Annapurna Circuit: 8th Manang, Nepal

Manang: the Last Acclimatization in Civilization


Glacial Annapurna II
Glacier slides down a slope of the great Gangapurna mountain.
warmth and coziness
A group of residents basks in the late afternoon sun on the facade of a restaurant.
Patience
A Manang resident waits for a herd on a slope leading to the city.
Manang in shades of blue
Bluish Manang House, as seen from the southern slope of the Annapurnas.
flock psychedelic mode
Fuzzy goats with brightly painted horns.
Manang House
Manang House as seen from the Annapurnas Slope to the South.
Generations
Two generations of Manang residents in the late afternoon sun.
Medical care
Sara Wong during the recommended mountain sickness consultation in Manang.
group faith
Tibetan Buddhist believers spin prayer wheels in Manang.
perfect snack
A sacred combination of the Annapurna Circuit: milk tea and apple pie.
towards the corral
Yaks traverse a shadowy alley in Manang.
Glacial Annapurna
Glacier slides down a slope of the great Gangapurna mountain.
The Projector Hall
Manang cinema projection room, announces its next sessions.
man vs mountain
Marco and Josua contemplate a glacier on a slope of the Gangapurna mountain.
Heated walk
Manang's native passes through a fire stirred by the wind.
prayer wheels
Two Buddhist prayer wheels with a yak head above.
Return to Manang
Josua and Marco C. Pereira walk back from an acclimatization walk
the remaining sun
Manang resident basks in the late afternoon sun
Goat trafficking
Herd of goats occupies a shady street in Manang.
Six days after leaving Besisahar we finally arrived in Manang (3519m). Located at the foot of the Annapurna III and Gangapurna Mountains, Manang is the civilization that pampers and prepares hikers for the ever-dreaded crossing of Thorong La Gorge (5416 m).

At that time, no matter how much weight we carried, which was no small thing, a stretch of 1.6 km, like the one that separated Braga (Bhakra) from Manang, it proved to be a mere heating.

we leave Braga integrated into the international mini-platoon we were following.

Twenty minutes later, we were entering Manang. As early as it was, we arrived with time to choose our accommodation with care. Since the offer abounded, we parted ways.

We investigate prices and conditions for one or two hotels. Soon, we met again and compared what we had.

Manang, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal

Manang House as seen from the Annapurnas Slope to the South.

We got back to a sunny hotel that only charged us for food as long as we had at least breakfast and dinner there. As far as the baths were concerned, nothing improved compared to the previous days. The Nepalese recruiter again promised us hot showers in the morning and at the end of the day.

In fact, ours, like other rooms, had a shower. But, as had been the case for several days, that hotel also lacked a solution to the night-time freezing of the mountain's piped water. So at the time we got up and for a good two hours nothing ran from the taps, let alone hot water.

We join the group in the hotel's cozy tea and dining room. we devoured milk teas, steaming oats and still crispy Tibetan breads. We talked about everything a bit and put off plans for anything.

Milktea and apple pie, Manang, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal

A sacred combination of the Annapurna Circuit: milk tea and apple pie.

We shared the notion that Manang marked a first frontier. From there, to Thorong La, the mountainous zenith of the Annapurna Circuit, we would never see a town worthy of the status of a city again. Nor a village.

Or even a village. Just hamlets that ensured outsiders the essentials of survival.

First Steps through Manang Mall

Accordingly, the innocent walk along Manang's earthy lane quickly turned into a string of research and testing of what we hadn't bought in Pokhara.

The residents of Manang were well aware of the eagerness with which hikers reached their land. And the calming effect that their little stores filled with gloves, socks, windbreaks, sleeping bags and other equipment had on them.

In one, we bought chemical hand and foot warmers. In another, socks even warmer than the ones we had. It's a quality term that we've been missing for a long time. In yet another pair of metal clasps to put on boots. This purchase, in particular, would prove to be providential.

Challenged by Josua, the good-natured German who accompanied us for a significant part of the circuit, we also bought a generous slice of the region's popular yak cheese.

We pass in front of Manang's screening room. It advertises three films for an equal number of days, all of them conceptually aligned with what entertained foreigners there: “The Wild Side” by Sean Penn. "Seven Years in Tibet" by Jean-Jacques Annaud, with Brad Pitt. And finally, “Everest” by Baltasar Kormákur.

