On the first week of March, a British couple had booked for trekking through our agency. I got a call from Managing Director Mr. Mohan Raj Bhandari for the trekking in Panchase region. The two-day short trek was fixed for 9th and 10th of March. Matt and Vicky were the names of the British couple. On the 7th, we visited them in their hotel where they had been staying for two days.
Noticeably, Matt was quite a tall guy with a dazzling smile, and Vicky was a down-to-earth girl. She was the one who had planned their trek for Panchase. We were immediately fascinated by the couple’s friendliness and enthusiasm.
A day before the trek, Matt was not entirely willing to do the trekking. Turns out, he had been having a stomach problem. Vicky was also quite worried about Matt’s illness. We told them that the trek can be postponed for later and asked them to give a final decision at the end of the day. Matt had been taking medicine, so he was finally feeling well by the evening and gave us the green light.
Briefing Before Trekking
The first priority of any trekking is safety. We asked the couple to check their trekking equipment before leaving the hotel. Also, I gave them the list of the equipment and clothes that they should be taking for the trip.
The trail to Panchase is steep, so we suggested them to take wear shoes with good grip. There was also a possible problem with leeches, so we recommended they take an anti-leech cream. Also, we instructed them not to over-pack as it was merely a two-day trip.
I was at their hotel early in the morning. We took their bags to our agency office, where our travel car was ready to take us to Kande.
There was one additional member in our team during that trek. He was my 15 years old cousin Prabesh. As it was his first time, he was wildly excited to start the trek. I still remember what Vicky told me after I said that Prabesh would also be joining us. She said “More People More fun”.
The highway was under construction, so we took a different route through Sarangkot. The distance from Pokhara to Kande is about 27km. As soon as we reached the top of the hill, it started raining heavily. Matt and Vicky seemed to be worried, thinking the heavy rain could damage their planned vacation. However, it stopped raining after a while, and we all became glad that the rain would not affect our trek. After an hour of drive, we reached Kande.
Beginning of Panchase Trek
Our trek started at approximately 9:30 a.m. as we began ascending to Kumari Danda and passed through the popular picnic spot. After an hour of walk, we could see the village of Bhadaure. Hiking along the muddy road, we met a few locals on the way who were collecting grass to feed their cattle.
The path is mostly isolated with only a few houses on the way. You don’t see that many people except for the inhabitants. Moreover, vehicles move through the road only occasionally.
For our lunch, we stopped at the Annapurna Hotel and Lodge. The place has proper provisions for food and accommodation.
We drank tea and also had the traditional dish of Daal Bhat for lunch. The meal was accompanied by vegetables which were grown locally. The food was excellent, and we ate to our heart’s content. Also, we explored the nearby village which had some traditional homes and a school.
We then resumed our trekking at about one o’clock. By this time, black clouds were brewing above us. We walked along the mostly uninhabited trail through a dense forest. I led the way while Matt, Vicky, and Prabesh followed me. As usual, I was walking with pace so that they would hike faster. Upon reaching All Danda, the sky was clear. From there, we slowly continued our walk.
Arrival at Bhanjyang
At about 5 o’clock, we arrived at Bhanjyang. We then went to our usual check-in at Happy Heart Hotel.
Run by the trio of sisters: Buddhimaya, Tija, and Maya, Happy Heart Hotel is the first hotel we encounter in the Panchase region. The facility has no other staffs and is run entirely by these three sisters. Sometimes, the trekkers staying in the lodge help them in their cutting and cooking of vegetables which are grown in the garden nearby.
Along with a Swiss gentleman who was checked-in at the hotel, I helped them in washing some vegetables which were brought straight from the garden.
We all enjoyed our dinner very much. Moreover, Vicky and Matt both complimented the delicious vegetables. After dinner, I briefed the couple about our hiking plans for the next day. I told them to be ready early as we will be starting our hike before sunrise.
Hiking to the Top
After waking up at 4:45 a.m., we began our hike towards the top of Panchase hill. We came out of the hotel only to discover the sky covered with clouds and the valley obscured by fogs. Still, we were hopeful that all would clear up by the time we reach the top. However, even after an hour of hike to the top, fogs were still hiding the views, which was disappointing. And neither could we witness the sunrise from the hill of Panchase. Yet, we did not grieve for the happenstance as it was not under our control. And besides, the area had plenty of other places for us to explore.
Exploring the hill of Panchase
We traveled to the Gurung village nearby from where we enjoyed some excellent views of the Annapurna, Manaslu and Dhaulagiri range. After visiting the Siddhababa Temple, which is a holy site for the local Hindus, we walked across a beautiful rhododendron forest and magnificent stupas. Prabesh was busy picking the rhododendron flowers while we were making our house-like structures from stones. There is a religious belief that if you make a house there, you will have a good home in your next life.
Moreover, every year on the occasion of Balchaturdasi, Hindu pilgrims visit this site. They also sow some seeds so that they can get enough food in their next life. So, the place is truly a sacred location.
Then we went towards the Gurung hill from where we could see the excellent view of Annapurna, Manaslu, and Dhaulagiri mountain ranges. After that, we headed back to Bhanjyang.
A heavy snowfall that occurred a few days ago had damaged the trail. Lots of trees were lying down and blocking our way. We could see small landslides as well. Upon returning down to Bhanjyang, we had lunch in our hotel. We bid farewell to the three sisters of Happy Heart Hotel and began our journey back to Pokhara.
The Way Back from Panchase
Unlike the path that we traversed while going, we were returning through a different path that mostly constituted descending from stairs. We encountered several Chortens on the way down along the slippery trail. We then arrived at the beautiful village of Sidhane. The traditional community is composed of only about 15-20 houses. The houses are mostly built of stones and have roofs made of slates.
While resting in a Chautari, we could see a small portion of Annapurna IV which got Vicky really excited. She then told me that it was the first time she had ever seen the Himalayan peak.
We then continued our journey to reach Humde Khola. While on the way, we were frequently attacked by leeches on our feet. While mostly harmless, these worms are common in the area this time of the year. We then arrived at Humde Khola, which is one of the streams originating from Panchase. From there, we descended further passing through the village of Damdame, before finally reaching our pick-up point at Ghatichhina.
We got on our car and drove back to Pokhara. Upon reaching Pokhara, we went to the Utopia Garden and had our lunch. We talked and enjoyed the view of the beautiful sunset.
End of Trek
In the evening, we all gathered at the Trekking agency. It was time to say goodbye. After hugging Matt and Vicky, I thanked them for selecting Nepal as their vacation destination. They promised they will visit Nepal again very soon. I also expressed my gratitude to them for choosing North Nepal as their agency and me as their guide.