Day Fourteen: Flying Jomsom To Pokhara And Finishing The Annapurna Circuit
Its the fourteenth day on the Annapurna Circuit and it is finally time to get down back to civilization! Day fourteen will take us from Jomsom to Pokhara. The total journey from Jomsom to Pokhara consists of flying 160 kilometers over half an hour and an elevation decrease of 1320 meters.
Though, I will go through my journey between flying from Jomsom and Pokhara in detail. That way, if you are planning your own Annapurna Circuit trek you will know exactly what to expect on day fourteen.
Jomsom (2720m) to Pokhara (1400m): 160 km flight which takes half an hour
Annapurna Circuit Day Fourteen: Jomsom To Pokhara
Waking Up In Jomsom
There is a still morning chill in the air as we wake up. It is 6.30am and I have been up and down during the night, though luckily not vomiting. Too early to have breakfast we open the curtains and let the sunlight stream in.
We have a view out to the runway from our window, but it is too early for the planes to take off just yet. We are told to arrive at the airport at least an hour before our flight. Though, we start packing up more than two hours early, way before our time to arrive.
Putting all our dirty laundry into a bag we are more than ready for some clean clothes, decent restaurants and the real world back in Pokhara. We have loved doing the Annapurna Circuit and it has been a totally different travel experience than we are used to. Though, right now we are both sick and need to get back into a relaxing environment where we can fully recover.
Arriving At Jomsom Airport
The airport is just a few minutes walk from our lodge so it doesn’t take too long before we arrive. Outside there is a flurry of tourists and locals alike all ready to catch their flight.
What is interesting about the airport in Jomsom is that it is completely run by the local military base. Instead of airport staff, you have men in uniform, from the check-in desk to the people loading your bags on the plane. From about 7.30am onwards until lunchtime there is a constant whirl on planes arriving and departing. So do not expect to get a free seat next to you!
Walking through the doors we proceed to the check-in desk. They weigh our one bag and move to the side. Then we receive a small piece of flimsy paper. The only thing I can really make out on it is our boarding time, 8.45am. We still have an hour to wait, though we have spent plenty of time in airports before and it will be interesting to see how a military airport operates.
We make our way through the security. Men and women are split into separate lines. They pat us down and while searching through our carry on luggage. After we follow the hallway to a large room filled with other people waiting for their flight. There is a new flight from here to Pokhara approximately every twenty minutes, well that is if the weather is good.
They only operate flights from here in the mornings for a few hours as oftentimes the wind picks up in the afternoon. It is common for flight cancellations to happen from here, sometimes delaying travelers for days. Luckily we have a clear sky, minimal clouds and the sun is out so there should not be any problems operating our flight from Jomsom to Pokhara.
Boarding The Plane
After waiting around like 10 minutes a plane arrives from Pokhara and starts unloading passengers. One of the military men come into our room and shouts out 8am. All the people from the 8am flight walk up, though there are only about 5 people. He starts going through the times 8.15am, 8.30am, 8.45am, oh that’s us! There does not appear to be that many people here. Though, I guess things are usually not so punctual on this side of the world no surprise.
I show the gentleman our paper tickets and he indicates for us to go outside onto the tarmac. Once there we wait for a couple more people then are shown on the plane. Who knows if our bag will make it onto this flight as it has a label to be put on the original flight at the check-in desk, but oh well.
Jumping onboard there are no particular seats, it is a free for all. Being one of the last people onboard we end up with a seat next to the propeller, not particularly ideal, but I guess it will do. The seats on the plane are similar to that of the local buses in Nepal, quite squished together. They are made for the locals and not for tourists.
Our flight attendant hands out cotton buds, before talking over the loudspeaker going through the general airplane safety procedures as well as the flight time, 20 minutes. This is certainly the shortest flight I have ever taken, though I am quite thankful for that considering it is tighter in here than a Ryanair flight.
