Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

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

Tuesday, 26 July 2022

November 2004 - The Annapurna Circuit - Day 18

Thursday 18 November
Tatopani to

Itinerary: DAY 18 Beni (823m) Leaving Tatopani we cross the Kali Gandaki to its east bank and a little further we cross the Gaar Khola to rejoin the Kali Gandaki. We continue south on the east bank of the river on a trail, which in places is carved into the rock cliff. After passing through sub-tropical forest we cross the river again to its west bank at Tiplyan (1,037m). We pass Ranipauwa (1,189m) and cross the Rahughat Khola to reach Beni, the administrative centre of Myagdi District at the confluence of the Myagdi and Kali Gandaki rivers. (7 - 8 hours walk). 

[Diarist: Sue]
Last day on the circuit. Usual 6 am start. The morning is hazy but warm enough to get dressed in shorts. No down jackets to be seen this morning! 

On sitting down to breakfast, Andrew got a shock when checking the contents of the cornflakes packet. A large grasshopper stared out at him! It was shaken free of the packet, but with a leg missing, which we presumed was in with the cornflakes. Someone made the witty comment about the novelty of free gifts in cereals these days! Suffice to say, nobody ate any. 

We were off at 7:30, on a fairly long day for our last one. The path was fairly wide and in places was hewn into the hillside above the river. In several places, steps were cut into the rock in the narrow gorges. The vegetation was lush, with orange trees, bamboo, a few rice fields being harvested, and banana palms. Small settlements were frequent. 

Despite the route being generally downhill, there seemed to be quite a lot of ascent. The true circuit goes to Ghorepani, and at the first junction below Tatopani, (by the bridge shown above) another trail led upwards in that direction. The river was crossed by suspension bridges several times. There were numerous mules that caused us to stop so that they could pass. In one area, the path was cut into the hillside, and men with enormous packs had to bend right down to get through. Drips fell from above, and these men were barefoot in the mud and stone.

Patterns of cut rice

A village beside the Kaligandaki

Blue flower, perhaps Barleria cristata

The steep hillsides produced some fine waterfalls, often long ribbons of water. A lemon tea stop was welcome - it wasn't too sunny but was quite humid. Energy levels were restored with crystallized ginger mountain mix and jelly babies.

The trail was wide enough for a couple of jeeps to plough up and down between villages as a bus service. Apart from motorbikes and tractors these are the first vehicles seen in a couple of weeks.

Another pleasant lunch, during which the local small kids played with our trekking poles and got to look at their pictures on the back of Mark's digital camera. We munched on chips, spinach, cheese chapatis, pumpkin fritters and sausages, and a fresh orange. During lunch, a tractor and trailer drove past, amusingly with our porters and loads on board! 

We descended further after lunch, soon stopping for more lemon tea after a river crossing guarded in several places by the army, with guns. Apparently a meeting was going on in town. Our kitchen crew came past here. Whilst Deepak was on the bridge a mule raced up behind him, only raising a smirk from the very shy cook. 

Toyota Corollas were parked at the end of the village, and on the last stretch to Beni these threw up dust and fumes occasionally. Black kites soared above the river.

Yellow flower

Crossing the final bridge above Beni

The last 'hiking' picture

The trek ended at the Yeti Hotel, where we waited for a while in the garden whilst rooms were sorted. Couples have attached bathrooms, but singles must use a communal bathroom. Rooms, ours on the top floor, are basic but fine. 

Washing water is really hot, then we have tea downstairs and play Uno until dinner. As it is the last night, a 'feast' is prepared. It's soup and poppadoms, then crispy noodles and fried eggs, chicken, salad, rice, roast potatoes, beans and cauliflower. A chocolate cake, iced 'Happy Trek End', was a good pudding, with the remainder shared amongst the crew. Mugs of rum punch were served from the large kettle. 

After dinner, the whole crew assembled around the dining room. We'd contributed 5000 rupees (~£40) each for their tip, and these had been distributed into the following envelopes:

Mahesh (Sirdar)
Sherpas - Hosta and Navraj
Deepak (Cook)
Kitchen staff (x4)
Nike and Surya
Porters (19)

Further distribution occurs amongst themselves. Each of us made a presentation of an envelope to one of these people. Andrew made a short 'speech' to the effect that usually he loses weight on these trips, but with Deepak's excellent cooking this was the first time he had not done so! 

From a bucket, the porters were served Rakshi in tall glasses. Until 10:45 pm, most people danced, including our one-eyed table man, who looked as if he was enjoying things immensely. Only Deepak refused to dance! Sagar proved a very graceful dancer. We did not have the chance to sing 'On Ilkley Moor' that Lindy had written out. We retired much later than normal, but with the usual 6 am start in prospect. 

Today's route was pretty much 'Nepali Flat' - Sanjeev's description of a gently undulating path. 

Start: 1350 metres
Ascent: 50 metres
Descent: -395 metres
Finish: 1005 metres
Time: 8.6 hours
Stops: 2.6 hours
Walking time: 6 hours

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