This was one of the few walks when I didn’t die on the route. I came to Chame more or less in one piece. And this was one place where my Ncell phone connection worked. Ncell worked very well on the Everest Base Camp Trek but not so on Annapurna Circuit Trek. In fact, Chame was the only place (starting from Sangey, not counting bigger cities like Pokhara, Kathmandu, Beshishehar) where it worked. It was supposed to work at Mukteshwer too but I never reached there to test the theory.
Green Park Lodge at Dharapani, Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal
After a good rest at the Green Park Lodge at Dharapani I emerged refreshed. The lodges have a communal dining area. My room was on the first floor in the left upper corner of the picture. Two young men from US, Eric and Justin were also trekking on the same dates and as our guides always stayed at the same lodge, by the end of the trek we added each-other on Facebook. Both guys were super fit and would almost run on the trek! I would meet them a few hours later at the next lodge!
Crossing the Road, Dharapani to Chame, Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal
While walking there are always a few stretches where a fountain or a stream decides to flow on the road. Dharapani to Chame also had one such stretch. I saw this horseman to cross it at ease. Usually instead of hopping from stone to stone I take off my shoes and wade through. However, here I thought the water was less than ankle deep and I decided to just walk through it in my new waterproof shoes. My shoes have good waterproofing but the water was more than ankle deep! So I ended up with very wet shoes but luckily I had my sneakers as well. Now that was the only luxury I allowed myself as I had a guide cum porter.
Flowers and Mountains, Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal
Soon the wet shoes were forgotten, they now were tied to my small backpack and would dangle around my elbows. After two hours of beautiful but cloud filled scenary, we stopped for tea. Eric and Justin were also there so it was a merry bunch. Rain gods were kind on this day, there were only clouds, no actual rain and it remained that way till I reached Chame.
Giant Himalayan Lily, Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal
A little after the tea was over I spotted these Giant Himalayan Lilies (and that is the actual name too). I had to stop and click a picture. I remember I sat down to click this one, so on day 2 as well I was capable of bending. By now, I told Hari, my guide, to go ahead and come what may, I walk at one pace- slow. That is all I am capable of. So he was walking a little ahead of me and both of us were happy.
A Local Woman Walking from Dharapani, Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal
I was a little behind this woman who was on her way to someplace. Even she paused from time to time while climbing uphill. As for the views my guide told me we could see Manaslu, the eighth highest mountain in the world. I did see it for a while but the picture is blank as the sun was right above it. If I had known that was the only view I would get of Manaslu, I would have tried harder to capture it.
Walking from Dharapani to Chame, Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal
I was having a good time walking at my own pace. This was one rare day when I was not too tired. I was still looking forward to lunch. The apple pancake that I had for breakfast had long back faded into nothing.
Beautiful Trail, Dharapani to Chame, Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal
Lunch was not far away from this spot. We stopped at Thanchuk to have lunch. As this was the lean season the lodge owners were away and our guides cooked for us! I had Daal-Bhaat again but Justin and Erick were eating more exotic things. After food I was willing to walk again for a while. By now I would my thoughts wandered for the 100th about this trek being a very tiring and expensive lesson about trekking in monsoon. I hoped it might change the next day!
After lunch, looking for scenic spots, flowers, butterflies and birds I was making some progress. At one point, I put down my small backpack to take out the water bottle. There was an elderly gentleman about 15 steps ahead of me. Out of nowhere came a man without any shirt and startled me a little. He however, only asked for water. In his mouth were green leaves half chewed, I wonder what they were. After drinking water he walked ahead of me and I was sure he was drunk. Then he went behind me and after a few minutes he disappeared altogether from my view. Later when I told this incident to Hari, we decided that he will not let me go out of his vision and this is what he did till he left me safely at Pokhara. I was sharply reminded of the fate of Debbie Maveau who was trekking in the Langtang region in 2011.
I reached Chame without any other significant incident. Only my rucksack came apart and we went to the market to buy a new one. All my stuff was now to be transferred to another rucksack which was smaller than my original. Thankfully everything went in except my sleeping bag. That could be tucked on the outside and we were happy.
Noodles for Dinner, Shangri-La Guest Hourse, Chame, Nepal
I sat for an early dinner of noodles after consuming a pot of ginger tea. Even though it is more expensive, I find it easier to drink tea rather than water to maintain the water balance. The noodles went in a flash, they were so good and I was so hungry. While I tried to get up after dinner, I made an ugly face and the person sitting opposite remarked, “Pain?” I laughed and said yes. He replied, “I know the feeling, I have been walking since from morning from Jagat.” My jaws dropped, Jagat was closer to Sangey, for me it was a two day walk which he did in one day!
