As I’ve alluded to a couple of times, many people skip the last week of the Circuit, due mainly to fears about the road. This part of the trail goes through some of the nicest towns, the best lodges, and the friendliest people. It’s Thakali country; and Thakalis are legendary for their hospitality and charm. This trail was in fact the more popular, by far, until a couple years ago when the new road and the threat of Maoists combined to create a drop in traffic.
Trekker’s (myself included) are disappointed to walk on a road shared with motor vehicles, but for the villagers this is a real boon. Goods are easier to obtain–and cheaper. People who are sick can be driven to the hospital. It’s connecting a remote part of the country to the modern world–many even have electricity.
Logistically, you are walking down almost the entire way. It’s a breeze, and you can feel yourself growing stronger as you get lower and lower in altitude. There are a few cars, busses, or jeeps that pass you throughout the day, but for me they were no more annoying than the endless mule trains on the other side of the pass.
This side was mistier, but it didn’t rain. The only precipitation after the first day were a couple of lightning/thunder/blizzards near the top of the pass. The pine forests were great, and there were almost no trekkers on the trail at all. The food was much better–fresher, with more vegetables and because the lodges weren’t cooking on wood fires it came out much quicker (and I hear is better for the environment as well).
There are enough sidetrips to add a couple weeks, but just sticking to the main trail it takes about six days to get to Tatopani (Hot Springs). From here, you could have a flat walk to Beni and there catch a bus or taxi back to Pokhara. Or you can climb up 2000 more meters to Ghorepani (Horse Water) and there catch the views from the poorly-named Poon Hill. There’s the rub: the views always require the climbs.
Anyway, enough from me. Here are some pictures.