Annapurna Circuit: 5th - Ngawal a BragaNepal

Towards the Nepalese Braga

Ngawal, the village
Buddhist assortment
Prayer flags flutter in the wind and against the light.
Lively meal
dying nature
Voter registration is mandatory
nepalese frame
bovine duo
life in the sun
a sunny break
Stupa & Tunnel
stupa vs Annapurna
faith in the wind
color of light and faith
golden amulet
Buddhist home
Stupa almost in Braga
An old and elegant stupa, between Munchi and 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.

The bath: this transcendental and almost warlike theme of the Annapurna Circuit.

The Nepalese hosts intrigue the backpackers' urge to bathe. We are exasperated by the successive demands for hot water: at the end of each day. Right after awakening.

Most of the natives grew up taking a bath every fortnight. The older ones do it, with luck, from month to month. It escapes his reason why guests crave fluid showers with warm water. And yet, when asked whether their hotels guarantee hot baths, whether it's true or not, they promise us.

So we had decided to settle at Ngawal Mountain Home, at the entrance to the village instead of in the center. An hour after check-in, we were in bed. Covered by polar sleeping bags and all the blankets the room offered, trying to recover from unexpected hypothermia.

“The Germans took it just now. Looks like it was good!" so encouraged us the Nepalese service at the inn. We got into the shower, we thought it was safe. After three minutes, still soapy, we felt the water go from warm to icy.

We are forced to continue the bath at a cruel 0º (or close) and get even colder on the way back to the bedroom.

When we re-enter, we are shivering like green sticks. Only after half an hour of recovering in bed do we regain normal movement control. Still in time for dinner.

Discovering Ngawal

Spoiled from the ascent prior to panoramic heights of Ghyaru, we slept early. We woke up later than we wanted on a radiant Monday. We left in the direction of the stone and adobe houses that we could see in the distance. Right in the middle of the housing stronghold, we find one of the various stupas in the village.

At its base, a stairway wound up the slope, as far as the eye can see, decorated with a multicolored colony of Buddhist prayer flags that fluttered in the wind.

There was also a sign with three notices in English of “notice” and double the exclamation points alerted to the entry of the Nar-Phoo trekk, a derivation of the Annapurna circuit that ascended to the 5300 meters altitude of the Kang-La Gorge.

Ngawal, Anapurnna circuit, Nepal

Panorama of Ngawal, with the Anapurnna Mountains in the background.

We stayed by the staircase. A little after halfway through, we abandoned it for the steep slope where we zigzagged with extra care to avoid rolling down there.

Even before we reach an observation point that seems ideal to us, we release a large stone as rounded as it is unstable.

The pebble gains momentum. It rolls towards the nearest houses and the road on which we had entered the village and where we could see some shapes circling.

For a moment, we have faith that it would stop at the end. Gravity accelerates him so that we imagine him entering a house and ourselves fleeing a raging Nepalese mob.

Luckily, the rock ends up crashing between the monastery and another stupa. No damage.

Relief makes us enjoy the scenery below and onwards with heightened pleasure.

Back to Ngawal Foothills

Ngawal extends in a flat but elevated area of ​​the valley, overlooking the bed of the Marsyangdi River and the runway of the local aerodrome that nestles at the foot of the Annapurnas range, there, already on Annapurna III Mountain, with Gangapurna suggesting itself to West.

As we saw it from that vantage point, it was formed by a core of smooth clay and straw roofs, each with its own Buddhist standard fluttering in the wind.

Prayer flags, Ngawal, Anapurnna circuit, Nepal

Prayer flags flutter in the wind and against the light.

We return to the steps and go down to the still semi-sunny alleys of the village.

As we had done in the villages back, there we admire the sluggish daily life of the few inhabitants and the architectural details of the homes and religious buildings: the colored windows with cut-out frames, the porches and verandas that open to the pure atmosphere of the Himalayas and guarantee the residents an always useful supremacy over the adjacent streets.

We approached the biggest hotel in Ngawal, standing out in the center. Two Nepalese ladies on the alert for the arrival of tourists insist on foisting on us the breakfast we had already eaten.

We continued walking for another half hour until we decided to retrieve the large backpacks from Ngawal Mountain Home and proceed to the village that we had planned for the new end of the day.

Native, Ngawal, Annapurna circuit, Nepal

Elder of Ngawal on her front porch.

Ngawal, on the way to Braga.

As soon as we passed the property gate, we bumped into Fevsi. We had left it to the German Josh and the Italian-Spanish couple Edu and Sara in ghyaru.

This morning Josh had retreated in search of the allow of the circuit that he had forgotten in Chame. Edu and Sara had already passed on. Fevsi, walked alone in his wake. We greet you pleased to have company.

