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Barahbise to Shivalaya

Duration                       6 days

Max Elevation            3320m

Standard                      Medium

Season                          October to May

Start                               Barahbise

Finish                           Shivalaya

Summary                   An off-the-beaten-track route through both highland and lowland villages that bypasses the road to Jiri. Very few lodges, so you’ll need to arrange a camping trek.

It takes a bit of the continuity out of the Everest trek when you drive all the way to Jiri. The following route avoids the Jiri road entirely, passing through country that trekkers rarely visit. Few people, including locals, follow the route described here, so villagers will probably not be able to point you in the right direction. A guide (or a basic knowledge of Nepali) is almost essential. There are so many trails leading in every direction that it is impossible to document all the junctions and alternatives. This description is only a suggestion. It can be modified in many ways. For information on transport to Barabhise see Access Towns.

PLANNING

Accommodation

There are some bhattis on this route, but they are local style and don’t often cater to Westerners, and there are none from Biguti to Mali, so you will be more comfortable if you arrange this as a camping trek.

THE TREK

Day 1: Barahbise to Khartali

2-3 hours, 260m ascent The route begins on an unpretentious set of stone steps between two shops the start of what will eventually, when you reach the ridge above Mali on Day 6, be more than 2400m of uphill walking. Passing through a few scattered Gurung villages, the route soon enters country inhabited mostly by Tamangs. Most of the route is in open, culti-I vated country with a few pipal trees, surrounded by stone chautaaras, providing welcome shade on hot days. The trail climbs steeply to Parati at 1300m, then becomes less steep, and even has a few level stretches, as it continues through heavily cultivated country to the large Tamang village of Khartali at 1680m.

Day 2: Khartali to Dolangsa

5-6 hours, 930m ascent Beyond Khartali the trail continues to traverse east along the ridge, high above the Sun Kosi. Most of the travellers on this trail are porters carrying rice, wood and slate for roofing down to Barahbise. The trail climbs a ridge to a small bhatti and a rushing stream at 2290m. After the ridge, the trail enters deep rhododendron forests and makes some short climbs and descents as it weaves in and out of wooded side valleys. Below the trail and across the valley there are houses splashed across the hillside, but above the trail there is mostly forest. Rounding a ridge, the trail offers a view of the large, spread-out Sherpa village of Dolangsa. From the ridge, the trail enters another side canyon (watch for stinging nettles) and crosses a stream on a bridge hewn from a huge tree a reminder of what the forests of this region must have been like before a rising population forced the cutting of large amounts for firewood. A short distance beyond the bridge, take the left trail making a steep uphill climb to Dolangsa, at 2380m, with its clean whitewashed houses, each surrounded by fields of com, potatoes, wheat and barley. High above the village is a gompa.

Day 3: Dolangsa to Amatal

5-6 hours, 850m ascent, 1640m descent Beyond Dolangsa the trail climbs through rhododendron forests past a few kharkas used during summer as pastures for herds of cattle. The pastures are uninhabited during the trekking season and make excellent camp sites. The trail makes a steep climb to Tingsang La, crossing the pass at 3320m. At the pass there are good views in every direction. On a clear day Gauri Shankar (7145m) dominates the horizon to the north-east and peaks are visible from Chhoba-Bhamare (6108m), a rock spire in the west, all the way to Pigpherago (6730m) and Numbur in the east. A short distance below the pass is Thulo Tingsang (‘big Tingsang’), a large kharka at 3260m. The views from this camp are as good as those from the pass. During summer, many people live in this high pasture and there is even a small shop and a teahouse. In the winter, people remove the roofs from the stone huts and carry their household effects to lower permanent settlements. During the trekking season there is no food or accommodation here.

From Thulo Tingsang the trail descends through conifer and rhododendron forests to Sano Tingsang (‘small Tingsang), another kharka at 3000m. The trail continues a gradual descent (a very pleasant walk – most descents in Nepal are steep and rough) through forests and past small kharkas to a stream at 2230m. There is a small paper factory here, and you’ll see frames with Nepali paper drying in the sun. A few minutes below is another stream crossed by a covered bridge at an elevation of 2100m.

From this point a rough, steep trail climbs 400m to Bigu at 2500m. Bigu is a Sherpa village with a large gompa and a nunnery. It is a strenuous side trip that involves a steep descent to rejoin the main trail. The direct route continues down the river valley through Tarnang, Chhetri and Kami (blacksmith caste) villages with slate-paved courtyards, to Amatal at 1680m.

Day 4: Amatal to Saunepani

4- 5 hours, 650m descent

It is a long but pleasant walk along the lower reaches of the Pegu Khola to its confluence with the Tamba Kosi (here called the Bhote Kosi). Stay on the south bank of i the river at first, passing through Kopai and a few other small villages. Much of the route is in pine forest. Villagers have cut off the lower branches of most trees for firewood – a traditional method of avoiding total deforestation. The trail ascends and descends over ridges and spurs, finally making a steep descent to the Sangawa Khola and crossing it at 1220m. The route then follows the north bank of the river, making a few ups and downs, but generally staying level and passing a few side streams, two of which flow from beautiful tropical waterfalls. Not only is the trail level, but the route is almost totally uninhabited during the afternoon’s walk – two very unusual things in Nepal. Finally the route reaches the Tamba Kosi at Saunepani (Sigaati) at 1000m. The village has a few houses and a small shop.

Day 5: Saunepani to Serukapti

5- 6 hours, 1340m ascent

Walk south for about an hour along the west bank of the Tamba Kosi. (This trail, if followed in the opposite direction, leads to the Rolwaling valley after a week of walking.) The trail is level as it follows the river south to Biguti, across the Tamba Kosi on the east bank at 950m. About five minutes south of the bridge on the west bank is a new trading centre, Gumbu Khola. The ground floor of every house is either a shop or a restaurant.

Once you are on the east side of the river at Biguti, turn north and cross a small stream, then climb the ridge to the northeast. The trail climbs a hit and turns east as it passes through the Tumang villages of Jaku (1460m) and Yarsa. Unlike the brief walk along the Tamba Kosi, which is a main trade thoroughfare, this is a rarely used route that climbs through forests and small villages towards the head of the valley. Because this is an out-of-the-way trail, there are places where it is steep and narrow. Route-finding is also a problem. Ask for the trail to Serukapti when you reach a dead end in someone’s front yard. The trail becomes better and more clearly defined as it passes through Sarsepti, a large Tamang village at 1760m, then continues to climb through beautiful forests of oak and rhododendron with an abundance of ferns and orchids. After more climbing, you will reach the Sherpa village of Serukapti at 2300m.

Day 6: Serukapti to Shivalaya

5-6 hours, 510m ascent, 1090m descent From Serukapti, the trail continues up into forests. A trail junction is about 15 minutes beyond the village. The lower (right-hand) trail goes to Jiri, and the upper (left-hand) trail crosses Hanumante Danda, bypassing Jiri. Since one purpose of all this uphill climbing is to avoid the road, there is no good reason at this point to go to Jiri, so continue up the valley to a beautiful high-altitude meadow surrounded by big trees, at 2300m. Climbing through a forest of large, moss-covered pines, the trail finally emerges at the top of the ridge at 2900m, high above Jiri. There are many trails here. One trail descends to a cheese factory, then climbs back to the ridge above Mali. The most direct trail runs along the ridge to the east for a while, then drops slowly below the ridge top, making another easy descent past a few slate mines before reaching the Patashe Danda and descending on a broad trail (stay on the ridge) to Mali, a Sherpa village at 2200m. The route now joins the trail from Jiri and continues to Shivalaya and Bhandar.