Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal (Week 2)
Trip Start Feb 26, 2008
94Trip End Ongoing
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Day 8 - Acclimatisation Day Manang
We left the hotel relatively late today - 9am and hiked up a nearby mountain. The mountain was over 4,000 metres and we were starting at 3,500 metres so it was a climb of just 500 metres. The purpose of the climb was to get us used to trekking at higher altitudes. We were both panting pretty hard for the first half hour or so due to the lack of oxygen but we got used to it after a while. We saw a glacier up close and a mountain lake. It was well worth doing the acclimatisation day. It'll really benefit us in the coming days.
Day 9 - Manang to Letdar
It was a gradually uphill walk today much easier than we expected. Moved from 3,500 metres (Manang) to 4,200 metres (Letdar). Arrived in Letdar around 12. We've merged into a really good group now and we spent the whole evening chatting away. The group consists of the following:
Me, Lydia, Edwin (Utrecht, Holland), Brian (Stoneybatter), Todd (Denver, Colorado), Brian (London), Tanya (Calgary, Canada), Monika (Munich, Germany), Katya (Heilbronn, Germany), Dick (Yorkshire) and Mattie (Scotland). We all plan on sticking together to do the pass in two days time apart from Dick and Mattie who plan to cross it in 3 days. Safety in numbers!!!
Day 10 - Letdar to High Camp
The initial walk from Letdar to Thorong Phedi was quite tough but took us just under 3 hours. We got there at 11am and as we had no symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) the guides decided it was safe for us to trek higher to High Camp (4,600 metres) and sleep there. We were glad of this decision as the trek from Thorung Phedi to High Camp is and almost vertical 200 metre climb, probably the most difficult climb of the whole circuit so we were glad to get it out of the way and not have to face it first thing the next morning. When we got to High Camp it started to snow quite heavy and I started to get a quite bad headache, the first symptom om AMS, took 2 Nurofen and it went away though. If it had come back worse I would have had to descent the mountain. Spent the evening freezing - the place didn't even have a fire. And after we all had dinner between 6 and 7 everyone went straight to bed. Early start tomorrow - 5am.
Day 11 - High Camp to Muktinath
We were up at 4:20 this morning and trekking before 5. It was well worth getting up early to see the sun rise behind some of the highest peaks on the planet. A lot of the path was covered in snow and ice though which made the trek uncomfortable at times. At one point, when we were trekking along a really sloped cliff like area, Lydia slipped on some black ice and nearly slid down the cliff face only the guide grabbed her in the nick of time. Lydia was starting to feel the affects of the altitude now and felt nauseous and had trouble breathing for the majority of the climb. Our guide (who apparently had 16 years experience) was also starting to suffer and he struggled to keep up. The sights were out of this world though and when we finally made it to the pass at 5,416 metres if felt like such an achievement. We had a quick cup of tea and took some photos on the pass and waited for our "guide" to reach the pass. The 1,600 metre trek down the other side of the pass was just as difficult as the climb as we were using different leg muscles for the first time on the trek. It was amazing looking down on the clouds.
Trek Day 12 - Muktinath to Marpha
Our guide wanted us to do a 2-3 hour trek today but all our friends we met up with were doing a 6 hour trek to Marpha so we told him we wanted to stay with them. We walked the 30 kms to Marpha anyway, it was mostly downhill but very tough all the same. The scenery was nothing compared to the previous few days but if this was day one of the trek we would have thought it was amazing. Edwin left us in Jomsom to fly to Pokhara as he only had 3 weeks off work. While in Jomsom we noticed our porter (Siddha) was limping quite badly. We asked our guide what was wrong with him as we had noticed him limping for 2 or 3 days now but this time it was worse than ever. He said nothing was wrong that he was ok, which he clearly wasn't. Anyway we left Jomsom after lunch and trekked for another 1.5 hours to Marpha. We got caught in a heavy rain shower on the way and we got to the hotel without Siddha. We asked our guide where he was and he said he was coming. An hour later the poor chap limped in the hotel door. He could hardly walk that night. I had a few strong words with our guide and essentially told him that we weren't happy with the service the trekking company were providing, that he couldn't keep up with us the previous day going over the pass and that now the porter had really badly injured his knee and could no longer carry our bag. We told him we wanted to go back to Pokhara as quickly as possible by jeep or bus or any other means and that we didn't want to be responsible for Siddha never being able to work again if he did some permanent damage to his knee.We had a bit of a laugh that night with Tanja, Brian and Todd drinking homemade cider!
Day 13 - Marpha to Tatopani
We took a jeep this morning for 2 hours to save us a days walking. When we were in the jeep we came to a road that was literally gone - fell away the night before in a landslide. It was very scary to see and we had to get out of the jeep and cross the non-existent road on a plank of wood which was also scary! At the other side we got into another jeep and continued on our way. We trekked for another 4 or 5 hours to Tatopani as it was not possible to go by road due to avalanches and landslides. We saw one of the highest waterfalls in Nepal and some impressive looking valleys. Siddha was still struggling with his knee but was putting on a brave face.
Day 14 - Tatopani to Pokhara
We walked for about 30 minutes this morning where we got an uncomfortable jeep to take us to Beni. The driver felt up my leg every time he changed gear. We got to Beni around 10am and had some food before taking a taxi back to Pokhara. The bus would have taken 6 hours and the taxi took 2.5 hours so it was worth it. We said goodbye (thankfully) to Dharma and Siddha in Pokhara and went on our way to find a nice hotel to stay in.
To sum it up, it was by far the best experience of our trip so far. The scenery every day was amazing but if we were to do it again we'd do it without a guide. There's really no need for one, just an experienced porter. We would recommend people who are thinking of doing the Annapurna Circuit Trek to avoid Asahi Treks & Expedition, based in Thamel, Kathmandu. The guide could not keep up with us and therefore couldn't guide (and this was our first time trekking) and the porter had inadaquate clothing for the cold temperatures of the pass, it was his first time being a porter and he badly injured his knee which ultimately cut our trek short by one week. Asahi Treks have insisted that no refund will be given in this matter so our advise is to avoid them at all costs.