Day 9: Dismantling the camp and reaching Pokhara
We opened for a few hours on Saturday to treat the teacher of the school who had been busy taking classes during the week. The camp then started to be dismantled and packed away. Watching our dining tent being taken down was a solemn affair!
We had planned to start the trek down from the hill (approximately 1,000m altitude) by 12 noon, but the school had organised a surprise presentation and awards ceremony for us, which was really touching. Deepak pledged to raise funds to supply the school with some computers and this has since been achieved.
Way behind schedule, we set off down the hillside and said our goodbyes to the Nepal team (whose GIC mixing skills were now impeccable). Having spent so much time with them it was sad to see them leave and not be part of the trekking that we were about to undertake.
We arrived in Pokhara, a popular tourist destination, late on Friday night. Stepping into the four-star Mount Khailash resort to finally be able to use a high-pressure shower was wholly gratifying!
Before heading out for food, we met with our tour guide Suresh who briefed us about the days to come.
Days 10 + 11: A 2-day hike to Gohrepani
Another late departure (due an inadvertent lie-in following an extremely late night and sheer exhaustion) much to Suresh’s dismay meant that we were to start trekking at midday in the blazing sun – something we were strongly warned against!
A coach dropped us off at the start of our path and we began trekking for 3 days, passing herds of goats, mules, waterfalls, rivers and bamboo forests. I personally found this extremely tough (I’m much better at descending than ascending!), but we all spurred each other on.
We stopped wherever we saw groups of people or children to provide them with some toothpaste, toothbrushes and diet advice and oral hygiene. Translations were again provided by Deepak and Durga and this helped us achieve our aim of reaching those in remote areas.
It took 2 days for us to trek to Gohrepani (2,875m) to the final lodge of our ascent where we all huddled around a heating water tank and laughed the evening away over a game of cards. Sleep was always deep after all of our efforts.
Day 12: Gohrepani to Poon Hill to Kathmandu
The next morning we left at 4.30 am to trek to the top of Poon Hill (3,210m) to see the Annapurna Range at sunrise, a cold, dark and physically tough trek.
As daylight began to break we could start to appreciate how high we actually were as we walked amongst the clouds. We reached the summit of Poon Hill approximately 3 hours later, it was a surreal experience to catch a glimpse of mount fishtail between the thick clouds. Unfortunately viewing conditions were not the best on that particular day but that did not detract from our achievement.
On the descent, spirits were high – until the rain came. It rained and it rained over the next day and a half and we were even met with leeches! Upon meeting our transport we slept all the way back to Pokhara. The remainder of our stay in Pokhara was spent shopping and visiting tourist spots. We even treated ourselves to hikers massages and spot of paragliding!
Day 13: Last day in Kathmandu
Our final day in Kathmandu was spent shopping , having lunch and visiting the dream gardens before making our way back to the UK.
There was a good balance of social activities and work on our trip, and its success came down to the team bonding as well as we did and going to that extra effort to support each other on the run up to the trip, in the clinic and during the trekking. This really was the experience of a lifetime and I would thoroughly encourage members of the dental profession to participate on the next trip.
To learn more about my trip to Nepal as part of the Oral Care for Developing Countries Project, read my other blogs ‘Kirun Raj and her Charity Trip to Nepal for the Oral Care for Developing Countries Project’ and ‘Days 5-8: Hiking to Nepali villages, providing oral surgery and restorative care’.