Poster from the screening room, Manang, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal

Manang cinema projection room, announces its next sessions.

We find the headquarters of the Himalayan Rescue Association Nepal and, nearby, the city's Safe Drinking Water Station. We took advantage and renewed what we kept. Afterwards, we circled Manang above and below, attentive to his curiosities, without hurrying or compromising.

We were still on the first day of that unusual city acclimatization, even taking into account that, as a conventional city, Manang has little.

Prayer Wheels, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal

Two Buddhist prayer wheels with a yak head above.

The Early Return to the Warmth of the Hotel

Weather soon dictated its order. Heavy clouds take over the sky. Out of nowhere, a damp, icy wind sweeps across the valley of Marsyangdi and sprays it with almost solid rain. A shepherd who has just appeared from the back of the village leads a herd of shaggy goats up the street, towards the corrals of his refuge.

Flock, Manang, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal

Fuzzy goats with brightly painted horns.

It was the sign we had been waiting for. We aim in the opposite direction from cattle. We pick up at the hotel.

Unexpectedly, the early return provided us with a table and chairs right next to the disputed salamander in the dining room. At the end of the day, it snowed a little, enough to dye Annapurna's night white.

We were still somewhat bruised from the painful acclimatization walks from Bhakra. So, around eight-thirty, the ill-disguised pressure of the hotel's owners for guests to retire to their rooms satisfies our subconscious like a lullaby.

Manang's Inaugural Acclimatization Path

The new dawn reveals an atmosphere that is still foggy and cold. Aware of the urgency of forcing our bodies to take the arduous journey ahead, we accepted Josua's challenge to complete one of the recommended acclimatization walks.

We went back through the whole of Manang. Arrived at its northwestern threshold, we descend towards the Marsyangdi River.

Wait, Manang, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal

A Manang resident waits for a herd on a slope leading to the city.

We cross it by a long suspension bridge. From there, we see ourselves high above the greenish stream of Lake Gangapurna. Instead of seeking its margins, we continue to ascend. First, along a trail that conquered large gravel walls, leftovers from the erosion of successive melts and deluges.

A few hundred meters further on, the trail enters a hillside pine forest. It was supposed to zigzag up that slope, but it seems to us as out of date as it is poorly maintained. And deceives us well deceived.

A Bad Way, Slippery and Too Steep

When we find ourselves, we are climbing a slippery slope. At first it turns out to be harmless. However, it gains a surprising tilt and a far more frightening view of the abyss than we thought possible.

We hadn't been counting on that four-legged pseudo-climbing and the cameras hanging from the neck just got in the way. Little by little, with patience, some coolness and the precious interventions of Josua who had lived in Ecuador and called it a walk, we reached the top safely.

Hiking, Manang, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal

Josua and Marco C. Pereira walk back from an acclimatization walk

We decompress from the predicament. Moments later, we find the continuation of the trail we had lost at the base of the slope. We cursed the Manang authorities and the abandonment to which they had voted him.

We continue through the great mountain of Gangapurna (7455m), in parts covered with pine forest, in others, with hay and gorse burned by the cold.

The Final Destination of the Hike: the Gangapurna Glacier

Ascension reveals to us a high edge. From its top full of vegetation, we unveil a mountain glacier wall, a kind of ice fall that extended down the winding canyon, in a solid but mobile stream, of sharp vertical blocks and the cracks that separated them. Suddenly, the vision leaves us in an obvious visual ecstasy.

Gangapurna Hill Hikers, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal

Marco and Josua contemplate a glacier on a slope of the Gangapurna mountain.

The appreciation of the scenery does not seem to reach Josua who challenges us to descend to the edge of the glacier. Only the wind picked up. It summoned clouds that left us to suspect a storm. We call Josua to reason and we agree on the emergency of inaugurating the descent.

Gangapurna slope glacier relief, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal

Glacier slides down a slope of the great Gangapurna mountain.

Then, already on the correct trail, the return flows without incident. It gives us ample panoramas of Manang's houses, stretched out in a smoothed section of the opposite slope, high above the Marsyandi.

The Toca-e-Foge Medical Consultation in Manang

Upon reentering the city, we realized that we had gotten ahead of the storm. We also remember that we were the only ones in the group who had not gone to the medical appointment recommended to those who proposed to continue the Annapurna Circuit to the other side of Thorong La.

