AnneMarie and Andrew

Annemarie and Andrew – Trekking Asia

Annapurna Circuit: Day 12 – Muktinath to Kagbeni

Altitude: 3,800m
Climb: Descent: 870m
Time: 4hr
Daily Cost: 3,530 rupees ($37/£22) + 1,750 rupees ($18/£11) on extras

We slept until late and only came down for breakfast around 8:15am. We’d washed some of our clothes the night before and they weren’t dry yet, so I’d been on the roof hanging them in the sun. Annemarie wasn’t feeling too good either, another bad stomach and lots of time on the toilet! At breakfast we said goodbye to Marco. He was getting a Jeep to Jomsom then flying back to Pokhara to spend a week there. He’d travelled with us for 11 days and we were sad to say goodbye. We would miss him. After breakfast the clothes weren’t dry, so we took our time getting ready and we didn’t leave until 10:15am.

We had a choice of which way to go. Back up the valley for a long climb to Jhong, then come back down and past Muktinath to Kagbeni. Or we could visit the Gompa (monastery) of Jharkot just south of Muktinath then continue down the road to Kagbeni. Because Annemarie wasn’t feeling good we picked the easier option.

The road/path from Muktinath to Jharkot was dusty. The area around us was more desert like. It looked like Tibet.

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The monastery at Jharkot was hundreds of years old. It was brightly painted inside and looked good.

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We looked around for a few minutes then went up into the roof to look at the surrounding area. It really was like a desert. A faded yellow colour with a few green patches of field near the river which runs down the middle of the valley.

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We left the Gompa and walked down the road. The wind was picking up fast and very soon there was an almost continual head wind blowing up the valley with gusts which must have been 40mph. It whipped up the dust too making the route annoying. Worse were the Jeeps. This road was busy and the Jeep drivers drove fast! The Jeeps blasted down the road, horn beeping whilst driving like a mad man, creating huge clouds of dust behind them. This section we weren’t enjoying so much.

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Then the most surprising sight. Deep in the valley was a large patch of green. It was Kagbeni, a few hundred metres below us and surrounded by green fields. An oasis in the desert!

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Between us and Kagbeni the road had to navigate a drop of about 200m. It did this with a set of long switchbacks. The path took a more direct route, it went steeply down the hillside. We skidded on the loose stones with the steep gradient, carefully, we made our way down. It wasn’t too long before we were in the village. The valley we had just descended into was the Kali Gandaki Gorge. The Kali Gandaki river is one of the major rivers in Nepal and a tributary of the Ganges.

We’d been told about a place called Yak Donald’s. It had a set meal option of Yak burger, chips, salad and juice for 495 rupees. I planned on eating there so we set off looking. Without much effort we found it. Annemarie couldn’t eat anything as she was ill so she went off to find a lodge while I ate my lunch. The burger was very small and the salad was something like coleslaw. Overall it was OK.

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Annemarie had found a nice lodge, but had gone to check another lodge for comparison. The second lodge was nowhere near as nice but had offered the room for free. Annemarie went to get Harry and go to the first lodge. By the time she got back the room had been taken. By the French!! (Kagbeni was filled with French people). So she came back to tell me. I suppose as a consolation we saved a few hundred rupees by getting the room for free in the lodge next door.

In the afternoon Annemarie went to bed and I went and sat in the dining room alone. I ended up talking to an Indian guy who was also staying at the lodge. He was from Sikkim. An area which was once an independent kingdom but is now part of India. We talked for a few hours and I learnt a lot about an area I’d never heard of before.

Annemarie woke in the late afternoon and we ate whilst talking a bit more to the Sikkimese guy. Then we went to be early. Because the rooms had power sockets in the rooms we could use our phones without worrying about the battery, so we watched The Simpsons and Family Guy on the phone before going to sleep.

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