Day Nine: Trekking Manang To Yak Kharka On The Annapurna Circuit
Its the ninth day on the Annapurna Circuit and we will be heading away from the road to a much high altitude. Day nine will take us from Manang to Gunsang and Gunsang to Yak Kharka. The total journey from Manang to Yak Kharka consists of 10 kilometers of hiking over 5 hours and an elevation increase of 510 meters.
Though, I will go through my journey between Manang and Yak Kharka in detail. That way, if you are planning your own Annapurna Circuit trek you will know exactly what to expect on day nine.
Manang (3540m) to Gunsang (3900m): 3 km hike which takes 2 hours
Gunsang (3900m) to Yak Kharka (4050m): 7 km hike which takes 3 hours
Annapurna Circuit Day Nine: Manang To Yak Kharka
Waking Up In Manang
Waking up at 7am we pack up our bags ready to hit the road again. It’s amazing how messy you can make a place just by staying their one extra day!
In the common room, I dig into a delicious breakfast of cheese on toast, as well as a hot cup of tea. The altitude is certainly getting to us now and it is taking a noticeable effect on our physical energy. A hearty breakfast is a must on the Annapurna Circuit!
Before getting back out on the trail we decide to make the most of the last big town we would find before Throng La Pass. Down the road we visit the bakery and purchase some cheese, cinnamon scrolls, bread rolls and biscuits. This will provide some delicious snacks for later in the day. After this, we go pick up our bags and pay for everything back at Alpine Home before heading off at 8am.
Manang to Gunsang
Walking through the new part of Manang where all the lodges are located we wander along the paths uphill to the area of Tanki Manang. This is the upper village where most of the locals live. Rather than the big colorful buildings you find in New Manang, here is the beautiful stone-built houses with flat roofs.
We squeeze through the tight alleyways making our way out of civilization and shortcutting across the road. Towards the end, the uphill portion in Tanki Manang is quite steep. I need to stop multiple times for a breather. I am not thirsty, but instead having trouble with my breathing not being able to keep up with my heart rate. It is like being on the verge of a constant panic attack.
It may only be a short 3 kilometer hike to Gunsang, but with an elevation increase of over 300 meters, it is not easy. The road ends and now we are on a small path leading us up towards Throng La Pass. Traffic jams are normal on these parts of the trail. Though, instead of cars, you get stuck behind horses and yaks. I don’t mind though as walking slowly allows me to concentrate on my breathing and heart rate.
Turning a corner the village of Gunsang can be seen in the distance. A large valley provides amazing panoramic views across on our left to the nearby mountain ranges.
The village of Gunsang is relatively small, though there are two lodges. We spot some friends there having an early lunch so we order a cup of tea and join them. The hot tea and the cinnamon scrolls we purchased that morning go down a treat. The warmth from the sun provides some wonderful heat at this altitude.
While having a morning tea at the random lodge we watch as numerous eagles fly around in the large valley space. They ride the air currents, gaining speed and swooping down. After a bit of a relax we decide its time to get back on the trail and continue on for the day.
Gunsang To Yak Kharka
Heading out of Gunsang the hike to Yak Kharka is a lot easier than the first portion of today. It may be longer, but it has a steady, barely noticeable incline of 150 meters over 7 kilometers.
Crossing a beautiful swing bridge from one side of the valley to the other we are well above the tree line now. Only small shrubs and grasses cover the surrounding ground. There many yaks with beautiful red earrings perched on the mountainsides around us. They don’t even look up as we pass by.
Another swing bridge and a small climb we come to an easy plateau covered in goats. We take a small break here falling in love with every fluffy creature! The herd is watched over by a local man standing a hundred meters away on the top of a hill. We try to convince the babies to come closer to us so we can pat them, but they keep a distance.
The trail is full of porters and horses carrying supplies to higher destinations on the trail. With no more road, it becomes a much more labor intensive job to get goods to further villages. This also means for us that we are about to see a dramatic increase in the cost of food and water. Basically everything you see in villages higher than Manang had to be brought there manually, by either horse, yak or person. We see people carrying tables, chairs and basically everything up the trail. It is incredible that they have been able to build entire villages this way!
Around 1.30pm we arrive into Yak Kharka. I am not sure if its the cold, but there is less of an atmosphere up here than any of the other villages having come across so far. Our friends continue onwards to Churi Ledar for the night. Though, we decide to stay here, not willing to risk altitude sickness by ascending any further.
Staying In Yak Kharka
At the Gangapurna Hotel we notice quite a few people hanging out in the courtyard so we decide to get a room there. It costs us $1.60 / 200NRS total and has a private squat toilet. We are placed on the second story with an uninteresting view across to a nearby barren mountain.
For lunch we pull out the fresh bread rolls we had purchased in Manang, as well as the cow’s cheese. We play a game of cards in bed while nibbling back. A hot lunch would have been nicer, though in order to save a bit of money sometimes a simple lunch is best. It costs an extra $1.60 / 200NRS for WiFi, so we pay for access on just one device. The pitfall WiFi we got on the first day in Bahundanda must have been a bit of a scam. If they can get decent WiFi up here, they must be able to get it anywhere!
There is no power in the room so we decide to have a little snooze. The altitude takes the energy away from you fast, it’s now normal for us to fall asleep at 7pm and wake up at 5am.
Waking up we decide to have dinner early and go and charge our devices over in the common area. Its only 5pm, but for dinner James orders dal baht while I have a cheese toasted sandwich with hot chips. I know it is not the most healthy meal, but sometimes you just want so comfort food.
Before retreating back to our room for the night I decide to go on a small walk around Yak Kharka village before it gets dark. The air has a strong chill to it, though this is the first real sunset I have seen on the trail. Instead of the regular boring sun goes behind the mountain and everything goes black, tonight the clouds have turned a beautiful shade of candyfloss. The pink clouds against the deep black shadows of the mountains perfectly contrast each other.
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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
- YAK KHARKA TO THORONG PHEDI (BASE CAMP) ON THE ANNAPURNA CIRCUIT- DAY TEN
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