📸 — Day 13 & 14: Annapurna Circuit, Nepal

The final hiking day, day thirteen. Once we reached Muktinath, you have the choice of a 8–12 hour tourist bus to Pokhara, hike the very dusty trail that has 1/3 of it paved into a nice road, followed by a not so paved terrible/bumpy/rocky roadway that all the private jeeps, buses and motorbikes ride down.

We decided to split it up. We had energy to hike and thought we would take advantage of the shorter day and get a bus down the paved road and jump out as soon as it gets bumpy. The walk was beautiful — staring the face of the Tibetan mountain range however, since the road has been put in place it causes miserable amounts of dust to fly in the air with every passing of wind or vehicle.

We ended our hike in Jomsom and said our goodbyes to Prem and Sonam. They were truly incredible during our hike and helped make our time that much more enjoyable. They helped us coordinate a last minute a scenic flight to Pokhara and boy were we in for a treat (not a good one…). We landed in Pokhara, hung out for 5 days and let our bodies rest. We also celebrated Nepalese new year! It’s the year 2076 here— they use a different calendar, where the year 0 is marked by some war victory by an Indian king.

Then we wrapped up on a bus back to Kathmandu before heading out to our next country.

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Bus time! The locals sometimes get scared too of the fast bus drivers taking corners as if they were straight lines…
one of the oldest villages in the area. Over 300 years old.
A dried river bed that is overflowing in Monsoon season. The rains turn this place into a lush green place.
The texture in the layers of the rocks were incredible.
Some rice fields and farm land beside the dried river bed.
This man was trying to get all his goats to cross the bridge… it was eventful to watch as the goats really didn’t want to go.
Sonam taking a break. We hiked this dusty road for a few hours before reaching Jomsom.
Facemasks are a must — they help keep some of the dirt out of your mouth.
Made it to Jomsom and Oli had a sizzling chicken and his first beer of the trip!
Things turned into a party when we started drinking the local apple brandy and playing Ludo, the local board game. These guys were great and even after the late night drinking — woke up at 7am to take us to our scenic flight.
We had separate lines for security — you stand in the room and they manually look through all your things.
Then time for the scenic flight.
They didn’t turn off the propellers and just shovelled everyone on and off the plane. There are 3 flights a day and they depend on weather, so they get you on quickly.

Once we got on…. and this flight was by far the scariest flight I’ve ever been on!! It’s so tiny that it drifts in the wind and when you are sitting at the back under the wing, feels like it is losing control. It also would slide back and forth, up and down and come very close to the mountains :S When we landed, Oli regretted drinking so much the night before… that flight was not meant for the weak of heart or stomach.

We are still unsure if the crazy 8 hour bus ride would have been better than the 20 min horrifying plane ride.

Power line safety is different here.
This area is very special and lots of people come here to cleanse themselves in the lake.
Reminded us a bit of Vietnam.
Splurged — spent $40 on a hotel instead of the $2–4 we were paying in the villages.
We didn’t realize it was new years but after about it, learning the massive crowds made sense.
You only have access to a few types of vegetables on the trail so it was great to get a super powered salad upon our return!
Heading back to Kathmandu by bus.
A local festival was happening for new years.
Cows everywhere is normal to us now.

We got a cab upon arriving in Kathmandu to take us to our hotel and the driver put us in the car, packed our bags, negotiated a price.. then walked back to the bus we just got off of. A few minutes later, he came back and told us to get out of the car, he was taking some other tourists and another car pulled up. It was pretty funny — I guess they were prettier than us… or maybe just paying him more :P We jumped into his friends car right away.

In other news, to go to Everest Basecamp, you have to fly into the world’s most dangerous airport, Lukla. It’s on the side of a cliff, and the runway is extremely short and ends up into a wall formed by the another cliff going up. There’s accidents every year. It happened again just as we were leaving.
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