Muktinath Road Trip – Part 2

Tatopani is inside the Annapurna Conservation Area and since yesterday evening, the real adventure has started.

Day 5 – 25th March 2019

Our plan yesterday was to reach Kalopani. However it cannot be called a real plan as we did not race for it and actually thought we can make it. The intention is to explore the Kali Gandaki valley all the way till Muktinath and stay at different places during the trip. Most pilgrims race all the way till Muktinath and return. So after a fantastic breakfast we started our journey towards higher reaches beyond the Himalayas.

After a couple of hours of drive we reached a place where the traffic is stopped for road construction. The place is very close to a huge waterfall called Rupse Waterfall. The hike to the top takes around 20 minutes and the views are brilliant. The flow was really humongous in march when we went there. Thankfully we mixed the small hike with the traffic blockage.

After noon the the sky turned dark with ominous clouds and things did not look good at all. Some sections the rain was pouring very heavily and there was thunderstorms. Babu and Suman dressed with proper rain gear in their motorcycles and we moved slowly ahead. The rain helped in a way that the dust is gone and everything felt fresh.

Nepal Muktinath
After a rainy drive we reached somewhere near Ghasa
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Driving over Kali Gandaki Nadi
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The wrong route
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Beautiful cable bridges with prayer flags
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The right route
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Lets go back and take the right route
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The rides in the middle of the mighty Kali Gandaki
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Spring has arrived
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Near Marpha Village
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Spring blossoms
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Nearing Jomsom

The roads were really in very bad shape till Kalopani and then things were getting little better. The road goes through the river bed and some sections you can ride smooth at 50-60 kmph. We stopped, took picutres, had tea, numerous chit chats and finally reached Jomsom in the evening at 3 PM.

After getting the permits checked, we stopped for a late lunch and then decided stay at Jomsom and relax. We had lunch at ‘Hotel Little Asia‘ and then moved for a room in ‘Hotel Muktinath‘ which has a nice view of the airstrip. The weather was still cloudy and with no views we decided to go to old Jomsom and explore the alleyways and the monastery.

Our recommendation is Hotel Little Asia whose hosts are simply amazing and very welcoming.

We spent some nice time meditating inside the monastery before it got dark and then returned into the warmth of the blankets in room.

Jomsom Monastery

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Nepal Muktinath

Jomsom Airstrip

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Day 6 – 26th March 2019

The weather forecast was a clear sky from later part of the day. We we destined to move at high altitude to 3600 m ASL and stay the night in holy Muktinath – Ranipauwa. We started from Jomsom after breakfast and the roads is relatively in great shape except few bad patches. After you cross Kagbeni, the road changes to a black top smooth tarmac and you start your climb up an up. The views are brilliant all the way and in matter of couple of hours with several stops we reach Muktinath.

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Early morning scene in Jomsom
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Somewhere between Jomsom and Kagbeni
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A stop before the climb up
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The Team
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Jharkot village
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Looking towards Upper Mustang
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Smooth roads towards Muktinath

While cars are not allowed inside Ranipauwa-Muktinath in day time, you have to park them at the huge parking lot at the start of the town and then start walking or take a pony ride to the temple. I decided to walk, while Babu and Suman went ahead on motorcycle. Make sure you take the cold holy bath at the temple and it will challenge your adventures soul to the limit.

Both walking and motorcycle ride takes same time to reach the temple. Actually if you are relatively fit enough, walking is faster. Remember that the altitude of the place is 3600 m ASL.

Nepal Muktinath

Holy Muktinath Temple

After the temple, we moved back to Ranipauwa and found a good hotel in the main street. We did little local shopping and mostly clicked pictures of the amazing natural surroundings.

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At the hotel in Muktinath
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The pony used to haul pilgrims to the temple
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Street scene in Ranipauwa – Muktinath
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Jharkot village from Muktinath

Day 7 – 27th March 2019

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Sunrise at Muktinath with views towards Thorung La

We woke up early and decided to hike to the Monastery on top of Ranipauwa, which boasts amazing views of the area. The sunsrise from there was brilliant and Mount Dhaulagiri was shining like a big rock. Today the weather is clear and the area looked so different. The ride down will definitely give amazing views and let the photographs tell the story.

Our plan was to stay at Kalopani, which we all decided before the start of the trip as the hotel there is just amazing . The setting of the area was just out of a story book. After breakfast, we started our drive down.

Nepal Muktinath
Nepal Muktinath
View of Mount Dhaulagiri from the road coming down from Muktinath
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Smooth roads from Muktinath to Kagbeni
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One of the many stops of the day
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Driving down with a view – Kagbeni is seen below

While driving down, the views are particularly amazing when you can see the small villages with the high peaks in the backdrop. After reaching down, the nice road gave way to dirt track and dusty conditions.

