The Poon Hill trek itinerary: Annapurna Panorama

The Poon hill trek, also known as the Ghorepani Poon hill trek or the Annapurna panorama, is one of the shortest multi-day hikes in Nepal. Short, but sweet. The hike offers natural beauty, cultural diversity, rural village life and spectacular mountain views.

Why choose the Poon hill trek?

While the Poon hill trek is still not a walk in the park, it is an easy hike for beginners. Perfect for families with children or if you are not that experienced. 

The Poon hill trek goes through the lower foothills of the Annapurnas. Therefore, there is no risk of altitude sickness, yet there are plenty of views on the snow capped mountain peaks of the Annapurna’s. 13 of them are well over 7000 meters high.

The highlight is seeing the sunrise at Poon Hill, the highest point of the trek. It offers the most beautiful panorama of the Annapurna’s and you can get there in only 2 days of hiking. The trail continues through terraced slopes, rice paddies, maize fields, lush forests and rural villages.

The Annapurna is a very multicultural area with different ethnic groups. Along the Poon hill trek you will mostly encounter Magar and Gurung people. Each group has their own language and cultural traditions. 

The advantage of the Poon hill trek are the excellent tea houses and restaurants on the way. This means you can be very flexible in planning your itinerary. The Poon hill trek can be as short as 4 days or you can combine it with the Annapurna Circuit or the Annapurna Base Camp. It is then a great acclimatization trek before going to higher altitudes.

The Annapurna’s are one of the most popular areas for trekking. If you are looking for a more off the beaten path short trek I can also recommend the Langtang Trek or the Jiri to Lukla trek

Annapurna mountain views on the Poon hill trek
Mountain view on the Poon hill trek

The Poon Hill trek itinerary

I had a full week when I decided to do the Poon hill trek in February and therefore chose to add Chomrong to my itinerary. It adds just one extra day and Chomrong is a beautiful village located on the Annapurna Sanctuary trek. It is also possible to walk from Tadapani straight to Ghandruk and then back to Kimche/Nayapul.  

In this Poon hill trek itinerary I mention every day the amount of time it took me from start to finish. I am a slow hiker though. I like to take frequent breaks to enjoy the beautiful views. If you are fit , you can probably do it in less time

Day 1: Pokhara – Nayapul – Tikhedunga

10 kilometers, 5 – 6 hours

The Poon hill trek starts at Nayapul. From Pokhara’s Baglung bus station there are frequent buses to Nayapul. The journey takes about 2 hours. From here it is a 30 minute walk or short jeep ride to Birethanti. Jeeps can now bring you all the way to Hille, but I prefered to walk. 

After Birethanti it is an easy and gradual uphill walk towards Tikhedhunga. I thought it was very scenic as you walk past the Bhurungdi river through small villages and terraced farm fields. People are very friendly and always greet you with a smile. A great first day on the trail that seemed lightyears away from the hectic city.   

Hiking the Poon hill trek
First day on the Poon hill trek

Day 3: Tikhedunga – Ghorepani 

11 kilometers, 8 hours

The second day of the Poon hill trek is the most challenging day. You immediately start with a diificult 2 kilometer staircase up to Ulleri. There are more than 3000 steps. But even after Ulleri you keep climbing for the rest of the day. Sometimes rather steep, sometimes more gradual, but up it is. In total you will ascend more than 1300 meters. 

The key to enjoy this day on the Poon hill trek is to start early and take it slow. Ulleri is a nice Magar village with plenty of teahouses for a break. After Ulleri you will enter lush forests with the occasional waterfall and blooming rhododendrons in spring. 

I found this to be a very scenic part of the Poon hill trek, so don’t forget to look around you once in a while. It was during a small break that I spotted langur monkeys in the trees. 

The gate of Ghorepani and the blue hotel roofs were a very welcome sight. That’s when I found out there is a lower and an upper Ghorepani. Although it was tempting to stay in the first lodge I came across, I pushed myself further to Upper Ghorepani to shorten the climb to Poonhill next morning

Insider tip: Ghorepani is the highest village where you will sleep at night. Even in the warm months of spring and summer it can be cold here, so bring warm clothes.  

