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Annapurna, Around the world travel, Backpacking, Bucket List, long term travel, Nepal, Travel

Annapurna Made Easy

If you don’t want to read through all the details, but are looking for concise travel information (including average trekking times and prices for food/accommodation) for the Annapurna Circuit, I’ve listed some of it below. I trekked at the end of November, which was getting close to “off-season,” so some of the lodging was cheaper than you might expect to pay during peak season. I also consider these average trekking times. I hope this helps.

In Kathmandu, you can sort both your TIMS permit and the Annapurna Conservation Permit, they cost $20 and $25 respectively. You need both and they will be checked multiple times along the trail.
The bus from Kathmandu to Besi Sahar is a local bus and costs 380 rupees. There is no tourist bus for this route. You can begin the trek at Besi Sahar or take a jeep to Bhulbhule and start there (where no cars are allowed as of now). You can negotiate the cost of the jeep, but expect to pay around 400-500 per person for a group of 4.

For those considering doing the trek solo, (without a guide and porter) my advice is- if I can, you can. Not only will you save a ton of money, but you will be able to go at your own pace, spending more time in the places you like and branching off the well-beaten path when you want. If you change your mind, you can always pick up a guide and/or porter along the way. If you don’t take a porter, just remember you are carrying your own stuff, so PACK LIGHT!

Trekking Times:

Day 1 Bhulbhule to Gnadi 1:00
Day 2 Gnadi to Chamje 5:40
Day 3 Chamje to Timang 8:00
Day 4 Timang to Upper Pisang 7:30
Day 5 Upper Pisang to Manang 5:30
Day 6 Manang – Acclimatisation Day
Day 7 Manang to Khangsar 2:00
Day 8 Khangsar to Lake Tilicho BC 4:15
Day 9 Lake Tilicho BC to Lake 3:00
Lake to Basecamp1:30
Basecamp to ShreeKharkar3:00
Day 10 ShreeKharkar to Thorong Pedi 6:30
Day 11 Thorong Pedi to Muktinath 8:00
Day 12 Muktinath to Kaghbeni 2:30
Day 13 Kaghbeni to Tatopani Jeep
Day 14 Tatopani to Pokhara Jeep
Accommodation & Food Costs: These costs include cost of a room, and dinner and breakfast, beverages, the occasional hot water bottle and camera battery charge. I’ve indicated where there’s more than a one-night stay.
Gnadi – Sky High Hotel – 455 rupees (approximately $5.60)
Chamje – Chamje Guesthouse – 540 rupees
Timang – Prosanna Hotel – 690 rupees
Upper Pisang – Annapurna Hotel – 1340 rupees (i was really hungry)
Manang – 2 nights accommodation, 2 breakfasts, 2 dinner and lunch – 2555 rupees
Khangsar – Luxmi Inn – 590 rupees
Lake Tilicho – accommodation, dinner, breakfast and 2 lunches – 1720 rupees
Shree Kharkar – 1240 rupees
Thorong Phedi – 875 rupees
Muktinath – Bob Marley Hotel – 1500 rupees
Kaghbeni – 700 rupees
Tatopani – 600 rupees
You can see how the price for food and lodging increases as you get further along the trail, higher in elevation and closer to the Pass. Once you leave Muktinath, prices drop back down again.
Public busses from Jomsom to Pokhara are non-negotiable but you can negotiate Jeep prices and often times, you can get the same price for a jeep as you can for the bus if you have enough people in your group.
My last piece of advice is to take your time. Don’t get caught up about making it to a certain place by a certain time, unless you are on a time crunch. This is a beautiful part of the world…savor it.
Happy Trekking and Namaste!
Annapurna, Around the world travel, Backpacking, Bucket List, long term travel, Nepal, Travel

Wrapping Up the Annapurna Trek – Days 12-14

We finally mustered the energy to leave Muktinath and head to Kaghbeni by early afternoon. The hike was short in comparison to the preceding days (and downhill) but the 2 1/2 hours seemed to take longer than they should have. We decided to take a few shortcuts, even though Luke was no longer with us. So after scaling a few rock walls, we arrived in Kaghbeni.

