Category Archives: annapurna circuit

Odar village, a home-stay village

Odar homestay village (or rather just Odar) is an easy 50 minutes uphill walk from the Annapurna Circuit Trail between Tal and Chame and a great opportunity to get a bit off the beaten track.

In Odar, the homestay system is meticulously organized: 16 homes are currently approved for homestay in the village (several more have applied), and everything is meticulously organized:  Thus, depending on which day the guest arrives, he/she will be directed to the homestay “on duty”. This also applied for guests passing Odar for lunch, where cut-off between the lunch homestay place and the overnight homestay is 2pm. All this in order to fairly distribute the income from tourists in a poor village where two overnight guests may support an entire family for several weeks.

Odar Village
Odar Village

Odar is a traditional village, making their living from agriculture and almost everything is home-made, with bees and chicken all around the village.
I learned from my host that this area was not really affected by the 2015 earthquake. I also learned that the locals pay around 2 dollars for a jeep down to Besi Sahar (while a tourist pays around 200 dollars). And that many of the villages young people had left seeking employment in either China or the Gulf States. My host furthermore explained that the decline in walking tourists on this part of the Annapurna Circuit (most take the jeep directly to Chame), had forced the development of new forms of tourism, and it was believed that home-stays in more remote villages could be a possible solution.

Odar Village
Odar Village

Click for the full photogallery on Odar Home Stay Village on flickr.
This post is part of the series on Annapurna Circuit, walked in October 2015.

From Besi Sahar to Chame

Annapurna Circuit Itinerary day 1-5:
Besi Sahar-Khudi -Syange-Tal-Odar Village-Chame

  • 8 am: Arriving in Kathmandu Airport directly from Denmark.
  • 9 am: Getting the TIMS permits and National Park Fees in Kathmandu.
  • 11 am: Hiring a car as the buses to Besi Sahar had left. In fact I had hired an old minibus, where I slept in the back while other people got on board.
  • 6pm: Arriving in Besi Sahar at 6 pm and starting the Annapurna Circuit.
  • 8 pm: Finally in Khudi. It is pitch dark. The batteries for my head-lamp are not working.
  • I intended to walk the classical Annapurna Circuit – from Besi Sahar to Naya Pul, including Tilicho Lake, approximately 250 km.
  • Roads are continually being constructed and it is now possible to hire a jeep all the way to Manang now, and many drive up to Chame and start from there.
  • Walking up, on quite a few stretches you are obliged to follow the dirt jeep track, however there are quite a few alternate trails up the valley avoiding the road.
  • The great advantage  walking from Besi Sahar is experiencing the transition between the low tropical zones and the high alpine landshapes:
  • The villages of the lower country are very atmospheric and full of culture and life.
  • The downside apart from the dirt roads is all the construction going on mainly by Chinese companies, including a major dam on the Marsyandi Kola.
  • On one side obviously improved infrastructure is essential for the development of these very poor communities. On the other side, this development makes the area less appealing to hikers and the local tea house owners have difficult times, and have to re-think their businesses.
  • I was the only person staying in most of the lodges and in several villages I was the only guest as well.

    Rainbow Restaurant an Lodge, Ghermu
              Rainbow Restaurant and Lodge, Ghermu

Highlights of the lower part of the Annapurna Circuit:

  • The suspension brige over Marsyangi Kola to Syange.
  • Bahundanda hilltop village.
  • Tal, the glacier-carved valley and the traditional pumpkin dishes.
  • Odar, a small home-stay village off the main track.
  • Rainbow Restaurant and Lodge in Ghermu with great views over the Marsyangdi Kola to a waterfall.

Click for photo gallery of the lower part of the Annapurna Circuit on flickr.

This post is part of the series on the Annapurna Circuit walked in October 2015.

Manang and surroundings

Annapurna Circuit, day 6-12: Chame-Upper Pisang-Brakha-Manang (3 nights)-Tilicho Lake (2 nights)

From Chame to Manang

From Chame the landshape shifts gradually from pine forest until Upper Pisang, where the traditional villages Ngyaru and Ngwal are highlights of the circuit.

Manang village higligths include:

  • The presence of the Himalayan Rescue Association (whom I have considered volunteering for).
  • The fantastic bakery of Hotel Yeti.
  • Numerous movie halls playing DVDs on demand.

    Ghyaru, Upper Pisang
                                               Ghyaru, Upper Pisang

Hikes around Manang:

Kicho Tso, The Ice Lake, Manang
                           Kicho Tso, The Ice Lake, Manang

Click here for my photogallery of the area around Manang on flickr.
This post is part of the series on the Annapurna Circuit walked in October 2015.

Crossing the Thorung La Pass

At 5416 meters, Thorung La is one of the highest hiking passes in Nepal (and the world)  and connects the Manang with the Jomsom area of the Annapurna Circuit.

Quite frankly, neither the way up to, nor the pass itself are particularly beautiful. In good weather conditions, the crossing is straight-forward and uncomplicated. However, large amounts of snow may pose difficulties and a snowstorm on the top may contribute to a disaster as seen in October 2014.

The trail to Thorung La
                    The trail to Thorung La, above 5000 meters

After the 2014 tragedy, it seems people pay even more attention to crossing the pass early in the day, and most sleep at the Thorung High View Camp (4850m), 1,5 hours above the Thorung Pedi Lodge (4540m).  Furthermore as many leave as early as 4 am, I was alone on the trail all the way to the pass when I left at a the (to me) more reasonable time 6 am from Thorung Pedi Lodge. I arrived at the teashop on the pass right before midday in time for lunch.

Teashop at Thorung La Pass
                           Teashop at the Thorung La Pass

Having spent already a week around Manang including hikes to the Ice Lake and Tilicho Lake, I did not have any altitude-related issues , though I did walk rather slowly, carrying my own backpack as well. The descent into Muktinath is long, but uncomplicated and I noticed a couple of new bright blue emergency shelters, built after the 2015 snowstorm to prevent people from getting lost in bad weather conditions. I checked into the Muktinath temple at 3 pm, on what turned out to be a major Hindu festival day.

Thorung La emergency shelters
                             Thorung La emergency shelters

Click for the full photogallery of the Thorung La crossing on flickr.
This post is part of the series on the Annapurna Circuit walked in October 2015.

The 100 Rupee Monk

Perched on an almost vertical mountain side 400 meters above Manang at 2945, a female Monk lives at the Praken Gompa in solitude, only interrupted by a once-weekly climb down to Manang to buy supplies. Is has been customary for travelers on the Annapurna Circuit to hike up there and donate around 100 rupees in return for a blessing. However, as the female monk explained to me, 100 rupees is next to nothing these days, and times are hard, so she thought 500 rupees (around one dollar) a more appropriate donation.

The 100 rupee monk, Manang
The 100 Rupee Monk, Manang

The woman explained that she had been living in this mountain dwelling for 40 years together with her father, Lama Tashi, the original “100 rupee monk”,  now is apparently in his 90s and in Kathmandu.

The 100 rupee monk, Manang
View from the 100 rupee monk dwelling, Praken Gompa,  Manang

The complete photogallery of the 100 Rupee Monk is available on flickr.
This post is part of the series on the Annapurna Circuit walked in October 2015.