Hotel Shangri-La at Chame has attached bathroom and those who trek know what a luxury it is! After calling a lot of people (remember this was the only place where my cell phone worked) and telling them I was still alive (no such flippant updates to my father though) I thought I would be able to walk for one more day. The next day I was walking from Chame to Pissang.
Read another day’s account from Annapurna Circuit Trek in Nepal
Last year I trekked up to Everest Base Camp in Nepal in May so I was determined to go back this year. I could not take leaves in May, the earliest I could leave was 8th June. I landed at Tribhuvan International Airport on that very day. The plan was to trek the Annapurna Circuit. In my enthusiasm I did not factor in the monsoon at all! I was trekking with the good folks at Above the Himalayas again.
There is a road for the part of the way of the trek, a jeep track up to Chame and a motorcycle track up to Manang. When I started from Kathmandu I thought the bus would go all the way to Sangey. But it stopped at Beshishahar, where the restaurant had a functional wifi!
On the way to Beshishahar there were times when I was happy for the Avomine induced sleep and then there were times when I hated it. I hated it when I realized the views were beautiful but I would still fall asleep because of the medicine.
After lunch we took a jeep for Sangey. The jeep kept playing musical chairs within the city first. And for my life I could not figure out who the driver was, so many people drove it for a short distance. The real driver was eventually revealed, thankfully he was a cautious driver.
The Look of the Road from Besgishahar to Chame, Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal
The road, no not actually road but the dirt track required driving skills and our driver had it. If you have a bad back, this road is not for you. If you have a normal back, chances are you will develop a bad back. But it was worth it for the views that greeted us! At Sangey the lodge was right next to the river. After a hearty dinner I fell asleep easily. I woke up at night to thundering rain, only I convinced myself that it was the river and not the rain. Anyway I was happy it rained like that at night, not when I was walking.
A Waterfall near our Lodge at Sangey, Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal
After reaching Dharapani I wrote the following in a dairy I maintained on this trek
You can watch ‘Colors’ (Hindi TV Channel) at Dharapani. It is equally unbearable to watch at 1960 meters. I wonder what it is with me and treks. Due to one reason or other my treks just seem to be beyond me. This time I might be a tad fitter than the last time but the season I picked up! Today it was completely overcast, rained thankfully only for 1.5 hours, but not too hard. If it remains overcast I might walk through the entire trek without any views. So next time if I do not get leaves in May I will trek in Spiti or Ladakh.
Before I will head out for a major trek next year I will read this account again. Hopefully the above paragraph will knock some sense into my stubborn head.
Trekking in June, Sangey to Dharapani Walk, Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal
When I started from Sangey, I was happy to see various waterfalls and streams. We stopped for a mint tea at Jagat after two hours. I desperately needed it. My lunch was at a very scenic place called Taal. The trouble was that rains started about an hour before. Also we had to get down from the road to get lunch. This would mean we would climb to the road again but that was the plan that my guide Hari recommended, so I went along with it.
Village Taal, Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal
Lunch on a trek is not a chore, it is also not a calorie counting exercise. I eagerly look forward to it. I eat without any guilt because I know if I do not I will eventually faint on the way itself! While I waited for my Daal Bhaat (rice with curry) I was happy that I was out of rain. Soon my food arrived, the rain stopped and that surely lifted my spirits. We walked back to the road again after food and all that was left now was to enjoy the view and reach Dharapani.
A Butterfly on the Way, Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal
As this was the first day, I could still bend to click butterflies. I was using the 18-55 lens as changing lens while walking does not appeal to me. This beauty was obliging as well, it let me click quite a few pictures before saying enough is enough!
On my treks I have often felt like a hobbit when I walk with my guide, when no other soul to be seen around for miles. But this time when I put my bulky raincoat I felt like Gandalf in his cloak sans magic. But it was magic what I needed to stop the rain, tear the clouds away and get those fabulous views.
Miles to Go, Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal
Walking for the first time on the route, I obviously do not know how far I had to go to reach Dharapani, though my legs were screaming that they wanted to know. When I asked Hari, I got the correct answer whatever it was. It was not the pahari (hill people’s) answer, which is- it is just a short distance away!
A Stream at the Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal
Finally taking one step after the other, some seven hours later after we started from Sangey I stumbled at the lodge at Dharapani. The last thing I wrote in my diary on this day was- “Why do I do this to myself and why is my damn phone not working”
Next day we would walk from Dharapani to Chame.
Read another day’s account from my Annapurna Circuit Trek in Nepal
I started my India travel blog, Travel Tales from India in 2005. In 2016 I realized Travel Tales from India and Abroad better reflected my writings. I love to walk and ride in metros around the world. I have not been everywhere, I am not even close, but it is on my list. I also quite my job as a professor in 2015, it was a happening year! I did a Ph.D. from IIT Kanpur ages ago!
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