Something I had really wanted to do in Nepal, though wasn't sure whether I'd have the time, was some sort of trek. Nepal is a very popular destination for trekking, with the main treks taking people deep into either the Everest region or the Annapurna Sanctuary. Trekking is generally accepted as being nothing more strenuous than a good hike but the emphasis is on covering distance. It is generally scoffed at by proper climbers!
Alfie shared my interest in trekking and we decided to add a short trek onto the end of our trip to Pokhara. Short, because it would be cheap and get us back to Kathmandu without losing too many days of our placement, and (for me certainly), more of an investigation so that I can one day return and do it properly! Luckily, Alfie has a well-known family friend in the climbing world who was able to put us into contact with a trekking company based in Kathmandu called Himalayan Ecstasy (http://www.himalayanecstasynepal.com/). They recommended that we embark on a trek around the 'Poon Hill circuit' (don't laugh). It's 5 days long (though we intend to do it in 4), low point 1070m and high point 3210m, approximately 50km.
We decided to hire a guide, not because navigation is difficult, but because it would be useful to get advice about the lodges en-route and also to have someone to share the journey with. With this in mind, we were given the company of 24-year-old Santabir (Santa) for our trek - which proved to be a great match, as will become evident later.
We had met up with Santa in Kathmandu before we had left for Chitwan, and since we had a few bits of kit to hire, like hiking rucksacks, waterproof trousers, jackets and sleeping bags, we were taken to a warehouse in Thamel to select our gear. This is what that place looked like:
The 'shoe room' (above) and the 'jacket room' (below).
This warehouse was an amazing collection stuffed, seemingly to the brim, with just about any clothing or equipment you might need! All of it was fake, of course, invariably pretending to be North Face or Mountain Hardware. It was easy enough to get clothing, but one glance at the shoes persuaded me just to use the boots I'd brought from England and had originally condemned as working boots for the duration.
Once we'd selected our stuff and paid for the trek, we handed it over to Santa to take with him to Pokhara when he joined us a few days later. Then departed to Chitwan (see below).