Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles.
Oct 31, 2019 – Pokhara to Hile
Like most hikers, I started my Khopra Ridge adventure from Pokhara.
Coffee and Eggs Benedict for breakfast. Last city meal.
Khopra Ridge is an increasingly popular alternative on the Annapurna Massif. Less crowded than the longer established trails.
Raju, owner of Sweet Dreams Guest House ordered me a cab for 1pm. The jumping off point for Khopra Ridge (also Ghorepani Poonhill) is the tiny turnoff called Naya Pul.
A car cost $25 and took 2 hours. Bus might have been 4 hours / $4. It’s a very rough road under constant construction.
From Lakeside (593m) the road switchbacks immediately up to Sarangkot (1592m). This is where paragliding starts.
On reaching Naya Pul I decided to walk up as far as I could towards Tikhedhungga (1638m). This leg stretcher would be good warm-up for days of climbing to come. And acclimatization. I started late in the day so I’d only have 2-3 hours of walking.
It’s a dusty, busy road to start. Several vehicles stopped to offer me a ride.
Still, I was happy to be back in the Annapurna Conservation Area, Nepal’s largest (supposedly) protected area. Unfortunately, I don’t see much protection. Instead there are more roads, more development.
About a half hour from Naya Pul you reach 2 checkpoints: TIMS and ACAP.
As an independent trekker I got my permits in person in Pokhara:
TIMS $30 (Trekking Information Management System)
ACAP $20 (Annapurna Conservation Area Project)
In addition, two different schools en route asked for money. I donated to both.
You can catch a ride, even a bus, all the way to Tikhedhungga if the weather has been good.
Here’s the worst section I saw day 1.
Eventually Nepali mountain villages will build trails parallel to the road, otherwise hikers will stop coming as they have on the Royal Trek.
There was one nice off-road section day 1.
The homliest looking lodges are called Homestay.
By luck I found a wonderful group of lodges off the road near Hile.
My room was $3 and chow mien $4.50. Lodges here should have the same fixed prices.
Here’s my foothills vista at 1470m.