When you need to get away from it all and recharge, it is beneficial to your recuperation to have someone to guide and manage things for you. I asked Bella from Bella’s Magic Mountains how her wellness treks in mountains across the world can help find some time for reflection.
“Our Wellness Treks through the Himalayas, Pyrenees and the Lake District take a holistic approach to mental and physical well-being. Naturally, you boost fitness by hiking and you enjoy the draw-dropping beauty of the mountains whilst also allowing time to get some peace and perspective on life. The camaraderie on these treks leaves a family-feel as you share time and a magical experience together. For me, nothing beats trekking through the Annapurna Sanctuary in the Himalayas.
On our Mardi Himal Trek in Nepal we trek through the Annapurna Mountain Range for eight days. The views vary from expansive mountain and valley views, to more sheltered colourful rhododendron forests with amazing roots embedded in the paths, to formidable views above the tree line and beautiful local villages; you’ll be spoilt for natural beauty. The change in altitude creates different climates and such varied scenery. The cold nights are matched by hot days and sun catches the snow peaks in the distance. The highlights are; a sunrise hike to Poon Hill which gives you a panoramic view of the Annapurna Range where we see two 8,000m plus peaks: Dhaulagiri and Annapurna, Hot Springs in Jhinu, sunset at High Camp, the view of Fishtail (Machapuchare) as we ascend to Mardi Himal Base Camp (4,500m), and a relaxing day on the lake in Pokhara where we usually opt to paddleboard if the muscles are up for it and uncoil with a cocktail in the evening.
The physical exertion is a challenge but the point-to-point nature of the trek makes it easier as there’s no option of stopping so your mind stops battling with you and you keep going. We have porters to carry our bags but a strong base fitness and mental endurance is needed. You will feel physically and mentally challenged and finish each day with a strong sense of accomplishment. We stop roughly every 45 minutes for 10 minutes to rest our legs. These rests are needed as the trek is tough and it rejuvenated our muscles. We take a long lunch break, a great rest for the body, as our food is prepared by lovely local Nepalese families cooking us traditional food of Dhal Bhat (curry, rice, and lentils) from their kitchens. We mostly try not to drink alcohol for first part of the trip, especially until we get over the highest part, (drinking at altitude can be a problem as acting drunk matches some altitude sickness symptoms) but even on the way down you may not want to because you feel so healthy and nourished by good times. When you’ve been hiking for eight days you do crave a delicious meal and Pokhara a bit of a mecca for hungry trekkers.
Where do You Stay on the Wellness Trek in the Himalayas?
We hike for roughly 6hrs a day – 4hrs before lunch and 2hrs after – and arrive at my preferred pre booked guest house by mid afternoon for a shower and relax before our 6pm dinner. Your hearts will lift at the first sighting of our destination settlement, you’ll pass traditional mixed farming practices of veg, fruit trees and crops with animals; goats, chickens and cows. The local people are always so joyful and welcoming. Walking is still the only way to access the guesthouses on most of the route. These traditional mountain guesthouses give you the best of Nepalese hospitality; they have twin rooms, a warm dining area, traditional or western cuisine; freshly cooked for all meals, and showers and western toilets available in most of the guesthouses (except our highest one). Bedtime is nice and early, pretty much after it gets dark, (your body gets into it’s natural rhythm) and you’re so tired you will sleep like a log. Our alarms will be set for 7am, but generally you’re already awake, as we’ll be going to bed at 9pm.
I always work with Raman as our guide a he is such a lovely man. He shares with the group about how he lives his life; leading treks in the trekking season and working in his village in the fields with his family in the summer and winter when tourism is low, you’ll learn about his culture, community and family. We often play cards as a group or with Raman and porters in the evenings. It’s relishing in the simple life and back to the games you used to get so much joy out of as a kid.
We take a max of eight people – this allows myself to effectively facilitate safety and support the group whilst also being intimate enough to form deep, lasting bonds with the fellow participants who you share this extraordinary adventure with.
The mountains have a majestic power to ground one and calm the mind. I’ve had my own struggles with mental health and trekking in the mountains has always been my ‘escape’ or temporary fix, the challenge is building more peaceful practices back into one’s life back home. We also do some casual yoga classes some evenings in the mountains to stretch out the body and share a practice that you can incorporate into your everyday life back home. The shared adventure and hiking endorphins in the mountains lifts the mood and the feeling of awe and wonder for life becomes effortless. Within a few days of hiking, people feel completely different as their body starts adjusting to the surroundings and recent lifestyle changes. Hiking six hours per day in the most beautiful landscape, meditating and eating in a balanced way has the most powerful effect on one’s brain. Each day you’ll finish feeling physically exhausted but mentally rejuvenated.
By the end you’ll feel fantastic, in body and mind. You’ll look back on it as a really memorable, positive experience and it may spark a desire to explore new trekking routes and lead a more nourishing path in the future. “The sense of camaraderie was unique; there’s always something to talk about, and just knowing that you’re all in it together really helps.”
Trek the Himalayas with Bella’s Magic Mountains