Day 9: Tadapani – Ghurjung
Once again we’re stuck at a crossroads in Tadapani. When we came back down from Dobato we thought we’d head to Ghorepani and Tatopani, then catch some jeeps up north to the Lower Mustang region and check out Jomsom, Kagbeni, Muktinath and the surrounding areas. Then we checked the weather forecast. -10C. Over the last few days we’ve discovered that the kids don’t find the snow nearly as exciting as they think they do when they have to do anything more than play in it. So. Alternative ideas are brainstormed. We have about two weeks left to fill before we need to be back in Pokhara and here are our options:
We can go west to Ghorepani, visit Tatopani with its hot springs and then head up to Jomsom, Kagbeni, Muktinath etc.
We can go to Ghorepani, go up to Khopra Danda from that side and come back down the same way, then head to Tatopani before getting a bus back to Pokhara.
We can change plans completely and head back east to do the Mardi Himal Trek, visiting the hot springs near Jhinu Danda on the way.
Alex and I are wracked with indecision. After breakfast Bel sits down with Alex while I’m packing our bags. He lays all the options out and lets us know how many days each would take us. He tells us that he doesn’t think going north is a good idea because it will be too cold for the kids – they won’t be able to play outside like they can in the warm sun here. He’s right. One down, two to go. We’re just not sure about trying Khopra Danda again, worried that snow will foil us once more thus cutting our trip in the mountains very short. Mardi Himal is a total unknown for us and would be a complete change in plans. It’s a newer teahouse route and the accommodation is accordingly more basic than we’ll face if we go along the heavily touristed Ghorepani – Tatopani route. It’s higher too, with High Camp sitting at 3,580m there’s a definite possibility of snow. Bel tells us that it’s a wonderful trek and he thinks it’s the best choice for us. We trust Bel, so I guess we’re off towards Mardi Himal this morning!
Today will be easy, we have days to fill so we’re taking it slow. Four mostly downhill kilometres will bring us to Ghurjung where we’ll spend the night. We set off mid-morning in the bright sunshine and in good spirits, relieved to have made a decision and be on our way. As we head down through the forest Chloe trips on a wobbling rock and bangs her knee. Tears and limping ensue but luckily she’s able to continue. The forest obscures our view ahead but as we descend I hear drumbeats and voices raised in song. It gets louder as we move downwards, we are definitely heading towards it. My excitement grows and I imagine us coming across a wedding or some obscure local festival. Suddenly the music ends.
As we arrive in Chuile we step out of the forest to find a tea house overlooking the river and valley in front of us. We stop for lunch and as the cook walks back into the kitchen to begin our meal he switches on the stereo. Familiar drumbeats and voices ring out from the speakers. I laugh. So, not a local festival then.
The kids play with a puppy. Chloe and I do some drawing games. Ben decides to place a plastic chair in the middle of the grass, sit on it by himself and happily plays a game known only to him.
Bellies full of fried noodles, it’s downhill in the hot sun once more. We’re coming down towards a river and our surroundings are greener. We pass small dwellings and through green fields until we get down to the river banks where a bridge awaits. Ben and I play Animal, Vegetable, Mineral. His Mineral? Vitamin C. I guess when we tell him that fruits and veggies contain vitamins and minerals, it’s sinking in…kind of.
We arrive in Ghurjung early afternoon and do the usual – not much. There’s a TV in the dining hall and Ben leans against Bel as they watch Bollywood movies and cartoons together. I take advantage of the free power outlets to edit some photos while Alex and Chloe draw together. I could get used to these easy days.
Distance Covered: 4km
Hotel: Ghurjung Lodge & Restaurant
Cost: $4.50 for quadruple room with shared bathroom
Additional info: Free charging points in rooms and common areas. Hot shower available but don’t know cost as didn’t take one. No WiFi.