Sunday, October 27, 2013

Annapurna circuit trek, Day 2: Bhulbule to Syange

Previous posts:

It rained throughout night in Bhulbule. When I woke up, though the rain had subsided, clouds hovered all over the sky.

Early morning view at Bhulbule
We had our breakfast at 6:30AM. My choice was limited to Tibetan bread (kind of poori) and bread toast which I had to manage for the next few days. At 7AM, I and Subbu started our trek. We crossed first of the suspension bridges across Marsyandi River and continued on the Jeep track.

Suspension bridge near Bhulbule
Bhulbule is now busy with the construction of Hydro power plant construction. A Chinese company is doing the project. The personal, equipments, vehicles are from China. And the sign boards are in Chinese. I hope At least the power generated goes to Nepal.

Marsyandi river near Bhulbule
We crossed a beautiful waterfall on the way.

A waterfall near Bhulbule
After an hour of walk, we reached a small village of Ngadi. Here we diverted from the main road and climbed to another village of Bahundanda. The climb was steep but the route was scenic with lot of waterfalls.

Waterfalls near Bahundanda
At Bahundanda, we had to show our permits at the check post and refilled our water bottle from a tap nearby. Water in Nepal is considered not safe for drinking. Trekkers are even advised not to drink water directly from the streams. Bottled water is available everywhere in the trail but it is difficult to dispose the bottles. Also, it is very expensive in the trekking trails. There are safe drinking water stations in Annapurna area but are only available at few places. So, a reliable alternative is to treat water ourselves. We used chlorine tablets to treat the water. While water purifying tablets are difficult to find in India, they are easily available in Kathmandu. I would have loved to use “Steripen” but they were not available in India. Chlorine water smells a little but we got used to!!

Rice terraces near Bahundanda
Back to the main story. After resting for a while at Bahundanda, we were again on the foot. The trail went down continuously and entered into the forests. The trail alternated between rice terraces and forests. The views were simply great throughout the walk.

Waterfalls after Bahundanda
We reached a village of Ghermu where we could see a beautiful waterfall and Syange, our destination. Subbu wanted to continue further as we had made it in good time. But I had pains in lower back and desperately needed rest. So, we settled down in “Everest lodge” at Syange.

A narrow trail between Bahundanda and Ghermu

Syange and the waterfall

Syange village is situated next to Marsyandi River with a huge waterfall. In the evening we climbed up to get a better view.

Near the waterfall

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Annapurna circuit trek, Day 1: Kathmandu to Besisahar and to Bhulbule

The original plan was to trek to Everest Base camp. But weather played spoilsport to our plans. The flight that took off from Kathmandu could not land at Lukla due to bad weather. And not even a single flight could fly next day. The weather forecast did not look promising in the coming days. Our return date from Kathmandu could not be changed and buffer days we planned were all consumed. I and Subbu decided to head to Annapurna circuit.

Everest Base Camp dream fades as flights to Lukla does not take off

About Annapurna circuit
It is ‘circling’ Annapurna massif.  It takes about 18 days to complete this trek. But thanks to road construction many people now complete the trek in 8-12 days.

Kathmandu to Besisahar
Besisahar near Pokhara is the starting point of Annapurna circuit. It is about 180 km from Kathmandu. The Bus was supposed to start at 7:50AM but it was 9:30AM by the time we came out of Kathmandu as the bus was not full and bus driver and conductor were always looking out for passengers!! Then a massive traffic jam on the ghat road slowed down the journey. It was 4PM when we reached Besisahar. Lunch was at a road side restaurant in Benighat.  

Me and Subbu At Kathmandu bus stop

TIMS card and permit
At Besisahar, trekkers have to register themselves and provide TIMS card and permit. For more information on TIMS card and how to obtain it, refer this website. It is also possible to obtain TIMS card at Besisahar check post but it is only for individual trekkers.

Permit is required as the area we trek comes under Annapurna conservation area. More information on that is provided in this website.

Marsyandi river near Besisahar
Obtaining TIMS and permit may seem complicated but it is not. You just need couple of passport size photographs and passport copy. For Annapurna circuit, you can easily get it at Besisahar itself. If you are trekking on your own, do not think of getting it from travel agents. They simply charge hefty service fee on top of the standard rates.

Another question is about guides and porters. According to me guides are not needed especially if you are travelling during April-May and October-November. The trails are clear with many villages all along the way. It is a tea house trek meaning that at the end of the day you will get a bed to sleep and food to eat!!

'Good' section of Besisahar-Bhulbule road
But if you are trekking alone, then it would be better to either have a guide or porter more from a safety point of view.

Besisahar to Bhulbule
It takes about three hours to walk from Besisahar to Bhulbule. But mini buses now ply on this route!! With an hour of day light left, it was not possible to reach Bhulbule before dark and hence we took the bus. The road was horrible and it took 1.5 hours to cover this distance!! At many times we felt that it would have been better to walk than struggle in the cramped bus.

Hills near Bhulbule
The bus stopped in front of Thorung guest house and we promptly took a room there. Though it was the first day of the trek, we hadn't started walking yet!!

A hydro electric plant construction by Chinese

We had now entered into Dal Bhat area!! Dinner was at 6:30PM and we hit the bed at 8PM.