Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019
On the Archduke's Path in Mallorca

Sunday, 5 June 2022

November 2004 - The Annapurna Circuit - Day 3

Wednesday 3 November
Kathmandu to Bhulbhule
Itinerary: DAY 3 Drive to Khudi and trek to Bhulbhule (846m) As we drive out of the Kathmandu valley we get panoramic views of the Annapurna, Manaslu and Ganesh mountain ranges. We then descend the scenic winding road and drive along the Trisuli River before turning west at Mugling and drive against the flow of the Marsyangdi River. Upon reaching the tropical town of Dumre, we leave the main road and take a narrower one going north and follow the west bank of Marsyangdi River with the view of tumbling whitewater, terraced hillsides and a beautiful mountain panorama to our trek start point at Khudi (792m). Our trek crew will meet us here and we walk about an hour crossing the Marsyangdi River to the east bank to camp at Bhulbhule. From here we get a good view of the snowy peak of Himalchuli. (7 - 8 hours drive depending on road conditions).

[Diarist: Martin]
Up at the crack of dawn. Two alarms - 5:55 and 6:00. A quick shower, final packing, and down to breakfast. 

We left our valuables, including passports and tickets, in the safe, and our excess gear (thermarests etc) stored at the hotel.

We left in the minibus at 7:30 and spent a good hour fighting our way to the outskirts of Kathmandu, past brick factories, rising to around 1500 metres to above the smog. Clear views to the Himalayan summits, with Manaslu quite close and the Annapurna massif further away. Langtang views with Gailesh? were the closest. We passed bright yellow fields of mustard. Young boys crowd around, selling crisps, when we stop at a checkpoint at around 1500 metres. Lots of official people - police in blue, army in green, all with guns. 

In the foreground, green hills with high cultivated terraces, lots of forest. Pretty lorries, fruit trees, with the brilliant white mountains as a backdrop. Below, a ribbon of vehicles on the road - mainly buses and lorries heading west. Frequent hold ups on this busy road, due to numerous broken down vehicles unable to manage the 1000 metre climb to Kathmandu. Tata lorries with bright decorations and 40 kph speed restrictions. 

Urchins line the roadside at times. Sparrows and starling like birds scrabble in the dirt whilst a Dark Kite wheels above. 

"Slow Drive, Long Life" proclaims one lorry. Others were adorned with similar sentiments. 

Through Toll Gates (road tax), passing heavily laden women with grassy burdens. Gajuri (460 metres) was reached by 10 am, and we continued down to Trishuli Bridge, then on to Mugli (285 metres), our lowest point. 

During the morning we stopped at an excellent spot overlooking the valley, with a mountain backdrop, for a half-hour tea break.

The road split at Mugli (11:30) and we continued on towards Pokhara. A 'Wild West' town with lots of traffic, shortly beyond which we reached Dumra, 12:15, and headed off the Pokhara road towards Khudi. A fertile valley with more women heaving heavy loads. The road took us to Besi Sahar, 14:30. On the way, just after Dumra, we had lunch on a nice meadow above the road. Splendid mountain views as we consumed a very heavy and comprehensive 'Radisson' packed lunch, including chicken rissoles and a choice of sauces wrapped skilfully in foil. A lovely spot under the shade of a tree on a hot afternoon.

A view to Manaslu from our lunch spot

The road beyond Besi Sahar wasn't fit for our Toyota minibus, so we adjourned to a tea shop whilst Sanjeev organised a bus to take us the remaining few miles to Khudi. By 15:15 we were on our way again in a bucking and broncing Tata coach, together with a few locals. As well as steep drops towards the river, we saw large swallow like birds and other small birds by the road. The ride was exciting as the road was poor and the drops were steep. It took an hour to cover the few miles, hardly faster than trekking pace.

Bus arriving at Khudi (790m), trailhead for the Annapurna Circuit

Once off the bus (16:15) we shouldered our day packs and walked a short distance up to Bhulbhule (846 metres), to our first camp. Porters took our excellent huge Awesome Travel bags, and by 5 pm we had all crossed our second suspension bridge (one metal, one wooden) to reach the nice campsite shortly before dusk. 

The start of the trek, with Manaslu ahead

Hot water for washing (not really needed) was soon provided, then we had tea and wrote diaries etc, followed at 7 pm by a convivial meal, Sanjeev eating with us, of chicken, salad, noodles, spinach, sauce, momo, following spinach soup, and followed by apple pie. 

It was a sociable session, with stories of trekking and dreams. (Last night I enjoyed a dramatic glissade down mud, through trees, to a wall jump to join some people I knew - very exhilarating!) 

Then the team was introduced. Apart from Sanjeev, our leader, we have:
Mahesh - Sirdar
Deepak - Chef
Hosta and Nabrash - Sherpas
Surye - Porter Guide
Kachi, Urgin and Sagar - Kitchen Staff

Plus 18 porters, not introduced, including the 'Egg Man' and a one-eyed man who carries our dining table. 

And so by 9 pm all work for the day was done and we drifted off to bed on huge mattresses.

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