Never Ending Peace And Love - Nepal

(x24)  | By: emma-lou | 52,854 Views | 34 Replies


Hi!  I've just got back from Nepal, having spent 5 weeks in this beautiful country. I've written an account of my time there, I hope you will find it interesting and useful if you ever decide to go there on your travels. I traveled to Nepal with my boyfriend and was there from 22nd of April to the 29th May, which was pretty much the hottest time of the year. Although in some places, such as Chitwan National Park and the lower parts of the Annapurna trail, the heat was pretty stifling, for the most part it was very pleasant weather (interspersed with some mega thunderstorms, literally the most impressive lightning I've ever seen - exciting!) We had just missed the spring season when Nepal is in bloom and the forests are awash with the colours of the rhododendrons. However we still saw many beautiful flowers and it was low season so we felt like we had the Annapurna trail to ourselves!

We flew from London Heathrow (actually it was the day the volcanic ash cloud ban was lifted so I can't tell you how relieved we were) and we flew with Jet Airways to New Delhi Airport and from there to Katmandu. We were really impressed with this company, they'd consistently shown up as having the cheapest flights for our prospective journeys on a number of different search engines so this was our reason for flying with them, however, cheap didn't mean compromising on comfort - the seats had a decent amount of leg room and the back of seat entertainment was great. Another benefit of flying with Jet airways was the mere 2 hour change over in Delhi airport!

Katmandu

Katmandu. Smelly, dirty, crowded, noisy, polluted and utterly fascinating are some words that spring to mind. It's definitely worth spending a day or two here to experience this fascinating city and visit the world heritage sites. However after 3 days in Katmandu, as much fun as it had been, I was keen to leave the polluted air and to discover what Pokhara held in store for us. We took a 6 hour tourist bus ride for 400 rupees each (that's about £4).

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Pokhara

Pokhara encompasses Lake Phewa and from here you can enjoy a fantastic view of the Annapurna range. It was a welcome haven after Katmandu (at least the area surrounding the lake, which is where you'll arrive if you travel by tourist bus). Whilst in Pokhara we hired kayaks and pedaloes on the lake which was enjoyable and inexpensive. You can climb a steep hill called Sarangkot which takes approximately 3 hours and you can stay overnight at the top and in the morning experience stunning views of the Annapurna range. Unfortunately I picked up a stomach bug (not an uncommon thing when in Nepal!) and was in bed for 3 days and then it was time to leave for some trekking in the mountains.

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We took a flight to a village called Jomsom to start our trekking rather than trek up from Pokhara and back down the same way. From Jomsom we walked back towards Pokhara. The flights cost around £50 each and this was money well spent as the views of the mountains from the plane were beautiful! (By the way it's better to sit on the right hand side of the plane as here you'll get the best views.) Our plane was a 20 seater propeller engine which made such a loud noise! But the flight was smooth. Until we veered terrifyingly close to a cliff edge towards the end of the flight. A nervous glance back at my boyfriend, and then we realised with much relief that this proximity to the cliff was routine and was necessary for the extremely tight turn back on ourselves to land imminently at Jomsom Airport!

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After we got off the plane we were in high spirits after the unforgettable views we'd just witnessed and because the weather here was so fresh after the heat and humidity of Pokhara. There was a strong but warm wind. It took literally a couple of minutes to collect our bags and exit the airport out on to the main street of Jomsom. Before beginning the trek to our first destination of Kagbeni, we had to register our ACAP and TIMS cards (which we'd purchased from the main office in Pokhara). It can take a little while but its obligatory and it is reassuring to know that if there were a natural disaster there's a greater chance of people tracking your whereabouts and being able to inform relatives.

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Jomsom to Kagbeni

The hike from Jomsom to Kagbeni was not physically challenging due to the terrain - it's very flat the whole way, however being fairly unfit and laden with heavily loaded bags it was a tough day for us! What should have been a 1.5 hour walk took us approx. 4 hours although we stopped for coffee and lunch along the way!! We took a stove and gas with us as we liked the idea of stopping to cook our lunch in the outdoors every day. However our backs and shoulders payed the price during the first few days, especially as we'd packed about 4 cans of baked beans! It was fun to cook our own food but it's not necessary along this part of the trail, there are villages at least every 3 hours, however you often come across them more regularly than this.

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Kagbeni to Jarkot to Muktinath

Our first night in the mountains was in a dingy cell like room with a small window next to the ceiling! We were so tired when we made it to Kagbeni that we stayed in the first lodge we came across. This turned out to be the worst room (due to lack of any view) that we would stay in for the whole trip, however we slept well and the next morning we were heading up in altitude to a village called Muktinath. It's a very steep climb, and so we only made it as far as a place called Jarkot, we hadn't yet eaten enough baked beans to noticeably reduce the weight of our bags! If you ever visit this village, try the pizza at New Plaza Hotel - forget Pizza Express or Pizza Hut! This was so tasty and was brought out of the kitchen still sizzling on a metal dish.

