annapurna-circuit-trekking-map We spent 15 days on the circuit and our itinerary turned out as follows:

Things we Abandoned

As we trekked further into the circuit certain items we were holding became too heavy.  This is a list of the things we left behind on our trek.

  • Dignity
  • Half a towel
  • Capri yoga pants
  • Half bottle of moisturizer
  • Small bottle of shampoo
  • Three t-shirts
  • Two locks (one cut off my bag)
  • Vitamins
  • Probiotics
  • Baseball cap
  • Hard Times by Charles Dickens
  • Four Braclets
  • Plastic case for oils
  • Tupperware containing almonds
  • Inflatable travel pillow
  • 2/3 soap bar
  • Two mosqituo nets
  • Shorts
  • Sleeping bag
  • Compression sac
  • Two pairs socks
  • Two N95 masks
  • Belt
  • Two straps
  • Beef jerky
  • Instant coffee

Day 1: Getting There

From Bandipur we travelled to Dumre, a small town along the Mahendra highway, halfway between Kathmandu and Pokhara, in a small local bus.  Once we arrived in Dumre we were approached by the same man who had found us a taxi to Bandipur.  He had a rat tail, and a small lean build, about 40 years of age, and didn’t really look trust worthy.  He showed us to the local bus which heads to Besishar and quoted us a price that the bus should charge, 375 NPR each.  After we had loaded the bags into the bus we starting moving slowly and a man at the door of the bus asked for the payment to which we paid.  Once he had the money he waited 10 seconds then jumped out of the moving bus and ran away.  I remember looking over at an old poor man sitting next to us and he gave me a stare that looked like exploitation.  I thought to myself “god damn, I just experienced my first scam”. 100_2631 The bus kept moving and we both felt a little down on ourselves.  My next thought was about the real door man coming to collect our money and having to realize and experience the scam again.  We drove along for an hour or so until the bus started smelling of burning oil and getting hotter at which point the bus driver stopped the bus.  Our bags were at the front of the bus sitting atop a wooden plank under which the engine was positioned.  Steam and smoke started spewing from under the plank.  The driver and real door man through our bags to the side and lifted up the blank; the engine let out a hissing sound.  With the bus stopped at the side of the road in the country side the door man got to fixing whatever was wrong with the engine.  He started pouring water into the radiator; then he grabbed a rubber band he found from some odd place.  He took a razor and slit a smaller piece off and put it into the engine somewhere god only knows.  The driver turned the ignition and the engine fired up and everyone looked around with a smile.  They put the plank back down and then grabbed our bags and placed them on the roof of the bus. 100_2611 Before we started off again Bronwyn and I are started worrying about our bags being on the top of the bus without and straps holding them down.  We started bickering back and forth about what to do; either ask them to strap the bags, or maybe put them back inside.  Eventually, after some hesitation about what to do, Bronwyn passed me a strap we had with us and I stepped outside and climbed up the side of the bus to the top.  I tried to strap the bags to the roof rack as quickly as possible so as to not slow down our departure.  I got half way through strapping the bags to the roof until the door man spotted me and waved at me to come down.  I said “yup, just strapping the bags down”.  I finally got finished up and came back down and we started off again. [Bronwyn’s note: one of the best things about Nepali buses is the doormen, they hang half-in half-out of the bus, shouting at people on the road to see if they need a pick up.  They communicate with the driver by loudly tapping the side of the bus – one tap for “stop,” and two for “start.”  Every doorman we saw took their job very seriously, too].100_2644 We came to a small village and stopped at the side of the road where there was a gathering of people that looked political.  The driver and door men got outside and started talking with a gentleman who seemed to be important.  Some money traded hands and then a bunch of younger men started climbing up on to the top of the bus.  We started getting worried again about our bags and after some more hesitation I decided to climb on to the top of the bus.  When I got on the roof there was about ten other guys sitting down talking back and forth.  When I got up, everyone stared at me as an unusual occurance.  I sat down next to our bags and struck up a conversation with another gentleman who spoke English.  He told me that there was a large demonstration for a “Nepali Congress” candidiate taking place for the upcoming Nepal Constitutional election.  So we sat there for a while as more people, buses, and motorbikes started arriving until we started off again rolling down the village chanting “Nepali Congress”! 100_2640 [Bronwyn’s note:  While Brooke was participating in his first Nepali political rally, I was sitting below deck.  At first, no one would sit with me…Nepali culture can be so polite and shy and maybe a little circumspect of foreigners, plus the gender etiquette of a man sitting beside a woman is tenuous.  I was the only white person on the bus, and the seat beside me was the only one left on the bus.   Finally, this really gregarious older nepali woman who was sitting on the radiator plank at the front, looked at me, made a “what the heck” gesture with her hands and came over and sat with me.  This lady was awesome, she had been racously talking with all the men.  She sat beside me and kept talking, occasionally leaning over to me and speaking in nepali, to let me join in.  She gave me a terribly hard fruit, and showed me how to eat it.  It was great.  At one point she intimated to her  friends, “haha, this foreign lady is so quiet,” so I jokingly responded in English “but you talk enough for everyone!” which made everyone laugh, they got the gist.] Once we arrived in Besishar we hopped off the bus and the driver or doormen didn’t ask us for any money for the ride.  While we got scammed at the beginning, the bus ride turned into a great experience.  We met some interesting people and observed how the youth are participating in the democratic process.  We continued  into Besishar where the political demonstration continued.  We watched at the side of the road as hundreds of people on scooters rode down the streets chanting, honking, and pumping their fists into the air. 100_2648 We made our through the demostration to the beginning of the Annapurna circuit where we caught a jeep with several other trekkers to the village of Syange. [Bronwyn’s note: we got our first taste of Israeli bargaining skills, from these trekkers, too.  This guy talked the taxi jeep driver down from 1,000 NPR to 700.  Not too shabby].