A few meters from the Himalayan Rescue Association, we decided it was time to resolve it.

We entered. We complained to the Nepalese ladies at reception about the lack of signage on the trail we were returning from. We clarified that this lack had led us to a false path that could victimize less prepared hikers.

The ladies receive the complaint with sarcastic smiles that sound like inertia to us. As soon as they see the patient who preceded us leave, they are dispatched to the icy, anti-protest isolation of the office.

A young doctor, clad in a massive feathered jacket, welcomes us and invites us to sit down. In front of him, he has a finger oximeter, a strain gauge and a large Sayapatri Deluxe notebook, which serves as his log book.

Altitude Mal consultation, Manang, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal

Sara Wong during the recommended mountain sickness consultation in Manang.

Start by writing down the essential data: nationality, age, weight. He asks if we had had symptoms of altitude sickness in the days before Manang. The three of us answered no. That not even during the rise of acclimatization to ice lake (4600m), at cave of Milarepa (4150m) or the one we were returning from, also above 4100 meters.

Upon learning of this history, the doctor seems convinced to cut short the consultation. Put the oximeter in our fingers. By checking 99% O2 and a normal heartbeat, he runs with us as fast as he can.

Josua returns to the hotel. We were left to filter and photograph the magical end of the day in Manang, wandering through its alleys of stone and wood. The same herd of goats from the day before, crosses the main avenue again.

Back to the Discovery of Manang, in the Light of the Last Sun of the Day

With the sun on the northern slopes, groups of residents share the heat, chatting together on a bench outside a restaurant.

Residents in the Sun, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal

A group of residents basks in the late afternoon sun on the facade of a restaurant.

A line of faithful women circle the prayer wall at the base of the white and gold Buddhist stupa that blesses the city. We left that sunny heart of the village determined to find other illuminated corners.

On this pilgrimage, we passed a new stupa, equipped with colorful Buddhist banners with which the village's marginal gale seemed to whip the distant Annapurnas.

Tibetan Buddhist Faithful, Manang, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal

Tibetan Buddhist believers spin prayer wheels in Manang.

We continued aimlessly. Even if foreign hikers invade it day after day and mingle with its 6500 inhabitants, Manang preserves an original rural life, apart from guides, porters, hotels, shops and restaurants.

In a shady alley, frigid to match, we come across a line of goats waiting their turn to enter the corrals.

Herd in Manang, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal

Herd of goats occupies a shady street in Manang.

A woman makes two horses pass under the north gate of the city. Three girls follow her, each carrying a can of gas on their backs, inside traditional wicker baskets.

Over there, another peasant woman with dirty hands pushes a stubborn yak to some destination we didn't get to know.

Bonfire, Manang, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal

Manang's native passes through a fire stirred by the wind.

We return to the more open, frequented and bright center of Manang. There, among opportunistic chickens, at the entrance to the city's kerosene tank, a young father is having fun playing soccer with his son and stumbling.

Young Residents, Manang, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal

Two generations of Manang residents in the late afternoon sun.

The old sun soon fell behind the Annapurnas. He took from the city and took from us the blanket he had lent us. He didn't return it until late the next morning.

Annapurna Circuit: 1th - Pokhara a ChameNepal

Finally, on the way

After several days of preparation in Pokhara, we left towards the Himalayas. The walking route only starts in Chame, at 2670 meters of altitude, with the snowy peaks of the Annapurna mountain range already in sight. Until then, we complete a painful but necessary road preamble to its subtropical base.
Annapurna Circuit: 2th - Chame a Upper BananaNepal

(I) Eminent Annapurnas

We woke up in Chame, still below 3000m. There we saw, for the first time, the snowy and highest peaks of the Himalayas. From there, we set off for another walk along the Annapurna Circuit through the foothills and slopes of the great mountain range. towards Upper Banana.
Annapurna Circuit: 3rd- Upper Banana, Nepal

An Unexpected Snowy Aurora

At the first glimmers of light, the sight of the white mantle that had covered the village during the night dazzles us. With one of the toughest walks on the Annapurna Circuit ahead of us, we postponed the match as much as possible. Annoyed, we left Upper Pisang towards Escort when the last snow faded.
Annapurna Circuit: 4th – Upper Banana to Ngawal, Nepal