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The next day we made it to Muktinath. This village was at an altitude of 3800m and we could feel it! You can actually see Muktinath from Jarkot. It looks like a mere 20 minute walk away but we didn't account for the fact that the climb is very steep and that you begin to be affected by the altitude at this point and it therefore took us 1.5 hours to get there. We stayed at the first hotel in the village as we assumed it had the best views. We were really excited when shown to a room which had a very large window looking out over the valley we'd just climbed up and and some snow-capped mountains rising up behind this. There was another large window on the side wall of the room giving us a panoramic view of our surroundings. The first night we stayed here we saw a beautiful clear night sky and 3 shooting stars. We stayed another night here because we enjoyed the views so much and during the next day we went for a walk off the main Annapurna trail towards a village called Tumba. We ascended and again we began to experience slight dizziness and breathlessness as a result of the altitude so we climbed very slowly. We made it to the most beautiful viewpoint where I actually felt like I was at the top of the world. We walked along a ridge, it wasn't narrow, however being able to see to the valley floor from which we'd climbed gave me vertigo for the first time in my life and I actually had the urge to crawl (I tried to think rationally and resisted the urge to crawl because as long as I wasn't careless it was very difficult to fall from the ledge) but it was an amazing experience having never experienced any fear of heights before.

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(Here I wasn't actually on the ridge!)

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At this altitude the vegetation was sparse, leaving space for some interesting little Alpine plants.

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Muktinath back to Jomsom

After our stay in Muktinath, we descended to Jomsom in one day! We were meant to reach a village called Martha but were pretty tired by the time we reached Jomsom. I think half of the reason for this was that from Kagbeni to Jomsom we experienced what I imagine were gale force winds against us. The dust was terrible and so wrap around sunglasses and a scarf to cover your face are extremely useful at this point of the trek. We stopped to cook hot chocolate along the way and had to build a wind break for the stove using our rucksacks and some rocks and only then the gas stayed alight long enough to heat our hot chocolate!

Jomsom to Marpha

Jomsom isn't the most picturesque of villages, it's very dusty, extremely windy (this apparently is the norm, the winds pick up from around 11 in the morning and die down around dusk) and you can only see one snow capped mountain when the lower clouds clear. However it was a great resting point before continuing our journey to Marpha. Marpha is completely different to Jomsom, with narrow winding streets, many of them really steep, a beautiful temple and the majority of the buildings are whitewashed. It's renowned for it's apple orchards and you can purchase local apple juice and cider from most of the shops.

Marpha to Khobang

From Marpha we continued down the valley to a place called Khobang. There weren't many lodges here considering the size of the village, however we eventually found one which had an unobstructed view of the impressive Dhaulagiri glacier from the window.

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Khobang to Kalopani

To be honest, our stay in Khobang was an impromptu decision, we'd planned to get to Kalopani however we'd had a long travel forum for lunch (again!). So the next day we actually made it to Kalopani - although only just!! Along the way we stopped for lunch in a tiny village called Ghorepanthi. It had started raining and we decided to wait in the dry to see if it would subside. A friendly elderly woman came to greet us when we stopped at the restaurant and we ordered some fried potatoes. When they came they were so delicious we ordered some more! And the secret to creating potatoes this tasty? - fried onions, garlic and salt. We were convinced there had to be some other ingredients! After another extended lunch over a game of chess (a lovely little wooden travel set we bought in Katmandu) we left for Kalopani. Unfortunately the rain didn't subside, it was now almost torrential!

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After about an hour of walking we saw the familiar sight of a large black sign with a map of the village painted on it signaling our arrival at Kalopani. What we failed to notice to begin with was that between us and this sign was a very fast flowing river. Up stream a little way we noticed a very rickety, slippery looking wooden bridge. We watched with our breaths held as a school girl very tentatively made her way across. We decided if the slightly built girl could only just make it - the structures holding the bridge on either side moved as she crossed - it wasn't going to hold out for either of us with our heavy packs. We ended up sliding down the banks to the river, throwing our bags across to the other side (mine nearly ended up in the water, my stomach sank as I saw it land and then roll back towards the river!) and we eventually picked out which we thought were the best stepping stones and ventured across hoping for the best! We did get wet feet but this was a satisfactory outcome, we were just glad we didn't get swept away!
After this little adventure we walked up through Kalopani, after Khobang this village was ultra modern. There were many alpine-looking lodges with cozy restaurants with fires warming up the rooms on this wet evening. They looked so inviting as at this time we were almost wet through. We chose our hotel after checking out everything in the village and went for dinner. In the restaurant we bumped into some other trekkers, two of whom we'd first met in Pokhara and then again in Marpha.
(This is a benefit of doing the Annapurna circuit in the conventional direction. If you don't want to bump into the same people along the way then you could consider doing the trail in the other direction however this is much more difficult. The reason that anti-clockwise is the most popular direction is that if you trek the whole circuit you cross through a pass called Thorong-La which is at 5414m and to do this you need to acclimatize. If you go the conventional direction you can stay at 'High Camp' and get used to the altitude here before crossing the pass, if you go the other way there is no suitable place for staying the night at high altitude for acclimatization.)
Anyway, in this lovely little restaurant we had the most amazing Burritos. I know, pizza and burritos! I think we were just really hungry these days and the traditional Daal Bhat seemed a bit too healthy (although it's yummy) and a bit more stodge was needed! Like the pizza we'd had in Jarkot, these burritos came out sizzling in a metal dish on a wooden board. The flavour of the tomato sauce was really rich, the dough was a perfect texture and there was plenty of cheese on top! These burritos were so good we decided to have them for breakfast the next morning before our walk to Titi Lake!

