Day 3

Machhakhola to Jagat

The early breakfast had worked our nicely for us on the previous day—we'd been first to breakfast and first on the road—so we ate at 6:30am again. The bill from the lodge in Macchu Khola came to 3,800 rupees for the three of us.

We set off from Machhakhola at 7:30am. I thought it was a little late as I was again worried about the heat and sunshine. Luckily, we travelled for some time along the river that had carved out a deep valley through the hills. The sun remained off our heads until nearly 10:30am and I was able to cover a great deal of ground before overheating.

day3stupahills

Again today, with the sun shining down on us, I found the heat to be too much. By later in the afternoon, when climbing a series of steep steps, I paused under a tree and Travis took my sleeping bag off my pack and placed it on his. This relief of extra kilos made a big difference. It felt as though I was able to move again, while the heat and my tiredness had me wishing to stop every few meters.

 

Jagat seems lovely. Upon arrival, you turn the corner of a cliff side and come down onto what can only be described as a paved roadway: large flat sones lead down a few steps and through an archway of sweet climbing flowers that are all in bloom.

 

Advice:

  • Do laundry when you can, as soon as you can. Bring less, wash more. Use safety pins to hang your laundry from any place you can, including to your pack.
  • Take the time to listen to your guide, even if you have your own plans for each day. Kazi knew precisely how long it would take us each day by judging our abilities and needs.
  • Have I mentioned?: Pack light!

 

Day 2

Soti Khola to Macchakhola

The river had roared all night long just outside our rooms and I loved it. Soothing. We had our breakfast ready for us at 6:30am, and settled our first lodge bill of the trek. For three people's supper, two rooms (two in one, one alone in a two-bed room), and breakfast for all three, the bill came to a low 3,000 rupees. 

Soon after breakfast, we were on the road. The first section out, we walked along a fairly well-made (but little travelled until then as the river we had crossed the night before was only now just becoming passable).

The day was very, very hot. I was incredibly uncomfortable in the heat. My pack’s hip belt left a wide ribbon of sweat across the middle of my shirt and I had salt crusted around my lips. I keep trying to take on more and more water but the heat has upset my stomach so I can only sip little by little.

We finally stopped for lunch. Dal bhat is what we wanted, even if it will take 45 minutes to prepare for us. I encouraged this as we only had another six kilometers or less of trail ahead of us before stopping for the day. I was glad that will take us less than two hours on the larger roads. With the heat and the sun, I wasn't sure I would be capable of doing much more than that. This Canadian is not used to the 27 to 30 degree weather and hiking under the high, hot sun.

Arriving at our lodge in Macchu Khola, we were the first trekkers to check in and we three dropped our bags and ran for the showers. Here, the showers were great big rooms that were spotless when we arrived. The water was chilly but it was welcomed after our hot day. 

That evening, the supper was delicious and we began to meet the other trekkers who were traveling in both directions. Some of the trekkers had gone straight up the Tsum Valley and then back out again without doing the full Manaslu Circuit.

It was here that people shared complaints with their fellow travelers and the loudest and most heard complaint: I brought too much stuff!

Advice:

  • Listen to your body. This is the day—yes, the first day of hiking!—that Travis began to aggravate his knee. And that injury affected his entire trip (and many weeks afterwards). He didn't get to go on some of our side treks because he needed extra days to heal. Go slow when needed. Ask for help when needed. Communicate to your team what is bothering you—it's not complaining, it's making sure everyone is aware of all factors when making the group decision of how long to break or when to stop for the day.
  • Be a minimalist. Pack as little as you can. You don't need those extra camera lenses, the three extra outfits, or the library of books. One day of carrying it all on your back and you'll realize what is and isn't important.
  • Be clear about what *is* important to bring. Bring enough medication and other things that are life-saving. We met a team that had to return because some of their life saving medication had been ruined. I'd rather my friends be stinky in their only shirt than forget their insulin!

Day 1

Kathmandu to Soti Khola

Our guide, Kazi, met us early at the hotel, by 6:15am. We had eaten breakfast, packed our gear, and had already dropped extra bags at the hotel desk for storage while we were away.

We zipped across the city to the local bus we would take us to our trail head. Getting there early to ensure we got seats—good seats—was important for us. (One of us is 6'4" tall and another gets terrible motion sickness.) All our gear ended up being tied to the roof of the bus, so we pulled out our valuables, stretched our rain covers around the bags, and tossed 'em up.

