I still pretty chuffed that I trekked all the way round 250km of Himalayan mountains . Climbing over landslides and walking in the rain, and even snow – from 840m in Bhulbhule to over 5400m on the Thorung La and back down into the epic Kali Gandaki valley. Sadly though there weren’t many of the mountain vistas that the route is so famous for – at least its an excuse to be back in Nepal one day.
In Bhulbhule, we arrived in a rainstorm, in the dark. This meant my backpack, which was on the roof of the bus, was soaked through. We literally had to run to the first guesthouse we could see. In fact it was three days before all my stuff was dry. All of it tied to the outside of my backpack – I looked like some kind of weird hobo.
Most of the people on the route had porters and/or guides, but a large portion like Andrea and myself didn’t bother and lugged our backpacks up the mountain. After a couple of days you don’t notice it – for the first couple days it breaks your back. In fact the first couple of days from Bhulbhule to Chame, where the real altitude starts, is the hardest walking. We followed the route written in the lonely planet. It could probably be done a little shorter but it would mean walking long days. It is easy to think about doing this as the days coming up to the pass are pretty easy, but it’s important to acclimatise
The route over the Thorung La from Pedi is extremely cold, and snowing when we were there. You need warmer clothes for this, but it warms up quickly going down the other side. The way down was problably the hardest part of the trip, ruining our knees. the walking poles come in handy even more for this part.
Day 1,2 and 3
Bhulbhule -steps: 23470- Ghermu -steps: 19567- Tal -steps: 35538- Chame
Day 4,5 and 6
Chame -steps: 23268- Upper Pisang -steps: 21543- Manang – Rest Day
Day 7 and 8
Manang -steps: 18032- Letdar -steps: 7775- Thorung Pedi
The big day – Thorung Pedi – Thorung La – Muktinath steps 20451
Muktinath -steps: 34281- Jomsom
After this we took a bus down to Ghasa and walked to Tatopani from there where we spent a day hanging out in the hotsprings and drinking our first beers of the whole trip – a welcome treat, not cheap though in these parts. The hot springs were amazing. A perfect end to our trip.
One of the reasons we decided to visit at the end of September was the relative quiet we could get on the paths. In fact most of the time we were alone – Until we met our new friend Niall, who kept us from getting bored of each other, and was the instigator of many card games.
Being in the off season, accommodation was cheap, 50p, yes that’s Pence, per person per night – some places even offering free rooms. Food on the other hand, was a complete rip off though, increasing rapidly the further from civilization you go. The dhal bhat, doubling in price to 450 roops, five times the price of a room.
Dhal Bhat became the vain of my life. Every day, Eating this boring staple of watery dhal, rice and flavourless potato and cabbage curry. In the end I had to force it down. Its the only thing that really fills you up. And to think most people in Nepal eat this twice a day. At one point I swore I’d never eat it again – only to crave it two days later.
In the end the only bad thing about the trip, except for the Dhal Bhat, was the constant cloud cover. The rain was mostly at night, but constant rain meant many landslides, which were dangerous to pass. This lasted until we crossed the pass over to the Kali Gandaki valley. Here the skies were bright blue with a few cotton wool clouds scattered around. But that was the risk we took coming at this time of year.
To Anybody wanting to do this trip, I would advise doing it now. The road comes all the way to Muktinath on one side. And on the other you can see the progress up the steep sided valley across the other side of the river. I’m sure this will ruin the character of the walk, but in the end the people in these valleys should be entitled to roads the same as everyone else.