Annapurna Circuit - We are coming :)
Sat. 28th April – Day 1 “Strong winds”
Besi Sahar – Ngadi (820 – 890m) – 13km – 2 3/4h trekking
Hot shower :)
I only slept 3 or 4 hours as I finished my blog entry for Nepal until 1.30am and my alarm clock was set for 5.30am. Anyway, I was much too nervous to sleep!
I met the boss from the Trekking Company at 6am and he drove me with his motorbike to the Tourist Bus Station. What a great start – a lift on a Nepalese motorbike :) That was exactly my cup of tea!
My Nepalese female guide called Hira was already waiting for me there. We had an instant connection and my gut feeling told me that this would be a lovely trek. Well, what I didn’t know was, how horrendous this bus trip would turn out! It took us 6 hours with an average speed of 20km/h, gravel roads everywhere and the bus driver drove most of the time in the 1st or 2nd gear! Unreal in what treacherous conditions these roads were and how old the bus was!
I watched the Nepalese life next to the road. There were a lot of kids and Nepalese women washing themselves at the water stations directly next to the road – Naked kids, women washing their hair and other women washing clothes.
I was so relieved, when we finally arrived at Besi Sahar, where our trek started! As it was already 12.30, we decided to have lunch first and finally started to walk at 1pm. We were supposed to reach our teahouse by 5pm, but at 3pm we took a quick Coke break and at 3.45pm we already reached our guesthouse for the night. I think Hira and myself have the same hiking speed. Brilliant!
We crossed too very long bridges; one was particularly scary, made out of wood and very high above the river floating underneath. I was thinking about Hazel how she would have felt to cross these bridges. They were indeed scarier then the once we crossed on our 3-day hike!
We also passed a lovely waterfall before we reached our teahouse.
It was in general really windy! It reminded me about Clontarf back in Dublin/Ireland. The wind was enormous and we were not high up yet at all! Wondering how it will feel up at 5000m ;)
So we got our rooms and I had a hot shower! The water was only dripping of the showerhead, but mixed with some cold water it was ok.
|Our first guesthouse|
We met some other hikers, an Israeli couple which was pretty odd! They kind of ignored us and were not interested to talk. Oh well, never mind! There was another couple there and the Australian girl was really nice and chatty. She was even wearing the same Nepalese trousers as me, just in a different colour ;) After some tea we ordered dinner and then it started to rain with thunder and lightning. It didn’t stop when we went to bed. So fingers crossed it will stop overnight and we’ll have a gorgeous day tomorrow :)
Hira told me a little bit about herself, she is married, has 2 children – one 12-year-old boy and a 8 year old girl, who live with her sister (32y) when she is trekking. Hira herself is 33 years old. She got divorced from her husband as she wanted freedom – he apparently was drinking a lot and all the rest! I really respected her, that she had the courage to get divorced in Nepal – she lost her property and has to look after her children without any support of her Ex-husband.
She seems to be a very kind person as she always shares her food with me: biscuits, grapes & her dinner.
I forgot to mention one more thing. Nepalese men were staring at us today and looked really irritated and curious how a Western & Nepalese woman could trek together. Hira told me, that most of the Nepalese men are very conservative and don’t really respect or believe in female trekking guides.
Sun. 29th April – Day 2 “Visiting local Nepalese schools”
Ngadi - Jagat (890 - 1300m) – 12km – 5 1/2h trekking
Cold shower :\
We got up at 6am, breakfast 6.30am and we started off at 7am. It was nice trek for at least an hour until it got steeper.
We took a tea break after a steep climb and I saw a lot of school children walking past. I asked the local woman from the teashop if the school is far away and she told me it is only 5min from here and that an American founded it. I asked if we can visit the school and one minute later we were on our way :)
I stepped into the school ground and some curious kids came up to me asking questions.
After taking some pics I had a look in one of the classrooms.
There were a lot of A4/A3 posters hanging on the wall with drawings, math calculations, FIFA World Cup Winners, the National Nepalese bird and some English Grammar rules.
The students were so keen to explain everything to me and they were so proud! One boy especially was talking to me all the time. His English was really good; he was maybe around 13.
Then I stepped outside and I saw a sign saying: “ A Project of Room to Read”.
I couldn’t believe my eyes! Colleagues, who worked within my team in IBM and close friends know the name John Wood, the founder of “Room to Read”, who wrote a book about himself called “Leaving Microsoft to Change the World”!
|Poster in the school library of the book cover in Nepalese|
There is also a really interesting short video about him on You Tube:
I got so inspired by reading his book, that I found the courage to take a Leave of Absence from IBM. His book talks about his previous job in Microsoft as an Executive, where days were filled with conf. calls, endless meetings and no time for friends or family.
During a trekking trip in Nepal, he got attached to local people and the help they needed, especially their children’s education. A Nepalese man he met one evening in his guesthouse showed him the library of a local school – there was nothing in it then a few traveller novels but nothing suitable for children’s education.
That day John Wood promised to come back with books for that village in Nepal called Bahundanda! Back in the US he decided to write an email to all his friends, family, colleagues etc. and ask them to post any children books they wouldn’t need anymore to him so he could bring them back to Nepal. The outcome was overwhelming and John Wood came back with his father and delivered the books with donkeys to that local school!
I was stunned! It was real – I am standing in the library sponsored by John Wood and that’s by pure coincidence, while trekking the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal. Maybe that’s destiny or a sign! It brought back memories, how I admired him for what he did and the courage he had!
I met a teacher, who actually showed me the library.
He is working there since 17 years and he told me the school has 20 teachers and 500 students. I left a small donation for the library so they can buy more books in the future.
I was so happy that I had the opportunity to see the school, was warmly welcomed and to spend a short time there. Unfortunately we had to leave after one hour, as we had to continue trekking. Schools in Nepal start at 10am and we were unfortunately too early to participate in any class. But I was grateful for what I had seen.
We continued walking for 2 hours before we reached our lunch place Ghermu. We had some soup and continued our afternoon trek, which was pretty steep at least the last bit.
At 2.30pm we already had reached our guesthouse for the night in a small little village called Jagat.
No hot shower today, but a cold one was better than none! As it was still early, I decided to walk through the village.
I saw another school and went in there.
A teacher saw me and told me I can come in. A lot of really young kids came running our of one classroom all shouting “Namaste” towards me :) They were so cute!
I took a lot of pictures and they showed me their classroom.
There was a lovely picture with numbers from 1-99 on the wall so I started practising English numbers with them :) So funny! They repeated it chorally like I would be their teacher. I loved it!
In the back of the classroom there was a lovely big drawing of the alphabet with pictures and one English world per letter.
The kids really seemed to like their school. What a day! 2 Nepalese schools – I was so excited!
I had interested conversations with Hira today. We talked about teacher salaries in Nepal, which are around 10.000Rp (120US$)/month for government schoolteachers. She is sending her kids to a private school, so the fee is 1.600Rp/mth (20US$) for each child.
In the evening a French group of six arrived from Kathmandu and joined us at the dinner table. They had 2 guides with them and 5 porters ;) Wow! I talked a little bit with them and listened to their French. I was even able to understand bits and pieces. It was nice to have some more trekkers around and on top of that they invited us to eat some food with them. We got Yak cheese and some tasty lemon cake! Merci beaucoup!!! The dinner in our guesthouse was delicious. I had Swiss Roesti and it actually tasted like a Bavarian homemade dumpling (Klos)!!!
Mo. 30th April – Day 3 “Dynamite blasting, rain & coldness”
Jagat – Danaque (1300 - 2300m) – 19km – 7h
Hot shower :)
Food : \
We started hiking at 7am after heavy rainfalls since yesterday afternoon, which continued throughout the night with a thunderstorm. However the rain had stopped and we started off.
We passed through Chamje and met some familiar faces while trekking.
The scenery started to change. The water in the river became turquoise, really beautiful!
We also passed a lot of marijuana fields. I had no idea how the marijuana plant looked like until now ;)
On our way to Tal, we had to stop as the army used some dynamite to blast some rocks for a new road. Wow, I have never watched a dynamite explosion live…what a noise and the dust - impressive, but a bit scary at the same time.
