February had just begun when we decided on going for a trek to Ghalegaun.
Ghalegaun is one of the most talked about places to visit in Nepal. In terms of cultural and ethnic value, Ghalegaun is popular as a traditional Gurung village that serves true experience of Nepali hospitality. In terms of natural beauty, it is nestled in the lap of Annapurna mountain range and offers the perfect flavor of “village” tourism.
Our journey began from Balaju, Kathmandu in a Mirco Bus at around 2 pm. Some six to seven hours later, we arrived at the Besisahar of Lamjung district. From there, we were told three more hours of vehicle journey would take us to Ghalegaun. If you really wanted to, you could make the entire journey within 10-11 hours.
We, however, decided to not rush it and stayed the night at Besisahar.
Next day, we broke our fast early in the morning and took a jeep (in Nepal, every other SUV is termed a Jeep!) to Ghalegaun.
You can, of course, even walk up to Ghalegaun from Besisahar. For that, you have to go up to Khudi, located at way to Manang, and from there it’s a 4 hours trek uphill.
The road till Besisahar was black-topped and the ride was somewhat smooth. But beyond there, it was a 42 kilometer long graveled road journey. However, the view of beautifully lined hills and glimpses of shy mountains along the road kept us distracted from the roughness of the road.
After about 2 hours of journey, we got off at Kapur village. Vehicles do go up to Ghalegaun, but we decided to walk the rest of our way. So from Kapur village, we left the main road and set off on the trekking route.
Around 2 more hours of casual walk later, we found ourselves among the breathtaking surroundings of Ghalegaun.
At the height of 2100 meters above sea level, Ghalegaun was even more beautiful than what was talked about. Even as you enter, you would most probably be welcomed (as per the timing of your arrival) by the sight of a classic Nepali village resting in the middle of the hills with proud mountain peaks rising up to the rich blue sky in the backdrop.
Having arrived late, our first concern was finding a homestay to spend the night. However, it wasn’t much a problem as we later found that the entire village operated as a homestay. This had been done with the initiation of the entire community to promote tourism in Ghalegaun, and the guests were welcomed at each house based on a routine. So in no time, we got places for ourselves in one of the homes, and even found time to head out for a quick stroll around the village.
Later during our casual interaction with our hosts, we found how some domestic tourists were causing hassle for them by misunderstanding the concept of homestay. Homestays generally imply that we get to stay in someone’s house as a guest, not a customer. So, like a good guest, it is expected of us to make-do with whatever food is cooked or services are available. However, some visitors from Pokhara, Kathmandu, Chitwan, and other major cities hadn’t still grasped the concept fully and were found demanding for cold drinks, beer, and items usually found in hotel menus.
If you are one of them, we request you to make sure you respect the hospitality by making your stay comfortable for your hosts as well.
Regarding food, be assured that almost everything given to you will be organic, most probably grown in the backyard garden of your hosts. We also found that the hosts generally loved to interact fully with the guests, and were often eager to exchange knowledge and experiences. We of course were more than happy to do the same.
Later, we were thankful for the campfire that was arranged for us in the courtyard of their home. The weather was gentle cold, and the warmth of the fire was a welcome addition as our conversations prolonged. We only took off for our beds when we heard that we could witness a beautiful sunrise from Ghalegaun if we managed to get ourselves up early in the morning.
We woke up around 5:45 and walked for 3-4 minutes to get to the sunrise-viewing spot on a hill. There, we also found a view tower with 360 degree view of the landscape.
Besides sunrise, Ghalegaun is a prime location for viewing various mountain ranges including the famous Lamjung, Machhapuchhre, Annapurna, and Dhaulagiri ranges. And from the view tower, the experience is even more magnificent.
There are other places you can check out while in Ghalegaun. Some 5-10 minutes of walk will take you to a beautiful tea garden, whereas another 2 hours of journey will take you to Bhujung, which is Nepal’s largest Gurung community. You can also visit Ghanapokhara, which is around half an hour away, and from where you could get glimpses of Pokhara, Nepal’s another popular tourist destination. At Ghanapokhara, we were told that a Bhir-mauri (Wild Bees) honey extracting festival was held every year, which was an event that had earned quite a name for itself internationally. Congratulations to you if you can arrange your timings as per the beginning of this event.
You can indulge yourself around the surroundings of Ghalegaun for around 2 to 6 days, as per time in hand also total cost depends upon the duration of your stay. At Ghalegaun, there never is a dull moment.
Translated by:Sarthak Parajulee