- Hiking / Trekking
- Off the beaten track
I like adventure – that's a fact – so when I was asked to camp at the Tilicho Base Camp, I jumped at the opportunity! Imagine somewhere in the middle of nowhere – surrounded by rock, an old building falling apart (which I'm sure they've rebuilt since I was there), just a single lodge and makeshift toilets open to the cold and wind... And our little igloo tent in the middle of all of this. Well, only few of us attempted the climb, and this almost went wrong due to a persistant headache which is often the precursor to mountain sickness.
But nothing came of that in the end. Nothing could beat the joy of enjoying a candlelit dinner prepared by the Sherpa people, the surprise at seeing your headlamp's beam reflected in the eyes of a Yak when coming back to the tent, and the wonder when we discovered Tilicho Lake at the end of our morning climb: a natural wonder, hidden from the view of all but the most deserving.
Well, it's good to know before putting in the effort. And it's not as if we were hiking for days. But one piece of advice: you don't want to miss this magnificent landmark.
*After the powerful earthquakes which hit Nepal in April and May 2015, the country is slowly rebuilding itself. This article was written before the disaster.
When you organise your itinerary for your trek around the Annapurnas, you will notice that you have the option to pass by the distinguished Tilicho Lake. It means a detour of two to three days if you are happy to go there and back, or a shortcut if you wish to follow the "alternative itinerary" which goes along the lake (NB: it is generally completed covered in snow and absolutely not touristy so not marked out).
Not being an expert in the matter, I chose option 1: just a little visit to the historical lake to acclimatise myself a bit better to the altitude before reaching the culminating point of the trek (5400m), but also (above all) to make the most of the panoramic views in this part of the Himalayas. And oh, how it captivated me! Not many tourists go for this route which is quite pleasant and above all, the scenery is superb, different to all that I had been able to see up until that point. You will reach the lakeafter a night at base camp via a challenging climb with your feet in the snow. The view points are absolutely fabulous and remain one of my most beautiful memories of the hike.
To get back to the traditional circuit, you won't have to go back to Manang: follow the signs for Yak Kharka which will lead you to some splendid paths passing through ghost villages - I absolutely recommend it!
I must add that I visited Nepal before the earthquake of 2015, so it is possible that the places have changed a lot since.