Annapurna Circuit Diaries

Here’s the unedited log I had when I hiked Annapurna Circuit – basically notes written almost every night of the trip, until we passed through the highest point – Thorong La Pass. I did write an actual, hopefully helpful guide, but if you want the actual experience, read below.

Day 1: December 17, 2019
Nepali folks lie. A lot.
Accept that, learn to say no no matter how aggressive (or beggy) they get, and stick to the plan (assuming you have one). If they say 15 minutes, assume it’ll be 30 minutes to an hour.
  • 6:00. Take the taxi to the New Bus Stop – Gongabu Bus Stop. From there we were told that there were no bus going to Bhulbhule, despite foreigner accounts of the contrary. They also said that there are no microbus/minibus to Besisahar, only a local one. So local one we got on to. It was 470 rupees per person, so I handed him 1,000 rupees. No offer of change. I let it go. I asked when the bus is supposed to leave – 25 minutes he said. But it left about 45 minutes after two follow ups from me.
  • 09:00 ish. We stopped for a snack. Really good food!
  • 11:00 ish. We stopped for lunch where there are pots to choose from. I pointed at the food, asked how much it is, they did the shake of the head, figured it was more or less cheap coz it’s a cheap-cafeteria-side of the road type of place. They charged us 400 rupees per head. Lesson learned? If they don’t want to tell you the prices ahead of purchase, they ARE going to f*cking rip you off.
  • 14:00. We finally arrived at Besisahar. Headed to the tourism office to register our TIMS (why the ANCP was a different place, no idea). Since we wanted to go to Bhulbhule, they said we can take a jeep at 500 rupees per had for 30 minutes, or an hour bus at 200 rupees. We chose the jeep coz we were rushing. He said we will leave in 15 minutes. So 45 minutes later we were off.
  • 14:45. Jeep ride to Bhulbhule – prepare for an overloaded jeep going through rough roads. There were two of us squeezed in the driver’s side, and four at the back.
  • 15:45. Our supposed 30 minute ride ended. Somwhere in the middle we had to show our ANCP permits. We then just went to the closest lodge, tried to negotiate a free stay (they said no) and food. Showered, did the laundry (which won’t dry for sure), filtered water, and had dinner. We are supposed to pay 300 rupees for the room (with hot shower, wifi and electricity), and the dinner we had (dhal baht is AMAZING), but she said to pay in the morning instead. Fingers crossed she’ll be fair.
Day 2: December 18, 2019
Annapurna is kicking our asses.
  • 05:00 Wake up. We made our coffee and noodles inside our room. I know, I know, teahouses make their money from people who eat dinner and breakfast there. But I paid for our room even after I asked if she’ll waive it in exchange for us eating dinner and breakfast there, so no, I don’t feel guilty.
  • 06:30 Head out. We cleaned up, packed our bags, and started walking. We followed the main trail (red/white horizontal stripes), saw some side trails (blue/white) that we didn’t do, saw some hikers – a couple, a solo female hiker (brave soul!), and a solo female hiker with a guide. Funny thing, the female hiker was way faster than her guide and she had to wait for him! Haha. The trail is right next to the road, sometimes far enough, sometimes about 10 meters away. Unfortunately, some of the trail in the afternoon were predominantly on the road.
  • 09:30 Stopped to buy snickers. I was realy hungry with no trail food!
  • 11:10 Stopped for lunch. In my home town we make jokes whenever restaurants take a while to prepare food – we say, oh, they’re still catching the chicken or something. The funny thing is that it is true! We ordered vegetarian dal baht so no chickens involved, but he had to go to his garden to get the veggies haha.
  • 12:00 Started eating lunch. Yes, it took that long to prepare it.
  • 12:30 Head out to hike again. This was a LOT of ups and downs. So, so much. Ugh.
  • 15:00 Got in Jagat, decided to push forward. Sunset is expected at 17:00 so figured we shoul just push through.
  • 16:10 Chamje! We got into the first hut in town, as he immediately offered free lodging if we eat dinner and breakfast in his place.
Other notes.

