Trekking the Annapurna Circuit with Tilicho Lake
Last October, with five cousins, I completed the Annapurna Circuit plus Tilicho Lake trek. We had two weeks for the whole return trip from Kathmandu, and were able to finish in less time than anticipated. For travelers with limited time in Nepal, my itinerary is a good one to follow.
We set out from Kathmandu to Beshisahar early in the morning and got there early afternoon. Rather than waiting a night at Beshisahar, we booked a jeep that would take us to Dharapani on the first night, and then to Chame the next morning.
On the second day of the trip, we set out towards Upper Pisang after our early morning jeep ride from Dharapani to Chame. It took us most of the day to walk from Chame to Upper Pisang.
On the third day, we started early to reach Manang. Rather than going down the lower route we opted for the higher route, which took us through trails with amazing views of Annapurna ranges. By taking the higher route we were able to avoid the vehicular roads, which are making their way deeper into the mountains now. Compared to a decade ago, motor vehicle accessibility has increased rapidly on both sides of the circuit, in both Manang and Mustang.
On our fourth day, we took an acclimatization day in Manang. We explored Manang and all that it had to offer. Early morning we took a relaxing stroll around the Gangapurna Lake, followed by an information session on how to avoid altitude sickness set up by doctors and the Annapurna Conservation Area Committee. We even topped the day off with a movie screening.
On the fifth day we were only going to make our way from Manang to Srikharka. However, due to an influx of tourists we couldn’t find any accommodation in Srikharka. Since we had reached the village by early afternoon, we decided to keep going all the way to Tilicho Base Camp. That added only 3-4 hours to our day. We all were in consensus that if we were going to have to sleep in a dining hall, we may as well cut a day off our trip while doing so. When we got to Tilicho Base Camp, we realized that we were indeed going to have to crash in the dining hall of a hotel, along with 60 other people!
The sixth day was one of the more exhausting days. We set out for Tilicho early in the morning. The hike up is probably one of the most beautiful trails that I have walked in all of Nepal. The day was clear and we had stunning views of the mountains and the lake. After making it down to base camp, we ate and started our way back to Srikharka. Unlike the day before, we were able to find accommodation and got a well-deserved night of rest.
Now that we had made it up to Tilicho, we were confident in our physical ability to make it through the Thorang La without any altitude problems. On the seventh day we made it to Yakkharka. We took our time when making our way to Thorang Phedi from Yakkharka on the eighth day. Once we got to Phedi, we were able to just relax and prepare to cross the pass early the next day. To make sure that we were adjusted to the altitude, we made a short trip from Phedi to High Camp and back. This gave us the confidence to hike up early the next morning, at 3am.
On the ninth day, we started our journey from Phedi to the Thorang La, and continued all the way to Muktinath. We started off around 3am, and only crossed the pass just before noon. It took us a couple more hours to get down to Muktinath. After walking for over 12 hours we made it to the temple, showered in the 108 sacred water spouts, and knew that the hard part was over.
Because we were running short on time, we rented a jeep from Muktinath to Pokhara on our tenth day. While this might be an expensive option, with a large group it was affordable. We decided to go with this option because most of the trail down from Muktinath was under construction. We got back to Pokhara around 9-10pm, and returned to Kathmandu on the eleventh day. While this is definitely a condensed version of the almost three-week-long full Annapurna Circuit, it’s a good alternative for travelers with time limitations.
Article by Shubham.