Day 13 Marpha to Kalopani

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Day 13

Marpha

Kalopani

North

28°44.88'

28°38.24'

East

83°41.40'

83°36.19'

Altitude

2,598m

2,609m

Ascent

11m

Time

4 hours

Distance

19 kilometres

Buy the book

The Shree Nilgiri distillery lies about 5 minutes south of Marpha. Walk past the apple orchards, the 'vegetable seed conditioning and test centre' and then the Marpha distillery. The apricot brandy from Marpha is very good. Its well worth taking a bottle to Tatopani, where most trekkers have a rest day.

Cross a bridge over a stream (15 minutes). Pass orchards. Remain on the right bank of the Kali Gandaki river. Do not cross the suspension bridge. (20 minutes). Pass by another suspension bridge (30 minutes) which leads to the village of Chhairgaon, do not cross this bridge either.

After a grove of pine trees (45 minutes) the path descends (55 minutes) to the river by a spring. Continue along the gravel bed of the river, passing the village of Chimgaon on the opposite bank (1 hour). Tukuche (1 hour 20 minutes) is a substantial village, although only a shadow of its former self since the decline of the trade route with Tibet. Tukuche or 'Dhu-Tse' as it is known in Tibetan means 'fertile plain'. The plain nowadays is used as a football pitch. Tukuche is 70% buddhist and 30% Hindu and has four Buddhist temples:

  • Quapar Gompa
  • Gompa Samba
  • Maha Kali Gompa
  • Tukuche Gompa

As Maha Kali is a Hindu goddess of the river, this temple has clearly been hinduised, following the recent trend at Muktinath.

Tukuche has a distillery. At the turn of the century it was a house where Ekai Kawagotchi, the legendary Japanese Buddhist priest, scholar, doctor and traveller enjoyed hospitality here during his covert trip to Tibet in 1899.

Tukuche has a post office. Tukuche may be left by one of two roads. The higher road remains on the west bank of the Kali Gandaki. The lower one crosses and recrosses the Kali Gandaki. The lower path is impassable during the monsoon. If in doubt take the higher road on the right, especially if the water is high. If there are local Nepalis around, follow them.

Tukuche Peak 6,920m may be seen on the right 10 minutes from Tukuche, although from here the view is greatly foreshortened. Nilgiri Central 6,940m and Nilgiri South 6,839m may be seen on the left.

 

The path is cut into the cliff above the stream (2 hours) and then passes a plantation which protects Khobang (2 hours 5 minutes) from flood water. There is a health post in Khobang. Khobang marks the southern end of the Thakali Panchgoan region. It is the lower limit of Tibetan influence. Khobang means 'Bottom Temple' in Tibetan. The path forks (2 hours 15 minutes) just outside Khobang. Take the left fork.

Larjung (2 hours 20 minutes) is just past Khobang. From here there is a good view of Nilgiri. From Larjung it is possible to walk up to the Dhauligiri Ice Fall. The two lodges in Larjung, the Larjung Lodge, and the Dhauligiri Lodge are built around sunny inner courtyards to provide shelter from the afternoon wind. Just beyond Larjung, the blustery afternoon wind which blows down the Kali Gandaki every afternoon is no longer felt. It is posible to visit Padmasampa's cave from Larjung.

Take the upper route out of Larjung, on the right bank of the Kali Gandaki. Cross the gravel of the broad Lang Khola at Sokung (2 hours 30 minutes). Again take the upper path. At a suspension bridge [28°39.95'N 83°36.09'E] cross over the Kali Gandaki to the left bank. 30 metres just beyond the bridge the adventurous can take a short cut down an extremely steep narrow path on the right. Be careful as there is a steep drop. Follow the path down the gravel and walk to the left through a plantation of trees to some buildings.

At Koketani (2 hours 50minutes) the scenery begins to change. Just a few metres further are the first bamboo, deciduous trees and pitched roofs. Cross the suspension bridge (3 hours 45 minutes) to the right bank of the Kali Gandaki. Cross the Seto Khola river to reach Kalopani (4 hours).

Kalopani is a training centre for lodge managers and cooks, but weirdly the lodge I stayed in cooked the worst food on the entire Annapurna Circuit. As a compensation, the view from Kalopani is magnificent. The following peaks may be seen from here:

  • Dhauligiri 8,167m
  • Tukuche Peak 6,920m
  • Nilgiri Central 6,940m
  • Nilgiri South 6,839m
  • Annapurna I 8,091m
  • Baraha Shikhar 7,647m

Be sure to spend a night here.

Copyright Ian P Johnson October 1998