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6 Mayfred Avenue
Hope Valley, SA, 5090

The official website of adventurer and author of It Takes Two To Tandem, Louise George. Louise currently resides in Adelaide, South Australia with her husband. The two regularly travel and undertake many adventures together, including riding travelling 880 miles through the United Kingdom, from John O’Groats to Lands End.


Filtering by Tag: Manaslu

Nepal - Manaslu Circuit - Day 4 - Jagat to Deng (also known as Dhang or Dyang)

Louise George


The initial plan was for separate days: Jagat to Philim (1700m) 3 hours, then Philim to Deng (2095m) 5 hours, however we have decided to double them.  Ahead of us we have possibly 8 hours of trekking, (fortunately only gaining 550 metres), as we combine the recommended distance for 2 days.  With the likelihood that we will receive afternoon rain it is better to leave earlier, so today signals the first of ongoing 7:30 a.m. departures.



Crossing by a rickety wooden bridge, then leads us along the sandy riverbed beside the Bhalu Khola.  Later we are climbing the ups and downs of the cliff face.  Groups of locals have been walking towards us as they head south to work in fields, or on new houses being built in the area.  I am reminded how fortunate we are to be walking here for sheer pleasure, rather than because our livelihood depends on being fit and strong.

The morning becomes a blur of a constantly changing trail, that includes lots of punchy climbs up, and short sharp downs, that are often rock hopping; although these are interspersed with some neatly stepped sections.  There are long, steel swing bridges, and a couple of shorter wooden ones.  Walking becomes easy as the trail travels through a broad valley where crops of millet and corn are stretching in the spring warmth.  We expected the morning to take 4-5 hours so are delighted to arrive for lunch at Ekle Bhatti (another check-point) after 3.5 hours.


We had all looked enviously at Greg's Vegetable Curry meal last night, so to speed up our lunch break we all ordered Vegetable Curry, only to be served a disappointing meal of rice and soupy mustard greens.  The porters were tucking into their usual Dahl Baht breakfast, and in comparison to our lunch, it looked delicious.  We laugh at our bad luck, as it's been typical that someone has ordered, a never before tried selection, from the menu at the evening meal that looks delicious, so we follow it up at lunch (another time, another village) and the lunch time version has always been inferior!

The local inhabitants are Gurung people, an ethnic group that migrated from Tibet in the 6th century.  Many locals come toward us carrying cane baskets of fire wood, split the best size to be ready for burning, most likely to fuel the kitchen stove.  The loads look heavy and I'm surprised to see how young some of the children are, with full baskets.  We are carrying a pathetically light load in comparison, and wear strong boots to protect our feet on the rough track.  Most of these people wear the light plastic sandals, that fit with a plastic strap across the top of the foot, but provide no support; we would consider 'beach worthy'.  Some people are barefoot!

The afternoon trek takes us through forests of bamboo and pine, with the occasional red rhododendrons adding splashes of colour.  We pass the trail to the Tsum Valley that goes off to the right.  As almost everyone hikes the Manaslu Circuit in the same direction as us; anti-clockwise (otherwise the approach to Larkya La is too steep and there is nowhere to acclimatise), from now on we shouldn't have trekkers coming towards us.

Light drizzle began at 1:30 but it didn't stay for long.  We are still following the local people carrying the plastic chairs, wooden boards and corrugated iron.

It's quite cool by the time we reach Deng.  Our daily ritual, on arriving at our accommodation is to freshen up.  This afternoon I decide not to brave a cold shower.  Thank goodness for 'wet-wipes'!  We then meet KK in the dining room at 5 p.m. to study the menu, order the evening meal, establish a time for dinner, (every night this is "as soon as it is ready") followed by ordering breakfast and agreeing on the next morning's breakfast and departure times.  Then we read the trekking notes for tomorrow, and chat until dinner is served.  As soon as our meal is finished, we take ourselves off for an early night.

As there is no ceiling, our room tonight, has a view from the bed, of the underside of the corrugated iron roof.  Paper thin wood-panel walls, only extend to the height of a ceiling; had there been one.  We have adequate privacy without sound-proofing, as we are almost deafened by the rain that was pelting down at the time of our arrival; and continues.  Later we’re exposed to our neighbour's unhealthy-sounding fits of coughing and throat clearing.  The only toilet is downstairs.  Reaching the toilet involves being exposed to the rain while descending the stairs, and then ducking under the verandah.  It's not a clean 'out-house' and I vow I will 'hold-on' until morning.

KK tells us that as it is raining heavily tonight, there will be no rain tomorrow.  If KK's forecast is accurate, that is good immediate news, however it will unfortunately mean that the rain we are receiving will be manifesting as snow up on the pass!

