Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

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

Sunday, 24 July 2022

November 2004 - The Annapurna Circuit - Day 17

Wednesday 17 November
Lete to Tatopani
Itinerary: DAY 17 Tatopani (1,189m) Crossing Lete Khola on a suspension bridge we follow the valley through pine forest down to Ghasa (2,013m) where we cross the Kali Gandaki and descend along the east bank. Descending further south we again cross the same river before reaching a huge waterfall at Rupse Chhahara (1,631m). By now we have descended almost 4000m since the Thorung Pass and start to feel the warmth of the sub-tropical surroundings. We descend further passing a Magar village of Dana (1,446m) to reach Tatopani, famous for its natural hot springs. (6 - 7 hours walk).

[Diarist: Martin]
Usual 6 am tea. The nights are drawing in so it is now still dark at 6 am. But by the time washing water arrives a few minutes later it's light enough to wash and to pack our duffel bags and day sacs for the day ahead.

A view to Dhaulagiri and Tukuche Peak from below our camp at Lete

For the first time for ages there is no frost, so last night was probably the last for the winter sleeping bags on this trip. There is a view of Annapurna 1 high above. It's clear now, but high cloud is already forming and will soon come in to dominate the day. Low cloud will also swirl around, preventing Twin Otter flights to Jomson from Pokhara. We do see some helicopters and wonder whether the trekkers in trouble on the Dhaulagiri Circuit have been got out safely. 

An indoor breakfast of porridge and omelette - in the tea house with pollarded trees that we camped outside - preceded a 7:40 am start. Suria led us away - he has been invisible to date, leading the porters to the correct place. We started across a long bridge with poorly tensioned cables, so the handrail flopped to the side and would not be available unless one fell over.

A typical village entrance

Marching down the valley

The path is busy today with trains of ponies, the pantechnicons of the path, carrying cement and building materials and provisions up the valley and perhaps to as far as Higher Mustang, but not as far as Tibet. We descend into a warm fertile climate and soon reach Ghasa, where tomato like fruits - red and green - dangle from shrubs. They are used for making pickle. We pass vegetable gardens, still seeing occasional chortens (pass to the left).

Bark roofed houses

Crossing a wooden bridge

Looking back up the valley

Lead mule in headdress

Cherry trees are in blossom here. We see the sun at 9 am, fleeces come off, there is a huge waterfall up to the right. Views (glimpses) of high peaks through the cloud. Luxuriant cabbages, nicely paved path (motorway), poinsettia and marigolds line the track, and the noisy buzz of Cicadas and the rush of the river below, make it a less than quiet section. 

11:00 to 11:30 - tea at Kopchepani - and we now have left Lower Mustang and entered the Myagdi district - we had sped through the police checkpoint in Ghasa.

Police post below Ghasa

The bridge below Ghasa

Lunch is taken at Rockland - in sight of the waterfall at Chhahara - 12:00 to 1:40 - an excellent lunch - we watched Deepak make cinnamon rolls. 

We set off past the ubiquitous sleeping dogs, passing huge rocks and a big slab of a rock face. The vegetation changes as we pass through areas of bamboo, oranges, sugar cane, aloes, bananas etc.

Descending to the 'tropics'

Cherry blossom

 A Himalayan flower

Old men by the path side are flattening, seeding and ploughing the land, using ancient tools, buffalo and a lot of strength. We rest by a huge bouganvillia tree. Past a hydro plant capturing the energy of water coming off Annapurna. There is a giant 'pudding stone' rock to the right - it looks a bit looser than the Pyrenean variety.

Ploughing below Dana

A typical metal bridge

View towards Tatopani camp

There are many people ascending today, few seen going down. Well swept stone paths through villages. Eventually at 4 pm we arrive in the nice village of Tatopani, after seeing our tents from some distance away. Unfortunately it's a cloudy afternoon, so there are no significant high mountain views. Hot water arrives at 4:30, then tea and biscuits are taken in the dining tent at 5pm.

On the Tatopani campsite, with poinsettia

Waiting for tea

After that we enjoy the highlight of the day - a trip to the nearby hot springs. These are five minutes away, by the river. Two small pools of hot water - in which we luxuriate for about half an hour after washing ourselves in a separate outflow first. Dusk fell as we enjoyed our dip. We enjoyed a beer before leaving (Mark had two as he resisted the temptation of the hot springs due to his crumbling hands). 

And so, to another nice meal - vegetarian - pasta and additions, potato cake, pumpkin, pizza etc, preceded by delicious pumpkin soup. Hot custard for dessert. 

Dinner is served

Then we headed downtown and found a bar which promptly emptied then closed, so we took the rest of our beer back to the dining tent, evicted some porters who were just about to go to sleep in it, and downed the rest of the beer whilst enjoying a game of knockout whist (Mark won). 

9pm bedtime. 

Start: 2390 metres
Ascent: 55 metres
Descent: -1095 metres
Finish: 1350 metres
Time: 8.5 hours
Stops: 2.5 hours
Walking time: 6 hours

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