On the way we do not remember how many times we stopped as the views are brilliant. Marpha village is little far away from the main road and can be accessed by motorcycle. The typical flat roof mud and stone houses are all along the villages with brightly coloured monastery on the higher grounds.

The drive over the river bed was particularly very very windy and very very dusty. At some points the wind gust was to strong to drive. Visibility was down to zero. However the views from the area was great. The imposing Mount Dhaulagiri with its ice fall is something which all should admire.

The drive was quite easy on the return as we knew our tracks and we reached Kaloapni by noon. The hotel is quite big when compared to other hotels in the region and has nice rooms. We got a room in the hotel and then decided to go for a day trek to Kunjo via Titi Lake.


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Just after crossing Jomsom, we drove on the bed of the river below Mount Nilgiri
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Medieval village of Marpha
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At the end of the river stretch we come up just below Dhaulagiri Icefall. The 8th highest mountain in the world is imposing.
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A old monastery in the backdrop of Dhaulagiri Icefall

Kunjo Trek

The total round trek distance is ~ 14 kms. It takes around 5 hours including stops. We started from Kalopanig and walked on the road towards Dhampus and then crossed the cable bridge and moved to the left bank of the river and walked towards Kokethati. Before reaching we took a steep detour and climbed towards Titi. It takes 1.5 hours to reach Titi from Kalopani. From Titi it is easy smooth walk to Kunjo.

We stopped at the village and had lunch which was again very late at 3 PM. The views from the village are awesome. In fact the whole trek route is extremely scenic.

From Kunjo the walk to Kalopani is via Chayo and Lete. Till Chayo the walk is easy downhill with little climb from Lete to Kalopani. The overall trek was amazing as except me, Danish, Babu and Suman are trekking for first time.


Kalopani – Dhampus – Easy 30 mins

Dhampus – Titi – Tough & Steep 1 hr

Titi to Kunjo – Easy 1hr

Kunjo to Lete – Easy 1 hr

Lete to Kalopani – Easy 30 mins


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Village scene in Kunjo
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Titi Village above Kalopani with Nilgiri peak
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Titi Lake and Mount Dhaulagiri
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Kunjo village and Mount Nilgiri
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Titi Village in the lap of the high Himalayas
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Lunch
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Lunch

At the start of the trek, the guys from Kalopani guesthouse told that we can go to Titi and Kunjo on motorcycle. Reluctant but Danish, Babu and Suman agreed to walk. First 30 minutes everyone walked happily with a smile but as soon as the steep climb started, the faces turned grim. They were thinking how much more. The summit was always a false one. And finally after 1 hour of hard climb the three souls made up their mind that it was a mistake to listen to me and do the trek 🙂 .

From Titi the walk was easy but then the route down to Kunjo was long and again the faces turned grim as hunger made all of us tired. The whole scene repeated after lunch. The initial climb down was easy but after crossing the river, the walk seemed too long. But finally when all reached back the hotel, all were satisfied that they did something they never dream of.

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End of the day

Day 8 – 28th March 2019

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Morning tea at Kalopani
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The beautiful Kalopani Guesthouse
Nepal Muktinath
The beautiful Kalopani Guesthouse

The section between Kalopani and Beni had couple of sections where roads are closed. So one option was to start as early at 4:30 AM and cross all the blocks or start late at around 9:30 AM. We decided to start late.

Just after Kalopani-Lete, there is a road block. Infact the road was blocked mainly due to a bus which got stuck in the soft mud. We spent 3 hours idling in the area till people made arrangements to remove the bus.

From here the road became bad again and we moved slowly in the dusty tracks keeping in mind that we have to cross the next block before 2:30 PM so that we can make it to Pokhara. Luckily we did progress well and made through the complete section without any problems.

But alas, just 100 m before the lunch break spot of Beni, one of the motorcycle slipped and the gear axle broke and oil started leaking. The bike was working and we went to the repair shop nearby where we spent another 3 hours to fix it. Although the repair was not OK. Again we stopped at Beni and got it repaired temporarily so that we can reach Pokhara.

After Beni we got stuck in a traffic jam which lasted for hours and with a broken motorcycle and tired bodies we finally reached Pokhara at 11:00 PM in the night.

we were so exhausted that we almost did not take any pictures after starting since the morning road block.

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The road block where we were stuck for 3 hours
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waiting game

We learnt on the last leg that if something goes wrong, it can go really wrong. Till today morning everything went well but after some challenges through the day we finished well.

Always keep buffer day in itinerary plan. Always plan for the worst. Always keep patience and keep moving slowly and steadily.

Keep Calm and Keep Travelling

Day 9/10 – 29th and 30th March 2019

We spent the morning repairing the motorcycle and by noon when we were ready, we decided to stay back. Rest of the day we slept and moved around.

The next day we started at 4 AM and drove all day to reach home in Durgapur and Delhi.

Arrival in Durgapur was at 11:30 PM and Delhi at 10:30 PM.

Nepal Muktinath
See you again

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