Nepal - Manaslu Circuit - Day 1

Louise George

Everyone's trekking experience will be different; subject to the season, weather, companions, personal health, fitness and whatever happens along the trail.  We have chosen to travel in Spring, as our travel research indicated that in April, Lakya Pass is usually clear of snow.  We believe Spring will also be a quieter trekking season than the more popular autumn.  Nev and I have previously trekked in April and found the mountain views clear in the morning but washed out by rain or haze in the afternoon.  We are hoping for similar, or better conditions.

I've read many Internet commentaries, about the Manaslu Circuit, and the extensive details published in 'Trekking in the Nepal Himalaya' by Lonely Planet. There is a lot of information detailing where to go and how to get there, with accommodation options along the way.  We understand Manaslu is now a circuit with tea houses catering to tourists, but we are not sure what to expect as, until recently camping was the only accommodation style.  We have chosen a tea-house trek, rather than a camping one, as we want to contribute to the local communities instead of bringing with us an entourage of porters to carry the many items considered necessary for camping; that would also include a cook and food from Kathmandu.  Our party of four is supported by three Nepalese, and as people who usually backpack independently (although we are happy not to be carrying 10kg each), this amount of support seems superfluous.

We are to be supported by one porter per couple, and led by the group guide (mandatory for the Manaslu permit).  Two couples who have already shared one short period of hiking in New Zealand.  We are in great health although the men suffer respectively from one sciatic back issue and one undiagnosed problematic knee.  Our level of fitness would be classified as high for our ages; both men have recently nudged 60, and the woman are not far off that milestone.  In 2012 Nev and I trekked for 22 days combining the Annapurna Circuit, Annapurna Sanctuary and Base Camp.  Greg and Jo are experienced, having hiked extensively in Australia, but have never travelled to Nepal, and have never been 'at altitude'.  For me I feel privileged to have the funds to travel, and to have a body that, so far, has always responded to the demands I request of it; allowing me to experience some amazing places and challenges.  We have planned to trek for 16 days, Kathmandu - Manaslu Circuit – then get driven to Pokara.  I am feeling prepared for this adventure; however who would have known that this was to be the snowiest spring for 40 years!

1st April 2015

Having experienced the chaos of passengers loaded sardine-like, along with piles of goods, on our previous trip two years ago, we have this time elected to travel to the trek starting point by 4WD.  We are expecting to have a 5 hour drive to Arughat Bazaar.

The drive is harrowing, particularly because, although our drive out of Kathmandu is on a two lane highway of many twists and turns; the rule appears to be that a horn honk gives the right to overtake just because you have indicated this will be so; regardless of whether vehicles are coming head on, or corners are blind!  The route is initially bumper to bumper with Tata lorries heading to, or on-coming as they return from India. These vehicles are larger and slower than ours, so we have numerous opportunities to draw in breath, as if it might make the squeeze of the overtaking manoeuvre more manageable.


Just after Gorkha we turn towards Arughat Bazar.  The road deteriorates significantly as it has begun climbing and winding even tighter corners, on a surface that has been washed of seal, with potholes so deep, the bounce generates a bone-shaking thrust up and down on the bench seat.  Not far from Arughat Bazar we are brought to a halt, as we face a steep rocky hill.  Even though this vehicle is 4WD the driver has remained driving in slow, controlled 2WD, that is remarkable considering the state of the road.  Our driver indicates he does not want to proceed.  Although he has the gearing, it is apparent the vehicle will 'bottom out'.  We are all feeling physically exhausted after hours of seated travel, and enthusiastic to start experiencing the peace of the outdoors, and to give our spines some reprieve. Thus the trek begins with an easy walk, following the swift flowing Budhi Gandaki river, for two hours to Soti Khola which means white water.


Having taken the jeep as far as possible, on arriving at Soti Khola we have already completed the first two days planned for walking.

KK, our guide explains there are three separate accommodations available in this small village.  They all have the same price, with the same facilities and services.  We stop at the first, and are shown to a room that represents the standard from now on.  Single beds with a ten centimetre thick foam mattress covered in a thin cotton sheet, all nestled in a wooden frame, that is supported by strong wooden legs.  Lying on the bed, my body tells me my shoulder blades are bruised from jostling in the car, and my hips could do with a bit more padding!  The soft pillow offers a little comfort, however covered with my tee-shirt it is to me, a far more superior support for my head than the expensive inflatable Sea to Summit pillow that Nev insisted was a 'must have', purchase for this trip.

Over dinner we chat with a young British doctor who will be joining a French research team at the highest point in our trek, Lakya La (5105m).  Medex 2015 will be researching the effects of altitude on the body. The team has already done tests in a lab at sea level, and now intend repeating them at altitude.  It's comforting to know that at least if we run into difficulties crossing the pass, the pinnacle of this trek, there will be about forty doctors on hand.

Rain began to fall quite heavily as we ate, and continued into the night.

Typical Tea House room