After half and hour we were allowed to hike further and we passed the place, with the big hole from the blast! You could even still smell the dynamite!
We reached Tal already at 10am – this was supposed to be our lunch place but it was a way to early.
I told my guide to move on. There was the first “Save Drinking Water Station” in Tal, where you could refill your 1litre water bottle for just 40Rp (50 cents). In the teahouses they are charging already 130Rp.
I also brought some water purification tables with me, but I preferred to drink pure water if possible. We hiked further to Dharapani, where we had some Irish drizzle on the way. The trail got steep, I mean seriously steep! We met another guide, which Hira had known from previous trainings. He didn’t feel too good, so he continued hiking with us for a while. We passed beautiful waterfalls, one really long swinging and swaying bridge and continued with another steep uphill hike.
Hira and myself got hungry, so we had a Mars bar and some biscuits, which helped to keep moving. We finally reached the lunch place at 1pm! I needed some energy to keep going, so I ordered a vegi lasagne. You should have seen it ;) I actually had to smirk! That was an interesting dish. It looked like Tagliatelle with some green vegetables in it and some Yak cheese on top. But you know what? I couldn’t care less as I was so hungry – I just needed to eat! I ate the full portion :) I felt much better!
So we continued to walk and we agreed to stop at 3pm before the rain usually starts.
Have you ever seen how you best carry chickens up the mountain?!
Unfortunately after 20min it started to rain. We unwrapped our rain ponchos, covered our backpacks with rain covers and continued walking. The rain got stronger and we found a little stable where we had shelter until it only drizzled. We continued walking as we wanted to reach the guesthouse for the night. Lashing rain and we actually had to cross a few mud fields! Yes, mud fields; there was mud everywhere!!! Annette & John, you read correct – mud everywhere, far worse than Fansipan! You would have both loved every minute, or not?! ;)
Finally at 3pm we arrived, still lashing rain outside and it got cold.
It was a hard and long day indeed – the altitude difference summed 1000 meters. OMG, we are a bit mad, hopefully I can still walk tomorrow ;)
The first thing I did was having a hot shower! Oh felt that good! But it was really cold with all that rain! I was wondering how cold it would get at 4000m, when I am already freezing at 2300m.
We might change the route and visit Tilichio Lake (4900m) as it looks so beautiful on all the pics. That would take us 3 more days – well let’s see, nothing decided yet. Hira wasn’t sure if it’s save to hike there, as she has never been there. However I would be able to borrow a dune jacket from the friend of Hira’s at Chame, but I need to decide tomorrow. Let’s see. What I have decided is to buy a hat & gloves at Chame from some local Tibetans. This is urgently needed!
We were the only guests in the lodge and after dinner we asked if we could sit in the kitchen at the open fire. Finally I felt warmer! From the kitchen window we could even see that it was snowing further up. OMG, what did I get myself into!!!
We saw a lot of trekkers the last 3 days, but it’s shocking how much stuff some people bring. Or in other words how much some porters need to carry! We saw people with 55l, 65l and even with 85l backpacks! I carry a 28l one and my guide 40l. The only things I’m not carrying myself is my sleeping bag (pretty bulky) and my sandals for the evening. My guide agreed beforehand to take it. Everything else fits in my small bag. Even with 15 different chocolate bars – one for each day and some Haribo as they get so expensive further up – Mars bar 70Rp in Pokhara, today 225Rp in our lodge!!!
Have you ever wondered where the plastic chairs came from, which we are sitting on up on up
at 3000 meters?!
I actually forgot to mention that all the guesthouses seemed to be run by men in this area; there were not even any women in the kitchen at all. Totally different experience compared to the Landruk area, where we hiked for 3 days beforehand.
Tue. 1st May – Day 4 “Shopping & Annapurna Conservation Office”
Danaque - Chame (2300 - 2700m) – 11km – 4 1/2h
Lukewarm shower :)
After the coldest and rainiest night so far we started trekking at 7am. It was a steep trail for almost the first 2 hours. We had a quick tea break and continued walking through a pine forest. This landscape reminded me of Germany or Austria - the Alps! It was beautiful!
The weather was lovely now - really sunny! I had zipped my socks and T-shirt onto my backpack to dry properly as there was no way it dried last night after that pouring rain! We met almost no Western trekkers for a while, but many local people with donkey’s and mules.
At 11am we reached Koto where we decided to have lunch. It was so nice weather that we were able to eat outside in the lovely sunshine.
There was another police checkpoint, where every tourist had to register and then we continued to Chame, which took only 30min. That meant we had a short day and could rest for a bit! Lovely :)
First a shower, afterwards some shopping – yes you read correct – shopping! I bought a woollen hat + gloves and 2 Mars Bars as Hira negotiated a good price for them, almost the same price as in Pokhara! We also met Hira’s friend again who is working in Chame for the Annapurna Conservation Office. They showed us around and I discovered some interesting facts about the tourists on the circuit. The people who trek the circuit most are Israelis, 2nd French and 3rd Germans ;) The bussiest month is October, followed by November and March. April and especially May, where we are in right now are low season! Good for us as there are always rooms available in every village and prices are lower :) The friend of Hira was so nice to lend me his Dune jacket as I decided it would be good to have one when we go further up. It was already only 9 degrees at 2700m and -1 at night. And it will get worse for sure ;)
Back at the guesthouse we were sitting with some other guide + porter and the women who were running the guesthouse outside in the sunshine :) My mobile phone was working for the first time so I did send some text!
Before dinner I sat down with Hira to discuss the trekking route and days needed. I always had to push her to do it, otherwise she wasn’t interested – a bit strange for a trekking guide, isn’t it?! I wonder sometimes if she likes her job or is passionate about it. Maybe she is just doing it to earn money. That’s the impression I am getting.
Anyway, nothing is set in stone. Hira explained to me, that it is possible to take a bus or jeep after the pass down to Tatopani. That might be an option if we do the lake beforehand, which will take 3 extra nights. From Tatopani we could trek up to Poonhill and then finish after 2 days she said.
Dinner was really tasty and I was starving as usual. Trekking is making me really hungry. The two French guys who stayed in the guesthouse as well acted really strange. It didn’t seem like they were interested in any conversation. I only found out that they were from Toulouse. Well, I wasn’t surprised really as Toulouse wasn’t my cup of tea, was it?!
On top of that Hira chatted with a local guy for hours, ignored me completely – I had to eat dinner all by myself which was not so much fun really. Seemed like she didn’t even care about this or wasn’t aware of it at all. I felt a bit sad and lonely and so I decided to say something to her. She completely misunderstood the whole point and freaked out! Oh well, tomorrow is another day :)
I completely forgot to mention that the views onto the Himalaya’s were stunning today. Lovely pics taken and no rain at all.
Wed. 2nd May – Day 5 “Beautiful village and monastery”
Chame –Lower/Upper Pisang (2700m – 3200m - 3310m) – 19km – 5h
Lukewarm shower :)
The day didn’t start too well. My guide wasn’t talking to me – she behaved like a stubborn child, she is 33 years old. Anyway, we started off at 7am, but she didn’t like the idea to walk with the French group. She was only talking as much as necessary. She even wanted to return the dune jacket, which we had borrowed yesterday from her friend. This was more than childish – it reminded me about situations in IBM. I talked to her for 5 min on the street of Chame to persuade her that we keep the jacket. She was even saying to me that she had called her office already and from now on we only follow the itinerary. What a joke, we don’t even have one, as she didn’t want to come into the office one day before we started trekking. But I ignored all of this and finally we kept the jacket and started walking. It was a very quiet walk as you can imagine! I was glad we met a few old trekker faces so I could have a chat now and then ;)
The atmosphere got a bit better after our tea break. The first 2 hours were very steep uphill when we hiked through a pinewood forest. We even saw a lot of pinecones, which really reminded me about back home.
The landscape kept changing throughout the day and we stopped for lunch at the scenic village of Dhukur Pokhari, where the French guys had just arrived. We had lunch together, but continued walking separately after lunch. Stunning views from the lunch place onto Annapurna II! From there it was only one hour until Lower Pisang and we had a lovely view onto Swarga Dwar (The Gateway to heaven ;)!
