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Nepal Travel Guide

Nepal travel guide for beginners

Are you looking for a Nepal travel guide for beginners? When you think of Nepal, what comes to mind? Mountains, trekking, Mount Everest? Well, you’re in luck, as it has it all!

DON’T JUDGE EACH DAY BY THE HARVEST YOU REAP BUT BY THE SEEDS YOU PLANT. – ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

Beautiful Buddhist prayer wheel! - nepal travel

Beautiful Buddhist prayer wheel!

 

This quote couldn’t apply to Nepal any better. Even though the country was devastated by the 2015 Gorkha earthquake, it remains unshaken. Determined to rebuild, and heading in the right direction, it’s wonderful to see the strength and generosity of the Nepalese people. I’m always fascinated by the people who seemingly don’t have much to give, but they are happy to give it all.

The people, especially the kids, stole our hearts!

The people, especially the kids, stole our hearts!

NEPAL VISA

Nepal is nice and easy in the visa department.

Apply/extend your visa online.

Alternatively, you can obtain a visa upon arrival via air (Kathmandu International Airport) or land (Kakarbhitta, Birgunj, Bhairahawa, Nepalgunj, Gaddachowki via India and Kodari via China).

Select from 15 ($25), 30 ($40) or 90-day ($100) options. Certain nationalities from surrounding countries can even visit 30-days for free. Check here for additional details.

Trekking will most likely require additional permits, depending on the specific route. Here’s an overview of routes and prices.

 

NEPAL WEATHER

Nepal’s climate largely depends on your location & altitude. As a general guideline, Nepal has 4-standard seasons.

  • Spring: March – May
    • Mild temperatures
    • National flower (rhododendron) in bloom
  • Summer: June – August
    • Monsoon season
    • Hot & wet
  • Autumn: September – November
    • Peak season
    • Pleasant weather & festival season
  • Winter: December – February
    • Cooler weather & snow at higher elevations
    • Day is warm; night is cold
At times in Nepal, you're literally above the clouds! - Nepal travel

At times in Nepal, you’re literally above the clouds!

 

SEE NEPAL

While our time in Nepal was short, here’s an overview of the places we visited:

  • Annapurna Circuit: OK, so technically Rob did this one by himself, but as trekking is such a huge part of a trip to Nepal, I wanted to point you in the right direction even though we didn’t participate in any trekking together. Check out his 2-part recap here.
  • Kathmandu: A bustling capital city with delicious food.
Annapurna Circuit is amazing - Nepal travel

Annapurna Circuit is amazing

EATING & DRINKING IN NEPAL

Traditional Dishes: Momo (dumplings) are served with a variety of fillings, and often accompanied by yellow and red chili sauce. Thunduk is a hand-pulled noodle soup, with origins from Tibet. Thukpa is similar to Thunduk, another variety of noodle soup. Nepalese eat a lot of buffalo, and being primarily Hindu, steer clear of cows. The staple dish is Dahl Baht. Dahl is a lentil soup and Baht is steamed rice. It provides a cheap meal for locals, trekkers energy for their hike, vendors funny slogans for their t-shirts and visitors a taste of the local cuisine. And of course, your dahl baht wouldn’t be complete without a couple of Chapati (flat breads, also known as roti).

Beers: Everest, Nepal Ice & Sherpa Craft (along with plenty of imports). You’re sure not to go thirsty!

Ring the bell! - Nepal Travel

Ring the bell!

 

NEPAL TRAVEL BUDGET

We budgeted for $54.48 USD/day (for 2 people). Actual was $55.42/day x 10 days = $554 total.

Breakdown below:

  • Accommodation – $85
  • Beverages – $61
  • Food – $284
  • Transport – $21 *
  • Entertainment – $71
  • Miscellaneous – $32 **

*excludes overnight bus from Varanasi, India to Kathmandu, Nepal (in lieu of an international flight) & flight from Kathmandu, Nepal to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

**includes laundry & ATM fees

Whenever you visit, it's always a spiritual place!

Whenever you visit, it’s always a spiritual place!

OUR NEPAL TRAVEL HIGHLIGHTS

  • Reuniting after 3-weeks of solo travel
  • Climbing to the Shanti Stupa in Pokhara
  • Kim teaching her first meditation class at Holy Garden!
  • Rob getting more immersed in yoga & meditation practices
  • Enjoying Kathmandu’s café culture
  • Surviving the bumpy ride from Pokhara to Kathmandu
  • Witnessing the strength of this nation after the recent earthquake
  • Relaxing at Lake Fewa
Enjoy Pokhara's Fewa Lake! - Nepal Travel

Enjoy Pokhara’s Fewa Lake!

