The trek around Manaslu, the 8th highest mountain in the world, took us from a hot, humid jungle to beautiful alpine forests; through Hindu and then Buddhist villages.Click for (Part 1) By the 6th day we reached the village of Samagoan which is set near the base of Manaslu. We stayed two nights in Samagoan so we could explore this scenic area. The architecture in the village of Samagoan is different from the other villages we had passed. The homes have shared walls, but each has its own roof which makes for an interesting looking village. These homes have their barn on the ground level and a home-made wooden ladder is used to access the living quarters on the second floor. The high peaks of Manaslu tower over Samagoan making the village’s setting even more dramatic.
For details on the trek click here
A strange occurrence in this area is the collection of the yarsagumba caterpillar. This caterpillar is infected with a fungus which kills and mummifies it. The fungus is a rigid, thin, black growth coming out of the caterpillar’s rigid corpse. In China, the fungus is believed to be a cure-all for many diseases and so is very expensive and therefore very valuable. In Hong Kong a kilo costs $25,000 USD. It is found only in a few glaciers in Nepal and only for a couple of weeks in the year. One of the glaciers is above the town of Samdo which is a short walk from Samagoan. We were there during the few days that the caterpillars could be collected and many of the villagers from Samagoan went to the glaciers to find them. They are very difficult to find as only the tip of the fungus is above ground, but we met one lady who found 80 that day and 90 the day before. The money made from the yarsagumba will help to support her family for the rest of the year.
Above the town is an old Gompa, Kargyu Chholing (Monastery) with great views of the surrounding valley and with Mt. Manaslu towering above. Further from town is the glacier fed lake of Birendra Tal. The Manaslu glacier above it is a steep, deeply crevassed glacier. We sat and watched parts of the glacier break off and crash down to the lake.
The views of Manaslu in Samagoan and the surrounding valley are spectacular. On our last morning we were treated to an amazing alpenglow on the mountain.
After leaving Samagoan, we trekked up a large, wide valley where we still had beautiful views of Manaslu.
At the small village of Samdo we started going up an open valley with alpine flowers such as buttercups, primula and small, flowering shrubs. During many of our treks in Nepal and Bhutan, we heard Cuckoo Birds singing, but were never able to see one. Having never seen one in Canada, it felt like they were taunting us. Finally, as we trekked up the valley to the pass, a cuckoo stopped on a wire in front of us and chirped the famous ‘cuckoo, cuckoo’ song.
We stopped for the night below the pass at an old run-down stone building called Dharmasala. It is used only by trekkers and offers spectacular mountain views. We also saw herds of friendly blue sheep and yaks near the hut.
The next day we woke to a beautiful red sky before continuing up the valley, across a large moraine to arrive at Larkya La (5105 m). The high pass gave a great panorama of the Annapurna Range and other surrounding mountains.
It was a long, steep descent down from the pass, but we were rewarded great views along the way. We descended 2500 m in 2 days and were surprised our knees didn’t give up. In these 2 days we went from glaciers, to a valley of alpine flowers and junipers to a forest of fir, pine and rhododendrons then one with oak and birch trees, ferns and wild strawberries (which we picked). The villages on this side of the pass are on the very popular Annapurna Circuit trek and the road reaches much further, therefore they have more amenities such as 24/7 electricity, hot water and food prices are much lower.
This was the end to our trek around Mt Manaslu and another long, but this time uneventful, bus ride back to Kathmandu where we’re getting ready for our next adventure in Tibet!
Coming up next: our trip to Tibet
To see our pictures from Annapurna click https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGL5XQNaWm8
For pictures from Richard’s Everest Summit click https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFmsecd6yN0
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