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Our hotel in Kalopani

We were lucky that Titi Lake was shown on our basic illustrated map of the Annapurna trail, some maps only show Lake Tilicho (see below, I couldn't find a picture of the map we used but this is the sort of thing) To be honest, as long as you don't plan to detour, a simple illustration of the circuit with it's villages is ample. We had a few copies (they tend to get wet and dissolve!) of the ACAP leaflet which includes an illustrated diagram of the trail and this was all we needed - we used it to plan where to stay next and as was often the case, to find out where else we could stay if we weren't going to make it to our original planned destination! The trail's so easy to follow, it's hard to get lost.

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Titi Lake

So we decided to stay in Kalopani for another night and use the day to go to Titi Lake. We'd seen signs for the lake back near Ghorepanthi the previous day so we headed back towards these. The weather today was very hot and muggy, a change from the cooler weather of Muktinath. The wind in Jomsom and Marpha meant it had never felt as hot as it actually was in these places either.

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The start of the trail to Titi Lake

As we turned off the main trail and headed up the very steep path towards Titi Lake both of us felt pretty light-headed! This path headed up into pine forest and as we had no idea how far we had to go until we would find the lake it felt like a never ending ascent. At one point we saw a smaller path and gathered that this would be a steeper shortcut which would cut off some of the winding back and forth of the main track. After a while we came across some evidence of civilization; there was a small shrine. This was a good sign, hopefully we were on the right trail. We continued a bit further and saw a settlement which appeared to be abandoned except that there was smoke coming from somewhere.

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The path appeared to continue up, past this settlement and so we followed. We were really exhausted by this point, it was actually a relief that it had started raining/hailing, although the sound of the thunder rolling in towards us and the colour the sky had changed to was a bit disconcerting now that we were this high up and we didn't know exactly where we were or where we were going. Eventually, as we started winding between rhododendron bushes and having to duck underneath some low branches, climbing over others, we started to wonder whether this was a real footpath or perhaps just an animal trail. However we'd come so far we decided to go just a bit further. We eventually came out into a clearing. The grass was a beautiful bright green and here we discovered the things responsible for the trail we'd just followed - a herd of cows. It was quite an eerie place, the thunder continued-it was really loud now, and the rain/hail became pure hail. And still there was no sign of Titi Lake. We decided to have a look a bit further ahead in case the lake was just around the corner the whole time. We decided we'd better leave something as a marker (we used water bottles) to show the entrance to the trail because it really wasn't obvious where we'd just exited the rhododendron forest and although not a proper footpath, it was better to follow this back than nothing.

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The Clearing

After realising, to our disappointment, that we had not found Titi Lake we headed back to our markers, followed by a herd of cows, and began to make our way back down. Just as we reached the settlement we noticed something amazing ahead of us. The mountains on the other side of the valley had already looked impressively high and so we hadn't even imagined that they could actually stretch up even higher, but there in front of us for about 30 seconds whilst the clouds parted was the most amazing sight. A mountain peak literally looked as if it was poking up into heaven. This was the first time we'd been so close to such a massive peak and we were awe struck by the sight of it. There was something about the weather and atmosphere today, the eerie stillness in between the rolls of thunder that for me made it even more magical to witness such a sight.

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When we reached the main track we continued up the way we probably should have gone in the first place! After about 20 minutes we came across some teenage girls coming in the opposite direction, carrying large loads on their heads. Apparently Titi Lake was about half an hour away and we were going in the right direction. By now we were wet underneath our coats and boots but we were so close we didn't want to turn back now! After about 20 mins we reached a village. This really was in the middle of nowhere! As we were walking past a house, I could see through the front door and saw an elderly man who was holding his hand to his face and shouting about something. There was a young man next to him and I asked if he knew if we were going in the right direction and how far it was to the lake. He came to stand in the doorway, smiling, he held a pair of pliers in his hands. This is when I realised why the elderly man had been shouting and holding his face - he'd just had some dental treatment. It turned out that Titi Lake was now a mere 10 minutes away and on we went, feeling more than a little queasy and I vowed to never complain about the NHS dentist situation again. Finally, we saw the sign for the lake. We looked and there in a large field was a large puddle, it certainly wasn't anything like the image I'd had in my head of a substantial mountain lake! However, apparently it's the most ecologically important site for breeding birds in Nepal but we didn't even see any birds, probably because of the persistent hail! We were both shivering now and quickly embarked on our return hike to Kalopani.
The gushing river was even more turbulent than the day before but luckily we managed to cross using the nearly submerged stepping stones. The thunder storm had got progressively worse throughout the afternoon and back at Kalopani, cold tired and hungry, we discovered that there'd been a power cut. It was almost dark by the time we got to our room and we couldn't face leaving it's relative warmth so we cooked pasta on our stove. We ate our dinner in candle light, the rain relentless and I began to wonder if Kalopani was far enough away from the mountainside I could see in the twilight outside to avoid being hit by a landslide. I tried not to dwell on this thought although it was in the back of my mind as I went to sleep that night.

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Titi Lake


Kalopani to Ghasa

The next day we woke up in a completely different world, the sky was bright blue and there didn't even seem to be any dampness remaining after the deluge the previous day, although we soon came across evidence of it. We weren't far outside of Kalopani when we came across a huge landslide. The road was completely blocked and we could see the reason Kalopani's electric supply had been cut off - the landslide had knocked over the telegraph poles. We clambered across but soon came across another one, this one mainly consisted of mud. We waited while a whole family coming in the opposite direction made their way across, carrying their luggage on their heads, many losing shoes along the way.

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Ghasa to Dana

This heading should really have read Ghasa to Tatopani but again we dawdled a little too much! This leg of the trek was interesting as we had descended in altitude enough to notice a complete change in the wildlife. We began to see more and more butterflies as the day went on and expectedly the climate got warmer and warmer. A few pictures from along the way....

