Annapurna Circuit and Amazing Khopra Trek- September 2016

View from Khopra

As a part of September trekking, this time we decided to trek along Annapurna Circuit. We planned to start it on 2nd September, Friday. For those who would rather want fewer crowds, it is the best time. Later, such tourist areas get full and sometimes 100% occupied.


Day1: Long bus & jeep ride day.

The day was finally there, 2nd September. We decided to meet by 5, and we promised to wake each other up. One of the best thing about my September trek friends is, they always get ready one hour earlier no matter how early we decide to leave. I took a taxi from Pepsicola and left for Sankhamul to pick Topi and Sudip. It was only on the road, I remembered that I forgot stick and my light.

After I arrived Sankhamul, I could see that guys were waiting for Sarkaar, who was coming from Chabahil. We drank black tea there, along with our Driver dai. We then left to pick Sarkaar at Baneshor and went to Kalanki to catch Microbus of Besisahar. Unfortunately, while we arrived Kalanki we came to know that the microbus to Besisahar only leaves after its seat is full from Gongabu. We then took one bus leaving for Syangja. The bus was comfortable, and we sat at the last as we had big trekking bags. The bus left at 7am from Kalanki.

In the bus, we met a very friendly owner of the bus. We introduced each other and shared some laughs . We reached Besisahar at 2PM and found that jeep was leaving for Manang. We decide to cover the “Vehicle road” by that jeep as far as possible. The jeep left Besisahar at 3. The road used to be scary back in 2013 when we came back from Lharke pass circuit. But now, the road was not that scary since another road down the hill was constructed.

The jeep driver bhai was quiet but friendly. Every jeep passing by, the drivers used to shake hand and share some talks. Road along the hill was a bit bumpy, where we had to push the jeep once. At 7PM, we arrived at Chame and had some snacks. Few other jeeps were also behind us and joined us for the snacks. The drivers discussed and decide to leave further, and we were happy, as we wanted to pass the road as far as possible. At 9:30, we arrived at Danaque and decided to stay there for the night. The hotel was clean and owners were so welcoming.


Day2: Drove to Manang

After a good night sleep, we woke up at like 6 in the morning. All of us were ‘Morning’ guys; so waking up early was no big deal for us. Besides, we were pretty aware that we were there to enjoy the moment, not to sleep. We left the hotel at 7 in the morning. We could see trekkers walking along the way, and others walking back. While on the road, we could see the trekking trails and all of us were already excited to walk.

After an hour, the jeep was running in a valley with trees all over. That moment was really precious. The driver showed us a small lake on the way and suggested us to take a walk around. We were more than happy. We were waiting to get out of the jeep and enjoy the view. After half an hour, we left for Pisang, where our lunch was ordered already. Along the way, there was a place named Sworgadwari (Way to heaven). It was made up of one large stone, with stone inclined around 80 degrees. That stone looked slippery, while we could not see the top of it as it was covered with fog. It really was impossible to walk through that. And, locals use to believe that after people of Manang dies, he/she goes to heaven from there.

Way to Manang

We arrived Manang at 2. Manang stands at 3519 m, a good place to stay for acclimatization. We traveled to Khangsar, above Manang. Also, we took a walk around Gangapurna lake and enjoyed the view. We stayed at Manang on that day. Manang had many hotels, cozy ones and the view of the valley from the Manang village was spectacular. The hotel that we were staying at, had some other trekkers. We waved ‘hi’ to each other while passing the smile. After dinner, we slept at like 9, as we were leaving early morning the next day.


Day 3: Trekked to Ledar

We left the hotel at around 7:30, after two eggs and black tea which have been our signature breakfast during the trip, and no one knows why. Manang was a bit expensive where a bottle of water costs Rs200. We had to buy the water, just for the bottles, should have brought the ones we bought on the way.

Only on the third day we were getting a chance to walk and we felt like it was only then our trek started, true. We started walking with a big smile on our face. From the top of the village, we could see wide Manang valley. Mountains were covered with clouds but we could feel them. Colorful millet plant along the fields was giving the valley a magical view.

The trail was a bit easy, though it was uphill but must have been in an inclination of like 25 degrees only. We crossed the village, and then there was that peace that we have been longing for. No one on the way, just four of us, and the sound of our trekking sticks. I got one from Sarkaar, he had brought 2 sticks by chance or mu luck. We could see birds flying above us, grazing goat-like animals in the jungle. At 9:30 we arrived at Gunsang (3990m). There was a small hotel, and we decided to drink some tea there.