The town was no more impressive than Muktinath and I was immediately glad we were only spending a night. Fortunately we found a very clean, quaint Dutch Inn and didn’t venture far for the evening. They served dinner with ingredients from their organic garden, and we all got a giggle out of the typo on the menu… vag momos, instead of veg. Ooops!
We got out of town early the next morning, and so began a day of bus travel down the winding, gravel roads of the Annapurna region. We set out at 9am from Muktinath, arrived in Jomsom and booked the 12:00 bus to Ghasa. We had just enough time to inhale some food and check email. This was a strange feeling after being so disconnected for what felt like so long. In reality, it had only been 2 weeks, but if felt like ages since I had been in touch with anyone.
We took the bus to Ghasa and literally walked off one bus and onto the next in order to get to Tato Pani. We finally arrived at 4:30, found accommodation and then hiked it right over to the hot springs. I think we all expected authentic hot springs and were slightly disappointed to find concrete pools, but not that disappointed… it was still a treat to soak our sore muscles.
The following morning, we had to make a decision about the Sanctuary trek. It was cloudy and cool, I had no clean clothes, and I was flat out tired. My vote was to head to Pokhara, and the other girls were in agreement. Unfortunately we missed the bus, but we hailed a jeep and began another day’s journey. First to Beni and then by local bus to Pokhara.
This was quite the bus ride to say the least. The bus was packed so full that people were literally pouring into the aisles and out of windows and doors. If the bus didn’t break down from being overweighted, it felt likely that we would topple over the mountainside on one of the next sharp turns. This hop on/hop off saga continued for 4 hours and I was so tired, I didn’t even give a damn. We stopped once and managed to snag some sweet bread from a roadside stand. During the last hour, as if in victory mode, the driver blasted Nepalese music as loud as the volume would go.
By the time we arrived in Pokhara, our arses were numb and we were like three zombies. Luckily, Lucy had stored some stuff at the guesthouse where she had stayed prior to the trek, so we made our way there and managed to get rooms for the next few nights.
It was odd to be back in civilization- a room with a western toilet, a bath and a TV! And just outside, a backpacker-friendly city of cafes, restaurants, internet cafes, laundry services and trekking shops. Quite the reverse culture shock.
We did what we usually do and split a pot of masala tea, then ventured out for Indian food and ice cream, something you couldn’t find on the trek. On the way home, I bought shampoo and conditioner in anticipation of a hot shower – it’s the little things in life!
The following day, I was worthless and unable to make any decisions, other than to go for a 1- hour massage. I proceeded to sit in a cafe for the rest of the afternoon… Pokhara seems like it’s going to be a good place to chill out for a bit!
Annapurna, Around the world travel, Backpacking, Bucket List, long term travel, Nepal, Travel

Annapurna Day 11- Thorong La Pass

The alarm went off at 4am, and we were up, packed and finished with breakfast before 5. Lucy was feeling better and had decided to trek the Pass with us, so at 5:30, in the pitch dark, bundled and sporting headlamps, we began the 1,000 meter climb up to Thorong La Pass.

The first hour to basecamp was done in the dark and was a straight vertical climb. I’m glad it was dark and couldn’t see what lay ahead. We had a quick stop here to shed some layers and use the toilet, and then began the 3-hour climb to the pass. This was a gradual ascent and nowhere near as steep as the lake climb, but with my pack on and the higher elevation, there were times when I felt like every step was an effort.
The last 45 minutes felt extremely long and each time I saw a trail marker, I thought, “Oh, I have to be close,” only to turn the corner and see the next one in the distance. There was no mistaking the Pass though. Hundreds of prayer flags hung over what looked like a finish line. Suddenly, the last ten minutes up felt effortless.
5,416 meters, equivalent of 17,769 feet! We played around at the top, took pictures, chatted with our larger group that had formed over the last 5 days and after the novelty wore off, we began the 4-hour climb back down the other side. The views of the mountains in the distance were beautiful, but thinking of the Pass as some sort of finish line was deceiving, because the 4-hour climb down was hot, grueling and covered 1600 meters.
We stopped one hour away from Muktinath (our stopping point for the day) for a snack and rehydration stop and the last hour went quickly. I was TIRED and began having second thoughts about committing to the Sanctuary trek that I’d been debating about doing following this trek. I hoped it was just fatigue causing any doubts and that it would pass.
We arrived in Muktinath around 4:00 and heard rumors of hot showers on our way into town. As we approached, we saw this built up village and it was quite a shock compared to the quaint villages we’d been staying in. Still, after a couple of strenuous days, a hot shower was a really nice thought, and so was a warm nights sleep in a proper lodge.
We checked into Bob Marley hotel, complete with marijuana tea on the menu. First things first- a HOT shower. It had been 5 days since a shower and weeks since a hot one, and I can’t really put into words how nice it felt to have hot water hit my tired body, soothe my muscles, scrub off the dirt and clear my head. I know it sounds cliche, but I felt like a new woman.
Feeling re-energized, I headed down to dinner with Emily and Lucy, and the South American crew. After dinner, the re-energized feeling had passed and I wasn’t even up for conversation. It was time for bed! The sad thing is, it was only 8:30. I slept all the way until 5:30 this morning, and it was the first time I hadn’t slept fully clothed, with a fleece and hat on. It was glorious.
After breakfast, we are all in proper chill out mode but we have plans to continue trekking to Khagbeni today and then make a bee-line for the hot springs just south. No decisions about future trekking have been made… I’m just savoring clearing the Pass yesterday before I think about the next challenge…
Annapurna, Around the world travel, Backpacking, Bucket List, long term travel, Nepal, Travel