My leg is bruised from my shoes, so worried about the next couple of days. Me and my hiking buddy have our own ailments now, and we’ve only hiked one day. Not a good sign. Clothes are not drying either so it’s piling up. Fingers crossed for tomorrow.

Oh, and it’s also getting really cold, I was shivering after my shower.

Day 3: December 19, 2019
I am defeated.
  • 05:00 Day starts. We make coffee in our room (in secret! Hush….) and packed our bags. Used the restrooms quite well too. That’s when I noticed something was wrong in what I ate the night before… and I bet it was the masala tea.
  • 06:00 Breakfast. We had porridge – which was mainly oatmeal topped with the selected fruit. It’s about 400 rupees I think.
  • 06:30 Start hike. Within an hour or two, my suspicions with the masala tea were confirmed. But I had immodium in an accessible pocket, so I immediately drank one. But rest assured it will haunt me for the rest of the day. My boots have also started scraping at both my shins. Now each step feels like someone (me?!) is trying to saw off my leg. Not a nice feeling.
  • 11:00 Changed boots to crocs. Can walk now, but within an hour blisters started forming. Plus the weight of my winter shoes on my back? Not good.
  • 13:00 Lunch in the middle of the road. Things are looking bleaker and bleaker. I can barely walk. My partner took some of my load, and we discussed letting go of some of my gear to lighten the weight of my pack. It will be painful. But I understand it is necessary.
  • 14:00 Limped my way to Dharapani. Things are reaaaally not good. But my partner wants to continue hiking, and he put me in a jeep (500 rupees) to Danakyu. He’ll just follow on foot.
  • 16:00 Partner arrived, whew. I have gotten us a lodge with wifi and not so good hot water. As expected, if dinner and breakfast will be eaten in their lodge the lodge fee is waived.
  • 18:00 Dinner! Had the apple pie with custard for dessert. That was awesome.
Had to take painkillers today. I am utterly scared for the next couple of days, fearing I will not be able to walk.

Day 4: December 20, 2019
I feel like each day in this hike should be marked by the ailment I have.
  • 06:00. Wake up. Have coffee and packed our bags. Put the bandage over the bruises on my shin.
  • 07:00. Breakfast. Quite heavy – had fried chicken rice.
  • 07:39. Headed out of Danakyu/Danaque. There were a pair of dogs that accompanied us for two hours ish. I was a tad afraid coz i felt like they want to eat us if given the chance haha. They, however, refused to cross a bridge and that’s where we parted ways.
  • 11:00 ish. Lunch at Koto. This is the only part of the day I actually sat down. Darn I am so effin slow.
  • 18:00 ish. Artived at Dhikur Pokhari. It was already dark for the past hour, and I felt really bad. Started throwing up a bit before dinner, then threw up big time during. Now I’m dirty and unable to shower. Shit. I felt so much better after throwing up, but simply crashed to bed afterwards.
And that concludes Annapurna kicking my ass day 4.

Day 5: December 21, 2019
Uh oh. Altitude sickness here I come
  • 06:30 Wake up. Decided I’m feeling better and can hike.
  • 07:30 Breakfast.
  • 08:00 Head out.
  • 09:45 Upper Pisang. It was fairly flat going to Upper Pisang, that I was surprised we were already there. But we have to take things slow, so we are required to rest 20 minutes to acclimate.
  • 10:15 head out to Gyaru. Now, Gyaru is 3670meters to Upper Pisang’s 3300. And that 300meter gain happens in one go – with a lot of switchbacks. Which is ridiculous. Either way we had to rest a couple of times (shooting for 15 mins every 100 meter gain).
  • 13:15. Arrived at Gyaru. Darn, most beautiful village to date. It just blends in with the mountains so well. But since we felt ut was early enough we decided to push on.
  • 16:00. Arrived at Nyawal. It’s like Gyaru decided to hold a festival haha. A good portion (half?) of the teahouses are closed due to winter season, and they said that only two or so will remain open by January.
  • 18:00 Dinner! Our lodge stay was free.
Ooooh, I had diarrhea again, which is not good when your toilet is the squat type. Ouch.