The view from the Gunsang was a quiet and peace (View?? Maybe feelings). It was then we thought that we should have walked there the day before, as we had time. We drank tea, took the biscuit and ate our snickers from the bag. We left the hotel at 10:30 and started walking again. Big green hills, and alpine vegetation alongside, we were having one of the best times of our life. In addition, sheep herds grazing at the top of hills was looking magnificent. All those tales that we used to listen about sheep grazing in such area, we were able to witness there in front of our eyes.

We arrived Ledar at 3. Sudip and I were insisting on walking further while Topi and Sarkaar were asking to stay there. Later, we decide to stay there in Ledar. One clean and a quiet hotel was there. Few tourists, and along with their guides were staying. We went inside and asked for the room. We played the card, and stayed at the dinner room most of the time, as it was warmer. We ate dinner at like 7PM and drank few raksi, and chatted there. It was raining lightly. We slept at like 9PM.


Day 4: Trekked to High Camp

We woke up at 6:30. And, there it was, just behind our bedroom’s window, right behind only one hill, a big bright and clear mountain. We got too excited with it, thanks to the rain previous day. We rushed outside and could see big clear and quiet mountains. They looked like they were smiling at us. Had we crossed Ledar the other day, we could have missed such a mesmerizing view.

Annapurna Circuit Trekking LedarThe rain had cleared all the moisture, making sky clean blue. On the other hand, the vegetation along the hills was looking too green.  We just stood outside and enjoyed the view. Chatted there, and talked about how we could have missed the view. Sudip and I got blamed for being in rush, haha.

As usual mornings, we took boiled egg and black tea as our breakfast. Waved bye to others who were staying at the hotel, and walked forward, with the best possible view along the way. We were walking in the flat hills, accompanied by Mountains all over, and clear blue sky. That was more like heaven, and none of us were in rush. No one wanted to let go that view. We walked slowly as we had to walk only four hours on that day, cause we could cross the pass next day only. We took multiple breaks.

We arrived Phedi at 12. The actual pass starts from Phedi itself. Moreover, the hotel at Phedi was looking best in such a clear sunny day. Surrounded by empty big hills, and Mountains all over and a clean cozy hotel was looking no less than hotels in Switzerland. We took two beers and lunch there. We left the hotel at 1:30, and started walking that gruesome uphill.

While walking, we saw a herd of Himalayan blue sheep walking slowly on the other side. Sudip and I rushed to that side, to get the click. Out of surprise, they were not running away, gazing us with surprise instead. We got some nice clicks. We walked slowly, as we were already walking in high altitude and could feel the oxygen deficiency. No more greenery, all we could see was stones, hills, and mountains.

While walking uphill, again we saw another herd of blue sheep searching for green grasses on the way, just like goats. At 3:30, we reached high camp. We were too tired because of the uphill from Phedi. We then took the room. We could see there already were good numbers of trekkers from different countries. We chatted, and shared about each of us, in the evening. That’s another beauty of trekking, as everyone you meet so easily become friends. One happy world.

Few trekkers had walked back to Phedi, fearing the altitude sickness; a wise decision. We should never mess with altitude, as we could do nothing about it. We had to leave early 5AM, for the pass the next day. So, we slept early while mentally getting prepared for the PASS day, the most difficult day of trekking.


Day 5: Thorang La Pass day

We woke up at 4:30. Trekkers staying there overnight had already started to trek along the pass. Again, we took boiled egg and tea and walked along the main day of Annapurna Circuit. We started walking at 5:15. And, once again, and for another day also, the sky was too clear that we could see stars. It was very cold, however. But we were surrounded by small and big mountains, and the weather was way favorable. Clean weather on the Pass day, is one of the luckiest days anyone could have.

Like every other pass day, we were walking slowly. Walking slowly helps maintain our breath and ensure the continuous oxygen supply. Despite the cold weather we have to make sure that we are hydrated enough. We ate our bars, drank few electrolytes, and continued walking. The rod on the way, that was kept to measure the depth of snow, we could see all the way. And, every other rod at the end we could see, looked like the last one, but it was otherwise.