We arrived a 1pm already at our lovely wooden guesthouse with such a lovely view!
It turned out that the French guys stayed here as well, and 3 Russians. I had a lukewarm shower and then walked up to Upper Pisang without any backpack! Just by myself as my guide said she was tired and needed to sleep! That suited me just fine :) I needed some “me” time for sure after that discussion this morning!
The small hike was brilliant and the village so cute up there.
Gorgeous, old stone houses, praying wheels and on top a small monastery. I took stunning pics from there.
I met a Nepalese guy, who asked me if I want to see the monastery. Yes, of course and so he called the monk, which came up 15min later to open the door for me :) Wow, look at the pictures.
I left a donation there, as I liked the place a lot.
The view from the monastery to Annapurna II was amazing – breathtaking. When I set a few minutes on the top I was thinking “I’m already on 3310m, but this mountain is still so impressively high”!
I think after Fansipan, this is the highest I have been up so far in my life and there is more to come!!!
On my way back to the guesthouse I walked through the village instead and the guide from the big French group (6 people, which we met a few days ago) waved at me from the balcony and asked me if I wanna come up for a cup of tea! So I did :)
We had a lovely chat. He is 52 years old, his wife left him 11 years ago. We talked about salaries in Nepal and he told me that he has a daily salary of 1600Rp (20US$)! His daughter works in the same office and gets 20.000Rp/month (250US$). It was nice to understand some more insights of Nepalese life and living conditions. It felt very good talking to him, as my guide was not very communicative these days!
Back in our guesthouse the 2 French guys, their porter + guide and my guide played cards. So I joined them and we had a good time. After dinner I chatted to the 3 Russian people, who stayed there as well. We chatted about different places and routes and I really enjoyed it. Very down to earth, lovely people!
Thu. 3rd May – Day 6 “Village of bakeries + cakes”
Lower Pisang - Manang (3200m - 3540m) – 15km – 41/2h
Hot shower :)
Food :/ - Cakes :)
It was the first night I actually was too hot in my sleeping bag that I woke up and had to take some clothes off! Lovely guesthouse + the best isolation so far! The breakfast was also tasty for the first time – Oat Apple Porridge, good-sized portion and it was filling as well :)
We all started walking together – The Russians, French and us. Of course we had different speeds but we met up at each break.
It was nice to walk with other Western people, to have a chat here and there. I felt good today, really fit and my speed was quite fast. I was even quicker than the 2 French guy’s who work in a sports shop and do Ultra-Trails!!!
After 4.5 hours of trekking we already arrived at Manang where we stayed for the night, no even 2 nights, as we needed an acclimatisation day.
It was sunny today, but from 11 onwards it got really windy. We arrived at a big guesthouse called “Tilichio” where a lot of trekkers stayed. The Russian couple Andrey & Luda as well as the French guys were supposed to stay here as well, but we arrived first. I asked for the room price and it was pretty high. So I tried to negotiate, which was a bit hard as the man running the place was pretty arrogant. But we finally agreed a rate :)
|Our guesthouse on the far left side!|
|My lovely room :)|
I had a hot shower first. The shower was good, but the bathroom itself was freezing cold – unreal!!! That was one of the quickest showers I had so far. I tried to dry myself quickly and get back into some warm clothes!
The Russian couple also wanted to go to Tilichio lake, but it seemed like the weather conditions were not really good. Well, let’s see – first of all we have a rest day tomorrow. But it turned out not to be one ;)
Then I walked with Anton, one of the Russian guys, through Manang to look for new gloves. Yes, I lost mine today even when they were fixed to my backpack with a safety pin. I was sad, as I only had them for 2 days and they were so pretty!!! But well, nothing I can do right now. I bought some new once and they were warm! Most important thing I would say :)
AND THEN – I couldn’t believe my eyes – it started to snow!!! Small snowflakes fell from the sky! Unbelievable, I thought we would only see snow when crossing the pass. Now there is already snow at 3500m – OMG! That will be an adventures trip!
Anton and myself decided to go in the small coffee place down the road to have some cake :) Yes, Manang has bakeries and they sell cakes! You won’t believe what I ate: Black Forrest Cake!
Delicious, when it is snowing outside :) On top of that it is much cheaper in the small cosy bakery than in our hotel! We met a nice German couple from Heidelberg, who both quiet their jobs and they now travel for one year! We had a lovely conversation and we found out, that there is even a cinema or let’s say a small place where they show a movie! Back in the hotel, I found the Nepalese and French guys playing cards again. So I joined them until dinner. There was an oven in the middle of the dining room and it was warm! At 8pm we found out that it would be too dangerous apparently to go to Tilicho lake as it snowed too much already at the base camp :( So no Tilicho lake this time! But I was thinking safety first! So we’ll stay in Manang two nights and go on a day hike tomorrow. Which one, we decide tomorrow during breakfast.
I’m actually glad we are staying 2 nights in Manang. That means, we sleep for 2 nights in the same bed and the most important thing is we don’t have to hike with a full backpack or all our belongings ;) Yippie, we will be flying up the mountain tomorrow!
Do you know what I do before I go to bed every evening? I unpack my tubes of different creams and treat my feet & skin!!! It feels so good for sure and I need my feet to keep going :)
Fr. 4th May – Day 7 “The mysterious Ice Lake ”
Manang–Ice Lake (not found)-Manang (3540m –4500m– 3540m) ?km – 61/4h
Hot shower :)
During breakfast we decided to walk to the Ice lake together with the Russian couple! Even the start was a mess. Our guides had no idea, where to go really, so we ended up climbing at least 200 meters up until we found out we had to go back down again! Oh well, we lost an hour for that one! Anyway, we seemed to have found the right way, passed a monastery and a local carpenter’s shop. I have actually seen quiet a lot of them the last days. Seems like they are popular in making window frames, doors and furniture!
We had to go up a steep climb as it had snowed yesterday, the trail was still covered in snow. The weather was beautiful this morning – sunny and blue sky, just a bit cold ;) So I was wearing my local Nepalese hat and gloves :) It was also the first day with a light backpack! So nice and easy – lovely!
Luda, the Russian woman had to return to the hotel as the climb was too steep for her. We continued going up for a long time. Some parts were really muddy and climbing uphill on a muddy surface isn’t too much fun. However, the views were breathtaking :) We rested at some stupas and enjoyed the scenery.
There was a point where we had no idea where to walk to anymore. The direction wasn’t clear at all :( So Andrey, the Russian and myself saw a water pipe so we logically thought this must lead to the lake. So we followed the pass for around 30min and saw a local living in a tent.
We walked towards him and asked about the lake. He told us to hike up a really steep hill and then continue walking. So we took his advice on board and hiked up, but even up there we had no idea where the Ice lake should be. So we followed our instinct and climbed further up. We must have reached at lest 4500m as it felt really cold! We were looking for any signs, but couldn’t find the lake. It was already 11.30am. We had been walking for 4 ½ hours already.
Andrey and myself decided we would like to go back down as it usually starts raining or snowing around 2pm and we wanted to be save in Manang by then. But our two guides were so ambitious or stubborn to continue the search. So we agreed to wait here for them and we had some lunch – well chocolate croissant from the bakery in Manang :) So tasty!
We saw the guides from a distance and they were waving at us and giving us signs to go down! I had expected that they would return and hike down with us, but it turned out that they just disappeared!!! That was a bit shocking and I was actually speechless! Two different guides leave two tourists from different groups up on the mountains by themselves! No comment really…I was grateful that Andrey was with me and so we decided to walk the same way back as we came up. 15 minutes later we found a sign “Ice Lake”!!! I couldn’t believe my eyes. The first sign today!
Well, at least we now found a secure way to walk back. It was too late to try to hike up there and to follow the signs.
It took us only 1h 15min to return back to Manang! Of course we arrived earlier than our guides ;) Surprise, surprise! It was 1pm and we just had done a quiet difficult hike – 1000m up and down! So I decided to have a hot shower first. Oh felt that good :)
Manang has lovely small bakeries with delicious groceries and cakes! So I had a cake and chatted with some other trekkers. There was another couple who had been looking for the lake as well today and they hadn’t been able to find it either. Well at least we were not alone. It actually started to snow again around 3pm, but this time only for an hour and the snow didn’t stay!
