Panch Pokhari Trek
Panch Pokhari literally means 5 ponds in English. Panch Pokhari is a group of 5 holy lakes situated in Sindhupalchowk district to the north of Kathmandu. Even though the distance between Panch Pokhari and Kathmandu is less than 100 KM, it still remains less discovered and explored. It is regarded as the ninth highest altitude wetland in the world. The Panch Pokhari lake attracts thousands of people during the month of August as there is a celebration of Janai Purnima festival. Panch Pokhari situated at an elevation of 41oo m is a famous destination for people following Hinduism as well as Budhism. This trek at the base of Mt. Jugal offers beautiful views of other mountain ranges including Langtang, Dorje Lakpa, rich culture of Tamang and Sherpa people and a great adventure in the end.
Panch Pokhari Trek route
Before the Panch Pokhari Trekking…
It was the year 2014 when I first heard about Panch Pokhari (4100m) and since then I always had a craving to trek there. And it was only after more than 2 years later, the wish came true; I was trekking to Panch Pokhari. Regardless of the time frame that I waited, my joy knew no boundaries. 4 beginner travelers (Aman, Nischal, Prashant and I) were all set to wander for 4 days in order to wonder the mysticism of 5 ponds and add up a story in our lives at the end. I always had an inclination towards adventurous travel and this trek has certainly been a complete package of adventure. It was my third trek after ABC and Kalinchowk trek. I was so excited. Striving towards the destination; none of us had even imagined the journey would turn out to be as memorable as the destination itself.
Further reading: Manaslu Circuit Trekking- 2018!
Here it goes my travelogue of the trek to mighty Panch Pokhari along with an itinerary of the trip. Let’s get started on the first day.
Day-1 (2 November 2016), 10 hours of the Bus ride and more than 2 hours of walking: Kathmandu- Bhotang- Deurali
We opted Kathmandu- Dhulikhel- Zero Kilo- Melamchi route to Kathmandu- Sankhu- Melamchi route as it is comparatively less bumpy and riskier but longer. The bus left at around 7 AM in the morning even though it was supposed to leave at 6 AM. We reached at Melamchi at around 11 AM and had our lunch there. Then, we took a bus ride to Bhotang which was too dangerous because of the difficult roads and more passengers than the capacity of the bus.
During the ride, we were repeatedly making changes in our travel plans. We were YES MEN!!! Yes to everything. None of us would disagree in any of the plans made. We planned to expand our destination and reach Tin Kunda, a day trek from Panch Pokhari. All of us were new to the place and adding up another adventurous plan was, of course, a huge challenge as well as joy.
Further reading: Mardi Himal Trek- 2019!
But we all were excited and committed to being there. We reached our first day’s destination, Bhotang at around 5:30 PM and for freaks like us who were constantly changing plans decided to take light lunch there and walk during the dark knowing not where the next destination is. After turning our torch lights on, we began our walking.
It was such a serene walk that you’d only hear the sounds of your own deep breaths, trekking stick and air kissing your cheeks leaving you a chill.
We could hear the sound of water from a distance and later realized that it was such a beautiful river. The rush flowing from the river was flowing through our body too. When we stared at the sky, stars had already made their presence and houses located few hills away seemed like artificially placed stars. It felt like the whole galaxy is compressed in our sight. Continuing our walk further, one of our friends Prashant started having a bit of breathing problem due to steady uphill climbing. So, we walked with frequent breaks and the break time would be precious to stare at the heavenly sky.
Eventually, we reached Deurali at around 8:00 PM and because of the unavailability of hotels and lodges there, we had carried foods to feed and enough clothes to warm ourselves. We found a place to shelter there. Because of the long bus ride during the day and stretched walks during the evening, we were too exhausted. Nevertheless, we were happy that we got a nice place to stay. I started lighting a fire and others began to set up a tent.
Then it’s all about savoring the beaten rice and noodles with water and reflecting the journey of the day.
We decided to sleep and then we realized that there’re only 3 sleeping bags. Nischal was the one to confirm his participation only the previous day we departed and I was responsible to manage sleeping bag. That didn’t happen and so, Nischal and I had to adjust in one sleeping bag. It was freezing cold. Nischal and I wore almost all the clothes we had with us. I had no clue when I fell asleep. Thanks to all the tiredness!
Further reading: Solo Trek to Tsho Rolpa Lake- 2017!
