The Australian Camp Hike from Pokhara
Pokhara is one of the most beautiful cities in Nepal – if not the most beautiful. The best part about Pokhara is that there are countless things to discover around it. It is so close to the Annapurnas that, on a clear day, you can distinguish the main peaks (except Annapurna I, the highest). Once, I only had one extra day to spend there, and I was looking for an escape to the mountains. The issue with most mountain getaways in Nepal is that you must pay a rather hefty permit to enter the National Parks. When you’re travelling for one or two weeks it’s worth paying this fee, but when you only enter for a day or two but must still pay the same price, it’s a bit expensive.
When I asked at the Tourist Information Board about somewhere I could go to get high into the mountains without needing to buy a permit, they suggested the Australian Camp. I had never heard of it before! Turns out it was an easy two-hour walk up from Kande, with sweeping views of the mountains.
The start of the trail is within easy reach of Pokhara by bus, just an hour from the Baglung Bus Park. If you feel adventurous you can rent a scooter and ride it there. The road between Pokhara and Kande is in very good condition as it is paved all the way. This is extremely important to know in Nepal, where most roads are unpaved and difficult to ride on. It winds beautifully up through forest, into the hills, and through traditional villages. On a clear day, you can see Machapuchre rising above the hills. It’s an impressive sight every time.
The place where you can stop and leave the bike to begin the hike is quite obvious, as it’s where the bus station is, too. There are a few shops there, and you may be asked to buy some souvenirs and maybe to pay a small fee to leave your bike.
The hike itself is easy. The slope going up is not too step. It passes through a few villages. While going up, there is not much of a view. However, you get to enjoy the forest and the quietness. It is likely there will be very few other travelers there. However, once you get up, the whole Annapurna range spreads out in front of you.
Colorful tents are set up on the hillside. A few guesthouses invite you to stay overnight to enjoy the views. You should at least have lunch in a garden, looking over the postcard-perfect mountain view and enjoying the delicious local products.
I spent three hours there, bathing in the sun, and taking picture after picture.
If I’d had another day I would certainly have enjoyed staying there to see the sunrise. It would be glorious. I went down at sunset and saw people coming back to the villages at the end of the day. They were carrying products from the field while the warm yellow light announced the end of the work day. I was grateful to witness this scene of normal life without the crowds you normally see on the Himalayan trails.
If you, like me, are looking for a quick and quiet escape into the mountains, definitely go to the Australian Camp. It is easy to get there, inexpensive, has facilities for an overnight stay and can be a motorbike adventure too, if you like riding.