Never Stop Exploring – Annapurna Circuit Trek Day 5

Day 5 is supposed to be our acclimatisation day in Manang.  

After breakfast we took a short stroll to the Gangapurna Glacier Lake just a stone throw away from our teahouse. 

It a beautiful place and the trip was really like a nice casual outing instead of the usual full day hike. 

This is the lake formed by the glacier

And this is the glacier

But after a relaxing morning, our guide decided that it was better for us to move to our next higher destination to continue the acclimatisation at Khangsar. So after lunch, we move on from Manang arriving at Khangsar some 2 plus hours later. The route took us downhill for a while and wind along the never ending Marsyangdi river.

Eventually after a long walk through open grounds and crossing a long suspension bridge, we reached Khangsar which was 3,745m above sea level to rest for the next day challenge.

Food @ Annapurna Circuit Trek

I am not a big fan of Indian food so I was initially apprehensive about the type of food I will be getting in Nepal. So to be sure that I don’t have to consume Indian or pure Nepalese food everyday, we brought along instant noodles, instant soup and instant porridge. But I was delightfully surprised when our very first day, we saw the menu at the tea house. There was of course Nepalese food but there were also very familiar food like fried rice, fried noodles, pizza, pasta, all sort of soup and bread. Our guide told us this was the typical menu for all the tea houses and we could pick any items from the menu at all the meals. Hooray!

Throughout the 11 days of trekking, our staple for lunch was mainly fried rice or fried noodle. These was because it was the easiest food for the tea house to prepare and the more easily digestible for us being familiar food. They were a hit and miss. Some places, it was well prepared and taste almost like those back home but some places it simply taste weird, especially the way the noodles were cooked.

For dinner when we have more time to wait for our food, we generally ordered more varied variety – like pizza which is just a base of dough with tomato on top and whatever toppings available which is either egg, tuna or vegetable, mushroom or cheese or a mixture..  Not great but still when one is hungry, it tasted really good!

Fried Pasta

One of my favourite was this spring roll – actually looks like chappati with whatever fillings like egg, tuna or vegetable or a mixture. Some places served it deep fried as well.

For breakfast, there was the usual toast with butter and jam spread but there were also other options like Tibetan bread which tasted really great, chappati which comes with egg or plain; pancake and corn bread among others.

This is chappati with fried egg which was real good as the chappati was freshly baked. 

The pancake was not the usual small pieces we get in Singapore but this full plate size giant and it comes with butter and honey. 

However, for us the single most requested food especially at the higher grounds was this simple instant noodles which they cooked in a garlic based broth. The hot soup and the noodles goes down so well in the cold and we have it for a number of breakfast and dinner!

Of course, when in Nepal we have to have Nepalese food and the most popular item was definitely the Dal Bhat, a rice dish served with lentil vegetables and curry and some assorted side dishes. 

My own favourite is the Mo Mo which is similar to our dumpling and comes with either tuna, cheese, potato or vegetable filling and is served either steamed or fried. However, of all the items available, this is the only one that is in my opinion too small a portion for me and I only had it twice although I think it was really great. I even tried to find them in Kathmandu to bring back to Singapore but was unfortunately unsuccessful.

Out in the circuit, they don’t have much fresh meat so our guide generally tell us not to order the meat item but on our way to Manang, we actually had our first taste of Yak meat in the form of a Yak burger! Yak meat is almost similar to beef but I thought they were a bit dry but it was good to have meat for a change.

At Manang, there were bakery and good real coffee – not those black water that pass off for coffee in the tea housesSo despite my initial apprehension, I didn’t starve or had to eat Nepalese or Indian food throughout and because of that, my original target to lose 5 kg for this trip did not materialise despite trekking for so many days!

Never Stop Exploring – Annapurna Circuit Trek Day 4

Day 4 and we are supposed to travel to Manang from Upper Pisang. There are 2 ways to reach – one via the upper trail and another via the lower trail. Obviously the upper trail is more challenging where we have to climb even higher before descending. But it is suppose to be more scenic.  Our guide gave us a choice – upper or lower trail. In the end half choose the upper trail and the rest the lower. Me, of course choose the easier option.

We descended from Upper Pisang down to Lower Pisang before continuing our journey on an wide open track. 

It was the same route throughout. One of the easiest in my opinion.  Not much elevation gain. The scenery along the way was great though. with mountains along the side and occasionally river flowing down through the mountain.

For the first time in this trip, there was no crossing of any river via any suspension bridge. There was only this little crossing over what I think to the local is probably a stream.

And after 7 hours of walking over 18 km and a 200 metre ascend, we finally reached Manang.

Manang is one of the biggest town along the route with many shops selling hiking and climbing gear and best of all, many bakeries selling the bestest freshly baked bread!