Day-2 (3 November 2016), Deurali- Nosempati- Laure Bhanjyang (More than 12 hours of walking)
Normally, even the alarm clock fails to wake me up in the morning but it was just a call from my friend that woke me up. We all woke up at 6 AM in the morning and started the second day’s journey.
Somehow we lost the track of our way and confused for a while. However, we were so happy to see a very old ruined building. It was something like a castle and one of the friends even compared it with Scottish castle. Maybe it was a good mistake committed. After 30 minutes or so, we found the way and saw 6 other trekkers enthusiastically making their way towards the destination. We couldn’t catch their pace as they seemed restless to reach to their destination. That was okay with us.
After some time we reached a chaurigoth and there was a person aged 40. He was so kind and helped us with directions and useful information. He provided us the hot water and we resumed our walk again bidding him goodbye. Prashant had difficulty carrying his bag and walking. And adding more difficulty was his shoes; it began to tear. Taking frequent breaks and eating foods we had brought with us, we reached Nosempati.
Further reading: 9 reasons why I will visit Jumla once again!
The scenery was eye-catching and you could see the beautiful mountain range and rocky hills. After sipping the warm tea in Nosempati, we carried on our walk with various speculations and excitements of Panch Pokhari. After some time, Prashant started having even more difficulty walking. And the difficult path added more misery as it was so steep and narrow. Our pace got considerably less and tiredness increasing but we had no option other than to walk and get a better shelter. So all of us were determined enough to stretch our pace.
The spectacular sunset and view around were offering us some kind of power to endure.
It got darker and we kept on walking but long-awaited destination still seemed far away. Because of landslides, the way got really tough that there’s only space to adjust one leg at a time and you have no idea where’d you be if you somehow fall down.
It was already dark, wind blowing, and a cold breeze on the rise. Everyone was fragile and somehow, we found a Goth without a roof on the way to Laure Bhanjyang. It was more than 8:00 PM and it was 13 hours of restlessness. And we decided to stay there.
We’re too fatigued to light the fire and munched our delicious noodles and beaten rice along with water. Nischal was already in his dreams when Aman, Prashant and I were having a conversation. Nischal woke up, not because it was morning; but cold! By then Aman and Prashant were sleeping. I don’t know what the time was but it was so cold that I couldn’t even feel the presence of my legs even though I had my shoes worn with 3 pairs of socks. Similar was the case with Nischal. That was the time when we both felt really desperate and how we wished we had separate sleeping bags with us. Trying out various things to warm the legs didn’t help. However, we could warm them a bit by rubbing them. And, it was only after 5:00 AM in the morning we were finally able to sleep.
Day 3 (4 November 2016), Laure Bhanjyang- Panch Pokhari- Tangu)
After a deep sleep of just two hours, we woke up at 7:00 AM. After a quick lunch, warming ourselves in the morning sun we continued our walk in the quest of mighty five ponds (Panch Pokhari) realizing that the plan of trekking to Tin Kunda had already been shattered.
The heaviness of the weight we carried was slowly washed away by the eagerness of our destination. With every breath, I was inhaling the excitement of reaching Panch Pokhari whereas all tiredness and difficulties were breathed out with every exhale.
Advancing a few hills, we eventually reached the serene and astonishing destination.
One! Two! Three! Four! And Five! The five divine Pokharis; Panch Pokhari…
Clicking pictures, staring at the blue sky and its reflection in water, feasting our favorites: beaten rice and noodles and a bottle of water from each of the five ponds, we’re clueless about time until the clock displayed 12:30 PM. We then decided to return back. I had a cold emotional chill to leave such a heavenly place.
The footmarks would be cleansed away but the memories and divine experience we left would, of course, be eternal. The pictures shot there would be one of the substantial aspects of the trip I can show to everyone 😉
Descending down the trail (though it was challenging), we were cheerful and content with ourselves. Our hearts filled with happiness and widened smiles in our lips all along the way until the tiredness and hunger began haunting. With frequent breaks, speedy lunches and stretched walks, we were determined with our pace. The body was fragile and still, we had to walk and why not, we’re there to walk and walk all along.
Slowly, the fog started confirming its presence hinting the time for the sun to rest and moon and stars to attend the existence in the clear night sky. We set the target to reach Chaurigoth at any cost and persevered in our pace. We’re so committed to attaining the day’s end as we’d be able to sleep inside the Goth and next (the most important of all) we could gulp two plates of cooked rice 😀
Such a tiring walk and eventually, we reached there at around 11:00 PM. Oh! Finally!!! How relieved we were. But the person was already in his sleep and we woke him up and then he prepared food for us.