So the Russians and myself went for a lovely walk through “old Manang” and it was beautiful.
We found a Gumpa with lots of old books, even one written by Buddha and a massive praying wheel.
|Big praying wheel!|
|A local Nepalese brings back one of the famous books|
Sometimes there were some praying wheels missing, but the Nepalese had a good idea :) They replaced the missing praying wheel with a Nescafe can! It works ;)
|Nescafe can used as praying wheel!|
In the evening we played some cards and had dinner. Tomorrow we will make our way up to Letdar with the French and Russian group. Looking forward to it!
Sat. 5th May – Day 8 “Freezing cold night”
Manang– Letdar (3540m – 4200m) - 10km – 4 1/2h
Shower - no!
Today was a good day! We started from Manang at 7am and reached our destination already at 11.30am. We had two tea breaks in-between.
|I got a cup with "The Ox" on it, my star sign ;)|
We started when it was cloudy, then it snowed for 20min, but lovely fresh powdery snow and after that the sun came out :) We even saw blue sheep’s – look like a dear to me.
We all trekked together, the two Russian men, the two French guys, the guides, porters and me.
We stayed in a lovely lodge with a really friendly man running it.
|Our lodge on the left side!|
|Our Dining room!|
The food was amazing, the best one almost so far. It was freezing outside in the afternoon, as there was lots of wind. We played cards, had nice chats and then I ate Spaghetti with Tomato sauce. But I was so hungry that I had to order a 2nd portion. Usually people who get mountain sickness loose their appetite, well seems like I’m the opposite! I need to eat for 2 :) But I guess I burned so many calories when walking, that I need more food – energy to keep me going :)
It was the coldest place so far – no wonder at 4200m!
You just need to imagine if you have to go for a wee. The squat toilet is in a wooden shed, but the shed has only 3 wooden walls, the fours one is just a thin sheet mounted to the other wooden walls! Can you imagine how cold that is? You’re freezing your butt of for sure!
The room had a comfortable bed, but no electricity at all. Glad I bought the headlamp in Pokhara! This is the first night I slept with my woollen hat, my woollen gloves in my sleeping bag (-20°C) with a thick blanket wrapped around me! Brrhh, was that cold! I couldn’t really sleep at all. At one stage I even used my woollen gloves as extra socks!!! Madness ;) Then I could hear a fox or coyote whining! Scary really and there were other animals running around inside or outside the room. I was so glad when it got bright and I was able to get up :)
Sun. 6th May – Day 9 “High Camp it is!”
Letdar – High Camp (4200m – 4800m) - 7km – 3 1/4h
Shower - no!
We started off at 7am and took the first break at 8am. We had to cross a really long bridge, which was pretty icy from the night before.
It had been at least -5°C as the water in the toilet was frozen. We continued to walk to Thorang Phedi and arrived there at 9am already. OMG, we were fast!
Some people decided to stay there because of the altitude difference, but we all felt good and decided to hike up to the High Camp, to cross the pass tomorrow!!! OMG, it is getting really exciting now! We had some rest in the sunshine for half an hour before we started to hike up.
The climb was steep, really steep. I was leading the group and it turned out it was the steepest hike so far! Unreal, I felt like I moved slowly upwards like a snail, but apparently still faster than the rest of us!
I arrived finally at the High Camp at 10.45am! Yippie :) That was a lovely feeling.
I got myself a room, dropped my stuff and waited for the others to come up. Now we could all rest for the day as we climbed already 600 meters in altitude and more isn’t healthy or recommended.
So tomorrow we can go straight from the High Camp to the Thorung La Pass :)
Wow, I’ll be at 5416m 2morrow!!!
I almost cannot believe it and can’t wait to go!
We had lunch and started to play cards. The sun slowly disappeared and around 2pm it began to snow!!! OMG again – hopefully we’ll have a clear sky for the pass!!! Oh and can you believe it, we could hear avalanches coming down for the last 3 days. That’s really scary – I have never heard the sound of an avalanche before!
There was no fireplace in the High Camp, so you can imagine how cold it was up there. We played cards for most of the afternoon with our jackets, gloves and hats on and we were still freezing. I had Pizza for dinner, which was big and tasty! Bedtime was at 8pm, as we had to get up at 4am. However I couldn’t sleep, as it was just too cold up there. Even the water was frozen around the squat toilet and it felt like you walked on black ice! You could break a leg up there!!!
Mo. 7th May – Day 10 “D-Day – Thorung La Pass 5416m!”
High Camp–Thorung La Pass-Muktinath (4800m–5416m–3800m) 14km– 6 1/2h
Today is D-Day! I got up at 4.10am, breakfast 4.30am and started trekking at 5am.
It just got bright when we left the High Camp, but freezing cold!
The trail started with a small footpath covered with snow and ice underneath. You had to be really careful where you placed your next step.
The scenery around us got more stunning by every second! Lots of mountains surrounded us, all covered in snow and all the beautiful untouched fresh snow everywhere. Brilliant!
When we reached the first teahouse I wasn’t able to stay there as it was too cold, I just had to keep moving. So I followed the four French porters as my guide and the Russians were trekking slower.
It got colder and windier and I used my face cover, which I had bought in Pokhara, but still freezing. It reminded me about my childhood when we were skiing in Austria and it was freezing cold!
But the porters had a lovely speed and I felt great having them around. They were lovely people and one guy was even playing Nepalese music on his phone ;)
Finally the sun came out around 6.30am – oh it helped a lot! Not only that it got warmer, everything looked even more beautiful! The crunch of fresh snow under your feet brought back memories as well.
So I hiked with the porters and suddenly one of them told me: ”From here 20min to pass!” I though I couldn’t believe my ears! Already? Really?! Just 20 min?! Are you sure?! I checked my watch and it was only 6.45am! Amazing, we were flying up this mountain :)
So after 15 min I saw the pass and I run up the last meters! The French porter was laughing :)
What a feeling!!! I dropped my bag and first of all congratulated the two French guys who were already up there. But we were the first people up there today!!!!
I took some pics, ate some Haribo & one Mars, shared some with the French porters and bought myself a cup of black tea! Yes, there is a tiny little teahouse up there! Unreal, but really needed :)
It was lovely up at 5416m. Sunny and no wind! Perfect weather! We were really blessed with this!
I waited for my guide and the Russians to arrive. It took a while, but it didn’t bother me at all. I enjoyed the view up there and just enjoyed that I made it without any sickness or any other problems :) All went smooth and here I was at 5416m!!! Of course it would have been even better to have my Yen Tu or Fansipan Team with me. But I was thinking of all of you up there and had a Mars Bar :)
|Up on 5416m with a Mars Bar! Mmhh :)|
I stayed one hour at the top, we took some group photos.
At 8am we started to walk downhill. Uhh! People who know me know, that I hate going down for a longer time. Today it meant 1616m downhill walking!!! Yes, I know – madness!!
We did this in 3.5 hours!!! I hope my legs; especially my knees will be ok tomorrow. I got two blisters on each of my little toes. Hope they will be better as well.
So the first thing I did when arriving at our guesthouse was ordering food. Vegi Burger! Then I had a hot shower :) That felt so good, washing my hair and after two days of not having any shower I felt like a new person ;)
As the weather was still sunny I decided to wash all my clothes from the last days and hoped they would dry by the evening.
There is a famous Hindu temple in Muktinath and therefore it is a famous pilgrimage site. So we went up there in the afternoon and there were lots of Indians everywhere! I felt like I was back in India!!!
|A 108 water stations - you need to chant and touch all of them :)|
Back at my guesthouse I was looking for Andrey and Anton. I found them and we decided to have a stroll through the village. Both hadn’t seen the temple yet, so they went up there and I had a look in the Bob Marley guesthouse as I was curious how it looked like. A nice, interesting, chilled out place with good music. I spotted Johanna, the Swedish girl we met in Manang and we had some tea. Lovely :) Back at the guesthouse we played some cards, had dinner and afterwards we walked back to Bob Marley again to meet up with Johanna.
