We flew, via Delhi, to Kathmandu with just a brief delay. We had not got visas so there was a bit of queuing at the sirport on arrival. It was all very friendly. The hotel in Kathmandu was very comfortable and welcoming and was set round a pleasant group of courtyards making it a very peaceful contrast to the hectic traffic outside. We had a meal and then tried to catch up on sleep. In the morning we had an early start so as to catch a flight to Pokhara. The domestic airport is very relaxed, considering the number of flights going out, and a bit crazy. We negotiated it safely and took our small plane to Pokhara.
After a short briefing by our guide we took the road to Lumle and the start of the actual trek. Our porters loaded two kitbags each into big baskets and put them on their backs. We just had our daypacks and set off along a wide trail. The trek was fairly short, started with contouring round and slight uphill followed by quite a lengthy stepped downhill. The views were of wooded hills with glimpses of snowy peaks. A highlight of the trek was passing through the Bee village where we saw several beehives on the walls of the houses as well as goats and chickens. Millet was being harvested and threshed rhythmically using long poles. We crossed two bridges, one short one made of logs and one suspension bridge which was high over the river but very sturdy. Sanctuary Lodge is set round a pleasant garden and just above the river Modi. We had a brief walk down to the river. When we came up the mountains were emerging from a bit of afternoon cloud before turning a delicate pink in the evening. Machhapuchhre, also known as the Fishtail, was particularly impressive.
We started early, as there was a fair amount of climbing to be done (more than we realised!), and we wanted to do it before the heat. Most of the climbs were stepped and interspersed with paths contouring round. The climb took as through several villages with people threshing cereals, general farming and impeccably dressed children going to school along the paths. A lot of fruit and vegetables are grown here and the terracing of the rice fields is notable. We went past the school just as the children were going in. They were lined up and did some PE in their lines to the beat of a drum before going cheerfully in to school. The principal teacher came over and chatted to us and then the children showed off their English with even the four-year-olds counting in English.
The route continued onward and upwards until we reached an archway labelled Ghandruk. Aha we thought, we are nearly at our lodge. An hour or so late,r after climbing up steps and more steps, we reached our lodge to be greeted with lemonade and then hot soup and fried rice. We had had a 'snack' lunch on our way so Camilla failed to finish the rice.
Later we took a shortish walk down to the village passing donkeys, hens and oxen on the way.
We awoke to a wonderful clear view of Annapurna South and friends. After many photos and a lovely outside breakfast we set off down the many steps. We followed the route from the day before for quite a while and then took a more direct route down to the river. Poor Sue slipped and sprained her ankle. After trying to walk a little it became clear it was impossible and she, and Tim, took a bus and jeep to the next lodge, accompanied by the assistant guide. The rest of us continued down to the river. The track was busier and we met many mules, other trekkers, and locals carrying burdens of rice etc. We reached Sanctuary Lodge (a lower part than where we had stayed) and were given lunch. After a good rest, we set off on the long climb to Gurung Lodge. Much of the climb was in trees so not too hot but it was quite steep in places. On arrival at the lodge we were again greeted with lemonade and information about the happy hour before dinner. The local concept of `happy hour` is very happy and commendable: all Nepalese drinks were on the house and you pay for anything else.
We again woke to stunning views so many photos were taken! The walk today started uphill with a mixture of track, steps and narrow paths. It was reasonably cool for the climb. At the top of the ridge we paused for a while to enjoy the view. We then descended to Dhampus where we stopped for lunch at Basanta Lodge. After a good rest we descended steadily to meet our bus, as well as Sue and Tim, who had travelled by jeep as Sue was not able to walk. We were driven to the ferry point for Fishtail Lodge and said goodbye to our guides and porters. We had a good buffet dinner but, alas, no 'happy hour' this time.
Rook was waiting for us by the ferry and came with us to the airport. This was just as well as there was a problem with our tickets. All was sorted amd we flew back to Kathmandhu and our hotel. We then spent some time sorting clothes so as to keep to the weight limit for the flight to Lukla.
After that we visited the nearby Hindu temple, Pashupatinath, dedicated to Shiva. We were amused by the monkeys, one of whom was fascinated by a mirror that it had found. One mother monkey strongly objected to David taking a photo of her and her baby. It was then back to the hotel for an early night.
Sue had an x-ray which found that her ankle was broken so she could not continue and, sadly, we parted company with her and Tim.