 

NEPAL TRAVEL TIPS

  • There is plenty of Happy Hours & live music available in Nepal, so make sure to take advantage of it.
  • We had more people here asking us if we wanted marijuana/hash than we did in any other place. While we didn’t choose to take them up on the offer, do be careful if you do as it is still illegal in Nepal.
  • Plan on a lot of traffic; unfortunately the infrastructure is not the best.
  • Wifi is not reliable throughout Nepal.
  • Credit cards are not widely accepted in Kathmandu.
  • General trekking advice:
    • You don’t need to organise your trek prior to arriving, there is plenty of information available on the ground.
    • The best times to go trekking in Nepal are March – April and October – November
Pray for peace! - Nepal Travel

Pray for peace!

 

Discover the Annapurna Circuit

Discovering the Annapurna circuit route – Part 2

If you missed the first part of my story be sure to check it out here, it covers all the action for the first week of trekking and has some great photos of the awesome landscapes on offer. I’ve broken this post into a two part series as there was just so much of the story I wanted to tell.

Annapurna Circuit Route Overview

Day 1: Bhulbhule to Bahundanda

Day 2: Bahundanda to Tal

Day 3: Tal to Chame

Day 4: Chame to Upper Pisang

Day 5: Upper Pisang to Manang

Day 6: Manang rest day

Day 7: Manang rest day

Day 8: Manang to Tilicho Lake Base Camp

Day 9: Tilicho Lake Base Camp to Tilicho Lake, then onto Khaskvar

Day 10: Khaskvar to Ledar

Day 11: Ledar to Thorang Phedi

Day 12: Thorang Phedi to Thorung La Pass, then onto Muktinath

Day 13: Muktinath to Jomsom

Day 14: Jomsom to Pokhara (transit)

ACAP Day 8 – Manang > Tilicho Lake Base Camp – Altitude gain:  690m – Distance Covered: 10KM

We had spoken to Simon who was still at Khangsar and we were happy that we could meet up with him and then proceed directly to Tilicho Lake Base Camp. It would be a challenging day, with an altitude gain of 690 meters (which is not recommended), though for one day, we all agreed that it would be ok.

We arrived at Khangsar after about an hour and 30 minutes of walking. The trail was relatively easy, winding its way beside the river and passed yak farmers and their basic camps. Once we met Simon we had a short break before heading off to base camp which would take about 3 hours 30 minutes.

The next part of our trek was very demanding, we slowly climbed up to an altitude of 4177 meters. A record altitude for all of us to date.

We continued along with ascents and descents testing our patience. We finally came across a suspension bridge and a steep climb which signified what later would be the hardest part of our trek thus far.

Some parts of the trek feel safer than others

Some parts of the trek feel safer than others

We made our way onto the well know landslide area and slowly and hesitantly trekked along for an hour. We carefully moved along narrow paths with sheer drops and an unsteady rock base. We had heard about the high winds of this area and can testify that it does get very strong, it is advised to cross this part of the trek in the morning before the rain and high winds get up. There is a real threat of falling rocks in this area, so we had to contend with this also, though thankfully there were no issues during our pass.

The temperature dropped as we got closer to Tilicho Lake base camp with the mountains covered in snow finally appearing closer. We found our accommodation for the night, put on many layers to stay warm and settled in for what was going to be a cold night.

Watch out for landslides

Watch out for landslides

ACAP Day 9 – Tilicho Lake Base Camp > Khangsar – Altitude gain:  900m – Distance Covered: 20KM

We rose at 5:15 am in anticipation of the hard trek ahead of us to Tilicho Lake, we knew the day ahead would be a challenge. We set off towards the lake and immediately started the ascent, albeit slowly at first. We weren’t alone as there were about 50 other trekkers.

We decided to take two bags between the four of us to reduce our weight and only hold essentials, our water and cold weather gear. We were treated with perfect weather, the sky was clear, the sun was warm and there was a slight cool wind.

We knew we needed to cover roughly a 900 meter climb, even though, I don’t think we were mentally prepared for the hike ahead of us. At every bend I thought we’d be given a break with a descent, though more often than not it was further climbing.

I had added layers to combat the cold of the early morning, though after about 10 minutes I realized that I didn’t need to wear my thermal underwear and I had to remove them.

The views whilst ascending were amazing, we were definitely getting closer to the snow and could clearly see it on the mountains beside the trail. As we ascended we reached 5000 meters which was a record for all of us. Once we were high enough there was snow alongside the trail which was a cool experience.

