Kapuche - the lowest glacier lake in the world...

25th Mar 2021
Photo of Kapuche - the lowest glacier lake in the world... by Eleutheromaniac

Once a reporter asked about money and richness to famous Jamaican reggae musician Bob Marley, Marley replied that he does not have the time for money-related richness, his richness is life. Different people can have different answers for richness, and they may be right in their way. If you get overly obsessed with money, you may discover that you never have enough, or that you become compulsive, and your dissatisfaction will persist. As a traveler, I want the wealth to be evaluated in terms of memories - how many places or countries have I been to, what fascinating activities have I done outside the normal job? Happiness should be the richness rather than the money. Money cannot buy you happiness, but you can travel with it, and it is the same thing…

Photo of Kapuche - the lowest glacier lake in the world... 1/12 by Eleutheromaniac

To complete the bucket list, and feel a bit rich, I along with four other friends agreed for a short trek to the lowest glacier lake, widely known as ‘Kapuche' with the high hope of adding a lot of exciting memories to cheer.

The Kapuche Glacier trek is a new trekking route in the Annapurna region of Nepal that lies to the northeast of Kaski. After an adventurous jeep journey from Pokhara, the trek to Kapuche starts from Sikles, a beautiful Gurung village. This new and less crowded short trekking route leads to an enchanting destination, the Kapuche Glacier Lake. The trail to Kapuche lake provides breathtaking vistas of snow-capped mountains - Annapurna II and IV, and Lamjung Himal; lush green hills; and Nepali village culture as well. Various species of beautiful birds can also be seen in the forest.

Photo of Kapuche - the lowest glacier lake in the world... 2/12 by Eleutheromaniac

This lake is said to be the world's lowest altitude glacier lake, with temperatures dropping below zero in the winter and the surface of the water transforming into rigid ice ground. In the Gurung language, Kapuche means a plain surface made of snow. All of Nepal's glacier lakes are located above 4,000 meters of sea level, but the altitude of Kapuche is only 2,546 meters. Occasional avalanches from Annapurna II and IV are the source of Kapuche Lake which is one of the two main sources of the Madi River.

Photo of Kapuche - the lowest glacier lake in the world... 3/12 by Eleutheromaniac

On the first day of the journey, on the second flight of 'Kathmandu-Pokhara', we headed towards Pokhara where a jeep was waiting to take us to Sikles. It was about eight-thirty in the morning when we boarded the plane, breaking through the chaotic crowd at the domestic airport.

Photo of Kapuche - the lowest glacier lake in the world... 4/12 by Eleutheromaniac

We reached Pokhara in 25 minutes watching glimpses of Annapurna and Manshree mountain ranges although the weather was not very clean.

Photo of Kapuche - the lowest glacier lake in the world... 5/12 by Eleutheromaniac

After having breakfast in Pokhara, we boarded a 4WD Jeep for Sikles. Passing Kahukhola, Vijaypur Bridge, Chhachok village, and Tangting village of Kaski, we reached Sikles in 3 hours. The Pokhara - Sikles route usually takes 4-4.5 hours to cross but our charioteer, popular with the name 'Kanchha Dai meaning the younger brother' with his fearless driving on hilly terrain helped to reach Sickles village sooner. Sikles is a beautiful Gurung village located in the Kaski district where one can experience the excellence of Gurung culture and lifestyle of the Gurung community with its panoramic views of Annapurna and Lamjung Himal.

Photo of Kapuche - the lowest glacier lake in the world... 6/12 by Eleutheromaniac
TangTing Village

The Kapuche trek route starts from Sikles and has been promoted by the Annapurna Conservation Area and the local community. The tourist village of Sikles has a well-arranged guest house and homestays for food and accommodation. After reaching Sikles we went to the popular Namaste Guest House belonging to Dhan Gurung aka Maila Dai.