Uphill, few straight, others again uphill, the pass walk was really hard. We were just waiting for the main Thorang La pass, but it was not coming anytime soon. And, at like 11am we were there at the pass. Nevertheless, the clear weather on that day with the blue sky and mountains, the pass was looking more than beautiful. That was the moment of happiness, the moment of success, the moment of achievement. Every one of us was very happy to be at 5416m, Thorang la Pass.

Thorang La Annapurna Circuit Trekking

There was a hotel in the Pass, small one, where the owner was already there cooking some foods. We drank tea there and sat there for some time. We did not want to miss the view, and suntan in that height was something only a few people get blessed with. We were in no mood to miss that, at all.

After staying there for like an hour, we began walking again. It was easier walk now, as we only had to walk downhill, however pass was not yet cleared. Meaning, no greeneries yet and still had to maintain the pace for the oxygen. We started walking and enjoying the view of the other side. After another half hour walk, now we could see the village and the view of Mustang, where we were staying that day.

We ran out of the water now. We had no choice than to walk downhill and reach Mustang for the water. Then, after a long day, we could see green grassland with the view of Mustang and the hills with the mountains behind. We sat there for half an hour and enjoyed the beautiful day while reviewing the Pass walk for each of us.

We again walked downhill towards Mustang, and while on the way, we found out something surprising. We were supposed to meet one of our friends, Kishor Rimal who was doing Great Himalayan Trek and was supposed to trek the Thorang La Pass from Mustang. But, he was there in Mustang since few days, and now we get to meet him there. On the other hand, our other friend Siddhi with his wife left for Mustang the same day we left for the trek. And, he was also still there.

We arrived Mustang at 2PM and met other friends doing Great Himalayan Trail with Kishor. As expected, we celebrated the Pass day and enjoyed the day, a lot. Nonetheless, I was getting a chance for the hot shower after a long time. After long hour sharing of stories, and with few drinks, we enjoyed the day.


Day 6: Muktinath Temple and on the way to Khopra Trekking

In the morning, we visited Muktinath temple, one of the best travel destination within Nepal for both national and international tourists. I took the camera and left for the temple with the guys. At the temple, there are 108 taps where people take shower (or run through them). There is a belief that they would become sin-free after the shower in that chilling water. Sudip and I had planned to take the shower, not for such sin-free cause we knew the moment at Gosaikunda.

There at Gosaikunda, we were having a mild headache in the morning at the back oh head. We then went to the Gosaikunda Lake and dove in that too cold lake. To our surprise, our headache was then gone. So, we were also expecting more of freshness after the 108-tap shower. It was only later I found out that, I had no battery in the camera and had left it for the charge. Meaning, no pics there.

Before we left from Kathmandu we were planning to trek Upper Mustang after completing Annapurna. However, none of us had an idea on the duration of the trek. At Mustang, Kishor suggested that Upper Mustang would take longer as we had only around 12/13 days in total. Kishor further suggested us to trek to Khopra, which could be one of the best trek destinations. We then planned to trek there, and we had to leave Mustang on that day for Ghasa.

We took some snaps with Great Himalayan Trekkers, took breakfast there, waved goodbye and went to the jeep station. The jeeps were for Jomsom. The day again was too clean. We asked the driver to stop in few scenic places for the photographs and the view. The jeep ride was a bit bumpy, and I could imagine how dusty could it be during spring. However, long roads in the hill, with mountains at the back and blue sky all over, the moment was more than perfect. I was just busy gazing outside, that looked like a big rocky hill following us with the perfect sky in the background.

We stopped on the way for some rest and clicked few pictures. It was in the place like that; no one needed to be the professional photographer for the perfect clicks. We could see a number of internal and international tourists on the way. Certainly, Mustang has been one of the best travel destinations on 2016 among Nepalese. We arrived Jomsom at 12:30. Besides getting accompanied by Nilgiri mountain, we were feeling hot there. It was a good sunny day for the people that wants to enjoy the view.

We took lunch and left for Ghasa at 4:30. We saw big apple fields and ate the fresh ones from the apple tree, most organic apple ever. We arrived Ghasa at 7:30, and we had to stay there for the night. We put our trek bags in the room, and then began chatting. And, minutes later it started raining. Everyone was worried about probable landslide the next day now. We took dinner at 9:30, and few local raksi before sleeping at around 11.