When we were trekking down from the pass today, the landscape had completely changed!
There were no trees or flowers, just gravel and sand. It even looked like you were in a kind of desert!
Muktinath isn’t a beautiful town! It looks like you are in the Wild West, only dust and sand everywhere!
Tue. 8th May – Day 11 “A decision had to be made!”
Muktinath - Marpha (3800m – 2670m) 25km– 6h
Lukewarm shower :)
The day started good as I met Andrey for breakfast at 6.30am and he changed his plans and decided to walk with us to Jomson. Great news! We started at 7am with our two guides. All went well except for the road we had to walk on! They were full of gravel and sand and huge pebble stones! It was very uncomfortable to walk on them and the scenery looked like you were in a desert! It felt like we were in a completely different country all of a sudden since we crossed the pass yesterday!
During a water break Andrey and myself asked our guides how far it is to Kagbeni. The both told us we won’t go through the village; we can see it form the road! What?! This village was supposed to be stunning! Both of us protested and said we would like to walk through the village to take some pics. Andrey’s guide got offensive and told him it is not on his itinerary. OMG! How flexible is that guy?! He actually can show a foreigner his beautiful country and he is not interested in it at all. Pretty sad I think. Can you treat customers like that? I told my guide I would like to stop there as it is a beautiful village and lots of trekkers recommended it. So since then, the atmosphere was tense! I forgot to mention that Andreys guide was in a bad mood since he got up and nobody understood why! Andrey asked him, I did as well, but no explanation. Here we go again – no sense of communication. Andrey got really worried as his guide acted so strange. So Andrey and myself walked ahead and finally reached Kagbeni!
It looked already beautiful from the top – a small medieval looking village :)
We both got excited to explore the little town and negotiated 30 minutes with our guides! It was a wonderful little village, very natural and idyllic. So glad we stopped here. The pics speak for themselves!
|Monastery on Kagbeni|
|Streets of Kagbeni|
|Nepalese woman in traditional clothes|
By strolling around Kagbeni taking pictures I bumped into Susan again, the Australian girl. She will trek to Marpha tomorrow. So let’s see if we meet up again on the trek.
At 10am we continued to walk down to Jomsom. I really didn’t enjoy this day at all in regards to walking. The road conditions were treacherous!!! I don’t even know why the let tourists walk this horrible road. There were a lot of Jeeps driving up and down – I understand why! I would never recommend any trekker to walk this bit; full of gravel and rocks – very dusty, sandy and just uncomfortable to walk.
We had a quick 5 min water break and I asked for the first time to rest a bit longer and my guide got really upset! She talked about really strong winds and that we need to leave. Nobody ever said anything that we need to walk early to Jomsom because of strong winds. Oh well, I am not surprised! No planning and communications from our guides as usual. If you don’t actively ask about the route or what the plan is you will never get any information. I guess it is lack of training, but it sucks!
My guide should really appreciate me as a customer as I am such a quick walker and she never has to wait for me – I always wait for her! Oh well, the whole atmosphere between both of our guides and us was tense. So we continued to Jomsom and the guides told us we need 2 hours!
Andrey’s guide decided to run like mad and Andrey tried to follow him. I really gave up and walked my own speed, but Hira fell far behind. The wind almost blew me away. It reminded me about Ireland really! So strong!!!
I arrived in Jomson after 1.5 hours and tried to find Andrey and the guide as we had agreed to have lunch together. Andrey is flying for Pokhara tomorrow morning, so I wanted to say goodbye. But I didn’t succeed! I walked through Jomson on the main road but couldn’t find them. So I decided to wait in front of the police station for my guide. After 20 min I called my guide and ask where she was. She tried to explain it, but I had now idea, as I didn’t know Jomsom at all. So the most logical thing would have been, that she would have come to the police station. But no!!! She wasn’t interested. I had to stop a local man who talked to her and then he was so kind, to bring me to the guesthouse were she was sitting outside! I fumed inside I can tell you! Imagine, she didn’t have my phone no, wasn’t able to get in contact with me and then she didn’t even walk towards me?! She didn’t even say “Thank you” to the man who brought me to the guesthouse! OMG!!! Instead, she got upset and threatened me to call her office, as she didn’t want to walk with me anymore! Can you believe it?!
Out of the blue somebody was waving at me from the other side of the road – it was one of the French guys! He told me that they had just ordered lunch and I should join them. Good idea I thought! I needed a break from my guide and the rudeness for sure!
My guide didn’t talk to me anymore, apparently she also didn’t know in which guesthouse Andrey was staying and she had no phone no. (I still don’t believe that!) from his guide.
I joined the French for lunch and it was such a tasty Lasagne! Good choice guy’s and cheap! I discussed the situation with the French and their guide and all of them agreed that she needs to talk to me so we can find an agreement. Oh well, so I went down to her and she said she wouldn’t walk with me anymore!!! I told her, that she needs to ring her office and I would like to talk to her boss. She was even so rude to say that I have to use my own phone! Well, so I called her boss and discussed the situation. He agreed that he would refund me the money of the days, which I have paid for already if she leaves. But he said he would talk to her again. Finally after that phone call she agreed to walk to Marpha, where we were actually supposed to stay for the night. All the way down to Marpha she didn’t talk to me, she didn’t show me the way, instead she walked behind me. Then it started to rain! Well that was actually appropriate for the situation I thought! It turned out to be a thunderstorm, lots of wind and rain. But I had my Vietnamese rain coat with me and I didn’t really care! We finally arrived at the guesthouse at 3pm! I got a room and had a lukewarm shower first. I decided to ring Hira’s boss and to cancel the service. I would like to enjoy my trekking and if she doesn’t want to walk with me anymore, then that’s fine with me. I will finish the trek by myself then. So I rang him and we agreed, that I would get the last 3 days refunded.
I felt much better, even when I was really sad that it didn’t work out with my guide. But you know, sometimes you need to leave things behind and have a fresh start. So I did!
It rained all afternoon so I wasn’t able to explore the town. Maybe I will take a later bus tomorrow to do it in the morning. Let’s see, all will be ok again, I just would like some peace!
Let’s see if I can meet up with the other trekkers. Susan is in Kagbeni and Anton as well for the night, but they both should come through Marpha tomorrow. I think I decide tomorrow what to do.
There are many similarities between Nepalese and Vietnamese people, the way men and women are interacting with each other, how arrogant some men can behave towards women, the way of saying yes all the time even if they have no idea! But one difference, which I discovered so far, is that some Nepalese are not flexible at all and that’s a big plus for Vietnamese people as this still fascinates and impresses me :) However, there might be a lot of flexible people in Nepal, I just haven’t met them yet ;) Actually, the owner of the guesthouse in Pokhara is pretty flexible, so maybe I just met the wrong people, especially trekking guides ;)
Somehow I feel relieved to be honest to trek by myself. It will be more adventures and exciting to find my way and to pick guesthouses. The toughest and most dangerous part is done – the pass :) I’m grateful for not getting any altitude sickness! I actually feel blessed that it went so smooth!
It was an experience of a lifetime and good memories will be kept. I met a lot of interesting and kind people on the way – the Russian’s, the French guide, the French porters, Johanna- the Swedish girl, Susan - the Australian woman and so on. I’m sure I will be meeting even more on the way to Poonhill :) Fingers crossed!
When I had the fall-out this lunchtime with my guide I was actually asking her to care about her customer and listen to me as I actually pay for a service, she replied to me: “You’re not paying enough!” Wow, this sentence somehow is stuck in my head. I pay an average rate of 15US$/day to the agency. Does she have any idea, that this might also be a lot of money for me? I guess she has a lot of issues in her life and they come out now and again. I remembered what Phu, the nice French guide actually said to me during a cup of tea in Lower Pisang: “You know, you don’t need any education to become a trekking guide.” Well, it sounds very harsh, but I guess there is some truth in it and it causes problems. The guides are not educated at all how to treat customers in general and especially Westerners. They unfortunately don’t know how important it is to listen to your customer to try to understand them!!! Oh well I close the chapter “trekking guide” here and now and move on!
