AnneMarie and Andrew

Annemarie and Andrew – Trekking Asia

Annapurna Circuit: Day 9 – Manang to Yak Kharka

Altitude: 3,540m
Climb: 480m
Time: 2hr 20m
Daily Cost: 4,460 rupees ($46/£27)

This was another short day of walking. The altitude gain meant it would be dangerous to go any further. Many people go past Yak Kharka (our destination) and on to Letdar which is a further 300m ascent. The health recommendations for ascending when above 2,800m is to sleep no more than 500m higher than the previous night. A warning ignored by many guides and tour companies and even ignored by the Lonely Planet Trekking Nepal book. At a 480m ascent, Yak Kharka was as far as we felt safe.

At the Tilicho Hotel the breakfast was again massive and really good. Coffee, seabuckthorn juice, hash brown, baked beans, toast, etc. It was raining outside and we were in no rush to go out into the rain, so we took our time.

Luckily by the time we were ready and paid the bill it had stopped raining. On the way out of the village we both bought some gaiters to keep the bottom of our trousers dry should it start raining heavily. We looked at crampons too. Our experience at the ice lake made us worried about needing good grip on the pass. But the crampons were $60 which made the decision to not bother an easy one.

As we reached the end of the village the sun broke through the clouds and the temperature rose rapidly. This meant a quick stop to take off our coats. Less than 5 minutes later we stopped again to take off our fleeces. This is part of the routine of trekking. Having to stop often and take off or put on layers. Either the temperature changes, or an uphill slope leaves us hot, or getting cold going downhill, or a bit of shade.

It was quite cloudy and all the mountain views were obscured by the low clouds sitting on each peak. Also we’d seen a lot of people heading out of Manang on the path towards Yak Kharka. Knowing there wasn’t many decent lodges or rooms and considering the lack of good views we decided we’d walk fast today. We hadn’t really pushed ourselves on the trek to see how fast we could go and for how long. So a brisk, short walk was the plan.

We left Marco just outside Manang and went on ahead. We were above the tree line now so the landscape had become a little bare. Grass, scrubland and rock dominated. Before long the ground had a layer of snow, although the path was still clear.

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The walk itself was pretty uneventful. We passed a goat herder moving his goats.

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And we passed a British group of trekkers. About 20 of them in total. Passing them was actually pretty easy, they were hardly moving. It looked like 1 step every 2 seconds, or slower. It’s fine going at your own pace, but bloody hell, these people were literally not moving! I have no idea how they’d made it this far.

The route wasn’t too difficult, mostly flat with the occasional uphill section. The altitude gain was surprisingly easy, usually when gaining 400m (especially in only a couple of hours) it’s tough and we can really feel it in the legs. I guess the climb to the ice lake strengthened the leg muscles. The air temperature was probably only just into double figures but the sun was powerful and we were pushing ourselves, which kept us warm. So we were able to get to Yak Kharka wearing t-shirts whilst almost every other trekker was wearing about 3-4 layers.

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The clicking in the video is the strap clip banging against the side of the camera.

We reached Yak Kharka around 11:30am and got a room. It was fine, two windows looking out over the valley and the mountains, concrete walls and concrete floor, with attached bathroom (toilet only). We also reserved a room for Marco as the lodge seemed to be the biggest and most popular in town. Marco arrived about 30 minutes after us, although he’d spend about 20 minutes looking for his very expensive sunglasses which he’d lost. Harry arrived about an hour after us. In the dining room of the lodge we met a Swiss guy who was also cycling the Circuit. He’d been to Tilicho lake (a side trek from Manang) and was telling us about the blue sheep. We’d been looking for blue sheep for days but had never found any. He showed us his photos of them, they weren’t blue and they weren’t sheep. They looked like normal goats. One hell of a misnomer!

We ate lunch and changed into warmer clothing then decided to go for a walk around the area. Now we knew what blue sheep looked like we wanted to find some, we also wanted to see some yaks. As we were leaving the British group were just arriving, 2 hours after we’d arrived! On our walk Marco decided he had to buy some sunglasses urgently as it would be impossible for him to walk in the snow without them. The first shop had only one pair and they seemed to make things brighter not darker – bright pink lens and frame! We continued with our walk up the hill from Yak Kharka.

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We seemed to be in luck! Less than a 15 minute walk north of the village we saw blue sheep. I ran after them, which at 4,000m is easier said than done, and managed to get a few shots of them turning their backs on me then running away.

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We then wandered around a group of Yaks, taking photos of them and the baby yaks.

Annemarie with Yaks near Yak Khaka

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With no sunshine it was cold in the afternoon and we decided to go back to the lodge and read and drink tea. On the way back to the lodge we checked in another shop and they had a box full of sunglasses. They were not exactly good quality, but they were a reasonable price and just what Marco needed to get over the pass. Luck really was on our side today!

We spent the rest of the afternoon and evening in the chilly dining room, mainly reading. Marco went to bed early and we decided to stay up and read, but the British group were so loud that we went to bed about 10 minutes after Marco. We laid in bed and read for about an hour though. Wrapped up in our sleeping bags it was quite cosy.

Day 8PhotosDay 10

1 Comment

  1. The yaks are so cute! I’m baffled by the blue sheep, what a weird name for what are clearly non-blue goats. They look cool though, it must be awesome to see animals like that in their natural habitat rather than in a zoo.

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