Annapurna Day 10 – Thorong Phedi

This morning, we had breakfast and hit the path by 8:30. I was feeling the aftereffects of the lake climb, not so much in my muscles, but just a general lethargy. We had a decent uphill climb this morning, followed by a descent down to the river, only to cross the river and have to do the uphill climb over again…and this was supposed to be a shortcut. I just wasn’t feeling it today!

By the time we reached Yakharka, I was feeling spent and could’ve easily stopped here for the night, but we were only 3 hours away from Throng Phedi (the start of The Pass) and it seemed pointless to break it down over another two days.

We stopped for a very long lunch and then prepared for part 2 of the trek. We almost lost Lucy, who was beginning to get a headache and was visibly losing steam, but she was a trooper and stuck with us for the rest of the afternoon’s trek.

It was only a 40-minute trek to Letdar and then two additional hours to Throng Phedi. We arrived just as the sun was setting, and Lucy went to bed immediately. Emily and I joined the throngs of other people in the dining hall and filled our bellies with Dhal Bhat.

I couldn’t believe we’d be making the trek over the pass in less than 12 hours, and after two pretty strenuous days. I thought about the additional 1,000 meters we had left to climb and it made me nervous to think about how tough the lake climb was and that on this part of the trek I would be lugging my pack. I wondered how much the extra elevation would affect me. Still, these are the moments when adrenaline and excitement prevail, and when all else fails, you just put one foot in front of the other!

We wrapped up at the dining hall, and took some hot water, honey and garlic cloves back to the room for Lucy. Apparently garlic is great for altitude sickness and we had all been chomping on full cloves over the past few days. She barely stirred, so we left her to sleep, hoping that she would be feeling better by the morning so the three of us could trek the pass together.

Annapurna, Around the world travel, Backpacking, Bucket List, long term travel, Nepal, Travel

Annapurna Day 9 – Shree Kharkar

Things have been awesome since leaving Manang. The day we left, we had a 2-hour hike to Khangsar and decided to blindly follow Luke on one of his infamous shortcuts. This led to us traversing ice patches on landslide territory, not to mention a nice steep climb at the end. Still, we arrived safely and found Luxmi’s Inn, which was nice and cozy.