Wed. 9th May – Day 12 “Rest day in beautiful Marpha”
Hot shower :)
I woke up really early, as the guy who had the room next to me was snoring and wooden planks only separated the rooms. But I decided to rest in my sleeping bag. That was the first morning since I started trekking, where I didn’t really had to get up ;) My Ex guide knocked on my door and asked if I am ready! I told her that I talked to her boss yesterday and as she didn’t want to walk with me anymore I decided to trek by myself. She turned away, said ok and was gone! She is a bit of a character for sure!
I got up, washed my trousers from the dusty road yesterday as the sun came out already and we had blue sky!
Then I treated myself with some homemade apple crumble and a natural apple juice.
The little town Marpha I am staying in is famous for their apple products: pies, juice and crumbles as they have lots of apple trees around town :)
I love apples! My favourite fruit, and Marpha is so far my favourite town on the trek. A small sleepy little town with good food! Perfect for my taste ;)
I decided to go for a walk through the village to take some photos, but I didn’t get far. Already at the next guesthouse I met the French guides and porters. They invited me for a cup of tea. It felt so nice :) I told them a short story what had happened with my guide and Phu, the French guide said he can help me to buy the bus ticket. So nice of him!
|Phu, the French guide + porter|
We walked a little bit through town, visited the monastery and took some pics. We agreed to meet up at around lunchtime to buy the ticket.
|view from the open doors of the monastery|
In the meanwhile I explored the surrounding areas of Marpha, took some lovely photos and met another trekker.
We got chatting and another couple came down the road towards us. It turned out to be the New Zealand couple, which I had met in Manang. So we all chatted for a while, walked together for a bit until the bridge, where I turned around then as they were heading off to the next town.
That actually got me thinking why I don’t walk to Tatopani myself.
Well I got back and decided to change guesthouses. I needed a new place to start from scratch.
I went back into the place I had tea this morning with the French guide and porters as it looked very cosy and the woman was very welcoming. We agreed 100Rp and I moved my staff. That felt good :) They had a lovely Sun Terrace and a Winter garden. Really lovely spot and people were very friendly and smiley. Exactly the surrounding I needed right now.
|The guesthouse sun terrace :)|
|The cosy dining room!|
A short while later I met the Swedish girl walking past my guesthouse. She trekked alone, but she wanted to move as fast as possible today and had no interest to stay or rest. Oh well, that’s ok.
I was on my way to the Save Drinking Water Station, when I bumped into Susan, the Australian girl I had met yesterday. We got talking and she decided to have lunch in my guesthouse. After some time she decided to stay in Marpha for a night and we decided to walk together tomorrow. We shared the room for the night, so we saved some money for more apple crumble ;) It was nice to have such lovely company!
So my Rest day did me good as I had a big blister on the outside of my left foot. It needed to heel a bit before trekking another long day ;)
In the afternoon I decided to go for a little stroll around town and guess who I met – Anton, the Russian guy!
We explored the town together as he had just arrived, bought some local apple juice and walked back to my guesthouse for tea and cake :)
The woman who runs the lodge had just baked a chocolate cake so we tried it! Mmhhh, so tasty!!! Nothing more exciting happened, but all 3 of us will walk together tomorrow :) I’m happy and relieved actually. I feel free without my guide :)
Thu. 10th May – Day 13 “A lovely day”
Marpha - Lete (2670m – 2535m) 17km – 6 1/4h
Hot shower :)
After some apple pie & apple juice for breakfast, Susan, Anton and myself started trekking at 7am. We thought we’d have a relaxed walk in front of us. The trail was actually nice, through lovely landscape surrounded by mountains, a lot of flowers and apple trees.
It was all flat in the beginning. However after 2 hours it started to go up pretty steep and on the other side down again ;)
We followed the river all the time and in-between we met some lovely local people where we actually had a rest.
We were looking for Anton as he took a different route and left the trail, but we couldn’t find him. After half an hour we continued walking through a lot of pine forests with pinecones on the way.
Susan and myself were pretty exhausted and needed something to eat. We finally found a small guesthouse at 12.30 and stopped for lunch. We were starving!
From there we only had to walk another hour to reach Lete. That felt good :) Hopefully we will meet Anton there.
We reached Lete and who was there in the middle of the road? Anton, waiting for us :) He showed us his guesthouse and we decided to stay there as well. It was a small little family place at the end of Lete, it looked nice and it was cheap!
|Woman of our guesthouse with her little son!|
Hot shower first, then we walked a bit through the village. We had tea and apple pie and later on some tasty dinner in our guesthouse. I offered to do some babysitting, so the woman was able to cook for us.
She gratefully accepted and we had some entertainment to do with the 7 month old ;) All went well and the kids were fascinated with Susan’s camera! Brilliant toy!
We decided to get up early tomorrow as we had a long day ahead. So 5am is wake-up time! We would like to reach Tatopani tomorrow, but it is 7.5-hour walk. Let’s see how it goes. There is a hot spring there and that’s what will keep me going ;)
|Sunset from the window of our guesthouse!|
Fr. 11th May – Day 14 “Hot Spring”
Lete - Tatopani (2535m – 1200m) 20km – 6 1/4h
Hot spring :)
Food :) + :/
We left at 6am already, as we had known we have a big day in front of us. We walked for 1.5 hours on the main road, but we were lucky as there were only three cars coming towards us, as it was so early :)
|Some goats on the way ;)|
We reached Ghasa at 7.30am already and Anton tried to get a bus to Beni, but we figured out there was a strike. So Anton walked with us instead.
|Checkpoint, where we had to register!|
We were pushing on until 11 and then had lunch in Dana. It was a really small village but a nice place to rest. The whole walk was really lovely as the scenery was green, lots of forest, flowers, the river, and waterfalls – just beautiful.
We finally arrived in Tatopani at 1.15pm. Puhh! What a hard day – 1300 meters downhill was enough really! It took us a while until we decided in which guesthouse we gonna stay, but beforehand we had a tasty chocolate cake!!!
We went to the hot spring later on in the afternoon and it felt so good. I enjoyed every minute of it. I felt totally clean for the first time since 14 days.
Anton didn’t go with us to Tatopani as he had lost his drinking bottle on the way and turned around. But he came later on to Tatopani and we met up.
We had a local store across our hotel with a cute Nepalese woman. She was so nice that she even exchanged my book :)
We stocked up with “chocolate bars” in the supermarket and had dinner. Yes, you read correctly – I decided to continue trekking with Susan and to do the Annapurna Base Camp (ABC) as well :)
We met a really lovely American-Korean man Chae and I found out that he was based at Hoi An during the American War! He can even speak fluently Vietnamese! Wow!! It was nice talking to him :)
Sat. 12th May – Day 15 “Best lodge and food”
Tatopani – Ghorepani (1200m -2870m) 17km – 6 1/2h
Hot shower :)
We got up at 5.30am and left our guesthouse at 6am to find a breakfast place. This is the first time the guesthouse didn’t agree to serve breakfast so early. But we found a nice local shop and the apple roll I had was very tasty :)
So we started walking at 6.30am all uphill ;)
We passed by beautiful villages, lots of local people and I really enjoyed hiking there.
|Cool storage place for Flip-Flops!!!|
We had a break at 10.30am and kept on walking uphill! It was really steep. The stones were completely different from the circuit - silver and shiny! So cool!
We tried to find a lunch place, kept on walking and walking and finally the last guesthouse was open – so 12.30 we stopped.
It felt good to rest for a bit! I needed some more energy before continuing going uphill again ;) Potatoe Roesti + Coke will help to get the last 500m uphill done for the day!!!
The scenery on the way was beautiful – green forests, Rhododendron, lots of small tiny local houses, local people everywhere and just wonderful to walk through!
We saw so many butterflies in different and unusual colours. The landscape is really different from the Annapurna Circuit, much nicer actually.
Finally the Poonhill Gate! We must be there...