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We arrived at Dana during another thunderstorm, if it hadn't have been for the storm we probably would have made it to Tatopani. Due to the darkness from the storm clouds we actually believed it was a lot later in the day than it was! We chose a guesthouse to stay in, it was standing alone at the bottom of the village. The lady showed us in, and there were brambles and vines growing in through the creaky wooden floor boards as well as sprawling across the window in our room. There was no sign of any other guests staying there, although it was early - it turned out to be only 3 in the afternoon. We played chess, had dinner and then it was dark. There still weren't any other guests. Our room was situated towards the back of a corridor on the upper floor of the guesthouse. We were both feeling a bit spooked cause we hadn't seen any other tourists in Dana let alone in the rest of our guesthouse. In fact all of the guesthouses had looked deserted. We couldn't even here any noise coming from downstairs - you can usually hear the family making dinner or something. All of a sudden we heard a bang and clatter, the sound of the wooden doors at the end of the corridor being shut. We thought this was a bit strange as the toilet was at the other end of the corridor and we couldn’t think of any reason for the owner (or was it something else?!) wanting to close them. My boyfriend went out after about 5 minutes to check if the doors had been locked - this would be extremely worrying! - however luckily they weren’t. I was still too scared to use the bathroom that night!

Dana to Tatopani

Today was filled with beautiful flowers, butterflies and scenery! Smiley

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It was a very short leg today but that was o.k because at Tatopani there were hot springs! We arrived mid afternoon and the weather was uncomfortably hot. For this reason we decided to change our plans and go to the hot springs after dark (we’d heard that they were 60?C!) concluding that it would also be nice to be able to watch the stars whilst relaxing in the pool. We relaxed in our room for a bit as we had a nice view from the large windows. Then we went to a resturant for lunch, my boyfriend deciding that it was time to try yak steak! Unfortunately they didn’t have this on the menu and so he settled for beef steak with pepper sauce instead but he seemed happy with this, he’d been craving meat as our diet recently had been vegetarian!

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The view from our room

The hot springs were very hot! Nice though, it was quiet at 9pm and the stars were out. The only thing that bothered me were some HUGE moths which were making a weird, loud humming/buzzing noise! One of them flew so close to me I felt the breeze on my face!
Our hotel was very close to the hot springs, in fact you could walk down a little path in the gardens and it took you to the track right next to them. On the way back however, the gate to this path had been locked and so we had to go a long way until we found some steps which led us to another hotel. The doors to this hotel were locked but they must have seen our torch lights and came out to see what we were up to! The lady was very kind and let us pass through the kitchen to the main street of Tatopani. When we got to the front of our hotel the gates had been closed and locked! We could see the owner’s family inside but the problem was getting their attention! It was strange, as if there was a curfew. It wasn’t that late because we left a bit before the hot springs officially closed but there was no one out on the streets and all of the doors and windows of the shops, restaurants and houses had been shut. We decided to flash our torches and kept knocking the gate and calling ‘namaste’. Eventually someone noticed us and signalled that they were going to come down but they took their time, we ended up waiting another 10 minutes before they got to the gate to let us in!

Tatopani to Sikha

The next morning we got up early as our map indicated that we had a mammoth climb this day! The weather was hot again, even at 8 in the morning. We weren’t far out of Tatopani when we started to climb very steeply. Conversation was at a minimum today as it was taking all of our effort to climb in this heat! Most of the way you climb stone steps common to the Gurung area but their varying heights allow no stepping rhythm and after ascending each section, another set appears around the next bend - seemingly endless! And all of this in searing subtropical heat! I’ve since read that there are 3,800 steps during this leg of the route.

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A steep climbSteps, steps and more steps...


Some people trek all the way to Ghorepani from Tatopani. With our track record, we did well to make it to Sikha, a village about 3/4 way up! We found a hotel with the best shower of the whole trip! Whilst trekking in the Himalayas it’s the simple things..! We had a lovely view back over the valley we’d just climbed and of some of the houses in the village.

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The view from our room

Sikha to Ghorepani

The next morning we left early and before we’d even left the village the steps had begun, as relentless today as the previous day. I didn’t know so many successive steps existed anywhere in the world!

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Too many steps!


We arrived at Ghorepani mid afternoon, knees feeling a bit worse for wear. We found a lodge with a nice view, had a walk around the village and just chilled out for the rest of the day as we wanted to conserve our energy for the next day which would involve a 3am start and a 45 minute climb up more continuous steps to Poon Hill. From Poon Hill first thing in the morning you can usually get an unobstructed view of the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri ranges before the haze develops and hides them for the rest of the day.

Poon Hill

No matter how early you go to sleep, a 3am wake up call is never nice! We made some coffee in our room using our stove and this helped us to wake up slightly. We realised that we hadn’t made the wisest choice of lodge to stay at as we were right at the bottom of the village - we must have climbed steps for 15 minutes before we even got to the start of the trail to Poon Hill. There were already other people on the trail, it was a bit scary actually cause a few different tracks wound their way up the hill, each of them merging with the main one at some point and so at one stage we were walking paralell with a group of people who were all silent, we could only hear their footsteps and could see their torch lights coming up behind us. After about 30 mins of walking the sun was beginning to come up behind the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri ranges and the silhouettes of the mountains were beautiful! We stopped a few times to admire the view with the ever increasing light but it was hard to let people pass!- it really helps to have a few people coming behind you to give you the energy to go on up the hill!
By the time we reached the top of Poon Hill the weather had drastically changed! All of a sudden we couldn’t even see the ranges because they were shrouded in mist, only every now and then it would clear and it was exciting to catch a glimpse of Annapurna l. It created a rather eerie atmoshpere, it was really special! I only wished I’d taken some warmer clothes with me, it was freezing!!

