|The sky caves of Mustang|
South Col had a group of eight trekkers to Mustang and Lo Manthang last April 2015. The morning dawned clear in Pokhara and all the peaks were visible after the rain the previous evening. Our 7 am flight to Jomsom was bang on time and I was sitting on the left side so I had splendid views of the peaks including Dhaulagiri, Nilgiri and Tukuche. I could also clearly see below me the route we had taken on so many treks - Austrian camp, Poon hill and the valley of the Kali Gandaki . On the right side of the aircraft was visible the Annapurnas and Machapuchare.
|Dhaulagiri from the flight between Pokhara and Jomsom|
|The Kali Gandaki valley near Jomsom|
|Jomsom airport and Nilgiri|
April 20 2015
Shyam our sirdar and I were at the permit office by 6 am and we finally got the permits stamped and completed by 6.45am. Next to the permit office is Cafe Applebee's with a dress circle view over the Kali Gandaki and the entrance of Upper Mustang. Standing there in the early morning light and watching the Kali Gandaki flowing gently through the gorge with the first rays of the sun lighting up the red and ochre cliffs was a breathtaking experience.
|The Kali Gandaki before Kagbeni|
|The village of Chuksang|
|Some members of the South Col group to Mustang|
Samar which is around 3600 m boasts an excellent view of the Trans Himalaya. Nilgiri dominates the view but there is a long line of peaks to the east most of them possibly unnamed and to the west is Tukuche and possibly the summit of Dhaulagiri as well. We stayed at Hotel Himali in Samar which is a basic facility like most of the tea houses in Upper Mustang.
April 21 2015
We left Samar at 7 15am. The morning was clear and there was a splendid view of the mountains. As we left the red and ochre chortens were getting the first light - ponies were grazing below the chortens while an old woman with grizzled features turned prayer wheels below the chortens. The trail left the main gate of Samar and then descended into a gorge. It crossed a small stream and then started climbing steeply up the hill side for about 30 min and reached a clearing with another great view of the snows. The trail then followed the side of the hill climbing steadily in the hot sun. In about one and a half hours we reached the pass of Bhena La and a 15 min stroll down the hill brought us to the one house of Bhena where we stopped for a cup of tea.
|Typical Mustang chortens at Samar|
|Heading down from Yamdo La to Shyanbochen|
April 22 2015
We left Ghilling at around 7 40 am. We stayed the night at a small guest house which had minimal facilities and as we got only three rooms I used my tent for the night. I found that the tent had iced up at night and the inner wall was damp with condensation. The trail initially travelled north climbing gently and reaches the bottom of the Nyi La pass in about 90 minutes. A half hour climb to the top brings up another spectacular view of the peaks including Annapurna 3 and Nilgiri. The trail then drops from the pass and joins the jeepable road . It then follows the road for about 45 minutes and then joins a walking trail marked “way to Ghemi”. The trail reaches another small pass in about 15 minutes and then drops steeply down the valley from where the village of Ghemi can be seen.
We stopped for lunch at the Royal Mustang hotel which had an excellent apple pie which was finished by our group. We left Ghemi at 1.10 pm and the trail goes through the village and down to the river. Cross the river and start climbing up the other side gradually to reach another pass in about an hour. From the pass looking down the longest Mani wall in Nepal can be seen below as well as the bends of the jeep road. From the pass the trail levels off and reaches Drakmar in an hour. This part of the walk is spectacular as it snakes its way below the red cliffs of Drakmar.
|The red cliffs of Drakmar|
..... to be continued next week on 12th September 2015 at