One of Nepal’s hidden gems, the Panchase trek takes you through some of the Himalayas’ diverse landscapes. Though Panchase is located only an hour away from Pokhara, many travellers tend to overlook this route as it is in the same region as the Annapurna Circuit and Poon Hill, two of the more popular trekking options.
This was my first time trekking through Nepal, and I would highly recommend this route to anyone as it is beginner-friendly and does not require any fitness preparation beforehand. I opted to do this trek independently with a friend, as it did not seem very difficult to navigate, but there are many tour agencies that provide an opportunity to complete this track with a guide.
Although it was the end of November, which marked the beginning of winter in these parts, the daytime sun was still hot on our skin, whilst night-time saw extremely low temperatures.
An Exploration Of Nature
Our starting point was a village called Ghatichhina, and since about four local buses wouldn’t pick us up as we waited in Pokhara. It was already midday by the time we hit the trail.
We followed a path of rushing water towards a stunning river. Of course, we decided to go for a mid-afternoon swim, which left us feeling excited and energised for the next few hours. At this point, the moon had risen, sitting side-by-side with the sun in the sky. I was shocked as it was only 3PM. However, this quickly became one of my favourite memories of Nepal’s landscape.
Our rumbling stomachs signalled that it was dinner-time, and we stopped at an enchanted looking village called Siddhane. Comprising rows of little clay shacks and brick walkways, it looked like a place out of a fairytale. We arrived just in time to watch the sunset, hues of oranges and pinks amongst the backdrop of white-tipped mountains and terraced green fields. Looking at the contrast of the intermingling colours, surrounded by the sounds of nature was a truly cathartic experience.
The inhabitants of Siddhane welcomed us with open arms. Not one of them spoke a word of English, but they seemed to comprehend that we were hungry. However, we still weren’t sure that they understood us as we were waiting for three hours before they finally summoned us into the kitchen. We were served dahl baht, a traditional cuisine that consists of rice, chickpea curry and chutney (if you’re lucky you get a side of pappadum with it) and raksi, a local liquor that the villagers home-brewed from mullet and insisted that we drink. Surprisingly sweet, the raksi warmed our bodies and left us ready for sleep.
Embracing Nepali Culture
The morning was spent exploring this little village, and we finally found a restaurant to have breakfast at. We learnt that this village was of Gurung tradition, meaning that their dialect differed from the usual Nepali, and that there were hundreds of different dialects that belonged to the villages in the surrounding areas.
As we sipped on chai and relished Tibetan sweet bread, a food item that fast became my favourite, we bid our new acquaintances farewell and were back on our feet.
We were also the only people on the trek, which meant that we got to fully immerse ourselves in the nature and cultural exchanges in the villages. Hours were spent going past buffaloes and goats grazing in the wild, verdant natural landscapes and villages that were all so unique in their own way.
Exhausted from the day, we stopped at the closest village we could find, and once again, we were treated to the warmth of Nepali hospitality. Life was so simple up here, everyone lived with nothing but basic necessities, and yet the people here were the kindest, happiest humans that I’ve ever encountered.
Getting to the Peak
This was the day we finally made it up to the village of Panchase, and we were rewarded by its incredible mountain views. The air was cool and crisp, and there were not any other guests in sight, except for the two ladies that ran the guesthouse we were staying at, aptly named Sunset Guest House.
Treated to a delicious home-cooked lunch of noodle soup, we decided to explore the area, and realized that we weren’t actually at the peak of Panchase yet.
Excitedly, we planned to head there to catch the sunset, though we really underestimated how far the peak was. After two more tedious hours of walking uphill, we realised that we were nowhere close, and unfortunately had to watch the sun come down through a gathering of trees. For informative purposes, the peak is actually four hours away from Panchase village.
That night, we stargazed, pulling the mattress from our guesthouse outside as we curled up in blankets. It was indescribable… we spent hours lying outside watching the stars, despite the chill of winter in the air. I saw six shooting stars that night, and made a wish upon every single one. Even though I was exhausted, I couldn’t bring myself to go to sleep, and probably would have fallen asleep outside if it wasn’t so cold!
Going Back to Pokhara
I was a little sad that we had to return to Pokhara so soon, and heading back down to its bustle was difficult after such a magical, revitalising experience. Even on the way down, this trek didn’t lose its magic as we stumbled upon what looked like ancient archaeological sites, complete with rock formations and fossilised animal skeletons.
I loved this trek because of all the different landscapes that we crossed. I had no idea that sights like these even existed in Nepal! Inspired by my time on this trek, I chose to spend the rest of my time in Nepal exploring the rest of its mountainous terrain, and was continuously amazed by all that it had to offer.
GETTING THERE: AirAsia flies to Kathmandu from Kuala Lumpur. For lowest flights and fare info, visit AirAsia.com. To get to Panchase, you are able to take a domestic flight or bus from Kathmandu to Pokhara.