The plan was to climb up to Tilicho Lake – the highest lake in Nepal (4,920m) the morning after. Tilicho Lake is well known for its outstanding beauty and after many days walking I was so excited to be there!
In October 2015 I set off for the Tilicho lake trek in the Annapurna region. I had a guide and a porter with me. A long journey awaited us to Besi Sahar from Kathmandu. The plan was to kick off from there. However, as we reached Besi Sahar later than expected, we boarded a jeep that took us to Syange in just two hours.
During the trip, along with the way we travelled through a number of beautiful villages with magnificent views. One of the days, we stopped for lunch at a little village called Thanchowk, just off the main trail to Chame. The village remains mainly unspoilt and the traditional Nepali life is, fortunately, well-preserved. People from the Thakali caste live here. They don’t speak a great deal of English and some don’t even speak Nepalese. There, I met a Thakali family. They were outside, the mother doing laundry in the sunshine and the father, looking after their one-year-old boy. They were very friendly and despite the language barrier, we managed to communicate and have an enjoyable time together. That was a very pleasant experience.
We continued our journey and passed through Khoto, a very picturesque village. I was mesmerised by its beauty and authenticity and it certainly felt like a special place. There were a number of shops selling hand-made hats, gloves and socks, and at the far end of the village at the junction where the treks heading to the Nar Phu Valley start, there was a police checkpoint. Half an hour later we reached Chame, which is the headquarters of the Manang District. There, I had an invigorating Indian head massage. In the meantime, a friendly and audacious Nepalese guy started to record a video of me being pampered while I looked out onto the scene from the window. I had such a laugh! Chame was very lively and had a wide array of tiny Nepalese restaurants to experience the local cuisine.
After leaving Chame and before we reached Pisang, we came across a big plantation of apple trees where we stopped for tea and apples. It seems that the seeds for the trees were imported from Italy.
We reached Upper Pisang a bit later in the day than planned. We chose to stay there as the following day we wanted to follow the high route and behold the awe-inspiring views over the valley which I had read about. At Upper Pisang, I rushed up to the gompa before the sun set. Work started on rebuilding the monastery in 1999 and is still going on today. Everybody in Pisang has made a financial contribution towards the building work. Those who couldn’t afford it volunteered by giving up 54 days of their time. The views from up there were stunning. The sun shining on the monastery’s facade, the scent of incense coming from the gompa with the prayer flags fluttering in the wind brought a pleasant sense of well-being that nourished all my senses. It all came together in perfect harmony as the sun slowly disappeared behind the
The following day we arrived in Manang. We had already witnessed Ghyaru and Nawal, two exceptionally picturesque and charming villages whose houses were built in the old style, giving a sense of both radiance and genuineness. These were truly two hidden gems of the trip. Manang is also a picturesque village. It is at the point of confluence between the treks going to Thorang La and those leading to Tilicho Lake. People heading to the Thorong La Pass usually spend two nights here to acclimatise. The surroundings are stunning and one can easily while away the time by going on a few interesting side treks from there.
The following day, we reached Tilicho base camp. The plan was to climb up to Tilicho Lake – the highest lake in Nepal (4,920m) the morning after. Tilicho Lake is well known for its outstanding beauty and after many days walking I was so excited to be there! The way to the base camp was a bit challenging as we had to cross big landslides and unstable terrain. The altitude made it a little challenging to reach but the views from there were phenomenal and it was well worth the effort. It was one of those blustery cold days, yet the light was so bright, the mountains so mighty, the sky spotless and the freezing wind refreshed the exposed skin on our faces, resounding like a sweet melody to my ears.
After braving the cold wind, we grudgingly retreated to warm ourselves up in a quaint little teahouse by the side of the lake with a mandatory hot cup of masala chiya.
Author Eva Bustos