We did not make it to Chame (2650m) previous day, as was originally planned. Instead we stayed in Dharaphani. We got on the jeep around 6.30 to drive to Chame and started the hike from there. We passed our first police check on the way.
The hike from Chame to Upper Pissang (3330m) is not challenging, it’s mostly flat. The walk to Chame followed a dirt road big enough for cars, but after yesterdays “road trip” I was quite happy we walked. The road was partially in a cliff, like literaly. We took the north route, as we were told the views are nicer. There is an apple farm on the way, called Farmhouse Bratang. Our guide bought enough apples to last for a desert for every evening - and we were concerned about packing the most lightweight clothing back home, loosers :D. These apples are special for the locals though, we were told by them that they actually do not get to buy these apples, as all of them get exported. We stopped at Dhikur Pokhari for some lunch. Here we firstly realized how much the locals try to appeal to the westerners.
We have arrived at our destination shortly after lunch. Chame is a mix of traditional houses with few locals living in them and teahouses for tourist, that havee little to do with the traditional ones. The view from Upper Pissang is great. You get a clear view of the Annapurna II (7937m). There is also a monastery on the top of Upper Pissang, which has been recently renovated. You can walk in and participate in a ceremony or drink some tea outside for a voluntary contribution. This little place had a special vibe, at least for me.
You will also encounter prayer wheels and see many prayer flags along the way. Prayer wheels are inscribed with mantras and by turning the wheel one releases the mantras. Buddhists believe that spinning the prayer wheel has the same effect as reciting the mantras - to purify negativity, generate compassion, remove barriers to enlightenment and bring benefit to all sentient beings. ypu should make sure you turn the prayer wheel in the right direction though, namely clockwise.
You will find prayer flags on all the religious sites, spiritual places and temples. Each colour of the flags stands for an element and the colours are always in the same order: blue, white, red, green and yellow for sky, air, fire, water and earth. Mantras written on the flags are believed to be carried by the wind and spread goodwill and positive energy.
Because of the popularity of the Annapurna circuit, you might not get the mountain solitude here. However, mutual curiosity of fellow travellers always leads to interesting conversations along the way. Foe example, we have met a family with four kids in Chame. They came from Iran and were planning to hike for a month in Nepal. We spend good part of our evening chatting with them - really inspiring bunch.
On other note, I learned the importance of keeping hydrated on the very first day. By the time we were waiting for dinner, I started having really bad headache which continuously worsened over the evening. I never get headaches, not even hangover related. I assume this was due to a combination of altitude and lack of water. I drunk a LOT of water and went to sleep early. Next day I was fine and could continue hiking.
Headache is also one of the common symptoms of AMS (acute mountain sickness). We did educate ourselves about AMS before this trip, just to be prepared. Turns out, we were not as well “prepared” as other, who carried all kind of medications.
- Moving time