacious. We grabbed our sleeping bags and spent the night under million stars above us.
The end of the trek
Our trek was over way too soon. It was a good mix of both physical and emotional training. By the day we stepped into a bus, we were strong as never before. The group of people we traveled with were so inspiring and friendly, that we can easily consider them our friends from now on. With each step, your body reprograms you to be stronger, push yourself to new limits and re-evaluate your life. The experience is life changing.
Back home, you realize how unnecessary are many things in our life. In your mind, you keep coming back to the mountains and seek for the silence and peace you felt back there. On the other hand, you start to appreciate the comfort of your life and simple things, like good food, hot shower and a comfy bed.
I would do it again, but perhaps in another place and time. The globe is pretty big with many other mountains. Stepping outside your comfort zone is the only way to change your life.