Day 7: Tatopani –Landslides but yet relaxed and ease day.

We woke up at 6:30 in the morning. While we checked the bus station, we could see that our fellow travelers from the other day had already left. We had no choice other than reserving the whole bus. We, however, negotiated with the staffs that we would be taking all the money collected on the road. Expecting for more road fun, we then left for Tatopani.

But, as expected, we got stuck on the road due to landslides. The driver tried, but there was no way the bus could cross that. Then, we began making/constructing the road. Big stones were harder to lift, so staffs were using peaks. The road had become narrower as the big rock had fallen on the road. All of us helped there, and everyone was working hard to cross that landslide. We deviated the waterway, scattered the small rocks to make the road wider. After an hour’s hard work, the driver finally crossed the landslide. We clapped for his valor act.

The road further was also slippery. Following the road was the deepest gorge in the world. We really had one hell of an adventurous ride. We ate lunch at Dana, and to be honest had a chance to eat such awesome food after a long time. We then arrived Tatopani at 12. We checked into one beautiful hotel, as we were too tired already. We took one good shower and just rested in the hotel. In the evening at around 7, we took walk to the hot spring there. We decided to start early next day and slept around 10PM.


Day 8: Amazing Khopra

We started walking at 6:30 in the morning. We felt like we were trekking again, as two days there was just jeep and bus ride. With the same trek-smile again in our face and in the best possible happy mood, we were walking along the road, all of us. As suggested earlier by the owner of the hotel in Tatopani, we had to reach Paudwar for the lunch. With lots of uphill walk and a few confusing roads along the way, we finally arrived Paudwar village. A typical village with happy smiling and too welcoming people.

The owner of the hotel from Tatopani had already ordered our lunch. Instead of DAL-BHAT we decided to eat roti. Owner didi was warning us about the long uphill walk we had to walk which is harder than pass. We hardly believed that, to be honest, as no walk could be harder than pass walk. We then started walking at 12 after lunch. The didi from that hotel informed the owner of the hotel in Khopra regarding our arrival and gave us the number of the owner/staff.

With our belly full, and non-stop uphill that must have inclined at 80 degrees most of the time, we had one of the most difficult cum adventurous walk that day. The non-stop uphill, and a bit narrow roads at the top; the trek was one of the hardest treks ever. That really was difficult than Thorang la pass. It was getting a late afternoon, and still, we were unknown about the distance we should cover. Besides getting too much tired, we had to walk without taking rest. Again, we had no choice. Abundant leeches on the way were something that was getting in our mind on that day.

While walking in the evening, we had a chance to glance the top of Dhaulagiri while it was covered with clouds below. Dhaulagiri looked very close from there. After 1 minute, the view was again no more. We started walking again.

Now it was getting too late, and I was worried about the consequences if anyone would panic. It was now getting dark, and worst of all, it started raining- heavily. It was 7PM already, and we had no idea on how far we should walk further. Topi then called at the hotel in Khopra, and we pleaded to send somebody to fetch us. The trail was too narrow, and it was on the ridge of the hill, and still we had to walk uphill following the ridges. It was already 8PM, cold, raining and, getting darker and darker. We then heard a voice, calling us.  Phewww!!!!!

The staffs from hotels were there to receive us. So nice of them, and a big relief for all of us. We then walked like half an hour, drenched and tired. We arrived hotel at 9PM. Trekkers at the hotel clapped, and welcomed us with a big smile. There was a fireplace and stood there for minutes while picking up leeches. We then took dinner and slept right after. The warmth of the bed was something no one wanted to miss after such a long, painstaking day.


Day 9: Rest day + Khayer Lake day

Next day, we woke up early, everyone too eager to check the view, too desperate to know if all those tough walks were worthy or not. But, there it was, proving that all our hard work has paid off. Right in front of the hotel we were staying at was, Annapurna range on the one side and Dhaulagiri on the other, and Ghorepani-Pun hill trekking range all the way down from this hill, it looked like we were in paradise. We thanked Kishor for the recommendation. All of us were feeling like we are there in the heaven watching the entire world. That really felt awesome.

We had to stay at Khopra, rest day after 9 consecutive days. Sudip and I decided to trek to Khayer lake while Topi and Sarkaar decided to rest. Khayer lake stands at (4500m), 4-5 hours walk from Khopra. There was another group we were joining for the trek to Khayer. We then, and again, took two boiled egg and black tea as our breakfast at 8. Packed noodles and water for the road. We started ascending uphill again.

