A destination many imagine to reach but only a few make it. Tilicho lake is situated at 4919 meters above the sea level under Annapurna range at the Himalayas. It is situated at Manang district of Nepal. It was one of my to-do list for years.
This year I had my friends coming back home from Australia for their vacation. It’s been years that I have not met them. To make this meet a memorable one, we planned to trek. We had few options like Annapurna Base Camp, Gokyo Re and Tilicho Lake. As I have already been to Annapurna Base camp, and due to time constraints for Gokyo Re, we planned to go to Tilicho lake.
On 10th may 2016, we headed towards Besi Sahar, small town from where the trek for the Annapurna circuit starts. One of our friend who has had a problem riding a bus, because of vehicle sickness took his motorbike for this trip. While going to besi sahar, in the bus we met few people who were also going for the same trek, as we talked to the driver of the bus, we came to know that now a days there has been an off road track has been open till Khangsar village. Mahindra’s bolero pickup van are doing up and down every day carrying people and goods and making people life easy on these remote area.
Our first night stay would be Chame, district headquarter of Manag disctrict. The track of the road has been in use for the past 3 years. It was a full of adventure. Bumpy, steep turns and uphill and narrow, but when you see the landscape all these fearful things about road does not bother you. You are just mesmerize the river, mountains, hills, waterfalls, small village and people all around with smile wishing you good luck for your trek. I was happy to see the Hydroelectricity Project on Marsyangdi River. Prayed that this project finish soon so that we will not have any power cuts. Looking at the work progress of this Chinese project, it seems that it will finish soon. From Besisahar to Chame is 65 K.M and the driver told us that it will take 8 hours to reach our first destination.
The road was itself an adventure one. You ride a bike, a 4wheeler or walk. Our friend who was riding the bike had trouble time at few places as his bike slipped. At some places there is bridge just for motorbike and vehicles need to cross over the running water.
When we reached Chame, it was already 10 P.M. Dinner was already ready at the hotel where we were staying for the night. Our driver was a nice guys who had already called the hotel and asked them to make dinner for us.
Mountain as seen from Chame
Next day early morning our second day of the trip starts. Our destination this time is Khangsar Village. The road from chame to khansgar is much better than the one to besisahar. On the way we saw much more mesmerizing scene and landscape, normally we see mountains at the north side while travelling inside Nepal, but this time it was on the south side.
We were at the other side of the Himalayas. That’s why manang and mustang district are called “Country beyond the Himalayas” a.k.a himal pari ko desh. After seeing all these landscape, we had a thought that this is not a place to ride a 4wheeler. It’s better to walk or ride a motor bike so that you can take full excitement of traveling these landscapes.
We stop at a Humde Village where there is an airport, it’s not in operation for long time but the condition looks good. The village on the way which we missed to explore were Pisang, Manang and Braga. At the mid day after riding 3 hours, we reached Khangsar, the last village before Tilicho Base Camp. After having lunch there, we planned to stay overnight at Sree Kharka, 1 hour walk from khangsar.
At Khangsar, one of my friend Mr. Dinesh Bhatta got sick due to migraine headache, so we decided to stay at khangsar for that night, so that if his condition gets better than we can continue our walk towards the tilicho basecamp. In the mean time, the villagers and other trekker were talking to us and were encouraging us that we should make the Thorung La Pass (5416 meters) and go to muktinath. Due to some technical problems we dropped this and kept it for next trek.
Dinesh’s health was not getting any better, he abandon the trip and asked us to carry on with it. So, myself with Purusottam dongol, Binod Shrestha, Ditesh and Akash started our walk uphill from 3734 meters to 4150 meters to tilicho base camp.
Our first stop was Sree Kharka,it took us one and half hours to reach there. Up until now the trek route was good. Here we met some trekkers returning from the base camp, they told us that to reach the tilicho base camp it will around 2 hours and we have to walk along the landslide zone where rock falls often while walking.
Restaurant At Khangsar
When we reached the landslide zone, at first I could not think anything rather than abandoning the trip and return. It was very scary as you see the path. It was steep downhill at the first turn where the landslide starts. I just could not move and my legs started to shiver.
One of the guide who was returning from the trip built up my confidence and my friend Ditesh who encourage me and supported me from back to cross the portion of the trek, after that the end of scary trials did not end until we reach the base camp. Throughout the trail we came across lots of steep downhill, landslide on steep hills on sideways. I could not raise my head and see around the beautiful landscape. I just look down the trails and walked slowly.
