Poon Hill trek – a 2023 guide & itinerary


The Poon Hill trek is one of the easiest routes in the Annapurna Sanctuary which explains its growing popularity. It’s a great route to walk for inexperienced hikers and for those who want to get a taste of trekking in Nepal. The trek can be done in 3 or 4 days. The route is well-marked, and there are many guesthouses and restaurants on the way. The Poon Hill is a great trail to do as an acclimatization trek before attempting one of the more challenging routes like the Annapurna Circuit trek or the Annapurna Base Camp trek.

A beautiful view over the mountain on the Poon Hill trek
The view of the mountain range from Hotel Ghandruk, the last day of the Poon Hill trek

Poon Hill trek route overview

  • Distance – 40 km/25 mi
  • Time – 3-4 days 
  • Permits – TIMS card and Annapurna Sanctuary permit required 
  • Guide – can be done independently, with a guide/porter, or in a group
  • Starting point – Nayapul, 2 hours by bus from Pokhara
  • Finishing point – Ghandruk 
  • Highest point – Poon Hill peak (3131 m)
  • Total ascent – 3000 m
  • Total descent – 1996 m
  • Average cost – US$25 per person per day
  • Accommodation – guesthouses
  • Food – Nepali, Chinese, and Western food

Watch our Poon Hill trek video

How long is the Poon Hill trek?

The total distance of the Poon Hill trek is 40 km/25 mi. You need 3-4 days on average to complete the route.

How difficult is the Poon Hill trek?

The Poon Hill trek is a moderate hike that doesn’t require any mountaineering experience. It’s one of the easiest multi-day treks in the Annapurna region. Poon Hill is still a physically demanding trek because of the 3000-meter ascent that you tackle over 2 days. It’s a good route to do as an acclimatization hike before attempting one of the more challenging treks in the region.

Insurance for the trek

The Poon Hill trek is a moderate altitude hike that involves exhausting long ascents and dangerous steep descents, most of the time the route goes through remote areas. Getting injured or evacuated from remote areas can be very costly. When applying for your hiking permit insurance is required. When you fill out forms to get permits they ask you to provide the name and phone number of your insurance company.

Find out how much the insurance for the Poon Hill trek costs!

World Nomads travel insurance has been designed by travelers for travelers, with coverage for more than 150 activities as well as emergency medical, lost luggage, trip cancellation and more.

Where does the trek start?

The most popular way of walking the Poon Hill trek is starting in Nayapul and finishing in Ghandruk (we walked it this way). The total ascent for the route is 3000 m and the total descent is 1996 m.

You can do it in the opposite direction; starting in Ghandruk and finishing in Nayapul. If you do so you’ll get less ascent (2000 m) and more descent (3000 m) compared to the Nayapul – Ghandruk route. There are jeeps and buses from/to Pokhara from both villages. If it rains a lot the road from Ghandruk gets very muddy and there might be no buses to Pokhara from there.

You can walk to Kimche from Ghandruk then (4 km extra and 300 m more down) or all the way to Kande through Australian Camp (plus 16 km and quite a lot of up and down extra). 

Route options on the Poon Hill trek, NepalRoute options on the Poon Hill trek, Nepal
Four route options for the Poon Hill trek

Do I need a guide for the Poon Hill trek?

A short answer is no. The Poon Hill trek can be done independently. It’s a self-guided hike. You can do it with a tour if you want. It would be a good idea if you’re an inexperienced hiker or traveling solo or just don’t feel like doing all the planning and booking yourself. Overall the Poon Hill trek itinerary is much easier to plan than the Everest Base Camp trek itinerary or the Annapurna Circuit trek itinerary.

Poon Hill trek tours

If you don’t want to join a group tour but don’t feel confident enough to walk alone you can hire a guide or a porter. We personally never used a guide in Nepal but met tourists who did. The best way of finding a good reliable guide is through one of the trekking agencies in Pokhara or Kathmandu. The average price is US$20 per day for a porter and US$25 per day for a guide. You can share one guide/porter between a couple of people.

Campbell & Alya on the Poon Hill trek, NepalCampbell & Alya on the Poon Hill trek, Nepal
Stingy Nomads at Deurali pass, Ghorepani Poon Hille trek

What is the accommodation like on the trek?

