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ACT Day 01 - Ngadi to Srichaur

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Setting Off


Rupesh, the owner of the homestay, had been such a delightful host the previous day that we decided to purchase breakfast from him that morning instead of eating our own. We ended up chatting with him for quite a while, whilst eating our breakfast of tibetan bread with honey (NPR280), and so began the first day of our trek a little later than we had originally planned. Rupesh had told us about a mandir up on the hill nearby the local school, and had then proceeded to walk with us to both show us the turnoff that lay up the road from his homestay , as well as the bridge that we then had to cross. He handed us several bananas as we said our farewells, before walking up the stone stairwell that lay just after the bridge. Lush green paddy fields (Oryza sativa) appeared over on the other side as we ascended the rise towards the large pipal tree (Ficus religiosa) that lay atop the crest. The path veered to the right after that, and along an alley of sorts that was fringed with fern and flanked by a moss-covered wall. The alley ran parallel to the river that we had just crossed, that drained into the mighty Marsyangdi river behind us.

Passing the bridge to srichaur

The bridge and the pipal tree (Ficus religiosa)

Ferns on the way to srichaur

The views that surrounded us were enchanting--mist hugged the distant mountains in the background, whilst vibrant paddy fields in the foreground added contrasting layers to the scenery. The constant sound of the thundering river was a poignant reminder of the raw power of nature, and that we needed to treat it with the utmost respect. The trail eventually began to wind back down to Ngadi town (elevation : 930m), before merging back onto the road that was lined with guesthouses. We came across the red and white NATT markers that pointed the way to the 'Lalupate Trail', which is the Nepali name for the poinsettia flower (Euphorbia pulcherrima).

By then, almost an hour had passed and we had only covered 1.5 kilometres, which was less than 1% of the distance that we were to cover over the next few weeks.

Spider flower (Cleome hassleriana)

Red hibiscus (Hibiscus sp.)

Devil's tail (Polygonum perfoliatum)

Pyramid lousewort (Pedicularis pyramidata)

Anemone flower (Anemone vitifolia)

Common morning glory (Ipomoea purpurea)

Purple orchid (Family: Orchidaceae)

Fleabane (Erigeron sp.)

Mallow (Malva sp.)

Scarlet milkweed (Asclepias curassavica)

Flame of the forest (Butea monosperma)

Common morning glory (Ipomoea purpurea)

Touch-me-not (Mimosa pudica)

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#FFCC00fadetrue
The trail led through another alley for a few hundred metres, passing several guesthouses, before emerging back out and right before a 30MW hydropower station. We continued along the road and veered right instead of crossing the bridge right in-front of us. The trail made its way around to some settlements and a long suspension bridge that was easily 50 metres above the torrential river below. The road from here on seemed to be almost completely devoid of vehicles; in fact, only two 4WD vehicles passed us along the way. As a result, the dust that would usually have been churned up by passing vehicles was completely absent. The road ran parallel to the grey Marsyangdi river, which was much wider and a lot calmer than further downstream, and led to a massive 'signpost' that had been painted on the rocks, where we turned right and began to ascend the hill.

waterfalls on the way to srichaur

This next segment was fairly long. The ascent brought us up and above the river, from where we were able to see the dirt road slicing through the slopes on the other side. Waterfalls could also be seen plunging for hundreds of metres down the cliffs to the left, whereas just up ahead, the large and isolated Bahundanda hill dominated the view. The village of Bahundanda (elevation : 1310m) could also be seen nestled on the ridge to the right of the peak. The elevation difference made it clear to us then that there was quite a bit of climbing that lay in store for us just up ahead.

Birds on the way to srichaur

A male short-billed minivet (Pericrocotus brevirostris) seen through the foliage

Next (Day 1) : Ngadi to Srichaur (Part 2)

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Abundant Insects


By now, the cacophony of sounds had returned: the rustling of tiny rivulets and streams that flowed down into the crashing river below; the melodic twittering of birds as they peered down from their branches; and the buzzing and chirping of a multitude of insects. There were also tiny and silent, yet jaunty, movements everywhere that seemed to only materialise when I slowed down to focus on the stillness. Most of the movements were made by grasshoppers that hopped around and a huge and very diverse array of butterflies that flitted around deftly in the air. Most of them were yellow, orange, and brown, and included Indian tortoiseshells (Aglais caschmirensis), common lascars (Pantoporia hordonia), tree yellows (Gandaca harina), and dark Judys (Abisara fylla).

butterflies on the way to srichaur

A common lascar butterfly (Pantoporia hordonia); a dark Judy butterfly (Abisara fylla)