We had delicious lunch at the Guesthouse and got the information about the route. Our journey that day was to Hugu Goth, a small settlement from where Kapuche is about one and half hours far. Maila Dai informed about our arrival to his brother in Hugu Goth via satellite phone. We begin our trip following a slightly uphill stone-paved route passing through the beautiful settlement of Siklesh after fixing 'Namaste II' in Hugu Goth as the place where we would spend that night. It was already 2 PM.

Photo of Kapuche - the lowest glacier lake in the world... 7/12 by Eleutheromaniac

After few minutes, the village started fading away and downhill and quite an easy trail welcomed us which continued till a small suspension bridge.

Photo of Kapuche - the lowest glacier lake in the world... 8/12 by Eleutheromaniac

After crossing the suspension bridge, we went ahead on the horizontal trail to the right because that was the direction a small, withered board pointing towards with the name of our destination on it.

Photo of Kapuche - the lowest glacier lake in the world... 9/12 by Eleutheromaniac

The small trail was rising slowly. We followed a small dirt road through the middle of the stony and grassy hill. We were seeing boulders on the hill above the trail which was causing fear in the mind. Following Maila Dai's suggestion, we tried to be as quick as possible because there is the chance of stone falling. After walking for a while, the trail turned into a steep one that had multiple windings until the top. The small path has the iron fence and our fear increased by seeing the broken fence which was due to the stones fell from the hill. After that short but challenging ascent, we had short rest then the downhill path began. There was no mobile phone signal after that point. The steep and rocky path through the jungle continued until Idi waterfall.

Photo of Kapuche - the lowest glacier lake in the world... 10/12 by Eleutheromaniac

After 15 minutes of rest on the suspension bridge looking at the beautiful view of the waterfall and amazing nature around, we continued the uphill journey. This was the characteristic of the trekking trails to Kapuche, which repeatedly goes up to the hill then lowered down to the river, and then uphill again. We continued the repetition until we reached the Hugu Goth. While we were walking in the comparatively easy path inside the jungle, a few of the friends were attacked and sting by the bees which were on their beehives in the rocks and trees very near to the trail. We later found out that place was called ‘Mahuri Danda’ which means Bee Hill.

Photo of Kapuche - the lowest glacier lake in the world... 11/12 by Eleutheromaniac

It was already dusk when we reached Hugu Goth, which is nearby the Madi River. It took little more than 4 hours to reach Hugu from Sikles. The Brother of Maila Dai welcomed us in Hugu, the atmosphere was a bit cold. The rooms were not empty since some of the previous day's guests had not returned, so we had to spend the night in the tent that was set inside the hut. After having dinner, we warmed ourselves in the campfire for a while then slipped into the sleeping bags imagining the thrilling scene of the next day.

Photo of Kapuche - the lowest glacier lake in the world... 12/12 by Eleutheromaniac

We had a pleasant sleep. On the second day of the trek, we proceeded from Hugu Goth at half-past five in the morning. The trail was guiding us through the middle of the forest and the Madi river was flowing on the right side making an amazing sound. Following the same sound of the river, we continued our trip towards the source of the Madi river in the mostly steep trail. The morning sun appeared in front of the glittering Lamjung Himal creating mesmerizing surroundings. Some places on the way to Kapuche Glacier Lake have been hit by massive landslides with large stones, so you have to walk very carefully. About an hour and a half after rambling from Hugu, the first and captivating view of Kapuche Lake made us scream. The view after the morning rays hit in the green and blue mixed water of the lake was justifying our scream and made us fell for the place.

Photo of Kapuche - the lowest glacier lake in the world... by Eleutheromaniac

We enjoyed ourselves around the surroundings of the lake. From time to time, we used to listen to the sound like falling rocks and wondered what it was but later found out such sound used to come when small piles of snow fell – small avalanche. We spent a lot of time in the dignified environment, wandering from side to side, jumping, clicking photos, and doing other crazy kinds of stuff.

