This is the second post about our Annapurna Circuit trekking in Nepal. The first one contains fully detailed itinerary.
Syange to Dharapani
Our trekking started from Syange. Everything before was like Flight – Flight – Bus – Bus – Jeep. The trek itself starts from Besisahar and the first ACAP checkpoint is there. However this first part is pretty loaded with jeep traffic. So we decided to take a lift and start a little bit farther.
Our way went from Syange to Jagat and then to Chamche. This is still part of the trail which is easily accessible by jeeps, so there are a lot of traffic. Watch for signs for alternative routes aside from the motor road. We got a map in Kathmandu with pretty good details and all the alternative routes marked. It helped a lot on the way, even though it had mistakes in altitudes.
This part of the trek was pretty relaxed. At the same time it was just a first day and it took time to get used to the backpack weight. We stopped in Chamche for a launch and continued to Tal. By many itineraries Tal is a common overnight stop. We albeit planned to shorten typical itinerary by one day, so decided to continue to Dharapani.
There are two interesting facts about food and guest houses in Nepal. First is that all the prices in cafes are regulated by Board of Tourism of Nepal. All cafes in the same village will have same prices. And same menu. What differs them is a quality and size of portions. Sometimes we also met cafes with a little bit extras to the typical dishes.
Another thing is that they are very insisting on that if you stay at their guest house you have to eat there. Actually what they earn is mostly from food. The room itself costs like 200 NPR (~2 USD) for a twin. In low season room might be even free if you eat in the same guest house. On the first night we arrived pretty late and didn’t want to eat. And didn’t want to have a breakfast, just a tea. So the owner tried to charge us 500 NPR instead of promised 200.
The food itself is pretty average. Dal Bhat is very popular. Some years before it was the main dish on the trek. It is basically rice with vegetables. I didn’t want that much rice, so tried other options. And got food poisoning on the very first day of the trek. So most of the days after that I just stuck to boiled eggs and tea.
All the first day of trek was 18 km long, with total ascend around 1000 meters.
Dharapani to Chame
Our next day started at 8 am. We had breakfast and continued the way. First village on the way was Bagarchap in around half an hour. And next one was slightly bigger – Danaque. We had our small launch and continued our way to Temang.
With Temang it was a bit confusing as our map had different altitudes for this village on the map itself and in the index of the villages. It had difference of around 300 meters. In fact the most precise was the table that we took picture of back on the way to Tal.
While coming to Temang we saw a huge rock on the opposite side on the canyon. It was really heavy but somehow we didn’t pay enough attention to it. Who knows maybe that kind of rock fall is common in this area. Mountains… When we arrived to the village we stopped to have a tea and met two more trekkers there. They told us that just minutes ago it was a huge earthquake wave and even one of the houses just fallen in front of them. Minutes later we experienced another wave ourselves. Everything was shaking like crazy. All locals run out of their houses and started praying. And still we didn’t know yet how huge this earthquake was in Kathmandu.
So we continued our way to Koto and then to Chame. In Chame we finally got mobile connection and instantly got half a dozen SMS like “Are you alive there?”. At that point we realised it wasn’t a joke. I called my friends in Ukraine and they told about huge earthquake happened not far from Kathmandu. It caused lots of electricity and network outages, destroyed many houses. The question hanged in the air – what do we do now? Should we return or continue?
In any case we had to stay overnight in Chame as it was around 5 pm already.
Chame to Upper Pisang
As connectivity in the remote areas is pretty weak it was difficult to get news about the earthquake, status of the roads, etc. We spoke to locals in the morning and figured out that going back is not an option for now – the road there is more affected by landslides. The road to Upper Pisang should be wider and not dangerous. So we decided to continue our way and get any news we can on the way.
There were two options at this point – to go to Upper Pisang or Lower Pisang. As per travel reports we read before Upper Pisang is much more beautiful, so we went there. All the way from Chame to Upper Pisang was just 15 km and around 700 meters ascend.
At night in Upper Pisang we felt more shakes. In wooden house it felt pretty good, so we just hoped that it would not collapse ;)
Upper Pisang to Manang
In the night when it was shaking we thought that return might be a better option. But then in the morning the weather was so good that we again decided to continue ;) Plus some travel reports said that it should be the most spectacular day of the trail. And it was!
There are two ways from Upper Pisang to Manang. One of them lays via Lower Pisang and continues along motor road. It is shorter and easier. Do not go this way. It goes along the valley so you stay at lower trail with not that good views.
Another way goes via Ngawal. And this one is superb. The views are simply amazing. We were awarded with the weather. This way takes like 1-2 hours more and you climb even higher than actual altitude of Manang but it worth it. Treat it as a bonus to your acclimatisation ;)
With that great weather and views we even didn’t feel that all the way was 19 km long with total ascend around 700 meters as road went up and down.
We came to Manang at 5:30 pm. By initial plan we wanted to do 2 days acclimatisation trek to Tilichio Lake. But due to snowfalls before it wasn’t accessible. Plus earthquake made it even more risky. So we changed plan and did another one day hike just near to the village.
Manang is very popular stopover point among trekkers so you can find even “cinema hall” there ;) On top of it we finally got some internet connectivity there. It means we got more news and panic from our friends. So it was even more difficult to make final decision either to go to Thorong La or not.
For now thats all ;) Watch for the next post about all the road to Thorong La and over it!