Langur monkeys on the Poon hill trek
Langur monkeys on the Poon Hill trek
Sunset in Ghorepani on the Poon hill trek
Sunset in Ghorepani

Day 4: Ghorepani – Poonhill – Tadapani

13 kilometers, 7 hours  

The third day of the Poon hill trek is all about the sunset on Poon Hill. This means an early wake up around 3:30 AM. Even in the dark the trail is easy to follow as there will be lots of other hikers. 

I still felt my muscles from yesterday and they struggled with more climbing as well as the altitude. It took me a little bit over an hour to reach the top. Just in time for the sunrise. 

Now I understood why this trek is also known as the Annapurna Panorama. Right in front of me I saw Mount Daulagiri (8167), Mount Manaslu (8156), Mount Annapurna II (7937),  Machapuchre (6993) and other peaks well above 6000 meters.

Certainly the best breakfast view I ever had as I sat down with my snickers bar that I brought specially for this occasion. The incredible views continued on my hike along the mountain ridge towards Deurali. 

After Deurali the trail goes downhill and enters the forests again. No Langur monkeys today, but views on Annapurna II and Machapuchare remain visible till I reach Tadapani.  

Insider tips: a headlight torch and warm clothes are necessary for the early morning climb to Poonhill

Poon hill trek near Deurali
Hiking to Deurali
Annapurna Panorama
Annapurna Panorama

Day 5: Tadapani – Chomrong

8 kilometers, 6 hours

This day is not in the original Poon hill itinerary. Most people head straight from Tadapani to Ghandruk and then back to Pokhara. I decided to add Chomrong to my itinerary. I did not have time to include the whole Annapurna Sanctuary trek, but just wanted to have a little taste. 

Did it taste like more? Yes, definitely. More views on the Annapurna mountain peaks are waiting for you in Chomrong. I would have loved to continue all the way to Annapurna Base Camp. Maybe next time?

What I also loved about this day was that the trail from Tadapani to Chomrong was less busy than the previous days. The only people I met were friendly locals that were working in the terraced fields.  

From Tadapani to Chomrong on the Poon Hill trek
On the way to Chomrong

Day 6: Chomrong – Ghandruk

10 kilometers, 6 hours

Today was more challenging than I thought. First there was a long descent, but after crossing the river I had to climb back up to Ghandruk. The views on Machapuchare kept me motivated till I reached Ghandruk. 

Ghandruk is one of the largest Gurung villages in the Annapurna’s and gives you a wonderful insight into rural life in Nepal. The narrow alleyways are dotted with lodges and traditional farm houses. It is one of the most scenic villages on the Poonhill trek. 

Ghandruk on the Poon Hill trek
People working in the fields around Ghandruk

Day 7: Ghandruk – Nayapul

9 kilometers, 5 hours

From Ghandruk it is now a short hike of 2 kilometers to Kimche. There you can find transport to Birethanti, Nayapul and Pokhara.

Very few people still walk all the way to Nayapul, but I did not want to say goodbye to the mountains yet. Walking from Ghandruk to Nayapul is an easy gentle descent through the lush greenery of the modi khola river valley. 

There is lots of nice scenery with rice paddies and villages. That said, you don’t miss out a lot if you do decide to take the bus. For me it was a bit of a culture shock to be back in a busy town like Nayapul. Within minutes I could catch a bus back to Pokhara. 

From Ghandruk to Nayapul on the Poon Hill trek
Gurung village on the Poon Hill trek

The Poon Hill Trek Travel tips

Poon hill trek Permits

For the Poon hill trek you need two permits.

TIMS card: The Trekkers information management card is necessary for almost all treks in Nepal. You can get your TIMS card at the Tourism Board office at Bhrikuti Mandap in Kathmandu. Bring your passport and two passport size photos. The TIMS card costs 2000 nepalese rupees.  

Annapurna Conservation Area permit: For the Poon hill trek you also need a national park entrance permit. I recommend you to get it as well at the Tourism Board Office at Bhrikuti Mandap in Kathmandu. This costs 3000 nepalese rupees.  