Flying Jomsom To Pokhara
The engine whirls up and it is obvious why the air hostess previously handed out cotton balls. We start moving to the far side of the runway and in one quick swoop around the plane is suddenly zooming back down towards the end of the valley.
Now I know this runway has nothing on the one on the way to Everest Base Camp, but it is still a scary experience. The small runway quickly falls out below us as there is very minimal incline on our take off. It is unlike anything I have ever experienced before. I guess because we are landing at such a lower altitude we do not need to ascend much on take off.
The views out the windows are incredible and I am in complete awe. We watch as the plane passes by snowy mountain capped peaks right outside our window nearly at eye level! The streams on the valley floor split off in numerous directions, just like someone has dropped a cup of water on the ground.
We follow the slow descent of the hills around us as we fly through the middle of a valley. I have to imagine that the pilots need a lot of training to be able to fly this route. It feels that if we were to stick our arms out the windows we could nearly touch the hills on either side. I could not imagine flying down to Pokhara in the morning fog or low lying cloud. The pilots would literally not be able to see any of these mountains or hills! This results in plenty of flight cancellations due to weather.
I across to all the villages precariously perched on the mountain edges while I screen the curvey road following us down the valley. Even though flying is costing us a lot more, I would rather do this then spending 10+ hours on one of the local buses from Jomsom.
The mountains soon disappear from around us and civilization is present everywhere. Morning traffic clogs up the roads and houses spread every inch of my view. It is obvious we have now made it Pokhara.
Arriving in Pokhara
We quickly descend into Pokhara airport, touching down and coming to a stop. On the tarmac is another group of people and by the time we exit the aircraft their bags are already being put on. I oftentimes don’t associate Nepal was efficiency, but at this moment they are certainly proving me wrong.
We head inside to a little room and I cannot believe how much warmer it is down at this altitude. My jumper begins to absorb sweat, though that’s okay as it needs a wash anyway. To my surprise, our bag is brought out with everyone else. I have no idea how it managed to get onto this flight. We only found out we were on it minutes before it left! Perhaps they are extremely organized or maybe it was a coincidence.
We head outside where a taxi driver greets us, gives us an affordable rate and even knows our accommodation. It is such a relief being back here and not having anything to worry about. Back at the hotel, we empty out our bags, throwing out some stuff and making a pile of washing. Our base for the next week is going to be here in Pokhara. We will just be relaxing, eating and hopefully catching up with some of the people we meet on the trail. Though, for now, its time for breakfast!
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Want more Annapurna Circuit Inspiration? Check out….
- POKHARA TO BESISAHAR & BAHUNDANDA- STARTING THE ANNAPURNA CIRCUIT- DAY ONE
- BAHUNDANDA TO TAL ON THE ANNAPURNA CIRCUIT- DAY TWO
- TAL TO TIMANG ON THE ANNAPURNA CIRCUIT- DAY THREE
- TIMANG TO CHAME ON THE ANNAPURNA CIRCUIT- DAY FOUR
- CHAME TO UPPER PISANG ON THE ANNAPURNA CIRCUIT – DAY FIVE
- UPPER PISANG TO NGAWAL ON THE ANNAPURNA CIRCUIT- DAY SIX
- NGAWAL TO MANANG ON THE ANNAPURNA CIRCUIT- DAY SEVEN
- MANANG REST DAY ON THE ANNAPURNA CIRCUIT- DAY EIGHT
- MANANG TO YAK KHARKA ON THE ANNAPURNA CIRCUIT- DAY NINE
- YAK KHARKA TO THORONG PHEDI (BASE CAMP) ON THE ANNAPURNA CIRCUIT- DAY TEN
- THORONG PHEDI TO HIGH CAMP ON THE ANNAPURNA CIRCUIT- DAY ELEVEN
- HIGH CAMP TO MUKTINATH VIA THORONG LA PASS ON THE ANNAPURNA CIRCUIT – DAY TWELVE
- MUKTINATH TO JOMSOM ON THE ANNAPURNA CIRCUIT- DAY THIRTEEN
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