We found ourselves at the peak of the mountain where there was more snow and people all around taking photos. The path at this point was wet from melted snow. We continued along the path and made our way towards the lake, there was such anticipation, we had worked so hard towards this point.

We finally saw snow

We finally saw snow

The lake was spectacular with a dark blue water spotted with ice blocks, it looked so calm. The mountains surrounding the lake were snow covered and rugged. It was very cold at this point and after taking a number of photos it was time to leave after about 30 minutes. I was glad I packed my beenie and gloves, as I definitely needed them.

The trek down towards Tilicho base camp was much easier, we passed people who had decided to leave later and felt good we had already completed the hard work. We arrived back at the base camp elated and tired. It had been one of our hardest mornings and we still needed to trek back to towards Khangsar.

We had a quick lunch and then set out towards Khangsar, we were surprised at how hard the trek back to Khangsar was. I think it was a combination of being tired from the ascent to Tilicho lake and mentally thinking that it would be easy. Finally, we arrived at Khangsar, the first thing we did after dropping our bags was to have a shower, we had trekked for two days without washing and we were a smelly group of guys.

Tilicho lake in all it's beauty

Tilicho lake in all it’s beauty

ACAP Day 10 – Khangsar > Letdar – Altitude gain:  450m – Distance Covered: 8KM

After yesterday, we knew today would be a relatively easy trek which was scheduled to take about 4 1/2 hours. It’s funny that a four hour trek could be considered relatively easy, though the body adapts pretty fast when you are putting in the km’s.

Even though it was supposed to be relatively easy the path still had a number of ascents which tested the body, though in the back of my mind I knew that we were slowly itchy towards our goal of Letdar. Once we passed the final tough ascend we could see Yak Kharka in the distance, this provided such mental relief. Having a goal, even in the distance is comforting.

Taking in the amazing views

Taking in the amazing views

I can never pass up a good vegetable samosa! We passed a lady selling them and I couldn’t stop at just one, they were spicy and stunk of garlic, but were delicious all the same.

There were about 30 pack horses travelling from Yak Kharka to Letdar ahead of us, they have obviously travelled this path hundreds of times as they were simply walking in order like an army squadron. It was entertaining to see them all cross the suspension bridge, one after the other.

Horses traveling one by one

Horses traveling one by one

ACAP Day 11 – Letdar > Thorong Phedi – Altitude gain:  250m – Distance Covered: 5KM

Another ‘easy’ day scheduled, we were aiming for our base camp of Thorong Phedi. We slowly set off from Letdar after one of the better breakfasts we had eaten. We were happy to go slow today, though we were still moving at a decent pace and excited about arriving at our destination and getting mentally prepared for the pass.

The trek to Thorong Pedi was a set amongst the beautiful scenery we had become used to. There were small sections where we had to climb which proved challenging. At each bend we thought we had arrived at our destination only to be left a little disappointed to realize that it was still a little further, damn you Annapurna circuit!

Annapurna circuit just keeps giving

Annapurna circuit just keeps giving

We arrived and could see what we suspected was the base camp high above us wrapped in prayer flags. We knew we would need to trek to this point before we could reach the Thorong La Pass.

The accommodation at Thorong Phedi was basic, but this is what we were used to. The common area however was very inviting and there was an excitement in the air. The room was packed with people gearing up for what is the hardest part of the trek.

At this point I knew that tomorrow would be the hardest part of the trek, so I relaxed, ate a generous meal, organised my gear and had an early night.

 

ACAP Day 12 – Thorong Phedi > Thorong La Pass > Muktinath – Altitude gain:  966m – Distance Covered: 11KM

We woke at 5:15am, I jumped from bed excited about the challenge ahead of me. It was cold outside, though even at this time I could tell that the day was going to be perfect for crossing the pass. We set off after our usual apple porridge for breakfast. I was decked out in the same gear as usual except I had two pairs of gloves on and my windbreaker. After completing the Tilicho Lake I knew that I wouldn’t need any other layers whilst completing the trek up to Thorong La Pass.

The start of the climb towards the base camp was steep and challenging, above me I could see a steady line of people who had also set out this morning. I stopped for a water break and saw a family of deer jumping from boulder to boulder, they made it look so easy.

The base camp looked uninviting and even more basic than our accommodation below, I think we made the right choice staying where we did. I smashed down a snickers and a protein bar and had a well-deserved water break. At this point I overheard a father telling his son that the hardest part was now over and that the next part had more gentle raised slopes, though the downside was that they seemed to go on forever, great!

