Being the first trekkers in Nepal after COVID lockdown was something incredibly special. This is the first part in a series about my first Himalayan trek after coronavirus lockdown. On this day, we visit Galeshwor Dham, a holy Shiva temple and arrive in the pretty countryside of Swanta village.
First trekkers in Nepal after covid-19
After months of lockdown and almost a year of no tourists allowed into Nepal and many restrictions on my own trekking, the trails finally opened and the government started to allow the first few trekkers into the country, but with many new rules and regulations.
Lockdown had challenged me a lot throughout 2020, however my devotion and practices were stronger for it, which was great news as the mountain of paperwork and permissions required to bring tourists into Nepal at this time took several jam-packed busy days and got me ready to conquer some real mountains!
Luckily, lockdown had prepared me with plenty of patience and when we went to collect Oceana and Dhima from the airport with a warm welcome to Nepal, they were amongst the first tourists to arrive after the pandemic.
Surely divine had something to do with this, as my trekkers had chosen to do one of my favourite pilgrimages to Khopra, the home of the Goddess Barahi and her sacred Himalayas. As always, divine will clear the way for those with devotion in their hearts.
After quarantine we began our journey into the Annapurna region
After our quarantine, we five trekkers: Oceana, Dhima, Pawana, Rajkumar and I set off on the journey that would transform our minds and souls.
We left Pokhara at 8am, enjoying the ride through some of the most daring roads in the Kaligandaki Gorge, enjoying the glimpses of Annapurna and Dhaulagiri Himalayas from the jeep window.
Galeshwor Dham Temple
Having our own private vehicle means we can include some lesser known places on our journey and I’d arranged a special tour of Galeshwor Dham, a spectacular Shiva temple, historical site and pilgrimage destination for yogis.
This colourful temple is located on the banks of the holy Kaligandaki River and is described in scriptures as one of the places where the Saptarishis (seven sages) performed penance. It is also said to be the birthplace of the demon Ravana who kidnapped Goddess Sita in the epic story, the Ramayana.
After our temple tour, we got on the way, and a few hours later we arrived at our first day’s destination: Swanta, one of the prettiest villages in the Annapurna Conservation Zone.
Swanta is a pretty mountain village where only 200 people live. The houses here are spread out and made in the traditional Nepali style. It’s a very peaceful and beautiful place.
Some of highlights of this village are the nature and lush greenery, rhododendron trees, local honey and organic vegetables.
The energy is very satvic (pure) and the first impression was one of comfort and relaxation. The calm area and beautiful surroundings touched us deeply and we felt at home in our soul, what a perfect place to start our pilgrimage trek.
We were warmly welcomed by our hosts Min Dai and his wife who are well known in the area for their hospitality and kindness. Their home is one of the prettiest in the village.
Min Dai is a teacher and social worker. He campaigns for new trails and helps to organise the local community. Min Dai’s wife is a strong woman and takes care of their business. She is the hero of Swanta and her hard work and dedication to the community has inspired me to bring people here again and again.
After getting to know our hosts over hot cups of sweet Nepali “chia” (tea) we hungrily dug into some delicious cultural and satvic food with vegetables from the garden.
An evening meditation, hot showers and an early night prepared us for our first day of trekking tomorrow. Being the first trekkers in Nepal after COVID lockdown, we were more than ready to hit those trails and experience some of the Himalayas’ epic nature.
In part two, we climb up and up, visit remote waterfalls and meet an artist who lives alone in the jungle!
Subscribe below for updates on our adventures!