AnneMarie and Andrew

Annemarie and Andrew – Trekking Asia

Altitude: 3,310m Climb: 160m Time: 5hr 30m + 2hr breaks Daily Cost: 4,120 rupees ($43/£25) There are two routes to reach Bragha and Manang, the upper route which goes from Upper Pisang and stays high via Ghyaru (pronounced GUY A RU) and Ngawal (pronounced NAR WAL) and the low route which follows the road from Lower Pisang to Bragha. The lower route is boring, as a road it’s great in getting you from A to B quickly and efficiently, but as a trekking route it’s a waste of a good walk. We told Harry to take the lower route as it’s far easier and we’d take the upper route and then meet him in the afternoon in Mungji (pronounced MUN JAY). We left Upper Pisang following the path around the edge of the hillside. The walk here was good. The sky was a deep blue, the mountains were clear and snow capped and we were continuing to walk through a thin line of forest. After about 30 minutes we reached the bottom of a steep hill. The path was a long series of switchbacks and at the top we could see the village of Ghyaru. This was probably a 300m climb in front of us. The path was steep and the sun was shining on the yellow dusty ground. Annemarie’s calve muscle became very tight and she struggled her way up, but still passed plenty of other trekkers who were already a third of the way up when we reached the bottom. I was able to march up a bit faster but reached the top dripping in sweat. Although it was still very early we stopped at the top for a cup of tea and a chocolate bar. The village of Ghyaru is a traditional village and the buildings there are still in the old style. The tea took ages to arrive and we were stopped in Ghyaru for about 45 minutes. After leaving the village we had great views looking back at it. The walk to Ngawal was quite scenic. It mainly stuck to the hillside and we passed by many Chortens and other religious symbols. The views of the valley were pretty good too. Ngawal was another traditional looking village, although there were many lodges and restaurants here. We saw one British guy at a lodge just before the village, but apart from him we saw no-one else in the village! All the buildings in the village had flat roofs which were used for everyday activities. Many buildings were three floors high, so the streets were deep down between the buildings and rather dark because they were...

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Altitude: 2,710m Climb: 600m Time: 4hr Daily Cost: 3,800 rupees ($39/£23) We left Chame on the road via the Kani, spinning the prayer wheels as we past for good luck. This time they seemed to work as we had perfect weather and great views all day. The road took us through a nice forest for an hour or so. We had great views of mountains around us and the river below us was crystal clear. The scenery had changed and was now looking great. We really enjoyed walking this section. We came to a section where the road seemed to have been blasted out of the rock face. To the left was a sheer drop down to the river far below us, but more terrifyingly was the sheer cliff face on the right which rose far far above our heads. The cliff face wasn’t exactly solid and was crumbling in places, so falling rocks were a serious hazard here. We walked through at a good pace, constantly watching above our heads for any rocks coming our way. After crossing a bridge and climbing a short but steep slope we could see the impressive sight of Paungda Danda. This is a huge curved slab of rock rising more than 1,500m above the river. The locals call it the Gateway to Heaven and believe the spirits of the dead must climb this wall after leaving their bodies. We continued walking through the forest, enjoying the views of the mountains which were now much clearer and the forest that was so green. It reminded us of our trip to Scotland, well aside from the 5 and 6 thousand metre peaks surrounding us. At this point, we had crossed the 3,000m threshold and suddenly everything looks a little better. The air feels fresher, the mountains are clearer as the haze finally disappears and the forest scents can be clearly smelt. We finally reached the settlement of Dhukur Pokhari and considered stopping here for a late tea break or maybe even an early lunch. But Annemarie convinced us that Pisang wasn’t too much further do we might as well continue to there and have lunch plus we felt really good and not at all tired. We followed the trail out of the group of lodges and the trees started to thin out. After a passing near a lake we crossed a rickety looking bridge and slowly climbed around the hillside towards Upper Pisang. Here the ground was dry and dusty and the trees had thinned out and were much smaller. The view down into the valley was getting better all the time. We rounded...

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