Luxmi welcomed us into the kitchen and we all sat around the fire with her drinking Nepali tea while she cooked dinner. She fed us all at the same time and talked to us about our hike to Lake Tilicho, telling us to take our time (bastadee- slowly). There was so much warmth at this inn, despite being in a bit of a rundown town, and it was all due to Luxmi’s energy and disposition.
We were up early Monday morning and off to Tilicho Base Camp. This took about 4 hours – of consistent ups and downs, no real grueling trekking until the end where we were in proper landslide territory, as in, don’t look up or down or you may loose your balance. We stopped for a snickers break (this had become a valid reason for a stop on the trek) and took a look at the scenery around us. There were mountains in the background and cave-like rocks surrounding us, gravel-like rocks under our feet, which led down to what looked to be a small river below.
When we began traversing the landslide area, we came head on with a herder and his 20 yak. We had nowhere to go but back, but the yaks were too timid to pass us, so the herder waved us on, and we watched as the yak begin to slide down the gravel slope as we got closer. We eventually passed and once we turned the corner, we spotted basecamp in the distance. What a glorious sight, and it was downhill too!
We had lunch when we arrived and caught up with a few familiar faces who were a couple of days ahead of us. I felt a slight headache coming on, so I popped a diamox and chugged water. We were now at 4100 meters, the highest we’d been so far, but we had to climb to 4900 the following morning and I feared the headache getting any worse. The afternoon was spent in our sleeping bags, sipping hot chocolate. We crawled out for dinner but when the smoke from the wood fire got too unbearable we went back to our rooms for a good night’s sleep.
We were up around 6 the following morning, had a quick breakfast and set out. I got a 15-minute head start (because I am usually the slow one). I felt like I was on a solo mountaineering mission for the first hour. The climb was 800 meters, straight up. It was steep and 3 hours long, but it was so nice to shed my backpack and just go with no extra weight. For some reason, Bob Marley’s Is This Love was playing on repeat in my head, and I just put my head down and put one foot in front of the other.
B 10:30 we were standing at the highest lake in the world, 4,919 meters above sea level. The air was so clear and the colors so vivid- bright red, blue, green and yellow prayer flags against a blue sky and an aquamarine lake, a huge glacier dropping down a mountainside into the lake – all this beauty and the 3-hour upward trek seems like a distant memory. It was so windy though, we couldn’t stay up there too long.
I don’t think I realized how steep the climb was until I was trekking back down. This took about 1 1/2 hours, compared to the 3 going up and was a breeze. We got back to base camp, inhaled lunch, packed up and set out for Shree Kharkar. We had a 3 hour trek back the way we had come in- lots of ups and downs, but the midday heat had passed and after 2 hours, we watched the sunset change the light behind Pisang Peak from purple to pink to blue.
We arrived in Shree Kharkar just before dark and checked into a 3-bed room at one of the two lodges in town. We had left Luke at Lake Tilicho so he could spend another night, so it was now Emily, Lucy and me, although a bigger group had been forming along the trail, so we had dinner with about 10 of us, sharing travel stories and future Annapurna plans. We were in bed shortly after that. It had been a big day and the next two would be just an intense.
Annapurna, Around the world travel, Backpacking, Bucket List, long term travel, Nepal, Travel, Trekking

Annapurna Day 7 – Manang

We are still in Manang and getting ready to make the trek to Khangsar this afternoon. I am feeling so much better physically and mentally. Just feeling better physically has made me much more confident about the next few days, and I feel somewhat relieved.

Yesterday after lunch, I sucked it up and took a warm shower. It was definitely the warmest so far in this country, but any warmth in the water was counteracted by the very cold bathroom, so it was slightly uncomfortable. Oh, it wasn’t a shower either, just a hose spicket I had to sort of sit under. Nevertheless, I can’t describe how good it feels to have clean hair.
My headache was still lingering around, so I crawled back into my sleeping bag to rest and thoroughly warm up. At 5, Emily, Luke and I ventured up the path to a “projector hall” and watched Seven Years in Tibet. For 200 rupees, we saw the movie, got a small bag of popcorn and a cup of tea. It was pretty funny to sit in a movie theater with coat, gloves and hat on, sipping hot tea to stay warm. Still, it was a good change of pace and the story line was relevant. I felt a bit rejuvenated after this and we headed back to the inn for dinner. I took a thermos of hot water to bed with me and had one of the best night’s sleep since being on the trek.
I woke up this morning feeling much better and had a few hours to spare before we left Manang, so I decided to spend some time alone with nature. That’s why I was doing this anyways. I need to put the elements to the back of my mind and pay more attention to the beautiful scenery around me. I took a short hike up to the stupa on the hill overlooking Manang. On the way, I got a great view of the Gangapurna glacier, the lake below it and the surrounding mountains – Tilicho Peak and Khangsar in the distance. For a while, I was the only one up here and I just sat and enjoyed the view and the silence.
I picked up a few supplies on the way back through town, and now we’re ready to head out to Khangsar.
Annapurna, Around the world travel, Backpacking, Bucket List, long term travel, Nepal, Travel

Annapurna Day 6 – Manang

Boy, was I happy to see Manang when we got here. I know some of the toughest days still lie ahead but Manang for me is a semi-light at the end of the tunnel, 3/4 of the path covered and an acclimatisation day on top of that!

