And in my case I started walking with Carla, Ed and Carl. Three of my six friends from Nyalam (Tibet). We’d spend a short but fun time together in Kathmandu, filled with lots of food (ahh… pizza, chips and burgers…) and my birthday party that even included Tenzing, a Buddhist monk!
I enjoyed the lovely warmth of Nepal in December only a short time, I must have missed the cold, the dry cough and thin air of Tibet ’cause for some reason I decided to walk (!) back from a comfortable 800meter above sea-level up to 5416….
The Annapurna circuit, according to Carl it’s widely regarded as the most beautiful trek in the world. Haven’t done every trek in the world (yet) but I have to say it is absolutely phenomenal. We started of on a cloudy day across villages and up a river valley on both sides forest and paddy fields. On our 2nd day our company grew to a number of 5 when Thomas, a young mountain ranger from the states joined our party. It’s handy being in a group in the ‘off-season’ because many lodges and hotels desperate for business offer you free rooms as long as you eat in their restaurant. Not a problem for us. Secondly there is still a slight change of Maoist attacks in the area who see tourist as n easy source of income. We, luckily, didn’t encounter any of them.
Quickly after we started the road became just a track where all traffic consist of Mules and Donkeys loaded up with all sort of stuff and people carrying enormous loads in baskets on their back strapped to the head. This way they can carry up to 100kg on tracks where I would have trouble just walking…
As we got higher, climbing through dense forest with waterfalls and animals all around us, we even spotted some monkeys! passing prayer wheels and stupa the surroundings slowly changed to needle forest.
At one stage there was work being done at the trail and we had to climb around it, scramble up steep rocks up the mountainside over an improvised ladder and down the other side. One wrong move and your down in the river down 100 meter below… Carl reckoned it’s the most dangerous thing he’d ever done. I did feel a bit shaky too. We heard later that some other hikers turned back because a landslide took down half the cliff right in front of them… urgh.
It’s great (and a bit cold) getting up early to witness the sunrise and smelling incense when you walk through a village where cows and chicken are wondering the streets without a worry in the world. Around us the big snowy peaks of the Himalaya towered above us and no more trees at this stage, the views became more beautiful every day and we spend the night before the pass huddled around the fire wondering what the next day would bring.
The big one, ‘crossing pass day’ We did meet a few people turning back telling us the weather was bad or too much snow… So we planned to leave real early. But of course, getting up, having breakfast all took a while so the walking didn’t start till just after 7.
There was a bit of snow, and we had to make our way slowly trying not to lose our balance and turn into a giant snowball rolling down the mountain. It was indeed a ‘proper pass’ which in my world means every time you think you nearly there another hill appears and the struggle in the ice-cold wind isn’t over yet…. But after 5 hours Carla and me where the 1st to get up there. WHOOOHOOO, It’s like with cycling a great feeling! And that without loosing any body parts to frostbite, Carla was particular worried about her nose, but it’s still there and we ‘rocked that pass!’ 😉
Coming down the other side was easier than expected, not much snow and completely different from where we came up. Great extras on this side of the trail for example a Dutch Bakery in Tukuche where we enjoyed Douwe Egberts coffee and ‘wortelstampot met appelmoes’ during a three-hour lunch break. Great bread! They had an oven to bake proper bread. That oven weight 130kg and had to be walked up there!!!
Another plus where the hot springs at Tatopani, spend an extra day there in the warm waters after having all together just 1 warm shower on the whole track.
From this point I continued up myself. The entire walk took me not as long as I expected so I figured I might as well walk up to Annapurna Basecamp before heading down to Pokhara for new years…
I still wasnt alone though, A dog kept me company all the way up to ‘poonhill’ a viewpoint where you have spectacular views over the Annapurna range especially with sunrise and sunset. The dog would walk ahead, wait for me and continue when I came into view. Made me smile.
One thing that’s difficult on the trail is communication. Normally that wouldn’t bother me much but my sister was due on the 25th of december. So when I arrived at poonhill and came across an internet cafe I excitedly checked to found out if I’m an auntie yet. And yes I am! She gave birth to a beautiful baby girl on the 15th. But the greatest news became instantly the worst when I read on an heard that the little girl named Tamar was stillborn.
With no way of contacting them and constant power cuts I figured going back to Pokhara would be the best thing to do where at least I’ll be able to speak to the family.
I have been here in Pokhara for a while and it’s an easy place to just stay…
It’s also one of the best paragliding sides in the world which makes me think.
My parents are coming to Nepal in April and untill that time I can do whatever I like. My bicycle is still in Kathmandu and it might just stay there for a bit.
Getting a motorbike in India still sounds like a plan… Everest base camp is another…
Maybe I’ll make up my mind. But not untill next year 😀