Sunrise on the Poon Hill
Sunrise at Poon Hill

Independent or guide?

The Poon hill trek is easy to do without a guide. Unless you go off season there will be enough other hikers on the trail to keep you company. That said, the area around Poon hill has lots of different paths that cross each other, making it easy to get lost if you don’t pay attention.   

I was with a friend that had done the hike before and knew the way. If you are alone and not that experienced you might want to consider joining a guided trek or hiring a guide, porter or porter guide. 

In Nepal there is a clear distinction between a porter and a guide. A guide shows you the way and can tell you more about the history and the culture of the places you visit. A porter will only carry your luggage. Despite their heavy burden they often walk far in front of you and might have reached the lodge when you are only midway. A porterguide is less common, but does both. 

In Pokhara I can recommend the 3 sisters adventure trekking that works to empower women and trains women to become trekking guides in Nepal.  

Accomodation on the Poon hill trek

Along the Poon hill trek there is plenty of accomodation and teahouses to choose from. They are basic and can’t be booked online beforehand. There is a first come first serve basis and some lodges are fully booked by big tour groups. In my experience there are enough lodges that there will always be a bed for you somewhere. 

The prices of accomodation is incredibly cheap, sometimes even free, but they do expect you to order dinner and breakfast at their establishment. 

Lodge on the Poon Hill trek
Lodge on the Poon Hill trek

Food on the Poonhill trek

The good thing about tea house treks in Nepal is that however basic lodges might be, the food is often quite good if you stick to Nepali cuisine. Yes, many lodges try all kinds of international dishes to attract tourists, but in my opinion often not the best choice.

When trekking in Nepal I eat Dahl bath at least once a day. This national dish of rice with lentils knows a huge variety in how it is prepared. Different vegetable curries from fermented spinach (gundruk) to roasted cauliflower and different pickles (aachar) to spice it up. Not one dahl bath is the same. 

Other Nepali foods to try are Tibetan bread, Thukpa and Momo’s.  On the Poon hill trek you also get a chance to taste Gurung cuisine. One of my favourite side dishes with dahl baath actually comes from the Gurung people. Gundruk is a curry made of fermented leafy vegetables. Dried meats (sukuti) are also very popular among the Gurungs. Definetly try dried buffalo (buff sukuti) if you get a chance.

When to go

The best time to go trekking in Nepal is spring and autumn, but Poon hill is even possible in winter. Although January and February will be too cold for high altitude treks, poon hill is still a good option. I hiked in February and had clear blue skies every day. It is important to bring some warm clothes. As soon as the sun is gone it can get cold, especially at Ghorepani.

March, April and May are the warmer months before the monsoon. As the rainy season approaches it can become hot, dusty and humid. The blooming rhododendrons are a bigh highlight though when hiking around April.

June, July and August are the monsoon months. These are probably the worst time to hike the lower altitudes of the Annapurna’s. Not only because of the rain, but most of all because of the leeches. Annoying as they can be, they are not dangerous. These months it is better to visit Jomsom and Muktinath, because they are in the rain shadow of the Annapurna’s.  

September, October and November are the most popular months for trekking. Autumn brings clear blue skies and mild temperatures before the cold sets in in December. Autumn is also a festive season with the celebration of Dashain and Tihar. Nepal’s biggest festivals and you will see families gathering together in the villages.   

Chomrong
Poon Hill trek in winter

Altitude Sickness

The Poon hill trek has a very low chance of altitude sickness. The highest point is Poon Hill at 3250 meters high. Here you might experience some mild symptoms like being tired and more easily out of breath. However, as you will descend to lower altitudes on the same day this should not pose a problem. 

Books and Guides

Cicerone and Trailblazer both have excellent and comprehensive guides about treks in the Annapurnas including the Poonhill trek. Another option is the Lonely Planet’s Trekking in the Nepal Himalayas guide.

Disclaimer: This post with a travel guide about the Poon hill trek in Nepal contains affiliate links. If you buy any service through any of my links, I will get a small commission at no extra cost to you. These earnings help me to keep Backpack Adventures alive! Thanks for your support!



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