Day Five: A Scenic Trek From Chame To Upper Pisang On The Annapurna Circuit
Its the fifth day on the Annapurna Circuit and it is filled of the most amazing scenic views within the valley. Day five takes us from Chame to Bhratang, Bhratang to Dhukur Pokari and Dhukur Pokhari to Upper Pisang. The total journey from Chame to Upper Pisang consists of 14.5 kilometers of hiking over 5.5 hours and an elevation increase of 600 meters.
Though, I will go through my journey from Chame to Upper Pisang in detail. That way, if you are planning your own Annapurna Circuit trek you will know exactly what to expect on day five.
Chame (2710 m) to Bhratang (2850m): 7 km hike which takes 2 hours
Bhratang (2850m) to Dhukur Pokhari (3240m): 6 km hike which takes 2 hours
Dhukur Pokhari (3240m) to Upper Pisang (3310 m): 1.5 km hike which takes 1 and a half hours
Annapurna Circuit Day Five: Chame To Upper Pisang
Waking Up In Chame
Waking up in Chame to crystal clear skies we are excited about the day ahead. Many people trekking the Annapurna Circuit will actually take a jeep all the way to Chame, though any further could cause altitude issues. Problem with this is they are missing out on many amazing experiences.
Each evening we pre-order our breakfast with the owner of the tea houses and organize a time to eat. This is a super important tip for getting out trekking a decent time and not having to wait 30 minutes while someone cooks. Last night I ordered my favorite, scrambled eggs and Tibetan bread.
Packing up and heading downstairs for breakfast I dig in, getting some much needed energy for today’s hike. It is only 7.30am, but the weather is looking so amazing we decide to head off early. Being one of the first hikers for today the trails are certainly a lot quieter.
Chame To Bhratang
The air is crisp, but the sun hitting our skin helps warm up. Having only trekked a short distance yesterday between Timang and Chame we are feeling good today. With energy to burn we happily walk along the road surrounded by the most incredible views.
There is a lot of workers on this portion of the trail, mainly just working on stabilizing the road. We give them a smile when passing by, astonished of some of the massive rocks they are lifting.
The views are so beautiful today. There are plenty of snow capped peaks standing tall above the rushing turquoise river. Surrounded by pine forests it honestly feels plenty different from any portion of the trail so far. It is truly amazing how quickly the landscape can change when increasing in elevation.
It is fairly obvious when we arrive in Bhratang. This village is famous on the trail for its apples. It provides the perfect conditions for growing due to frosty winters. There are plenty signs out warning trekkers to keep out of the orchards that are surrounded by massive fences. Waking on through this place is pretty busy. Hoards of trekkers are lined up to get a taste of the famous apple pies.
We stop in to fill up our drink bottles on a nearby hose attached to one of the buildings. Dropping in a couple water purification pills we shake the bottles up, walk past the crowds and head back onto the trail.
Bhratang To Dhukur Pokhari
We continue following the rushing river enjoying the incredible scenery. Turning the corner we spot, no doubt, one of the most photographed portions of the trail, where the road has been carved into the side of the cliff. I could not imagine being in the back of the jeep, it would be too scary! Luckily we are hiking so can walk as far from the edge as we please to avoid the straight drop into the rocky river below.
Following the trail around we continue on the right side of the river and enjoy the views. The snow capped peaks provide the ultimate backdrop to one of the best hikes in the world.
Out of nowhere the beautiful Swarga Dwari can be seen in the distance. This incredible mountain side has been naturally carved into the shape of the side of a bowl. The local people believe it is a gateway to heaven, where the souls will climb up to reach their final destination. It is honestly such an amazing sight and unlike anything I have ever seen before. The sides are too steep for anything to grow on, so all that can be seen is the cracks and different tone within the surface.
Crossing over a swing bridge the trail goes up through one of the pine forests. Instead of following the zigzagging road we take the steep hikers path going straight up. There are the occasional abandoned stalls which I guess locals sell souvenirs at. Though, it must be too early at the moment. Through the dense trees it is obvious we are getting higher in altitude. For the first time on the trek I can feel the air becoming thinner as my heart races faster than my breathing.
Joining back onto the road we soon approach the settlement of Dhukur Pokhari. Though, we are the first hikers to arrive and this place is a ghost town this time of day. We decide to forfeit lunch for later and continue on to our destination.
Dhukur Pokhari To Upper Pisang
At Dhukur Pokhari we have two options to get to Manang, either taking the high route or the low route. Luckily, having spent the previous two nights at an altitude of 2710 meters it is considered safe for us to take the high trail. We purposely planned it this way as it is beneficial with helping to acclimatize once reaching higher altitudes and has some amazing views of Annapurna II, IV and III.
After Dhukur Pokhari we head off the main road and cross over one of three bridges. There are large grassy fields which provide an easy terrain to hike. Turns out it is actually the football ground of the Pisang Youth Club!
The trail continues steadily up the mountain side. It may only be a 100 meter climb, but the altitude certainly slows you down. No matter how fit you are altitude will have some effect on you. The first signs of it are effecting us by moving a lot slower and taking smaller steps. Though, as long as there are no headaches or coughing I am okay for now.
Arriving into Upper Pisang we are some of the first people of the day. I look after our bags at the beginning of the village while James goes off in search for a room for the night. Its usually a first in first serve basis which is a bonus for us early birds.
Staying In Upper Pisang
James walks back having found the perfect room at Hotel Tilicho Peak. Here we stay for free with the promise of buying dinner and breakfast. The room is perfect, with two windows letting in lots of sun and warm mink blankets.
The beautiful Upper Pisang is a typical old style village in the Manang region. It has a large prayer wheel in the center and sits opposite the impressive Annapurna II .
After settling and eating a snickers bar we head down to wait for our British friends. Relaxing in the sunshine I sit with my camera snapping endless pictures of the most beautiful mountain peaks.
Familiar faces from our first night on the Annapurna Circuit walk past. Two guys from Germany who were hoping to stay in Upper Pisang, though one of them has developed a headache which means they must go down to a lower altitude. About 10 minutes later our British friends arrive followed by the Hong Kong girls with their new guide.
We show them up to Hotel Tilicho Peak. They all sort out rooms with the owner then we head to the rooftop for an afternoon game of cards.
Once the weather cools down we head inside to the common area and by now the tea house is packed. It seems like this is one of the more popular places to stay in Upper Pisang. Though, from what James saw it was one of the nicest, except from the fancy hotel which it costs.
For dinner I order another portion of pasta with a tomato based sauce. This with a cup of chai tea goes down perfectly and is a great way to end the evening. Though, what we come to find out the hard way is that the power is turned off overnight. This means to charge our phone we need to pay $4.40USD / 500NRS which is very pricey. If you have a portable battery pack definitely bring one on the circuit!
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