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As amazing as it was to be on Poon Hill at 4 in the morning with the fresh mountain air we didn’t really get a good view of the mountains and so we decided to stay one more night in Ghorepani to see if we’d have more luck with the weather the next morning. Our time in the mountains was running out because we had plans to go rafting and visit Chitwan National Park before our flights home from Nepal. The days in the mountains had gone so quickly, we’d planned to spend 10 days trekking but with our extra nights in Muktinath and extra stopovers along the way it was now day 18! All our hopes were pinned on the weather being clear the next morning.

Our luck was in the following day, we were two of the first few people to arrive at the top of Poon Hill this morning and the views were stunning.

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Poon Hill to Nayapul

In order to be able to spend 5 days in Chitwan as we’d planned, we needed to make it to Nayapul today. From there we could catch a bus to Pokhara. According to many local people’s estimations it was about a 7 hour walk (or 5 hours on the bus). It made sense to walk and to be able to enjoy the beautiful nature along the Annapurna trail for one last day since it wasn’t much quicker to go by bus. However we were going to have to move it as we’d never completed a leg of the journey as long as this before. It was going to be a hard day, especially considering our 3am start. One consolation was that it was going to be downhill all the way. Or was it??
Just as we’d arrived at Ghorepani by steps, we left by steps. The weather was overcast and this was a relief after the heat we’d endured during the previous days. We descended through forest which actually reminded me of my home country, Wales - it was damp and the areas that weren’t covered by trees were covered by lush green vegetation. We were making good progress and enjoying our beautiful surroundings as the vegetation gradually became more and more dense, the air more humid.

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Around lunch time we realised that although we were making good progress, we couldn’t relax or we’d get to Pokhara too late to be able to book rafting to Chitwan for the next day. It could have been this knowledge in the back of my mind that caused me to rush and to trip on a step. As I rolled over a few times, I heard a lady scream, everything seemed to happen in slow motion! When I stopped rolling, my boyfriend and a very kind guide who’d been nearby (I had to fall in front of a restaurant!!) came to see if I was ok. My leg felt very painful and when I looked it was bleeding quite a lot. My first thought was that we’d nearly made it 20 days in the mountains without any injuries and now I’d gone and broken my leg! Luckily, after a little while I realised I’d just bruised it badly, there was no severe swelling, just a throbbing pain. I plastered up my leg and we continued walking although I was pretty shaken!

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I didn't manage to leave the mountains injury free!..

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After a few minutes we stopped for lunch because I was still shaking a bit and suddenly descending each step took a lot of concentration! We had a lovely view over the valley (see the pic above) and whilst we ate canned fish and crackers and cooked some coffee on our stove, a shepherd came with a herd of goats and it was quite amusing to watch the little bearded creatures' antics.

By now we knew we definitely wouldn’t make it to Nayapul so after lunch we made our way very carefully down literally thousands more steps until we came to a village called Tikhedhunga. Just before entering the village we noticed that there were loads of butterflies and dragonflies (oh, and mosquitos - this was the one and only day that I got bitten in Nepal but I got bitten many, many times and these bites lasted and tormented me til the end of our time there!) I probably got bitten because I became intent on photographing every one of the different types of butterfly I could see. They settled plenty of times but would they open their wings to show their pretty colours??... After about an hour of being National Geographic photographers we entered the village. My leg was hurting a lot by now as the numbness that I’d developed soon after the fall was subsiding and my shin now felt extremely bruised!

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Finally got my picture! A bit blurred but still happy..

The first hotel we came to was lovely, surrounded by trees and the sound of the insects inhabiting this sub-tropical climate, along with a view of the river nearby. Unfortunately however, there was no electricity here due to a storm they’d had and we needed to charge our phones! We continued through the village, crossing the river and passing by a beautiful waterfall.

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I was relieved when we found a hotel at the far end of the village with a great view down the valley from the room. It was quite late by the time we got there so after having a shower and cleaning up my leg we ordered dinner - a huge portion of vegetable noodles each - one between us would have been enough! After dinner it was dark and after the immense number of steps we’d descended that day and the massive dinner we'd just eaten we were ready to sleep!

The next day, it was more steps!! The weather was very hot but the scenery was beautiful. Here are a few pictures from along the way..

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I had to take half an hour's rest under the shade of some trees along the way as I had a bad headache. It was a relief when a bit further along the trail we came across a random restaurant selling ice cold drinks. Fanta had never tasted so good! A bit further along again and we found some more relief from the stifling heat when we found a water pump in a village. I literally soaked myself and clothes with this water and felt a lot better as we continued walking.
Eventually we reached a village that according to the people we asked was only half an hour away from Nayapul so we allowed ourselves a lunch break. We went to a restaurant with some tables outside overlooking the river.

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By now the weather was changing, I wasn’t surprised after the heat of the morning. It was lovely, a strong warm breeze had developed and I was grateful for the increasing cloud cover. We ordered our lunch but before it arrived the weather had changed even more and now it had started raining. The restaurant owner ran outside and we helped him to move the tables under the sheltered area. In no time at all the rain was torrential! We still got wet sitting at the table under the shelter so we ended up sitting as close to the back wall as we could possibly get with a hot chocolate, watching the mesmerising patterns of the downpour.