As we walk, we catch up on the news and entertain ourselves with successive themes, from those related to the circuit to the life of Fevsi in his Turkish land on the verge of Georgia and even his incursions into Batumi and other coasts of the Black Sea and the former Soviet republic.

The three of us descended from the middle ridge where Ngawal sprawled to the Marsyangdi Gorge below. We walk along the alpine extension of the valley, with the snow-capped peaks of the Annapurna mountain range tearing through the bluish firmament. Unlike what happened in others, this stretch remains busy.

We come across a group of women who bring their children from school. Soon, also with two or three motorcyclists aimed at lower lands.

Two hours later, we skirted the rayed bottom of a slope that almost closed off the valley.

The other side reveals a new village and a string of small local restaurants where, despite the proximity of the final destination, we choose to have lunch.

Repast at a Munchi tea house, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal

A group of women have lunch and socialize in a small tea-house in Munchi, a short distance from Braga.

Munchi's Deserved Rest

It feels good to put down our lead-heavy backpacks. Almost as good as the chatter and sea buckthorn berry juices we sip on the tiny terrace while we wait for snacks.

We feel refreshed. Even so, not as animated as the group of natives living in the interior who, in the company of the owners, alternate between chattering and unbridled laughter.

Small platoons of walkers, mostly Germans, Israelis, headed to Manang, pass us and the golden statue of Buddha that blesses the village.

Aware that there was little to do with our destiny, we let the late repast of soups, yak stew and Tibetan bread drag along. Until the sun falls behind the mountains and the warmth that caressed our cheeks gives way to the frigid breeze that normally announces the night.

We pay for lunch. We put the backpacks on our backs. We resumed the meandering of the long Manang Sadak road that continued to emulate that of Marsyangdi. After a few hundred meters, we came across a profusion of roadside signs that indicated the Ice Lake and a certain Milarepa Cave.

At that time, we were not aware of this, but both arduous hikes, crucial for the acclimatization that the conquest of the Thorong-La Pass, made at an altitude of 5.416 meters, required us to prove.

the ultimate effort

We left these plaques behind and found an ancient stupa draped in prayer flags. In the next meander, we came across four or five black yaks on their way from who knows where.

By that time, the group of women we met in Munchi's restaurant had almost caught up with us. When they realize the photographic interest we had in the animals, they block their march until we get closer. Even if the profit had been little because the animals immediately disbanded, we thank them for their effort and kindness.

Fevsi continued on his walk. We shortened the space that separated us from him in the company of the women, who spoke some English and were still in the same good mood in which we had seen them for the first time.

The ladies say goodbye and resume a fast pace that our backpacks would never give us. In the meantime, we caught up with Fevsi who had instead slowed down.

We join him on a new meander. We went around it, curious once more. Until we glimpsed a red-and-white Buddhist monastery nestled in the middle of a hillside end crowned by sharp cliffs.

It could only be Braga. Or Braka, as she was also known.

Stupa, Braka, Annapurna circuit, Nepal

An old and elegant stupa, between Munchi and Braga.

Anyway, Braga

We descend from the slope that closed off the natural amphitheater in which the village was sheltered to the sloping and semi-soaked meadow in between.

The pasture that there was much more lush than in most of the Nepal, served as bed and food for a few lazy yaks.

But not only. Flocks of wild ducks and other birds wallowed and searched the muddy grass for food. From time to time, a new flock landed that reinforced the contingent of roasted visitors.

We were still arriving but Braga was already conquering us. We returned to Manang Sadak from which we got lost. We noticed that almost all the hotels in the village were lined up on the side of the road.

This new scale of the Annapurna Circuit could even be quite different from Ngawal. The pressing theme at the time of choosing the stay, that, was the night before and the usual: the bath.

The New Yak Hotel – the first we found in Braga – promised gas-bottle heated showers. It was also served from a bakery full of apple pie and other mouth-watering pastries.

The prices of accommodation and food differed little from the usual, so we agreed at a glance to settle there. In good time. Cylinder gas baths were rare along the circuit. We were only offered hotels that, like the New Yak, had achieved online fame and, as such, were kept full.

Even without the thermal drama of the end of the day in Ngawal, the inaugural shower disappoints us again. Unlike Braga of Nepal, which would no longer fail to delight us.

More information about hiking at Nepal on the official website of Nepal Tourism.

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: 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: 8th Manang, Nepal

Manang: the Last Acclimatization in Civilization

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).
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.
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Annapurna Circuit 14th - Muktinath to Kagbeni, Nepal

On the Other Side of the Pass

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