Day 16 - Drive to Jomsom (2760m) - 1hr & Trek to Marpha (2680m) - 1.5hrs
Today we start early, to avoid the winds that whistle up the valley after 11 am. From Kagbeni, the trail quickly joins the main road between Jomsom and Muktinath and continues through desert scenery. We take a small shortcut through the stoney river valley, along the riverbed, to reach the entrance to Jomsom (2760m). We pass a school and enter the narrow main street of Old Jomsom, past local guesthouses and shops to the bridge across the Kali Gandaki. We trek further down the west bank, past a hospital and a compound of an Army School of Mountain Warfare. The camouflaged jogging soldiers are a surreal sight in this remote location.
We leave Jomsom behind us, and trek further south, following the road over a low ridge. After a little while, we will see the interesting and picturesque old town of Syang (2800m) and monasteries on a ridge above the road. This village is one of the ’panch gaon’, or five villages. We sleep in one of the five villages, Marpha (2680m).
Marpha is a well-maintained village, and has kept its traditional narrow paved alleys and passageways.
5:30am. The world outside is awake and working. All dad and I want to do is sleep. Breakfast isn’t till 8:00am. So we slept in a little longer. Before finally getting up at 7:00am to pack up and head to breakfast.
We arrived to breakfast to find out that our breakfast order wasn’t placed by our guide the night before. The staff were nice enough to quickly whip up our breakfast.
Much to our surprise our guide and porter were no where to be found. We waited till 8:30am when they finally turned up.
We were finally rushed out the door by 9:00am and hurried to the bus terminal to catch a local bus to Jomsom.
The streets of Muktinath are a buzz
When we arrived the bus which was waiting was already full and we needed to wait for the next one. Then is the next bus? Good question. There is no timeline.
We waited an hour for the next bus to arrived that was going to Jomsom. Boy was it a shit fight to get on. It’s everyone for themselves. Throw a few elbows around to keep the old ladies out of my way, as she was trying to cut the line. The bus was small. Not much knee room or seat room. Small bums only on this bus.
We then waited another hour before we left the terminal. Local buses only leave if and when they are full. Our driver still waited to get another 6-7 people onboard before leaving. The wait was long. You couldn’t move from your seat for fresh air or to get a drink or go to the toilet as someone would take your seat.
Finally we are off. 2 hours from when we left the hotel ,we are now on our way to Jomson, just over an hour down the valley.
The bus ride was like a mini roller coaster. At time the bus was almost on its side as the road had eroded away in some spots. Much of the roads are under, what looks to be, permanent construction so we need to drive along the dry river bed for parts.
We arrive into Jomsom bus junction
We reached Jomsom in 1 hour. Jomson is a very dry, dusty and dirty place. It reminds me of Reno in the US.
We walked through town to a local restaurant to get lunch. It was extremely windy on the walk. Dust was flying everywhere. It was finally nice to reach the restaurant, which was clean and wind free.
As we sat in the restaurant we discussed our next step. Are we going to bus it to Marpha, our destination for today, or walk in the dust and wind. There was a lot of number thrown around 3-4 hours, 5-7 hours, 5kms, 6kms on how long it would take to walk there.
We walk through the dry dust storm to reach Marpha
Dad decided it doesn’t look far on the map, so we will just walk. Move our legs today and work off our lunch.
Once we had finished our veggie and cheese burgers we prepared ourselves to battle the dusty wind storm outside.
We walked along the road, stopping every few minutes to battled the dust from the strong windy gusts and passing jeeps and buses.
The sun didn’t seem as hot, due to the cooling windy. The wind felt so strong it was going to blow me away.
The stunning stone streets of Marpha
We arrived into Marpha around 3:00pm. It is a nice little town with stone pathways, clean streams and lots of little shops to wonder through.
Dad and I spent the afternoon resting out of the wind and charging up as many of our digital devices as possible as we have our own power point in our room.
At 6:00pm we wandered downstairs for dinner. Not that I was all that hungry. I ordered momos again. Mid way through dinner the power went out. Lucky we live in a world where everyone has a smart phone with a touch. Diner by phone light it was.
After dinner we retired to our room. Dad has a case of diarrhoea and will probably spend most the night on the toilet. Lucky him.
Tomorrow will be an easy day. No walking required. Will be on an other local bus from 4-5 hours lucky at this destination we will be spending two days to rest and recover.