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Just as we finished lunch the rain finished too. During the last leg of our walk to Nayapul we began to feel a bit sad that our time trekking was almost at an end. As we entered Nayapul we encountered a dog, only unlike the other dogs we’d come across along the way who didn’t bat an eyelid when we walked past, this one decided to bare it’s teeth and bark aggresively. I am terrified of dogs! I thought I might be about to get a scar on my other leg as dogs seem to sense my fear and single me out to terrorise! Luckily my brave boyfriend picked up a stick and successfully chased it away. Phew!
One last steep climb (in order to reach the main road we had to ascend a muddy bank made really slippery by the recent rain, it was challenging!) It had started to rain again and two lovely little boys, aged about 9 or 10 invited us into their shop and so we waited in the dry for our bus to come with a refreshing can of fruit juice. The boys were really friendly and Lalo let them listen to his iPod.
We took a local bus back to Pokhara and it was an enjoyable journey, we caught some great views of the mountains and a lovely view of Pokhara, the city by the lake, from above. The Nepalese music on the bus was great!

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bondy

Chile Chile
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Wow Lou,
Your post is really helpful,
sounds like you had too much fun...
The world should be much cruler, hope you will have fun in the office,
Watching those pictures, when your boss is asking you to do something...

You made my day with this post, and I would definetly go to Nepal in my next long vacation.
I love trekking.... Good job and keep posting your next experiences...

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Carolina Ferreira

Portugal Portugal
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Hi Emma,
Fabulous post and pictures!

I‘m from Portugal and I’m thinking of visiting Nepal next year with my sister, not so much for trekking, but mainly to visit the country, temples, cities and villages.

I have one practical doubt though. What did you do with your passports? Where did you kept it during the trip?
I understand that, if one is to stay in a hotel, the passport should remain in the safe. But we are going to be in guests houses (just like I understood you did) and I assume we should keep the passports always with us.
We are going to follow the suggestions of ‘Le Guide du Routard’, so we’re pretty much going on our own.

Also, did you feel in any way insecure?
As I said, I’m going with my sister, and I’m not so sure if it is really safe to women travellers.

Thanks
Carolina

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emma-lou

Wales Wales
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Hi Carolina!
  That's great you're thinking of going to Nepal! I went there with my boyfriend but if I was to go again I would feel safe going there by myself, the Nepalese people were lovely and I never felt unsafe at anytime. Theft is uncommon there.
  With regards to our passports, all the rooms we stayed in had padlocks and we felt comfortable enough to leave them in our room when we went out. At other times if we were moving hotels or needed them for any reason we kept them in a travel pouch around our waists, they're great for keeping your money and passports safe they're they're slim so they're comfortable, you can fit them under the waistband of your trousers, very hard for anyone to take them from there!
  Hope you have a lovely time if you go! If you have any more questions I'd be happy to help if I can..
Emma
   

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dipendra

Nepal Nepal
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:D
hay all,
i m really happy to read all ur posts and comments. i born at the base of manaslu, it is in gorkha district. all nepalese people respect womens as goddess so b sure there will not be any difficulties for u. on city areas, like kathmandu, on those places, natural beauty is almost died. still some historical things alive. but in countryside, i mean in villages, it is still all things alive. i m in london now, but i m missing my place alot.
thank u so much for giving interest for my country, my heaven.
dipendra
dipu_ba[email protected]

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Carolina Ferreira

Portugal Portugal
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Hi Emma,

Thanks a lot for your help.
I’ve been looking for some time now, for someone who went to Nepal to take away these doubts and you were the first person I found  :) lucky you… :)
One more question… two actually…

How did you do regarding pocket money? Did you take dollars?
Is it possible, and/or easy, to withdraw money from machines or banks there? Or should we take all we expect to need?

How did you get yourself understood? Do most nepalis know how to speak English?

I’ve read that there are some fees that must be paid to enter and to leave the country, is this correct? Where do we have to pay these fees?

Did you need a visa to enter Nepal? Is yes, were you able to get this there or did you have to get it before, in your country (UK :) )?

Ups, it turned out to be 4 questions... sorry :)

Thanks
Carolina

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emma-lou

Wales Wales
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Hi Carolina,
I'm happy to answer your questions, I'll try to answer them the best I can!
Regarding money, we withdrew cash from machines when we were there. In Katmandu and Pokhara there were a number of them although not that many. We had to take enough cash to last whilst we were trekking as the villages along the trail are very small and none of them had cash machines. In Pokhara, before we left for the mountains, we had to return to a cash machine a few days in a row in order to get enough because of the daily limit to how much you can withdraw. I'm afraid I don't know how many cash machines there are in other towns and villages in Nepal because apart from in the mountains I only stayed in Pokhara and Katmandu.

We didn't have any trouble being understood, most Nepalis speak at least a little English. A lot of signs and all of the menus in restaurants are in English. We tried to learn as much as we could from the translations in the lonely planet but it's not necessary to get by. Namaste is the most important thing to know, this is how you greet and bid farewell to people, literally translated it means 'I respect the God in you'.