We were surprised with the facilities of guesthouses on the route compared to what we got on the Everest Base Camp trek the Ghorepani Poon Hill trek was almost a luxury route. Almost every guesthouse on the route has wi-fi, a hot water shower, and electricity. Most of the time they don’t charge you extra for using any of these facilities unlike on some other trekking routes. You don’t have to worry about being offline, not showering, or not being able to charge your devices. You can even get real Espresso in some villages on the route.

Like on most trekking routes in Nepal, you pay very little for accommodation if you eat dinner and breakfast at your guesthouse. Food is the main source of income for locals living along the Poon Hill trek. If you don’t eat at your guest house you’ll pay for your room two or three times more. The average price for a double room with a shared bathroom is around NPR 500/US$4.

Ghorepani Poon Hill trek cost

Our total budget breakdown for 4 days, per person

  • TIMS card – NPR 2000/US$15
  • Annapurna Sanctuary permit – NPR 3000/US$23
  • Accommodation – NPR 800/US$6 (3 nights)
  • Transport – NPR 1700/US$13
  • Food – NPR 5 000/US$38

TotalNPR 12 500/US$95 for 4 days or NPR 3125/US$23 per person per day. The cost of the Poon Hill trek is significantly lower than the cost of the Everest Base Camp trek.

Accommodation on the trek is very cheap about NPR 400-500/US$3-4 depending on the season and the facilities. If you’re one person they usually charge NPR 300/US$2 per room.

A meal on the Poon Hill trek costs between NPR 400/US$3 and NPR 600/US$5 per person depending on what you order. Meat dishes are more expensive. Vegetables and eggs are cheaper. A cup of tea is about 100/US$1. A pot of hot water (1l) – NPR 150/US$1. A big plate of pasta or rice – NPR 600/US$4,5. The most expensive thing to buy on the trek is cool drinks. For a small bottle of Coke or juice, you’ll pay NPR 400/US$3. Food prices are about 30-40% higher than in Pokhara. Overall, the food on the Poon Hill trek is similar to the food on the Everest Base Camp trek.

Water on the trek. We had our LifeStraw bottles and used tap water for drinking. You can find water taps along the route. Having some sort of water purification system will save you a lot of money on the Poon Hill trek. Plus, it’s good for the environment. One liter of drinking water costs around NPR 100/US$1 depending on the place. You’ll need at least 2l of water per person a day if you buy it every time you can add NPR 200/US$2 pp. to your daily budget.

Transport is cheap in Nepal especially if you take local buses. Jeeps are two to three times more expensive but more comfortable and faster. A bus from Pokhara to Nayapul costs NPR 400/US$3 pp., a bus from Ghandruk to Pokhara NPR 600/US$4,5, and a bus from Kande to Pokhara – NPR 250/US$2.

Cash on the Poon Hill trek. I’d suggest having NPR 3000/US$25 per person per day. It should be enough to pay for accommodation, food, and transport, and to buy snacks, cool drinks, chocolates, and souvenirs on the route. It’s better to bring enough cash. There are a couple of ATMs on the trek but they’re often not working or are out of money.

LifeStraw bottle is a great item to have for any trek in NepalLifeStraw bottle is a great item to have for any trek in Nepal
Alya with a LifeStraw bottle on the Poon Hill trek

Permits and TIMS for the Poon Hill trek

Like for any other trek inside the sanctuary, you need to get a permit and a TIMS card. Both can be obtained at the Tourist Information Center in Pokhara or Kathmandu. The offices are open Mon to Fri, and Sun from 10am to 5pm. Closed on Saturdays. The cost is NPR 5000/US$38.

To get the TIMS card and the Annapurna Sanctuary permit you will need your passport, insurance, 4 photos, and a contact person in Nepal (we usually give our hotel details).

To get the TIMS card;

  • First, fill out the form that you get at the counter (name, insurance number, passport details, address in Nepal, contact information, etc.)
  • Second, take a photo. In the Pokhra Office, you don’t need to bring your own photos they take them right there for free. 4 passport-size photos.  
  • Third, give the filled form, and 2 photos and pay NRP 2000/US$15 pp. paid only in cash in Nepalese Rupee at the counter.
  • Forth, get your TIMS.