Day 6: December 22, 2019
Rest day!

I slept the day away. Yey!

Day 7: December 23, 2019
A nice, leisurely (wait, do i have to poop?) walk to Manang.
  • 06:30. Wake up, coffee, pack bags.
  • 07:30. Breakfast. Had scrambled eggs. Paid our bill of 5,500 rupees, tipped 500 (for 2 pax, room is free)
  • 08:30. Headed out.
  • 11:30. Napped en route.
  • 13:00 ish. Passed Braka. Wait, Braka? Our planned route was to take faster one that DOES not pass throught Braka. Huh. Oh well. Showed the permits at the checkpoint, got told that Tilicho Lake is not visible right now and not optional as the teahouse is not open.
  • 14:00 ish. Arrived at Manang. Trued to negotiate a lodge, didn’t think it’s worth it, so now we’re paying 400 rupees per night.
  • 14:30. Went to the health center coz myhiking buddy’s not feeling well. Meds and consultation are free!
  • 17:00. Dinner.
  • 18:00. Pumped water, used steripen, steripen died on me, charged steripen, used it again. Then brushed my teeth and off to bed!
Ugh, Manang is 3450meters compared to Nyawal’s 3,650. But it feels colder in Manang!

Day 8: December 24, 2019
Everybody’s celebrating Christmas, and here we are experiencing the harsh life in the Himalayas….
  • 06:30 Wake up.
  • 07:30 Order breakfast.
  • 08:00 Breakfast.
  • 08:30ish. Head out.
  • 12:00ish. Lunch at Yak Kharka.
  • 13:40ish. Arrive at Letdar. Took the first hut, 100 rupees per night.
  • 18:00 Dinner.
Ugh. We feel so so so awful. The view is amazing, but the weather is harsh. I have a cold, and my partner has food poisoning. Add the altitude? Darn.

Day 9: December 25, 2019
Christmas up the Himalayas! The elevation is killing me.
  • 06:30. Wake up, coffee, pack.
  • 07:30. Breakfast. Had lemon pancakes. So sour. Will just stick to chocolate next time.
  • 08:00. Head out.
  • 11:10. Arrived at Thorang Pendi, rested for a couple of minutes.
  • 14:00. Arrived at High Camp. Darn that was gruelling trip up. Just one full assault. It was hard. What is supposed to be an hour took us three haha. Altitude combined with my cough and cold is kicking my ass.
But! I am now at 4950meters. Arrived at the lodge (only one) with a 250 rupee fee, and had to rest for a while because I was that nauseous. It’s 15:40 now, and I’m having tea. Will have dinner soon.

Day 10: December 26, 2019
The Reckoning!
  • 03:50 wake up. We met up with some folks in the lodge and we are joining them in their 5:30am hike. So since we’re having breakfast at 5am and we need an hour to prepare…. but darn, 4950meters is darn cold.
  • 05:30 head out. And be immediately left behind. It was a difficult trip. The warmest temperature is around -15c. Ouchie. About an hour into the trip, strong winds forced the group to take shelter for about half an hour in an emergency hut ish place. The locals were burning stuff (trash?) found in the hut.
  • 10:30 Arrived at the pass! Darn. I was just bawling. It was supposed to be a 3 to 5 hours, so i am also very very happy. But it was sooooo cold and so we had to go! We have no water because our hydration packs were froze solid from the inside!
  • 15:40 Arrived at the guesthouse in Muktinah.
Darn. This is the culmination of the entire hike, and I am just grateful we were able to pass.

