Day Thirteen: Taking The Bus From Muktinath To Jomsom On The Annapurna Circuit
Its the thirteenth day on the Annapurna Circuit and we will be making our way down the mountain. Today will take us from Muktinath to Jomsom on the bus, passing through Kagbeni and Eklebhatti. The total journey from Muktinath to Jomsom consists of taking the bus 23 kilometers over 1 hour and an elevation decrease of 1080 meters.
Though, I will go through my journey from Muktinath to Jomsom in detail. That way, if you are planning your own Annapurna Circuit trek you will know exactly what to expect on thirteen and how to get down.
Muktinath (3680m) to Jomsom (3330m): 23 kilometer bus ride which takes 1 hour
Annapurna Circuit Day Thirteen: Muktinath To Jomsom
Waking Up In Muktinath
Well rested up in our delightful lodge, it is now time to continue our way down the mountain. James is feeling slightly better today and has now stopped vomiting.
Down in the common area its time for breakfast. Enjoying another canned apple juice, they have got to be one of my favorite things about staying here in this lodge. I order a portion of Tibetan bread with scrambled eggs. I do love this meal, but I am so ready to go back to civilization and have some good old baked beans.
We discuss our plans. At this stage, we still have about 12 days until our visas in Nepal run out. We could go off and do the poon hill trek or even Annapurna Base Camp. Though, I have heard the base camp trek is basically just stairs, that would not be good on my knees. After the Thorong La Pass debacle, steep descents are a no go.
Our friends are now two days ahead of us. We decide to facebook message them to see whereabouts on the trail they are. They reply letting us know their goal for today would be Marpha. An apple producing town, a short walk from Jomsom. If we would want to catch back up with them the best option is to take the bus to Jomsom and trek onwards to Marpha from there.
We pack up our messy room. Having done some washing in the sink and dried it in the sunshine, we now have some semi-clean clothing to wear. Muktinath is a super interesting place to stay at, especially with all the pilgrims constantly making their way from one side of the village to the temple on horseback.
We wander outside our lodge to suss out the village and figure out where the bus stop is and at which times the bus departs. The dry dusty ground is blowing up a storm, though we continue walking down the length of Muktinath. Behind us are beautiful views of the Annapurna Circuit with a steep drop where we have come from, Thorong La Pass.
The town seems nearly abandoned. There are little stalls selling scarfs and muffs placed all around, though nobody is in sight running them. Apart from the occasional horse trodding through carrying people to the nearby temple, there is no one else around. We continue walking through, discovering larger and larger lodges, some look absolutely incredible. Though, we are happy with the one we stayed in at the start of the village.
Finally arriving at the bus stop it is located in the other part of town, past all the lodges and homes. Checking out it appears the buses just go whenever they are filled, there is no set schedule. One is just leaving, full of Indian pilgrims making there way back to Jomsom, as well as a few trekkers.
We decide to go back to our lodge, grab a bit of an early lunch, then return to the bus stop with our luggage. That way we can get to Jomsom hopefully with still a few hours of sunlight allowing us to easily trek to Marpha with no issues.
Muktinath To Jomsom
Walking back to the bus stop the township here is a little busier. Though I guess the majority of people are still doing the Thorong La Pass and won’t arrive until the late afternoon.
The bus is just packing on the crowds as we arrive at the bus station which is literally just a shed with a couple buses waiting out front. James purchases us two tickets and I jump onboard. There are about 10 other trekkers already sitting in the seats. I guess we get charged premium prices to secure a seat. Though, the locals and pilgrims must pay less on a first in first serve basis. The middle of the bus is packed with backpacks all stacked on top of each other as the driver tries to fit everyone in.
This is not the most comfortable experience, especially being so tall. The seats in local buses here are extremely close together and the bags in the middle prevent from being able to stretch out fully.
This packed like sardines bus is getting extremely hot. Though, thankfully we soon start rolling down the hill with the window open to provide some breeze. Unfortunately, due to the dust clouds being kicked up by the bus, the open windows do not last long.
Now, I will be the first to say I am not a good driver, especially when it comes to manual. Though, I may be perhaps just slightly better than this current bus driver. Each time he drives around a corner the breaks are slammed on and everyone flies forward a few inches. I am someone who often has horrible motion sickness, though luckily the drivers in Asia have tested me and I have gotten a little better. But at this moment it is hot, squished and I am being flung forward every other second.
I swap seats with James and open the window every so slightly so my head can fit out, as well as chucking on sunglasses to prevent going blind thanks to the dust. The views may not be the best this side of the bus, but it will have to do as I try my hardest not to vomit while we pass by the villages of Kagbeni and Eklebhatti.
Thankfully we see the village of Jomsom in the distance. It stretches out quite far, full of flat-roofed two-story buildings.
Pulling up, everyone unloads and this is the first time I have been in a strange place with absolutely no clue. We hide under the shade of a tree trying to get our bearings while I attempt to stop my stomach from spinning.
Staying in Jomsom
After waiting around a while my nausea is not disappearing, though we cannot sit here all day. First thing is first, we need to find an ATM. We are down to our last $20.00 each, which will only really last us a day and a half.
We pull up the Maps.Me app on my phone and spot that there is an ATM about a 20 minute walk away. This is okay as it is towards the ACAP check in post which we will need to register at anyway. It’s back to walking on the dry roads under the midday sun. The part of Jomsom the bus dropped everyone off does not have much of an atmosphere as we make our way past all the massive two-story stone buildings. Back on the main road, we follow it along past an army base and towards the other end of town. James signs us in at the offices while I keep walking a couple hundred meters to the ATMs.
If the ATMs are down we will need to find a bus urgently to get us back to civilization in Pokhara. Though, with my stomach the way it is I honestly don’t know if I could do any longer on a bus, especially down the curving mountain roads. Luckily I walk to the ATM and see a flashing screen covered in dust. Using my Mastercard I try, but it just gives me an error sign. Luckily I also travel with a Visa credit card for emergencies and thankfully that one works. I take out $300.00, more than enough money and stash it in a couple of separate places in my bag.
Meeting back up with James I let him know the good news, that we finally have some money. Though, I am still not feeling well and would rather stay here for the night. We wander further down the villages towards the airport where we can see a few lodges marked on Maps.Me. Our first choice is already filled with trekkers, though we spot another large building just down the road.
A friendly gentleman gives us a room for $8.65 / 1000NRS. It is not as nice as our place in Muktinath, but it will do. James messages our friends letting them know we will not make it to Marpha while I run into the bathroom. My stomach cannot take it anymore and I spend the next twenty minutes vomiting. I often get motion sickness, though once I am back on land walking I usually start feeling better. Suddenly, it comes over me that this is likely not motion sickness and rather what James got after the Thorong La Pass.
My appetite is completely gone and it is obvious we can not be trekking like this. Our bodies are completely worn down and no doubt we would just continue to give this stomach bug to each other if we are to decide trekking down. Right now there are only two ways to make it Pokhara where we left the rest of our baggage, a fight or a bus ride. A flight would be extremely costly, but a bus would literally take all day and with me in this state, it would be a horrible journey. We decide to bite the bullet and James pops down the road to a travel agency to buy flight tickets, $100.00 each.
The flight is not until the following morning so I just decide to sleep. Skipping out on dinner and just drinking tea so I only am consuming boiled water. I need to make sure I am okay to catch our flight tomorrow.
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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
- FLYING JOMSON TO POKHARA AND FINISHING THE ANNAPURNA CIRCUIT- DAY FOURTEEN
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