Saturday 3 November


Ghandruk to Tadapani


Simon climbing ladder

We awake to a grand view from the terrace in front of the tea house of Annapurna South and the Fishtail mountain (Machhapuchare) in a clear sky. It’s porridge and corn bread again for breakfast, and then we are off on what Siling promises is an easy day’s walk. We spend the morning climbing gently but steadily through woods, passing the occasional waterfall and stream. The trail seems quite busy today and we keep on passing the same people.


Machhapuchare

At the ‘Hill Side Paradise Lodge’ we stop for a rest and drinks. Then we continue through rhododendron forest, still climbing gently. There is a brief sighting of a pair of languars (black and white monkeys), which is something of a highlight, and then we emerge from the forest into Tadapani, a village much smaller than our previous night’s stop. We are in time for lunch again at the ‘Hotel Panorama Point’, although with the fog coming in our view of Fishtail is now completely obscured.

Later in the afternoon, we take a short walk into the rhododendron forest. But the path peters out and becomes more and more treacherous underfoot. As Nicky abruptly vanishes behind a fallen log with a small startled cry, we decide it is time to turn around. A little disappointingly, there are no further languar sightings today.

It gets cold as soon as the sun goes behind the mountains. In the dining room, hot embers are placed in trays under the tables, and we sit there playing cards, trying not to set fire to our trousers. A heavy blanket serves as a table cloth and to keep the heat in under the table, but this arrangement results in singed legs and a cold upper body. After some experimentation, the intellectual level of the card game stabilises with ‘cheat’.

That evening, we are treated to dancing by the local villagers outside the lodge. Some of them appear to be a little bit lost. We hear that their star dancer has not turned up, but the show goes doggedly onwards. By the end they have, in desperation, opened up the floor to the audience. James enters into the dancing with abandon; I am a little more circumspect. But we are all fleeced for 100 rupees at the end of the show for ‘repairs to the footpath’.