The way back home – Upper Mustang, Nepal

This is part two of my photo story on our adventure in Nepal. To start at the beginning (highly recommended) check out the first post: Exploring the Upper Mustang 

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The roof of Nepal. This wee dude was so excited to see us in his town of Choser (3916m). This is the last town before Tibet. 

A slow trickle of luke warm water ran over my dust encrusted hair. I was having my first shower (of sorts) in 7 days. I was surprised how little I missed showering, and how it actually felt good to go a bit feral for a while. We weren’t totally scanky as each morning and evening we would be brought a bowl of warm water to wash the essentials in. I got quite used to this and it became something of a ritual.

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Tim washing in the morning before breakfast at our camp spot (with grass!!) in Lo Manthang

We were to have a ‘rest day’ in Lo Manthang, and this consisted of riding horses 2 hrs up to the village of Choser, the last village before reaching the border of Tibet (China). In Choser are ancient caves that humans used to live in thousands of years ago. These were just so incredible as we were allowed inside this rabbit warren of man made caves to see where ancient Nepalese used to live. The network consisted of about 40 rooms, each connected with a corridor and small openings. There was only one room at the bottom that was large enough to stand in, this was the communal room for the inhabitants of this cave village. Up to 40 families would be living in here we were told, one family to one room.

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The Jhong Caves in Choser. We entered through the middle door and climbed up through the network to get to the top ‘rooms’ where the prayer flags are (can you see the person peeking out of a window?)

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One of the rooms. Hard to believe a whole family would live in here.  

After two nights in Lo Manthang, it was time to pack the tents and head back South towards Jomsom. We had decided to change up our itinerary a bit and go on a longer, less travelled route home. We saw other groups of trekkers on this route back (admittedly we only saw 3 other groups on the way up!) and we really felt like we were getting off the beaten track completely, we stayed in villages that were so isolated it really was like walking back 2000 years. It was fascinating and enchanting.

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Leaving Lo Manthang a group of monks passed us on their horses 

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Donkey man charging ahead 

We had a few very long days ahead of us. Three days in a row we were to have over 1000m climbs up and over from valley to valley. The descents steep and pretty hairy at times! We loved it and it felt good to be nowhere near the jeep track. We were well used to the altitude by now so just plodded along, one step at a time. At times we were longing for a mountain bike as there would be some seriously fun single track!

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Our steep decent into the next village of  Tangee (3240m)  camp site after a 7 hr day.

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Another top camp spot in the village of Yara (3650m)

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Our friendly host in Yara. It was so wonderful to meet such amazing people in each village we stayed in. 

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Beautiful Nepal

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 Just when you thought you were a million miles away from another human, you would come over a rise and there would be old mate and his herd of goats… Always full of smiles! 

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Our camp site in Tetang (3049m) – the most lovely family lived here…

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The boys. Children of our hosts, as fascinated in us as we were in them!

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Grandma and grandchild in their kitchen

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Our camp spot under the stars

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 Tim looking over the vast valley below 

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A monk walking the streets in the small town of Dhi

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We had lunch in a locals house, she was very friendly and was feeding the young workers who were out in the valleys making bricks to sell from smashing up rocks. Hard graft…

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Our second last day waking, this was the last big day of 1000m accent over the pass and down into Muktinah

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Muktinath (3760m) 

It was very strange arriving into Muktinath after so long without seeing another tourist. We walked our tired stinky bodies through the streets passing tourist stalls, other trekkers, and signs saying ‘wifi and hot showers’! It was totally bazar and not a welcome feeling! I already missed our wee tranquil villages with friendly locals and no electricity. Muktinath is a popular place to visit by many. Firstly it is at the end of the Annapurna Circuit so many people end up here after their trek. It is also a very important pilgrimage place for both Bhuddist and Hindu people, attracting many Indians and Nepalese to come worship here. It wasn’t somewhere that we fell in love with I have to be honest! We were longing for the quiet streets of our wee villages and not being hassled to buy scarves every two minutes! It was fascinating to be there all the same, especially to realise how spoilt we had been previously. We wandered the streets soaking in the different cultures and realising what an amazing trip we had had so far.

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The streets were lined with ladies and their looms, making and selling scarves. 

It was with a slightly heavy heart that we took of from Jomsom in our wee twin otter plane two days later. It was the end of something truly remarkable, a two week walk with my new husband, through eyes that were virgin to all things Nepalese. I really believe your first experience of a place is the most important. We will never have an experience like that again, we were seeing and photographing it all for the first time. We said our goodbyes to our amazing team of Sherpas, donkey man and horse man and gave our wee gifts of a stuffed Kiwi with a tip, thanking them profusely for looking after us so well. Our next stop was Pokhara and the luxurious Tiger Mountain Lodge. I won’t lie, we were massively excited about staying here again, sleeping in a bed, having a shower, swimming in their pool and feasting on the amazing food.

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The view from Tiger Mountain Lodge as the sunset and a thunder storm rolled past.  

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We woke at 5am to see the sunrise with the hope that it may be clear and we could witness the most incredible view of the Annapurna Range from the lodge. We were in luck, the early bird caught the worm

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We are not really into ‘selfies’ but we managed a couple on the trip so we would at least have a few photos of both of us! I thought I would leave you with this ‘selfie’ of the newly weds at Tiger Mountain Lodge, satisfied and full of life after our trek in the Upper Mustang. 

 

Huge thanks again to Adventure Consultants for the epic adventure, F-Stop Gear for amazing camera bags to carry my photography gear, Goal Zero Australia for keeping us in solar power so we could always stay charged, Peak Design for nifty camera clips making my camera always accessible, Marmot NZ for keeping us warm and dry and Smith Optics NZ for my eye protection and Cecilia Gallery for their amazing leather and alpaca wool camera straps. What a cracking team to have on board…

 

Winter