Regarding the fees, there is only an entry fee which is the fee for the Visa.
You can either pay for a month, or if you stay more than a month, you would have to pay 2 weeks more. (even if it's a month and a day). You can pay for the visa either in your country or at the airport. I suggest to do it at the airport, it's less hassle, cheaper and the queue isn't long. I do recommend that you take 4 passport photo, since they charge you a lot in the airport for these.
If you would like to stay a month and a half, I suggest paying for a month at the airport, and then in Katmandu go to the immigration office and ask for 2 weeks extension. This is because at the airport you can either pay for a month or for 3 months.
The cost for a monthly visa is around 50 U$S.

Hope this helps you,
Emma

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Carolina Ferreira

Portugal Portugal
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Thanks a lot Emma!
Your answers were very very helpful! :)

Namaste :)

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tomasthorpe

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Thank you for such a wonderful description of your holiday. The photographs are brilliant. I have been travelling to Nepal for almost 13 years and I am still awe struck each time I see the mountains. As amazing as the mountains are the true beauty of Nepal is the people of this magnificent country.

I only have 2 weeks left in Nepal but after reading your article I will try my best to do some trekking, shame that the rivers are too full!

Thanks again.

Tom

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emma-lou

Wales Wales
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Hi Tom, thanks for your kind comments, I'm glad you liked the post and I agree, the people of Nepal make this country so special. I'd never before been to a country where everyone is so kind and peaceful.
Enjoy the rest of your time there..
Emma

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Carolina Ferreira

Portugal Portugal
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Hi Emma,
Here I am with more questions :)

Your trekking activities were organized by you or did you contact some trekking agency there?
In case you did it through an agency, did you organized it before you went or after your arrival? Which agency did you choose?

Thanks again for your help.
Have a nice weekend!

Carolina


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emma-lou

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  Hi Carolina! No problem! Basically we went trekking by ourselves but the kind man who was running our hotel in Pokhara gave us advice on where to go - it was him who suggested that we fly to Jomsom etc.. He basically wrote down an itinerary that he recommended for us cause we'd told him we wanted to stay for 8 days in the mountains. We followed this route but stopped a lot more along the way, sometimes because we weren't fit enough and sometimes just because we found a place so beautiful we wanted to stay more. It's a very easy trail to follow, and we managed with very basic maps that illustrated the main villages along the way.
  However, saying this, many people recommend trekking with a guide and group, I've read that if you're just 2 or 3 people you could be an easy target for Maoist rebels. I haven't heard reports of any violence against tourists, just that they might threaten you to get you to pay more at checkpoints etc. We didn't see any sign of Maoists for our whole trek and we felt very safe but just thought I should let you know of what I've read..
  We were glad we went by ourselves because we saved money and we had the freedom to stop whenever and wherever we wanted. I really don't think it's necessary to have a guide because it's so easy to follow the trail and there are plenty of villages where you can ask for help and advice along the way if you want to. The only benefit of paying to go with a group is the safety in numbers aspect but again we didn't feel this was necessary.
  Hope this helps, any more questions feel free to ask!
    Emma x

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Nepalholiday

Nepal Nepal
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Hello Emma,

You did a great job.....! It would be very helpful for those wish to travel this part of wonderful world.

For Carolina,

Nepal is always a very safe & great place to visit. There was never any threat or insecurity to travel in Nepal specially for the foreigner either you are in group or individual or female traveler. But always suggested to go through an authorized agency.

For further information follow: (Admin: Link Deleted, no links in post are allowed)

Happy travel...

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rabin

Nepal Nepal
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namaste and thanks for visiting nepal. ::)
rabin

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ritesh

Nepal Nepal
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hi everyone specially emma. Namaste Emma.
thanks 4 visiting and giving nice comment to Nepal. i hope u will again visit to my peaceful country where Lord Buddha (idol of Peace) has born. Its in Lumbini. there are lots of national parks where u can see such an amaging natural vegetations and wild animals like Rhino, ghadials, tigers, red panda and many other extinct birds and animals. pls visit Khapad national park...my holiday destination.... amazing treaking  desteny.......... pls visit Temples and world heritages. Nepal is known as "Country of temples"......u can have all kind of food which u r used to.....but pls try our traditional food . there are lot to explore......we Hartley invites u all to our small piece of nature.

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ammy_zhang

China China
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That's really wonderful and adventure.

But these little larve really scared me.

What's a wonderful journey.
I love it very much.


:js:)

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andrewlidl

Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Republic of
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Looks like you enjoyed a lot in Nepal. That's really good. And the pics are awesome. Nepal is really a beautiful place as it is around Himalayas that makes this place look like paradise.

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itournepal

Nepal Nepal
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Thanks Emma

Great Posting !
That illustrates the whole trip very clearly.
It is sad that the trek has been disturbed the construction of the dirt road. However, I felt like I should add some beautiful side trips and detour while in that route.

  • Lubra : While coming down from Muktinath, one can take a detour to Lubra. Lubra is one of the few villages where Bon (pre-Buddhist) religion is still practiced.
  • Kagbeni Golden Hill: Right across Kali Gandaki from Kagbeni, one can climb to 4,500 m. The view is magnificent. One can see all the way to Lo-Mangtang (Upper Mustang) and Tibet towards north. While towards south ranges of Nilgiri, Tilecho Peak and Dhaulagiri appears.
  • Dhumba Lake : This 2 hrs side trip from Jomsom takes you closer to Nilgiri and to a pristine lake of Dhumba. 
  • Kalopani : There is a detour to the local pasture from Kalopani as well

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johngeres

United States United States
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These amazing pictures describe the beauty of such a nice and wonderful place. I have never got a chance to visit Nepal. However, after reading this post, I am really looking forward to seeing it.