Further reading: Gosainkunda trek- 2017!
The delicious bhaat and aalu ko jhol were surely worth a million. Nischal was so restless to eat that he ate with one hand and the other one was fixed in his nose to rub the sneeze. We couldn’t control laughing at him.
After all, how blessed we were to sleep under the blankets beside the warmth of the fire and moreover, the person offered us his own sleep-place and managed for him on his own somewhere around. That was the reward paid by the whole day’s tiring walk, desperate craving of having cooked food and satisfying it. In the end; we’re asleep in no time.
Day-4 (5 November 2016), Tangu- Bhotang- Melamchi- Kathmandu
Waking up in the morning felt like a new beginning; fresh air drifting, birds singing the exhilarating melodies, bells hung in the animals ringing all of them creating a joyous moment. After drinking a glass of milk with Satu mixed in it and bidding the man a goodbye we began to move on again.
Slowly, we started to see more people which was the indication of the village. We then decided to walk more. After some time a little ahead of Bhotang, we found a water pool (swimming pool for us 😀 ), swam there in such cold water (but still loved it) and continued walking again.
Fortunate us! When we had any problem, we would always have savior at the right time. We’re exhausted and we saw a Hilux vehicle returning back to Melamchi. We hitchhiked and they agreed to take us along. Happiness knew no boundary at that moment.
One of the beauties of the trek was constant change in plans. We had planned to stay in Melamchi that day and party all night but what can get better than partying in Kathmandu. We caught the last bus to Kathmandu.
Important Things to carry:
- Sleeping Bag
- Down Jacket
- Water and Windproof jacket
- Trekking stick
- Hand Sanitizer
- Water bottle
Itinerary of Panch Pokhari trek
Since we’re out-of-schedule people; we completed a trek in rush and hustle. Nevertheless, it was totally worth and memorable one. However, if you choose to do a longer and relaxed trek; here’s the itinerary!
- Day 1: the Bus ride from Kathmandu to Chautara (5-6 hours drive).
- Day 2: Chautara to Kami Kharka (5-6 hours of walk)
- Day 3: Kami Kharka to Hille Bhanjyang (6-7 hours of walk)
- Day 4: Hille bhanjyang to Nasimpati to Panch Pokhari ( 6-7 hours of walk)
- Day 5: Panch Pokhari to Dhap ( 6-7 hours of walk)
- Day 6: Dhap to Melamchi to Kathmandu ( 3-4 hours of walk and then 4 hours of bus ride to Kathmandu)
Cost of the Panch Pokhari trek
We spent Rs. 2450 each (around 24.5$) during the entire trek. This cost included travel expenses (Kathmandu to Melamchi to Bhotang and back to Kathmandu), foods (including that of chocolates, dry foods and the meals we ate during the trek). So far, Panch Pokhari trek has been the most economical travel till today. 🙂
Panch Pokhari Weather
The weather is dependent on which time of the year you travel. If it’s the time of autumn (September to November) and Spring (March to May); you can see the clear view of the mountain range in the surrounding, blue sky with beautifully scattered patches of white clouds. Similarly, it’s going to be rainy during the monsoon time (June to September). The weather a bit harsh during the winter (December to February) as it experiences heavy snowfall during the time.
Further reading: Kalinchowk Travel Diaries- 2016!
Conclusion (Reflection of Panch Pokhari Trek)
Reflecting all the beautiful moments of the trip was giving nothing other than immense satisfaction and gratitude to the existence (starting the bus driver, bus itself for transporting there, people we met and those who showed us the direction, travel companions for togetherness during the trip, foods giving us energy when we were in its dire need, paths for taking us until the destination, forests, rivers, and many others).
Trek life does have its challenges (walking, food, shelter, climate and many others) but those challenges become the way of living for a certain time.
Visiting another place where you are not well acquainted always requires an adjustment—to new foods, cultural practices, and going without certain everyday comforts.
With more birds, woods, and paths than roads, shops, and people, you have no possession over money.
You will be bound with the situation where you have very limited choices and in turn, creates a kind of compulsive simplicity that’ been an incredibly positive influence on our family.
We’re choosing experiences over possessions, nature as friends, chirping of birds as music, the narrow paths as navigator and the destinations as the goals.