AnneMarie and Andrew

Annemarie and Andrew – Trekking Asia

Annapurna Circuit: Day 16 – Tatopani to Swanta

Altitude: 1,190m
Climb: 1,010m
Time: 3hr 30m + 1hr 30m breaks
Daily Cost: 3,300 rupees ($34/£20)

We ate breakfast and left the lodge at our usual time of 8:15am. Out of the village we crossed a suspension bridge and saw a sign pointing up the hill for Paudwar. We knew that route led to Khopra Danda but everyone had said Paudwar had no lodges and to climb 2,500m in a day seemed to far for us. We continued on the main route towards Ghorepani. The road went up a steep hillside and the sun was already hot. This was going to be a tough day! We followed the to road, then cut off the road onto a path which lead directly up the hillside. There was partial shade now and again, but mostly we were in the hot sun. We climbed for a while until we reached a section where the hillside turned to rock. The rock was bright white and looked like marble. It reflected the heat making this, which was the steepest and hardest part into the hottest part too. Up the steep stone side we went until we reached the road again. We’d been little more than an hour and we’d already climbed 400m. We were dripping with sweat and boiling. Luckily there was a tea shop on the corner. We got into the shade and ordered some drinks. Whilst waiting we stuck our heads under the tap to cool off.

From here we could see up the valley where we would be walking for the rest of the day. The valley had a road linking the many villages together. Harry pointed out the village of Shika, it was about the furthest village we could see. That was where we would have lunch. At just before 10am we set off into the heat again.

The path up the valley towards Ghorepani wasn’t too bad. We didn’t struggle with it or feel tired. It was just hot. Luckily the amount of shade did increase, which helped us a lot. We passed through many villages at a good pace and made good time to Shika. We found a lodge on the edge of the ridge looking down over the valley we’d just walked up. The view was pretty good even though the haze obscured most of the valley. We asked the owner about a route to Khopra Danda and to our delight he told us the exact route to get there. He told us that after a short walk we should follow the road left, then up to Swanta. That was not much over an hour from Shika and we should stay there that night. Then the next day we walk from Swanta to Khopra Danda via Chistibang. The route was clear and he’d give exact instructions in Nepalese to our porter. Perfect! We ate our lunch feeling very happy.

Lunch took over an hour and it was turned 1pm when we left Shika. We followed the route towards Ghorepani for about 30 minutes until the road carried on to the left and a path went right towards Ghorepani. We followed the road left. After about 15 minutes we reached a rest point on the right which had steps next to it. We went up the steps. As we climbed the steps the sky became overcast and it looked like it was going to start raining. It took 10 minutes to climb the steps and we joined the road again. We turned left and saw more steps on the right. We went up those to. After a few minutes big drops of rain started to fall. It looks like we were going to get caught in the rain two days in a row. The higher we climbed the heavier the rain got. We put our ponchos on and continued up the steps. After about 10 minutes again we reached a metal building. This was part of the school in Swanta. We left the path and walked into the school playground. By now it was throwing it down! I saw a lodge with about 5 tents in front of it. Strange that anyone would choose to camp when there’s a lodge with bedrooms, toilet, dining room, etc…

Inside the lodge looked OK. Basic, but good enough. But, Harry wasn’t keen. He really didn’t want to stay there, although he never explained why. I think it was because the porters for the camping would be up very early. Anyway, I went to look at the other lodge. It was about the same, but empty. This was the lodge for us! The weird thing is that in the lodge the bedrooms weren’t ready. The beds still had the sheets from the last occupants and she only changed the sheets when we chose the room. But the beds were comfortable, we had two windows in the room for good views, western toilet and the usual menu.

Not long after we arrived a French couple also arrived. They spoke as much English as we speak French, so hardly anything was said between us all day. Annemarie washed some clothes and I was just hanging them up when it started to rain again. This lodge was like most others for washing lines, the roof had a large overhang and the washing line was far enough back to stay dry even in the rain. We had planned to go for a look around the village but the rain got worse and became another thunder storm with yet another torrential downpour. We stayed in the dining room reading and drinking tea.

There was no power so the room was lit by candlelight. We ate and then decided to go to bed early. That night was an almighty storm. Extreme winds and rain and huge bolts of lightening lighting up the sky. This was one hell of a tropical storm!

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