It’s 12:40 on Saturday, and I’ve literally done nothing today. I don’t think my body would’ve let me even if I’d tried. I’m enjoying a few hours of proper chilling out before we decide if we’re going to move on to Lake Tilicho or spend one more night here and head to Letdar tomorrow.
I’m feeling slightly indecisive. On one hand, I would be able to see the world’s highest lake. On the other hand, it’s an additional 2 days climb to over 4000 meters and I don’t want to push my luck and risk any altitude sickness and then not get over The Pass. Plus, it will be bloody cold, but that’s not what you remember, is it?
We have been hiking with Luke and Lucy, so there’s 4 of us now. Lucy stayed in Ngawal last night, 2 villages away and Emily and Luke have gone for a walk locally. I guess we will make a call when everyone gets back.
Yesterday, after a hearty breakfast, the four of us set out from Upper Pisang. We decided to take the upper, more scenic route instead of the 4-hour flat route. We covered the first hour pretty quickly with Annapurna II behind us, Annapurna III looming above us ahead, and very authentic Tibetan villages dotting the landscape around us.
We then crossed a suspension bridge and began a 500 meter climb, straight up, not one flat bit, just a continuation of an upward winding path. Sometimes it’s a blessing not to see the stopping point because you know how far you have to go. Then again, when it’s never-ending, sometimes you want to know. This upward climb continued for about 1 hour, at which point I was cursing myself for wanting to take the more “scenic” route. We found a makeshift temple at the highest point and dropped our packs for a 15-minute breather and a snack break.
Thankfully it was a pretty flat trek to Ngawal. We were about to breeze through when Lucy suggested lunch. I was sort of thinking the same thing, not so much because I wanted to eat, but because I wanted an hour to sit down. After 1 1/2 hours and another plate of momos, I was feeling rejuvinated.
The village we were in, Ngawal, was rustic and charming. Brick abodes were built in clusters and yaks, horses and goats roamed freely. There was not a cloud in the sky and everything seemed so much brighter the higher we got. Lucy liked it so much here, that she decided to stay, so Luke, Emily and I set out for Manang.
I inquired about distance and terrain before leaving and the lady at the Inn where we’d had lunch said it would take about 3 hours and that after an initial downward climb, it would be a relatively flat trek – music to my ears.
We set off at 2:30. The downward climb was through some really unique terrain. It reminded me of Cappadocia, Turkey. In fact, the landscape has changed completely since the beginning of the trek. Here, the land is protected from the monsoon and therefore barren and dry, but not too much higher up are dense pine forests that flank the mountainside. The villages we are passing are much more rustic and I’m starting to feel like we really are in the middle of nowhere.
Our rooms are wooden-beam lodge like accommodation, with 2 single beds, no extra furnishings or accessories, other than blankets (thankfully), and an outhouse. Haven’t seen hot water in days.
We made good time to Manag and did 5 1/2 hours of trekking. I’ve sort of got into a routine when I arrive somewhere – dry clothes on, sleeping bag out, hot tea and then dinner. We had no electricity last night, so we ate by candlelight and headlamps, and we had a little wood stove at our feet that we all huddled around. It’s such a luxury but it’s always hard to leave and go to a cold room afterwards.
I polished off my dal bhat but felt a little uncomfortable after dinner. Usually I’m starving, but my food had left me uncomfortably full and I had a dull headache. It could have been a number of things – dehydration, elevation, soreness from lugging the pack, so Emily, who has just finished one month at a yoga ashram in India lead Luke and I in shoulder stretches. Before you knew it, we were full on doing yoga, the three of us, in our thermals, in a room no bigger than 10×10 – hilarious.
I slept until 12:45 a.m. and then woke up with a killer headache – almost like a migraine, throbbing pain so bad I thought I would puke. I hoped I would puke, thinking it would make me feel better. Again, I started to run things through my head, wondering what was causing it. I had been drinking a lot more water, so I didn’t think I was dehydrated. I was taking the Diamox (altitude sickness medication) as a preventative measure and didn’t think it was the altitude. Did I have food poisoning? And then, I started to get nervous because we had been refilling our water bottles throughout the day with river water still using water purifying tablets, but what if? So, at 2 a.m. in the middle-of-nowhere-Manang, I scared the shit out of myself thinking I had contracted meningitis from contaminated water!
I was up for at least 3 hours willing myself back to sleep and praying that I would wake up and the headache would be gone. I fell asleep listening to a mouse rustle through Emily’s bag of almonds.
When I woke up this morning, my headache was gone, but I was feeling pretty lethargic. I laid in bed until around 8 and then ventured down for some breakfast. Luke and I talked about the hike to the lake and breaking it down an extra day to acclimatise. I then excused myself and went back to bed. I piled on some extra blankets and was in and out of sleep until late morning.
I walked around town in early afternoon and then sat in the courtyard of the Inn to let the sun warm my bones. We have decided to stay another night before setting out for the lake via Khangasar. We’re going to take our time with it- acclimatise and cut the length of the treks down. Hopefully this works to my advantage.
Annapurna, Around the world travel, Backpacking, Bucket List, long term travel, Nepal, Travel