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George Combey

United States United States
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Hi there,

 

Wow, I love that aerial photo of Kathmandu. It is crowded but that is the beauty of it.


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emma-lou

Wales Wales
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Hi George! Thank you :) Have you been there? I took that picture from near the Swayambhunath Stupa a.k.a the Monkey Temple. It's an interesting place to visit (with lots of monkeys!) and affords a great view of the city.


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devikasinghds

India India
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Hi!

You have beautiful trip.

Nepal is very beautiful as seen. It is situated on the beautiful mountains and around glaciers. Nepal also has beautiful Buddha Stupas and temples.


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Anna

United States United States
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I love you photos baby!

I'm not gay, but you are very pretty too, I'm jealous of your boyfriend.... what an envy!

 

Ann


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emma-lou

Wales Wales
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thanks anna! :) but can i ask...? if you're not gay how come you're envious of my boyfriend?... ;) x


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Paroshep

Greece Greece
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Yes, a great travel adventure.  Thanks for sharing.

I was amazed that the tent caterpillars look the same as in Oregon, USA.  icky

Cheers,


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christine86

Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Republic of
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This is really awesome. What a travel experience. Must say,you clicked photos at right time. cheers


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Nilam Kumar

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Hi emma,

thanks for visiting Nepal. We hope more tourist will come in Nepal in coming days.

Nilam Kumar Bimali.

Travel Agent, Kathmandu.

 

 

"Wow Lou,
Your post is really helpful,
sounds like you had too much fun...
The world should be much cruler, hope you will have fun in the office,
Watching those pictures, when your boss is asking you to do something...

You made my day with this post, and I would definetly go to Nepal in my next long vacation.
I love trekking.... Good job and keep posting your next experiences...
"


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Deepali87

India India
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I would like to thank you for posting this post. I loved all your pictures, those small houses in villages are so cute. Well I suppose I would even love to go to Nepal once.


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mrcustard

United Kingdom United Kingdom
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I enjoyed reading about your holiday and looking through your holiday pictures

Where would you reccomend trekking emma?

BigSmile2


Post Merged: September 28, 2011, 05:17:12 AM

Very interesting i enjoyed reading about your holiday looks like you had alot of fun BigSmile2


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Trekking Guide In Nepal

Nepal Nepal
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great adventure article.


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lolawilcoxx

United States United States
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Hi Lou! I am very much impressed with your post and pictures. Now I have an idea what Nepal looks like. I think Nepal is a wonderful place and would like to visit its natural wonders someday. :)


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emma-lou

Wales Wales
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Posts: 37

"

I enjoyed reading about your holiday and looking through your holiday pictures

Where would you reccomend trekking emma?

BigSmile2


Post Merged: September 28, 2011, 05:17:12 AM

Very interesting i enjoyed reading about your holiday looks like you had alot of fun BigSmile2

"Hi Mr Custard! Sorry for taking a such a long time to respond. We trekked only half of the Annapurna trail but I found this part to be very beautiful and, importantly, varied so it's definitely worth doing. Unfortunately we didn't have time to do the other part. I guess it depends on how much time you have and how physically challenging you'd like the trek to be. The full trek is approx 300km long and involves climbing up to the Thorung-La Pass, the highest point, which is at an altitude of 5,416 metres (17,769 ft). Apparently it's neccessary to spend at least 2 or 3 nights in either Thorung Phedi (at 4420 m) or at Thorong High Camp (4800 m to acclimatise before tackling the Thorung-La pass otherwise you could be at risk of getting accute mountain sickness.

We flew from Pokhara to Jomsom. From here we walked to Muktinath (staying in Kagbeni along the way). Muktinath is the village closest to the Thorung La pass on the western side. There are stunning views of the valley below which is so deep and from here it's possible to do a side trek to the village of Tumba. From Muktinath we walked back down to Jomsom and on to Marpha, Khobang, Kalopani... all the way to Nayapul where we caught a bus back to Pokhara. 

It's a great route as you start so high in Muktinath where the air is thin, go on to Jomsom where the winds rushing up the valley are harsh but refreshing, on to Marpha with it's white lovely white-washed buildings and tasty local apple juice for sale. Descending past a beautiful glacier (Dhaulagiri), to the relaxing hot springs in Tatopani, to the spectacular view point of the Annapurna range at Poon Hill. There are many things worth experiencing along this part of the trail. 

Have I sold it to you?! Maybe you've been already by now? If so I'd love to hear :)

Emma 


Post Merged: August 05, 2012, 01:28:58 PM

"

Hi Lou! I am very much impressed with your post and pictures. Now I have an idea what Nepal looks like. I think Nepal is a wonderful place and would like to visit its natural wonders someday. :)

"

Thank you Lola! Hope you can go there someday :) x


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langtangtreks

Nepal Nepal
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Posts: 3

Nice travelling experience...

Nepal is verry stunning country...

Thanks for sharing your travelling experince with us.

 

have a nice day

 


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victorian67

United Kingdom United Kingdom
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Amazing pics for an amazing journey to Nepal bigtup

Your pictures are giving such a presence to the beautiful and luxuriant Nature surrounding you.

This must be a mind cleansing experience at its very best !

Thank you for bringing us this breath of fresh air !

 

Karim


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luxxpress

United States United States
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really amazing experience!! :)

 

- luxxpress


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