From Nightmare to Dazzle

Unbeknownst to us, we are faced with an ascent that leads us to despair. We pulled our strength as far as possible and reached Ghyaru where we felt closer than ever to the Annapurnas. The rest of the way to Ngawal felt like a kind of extension of the reward.
Annapurna Circuit: 5th - Ngawal a BragaNepal

Towards the Nepalese Braga

We spent another morning of glorious weather discovering Ngawal. There is a short journey towards Manang, the main town on the way to the zenith of the Annapurna circuit. We stayed for Braga (Braka). The hamlet would soon prove to be one of its most unforgettable places.
Annapurna Circuit: 6th – Braga, Nepal

The Ancient Nepal of Braga

Four days of walking later, we slept at 3.519 meters from Braga (Braka). Upon arrival, only the name is familiar to us. Faced with the mystical charm of the town, arranged around one of the oldest and most revered Buddhist monasteries on the Annapurna circuit, we continued our journey there. acclimatization with ascent to Ice Lake (4620m).
Annapurna Circuit: 7th - Braga - Ice Lake, Nepal

Annapurna Circuit - The Painful Acclimatization of Ice Lake

On the way up to the Ghyaru village, we had a first and unexpected show of how ecstatic the Annapurna Circuit can be tasted. Nine kilometers later, in Braga, due to the need to acclimatize, we climbed from 3.470m from Braga to 4.600m from Lake Kicho Tal. We only felt some expected tiredness and the increase in the wonder of the Annapurna Mountains.
Annapurna Circuit: 9th Manang to Milarepa Cave, Nepal

A Walk between Acclimatization and Pilgrimage

In full Annapurna Circuit, we finally arrived in Manang (3519m). we still need acclimatize to the higher stretches that followed, we inaugurated an equally spiritual journey to a Nepalese cave of Milarepa (4000m), the refuge of a siddha (sage) and Buddhist saint.
Annapurna 10th Circuit: Manang to Yak Kharka, Nepal

On the way to the Annapurnas Even Higher Lands

After an acclimatization break in the near-urban civilization of Manang (3519 m), we made progress again in the ascent to the zenith of Thorong La (5416 m). On that day, we reached the hamlet of Yak Kharka, at 4018 m, a good starting point for the camps at the base of the great canyon.
Bhaktapur, Nepal

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Annapurna Circuit 11th: yak karkha a Thorong Phedi, Nepal

Arrival to the Foot of the Canyon

In just over 6km, we climbed from 4018m to 4450m, at the base of Thorong La canyon. Along the way, we questioned if what we felt were the first problems of Altitude Evil. It was never more than a false alarm.
Annapurna Circuit: 12th - Thorong Phedi a High camp

The Prelude to the Supreme Crossing

This section of the Annapurna Circuit is only 1km away, but in less than two hours it takes you from 4450m to 4850m and to the entrance to the great canyon. Sleeping in High Camp is a test of resistance to Mountain Evil that not everyone passes.
Annapurna Circuit: 13th - High camp a Thorong La to Muktinath, Nepal

At the height of the Annapurnas Circuit

At 5416m of altitude, the Thorong La Gorge is the great challenge and the main cause of anxiety on the itinerary. After having killed 2014 climbers in October 29, crossing it safely generates a relief worthy of double celebration.
Annapurna Circuit 14th - Muktinath to Kagbeni, Nepal

On the Other Side of the Pass

After the demanding crossing of Thorong La, we recover in the cozy village of Muktinath. The next morning we proceed back to lower altitudes. On the way to the ancient kingdom of Upper Mustang and the village of Kagbeni that serves as its gateway.
savuti, botswana, elephant-eating lions
safari
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Thorong La, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal, photo for posterity
Annapurna (circuit)
Annapurna Circuit: 13th - High camp a Thorong La to Muktinath, Nepal

At the height of the Annapurnas Circuit

At 5416m of altitude, the Thorong La Gorge is the great challenge and the main cause of anxiety on the itinerary. After having killed 2014 climbers in October 29, crossing it safely generates a relief worthy of double celebration.
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autumn in the caucasus

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Maksim, Sami people, Inari, Finland-2
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