The Kag in Kagbeni was once Ghag, meaning center and it is, with the important Buddhist/Hindu pilgrimmage site Muktinath to the east and the town of Jomson to the south. The beni in Kagbeni means confluence of two rivers where the Kala Gandaki and Jhong Rivers meet is where the village sits.
Before Tibetan Buddhism became the fabric of the culture of this region people followed Bon, another Tibetan religion. Bon is an ancient shamanist religion with rituals, exorcisms, and talismans.
Kagbeni still integrates the beliefs of Bon in village life with these ghost eaters or Kennis that protect the town. I asked my friend Dara, the proprietor of YakDonald’s Hotel and Restaurant to explain what the statues do to protect Kagbeni and some of the other beliefs that Bon followers hold.
I asked Dara who runs the famous restaurant and hotel of Kagbeni, why the name YakDonald’s?
It was time to leave Kagbeni and head for Jomsom, the final stop for my Annapurna Circuit Trek. At roughly 3 hours it will be a light trekking day.
The impressive Kali Ghandaki Gorge, some believe the deepest in the world has been an ancient trade route between Tibet and India for centuries.
Kagbeni is one of my favorite villages in Nepal but we needed to get out of the gate by 8:30 so we can beat most of the winds that pick up by late morning.
With a clear start to the day we were able to enjoy magnificent views of Nilgiri North at 7061 meters, the highest of the 3 peaks of the Nilgiri Himal.
Horses are used for carrying loads as well as for tourist groups wanting to enjoy the Upper Mustang on horseback rather than by walking. Mountain biking has also become a popular way to see the region. Upper Mustang is considered one of the easier treks of Nepal.
As we approached Jomsom the winds had started picking up. Flights from and to Jomsom airport are only scheduled in the early morning as the winds are too dangerous for air travel later in the day.
The original Annapurna Circuit would take trekkers all the way back to Pokhara. Like most visitors these days, I’m ending my Annapurna trek at Jomsom, with a flight back to Pokhara.
Jomsom is the gateway to Mustang and the Upper Mustang as well as Muktinath. Most people just pass through the village. There’s monasteries to visit and some wonderful views of Nilgiri and Dhaulagiri to enjoy and little shops and markets. But for most people stopping here for the night, it’s a place to chill and rest after or before a trek.
I was quiet happy having lunch, settling into my lodge, then going for a walk around the village later in the afternoon and enjoying the sunset over Nilgiri.
The next morning a little traffic jam on the way to the airport. Then it’s time for checking in and ending my Annapurna Circuit Trek.
There are more adventurous and challenging regions for trekking, but for an overall experience of walking through brilliant landscapes, appreciating the diverse culture and people of Nepal, and comfortable friendly lodges, the Annapurna Circuit won’t dissapoint .
Even as the region develops with more roads and infrastructure I still believe it lives up to it’s reputation as one of the world’s greatest treks.
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