AnneMarie and Andrew

Annemarie and Andrew – Trekking Asia

Annapurna Circuit: Day 18 – Khopra Danda to Tadapani

Altitude: 3,600m
Climb: Descent: 890m
Time: 6hr 15m + 1hr 45m breaks
Daily Cost: 2,840 rupees ($29/£17)

We woke at 5:50am to see the sunrise. We quickly got dressed and stepped outside to see the view. It was still a bit hazy but the sunrise over the Dhaulagiri Range looked great. The Khopra Danda ridge was fantastic. Everyone flocks to Poon Hill to see the sunrise over the mountain ranges, but the Khopra Danda was better in so many respects. Poon Hill is only at 3,200m, we were over 10% higher. Poon Hill was also behind us, they had to look over the Khopra Ridge to see the mountains, we were closer. At Poon Hill there’s a 45 minute (well over an hour for the slow people) climb from Ghorepani to reach the summit before sunrise, we simply had to roll out of bed. And best of all, no crowds. There were 5 people on the ridge. When we climbed Poon Hill on a cloudy and pointless day there were a few hundred people up there! We watched the sun rise over the mountains for about an hour, before going in to eat breakfast.

After breakfast we set off around the hillside and down the path we had come up on. The morning was clear and the sun was on us. The toilet visits in the middle of the night had left me feeling weaker and tired. Downhill was fine but any uphill was difficult. We walked down to the small lake and then continued straight along the edge of the hillside. The path was wide enough for two feet side by side, nothing more. Off the edge was a long and steep slope down into the forest. We followed the hillside for a couple of hours, mostly flat with the occasional downhill switchbacks. A few streams followed the downhill section and they had dug valleys into the hill, meaning that we would usually go down to the steam, cross, then climb back up the side of the valley. This way the path pretty much maintained the same altitude for most of the morning.

We then had a large drop in altitude as we rapidly descended down the hillside. From here we hit a large rhododendron forest. The forest hadn’t flowered yet, but it still looked good. Along the hillside we went, down a bit, up a bit, down a lot more, up a bit. We never seemed to go down very far and every time we went down we gained it again almost immediately. We reached Bayeli at 11:15am. We knew there was another lodge between here and Tadapani, but weren’t sure on the timings, so we decided the safest bet was to have an early lunch here. The French couple were also here and having an early lunch too. Our early lunch ended up taking an hour and a half!

Bayeli sat in the middle of a huge rhododendron forest. For well over an hour before Bayeli and for a couple of hours after Bayeli we were walking past hundreds of rhododendron trees. We saw more rhododendrons in this one day then we’d seen in our whole life. About an hour after Bayeli we reached another group of lodges. This was where the French couple were spending the night. I went into one lodge and bought a bottle of coke. The walk was tiring.

After the group of lodges we soon reached yet another group of lodges. Then very steep downhill to another cluster of lodges. It looks like the route is now ready for hordes of trekkers and is just waiting for some advertising. We were now back into normal forest and hoping that we would reach Tadapani soon. After another long stretch of forest we reached a lone tea house. Here was a guide we’d met on the base camp trek who’d been with the québécois lady we had met. He was taking a woman on a trek near Khopra Danda. They were joined by a Swedish lady who’d taken a wander from Tadapani. From here it wasn’t far too Tadapani, although it didn’t feel like this to us at the time. It felt like the forest was never going to end!

In Tadapani we decided to try a different lodge to last time. The lodge we picked had a nice, clean room for a good price., I sat outside cooling down and resting. The people here were mainly people doing the 4 day trek to Ghorepani, Tadapani and Ghandruk. It’s an easy trek for absolute beginners and these people really did sound like beginners. A group from Yorkshire were also trekking. We think they were from near Hull and they sounded… not so bright. A totally different type of trekker to those on the circuit. We sat at a table reading later in the afternoon. I went to the toilet and when I came back I found a guide laying where I’d been sat. He said a group would be sitting here and I had to find another table to sit at (there are only two large tables in the room). I told him what I thought of groups, maybe swore a bit, and sat elsewhere. This is why I hate groups!

The food was OK that night and we talked to the Swedish lady who we’d seen at the lodge on the way through the forest earlier. She wore Tibetan clothing, loads of Tibetan jewellery and had bare feet. She was nice enough to talk to. She also mentioned that she was going back to Pokhara the next day, same as us. We said about going to Ghandruk to get a Jeep to Pokhara and she was interested in sharing a Jeep. That would be helpful in splitting the costs.

We went to bed and read because the groups were very loud.

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