Day 2: Syange to Tal

Finally our first day of trekking!   100_2676 [Bronwyn: This is me, realizing my bag is way to heavy for my puny body!] We ran into this lizard during our first break. 100_2674 100_2718 We finished the end of the day being befriended by Arik, an Israeli travelling post military and volunteer service, and Konstantine (“Kostya”), a Ukranian who had travelled just about everywhere.  We bumped into Arik on the trail and briefly chatted.  He took off ahead of us, also headed for Tal.  He found a nice place to stay and actually came back for us on the trail and brought us to Peace Land Guest House and introduced us to Kostya, who he had just met.  Thanks Arik!  So began a beautiful friendship… 100_2722 The trekking crew; our host of Peace Land Guest House in the middle.

Day 3: Tal to Timang

100_2726 We continued to ascend on a rocky road, next to a river.  The climate was still tropical, but now we were among low mountains, and the icy blue tint of the river indicated it was from a glacier somewhere far ahead of us.  The road on the east side of the Marsyangdi River was blocked by giant bolders from a recent landslide.  Jeeps met on each side of the boulder to transport people and goods across the gap.  A good reminder of the risks of living in such a mountainous country. 100_2733 Beautiful colours paint the landscape of this rocky road. 100_2736 100_2739 100_2746 100_2747 100_2756100_2752

Day 4: Timang to Chame

Coming so 100_2770100_2771   Now the nights were getting really cold and the forests less tropical.  We were trekking about six hours a day, and when we stopped the temperature would drop precipitously.  We ate lots and lots of soup.  However, during the day, the weather was beautiful and temperature perfect for walking.  As everywhere in Nepal, animals roamed around.  This cow decided to cross one of the Nepali-style suicide engineering suspended bridges.  Hilarious.

Day 5: Chame to Upper Pisang

And then, there we were, in the Himalayas.  Spectacular pine forests, Buddhist shrines, Tibetan faces, stone villages, and beautiful, soaring mountains.100_2782100_2786100_2785100_2793100_2794The above two pictures are of one of the most amazing natural phenomena I’ve ever seen. It’s called **** and the pictures can’t really do it justice.  It’s a huge, curving mountain face, carved smooth by glaciers.  It’s like being in God’s dinner bowl.  100_2795100_2813100_2820100_2821100_2823100_2824100_2829100_2830100_2832100_2840100_2841100_2843100_2846100_2848

Day 6: Upper Pisang to Manang

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Day 7: Manang to Yak Kharka

Real live yaks!

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Day 8: Yak Kharka to Thoroung Phedi100_2932 100_2938100_2945 100_2954

Day 9: Thorong Phedi to THORONG LA PASS (5450m) to Muktinath (Ranawpani)

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Day 10: Ranawpani to Jonsom

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Day 11: Jonsom to Larjung

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Day 12: Larjung to Ghasa

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Day 13: Ghasa to Tatopani

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Day 14: Tatopani to Beni to Pokhara

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This was such a special adventure.  We hope you had fun reading and looking at the pics.

By Brooke & Bronwyn