The ride was long and dusty. We initially got stuck in a traffic jam inside Kathmandu before we paused for a quick break on a roadside stop outside the city about 3 hours in. 

We stopped for lunch midday after leaving the main road. Dal Bhat for everyone. Kazi, our guide, was less than impressed with the quality of the restaurant chosen by the bus driver, but it worked out fine for all of us in the end. 

The road leaving the last mid-sized town was rutted, dusty, and precarious. It was extremely rough driving, but we had lots of fun and found it exciting! The week before we traveled, the road was an impassable mess as the rains had kept the road deep in mud. There were locals as well as larger crews out repairing sections of the road as we passed.

We arrived at the last small town just before sunset. We would have had another 2+ hour hike to our first night's destination but our guide arranged a jeep to take us as the sun was setting. We were grateful as the jeep crossed a river after it was pitch black out and the drive was less than 45 minutes.

Upon arriving in Matchu Khola, we checked into the only lodge still with available rooms and ordered our supper. Dal Bhat and hot tea for everyone. The meal was great, we were tired and so we crashed quickly.

Advice:

  • Bring a face mask to cover your mouth and nose. The dust on the road will fill the bus or jeep on every road. 
  • Leave early to get the earliest bus, and the best seats. Later buses risk getting to your destination after dark if there are any delays on the road.
  • Be prepared to be separated from your luggage. Have your valuables packed such that you can pull 'em out easily and keep them with you. If you use a rain cover (I don't), put it on for the drive as the dust will get into every nook and cranny.

Kathmandu

We touched down at the airport in the morning, grabbed our bags and met our ride as we exited the airport toward the parking lot. Our hotel arranged for a driver to pick us up, just an additional $10USD for our peace of mind. The driver was good, but there were a gaggle of other people who insisted on 'helping' us to the car... for a tip.

We brought most of our gear with us to Nepal and so there was a short list of things we needed to pick up before leaving the city. Shona's is the ideal place to pick up last minute items. They are well-stocked, fair, and knowledgable. We rented sleeping bags, and bought Nalgene bottles and iodine pills. The only other things we bought in Kathmandu was candy and cookies for the road.

We also visited our trekking company's offices to settle our bill and check in. There, we met the man who would be our guide: Kazi Sherpa.

The Streets of Thamel

Travis and Simone walked the streets of this neighbourhood enough today that they seem pretty comfy by day’s end. Comfortable in that they know the way back to the hotel, but not so comfortable with the dust and smoke and smog that fills the eyes and lungs.

And so, we changed our cash to Nepalese rupees, we unsuccessfully attempted to withdraw a bit more from the ATM and they sourced out the gear needed to rent for tomorrow.

We converted about €1500 to rupees at the bank exchange at the edge of Thamel. This was plenty to cover our budget on the road. As we were worried about any random overages and extra costs in Kathmandu, I also withdrew 50,000 rupees from a bank's ATM (I am less comfortable with the random, non-bank ATMs throughout the city). The extra cash could be used to pay our hotel bills while in Kathmandu if it didn't get used up on the trail. As it turned out, we had more than enough 

Restaurants in Kathmandu

Lunch, as recommended by a gentleman at our hotel, was at Gaia. My biryani was quite good. I have become paranoid about illness and really, really don’t wanna deal with a bout of food poisoning before even setting off.

Suppertime came early tonight—by a little after 6:00pm, we decided an early meal was just the ticket for our overtired selves. We took that same gentleman’s other recommendation and headed to C2SK. It was hilarious watching poor Simone and Travis trying to contort themselves into sitting on the floor. I was glad for it—crossed-legged at the dinner table is pretty standard for me. The local menu options looked good so I ordered up some Dal Marihani (a bean and lentil stew) with Naan and it hit the spot. Cheap, hearty, filling and delicious.

Advice:

  • Ask your hotel for their airport pick-up service. After long travel, it will be worth it (and usually much cheaper than taxis will charge you!). 
  • Unless you're ok handing over your luggage to random strangers who run through the parking lot with your things, keep a hand on your things and speak clearly and firmly that you don't need help.
  • Bring or buy a face mask. The dust on the streets can be surprisingly hard on your throat and lungs, even if you can't always tell in the moment.
  • Meet your guide before leaving, if you can. Make sure to have a list of questions for your outfitter.
  • Get your cash exchanged at a bank exchange in Kathmandu. It's a better exchange rate, and you won't be charged extra fees or need to perform multiple withdrawals from ATMs to get enough cash for your whole trek.

I made this.