Annapurna Day 5 – Upper Pisang

I’m sitting over breakfast at our Inn, looking up at Annapurna II – literally right in front of me. It’s a pretty breathtaking view. So, today begins day 5 of trekking. I haven’t washed my hands since lunch 2 days ago. I haven’t washed my body or my hair in 4 days, but I did wash my face recently. I don’t feel as dirty as I should do, but I am having a hard time getting my fingers through my hair. I’m not uncomfortable though- it’s too cold to care.

Yesterday was a good day. We covered some distance. I thought we were setting out for 6 hours, but it was closer to 7 1/2 when we stopped. We left Timang around 7:30 and had a short stair climb after breakfast and then it was a pretty easy trek until we stopped for lunch, just some rolling hills here and there. Three hours in, we stopped for a tea and snickers break (something that’s become a daily indulgence), and then walked on to Bhratang for lunch. Veg soup didn’t cut it and I think I was low on water too because the initial climb after lunch had me feeling wiped out.
Besides this steady climb between Bhratang and Dhukur Posari, the end was pretty flat, but I was struggling after lunch. I felt feverish and then cold, so I stopped to put on an extra layer and chugged some water. I took time to look at the trail behind me. Sometimes you forget to do this, cause you’re so focused on what lies ahead. There was a great mountain view so I took the opportunity to grab my camera and take a picture.
When I looked at the picture on my screen, it looked like the clouds were forming giant angel wings, spread wide opened. It was an awesome shot, and felt like just the encouragement I needed to carry on. We turned a bend and I found a shortcut to circumnavigate some long upward bends and before too long we were in Dhukur Pokhari.
Emily and I decided to continue to Pisang, which was less than an hour and a very easy trek, but we then decided to stay in “Upper” Pisang, not just Pisang… which meant ending the day with a grueling uphill climb. I was looking straight up at where I would be sleeping and where I could put my pack down, but the vertical climb did me in.
We arrived around 5:20 and got one of the last rooms at the Annapurna Hotel – the only thing on my mind was food and my masala tea. I ordered the biggest plate of potatoes ever, and Emily and I split an Apple Pie…it is Thanksgiving after all. I still didn’t feel stuffed despite all the food I’d consumed.
I crawled into my sleeping bag, and thanks to an extra blanket, felt like I would warm up eventually. I fell asleep to Emily doing sit-ups in her sleeping bag in order to keep warm.
I’m learning a lot from Emily actually. She’s spent a lot of time in Boulder, Colorado, so she knows a thing or two about hiking and camping. I’m learning all these little secrets, like sleeping on top of your clothes at night so they are warm when you put them on in the morning and the sit-ups in your sleeping bag trick. I’m becoming quite accustomed to this whole idea of trekking…so far.
Annapurna, Around the world travel, Backpacking, Bucket List, long term travel, Nepal, Travel

Annapurna Day 3 – Timang

We trekked 8 hours today, the longest day so far. I had a decent night’s rest in Chamje and a hearty breakfast of muesli and warm milk with a masala tea. Some friendly porters and guides also gave me some recommendations for the upcoming days. I’m also very lucky to have found some serious bandaids (similar to moleskin) from a French couple and one of the Nepalese guides has doctored my left foot. I think it has really saved me. (Note to other trekkers, Do break in your boots WELL before your trek).