I set off again with our group, not long after we passed locals offering horse rides over the pass to people who were either feeling under the weather or had given up mentally. I found that the trek and pass were as much a mental challenge as they were physical.

I could see prayer flags ahead of me on the trail, about 100 meters ahead. I didn’t let myself believe that the pass was within reach as I had become used to the mountains false promises. Though when I saw people milling around I knew that this was it, I had a sudden burst of energy.

Waiting to reach the pass

Waiting to reach the pass

On arrival I was elated and threw high fives to all in my group, it was a great feeling knowing that we had accomplished the goal we had been working towards for the last two weeks.

We threw our gear down and headed towards the prayer flags where everyone was posing. After a couple of group photos we explored the area. I had to add more layers and my beanie as it was freezing cold.

Within 30 minutes it was time to move on, we still had a way to go to reach Muktinath and about 1000 meters to descend! The way down was easier, though still tough on the knees. We were making good time and catching up to other groups, everyone was determined to push through, still on a high from the pass.

We were passed by three mountain bikers flying downhill, it seemed pretty extreme and looked like lot of fun. The landscape was so barren and rocky and didn’t look very hospitable. Within what seemed like no time at all we could see a town in the distance, we made our way to it and stopped for a well-deserved lunch. We were about an hour or so from Muktinath.

We arrived at Muktinath and found our way to Bob Marley hotel, this was the perfect spot offering clean rooms, hot showers and western toilets, what more did we need? Cold beers and great food, it was a night to celebrate.

Overall I felt that the pass was relatively easy, definitely easier than the Tilicho Lake trek. It was by no means a walk in the park, though it was much easier than I had imagined. I think I had built it up in my head and I was expecting the weight of my bag and the altitude to be more draining.

Smashing my goal

Smashing my goal

ACAP Day 13 – Muktinath > Jomsom – Altitude:  -1080m – Distance Covered: 13KM

We had reached the last day of our trek after deciding that we would now take a bus from Jomsom to Pokhara, half our group had already decided on this, though Jordan and myself were originally set to walk for another two days.

We seemed to be unsure of the way and couldn’t find the trail within minutes of leaving the town. This was a common theme for the day and we spent a lot of time walking the dusty road towards Jomsom. We constantly covered our faces as we were covered in dust from what seemed like a steady stream of tourist buses and motorbikes. As the last day of our trek it was more than a little disappointing, but the scenery was still great.

Checking out the village below

Checking out the village below

We had walked for about 10km when we ran into a local guide who pointed us in the right direction. We continued on for a short time before we were once again on the dusty road. We had had enough and were divided on whether to wave down the next bus, it didn’t seem right after all we had completed in the past two weeks, though we were over walking and had already checked out mentally.

In the end we waved down a bus with about an hour and a half walk to Jomsom. We paid two hundred rupee each and were on our way. The bus was a welcome change and we passed many tourists on the road, covered in dust and being blown around by the strong wind. We didn’t envy them at all.

We arrived in Jomsom to selfies with the locals on the bus, I don’t think I had posed for so many photos on my trip thus far. We attempted to get a bus that night to Pokhara, though smartly the bus only travels during the day.

 

Waiting around for a bus

Waiting around for a bus

ACAP Day 14 – Jomsom > Pokhara – The bumpiest bus ride known to man!!

While technically we didn’t trek on this day, I have still included it as I put down that I ‘finished’ my trek in Pokhara. We had organised the bus trip from Jomsom to Pokhara yesterday afternoon. The tickets were selling out fast and we paid 1700 rupee per person, which at the time seemed expensive. Though it appears that there is only one bus (that we could find) and there is a monopoly on ticket pricing, pretty much they charge what they want depending on demand.

The bus ride from Jomsom to Pokhara was the bumpiest bus ride I have ever been on. I had heard that it was going to be rough and it lived up to its description. People were rocked side to side as we slowly made our way along the mountainside. There were times when the bus rocked its way through roads ever so close to the cliff edge. We had to stop a number of times to alow other cars/buses to pass on the narrow road. The bus was splashed with water as we passed under waterfalls crossing the road.

It was uncomfortable, dusty, hot and long, though in the end it was well worth it and arriving in Pokhara was great. Finally we were back in a touristy area, we set out to eat a variety of western food and had a few drinks to celebrate the past two weeks.

Overall, I loved the Annapurna circuit experience and would definitely recommend it to everyone. Nepal, and Annapurna circuit in particular had the best landscapes I have seen on my travels over the past 11 months.

