Annapurna Circuit Trek - Tilicho Base Camp to Thorong Phedi
Read our practical day by day Annapurna Circuit Trek guide. The fifth part of our amazing adventure in the Himalayas features how to get from Tilicho Lake Base Camp to Yak Kharka and Thorong Phedi, where to sleep, trail description, what to pack, how to acclimatize, and useful hiking tips.
We woke up early in the morning at Tilicho Base Camp, and the weather was still freezing and overcast with only a few sun rays shyly piercing the rain clouds.
It snowed overnight but not that much, probably two or three centimeters. To get to Yak Kharka, we had to walk the same narrow and possibly dangerous path across the steep slopes back to Shri Kharka.
The trail was deserted and only from time to time we had to move out of the way to give more space to the men with mules loaded with large supplies passing by on their route to Base Camp.
Right behind Shri Kharka on the way to Khangsar, there is a turn off to the left leading uphill to Upper Khangsar.
It was a steady climb, the weather was getting worse, and when we reached Upper Khangsar we found ourselves in the middle of another abandoned ghost village, and the feeling of emptiness was even more intense with the gloomy clouds rolling over the mountains.
From Upper Khangsar we followed a narrow path along a stone wall, and when we got to the edge of the ridge, the trail abruptly turned down.
We found out that we have to descend more than 300 meters to the bottom of Thorong Khola Valley only to cross the bridge over a small creek and then ascend again and finally join the main road leading from Manang.
At some point, it started to rain and then the rain turned into wet snow, so today was the first day we had limited views caused by the bad weather.
From the small junction, it didn't take long to get to Yak Kharka.
When we found a room, we asked for a bucket with hot water immediately and had to pay an additional fee for it.
Let's say taking shower in freezing conditions requires a certain degree of self-determination and is not very enjoyable.
Throughout the afternoon and the evening, it snowed harder and harder, and it kept snowing all night despite the weather forecast.
We could sense the tension among other hikers at dinner because the long anticipating day of crossing Thorong La drew near, and the weather was getting worse.
First thing in the morning we unfolded the curtain and saw a clear blue sky, and found out we woke up into the entirely different scenery.
Martin jumped into his sneakers and ran out to catch the first sun rays falling on Annapurna III, which was hidden yesterday all day.
As it turned out, running outside in the deep snow was not the smartest idea.
After breakfast, we left the village which was now half-buried under the snow.
Fortunately, the path is widely in use by locals and their herds of yaks, so it was passable.
Yak Kharka in translation means Yak Pastures, and you can see yak animals everywhere around because this species has adapted to live in high altitudes and usually don't live lower than 3000 m because the air is too thick to breathe for them and they also suffer from heat exhaustion in temperatures above 15 °C.
The trek from Yak Kharka to Thorong Phedi was not long neither steep and thanks to the snow blanket around us, was exceptional.
We walked the path for about an hour, and then we crossed a suspension bridge built recently by ACAP because of trekkers safety as the true left bank of a river became prone to landslides and rockfalls.
Despite the unexpected detour which took us to the more stable side of the valley, we arrived at a point where was a lineup and we had to pause because of loose rocks falling from the hill above.
Everyone had to wait until the person ahead got safely to the other side.
We tried to "run" the whole stretch needless to say it wasn't the best idea at this elevation (we were not by any means faster, just breathed more heavily).
Thorong Phedi is right behind this potentially dangerous and tricky section, and once we got there, we accommodated ourselves in the upper lodge and spent the rest of the day by eating sweets from the local bakery, drying our clothes in the sun, drinking tea and gathering strength for Thorong La Pass.
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!