Annapurna Circuit - Day 14 (Marpha - Kalopani)

Kalopani Travel Blog

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Himalayan Griffon Vultures feeding on a dead calf.

A rough start for some people this morning after last night's refreshments and a hazy day down the Kali Gandaki valley obscured many of the views that we might have had of the higher mountains as we walked.  Topography was still similar to the past few days with a bit more of an alpine setting as some furs, pines, spruces, and cedar or two appeared on the hillsides to add a bit of variety to the terrain.  It was also another relatively flat day with only 120m (394 ft).

Our first stop was Tukuche for a tea/snack stop.  Patrick had spotted some large birds clustering over the riverbed so while everyone else went for refreshment we headed back out to the river to explore.  What we found was a large batch of Himalayan Griffon Vultures tearing apart a dead calf.

Tukuche Brandy - dangerous stuff.
  We were able to get surprisingly close (within 3m) as the birds ignored us and concentrated on their feast and fighting each other over who would get the largest portion of it.

Returning to the group we headed a short distance down the road to the Tukuche Distillery where a local family produces a variety of apple, peach, apricot, and other flavored brandies (which we had sampled last night).  I'll admit that I could never taste the actual flavor to this strong alcohol (40%).  An acquired taste to be sure.  We were given a tour of the grounds, shown the process for making the brandy, and allowed to sample a few varieties berfore heading back to the road.

An hour later we were in Larjung for lunch.  All morning the sky had gotten more cloudy and hazy and as we ate lunch the rain finally started to fall.

Soaking wet after walking in the rain for 90 minutes.
  No one was much interested in walking in the rain but Chitre rounded us up after everyone had finished eating and got us started on the last 2-hour leg of today's trek.  Initially the rain eased as we left Larjung, but Patrick and I decided we weren't going to let this take 2-hours.  With Santosh we set a frenetic pace along the road.  More rain started to fall accompanied by thunder and lightning. and finally hail as well.  We mixed the road with the riverbed crossing once by suspension bridge and several smaller streams via log bridges as the rain continued to fall.  Claire joined us in the lead group and we finally arrived drenched in Kalopani 1 hour and 20 minutes (no restbreaks) after leaving lunch.

Our lodge here in Kalopani (Kalopani Lodge - original name right) is the nicest place we have stayed at so far.

Annapurna I - 8091 m (26545 ft) at sunset
  Nothing fancy, but a nice bathroom (en-suite, which hasn't happened often), and a hot shower are nice after marching in the cool rain.  And excellent food again, a very nice dish of chicken, potatoes, and vegetables, probably the best meal on the Circuit.

The rain finally stopped and the clouds cleared enough to get some great shots of Nilgiri and Annapurna I (8091m - 26545 ft) towering over the valley as the sun set to the west.  Tomorrow its back to a downhill day dropping from our current elevation of 2500m (8200 ft) to 1200m (3937 ft) at Tatopani.  It's also the longest day distance-wise at around 22km.  Hopefully my quads have recovered to make it through the long day.

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Himalayan Griffon Vultures feeding…
Himalayan Griffon Vultures feedin…
Tukuche Brandy - dangerous stuff.
Tukuche Brandy - dangerous stuff.
Soaking wet after walking in the r…
Soaking wet after walking in the …
Annapurna I - 8091 m (26545 ft) at…
Annapurna I - 8091 m (26545 ft) a…
Himalayan Griffon Vultures.
Himalayan Griffon Vultures.
Himalayan Griffon Vultures.
Himalayan Griffon Vultures.
The high peaks of the Annapurna
The high peaks of the Annapurna
Apple Trees in Tukuche
Apple Trees in Tukuche
Rain falling in Larjung
Rain falling in Larjung
Nilgiri - 7061m (23166 ft)
Nilgiri - 7061m (23166 ft)
Nilgiri - 7061m (23166 ft)
Nilgiri - 7061m (23166 ft)
Annapurna I - 8091 m (26545 ft) af…
Annapurna I - 8091 m (26545 ft) a…
Annapurna I - 8091 m (26545 ft) af…
Annapurna I - 8091 m (26545 ft) a…
Annapurna I - 8091 m (26545 ft) at…
Annapurna I - 8091 m (26545 ft) a…
Annapurna I - 8091 m (26545 ft) at…
Annapurna I - 8091 m (26545 ft) a…
Annapurna I - 8091 m (26545 ft) at…
Annapurna I - 8091 m (26545 ft) a…
Annapurna I - 8091 m (26545 ft) at…
Annapurna I - 8091 m (26545 ft) a…
Kalopani
photo by: Kramerdude