Living life on the edge

Living life on the edge

Discover the Annapurna Circuit

Discovering the Annapurna circuit route – Part 1

If you’re unsure whether you want to complete the Annapurna Circuit route then you’ve come to the right place. If after reading my detailed story below you are still not convinced, then maybe it’s not right for you. I’ve broken this post into a two part series as there was just so much of the story I wanted to tell.

  • Number Of Days – 14
  • Hours Hiked – Roughly 75 hours of walk time
  • Distance Covered – 131KM
  • Altitude Covered – Ranged from 840 meters at Bhulbhule to 5416 meters at the Thorung La Pass
  • Trek Date – October 4th – October 17th
  • Weather: Overall sunny conditions with occasional showers, though these mostly occurred overnight (we had a half day trekking in the rain which was not fun)
  • Cost – 53,900 rupees/$490 – For a full breakdown of my cost including equipment see my guest post on Nomadasaurus.

 

Annapurna Circuit Route Overview

Day 1: Bhulbhule to Bahundanda

Day 2: Bahundanda to Tal

Day 3: Tal to Chame

Day 4: Chame to Upper Pisang

Day 5: Upper Pisang to Manang

Day 6: Manang rest day

Day 7: Manang rest day

Day 8: Manang to Tilicho Lake Base Camp

Day 9: Tilicho Lake Base Camp to Tilicho Lake, then onto Khaskvar

Day 10: Khaskvar to Ledar

Day 11: Ledar to Thorang Phedi

Day 12: Thorang Phedi to Thorung La Pass, then onto Muktinath

Day 13: Muktinath to Jomsom

Day 14: Jomsom to Pokhara (transit)

 

ACAP Day 1 – October 4th – Bhulbhule > Bahundanda – Altitude gain:  470m – Distance Covered: 20KM

Our trekking group consisted of two Canadians, two Germans, one Italian and myself, an Australian. We had all met in India and had previously made the journey to Nepal…except for the Italian, who ambushed us at the bus stop.

Annapurna circuit route

At the start of our journey: Jordan, Nic, Simon, Benni, Marcel & myself

Day one started at 6:30AM, I went downstairs and organized breakfast. I had eggs, toast, peanut butter, banana and a honey lemon ginger tea. I had organized my bag the night before and had set out all my gear. It was exciting to be finally starting after the lead up to the trek.

We stopped at our first of many checkpoints designed to track trekkers whereabouts. Here I saw a missing person poster stuck on the wall which sent an ominous warning to the dangers that could lay ahead. Though properly prepared and traveling with a group minimizes these risks.

Our group walked for about 2 minutes before we realized that we didn’t know which direction to go, we looked around and found locals smiling and pointing our way forward. We went down a small row of rock stairs and crossed a river where a tourist bus was bogged. There was a lot more water than expected and my shoes were wet within 10 minutes.

We continued on through beautiful scenery set along a river with mountains at each side. The path was well travelled with small streams of water running its length. Local buses, jeeps and tractors occasionally passed.

We didn’t see many other westerners on the road, though we were passed by a number of porters carrying more weight than two of us combined, making the trek look easy.

We covered 20KM on day one and finished at Bahundanda, we had been going for about 6hr 15 mins

I don't think that bus is going anywhere.. - Annapurna circuit route

I don’t think that bus is going anywhere..

ACAP Day 2 – Bahundanda > Tal 7:30am > 3:30PM – Altitude gain:  390m – Distance Covered: 24KM

We decided to head off early for day two and set our alarm for 6:05am with breakfast to follow. We woke to a thick fog. After an apple porridge and masala tea I was ready to face the 8 hour trek and 20+ km that awaited me.

The first few KM’s were hard on the body, my shoulders ached from carrying my bag, though I was positive and determined to push on.

We tentatively worked our way down the wet path towards the valley below. The scenery was amazing, with rice terraces set amongst the mountains. A river snaked its way through the valley with fast flowing water. The paths were rocky and wet and it wasn’t long before I had wet feet, though with such a distance to cover they’d be dry soon enough.

Beautiful Landscapes are everywhere - Annapurna circuit route

Beautiful landscapes are everywhere

We worked our way through small villages offering wares, food and places to stay, each with their own spin on ‘the next town is 2 hours away, eat here, stay here’. Though with our goal firmly set on Tal, we wouldn’t be stopping anytime soon.

The rice terraces were replaced by steps and paths leading higher and higher, we had to regroup a number of times as the steep paths were a challenge. We nearly lost our way as we were walking with our heads down up an endless mountain path, luckily we spotted two porters walking through a small gap in a wall which lead us back to the road.