Whilst the butterflies were restive, other insects sat so still that they seemed sessile. The only times I would notice them would be when they were perched on the top of plants or at the very edge of leaves. All of them were 'true bugs'--insects that come from the order Hemiptera--with most of them being stink bugs (Family: Pentatomidae). On one occasion however, I spotted a wonderfully vibrant giant jewel bug (Eucorysses grandis), and on another, I spotted a plant stalk that was completely infested with milkweed aphids (Aphis nerii).

bugs on the way to srichaur

Stink bug (Family: Pentatomidae)

beetle on the way to srichaur

Giant jewel bug (Eucorysses grandis)

Aside from the insects, there was also an abundance of arachnids. Their dew-covered cobwebs lined the path and would glisten and catch my eye. Most of the spiders were common orb weavers (Nephila spp.), but a large number of them were signature spiders (Argiope anasuja), which are spiders that leave zig-zagging patterns called 'stabilimenta' on their cobwebs. I had never seen as many argiopes in one area before.

spiders on the way to srichaur

The two sides of a female signature spider (Argiope anasuja). The stabilimenta can just be seen in the lower right corner.

We reached the edge of lower Bahundanda at the curve of a dirt road about 4 kilometres in. The trail passed guesthouses as it continued up a rocky stairwell, which eventually became a curvy uphill dirt road that switch-backed up the steep slopes towards Bahundanda (elevation : 1310m). The village was nestled on a ridge that lay much higher than its surroundings and it thus provided some great views of the serpentine loops of the Marsyangdi river and the valley just beyond. From there, was just a long descent down to the paddy fields below.

The descent was quite slippery as the trail consisted of damp rocks and boulders that were interspersed with streams that ran across and somethings along the path. We ended up passing a waterfall that lay right next to the trail (7.3 km mark) that had eroded the slopes to such a degree that we were forced to climb carefully over a large landslide almost immediately after it. Rivulets were so ubiquitous here that riparian insects such as damselflies and dragonflies were seen everywhere. Sometimes we would pass through swarms of dragonflies that flitted around, numbering up to thirty individuals, and mostly consisting of both the yellow (female) and black-grey (male) black-headed skimmers (Crocothemis nigrifrons), as well as heavily-armoured Asian pintails (Acisoma panorpoides).

dragonfly on the way to srichaur

A male Asian pintail (Acisoma panorpoides)

Next (Day 1) : Ngadi to Srichaur (Part 3)

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The Road


After this, we somehow ended up at a long suspension bridge that was way above the raging Marsyangdi river. At first, I figured that the bridge had to be the first bridge that was marked on the map, but in hindsight, it turned out to be a bridge that was located before the 'first' bridge, and that was not marked on the map. We had taken a wrong turn somewhere just up the hill not too far back, but we knew that the bridge would lead to the road and that the road would in turn lead to the next hamlet. So instead of turning back, we continued across the bridge and climbed the fern-fringed stone stairwell, up to the muddy road that lay directly above us.

waterfall on the way to srichaur

One of the many, many waterfalls

The road was wide and extremely muddy, so we were left rather uninspired. I found that setting my sights on the river below or on the hills and waterfalls beyond helped make things more interesting. The good thing was that it was low season and that the road traffic was minimal; perhaps only four vehicles and several tractors passed us by in the entire two hours of walking on the road. We reached the hamlet of Rambazar fifteen minutes after the bridge, and Syange (elevation : 1100m) another hour and a half after that.

Right after Syange, we came upon some red and white NATT trail markers on the left shoulder of the road that pointed the way to a trailhead just beyond. The trail was extremely overgrown and consisted of mainly scree with occasional boulders. We continued along it for a while and became quite scratched up from all the branches and plants that had encroached upon the path, so decided to turn back and to just follow the road lest we get stuck on the trail in the dwindling light. We joined the road once again and made our way to Srichaur (elevation : 1100m), which turned out to only be 20 minutes or so up the road from Syange. By the time we reached the village, we could not wait to refresh ourselves with a cold shower and delicious meal of dhal bhat (NPR450)!

fields on the way to srichaur

Beautifully vibrant paddy fields

Suunto Movescount Stats

03a

03b

The full page of the recorded trek can be found on my Movescount Page.

For those who also have a Suunto GPS device and would like to use the move
as a route, please click on the following link for the route:

Check the route in

Expenditure

End of Day 1 Expenditure (NPR)*

Accommodation: 0

Medication: 0

Permits: 0

Food: 730

Transport: 0

TOTAL (NPR)


* Excluding the cost of the flights to and from Nepal

Total

: 735

: 35

: 8700

: 1610

: 460

: 11540 

Next (Day 2) : Srichaur to Tal

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