AnneMarie and Andrew

Annemarie and Andrew – Trekking Asia

Altitude: 2,800m Climb: Descent: 220m Time: 6hr Daily Cost: 3,600 rupees ($37/£22) We left Kagbeni at our usual time of 8:15am. Then we took the path out of the village following the Kali Gandaki valley south towards Jomsom. The gorge is huge and the river at the centre is tiny. I guess in the wet season this river valley is filled and the river will be a mighty sight. After a while the path joined onto the road and we walked along the dusty road. A few Jeeps were travelling along, those going down were mainly filled with locals, those coming north were filled with tourists. The road skirted the edge of the valley all the way to Jomsom. We skipped through Jomsom quickly as there wasn’t anything worth seeing. Jomsom is a hub for the area. It has an airport, lots of Jeeps, buses and lodges. Surrounding Jomsom, like many other towns in the valley, are apple orchids. Planted by volunteers, these are organic apples and used for apple juice and cider. We climbed up and out of Jomsom towards the large village of Thini. There was nothing there and we continued to a lake, which was actually tiny and nothing special to look at. A little further uphill was a Gompa. Annemarie was tired so I climbed up to the Gompa alone. After paying the 100 rupees entrance fee went in for a look around. As I entered this totally silent building I was surprised to see a western guy sitting on the floor reading a book. I reached for the camera but was quickly told no photos were allowed. The paintings were very vivid colours on all three walls. The front wall was an altar with Buddha statues. Outside the keeper of the Gompa offered me a cup of tea. We sat in silence and drank the tea. After a while Annemarie came looking for me because I’d been gone slightly longer than expected. After the Gompa Harry was starving and we were pretty hungry, so we decided to get to Marpha as quickly as possible. The path takes a long route, down past Marpha (which is on the other side of the Kali Gandaki river) up and over some hills, then after about 90 minutes comes to a bridge which crosses the river to the road to come back up to Marpha. Harry knew an alternative. We walked around the front of the hill, which the Gompa was perched on and crossed a small wooden bridge. We then walked for 20 minutes along the road. By now the wind was extremely strong and it was...

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

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