Annapurna Circuit Trek - Ranipauwa to Jomsom
Read our practical day by day Annapurna Circuit Trek guide. The last part of our amazing adventure in the Himalayas features how to get from Ranipauwa (Muktinath) to Jomsom, where to sleep, trail description, what to pack, how to get to Pokhara and useful hiking tips.
The Ranipauwa village (often mistakenly called Muktinath) lies 3710 meters above sea level in Mustang District and is a significant hub for both hikers and believers.
If you trek the Annapurna Circuit counterclockwise, this will probably be the first village where you'll stay after crossing Thorong La.
The first thing we could see when approaching the settlement was the sacred Muktinath Temple very well known for both Hindus and Buddhist who pilgrim long distances to get to this religious site (that's the reason why Ranipauwa village is often called Muktinath).
The next thing we couldn't overlook was a snow-capped peak of 7th world's highest mountain Dhaulagiri (8167 m) towering above the Kali Gandaki Gorge.
Even though we were quite exhausted after crossing the saddle, shortly after we accommodated ourselves in a small hotel, we went to look around Ranipauwa.
The small village is a mix of old rural life with the background consisting of snow-covered peaks, cows and horses wandering around, and bustling constructions of new hotels and guesthouses.
Apart from guesthouses, restaurants, small shops and street vendors (we couldn't resist buying a simple scarf), there is not much of attraction.
When we came back, the hotel was experiencing electricity shortage (this is common in Ranipauwa sometimes it takes days to get the power back on), but it started to work again later in the evening, and we could enjoy dinner in the well-lit dining room and didn't have to use our headlamps.
The mood was high, and everyone felt relaxed.
We didn't want to finish our trek here yet, so in the morning we put on our backpacks again and continued down the road.
Lucie's face got swollen, and our lips were cracked due to yesterday's long day hike on the direct sun even though we used a suncream and lip balm, so we tried to hike as much covered by scarfs as possible.
We didn't meet anyone who would continue the Annapurna Circuit from Muktinath, but we were soon about to find out why.
The path led us down, and we recognized Jharkot with its typical red Gompa situated on the hill.
The scenery was nice-looking, and the landscape of Muktinath Valley was different again, but the dusty trail in combination with the traffic and road construction made the walk unbearable.
After what seemed like an eternity we arrived in Kagbeni, a medieval-looking settlement in Lower Mustang strongly influenced by Tibetan culture.
We walked around the village for a while and tried to decide what's our best option.
Because we took a three-day long detour to Tilicho Lake, we did not have enough time to finish the whole circuit anyway plus we were not in the mood to continue on the extremely dusty road, so we asked in ACAP office when a next bus goes to Jomsom.
The lady told us there was a morning bus to Jomsom and there might be another one in the evening, but also "maybe not".
She was very helpful, but despite all her effort and immensely useful information she provided us with, we were not any smarter, so we went to bus station and asked a drowsing older man how to get to Jomsom.
He told us to wait a moment, and in five minutes we were sitting in a jeep and heading to Jomsom.
The way from Kabgeni to Jomson is unpaved, but luckily quite short, and we also probably took a shortcut and drove in a drying river. When we arrived at Jomsom, we knew there is not much to do so we wanted to get to Pokhara immediately.
Luckily, right at the station was a bus with the engine on just about to leave to Pokhara.
There was a guy standing at the bus door persuasively crying "Pokhara Pokhara" so we didn't linger any longer and jumped in.
Almost immediately we found out that there was not enough space for our legs, seats were wet, the ride was extremely uncomfortable and in less than five minutes even painful, as the bus was rocking from side to side on the uneven road.
The idea of spending minimum 8 hours in this vehicle made us jump out before we reached the end of the village.
We decided to spend a night in Jomsom and first thing in the morning caught a jeep to Pokhara.
ACAP is working hard on creating New Annapurna Trekking Trails (NATT). Especially the trail from Muktinath to Jomsom was heavily impacted by the road construction, so it is a great idea to bypass this section and still enjoy the beauty of the area.
When we did the trek in April 2017, the making of NATT was still in progress and had gaps.
The best decision was to walk from Ranipauwa to Kagbeni (check the option to avoid the road by hiking on the other side of the valley but the permission was required) then go by jeep to Jomsom and continue the hike from there.
WHAT TO PACK FOR ANNAPURNA CIRCUIT
Packing for the Annapurna Circuit Trek can be challenging.
We started in Besisahar (740m) in a jungle-like climate, where temperatures were hitting 30+ degrees of Celsius and after more than 14 days of challenging trekking finally crossed the snow-covered Thorong La Pass (5416m), the highest point of our adventure.
You need a bit of everything, but also you must pack light, so try not to overpack. Every extra kilogram will count and you will feel it when climbing up. To give you a simple example, you need short-sleeved t-shirt and shorts for the first part, but you also need a down jacket for cold weather and should wear winter gloves for Thorong La in case there is a snowstorm.
These seven things are absolutely essential to include in your packing list.
Rucksack for Him & for Her | When traveling without a porter, it is essential to choose the right large backpack with waist straps and good back support - nowadays you can choose a backpack for man or women, because the physique is different, and the comfort will be better. When it comes to hiking Annapurna Circuit, bear in mind that you should not carry more than 13 kilograms, optimal weight is anything between 8 to 12 kilograms to enjoy the hike without back and knee pain.
Sleeping Bag for Him & for Her | There is no heating in the rooms, and nights can be really cold. Well, we don't want to scare you, but they will be cold. I remember one night, when I was wearing down jacket, warm hat and leggings inside my sleeping bag, and was not able to warm up. Accommodation might provide you with extra blankets, but they are not often enough. Generally, we wouldn't travel to Nepal without own sleeping bag.
Hiking Poles | Nepal was the first country where we used hiking poles, and we had a great experience. Hiking poles will help your knees when hiking downhill or uphill and are great for establishing walking pace and rhythm.
Camera | Camera and lenses were probably the heaviest things we packed with us to Nepal, but they were well worth it.
You can also read our in-depth Annapurna Circuit packing list, where you will find more useful tips and advice on what to pack and what to leave behind.
WHERE TO STAY IN NEPAL
Nepal is still a developing country, and services, for example, accommodation to be specific, is quite cheap. In Nepal, you can afford to sleep in a nice place for a bargain price.
To make your hotel reservation in Nepal before your arrival, click on the links below.
Kathmandu | Oasis Kathmandu Hotel - Spotless modern rooms, quiet location so you will get a good sleep at night, and walking distance from Thamel.
Pokhara | Hotel White Pearl - Centrally located hotel overlooking the Phewa lake and mountains. The rooms are spacious and clean, the staff is professional and friendly and a great breakfast is included.
TRAVEL INSURANCE - SIMPLE & FLEXIBLE
We never leave our home without travel insurance which is designed to help cover your expenses if something goes wrong on your trip. World Nomads Travel Insurance has been designed by travelers for travelers, to cover your trip essentials.
Travel smarter and safer!