Tuesday 15 December 2009

Nepal, October 2009, Annapurna Circuit, Thorung La to Pokara

Having arrived at the Thorung La about 10:30 am on day 9, we set off for our next stop at Muktinath. This view shows Iain beginning the 1650M (5,500 foot!) descent to Muktinath.

The mountains in the distance are to the west of the Kali Gandaki River Valley and just peeping out behind the slope on the left can be seen Dhaulagiri, at 8172M - the next highest mountain to the west of the Annapurna Himal; and the world's 7th highest mountain.

As mentioned in a previous post, this area is extremely arid and consists largely of semi-desert topped by glaciated peaks.

Halfway down the descent to Muktinath, Iain took this picture looking back to Khatungkang 6484M appreciating in particular, the hanging glacier draped down its western face.

Shortly afterwards, we all rounded a bend and there was Muktinath in front of us. Immediately on our left there was a monastery with thousands of prayer flags draped between it and the slope of the mountain behind. Straight ahead, Dhaulagiri is the highest visible peak.

Once in Muktinath, we were surrounded by shops and stalls with locals trying to sell the usual selection of trinkets and goods. But here we also found motorcycles and Jeeps - the first time we had seen mechanised transport for over a week.

Muktinath signalled the end of the trek for us, as from here we had chosen to journey by Jeep to Jomsom and fly from there to Pokara to spend a few nights.

After a bone shaking ride in a Jeep on the morning of day 10, we found ourselves in Jomsom - the district headquarters of the Mustang region of Nepal.

Despite its aridity, this is an apple growing region and through Mek, we were to try both the apples and some of the local apple brandy. Iain was so impressed he brought a bottle home and at 43% proof will probably be drinking it for the next few years!

The picture above was taken on a walk that afternoon to Syang and is looking up to Nilgiri North 7061M with clouds surrounding it. To the left is Tilicho Peak 7134M which is immediately above Tilicho Lake - at 4920M the highest lake in Nepal and the route of the alternative way to get to the Kali Gandaki from Manang.

The river in the foreground is the Kali Gandaki. Here its bed is relatively narrow, but upstream of Jomsom, the river bed fills the whole valley floor whilst the water flows along braided channels across its width which can be up to 3/4 of a mile.

Finally, a last shot from the tourist resort of Pokhara. Iain & Kirstin flew here from Jomsom on the morning of day 11 saying goodbye to Mek & Mingma who were making their way by bus back to Kathmandu.

We stayed here for four nights instead of the planned two enjoying our hotel, the local resturants & bars and the local tourist attractions both having a go, for the first time, at Paragliding from nearby Sarangkot.

The view shows Phewa Tal (the lake) in the foreground. Left to right can be seen Dhaulagiri, the long ridge of Annapurna South and below that Sarangkot hill, next - the sacred mountain of Machhapuchhre (The fish tail) and finally, Annapurna III.

After four nights we returned to Thamel in Kathmandu for a further 3 nights before reluctantly departing for the UK. Nepal & the Himalayas are a place we both hope to return to soon.

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