After like 10 minutes it started raining, and Sudip and I had left the raincoat in the hotel. It was starting to get colder now. While on the way, we saw big yak herds controlled by another herd of giant dogs. The dogs were really scary. We walked another 3 hours while it was raining. I was missing the hotels’ blanket and was telling to myself that we should have stayed at the hotel itself. Later, we decided to not walk anymore and came back. There were few construction workers working, and one lady was making food for them. She saw us and offered us tea. That tea felt like best tea we ever had, could be due to results from the cold, drenched day 2.

We arrived back to the hotel at 3:30. Rushed straight to the room, changed cloth, we put the wet one beside fireplace to get dry. We went to bed and kept ourselves warm. It was still raining outside. We rested until evening. In the evening around 6:30, the weather got too clean, thanks to the rain in the day (Irony?). We got out of the hotel, and we could see the horizon. We could see Ghorepani, Punhill and all the villages underneath till the horizon. We could see they were covered with clouds while it was way clean in Khopra. Sunset view, on the other hand, was spectacular. The red light of sunset was just there, covering Annapurna making it red, Dhaulagiri on the other hand, stands giant and too clean.

View from Khopra

All of the trekkers inside the hotel was enjoying the view, and praising Nepal for such a pristine beauty. Everyone was trying to capture the moment. As the time passed, in like 8 PM, the view was even more magically gorgeous (Out of vocabulary, J). We were witnessing stars at the top giving a feel like we were near galaxy, with big clouds covered underneath and clear view of one of the highest Mountains of the worlds. It felt like no moment could have been better. All those pain we faced in the day was gone, just like that. (photo)

Hadn’t it been colder (too) outside, we could have stayed there the whole night. We celebrated the moment. We went to bed around 10PM, chatted there for some time, and slept.


Day 10: Sikha

We woke up at 6:30, took breakfast and discussed on where to go next. From the other night, everyone still wanted to stay for one more day there. Sarkar and Topi asked to stay there while Sudip and I chose to trek. We felt like music and trek in that foggy day could be a peace experience. Afterward, we all chose to trek and the staff at the hotel advised to trek until Sikha that day. We were targeting Pokhara for the next day.

We thanked hotel staffs and left the hotel at 10. They were too friendly and open. I thought like, such spots should be the future of tourism in Nepal. We walked downhill now, and as expected there were lots of leeches too. After around two hours, there was a hotel, a cottage built in the midway to serve the trekkers. We ate some noodles there while picking up leeches. We then walked and arrived Sikha at 4PM. Sikha was a small village with plenty of clean hotels.

We stayed at a hotel, and after a long time, I got the chance to drink milk tea. We played some cards there, ate bhuteko makai. We slept early on that day. Around 9PM, I was already in the bed, remembering all our days.


Day 11: Pokhara

We left the hotel at 8. Walked downhill, and we could see school children were moving for their schools. We shared some laugh with them and their parents who were taking them to school. We arrived Tatopani at 11 and took a bus to Beni. Before Beni, we had to walk 20 minutes due to another big landslide. At around 2:30, we arrived Beni. We drank coke there, after a long time. And then, took a bus to Pokhara.

The bus was rather slow; as a result, we arrived Pokhara late. We went to the hotel, took shower and none of us was in a mood to enjoy Pokhara that day. Long, different and uneasy rides had got us already. We ate few momos at the hotel we were staying, and took mutton-bhat as our dinner, happy happy. We Nepalese miss momo like nothing, after such a long trek. Then we played cards again before sleeping.


Day 12: Pokhara again

In the morning, we decided to stay and rest at Pokhara. Not to mention, we also wanted to enjoy the typical Pokhara day.

So, we had typical Nepalese Pokhara day, Boating, Snooker, BGB, and more. We had one of the best Pokhara stay. Enjoyed the stay.


Day 13: Back to Kathmandu

We took tourist bus at 10:50 from Pokhara. To my greatest surprise, the bus was going until Pepsicola as their garage was there, where I live. Meaning, I don’t have to bargain with the taxi from Kalanki. I took the visiting card of the bus and thanked the staffs. At like 7, I arrived Pepsicola.

2016 September trek went too good and would be one of the memorable.


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