April 28: Jomsom – Kalopani
Jomsom is a busy town. We set off at 6am, before breakfast and the town is already alive and on the move. The airport is busy with flights taking advantage of the better weather conditions in the morning.
Prayer wheels at Marpha. Nikon D300, 18-200mm at 48mm, 1/250 f/8, ISO 200.
There are trekkers who want to trek the Annapurnas but are short of time and use the airport at Jomsom to shorten their trek. One option is to fly in to Jomsom and trek down and out towards Pokhara. Another is to fly into the airport at Hombre (near Manang), trek over the high pass of Thorung La, and then fly out of Jomsom.
One good option for a short trek (5 days) in the Annapurnas that doesn’t involve flying into a high altitude airport is to take a taxi from Pokhara to Phedi or Dhampus and trek via Gandruk – Ghorepani – Poon Hill to Birethanti.
The best time to trek is definitely during the post monsoon season (Oct-Nov), but that’s also the most crowded time by far. It sees 5 times the number of trekkers compared to the next best season. The best guesthouses fill quickly and the trek soon feels like a race to get to the village to secure a room at the guesthouse of choice. The pre-monsoon (Apr-May) is reputedly the next best season with far fewer trekkers. You get good views of the mountains in the mornings but haze, clouds or rain obscure the views by the afternoon. If you are not trekking at high altitude (the short trek I described above is a good example), then winter is also good a time to go. You’ll get clear blue skies and unlimited visibility the whole day, but with bitterly cold nights at higher altitudes. There are very few trekkers as well – which also means that quite a few guesthouses may not be open. There is absolutely no reason to go trekking during the monsoon (Jun – Aug). Constant rain and leaches, make walking a misery. Even if you get a break in the rain, low cloud or haze obscures the mountain views.
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