I set out at 7am and had a few climbs early on, but they passed quickly. The scenery was beautiful. At first I was high above the river, watching the sun creep up and then I was literally next to the rapids for quite some time. I haven’t passed many other trekkers at all, and mostly the only people I pass are the locals, with their herd of horses, carrying goods from one village to the next.
I managed to cover 5 hours before lunch in Dharipani. It felt so good to sit and remove my boots. I treated myself to a coke and fried rice. I feared lagging behind this afternoon, but I felt strong after the lunch break , until reaching Danaque. I refilled my water bottle, had a bathroom break and learned it was only 1 more hour to a good stopping point. It was more like 1 1/2 hours and I lost steam at about 45 minutes. Unfortunately, the last 45 minutes were entirely uphill and this is the first place where I feel like I’ve struggled. But, I tried to look at it positively and realize that it’s 45 minutes of uphill climbing that I don’t have to do tomorrow morning.
By the time I reached the guesthouse in Timang, the sun was just dipping behind the mountains and the temperature was dipping too. I changed into some dry clothes and warm socks and headed out to catch the end of the sunset- and watched as the sun turned the snowcapped mountains pink.
I’ve sort of got into a nightly and morning routine of a cup of hot masala tea, and I was looking forward to warming up with one tonight- not just to warm me up, but to warm my hands up. It’s the coldest it’s been so far. I’m enjoying this all, but I know the next few days will be challenging, not only the trekking but the altitude and the cold. I hope the excitement will help me push through.
I’ve just polished off a hot bowl of vegetable soup and some chapati and scored an extra blanket and the only things that are cold are my hands and my nose. There’s not much else to do once the sun goes down, besides read, think and sleep… this would drive some people crazy, but I’m loving being so disconnected with technology and connected with nature. There aren’t many places that you can find this anymore.
Annapurna, Around the world travel, Backpacking, Bucket List, long term travel, Nepal, Travel

Annapurna Day 2 – Chamje

On Monday morning, I was up and out of the hostel by 6:30 am. I made my way by taxi to the local bus station. It was dusty and dirty, not to mention chaotic. I had just enough time for a coffee and then boarded the bus to Besi Sahar. This was your typical local bus, stopping at every junction to pick up more people, despite being full then stopping to pick up rice and other goods that were thrown to the top of the bus.

A few other westerners were onboard, and we debated the length of the bus journey. I had been told 5 hours, but others thought it was 12. I prayed it wasn’t 12, but was glad I had a book. We stopped for Dal Bhat and 2 hours later we arrived in Besi Sahar.
It’s possible to begin the trek in Besi Sahar, but the route is now a somewhat busy road, so I was happy to share a jeep to Bhulbhule and start from there. After registering at the checkpoint, I crossed the first suspension bridge and began the trek to Gnadi. This only took one hour and I was happy to keep going, but the sun was starting to set quite quickly so I stopped at the end of the village and got a room at Sky High Guesthouse for 50 Rupees ($0.60).
I had managed to break a sweat trekking and despite it being cold, I opted for a shower and hairwash, seeing as I don’t know when I will do it again. I bundled up and sat outside with two ladies from New Zealand who had been on the same bus earlier. We exchanged paths and estimated trekking times over cups of tea. A bit later on, Luke and Lucy, both British, showed up and we had dinner together.
By 5:30 it was pitch dark. My four hours sleep the night before hadn’t cut it and I knew I was in for some long days, so by 7, I had crawled into my sleeping bag. My first thoughts after laying down were that my sleeping bag was pretty weak – this has me pretty nervous for what’s to come. Luckily, I had filled my water bottle with hot water, so I cuddled up with it, and snoozed.
The night felt like five 2-hour consecutive naps, and by 6:30 I was up, eating breakfast and getting packed up to go. I paid my $6 bill, which included accommodation, dinner and breakfast, and by 8:00 I was on the path again.
I managed to cover 6 hours today, and I felt good the whole time. It was a gorgeous day, warm enough for shorts. I passed through a couple of villages this morning, and the only sounds were birds chirping, my footsteps and the locals calling out “Namaste.”
I stopped for a water break in Bahundnda, and got chatting to Emily from NYC. We spent the better part of the afternoon trekking together. We stopped for a lunch of momos in Syange, which took about 1 1/2 hours, so we only had 3 hours of sunlight left, but by the time 5:00 rolled around, I was happy to call it a day.
I managed to get a free room, so long as I eat dinner and breakfast here. I think they’re doing this as it’s end of season and there aren’t that many people on the trek. Works for me! So far, I feel good and I’m still excited about it all, although my feet are talking to me a bit, and given that I just finished dinner, I’m already thinking about breakfast!