Thought the mountains were covered by the clouds, it was sunny on the trails. 3 of my friends were already far ahead of me and Ditesh. The interesting part of this trail was that, the ones who were experienced were running on these trails, a porter carrying 25 KG weight was running, a horse was running and I was afraid to take my steps.
Once we reached the Hotel at Tilicho Base camp, we had lunch and took rest. We met a nepali friends Ms Asmita shrestha and Mr. Nischal Limbu there with whom we had a brief chat at khangsar while having lunch. They wanted to accompany with our group to go to Tilicho lake the next morning.
I wanted to take some night photographs of base camp with mountains, stars and galaxy. When I woke up at 3 am, I got disappointed as the mountains were covered by the clouds, no stars were seen.
After having breakfast, we carried 1 litre of water each and started our trek to Tilicho Lake. Upto 1 hour the trails were smooth, even though it was cloudy we enjoyed seeing the beautiful landscape. The clouds were playing hide and seek with mountains. On the way we saw few animals gazing on the hills.
As we walked our water supply was getting low. There were no any tea houses or waterfalls or river on the way so that we could collect water. Our body was exhausted and dehydrated. Here too at one point Me and Binod thought to abandon the trip. But other guys were insisting we can make it.
As we met one trek guide, he gave some tips to us by the way we were walking. He said that we were walking too fast which made us to walk hard above 4000 meters. He said we still need to go up steep hill which might take more than 1 hours for us. He told us to take breath in and take one step, breath out and other step, it made us a lot easier.
After taking a little sip of water, it gave me some energy and I felt myself like superman in compare to my other friends as I reach the top of that hill first. There we mixed water with electrolytes and drank which boost our energy level. Form the top of that hill, there was no anymore steep hill and we just needed 30 more minutes to reach the shore of the lake.
As we reach there, it was like taking a breath of relief. It was just WOW from our lips and we could not believe that we made it and we were at the shore of the lake. Though the lake was frozen, the landscape was just unbelievable. On the left side snow-capped mountains and glaciers and on right side necked hills.
Group Photo at Tilicho Lake
I wanted to walk more to the other side of the lake. But since we ran out of water supply and the wind got stronger. I gave up that idea. I still regret it as I was not able to take the picture of the lake from different angle.
Returning the trails got lot easier as we were descending, total time we took to reach up to the lake was 5 hours from the base camp, but it just took 2 hours and 30 minutes for us to get back to the base camp.
Trekking Trails as seen from the top of the hill
We later realized that if we have had some more litres of water extra and had electrolyte time to time during going up would have made the trek much easier. After reaching the base camp, we rest for some time. At the evening we saw some yaks gazing around the backyard of our hotel. We took picture of it.
The next morning , we planned to return to Khangsar and then go to Manang village for an overnight stay. The day was so clear from the morning that we could see all the mountains. I said to myself wish we had this weather yesterday while we were going to lake.
Yaks gazing at the backyard of the Hotel at Tilicho Base camp
The fear of that landslide area trails was still haunting me. I mentally prepared myself and said I CAN DO IT. While walking back, I felt easier and that panic situation did not took me over like the time when we went there. We reached khangsar on time and after having lunch there we went to Manang as we didn’t want to miss the beauty of that village by travelling on 4wheeler. On reaching Manang, we booked a hotel. We also reserve a 4wheeler to Besi sahar for next day with a condition that he will stop at places for my photography.
Trekker stop to look around the morning view
There were many side trek from Manang. It is also a place from where you can start your trek to Yak Kharka to cross Thorang La Pass. In the evening we roam around the village and took some pictures. Since the sky was clear this day, I was confident that I will be able to take some night sky picture. Luckily I woke up at 3am and saw that the sky was clear with that milky white band over the sky.
I asked Binod and Akash to wake up and come out with me so that we can take some night photographs of the sky and then see the sunrise from the top of the hill behind the village.
After having breakfast, we took on the 4wheeler at 8am and moved out of manang to besisahar. On the way we stop at places and took pictures. It took 2 hours for us to reach Chame where we had lunch. We reached Besi Sahar at 6pm. We stayed overnight there and next day we came back to Kathmandu.
This trek was not like the one I did few years back to Annapurna base camp. There is no comparison between these two as you walk in two different landscape. One is north face of the Himalaya whereas the other is south face. If I need to rate between 2 trek. It will be ABC as the easy and Tilicho lake as the hardest one. There are still many places to explore in this country, hope I will have that energy to go around my country and explore the beauty in it.
Reflection of himal
Mani Wheel on the way to Manang village
Manang village as seen from the hill top
Milkyway above Annapurna III and Gangapurna mountain