Day 6: To Pisang
(O/nt Altitude ,3240m/5 hrs approx.) From Chame, the trail crosses a side stream, then the Marsyangdi river itself on a large suspension bridge. The trail proceeds through fields of barley and descends to a bridge. The village just across this bridge is Bhratang, an erstwhile Khampa settlement. From here on, the trail goes through deep forests. Climbing over a ridge, the trail continues the steep ascent to the upper Marsyangdi valley leading us to the lower portion of Pisang, a cluster of houses and a long mani wall near a bridge being its prominent features.
Day 7: To Manang
(O/nt Altitude 3,540m/6 hrs approx.) The trail traverses through different villages including Bryaga where the stone houses are piled one atop the other, each with an open balcony created by a neighbour’s rooftop. Here lies the largest Gompa of the Manang district, perched on an elevated cliff overlooking the village. It has an outstanding display of statues, thankas and manuscripts estimated to be 400-500 years old. A short walk, past chortens and mani walls and across a stream, gets you to the flat, arid terrain of Manang.
Day 8: In Manang
The special trading privileges conferred on people of Manang in 1784 by King Rana Bahadur Shah has made the local inhabitants dress in fashionable Western clothing brought from their trading excursions throughout Asia especially Hong Kong, Bangkok and Singapore. The shopkeepers here have figured out accurately what trekkers require and hotel menus, to your utter surprise, consist of hamburgers and steaks. Use up an additional day in Manang to acclimatize and to ramble around the old part of the village, a compact settlement of 500 flat-roofed houses separated by narrow alleyways, which has a remarkable setting with the summits of Annapurna and Gangapurna less than 8kms away.
Day 9: To Yak Kharka
(O/nt Altitude 4,018m/5 hrs approx.) The trek now begins an ascent of almost 1500m to Thorung La and continues to climb out of the Marshyangdi valley. Leaving the large vegetation below, the route traverses through scrub juniper and alpine grasses. The route is now through meadows where horses and yaks to graze, and sparse forests of juniper, rose and barberry.
Across a large stream that flows from Chulu Peak and Gundang, and past ancient mani wall in serene grassland, the trail reaches Yak Kharka, also known as Koche, where the visit to the yak herders’ camp in the late afternoon is customary.
Day 10: To Phedi
Day 11: Cross the Thorung-La Pass and to Muktinath
(O/nt Altitude 4,450m/4hrs approx.) Leisurely strides are taken due to the large elevation gain. Owing to the harsh local conditions, it is imperative to take at least two days to do this trip. Once at Phedi, there will be abundant time to rest and acclimatise to the higher elevations you will encounter while crossing Thorung La Pass, which is located at the highest altitude of the Annapurna Circuit.
(O/nt Altitude 3,800m/8-9hrs approx.) The set off is exceptionally early in the morning to go across Thorung La Pass at 5416m. The trail becomes steep instantly after leaving Phedi but easy to follow. 4-6 hours ascent leads to the apex of the Pass, which is replete with prayer flags, a chorten and stone cairn built by travellers. The views from the trail and from the pass are majestic. Further along, the trail descends steeply proceeding towards Chabarbu. From here on, the trail crosses meadows, drops into a deep ravine, climbs out and follows a wide trail into Muktinath, a pilgrimage site held in great reverence by both the Hindus and Buddhists.
Day 12: To Kagbeni
(O/nt Altitude 2,800m/3.5hrs approx.) Late morning start from Muktinath to let you get some much deserved rest after an arduous previous day and to allow for time to visit Muktinath temple complex, one of the most revered pilgrimage sites in Nepal for Buddhists and Hindus alike. Refreshed and spiritually invigorated, you descend out of Ranipauwa to Jharkot (3550m) through farmlands and clusters of poplar trees. Beyond Jharkot, the trail descends gradually to Khingar (3200m). Shortly, further ahead of Khingar, you get your first glimpse of the Kali Gandaki River as it is met by the Jhong Khola. As you continue on the trail, the path forks: the left hand trail leads to Eklaibhatti and the one on the right leads to Kagbeni - a green oasis in the middle of a desert, an erstwhile junction on the ancient Trans-Himalayan trade route and the gateway to the restricted region of Upper Mustang.
Day 13: To Chele
(O/nt Altitude 3,050m/6hrs approx.) Back route from Kagbeni village leads you into the restricted zone of Upper Mustang. The trail heads due North and we reach Tangbe, a pleasant village of white-washed houses and narrow alleys, set in a patchwork of fields of buckwheat, barley and apple orchards.
We reach Chhuksang village in the crook of the confluence of the Narshing River and the Kali Gandaki and we continue on to Chele. The transformation from ethnic Manangi to Tibetan (Mustangi) culture is well expressed in the architecture.