Read on for a detailed account of our fifth day on the Annapurna Circuit. Today, we trekked from Chame to Lower Pisang, covering a distance of 15 km in around 4 hours. During this section the trek took us deeper into the mountains through pine forests and apple orchards. We also took an afternoon walk to Upper Pisang.
Our fifth day trekking the Annapurna Circuit saw us get even higher into the mountains. We walked along the river, climbed into pine forests and visited an apple farm! Today’s route would take us from Chame to Bhratang, from Bhratang to Dhukur Pokhari and finally from Dhukur Pokhari to Lower Pisang. Starting at 2670m, we would ascend to 3200m by the end of the day. It’s a 15km and around 4 hours walk from Chame to Lower Pisang including all stops. We also took an acclimatisation walk and checked out Upper Pisang in the afternoon.
Read on for my experiences, tips and advice from day five hiking the Annapurna Circuit Trek.
Day Five: Chame to Lower Pisang on the Annapurna Circuit
Chame (2670m) – Bhratang (2850m) – Dhukur Pokhari (3240m) – Lower Pisang (3200m)
Time: 3 hrs 50 minutes (08:03 – 11:53)
Chame to Bhratang
Chame (2670m) – Bhratang (2850m)
Time: Around 1 hr 15 mins
We woke up early to clear skies and incredible views of the mountains. After a filling breakfast, we went into the village to look for some supplies. Erik needed to look for medicine while I tried to find a cover to protect my sleeping bag in case we had the repeat of the rain of the last two days. In the end I had to settle for a plastic bag (bad, I know!) but luckily it barely rained for the rest of our time on the trek!
We set out of Chame along with many other trekkers and soon were back on the trail. Following the river, our route took us past green fields before heading through a dense pine forest.
We got passed by some mountain bikers who bravely tackled the circuit on two wheels – my knees hurt just by looking at them! Just over an hour after setting off, we arrived in Bhratang. Surprisingly, the village is home to an apple farm which has its own café, accommodation and even a sauna! We drank freshly squeezed apple juice in the glorious sunshine which was welcome after two days of wet and gloomy weather! This is also a great spot to refill water bottles as there is a designated spot just opposite the cafe. Most people stop here at least for a short break so it can get surprisingly busy!
Bhratang to Dhukur Pokhari
Bhratang (2850m) – Dhukur Pokhari (3240m)
Time: Around 1 hr 20 mins
Pushing on, we continued on the path which went up and down for a while as it hugged the cliffside. At times it was even carved into the side of the mountain as it somehow squeezed itself between the rock and the river below. The river below cut through the mountains as we craned our necks to marvel at the snow-covered peaks above us. Waterfalls cascaded down cliff faces before feeding the main flow of the Marsyangdi.
Eventually we crossed a bridge and the path climbed sharply up through a pine forest – once again it was almost as if we were in Europe or North America! After a while we stopped at a rest area and chatted with other trekkers and took on some water. We continued climbing through the forest before the path evened out around the village of Dhukur Pokhari. Beautiful views of snow-capped peaks abound in this area. There are a few guesthouses around and the village is a good place to stop for a break or early lunch. Many of the places we saw had rooftop terraces to relax on. The village is only 3.5 kilometres from either Lower or Upper Pisang and as it was only 11am, we decided to just push on and have lunch later.
Dhukur Pokhari to Lower Pisang
Dhukur Pokhari (3240m) – Lower Pisang (3200m)
Distance: 3.5 km
Time: Around 45 mins
The path now headed down into the valley as we followed signs for Lower Pisang, our final destination for the day. We passed lakes, grass fields and snow-covered slopes as the river meandered between Lower and Upper Pisang. The last section of the day was one of the easiest and we made quick progress. It’s only around 45 minutes between Dhukur Pokhari and Lower Pisang and it’s almost all downhill! If you are looking to stay in Upper Pisang, you will need to take the upper trail out of Dhukur Pokhari.
Arriving at Lower Pisang before midday, we still had plenty of time to explore the surrounding area. Our guesthouse was along the main path through the town. There were quite a few different options as well as small stalls selling snacks and toiletries. You could stock up here but as you are now close to Manang, I would wait as it’s much bigger and has actual stores. A few locals were playing a curious game involving dice and smashing them as hard as possible on a flat surface while placing bets. I watched them for about 15 mins and still had absolutely no idea what was going on!
Lower Pisang to Upper Pisang Acclimatisation Walk
Today would be the first of our acclimatisation walks that would see us gain a bit of elevation before descending to sleep at a lower altitude. This is particularly important the higher you walk as altitude sickness symptoms can start appearing at an altitude as low as 2500 metres. Many trekkers choose to stay in Upper Pisang – the only thing to consider here is spending the night at the higher altitude.
We dropped our bags and set off across the river before climbing steps towards Upper Pisang. The village is around 100 metres higher than Lower Pisang and while it’s not a tough walk, there are quite a few steps! The village itself is a maze of narrow alleyways, stone houses and newer wooden buildings. Cows roamed around freely and, at times, blocked our progress. We made our way to the monastery at the top of the village. Its viewpoint offers stunning views of both villages and the mountains that surrounded them. It’s also pretty open and, therefore, windy so make sure to have some warm clothes to hand.
We headed back down to Lower Pisang and spent the rest of our day hanging out at our guesthouse eating, drinking tea and playing cards. We were later joined by a big group of Indian hikers who we would bump into a lot over the next few days.
Chame to Lower Pisang Key Notes
- Bhratang is such an unexpected gem of a place. Make sure to try the freshly squeezed apple juice and any baked items that are around.
- Enjoy the beautiful scenery today. It’s another day of beautiful vistas!
- Lower Pisang (3200m) and Upper Pisang (3300m) are the first places where you may start experiencing altitude sickness symptoms. Bear this in mind when deciding where to sleep. An acclimatisation walk to around 100 metres above where you are spending the night is recommended from here on in until Thorang-La Pass.
- Upper Pisang is quite a traditional village so worth exploring if you have time.
- Tomorrow is one of the toughest and longest days of the entire trek. Rest up as much as you can today!
Staying in Lower Pisang: Eco Cottage Lodge & Restaurant
We spent a lot of our day here due to arriving early. The food was good – from delicious noodles and Tibetan bread for lunch to pizza and garlic soup for dinner. The dining room/sitting area is bright and has big windows perfect for taking in the views or bird watching. There were some electricity problems so we kept losing power and access to wifi but that’s quite normal for the area. There is a gas shower – we just needed to ask the owners to turn it on. Blankets are available if needed. If it gets too cold in the evening, there is a wood burning stove to cosy up next to!
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