...well there were more steps to come ;)
|more steps ;)|
We finally arrived in Ghorepani, just before it started to lash down! What a good timing ;)
We found a lovely cute guesthouse “Snow View” with an oven in the middle of the dining room :)
|Our guesthouse Snow View lodge straight ahead :)|
We were even allowed to dry our clothes there! Wonderful! The women, who were running it were charming and they had a shop downstairs. You should have seen my eyes when I saw Milka chocolate and Haribo! I felt like I was in heaven! The first time after 15 days we had access to lovely sweets, not just chocolate bars ;) And the prices where not expensive! After debating with myself if I should by some or not, I ended up buying one Milka chocolate (which I will keep for the ABC) and one package of Haribo, which we actually opened straight away! Why not?! We walked for 15 days, our trousers got looser by the day, so we can easily spoil ourselves today I think ;)
The guesthouse had the atmosphere as if you were in your Granny’s house. Everything was set up with love and a lot of thought was given to details. Lots of hooks on the walls in the bathroom, bedroom, pictures on the walls and we got some beautiful duvets with small little roses on the bed covers. It was so cosy!
On top of that, the dinner was really tasty! Best Spaghetti I have eaten since two weeks!
|Susan & the cook!|
There were also other trekkers staying with us in the guesthouse, two guys from Israel and one Italian couple. We had some nice conversations over dinner and we all decided to get up at 4am to hike up to Poonhill for the sunrise!
Sun. 13th May – Day 16 “What a stunning sunrise & ladybird day!”
Ghorepani – Poonhill – Ghorepani - Chomrong (2870m–3180m–2140m)
Hot shower :)
We got up at 4am and started walking up to Poonhill at 4.15am with our headlamps, gloves, hats & cameras to watch the sunrise!
It was a steep uphill climb in the dark and we were sweating a lot. But it was all worthwhile! We were not more than maybe 25 people up there. We heard from others that at peak time there are 500 people watching the sunrise! I am so glad we are trekking of season ;)
It got slowly brighter and the sunrise was stunning! The panoramic view was breathtaking!
The Fishtail is my favourite mountain for sure!!!
|Fish Tail - the one on the right where the sun comes up!|
We walked back to our guesthouse and had breakfast. Best apple porridge and apple pancake since we started trekking!!! We really got spoiled the last 24 hours ;)
At 8am we started hiking towards the ABC. We were not sure how far we could get today, so we just left it open and let’s play it by ear. It started with a steep uphill climb and then downhill again. It turned out that it would go up and down all the way to Tadapani!
The scenery was beautiful. We walked through forests, which could have been back in Schwarzenbruck, im “Schwarzachtal”! So many Rhododendrons everywhere!
But the highlights of the day were the ladybirds (Junikaefer)! They were just everywhere and millions of them ;) We had to be really careful where we placed our feet so we wouldn’t step on any. They were so cute; they were even sitting on our shirts, shoulders and in my hair!
It was unreal; I have never seen something like that! Amazing! We stopped for a really quick lunch as we met some other trekkers who just came down from Chomrong and they advised us to hike up there today. They recommended even a guesthouse with the best chocolate cake and Pizza. So I was on for that of course and Susan as well. It was another hard long day.
|WAY TO CHOMRONG! Let's go!|
We almost got caught in the rain again, but managed to just reach Chomrong before it started. We really had a good timing :) Very proud of us really!
|So bloody dark that sky!!!|
|Chomrong, we are coming!|
So we had apple pie + Chocolate cake for tea. We got a lovely room with a stunning view and the Pizza turned out to be the best on the whole trek so far! So worthwhile walking all the way to Chomrong ;)
It had been a long day, getting up at 4am and we finally reached our guesthouse "Chomrong Cottage" at 3pm.
|View from our guesthouse!|
There were 3 girls staying in the guesthouse with us from the US who just came back from ABC. We had good chats with them and a nice evening! We don’t really know how far we will walk tomorrow, but let’s see how we are doing on the way. We’ll take some groceries from the bakery and we have some veg. fried rice with us! Let’s see if we can make the MBC!
Mo. 14th May – Day 17 “Sleeping at Fishtail Base Camp”
Chomrong – Machhapuchhre/Fish Tail Base Camp (2140m – 3700m) 16km – 8 1/2h
Hot shower :)
Our day started at 5.30am, breakfast at 6 and we started trekking at 6.30am! We got some tasty “Challah”, plaited milk bread or simply called “Hefezopf” in Germany from the bakery and we had breakfast with some chocolate cake!
We were the first hikers on the trail (surprise, surprise ;) and we had lots of steps to go down and up again in the beginning. We passed some lovely small villages and guesthouses in Sinuwa with beautiful flowerpots outside and all was well kept!
Then we reached an area called Bamboo. It was gorgeous as we walked through a beautiful, enchanted forest for at least 3 hours. I loved it! It felt like we were part of a fairytale. There were many bamboo plants everywhere and we were both wishing two princes would come along to pick us up ;) Well dreaming is allowed, isn’t it?! ;)
I had to fill up my water bottle, so we stopped at a river with a small waterfall. I tried to get the freshest running water and by doing this, slipped of a stone and my whole right foot was soaked in water! I laughed out loud :) The boots were not waterproof ;) Well, but my bottle was refilled and I wasn’t thirsty ;)
We stopped for lunch before 12 and ate our fried rice we had brought with us (well Susan actually had it in her bag in a Tupperware box as she had the bigger backpack and more space ;). Lucky me, I know!
We kept on walking toward Deurali when it started to rain. Pretty heavy rain, but we decided to keep on going. Susan was not so impressed really, she had no raincoat and her jacket wasn’t waterproof anymore. I felt sorry for her.
My boots were soon soaked – well Hiking boots from Nepal are indeed not waterproof, but I guess that would be to much to ask for if you think about the prize. I was once more glad for my Vietnamese raincoat as at least that kept me dry. We met a lovely older woman from Slovakia, who was on her way down. She really encouraged us that we still can make the MBC (Machhapuchhre Base Camp) today. After a while we met a British couple and they encouraged us as well. So no doubt anymore, we can do that!!!
We stopped in Deurali for a hot chocolate and the guy who ran the lodge told us to sleep in the Fishtail Lodge at the MBC as they had a hot shower! Wow, that sounded perfect. After all that rain and all the wet clothes and shoes a hot shower would be exactly what I was dreaming of!
Ok, now we were ready for another 2 hours hike! Well yes, we had a tough going! There were “old” avalanches blocking the way so we had to do a detour!
|Picture was taken the next day on the way down in the lovely sunshine ;)|
We crossed some wide rivers without any bridges – we just tried to find a suitable next stone to step on. But the good thing was, that my shoes were already wet, so it didn’t matter really! It was quiet adventurous I have to say.
There was another avalanche lying in front of us, but there was a small little trail visible in the snow, which we could follow!
Not that all of this would have been enough already. It actually started to hail pretty heavily. It even did hurt a bit when the hailstones hit our bodies!
What a weather trying to reach the MBC!!!
Both of my hands were swollen from the wet and cold weather! The ground was covered in hail and the trail got really slippery. I was asking myself how much further we could walk. But then - I saw a logde! Still a lot of stairs to climb beforehand, but it didn’t matter. We passed the first lodge and still had to walk for another 10min in the pouring hail across a field to reach the Fishtail Lodge. But there was hopefully a warm shower waiting for us. I really needed one!
At 3.30pm we finally arrived at the Fishtail Lodge at MBC!
OMG, what a day it has been!!! We were a bit crazy to walk all the way up in one go, but well – we did it! And we are still in one piece both of us ;) We had a hot shower at 3700m! OMG felt that good, but it was needed. My body was completely frozen, my shoes, socks, feet completely drained! After the shower I finally was able to feel my hands and feet again – Yippie :)
|Oh is that nice, some hot tea!|
In the Dining room we found out that we were the only guests. It was possible to have the heater on in the Dining area from 5-8pm. It was 100Rp each, but we really didn’t care. We brought all our wet stuff into the Dining room to dry it for the next morning. My shoes were hopeless so! Put some newspaper inside, so at least that might soak some water in.
|With our sleeping bags in the dining room!|
We went to bed at 8.30pm as we were exhausted, both of us. We had another early start tomorrow – getting up at 4.15am to walk up to the ABC (Annapurna Base Camp) to watch the sunrise!!! Wow, I’m excited :)
Tue. 15th May – Day 18 “So close to the mountains!”