Day 11: December 27, 2019
People are more stressful than mountains. Mountains are scarier in that they kill you, but they are straightforward about it. People stress me out a lot with all the lies and mind games, mainly for financial gain. Either way.
  • 06:30. Get up. We don’t have 3 in 1 coffee anymore so we just needed to wait for the 7:30am breakfast.
  • 07:30. Breakfast. We had some freebies because apparently it is the New Year’s of the Mustang Area (we were at Muktinah)
  • 08:30 ish. Headed out.
  • 08:40 ish. Got into the jeep stop. We were looking for the jeep going to Jomsom, and the hotel and my research shows a 300 rupee per person fare. However, once we got there, there were no public buses for the day. The thing is, all drivers started asking to be chartered somewhere between 3,000 to 5,000 rupees. But if you are willing to wait, you can join other passengers going to Jomsom. Of course, as Nepali people lie a LOT (at least those who make money from tourists in my experience), they will tell you that there is nobody going to Jomsom anymore). Ten minutes later a group of four Indians came and we had a 500 per person deal.
  • 11:00. Somewhere one of the tires busted, and so we had to stop at the mechanic. Got into the mechanic’s place around 11, stayed for 30 minutes (driver said 5 minutes. Read: Nepali peoplle lie a LOT). The drop off point was less than a five minute drive from there. Why he kept us with him? Probably so he can personally “accompany” tourists to his friends’ hotel.
  • 11:45. We were just looking for the bus stop. Found one, were told that the bus just left a couple of minutes back and try for other bus companies. Told to wait til 12:30 so he can confirm if there will be a bus, called again at 12:30, no answer. Called every 5 minutes, no answer. Around 1pm he calls me saying a bus will be coming in 20 minutes. Note: local phones are critical when scheduling.
  • 13:20ish got into the bus. Rushed to find a seat, and started the bumpiest bus ride of my life.
  • 18:00ish. Asked to transfer to another bus as there was a landslide and we had to walk across the river.
  • 18:30ish. Found the stop for the night. This one took more effort to find because they are all asking for 600 rupees per room, and normally it should be free with food. But after asking a couple of shops, we finally found a “free one”. Had dinner, shopped for trail food, coffeee etc, refilled our waters, and off to bed!
Day 12: December 28, 2019
A long walk for a view. So we’re done with the Thorong La pass, but we still want to do Poon Hill – which is a good viewing point they said. So off we go.
  • 05:30. Wake up, get ready.
  • 06:30. Breakfast.
  • 07:30 ish. Head out.
  • 13:00 lunch on the road.
  • 15:30ish. Arrive at the Ghorepani.
It is a 1,800 meter ascent I think?

Day 13: December 29, 2019
Off to see the famed sunrise at Poon Hill!
  • 4:30ish. Wake up, have coffee in our room.
  • 5:00ish. Head out. There’s a booth somewhere in the middle of the path where they charge you for the entrance. Maybe NPR100ish?
  • 6:30ish. Arrival at Poon Hill, go up the viewing point and reserve our spot. We had a gopro trained at the mountains, and basically waited the entire time for the sunrise.
  • 8:00ish. Headed down. Some of the path is icy, so we had to be careful. At one point, a guy running down hit me at my back because he said he saw a lion and he’s running away from it. Did it scare me? For sure. We didn’t see anything, but we did try to rush down quickly.
We then basically spent the entire day at the hostel. My hiking buddy LOVED the view, and wanted to stay one more night. So we did.

Day 14: December 30, 2019
Wake up, breakfast, head out. It was a long way down, up until Naya Pul where we can take the bus to Pokhara. A guy with a taxi kept on bothering us to take the taxi for NPR2,000 I think, but we chose to take the bus, which is about NPR200 per person. While waiting on the bus, I booked a hostel in Pokhara close to the lake, as I wanted to be staying within walking distance of the lake. 

The bus got so crowded and with our full packs with us we had to carry our bags in our laps, when it didn’t even have enough space for our butts and legs, so suffice it to say it was a difficult couple of hours’ bus ride. And once we got to Pokhara, we had to take a taxi either way to get to our hostel (NPR300).
In hindsight, we should have had taken the taxi.

And the Himalayan hike was over. Just like that.