Day Six: Trekking Upper Pisang To Ngawal On The Annapurna Circuit
Its the sixth day on the Annapurna Circuit as we to continue on the high route. Day six will take us from Upper Pisang to Ghyaru and Ghyaru to Ngawal. The total journey from Upper Pisang to Ngawal consists of 10 kilometers of hiking over 6 hours and an elevation increase of 370 meters.
Though, I will go through my journey between Upper Pisang and Ngawal in detail. That way, if you are planning your own Annapurna Circuit trek you will know exactly what to expect on day six.
Upper Pisang (3310m) to Ghyaru (3730m): 5 km hike which takes 3 hours
Ghyaru (3730m) to Ngawal (3680 m): 5 km hike which takes 3 hours
Annapurna Circuit Day Six: Upper Pisang To Ngawal
Waking Up In Upper Pisang
These days on the circuit I seem to constantly be waking up early and just sleeping lightly due to altitude. With everyone else still in slumber, I get up, put my hiking gear on and go for a walk around the village.
All is quiet at 5am apart from the occasional bell ringing of some livestock. The beautiful blue sky reflects against the crisp snowy peaks perfectly. A wander around to the prayer wheel coming across numerous dogs taking themselves for a morning walk.
I also meet my first yak on a path just happy walking around the mountainside village. Not to wake up James I sit on the roof of our teahouse taking in the incredible sites. The moon is still up and there are minimal clouds in the sky. This in combination with the utter peacefulness of Upper Pisang is perfection. I watch as the sun makes its way into the sky, ever so just touching the peaks of the Annapurna II.
I head downstairs for breakfast. Tibetan bread and peanut butter full me up perfectly, then we pack up our bags and hit the road.
Upper Pisang to Ghyaru
It is still pretty early with the sun barely in the sky. We follow a nice easy track even passing a little green lake in the middle of nowhere.
Reaching a mani wall we cross another swing bridge, knowing we have made it to the infamous hill to the village of Ghyaru. The trail zigzags nearly thirty times steeply up the side of the mountain. It takes over an hour to climb this small section alone! It is an extremely steep ascent with plenty of water breaks.
This seemingly never-ending climb eventually does, having passed the numerous electricity lines connecting this village to the outside world. At the top we a greeted by a local lady selling apple pies for $0.80 USD / 100NRS each. She certainly knows how to cater to the needs of us trekkers and the pie is absolutely delicious. It provides some much-needed energy allowing us to continue along the trail.
Ghyaru is a located at 3730 meters above sea level with picturesque views of Annapurna II, IV and III. This typical village of the Manang area is full of beautiful homes made of stone with flat roofs. It is truly a beautiful place to have a much-needed rest having just climbed a straight 300 meters. Though, the views here in Ghyaru certainly make it worth the effort!
Ghyaru to Ngawal
Ngawal may be a lower altitude, though the hike into Ghyaru certainly took it out of me for the day. The low oxygen levels up here make things extremely difficult. Just a few steps put me completely out of breath.
I start developing quite a pounding headache. Acute mountain sickness can occur anytime over 300 meters. Though, this changes depending on the individual, how well they have previously acclimatized and how their body reacts. A simple headache can lead to major problems such as a high altitude cerebral edema which is swelling of the brain. A quick fix at regular elevations cannot be used up here as it can mask the symptoms. The best option is to decrease in elevation.
Since Ngawal is lower in elevation we try to speed up the pace and see how my body reacts once there. Unbeknownst to us the first half of the tack between Ghyaru and Ngawal ascends another 500 meters. We are now over 4000 meters above sea level and my condition is just getting worse. My head is pounding, breathing is getting lighter and heart is racing. We are surrounded by the most amazing mountain views but I am too sick to be able to enjoy any of it.
Finally, the trail starts descending downhill into the village of Ngawal. My ears pop like crazy and with every step, I start to feel a little bit better. The wind pushes us around on the small mountainside paths while we balance over the rocks making up the trail.
Coming around a corner Ngawal can be seen in the distance. It is quite a larger village than expected with many very large lodges in the middle. Walking in we pass various little tea houses and cafes. It seems like Ngawal is quite a happening place. Coming to a beautiful gompa in the middle of the village we stop for a little break. It is only about midday, though the climb to Ghyaru has taken it out of us. Plus staying here would mean sleeping at a higher altitude, better for acclimatization. Following the hiker’s mantra of climbing high and sleeping low (not more than 300 meters than the previous night) I should be okay here even though we are pushing it a little bit.
Staying In Ngawal
We arrive at the Tibet Hotel in the center of town next to the large gompa. We are given a rather large room with an attached bathroom. There are two windows which let in plenty of sun and beautiful views to the nearby Annapurna ranges. The room is free as we plan to purchase lunch, dinner and breakfast there. Though, WiFi costs an extra $0.80 / 100NRS.
There are plenty of local guys hanging down in the courtyard. We sit down on the nearby tables and order lunch. Its another portion of pasta with a tomato based sauce for me, as well as a hot tea. Enjoying the sun we hang outside for a few hours reading up on the routes and monitoring my headache.
Our British friends catch up to us and decide to stay the night here in the same guesthouse. We order a large portion of tea to share while discussing what to do during our rest day in Manang. A common trail is visiting the Ice Lake which makes for a good acclimatization day trip. Though, having trekked the high route between Chame and Manang, as well as sleeping in Timang, it is not absolutely necessary as we should be well acclimatized by the time be leave Manang. There has also been mixed reviews saying the Ice Lake itself is completely overrated. We decide to leave it for now and decide tomorrow.
After a hot dinner, we head up for an early sleep. By now my headache is nothing more than a light thump. I try to take a diamox to help with the symptoms, but accidentally grab a dexamethasone. We had brought a couple emergency medication in Pokhara in case either of us had life threatening symptoms. Luckily my headache disappears and nothing happens in result of taking the wrong pills. Just learn from my mistakes and label your medication!
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Want more Nepal 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
- 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
- FLYING JOMSON TO POKHARA AND FINISHING THE ANNAPURNA CIRCUIT- DAY FOURTEEN
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