Photo of Kapuche - the lowest glacier lake in the world... by Eleutheromaniac

At around half-past ten, we were walking towards the outlet of the lake, a loud noise came from the side of Annapurna. We looked towards the north and saw a white cloud-like shape emerging from the mountain gorge, which was the snow that had flown away after the avalanche. Until then we were just hearing the sound of small avalanches, but this time nature wanted to give something wonderful.

Photo of Kapuche - the lowest glacier lake in the world... by Eleutheromaniac

We were in a dilemma whether to run away, hide or just watch. Thinking that it might not be biggest enough to sweep us, we made it to a higher place and continued to watch the cloud of snow covering the lake. After few minutes, the snow blown away by the wind hit us too. As the wind subsides the atmosphere became the same gentle and calm. After arriving in such a short time, this destination gave us all kinds of experiences, so the intensity of happiness was indescribable.

Photo of Kapuche - the lowest glacier lake in the world... by Eleutheromaniac
Day 2

In 2015, a study by Japanese environmentalist Jiro Komori found that the lake is 400 meters long, 300 meters wide and 40 meters deep, but locals say the lake is now wider than it was a few years ago. Even if it has not reached a dangerous level yet, the concerned officials may need to conduct a further survey to find the condition, potential impact, and danger.

Photo of Kapuche - the lowest glacier lake in the world... by Eleutheromaniac

It is said that the journey is not only to reach the destination but also to return with an amazing experience. After the best time, we also had to return that day to Sikles and the next day to Kathmandu via Pokhara. We had wandered around Kapuche till we were full, with the same memory we started to return. The downhill trail to Hugu was crossed in less than an hour. After some moments of rest followed by lunch, we get ready to hit the same jungle trail back. We went near the beautiful Idi waterfall which we watched from the bridge the day before. It was just 5 minutes walk from the main trail and can be the best place to have amazing photos. After getting back we had the tea and biscuits in the small teahouse and ready for the second last climb, dusk was slowly covering the earth. We saw the environment was extremely filthy when we neared Sikles, and even the moon was a reddish tint. Later we came to know that due to large numbers of wildfires around the country and sand dust blowing from the Arabian and Indian deserts, the atmospheric condition has been hazy for the whole day in most parts of the country including Pokhara.

After dinner, we had a good night's sleep. I got up a bit early the next day imagining the sunrise view of Sikles with the mountain backdrop but as I stepped out of the door, I was unable to see even the nearby front hill. Smog was thick enough even to block out the sun. As I went through the news, I came to know that the Air Quality levels in Pokhara and Kathmandu were at a ‘hazardous’ level. I was worried as we had the tickets to Kathmandu for 3 PM that day and Pokhara and Kathmandu Airport were forced to close due to very low visibility. With smog all around, there was nothing to view from Sikles so after freshening up, we reserved a vehicle, quickly had breakfast, and headed towards Pokhara, hoping of weather to be clean soon. That hope remained only till a phone call from the airlines to inform the cancelation of the flight.

Photo of Sikles, Parche, Nepal by Eleutheromaniac

Visibility in Pokhara was too low even for vehicles as a thick layer of smoke canopied the whole city and the surroundings. As data suggested, there was no hope of the environment to be clean for few more days to come so we quickly booked the bus ticket to the capital which was scheduled for 8 PM to be moved from the Lakeside. After having lunch, we walked by the side of Phewa lake but due to bad weather, uncontrolled crowd, and the construction work happening around, even the ambiance of the lakeside was frustrating. We just wanted the time to pass quickly so that we can board to Kathmandu. It was a miserable day. Happily, the bus arrived on time to take us home.

Photo of Pokhara, Nepal by Eleutheromaniac
Day 3

We arrived in Kathmandu early in the morning after a pleasant trip in which we were asleep most of the time.

After a month, the second wave of corona arrived, and traveling from one room to the next became the primary activity.

See you on the next trip...