Monday 15 November
Kagbeni to Marpha
Itinerary: DAY 15 Marpha (2,667m) From here we head south through a wide, wind swept valley, on the left bank of the Kali Gandaki River via Eklebhatti (2,758m) to Jomsom (2,713m) in full view of Nilgiri. Jomsom is the administrative centre of Mustang District and has an airstrip. The people along the valley here are known as Thakalis and until the Chinese invasion of
Up at 6 am - tea then washing water. Nice to be warm and to have room to stand up, and a flushing toilet.
Rice with nuts and raisins for breakfast, followed by omelettes and 'jam bread'.
Away by about 7:30 to try to get to Jomson before the wind starts.
Eklibhatti (meaning 'the single tea shop') is reached after half an hour. There are at least four teashops passed every day nowadays. The path took us beside the Kali Gandaki river bed, undulating beside the barren estuary like flatness of the river bed. We pass a long, well tensioned, suspension bridge.
Sparrows twitter in the villages. Crows and ravens scavenge by the river. There are horsemen, ponies, goats, sheep, yaks and cows on the trail. Also lots of French people.
Our skins are still chapped from the dry air encountered at altitude. There are mani walls and chortens on the route. We take care to pass them to the left (or the Gods may be offended - not to mention the locals) but other tourists do not all comply.
There are views up and down the valley on another cloudless day. By 9:15 we are in sunshine and in sight of Jomsom, which is overlooked by the Jomsom Hill Resort - we gather this is not an entirely successful venture, as people who land at 2700 metres in Jomsom do not always want to walk up a hill to their hotel.
We find a coffee shop where Andrew reminisces about its qualities. However, today there is nobody there who can make coffee, so we move on. Another place is found for lemon tea all round - we sit in a courtyard watching passing horses (even a Dalmatian one) and admiring views of Nilgiri and Dhauligiri high above us.
We then walked for 15
minutes down to the other Jomsom -
Then lunch in the newly completed and very luxurious Moonlight Hotel, where some Chinese looking people took over the toilet for their showering. The highlight of lunch was fresh croissants, which went well with chick peas, curried potatoes, coleslaw salad, and green beans.
As we left at 1:30, a large group arrived. We knew the walk to Marpha would be windy and dusty, so we dressed like bandits to brave the blowing dust for the hour's walk. There are tractors (one brand new), motorcycles and bicycles here, as well as horsemen and trains of ponies laden with goods (mainly food produce).
We continue on into the strong wind, past a distillery, and we can see the end of our journey through the rain shadow - pine trees in the distance. So by Marpha we are slowly emerging from the barren area of the last few days. On the outskirts of town people are selling baubles from a blanket laid out in the dust. We find our tents in a small courtyard at virtually the first hotel (Hotel Trans Himalayan) on the outskirts of the village. Hosta set off yesterday lunchtime to bag a site and seems to have done ok, as we are fairly sheltered from the wind here. We arrived at 2:30 and hot water for washing has just been supplied (4 pm).
There will soon be a call for afternoon tea.
Start: 2800 metres
Ascent: 100 metres
Descent: -190 metres
Finish: 2710 metres
Time: 7 hours
Stops: 3.5 hours
Walking time: 3.5 hours
After tea, a stroll
into the pleasant
Then back for another good meal - leg of goat, pasta bows with pepper and veg, aubergine fritters, tuna/veg spring rolls, carrot and cauliflower, mutton and veg soup to start, peaches to conclude. Then an exciting game of Uno which Mark won decisively. To bed in our cramped courtyard, porters sleeping nearby, around 8:45 pm.Next Day