To get the Annapurna Sanctuary Permit;

  • First, after getting your TIMS card get a new form
  • Second, fill in the form
  • Third, hand the filled form, your passport, 2 photos, and NRP 3000/US$23 pp. paid only in cash in Nepalese Rupee at the counter.
  • Forth, get your permit.

The TIMS card and the permit are valid only for a single entry to Annapurna Sanctuary Park. Every time you exit it you’ll need a new TIMS card and a new permit to enter the park again. If you’re planning to do several hikes inside the sanctuary it’s cheaper to stay inside the park.

When is the best time to visit Poon Hill?

The spring of March and April and the fall months of October and November is the best time to visit Poon Hill. These months are quite dry and warm. Hiking during the monsoon season between May and September is not recommended due to the high risk of landslides and floods. The winter months of December, January, and February are the driest and the coldest months of the year. The elevation on the Poon Hill trek is not that high it’s unlikely that you’ll get a lot of snow even in winter.

How to get to Poon Hill?

The trek starts in Nayapul, a small town 40 km from Pokhara. Buses to Nayapul leave throughout the day from the bus terminal in Pokhara. The journey takes 2-3 hours. The price is NPR 300/US$2 pp. To get to the bus terminal from Lakeside you can take a taxi. A taxi costs NPR 300/US$2.

Where to stay in Pokhara?

Pokhara is a much better place to stay than Kathmandu we never spend more than 1 or 2 days in Kathmandu and try to get away from there as soon as possible. There are many great things to do in Pokhara.

Lakeside is the main touristy area of Pokhara it’s filled with hotels, guest houses, restaurants, bars, etc. here you can find accommodation on any budget from cheap homestays to fancy spa hotels.

Our Poon Hill trek itinerary – 4 days

Day 1. Nayapul – Ulleri, 12 km/7,4 mi

Route: Nayapul (1000m) – Birethanti (1025m) – Hile – Ulleri (2000m)

  • Starting point – Nayapul
  • Finishing point – Ulleri
  • Distance – 12 km/7,4 mi
  • Time – 3h30min.
  • Total ascent – 1092 m
  • Total descent – 125 m
Nayapul to Ulleri elevation profile, Ghorepani Poon Hill trekNayapul to Ulleri elevation profile, Ghorepani Poon Hill trek
Poon Hill trek elevation profile Day 1 from Nayapul to Ulleri

A bus ride from Pokhara to Nayapul took over 2 hours to get to Nayapul. To get to the trail, first, you walk through Nayapul, across the bridge to Birethanti (another village). Just as you walk out of the village there will be the first checkpoint.

About 500 m away there is the second checkpoint where you show your TIMS card, it gets stamped and they write down your name. Another 300 m and the third checkpoint where you show your Annapurna National park permit, they again write down your name and tear the bottom part of your permit.

The first half of the walk is on the dirt road with very few cars mainly jeeps driving tourists to Hile, the furthermost point you can get by car on the Poon Hill trek. Some people take a jeep and some walk. We walked this part, it wasn’t very tough, just slightly uphill. After about 9 km you reach Hile. It’s a nice village with many guesthouses, cafes, and restaurants. As an option, if it’s late or you’re tired you can stay there for a night.

For the first 9 km, you basically walk all the time past small shops and local food places getting water or food won’t be a problem. There are many water taps on the way if you use a filter you’ll be able to refill your bottle along the trek.

The second part from Hile to Ulleri is the tough part with a very steep and long ascent. In the beginning, you even walk a little bit down but the last 2 km to Ulleri is a very steep ascent. Make sure to refill your water in Hile there won’t be many places after it. The ascent takes about 2 hours and it’s quite tiring. 

Challenges

  • Long and steep ascend from Hile to Ulleri, about 800 m up

Highlights

  • Beautiful scenery on the way to Hile
  • Great views of the mountain range and the surrounding area from Ulleri
Views over the valley from Ulleri, Poon Hill trek, NepalViews over the valley from Ulleri, Poon Hill trek, Nepal
Gorgeous views from Ulleri Village, the first stop on the Poon Hill trek

Day 2. Ulleri – Ghorepani, 8 km/5 mi

Route: Ulleri (2000m) – Banthanti (2210m) – Nangethani (2430m) – Ghorepani (2780m)