We reached Jagat for lunch and had a well-deserved veg noodles, we had travelled 4 hours and about half way. The wait for lunch seemed to last forever, but finally it arrived and the hungry group of men cleaned their plates.

We were met with rain after lunch and decided to push on, we hoped it wouldn’t get any heavier. There were waterfalls everywhere and the river below was a soothing sound as a backdrop.

We crossed a number of floating bridges, a few which had seen better days. We could see the roads above where crazy bus drivers completed the daily gauntlet.

The last few hours of the trek were punishing with many hills. We passed small huts set amongst Marijuana plants.

On the final climb to Tal we were met with a bare assed Israeli, he had an upset stomach and was relieving himself…not something I thought I would see on the trek.

I had a surge of energy when I finally realized that I was on flat ground and I could see Tal in the near distance, we had nearly arrived!

Our hotel had hot water which was amazing, I felt like a new man…it was time for some well deserved Dal Bhat.

Finally, Tal in the distance - Annapurna Circuit route

Finally, Tal was within reach!

ACAP Day 3 – Tal> Chame 7:40am > 5:10PM  – Altitude gain:  1000m – Distance Covered: 25KM

After two days hiking over 20km it was a slow start to day 3, though starting in the beautiful Tal it was easy to forget my aching shoulders (yes, shoulders) and take in the stunning views of the waterfalls, and out over the river.

Within about 10 minutes of walking I was stopping multiple times to take photos of the waterfall, the river, local huts, and wild horses, which were resting along the path. What an amazing start!

The beautiful wild horses of Tal - Annapurna Circuit route

The beautiful wild horses of Tal

We crossed a number of suspension bridges throughout the day, swaying with the weight of the group, the first steps were always tentative..though after a while you get used to them.

Any idea of keeping my feet dry were quickly dashed when we passed a bend and found a stream running down the road. At the peak of the road a waterfall was gushing with a foot of water covering the entire path. We were unable to cross without getting wet feet, luckily the second wet crossing had large rocks which kept my feet relatively dry.

Adding to my wet feet, I also had to deal with the annoying rain which lasted 4 hours. The temperature was cool and the rain was not welcome, I was wet and hoping my rain cover was doing its job.

We arrived for lunch and fortunately the host supplied us with a small fire where we could dry our clothes and warm bodies. The place stunk as there were six guys drying sweaty shirts, socks & shoes, though none of us complained as we were loving the heat.

With 1000 meters of elevation to cover today we had many climbs to complete, the last few of the day tested our resolve and our patience.

We walked for 9 hours and 30 minutes, which was a challenge, though it was all worth it when we spotted Annapurna two mountain whilst checking in with the tourist police at Koto.

It was hard to keep our feet dry - Annapurna Circuit Route

It was hard to keep our feet dry

ACAP Day 4 – Chame > Upper Pisang 9:15am > 2:30PM  – Altitude gain:  600m – Distance Covered: 14.5KM

After such a massive day yesterday it as comforting knowing that our trek today would be under 6 hours. We continued on the well-trodden path with beautiful river crossings. The landscapes were changing and the mountains were becoming more baron as we continued. It’s hard to believe that the scenery just keeps getting more beautiful.

The changing landscapes of Annapurna circuit route

The changing landscapes of Annapurna circuit

Simon had spotted a guest house high on the hill overlooking the valley and town below, we were tired and he had a hard time convincing us to go up even higher. Though in the end the views were well worth it.

We visited a local temple where monks were completing their daily alms, we sat in the temple and listened to them sing, pray and playing flutes

We saw our first great views of Annapurna two, everyone was sitting in the common area mesmerized as the clouds cleared to display the full form of the peak. It was so breathtaking.

Todays hike was much easier than yesterday and we were able to sleep in, though one consequence was that the paths were much busier with groups of trekkers.

The view from our guesthouse - Annapurna Circuit route

The view from our guesthouse

ACAP Day 5 – Upper Pisang > Manang 7:50am > 3:00PM  – Altitude gain:  230m – Distance Covered: 22KM

We decided to start early today and ordered breakfast for 6:15am, it was cold in the common area, and the owner wouldn’t let us start a fire, though we had less than an hour before we would leave, so it was fine.

We left anticipating an easy day, though after about 30 minutes we soon realized that this assumption was a mistake. We had a climb of about 300 meters to reach a temple and then onto the path beyond.

It was quite a challenge and the hardest thing we had encountered thus far on the Annapurna circuit route. We zigzagged our way to the top stopping when we needed a water break, I had a snickers and took a couple of bites to give me the boost I needed.