Machhapuchhre/Fish Tail Base Camp – ABC/Annapurna Base Camp – Chomrong
(3700 - 4130m - 2140m) 22km – 7h
Hot shower :)
We woke up at 4.15am and walked up to the ABC when the sun was rising. It was beautiful :)
Look at that gorgeous blue little bird!
We took stunning pictures!!!
After one hour we met around 20 other trekkers in the freezing cold at the Base Camp viewing point. Most of them have slept there.
We took stunning pictures and I fell deeply in love with Machhapuchhre the Fish Tail! This mountain is gorgeous!
Finally at 6.30am the first rays of sun came through :) Oh was that a nice feeling, it felt instantly warmer :)
We decided to have a Hot chocolate at the lodge to warm ourselves up for the walk back to MBC. I had my Milka chocolate with me, so we finally opened it!!! Oh, was that tasty with a hot chocolate!
It was a beautiful walk downhill in the early morning sunshine! Just amazing :)
After having breakfast at the MBC, drying a few more clothes in the sunshine and packing our staff, we were ready to rock for a descent of 2000m!
Yes, it was no joke, 2000m were on the cards if we wanted to reach Chomrong again! Well, let’s see!
We both had a good speed and met lots of trekkers, which got stuck in Deurali yesterday because of the rain and hail. So there were at least 35 people hiking up to MBC or ABC at 10am!
We passed the village called Himalaya at 11.30am and just kept going. We were good in time! My right knee started to hurt with every step downhill. Not surprising really if you think about what we hiked in the last 2.5 weeks. We stopped at a small river for lunch – well some biscuits and a Mars Bar and kept going!
We finally reached Sinuwa around 3ish and had to make a decision to stay or to push on to Chomrong. If my knee had been able to talk it would have screamed to me to stay. But I was so looking forward to stay in Chomrong Cottage, that lovely cute guesthouse with fantastic chocolate cake & Pizza! I persuaded Susan to continue. Both of us were a bit weak and my right knee did hurt quiet a lot.
|All the steps down to the valley!|
So now we had to go down all the steps to the valley, then all the steps up to Chomrong! Believe me, these steps were insane – 2000 steps uphill and they were pretty steep. I have never hiked up so many steps beforehand. That was an experience by itself!!!
We finally arrived at Chomrong Cottage at 4pm. The owner was so happy to see us again and was thrilled that we came back.
There were a group of Indians staying at the lodge as well asking us where we came from today. We said: ABC! They were staring at us like we were lunatics ;) well maybe we are a bit mad!
We ordered chocolate cake & tea, had a quick shower and then enjoyed the cake! So glad we walked all the way down, even if I almost couldn’t walk anymore. I am sure it will be better tomorrow ;)
Later on two more trekkers joined our guesthouse, a French girl and an Israeli guy. We had a really nice evening; good conversations and I fell in my bed and asleep in seconds ;)
Wed. 16th May – Day 19 “Hot Spring”
Chomrong – Hot Spring Jhinu - Tolka (2140m – 1700m ) 10km – 4h
Hot shower :)
We got up early to do some Yoga with the Indian Yogi we met last night. Start 6am! I woke up, opened my eyes and the first thing I saw was the Fish Tail! OMG, it was so beautiful. I got my camera out and took some photos!
We went downstairs and set for a while on the small little wall of the guesthouse facing Fish Tail!!! One of my favourite mornings for sure :)
We did some Yoga together and had breakfast. I got some plaited milk pastry/Hefezopf from the nearby bakery and some tea. We took it easy this morning. No rush as we had time! We had done it – Thurong La & ABC! Wow, who would have thought it would come true!
We watched trekkers walking past our lodge to hike up towards ABC and local people going by. It was such a relaxing start of the day – just perfect!
|Local Nepalese man|
The Indian’s were leaving before us as they trekked towards ABC today, but in small steps ;) They planned to reach Bamboo and stay there.
We took a group picture before they left to keep it as a nice memory!
We said goodbye to the friendly guesthouse owner – the woman and her family were so cute! She was so grateful that we came back! It was nice to see her so happy :)
We left Chomrong to walk towards the hot spring. At the end of Chomrong we met 2 Swiss guys who were trekking the same way and we got chatting. They did the Annapurna Circuit as well and ABC, but they were on Day 26 ;) Oh well, we were just slightly ahead of them :)
In Jhinu we dropped our bags at a lunch place and just walked with our towels and our water bottle to the hot spring. It was completely empty but really beautiful! Susan really liked it as well. I had known it already as we had stopped here during our 3-day hike! But it was as good as the last time. My muscles loved it! Even my knee got better :)
Back at the lunch place we were both starving so we had an early lunch – 11am! Potatoe Roesti it was and a really big portion! So nice :)
We continued walking through lovely landscapes: rivers, blossoming flowers, bridges, bamboo and lots of forest.
|School children on their way home|
We passed by Landruk and headed to Tolka, where we stayed for the night. We slept in a really pictures lodge at the edge of the hill with a stunning viewpoint.
It was lovely to have dinner outside and to overlook the valley!
What a finish to a perfect 20-day hike!
Thu. 17th May – Day 20 “Crossing the finishing line despite of strike!!!”
Tolka – Phedi - Pokhara (1700m – 1130m – 790m ) 31km – 9 1/4h
First stop in Pokhara:
AMPM Café for an apple muffin and a café latte
We had heard that there might be strikes going on called “Bandha” in Nepalese and it might be difficult to get a bus. Oh well, we weren’t too concerned as we could always get a taxi from Phedi to Pokhara! Well, let’s see about that – the story continues…
|breakfast with a gorgeous view|
So we started at 6.45am from Tolka, climbed up to Deurali 2100m, yes another 500m uphill – hurray!
Up in Deurali there were three sisters who were running the lodges there. They told us that there are no taxis and no busses! Susan and me looked at each other and didn’t know if we should believe it or not. Oh well, we first will hike to Phedi and then let’s see.
|This cute kid belonged to the three sisters :)|
We had a beautiful view onto Fish Tail from Deurali and almost all the way down to Dampus!
We finally arrived in Phedi around 11am and it was deserted. There were no busses, taxis or anything, which could bring us to Pokhara. We met an older Nepalese man who told us he is also on his way to Pokhara. We got different info’s about how long it would take to walk to lakeside – one woman said 5 hours, others said 3 hours. Well, let’s see. We were still hopeful that we might get a lift from someone while walking.
The sun was blazing and there were only bicycles and a lot of people walking in the street. Now and again the Ambulance cars were driving past, seemed like they were the only vehicles that were allowed to drive today. It was a really interesting atmosphere to experience I have to say, even when we were both wondering if our feet would really carry us to Pokhara all the way. We soon found out that the time prediction of 5 hours was accurate and we had a long way to go.
It seems like the kids were the winner of the strike. They seemed to enjoy themselves playing football, cricket or anything interesting in the middle of the road :)
Finally we reached the signpost for “Pokhara”!
After a while I finally remembered where we were! OMG, we were far away from Lakeside, Pokhara.
|bicycle repair shops were in strong demand! Cars were not allowed!|
We saw a man selling watermelons in the street. We looked at each other, dropped our bags, ordered and ate a few of them.
It was so tasty and we were so thirsty, hungry and exhausted – from the heat, the long walk, blisters on our feet and so on.
We finally arrived at Lakeside at 4pm and headed straight to my favourite coffee place AMPM! It was open and they had apple muffins.
We both had some and we drank some Banana Lassi and a café latte! Mmhhh! That was a treat after more than 9 hours walking!
We both then headed to our different guesthouses, got our rooms, had a lovely shower, changed into different clothes after 3 weeks and met for dinner again later on that evening! We spoiled ourselves with Pizza and Ice-Cream :) Mmhh!!! Yummy!
What a crazy last day of trekking!
Who would have thought we would walk all the way to Pokhara after 20 days of trekking in the Himalaya’s! That was crazy :)