  • Starting point – Ulleri
  • Finishing point – Ghorepani
  • Distance – 8 km/5 mi
  • Time – 2h34min.
  • Total ascent – 837 m
  • Total descent – 90 m
Elevation profile of day 2, walk from Ulleri to GhorepaniElevation profile of day 2, walk from Ulleri to Ghorepani
Elevation profile Day 2 of the Poon Hill trek itinerary. Ulleri to Ghorepani, 873 m up

It is a short walking day you can take your time in the morning, sleep late, have breakfast, and slowly start walking. The trail goes through the forest, past many waterfalls, small rivers, and villages with restaurants and guesthouses. There are plenty of places to stop for food, and tea and to refill water. You don’t have to carry a lot of water with you from Ulleri.

In the beginning, in Ulleri, there is a steep ascent all the way to the top of the mountain. Most of the day you walk up sometimes gradually and sometimes quite steep and tough.

At the entrance to Ghorepani, there is a checkpoint where they check your Annapurna Sanctuary permit. There are two Ghorepani villages; Lower Ghorepani and Ghorepani, they are about 10 min. and 100 m apart. First, you get to Lower Ghorepani from there you go up the stairs to Ghorepani.

We stayed at Lower Ghorepani. Most people went to Ghorepani. It was nice to stop at Lower Ghorepani and stay away from the crowds. We were only 4 people in our guesthouse. You can walk to Poon Hill from both villages, the trails join in the middle at the entrance to Poon Hill. In Ghorepani, it was not very cold but definitely more windy and chilly than in Ulleri.

Challenges

  • Walking uphill most of the day, 837 m elevation gain.

Highlights

  • Beautiful forest
  • Many waterfalls on the way
  • Nice views over the area
Alya walking up on the trail through the forestAlya walking up on the trail through the forest
Alya on the way up, the second day had some steep ascents

Day 3. Ghorepani – Poon Hill – Ghorepani – Ghandruk, 19,3 km/12 mi

Route: Ghorepani – Poon Hill – Ghorepani – Tadapani – Ghandruk

Part 1. Sunrise on the top of Poon Hill, 3 km/1,8 mi

Route: Ghorepani (2780m) – Poon Hill (3200m) – Ghorepani (2780m)

  • Starting point – Lower Ghorepani at 5.20
  • Finishing point – Lower Ghorepani  at 7.00
  • Total distance – 3 km/1,8 mi
  • Time – 1h30min.; 40 min. up, 30 min. down, 30 min. on the top
  • Total ascent – 387 m
  • Total descent – 387 m

Watching the sunrise from the top of Poon Hill is the highlight of the trek. It takes about 45 min. to get to the top of Poon Hill from Ghorepani. It is a steep ascent all the way, to the top. If you start at Lower Ghorepani your total ascent and descent will be a little bit more than from Ghorepani. The trail is easy to follow. There are usually many people walking up. We took only water, headlamps, and cameras with us. The rest of our stuff we left in our guesthouse. Take money with you to pay the entrance fee to Poon Hill (NPR 200 pp.).

You’re not allowed to bring hot water, tea, or coffee to the top. The fine for that is NPR 2000/US$15. They sell hot drinks on the top for 2-3 times more than down in the village.

Elevation profile of Poon Hill peak trekElevation profile of Poon Hill peak trek
Elevation profile of the walk to the top of Poon Hill. Up and down the same way, 387m ascent and descent

The sunrise was beautiful we were lucky with the weather. The sky was clear and we could see the sun rising from behind the mountains. Just after we started walking down it got cloudy and started snowing. The descent wasn’t much faster than the ascent. The trail was partly covered in snow/ice we didn’t have hiking poles and were really struggling on the way down.

What to take to the summit

  • Headlamp – you start walking in the pitch dark
  • Water
  • Gloves – make sure you dress warm enough it gets quite chilly at the top waiting for the sun to come.
  • Beanie 
  • Camera/GoPro/Phone
  • Money 200 pp. entrance fee, plus extra to buy tea/coffee on the top
  • Hiking poles – will be quite helpful especially on the way down

The sunrise from the top was beautiful. It’s definitely worth an early wake-up and the climb. If you don’t like getting up early you can go to the top of Poon Hill in the afternoon. In a way, it’s nicer because unlike in the morning, there will be no people on the top. 

