Desert magic: a jeep tour, climbing and hiking in Negev

Negev desert Israel

Our desert article was just published in Erä magazine and it made me miss our desert trip from one year ago.

We spent last December many days exploring Makhtesh Ramon craters, desert trails and walking routes in Eilat surroundings.

In addition to the Jewish guide Uri, we had a fun bedouin guide Younes who told us stories about the life in the desert. He said that you can even hold a scorpion without biting if you hold it from the back of its neck. He wanted to show us how to do this and turned many stones in order to find a alive scorpion.

Luckily he didn’t found any. You even have to know how to turn the stones because the scorpion can bite your hand if you aren’t careful enough.

Here is Uzi’s collage about our trip. The pictures will open up bigger when clicked. Here is Uzi’s collage about our trip. The pictures will open up bigger when clicked.

 

Here you will find a link to my post made one year ago about this trip.

I got to dive with dolphins on that same trip. It was a wonderful experience and I hope to bring the kids to do the same one day. Here you can see the post in case you missed it.

Poon Hill sunrise, evening in the tea houses, hot springs and other high lights

Kävelevä kanala trekin varrelta Poon Hill NepalEvery single day on the trek was an adventure of its own. It was wonderful to follow the village life, people celebrating tihar-festival, kids going to school, farmers working on their fields and for example this walking chicken house. The chicken are brought a long way to the mountain villages on these kind of cages, always alive. That’s why the price is very high as well… better to be vegetarian in this are.

Market in a village Poon Hill trek Nepal

Found myself a new hat in a village market.

 

Ravintola trekin varrella Poon Hill Nepal Pokhara
Laudry is being dried in the restaurant yard.
Local restaurant Poon HIll Nepal
Tea is cooking in the kitchen.

 

Tea house Gorephani Nepal

We spent our evening drying the damp clothes and sitting next to the fire place in the tea house dining room.

Mushroom soup trek Nepal

Chem decided to make us mushroom soup with the wild mushroom we found on the trail. What a cook is our guide!

Tea house Gorephani NepalThe dinner is served on long tables in tea house dining room.

Typical thali Nepali food

A typical Nepali thali= a meal consisting rice, dhal (lentil soup), pappadam bread and vegetarian side dishes. Nepali people eat rice and dhal from the morning until the evening. It is good but we got an overdose of it 🙂

Ilta tea housessa luen kirjaa

The evenings are short as it gets dark already after 5 pm. It was freezing in the room so I spent my time inside my sleeping back reading a book. I bought a very good one, a book called Sold from the tiny book store in Gorephani village. The book speaks about human trafficking and tells a sad story of a young girl who is sold to work in a brothel in India. Luckily the awareness about girls’ abusement has increased in the recent years but still there are Nepali girls and women who end up being victims of human traficking still these days.

Sunrise at Poon Hill Pokhara Nepal

The highlight of the trek was definitely the sun rise in Pool Hill at 3200 meters above sea level. We climbed up there at 5 o’clock in the morning (very sleepy but worth it!). Tens or even hundreds of people walked silently up with head lamps. After a 45 minute climb we reached the top and began to see the shapes of the beautiful mountains surrounding us.

Poon Hill Pokhara Nepal

Suuri puu Poon Hillin trekillä Nepalissa I simply had to hug this huge tree 🙂

Hot springs Jhinu Pokhara Nepal
Hot springs in Jhinu

We began our last trekking day by bathing in the hot springs of Jhinu village. With an entrance ticket of a half a euro you can spend as long as you like in this wonderful haven in the middle of the nature. Felt so good after walking up and down the mountains for four days. We got nice company from this Australian couple who had just come down from the Annapurna base camp.

About arranging a trek

One can either arrange everything on your own (hire a porter, a guide or a porter guide like we did), pay the accommodation and food directly to tea houses. But the easiest way to do it is to buy a package from a travel agency like we did.  We used Yak & Yeti Treks & Expedition which is located on Pokhara lakeside. The whole thing including a food of free choice costs (the other option is to take the cheaper menu with rice and dhal)  around 50 USD per day per person depending on the trekking route and the altitude.

The guides don’t earn big salaries when you take into consideration the physical challenge of their job. So you would want to tip your guide for letting you enjoy the views without a big load on your back. We paid around 15 EUR tip per day.

 

* By the way, what do you think of the new layout?  The pictures open up in a bigger size without clicking them separately. Any comments will be appreciated 🙂 *

 

 

 

Dreams tend to come true: Trekking in Nepal

Trekkaamista Nepalissa Poon Hill

Dreams really tend to come true. In this case it took a decade but it was worth waiting.

Villages Poon Hill trek Nepal

I had planned traveling to Nepal for a long time. My first plan to go there was already ten years ago when I was touring around in India with my little brother Daniel. We were in Rajasthan and I was sick all the time as it was really cold there. Yes, I come from Finland but the room temperature in our houses is not 7 degrees, we don’t take cold showers and eat in restaurants that have only a piece of plastic on their windows. So I told my bro that instead of traveling up to Nepal we are going to some sunny place instead. And so we did, we headed to Andaman islands in the Bay of Bengal and that was absolutely the right choice. But I never got rid of this idea that I missed Nepal.

Daniel traveled there on his honey moon a couple of years ago and stayed there two long months so he was just the perfect guide for me.

And after ten years we were traveling together again!

 

Muulit kantavat tavaroita Nepalissa

We had planned to go for the famous Annapurna Circuit trek but we gave up this idea and chose Poon Hill instead as we would have been short in time. We had planned to tour in the Southern Nepal villages with Fida and we wanted to leave enough time for that.