 

Never Stop Exploring – Annapurna Circuit Trek Day 3

Day 3 see us moving from Chame to Upper Pisang and from 2,670 metre to 3,310 m.

The day trek turns out to be a very awe inspiring trek as we passed through some old villages, some farms including many apple farms.

Our guide bought us apples plucked from one of the farms during our tea break. They were crunchy and delicious.

But the most impressive part of the day was passing through what I called the Great Canyon. Miles and miles of rock faces that jut out high into the sky.

The local called this rock face Swarga Dwar, meaning Gateway to Heaven and we could certainly see why they called it so.

Somewhere later we had to cross the Marsyangdi river which we seem to have been crossing left and right since day 1 of the hike!

We ended the day going up to Upper Pisang. The original program actually called for us to stay overnight at Lower Pisang but our guide felt it was better for us to acclimatise at a higher altitude and so we had to $^&((&^#@ climb up and up the last part of the day. 

But our reward was a magnificent view of the Annapurna mountain range and Lower Pisang.

After a shower, we went to take a look at the Monastery at the top of Upper Pisang. Beautiful place. So serene and quiet until our ladies decided to use the wide open courtyard for some kung fu jump shots!

So end Day 3 after 7.5 hours of walking over 15 km and ascend of about 7000 metres. 

Never Stop Exploring – Annapurna Circuit Trek Day 2

Day 2 and its another beautiful day. Today our target is to reach the town of Chame, 2,670 m above sea level. That means a minimum climb of 800 metres with us climbing and climbing up many mountain trails that are either jeep road or trails between beautiful forest.Again this is another easy day with wide open trails and river crossing over suspension and wooden bridges. 

Along the way, as we climb higher, we can see the peaks of some of the mountains shrouded in clouds.

There were some short steep climb but nothing too tough. Ironically one of the climb was to avoid this beautiful water fall so that our shoes don’t get wet.

After walking 16 km in 7 hours, we finally reached Chame. The first thing that greeted us was this Mani wall with many prayer wheels. A sight that will become all too familiar as almost every town and village we passed by seems to have one.

Chame itself is a charming little town and apparently one of the bigger and better town with its own temple, police post and tourist post and many shops well stocked with hiking supplies.

Never Stop Exploring – Annapurna Circuit Trek Day 1

One item on my small bucket list is to visit the Himalayan region. I know I can never do Everest so it was either Everest Base Camp (EBC) or Annapurna Base Camp (ABC). I heard that EBC was higher and so I decided to join my friends for ABC which I believe is slightly lower and I assume therefore should be a easier venture. But I got it all wrong though because we wasn’t going ABC but Annapurna Circuit Trek (ACT) which was actually according to our guide a tougher trek than ABC. The highest point for the ACT is 5200 metres as compared to ABC which is just 4130 metres. And to make matter worst, my friends had decided on a side trip to Lake Tilicho which at 4900 metres is the highest lake in the world and involves a detour of 2 extra day! What did I signed up for?

So anyway, I found myself in Kathmandu in October and off for the adventure of my life. We started from Kathmandu via a van which brought us to this little town of Beshi Shahar. No thanks to the bad traffic in Kathmandu, we reached Beshi Shahar after 3 pm which was like 2 hours behind schedule. We then have to transfer to a 4 wheel drive vehicle. The journey was supposed to take another 4 hours and by now our party of 13 has swelled into 20 with 2 more guides and 6 porters joining us. And the unbelievable thing was we had to squeeze all 20 of us into 2 jeeps! That plus the “terrific” journey over the uneven dirt track took its toil on some of us who started throwing up.  We reached our destination of Syange around 7 pm when it was already dark. And in our original itinerary, we were supposed to do a “warm up” trek to Jagat. So much for that “warm up” trek!

Next morning, we finally set off for Dharapani, which at 1,860 metres was our destination for the day. It was a fairly easy trek though with only 1 steep climb.  Most of the time, we were walking along a dirt road parallel to the Marsyangdi river. 

Along the way, there were many waterfalls from the many hills alongside. They don’t call them mountains if it is not above 5000 metres in height! The most spectacular of the waterfall is this one at Chyamche. 

Interesting thing is that as we walked along the river, we had to cross it to and fro via long suspension bridge. Thankfully the suspension bridges are all solid built metal bridge and not those old flimsy wooden bridges.

We took almost 9 hours including stopping for lunch and tea to cover a distance of almost 29 km, the longest of any of the day. From Syange at 1,100 metres, we ended at Dharapani, 1,860 metres with an ascend of almost 800 metres although I am pretty sure with all the up and down, the overall ascend should have been more. But despite the distance, this was the “easy” day with no real steep slope and no difficult terrains but plenty of nice view of the river and the gorges and hills around it.