Amazing sunrise on the top of the Poon HillAmazing sunrise on the top of the Poon Hill
Stunning sunrise on the top of Poon Hill, the highlight of the trek

Part 2. Ghorepani to Ghandruk, 16,3 km/10 mi

  • Starting point – Ghorepani
  • Finishing point – Ghandruk
  • Distance – 16,3 km/10 mi
  • Time – 5 hours
  • Total ascent – 683 m
  • Total descent – 1394 m
Elevation profile Ghorepani to Ghandruk, Poon Hill trekElevation profile Ghorepani to Ghandruk, Poon Hill trek
Elevation profile of Day 3 of the Poon Hill trek; Ghorepani to Ghandruk. Ascent – 683 m, descent – 1394 m

The first part of the walk was quite tough from Ghorepani we went up (around 300 m) over the pass. The climb was tiring but it wasn’t the most difficult part of the walk. From the top, for the next hour, we walked in the snow mostly downhill and it was quite difficult as we were not prepared for that we didn’t have crampons or hiking poles. Walking down on snowy/icy ground was very slow.

On the way between Ghorepani and Tadapani, there are 5 small villages where you can stop for lunch, rest, or get water. Tadapani is about 10 km away from Ghorepani it took us more than 3 hours to walk it. Most of the way was downhill but there was one steep uphill just before Tadapani, about 200 m up, the last ascent for the day.

If you feel tired you can stay in Tadapani there are several guesthouses and restaurants. The views from the village are very nice. We read that the views from Ghandruk village were truly spectacular and decided to keep walking. It’s about 6 km more to Ghandruk.

The second part of the walk from Tadapani to Ghandruk was easy, mainly downhill. The trek goes through the beautiful forest. It went quickly. Ghandruk is quite a big place compared to the other stops on the Poon Hill trek. There are many guesthouses and restaurants and a couple of small shops with limited supplies.

Challenges

  • Early wake up for the sunrise
  • A steep ascent and descent on the top of Poon Hill
  • Walk over Deurali Pass
  • A couple of steep ascends and descends on the way from Ghorepani to Tadapani.

Highlights

  • Sunrise on the top of Poon Hill
  • Beautiful views of snow peaks on the way to Tadapani
  • Nice forest walk from Tadapani to Ghandruk

The Poon Hill trek can be included in the Annapurna Base Camp trek itinerary which starts in Ghorepani. Or combined with the Mardi Himal trek (as we did) that starts in Landruk which is about 2 hours walk (mostly downhill) from Ghandruk.

Views of the mountain range from a lookout on the way to GhandrukViews of the mountain range from a lookout on the way to Ghandruk
Snowy peaks and lush green forest – scenery on the way to Ghandruk

Day 4. Bus Ghandruk – Pokhara, 3 hours/walk Ghandruk – Australian Camp

We didn’t do this part because the next day from Ghandruk we walked to Landruk where we started the Mardi Himal trek. There are several options for finishing the Poon Hill trek. The first is to take a bus/jeep from Ghandruk to Pokhara. the second is to walk from Ghandruk to Kimche and from there take a bus to Pokhara. And the third is to walk all the way to Kande and from there take a bus to Pokhara.

How to get back to Pokhara?

There are direct jeeps and buses from Ghandruk to Pokhara. It takes between 2 and 3 hours to get back by bus. A jeep is faster, 1h30min. The price of the bus is around NPR 500/US$4 pp. A jeep costs NPR 1000/US$8 pp. If you’re two or more people you can negotiate the price per person.

What to pack for the Poon Hill trek?

It’s a 4-day trek with staying in tea houses so try to pack light to make the walk easier especially if you’re not planning to use a porter. Our packing list for the Poon Hill trek was similar to the Everest Base Camp packing list. You can find a lot of details and information on our gear for Nepal in that post.

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Alya AkhmetgareevaAlya Akhmetgareeva

The pretty half of Stingy Nomads, responsible for all our land adventures (hiking, climbing, walking the Camino) and following them write-ups. Alya loves walking since she was a child, she prefers to walk 1000 km with a backpack rather than to do a 10 000 km road trip (actually any road trip). Alya is a big fan of Latin America, the Spanish language, and dancing. Every time we go away she desperately misses our dog Chile.

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