This was the right decision for us as just before our arrival to Nepal there was a tragic accident in that same Annapurna Circuit. The Hud hud cyclon which hit India affected the Himalayas so that there was an avalanche in Annapurna and 39 trekkers and porters died in Thorong Lapasse. It was a total surprise in this time of the year. We met an Israeli trekker in Poon Hill. He had been besieged by the snow and lost two of his fellow trekkers.

 

Poon Hill trek Nepal

Poon Hill is one of the most beautiful trekking routes and it takes around 5 days to cover it, depending on the speed of course. The route goes only up to 3200 meters so here there wasn’t any risk of an avalanche. The snow starts only much higher areas. The Nepalis call this part of the country the hilly area as for them a mountain is a mountain only if it is more than four kilometers high.

 

Porters in Poon Hill Nepal
Everything from coke to rice is carried to the villages by porters. It is a common profession especially among the Sherpa people. They are used to the conditions in the mountains and can take big loads on their back. The weight is actually on their heads.

 

Trekking means walking along the mountain routes in Nepal. The routes are often small paths consisting of stairs. The remote mountain villages can be reached only by these routes and the locals use them along with the travelers. Sometimes you are out in the wilderness, sometimes you cross people’s backyards. Most of the time trekking means going up and down more or less steep stairs. Only a small part of the routes are in flat areas. So trekking means very good exercise!

Poon Hill Nepal porter guide
Our porter guide Chem is an experienced fellow. He work in altitudes up to 6500 meters.

 

Every now and then there are these kind of resting places where you find a wooden or a stone bench. There is a place to lean your rack sack without taking it off from your back. Going up steep stairs was quite a challenge at least for this kind of a not-so-super- fit- trekker like me and  I took advantage of these resting places. The heart rate went often up to 150-160 even when walking slow. We got power boost from nuts, dry fruit, chocolate and biscuits.

Porter guide Nepal trek Poon HillThere is lots of water there are hanging bridges to cross the rivers. Or only some not so strong-looking wooden bridges like this.

Poon Hill trek Nepal

The nature along the trekking route is incredible and it is not worth hurrying as one needs time also for just enjoying the water falls, rivers, flowers and the village life.

Goat Poon Hill Nepal

 

Gone for 33 nights

Skypessä
We tried to have Skype meetings despite of the bad connection and time difference in this side of the world.

Homesick in Nepal

33 nights away from home. Many tears were shed on the day of my departure. The girls drove me to the airport and we all hugged and cried. We wouldn’t meet each other for over one month.

One whole month. I had never been away for such a long time.

Poon Hill trek Nepal
One of the best things was interaction with the local kids. They were so happy to be photographed and to see the pictures afterwards.

 

33 nights. It felt endless when we counted the nights together with the girls. I had a good intention when I made calendars for both of them from which they could count the days until my coming back but I guess the result was just the opposite. The girls freaked out when they understood how long I would be gone.
The day before my departure I started hesitating.

Poon Hill trek Nepal Jhinu hot springs
Huge poinsettias blossomed in our tea house garden in Jhinu village.

Dania asked me why am I leaving, why couldn’t I do just a normal job in Finland. She had already suggested I would change my profession.

Well, this is how it goes. I love my job and do it from my heart. But how do my kids fit this equation?

I try to limit my press trips to max 7-8 days. Already then we start missing each other badly. This time it would be five long weeks. They would be taken care of but a mom is always a mom. Or is she? 🙂

On Finnair flight to Delhi the Indian flight attendants served Indian food and I already started feeling like  “this is going to be a good trip”. It was 2,5 years since my last visit in India last time and I had really missed that country.

And: I had planned a trip to Nepal for the past 10 years and now my dream was coming true!

 

Trekking in Nepal
On my trek to Poon Hill I met this lovely creature.

On this trip I would see rare places, tribes and landscapes.

I feel that my work is significant. In this urge to see the world there is naturally curiosity involved but also a sincere will to make this world better. When I meet illiterate or abused girls and tell their story or the story of the people helping them, I feel that there is already some hope.

But as the days pass by and I can’t hold my lil girls, the joy of seeing new things fade day by day. My correspondence with the girls is just What’s app-messages filled with longing and some occasional Skype calls. Then I think to myself: why on earth I am doing this to myself and to my kids. Instead of cheerful how are you’s the messages say “Mommy, I miss you” followed by cry-smilies. What else can I reply than “I miss you too.” 🙁 🙁

 

Homesick in Nepal
On my day of departure. The girls still try to smile bravely. This picture says it all 🙂

 

It has been therapeutic to hear other “travel mummies”” feelings. One of my friends is gone every month for two weeks. She spends all her free time at the destination speaking on Skype.

It was touching to follow the journey of my fellow blogger Satu “Destination Unknown”‘ Vänskä Westgarth’s posts while she was cycling in Ireland.

I delved into her joy of homecoming after one whole month. (It was also nice to remind myself that I am not the only “bad mom” on this planet 😉 )

Homecoming.

That’s always the highlight of every single trip. Nothing compares to gathering the kids in my lap. I would like to promise then that I will never leave again. But I couldn’t keep such a promise. Instead, I say that I am not going anywhere for a looong time.

Usually the first question is: “Mommy, did you bring us some surprise?” And yes, there is usually something waiting for the girls in my suitcase.

I would love to say that I am a better mom when I do something I love. But I don’t know if I am. Instead, I can say that I have much more patience for every day life challenges when I am gone for a while.

I feel so lucky to follow the dance class show or go and get the girls a bit earlier from the day care. Or take a walk in the forest or just to curl up on the couch and see a movie together. And not only hear what the girls have been up to in the “second house” with their dad.

The tantrums begin the day after my return. They will take a day or two Then the life comes back to normal. Until the next trip.

 

 

*I am writing this in my hotel and can’t describe the incredible feeling of knowing that I will be at home in less than 24 hours!!!*