When I finally arrived at the top the views over the valley below were amazing. There was also a local lady selling apple pies and vegetable samosas, I had the apple pie for 100 rp which was a great reward. One of our group, Ben, had been sick over the past week and had been soldiering on like a champ, though had to turn back to Upper Pisang prior to the climb. He and Marcel decided to take motorbikes to Manang, which turned out to be an adventure in itself.

The views are definitely worth the climb - Annapurna Circuit route

The views are definitely worth the climb and the apple pie was delicious!

The day was riddled with accents and descents that pushed our bodies and our minds. The environment was more dry, dusty and rocky with pine trees spotted along the landscapes. We crossed streams and through what looked like abandoned villages with no sign of life.

One of the highlights of the day was stumbling upon a boarding school when looking for lunch. The man in charge was nice enough to offer us noodle soup for 150 rp each. At this point of the day we had been travelling for about four hours and still had two hours left, we needed to eat. The noodle soup was delicious, spicy and hot. We lapped it up, thanked our host and continued on our way.

We spotted Manang in the distance and were very happy, as we entered the town we ran into the other two members of our group who had found us accommodation for the night.

Manang is the designated rest town, used to acclimatise to the elevation, thus the town has a few more comforts than others on the trek. There are more restaurants and they are famous for the Yak burgers. I tried the Yak burger for dinner, which at 800 rp was a little disappointing, though was all part of the experience.

What looked like an abandoned village - Annapurna circuit route

What looked like an abandoned village

ACAP Day 6 – REST DAY – Manang

We had scheduled a rest day in Manang (which is recommended), it was good to know that we could sleep in and relax knowing that we were only going on a small day trek for a few hours. We decided to trek up to one of the lookout points with views back over Manang and the lake.

How cool does this lake look? - Annapurna Circuit Route

How cool does this lake look?

The trek had a climb of about 300 meters, though this time without our packs it was much easier, though still a challenge. The views over the lake were again spectacular, the lake was a different colour of light blue than I had seen before, and looked freezing!

As I was climbing I heard a buzzing sound which I initially thought was a bee hive, until I saw the familiar shape of a drone. When I arrived at the top there was a group of locals recording a music video, it was cool to watch the team work and listen to the local music.

We continued up to a height of about 3850 meters, the highest altitude to date. We stayed at this height for about 45 minutes to acclimatize. It was cold and windy and gave me an insight into what to expect later on our trek.

There are two American doctors stationed at Manang, they stay there for the season and offer medical advice to both the locals and trekkers. We sat in on their presentation on altitude sickness, it was very informative and taught us the symptoms to watch out for. We also had our blood oxygenation levels checked and I was happy to be within the healthy range for this altitude.

Checking out the local music scene - Annapurna Circuit Route

Checking out the local music video

ACAP Day 7 – REST DAY – Manang

We scheduled another rest day in Manang as Jordan was feeling a little under the weather, and with time up our sleeve it made sense not to risk it. Simon and I decided that we would trek up to the Praken Gompa which is just under 4000 meters, and where you can receive a blessing from an old holy man. We reached the Gompa and found other tourists waiting, though after waiting for about an hour or so we decided that we would descend without our blessing and hoped it wouldn’t impact our luck moving forward.

View from Praken Gompa - Annapurna Circuit Route

View from Praken Gompa

We found that the bakery across from our hotel had delicious food (in addition to the chocolate rolls and other desserts we were eating daily). Everyone was burning so many calories that they were just smashing the food. I had a Yak salami pizza which was delicious and one of the best meals I had during my visit to Nepal.

Marcel and Ben decided that they would leave Manang the following day for Besisahar. Ben had not improved and they decided it was best to call an early end to their trek. They had done such a great job and I could tell that they were both disappointed.

Simon also left our group and made his way towards Tilicho Lake, he was unable to stay another day in Manang. It was disappointing that our group was splitting apart as we had formed a common bond during our trek.

Like most other nights on the trek we played cards, spoke to other trekkers and planned our next steps.

I took my first Diamox tablet to reduce the likelihood of getting altitude sickness, the only side effect I had was that I needed to pee a few times during the night, apart from that everything was normal.

How cool is that hat? - Annapurna Circuit route

How cool is that hat?

I hope you have enjoyed reading part one of my journey exploring the Annapurna circuit route, part two will be out in a couple of days and contains the hardest and most beautiful parts of the trek.

Kathmandu Food

Where can you find the best Kathmandu food?

Are you looking for the best Kathmandu food on offer? When visiting somewhere new, we always have a few things we’re on the lookout for. We enjoy a mix of visiting the hotspots as well as exploring lesser known parts of the area. We look to interact with the locals, a central place to stay, and some yummy food.

THE REASONABLE MAN ADAPTS HIMSELF TO THE WORLD; THE UNREASONABLE ONE PERSISTS IN TRYING TO ADAPT THE WORLD TO HIMSELF. THEREFORE, ALL PROGRESS DEPENDS ON THE UNREASONABLE MAN. – GEORGE BERNARD SHAW

However, after finishing a couple weeks hiking the Annapurna circuit, we just wanted to kick back and relax. Sightseeing would have to wait. We just wanted to set ourselves up in Kathmandu and enjoy the local café culture. Luckily, Kathmandu food did not disappoint!

Here’s 5 places we discovered to enjoy international food on offer in the Thamel area. Bon appetit!

  • Fire & Ice If you’ve got a craving for Western food, this is THE place for you. A huge variety of pizzas and pastas on offer, it’s nice to have a taste of home. And make sure to save room for dessert. As Fire and Ice also doubles as an ice cream shop, don’t hesitate to finish your meal with a soft serve!
Kathmandu Food - Delicioso!

Delicioso!

  • OR2K – A favourite amongst visitors! The freshness of the Israeli inspired menu leaves you wanting to come back again and again. In fact, many people linger all day, relaxing on the floor seats with large cushions while sipping on lattes and mint lemonades. A complete vegetarian menu, full of tasty options! Perfect for digital nomads as it boats some of the best wifi in the area. If you’re visiting Pokhara, look for the OR2K branch there too!
Kathmandu Food - A crowd favorite!

A crowd favorite!

  • Chick ‘n’ FalafelA staple in the Kathmandu food scene! Whilst it’s always busy and you can’t exactly “eat in,” the food makes it all worthwhile.  The menu is small as they focus on quality not quantity, but there still seems to be something for everyone. Go vegetarian with the falafel wraps, fill up on chicken strips or indulge in some loaded fries.
Kathmandu food - There's always a line!

There’s always a line!

  • FriendsThe sister restaurant of OR2K, Friends, offers both vegetarian and non-vegetarian options to its visitors. While we preferred the food at its sister restaurant more, we enjoyed the atmosphere at Friends better. They are happy to host you for a meal, or for the day. Situated at the far end of Mandala Walking Street, meet new people and enjoy the company of existing Friends here!
Kathmandu Food - I heart my friends near and far!

I heart my friends near and far!

  • De La SoulIn the heart of Thamel, you’ll hear De La Soul before you see it. A lively place with music and a fun-loving vibe, definitely take advantage of their happy hour specials. If cigarette smoke doesn’t bother you, sit on the outside patio and soak up the atmosphere. Enjoy people watching while you sip on your drink. A good place for a couple of pre-drinks before heading to dinner elsewhere, or stay and enjoy their full menu.
Kathmandu Food - Eat, drink and chill!

Eat, drink and chill!

STAY

  • Alobar 1000 – Despite the rave reviews on HostelWorld, we would recommend staying elsewhere. A good hostel for socialising, though it’s a little dirty.
  • 327 Thamel – Alobar 1000’s sister hostel, we found this site more superior in every way. The location. Rooms. Bathrooms. And general facilities. With reasonable dorm prices, why not check it out for yourself.
  • Happily Ever After Hostel – The most budget-friendly hostel in central Thamel. Choose from reasonably priced private or dorm rooms. Nothing fancy, but the staff couldn’t be more helpful, and it’s one of the few hostels in the area which includes breakfast in the price. The walls are paper-thin, but at the price point, how can you go wrong?

PLAY

  • Mandala Yoga & Massage Studio – Ahhh! After your trek, or just to relax, visit the guys at Mandala. I went in with a migraine, and came out 1-hour later completely refreshed!  They also offer great drop-in yoga classes, so pop in and say “hi.”
  • Durbar Square – Visit one of the three royal palaces in Kathmandu. Enjoy walking through and witnessing the temples and exploring the museum inside.
  • Trekking – Arrange a guided tour, or prepare for independent trekking here. Kathmandu is the perfect place to decide where to go, get all the gear you need, and organize the logistics for your trip. Enjoy!

TIPS

  • We had more people here asking us if we wanted hash than we did in any other place. While we didn’t choose to take them up on the offer, do be careful if you do as it is still illegal in Nepal.
  • Plan on a lot of traffic; unfortunately the infrastructure is not the best.
  • Even though it’s the capital city, wifi is quite unreliable and credit cards are not widely accepted.

And there you have it; our rundown of Kathmandu food,  accommodation and entertainment!

What’s one of your highlights from Kathmandu?