66 1 26

Moving time  8 hours 28 minutes

Time  5 days 5 hours 6 minutes

Coordinates 6120

Uploaded June 11, 2018

Recorded June 2018

17,674 ft
9,015 ft
22.57 mi

Viewed 2335 times, downloaded 75 times

near Jomsom, Western Region (Nepal)

This is an amazing route for people looking for an alternative to the well-trotted route via Thorung La on the Annapurna Circuit, already including the beautiful Tilicho Lake en-route. However, you need to be self-sufficient with food & camping for at least 3 nights, and crossing Mesokanto Pass itself is hard and hazardous. You have to be prepared for bad weather, including freezing temperatures and snow storms even in the dry season.

We (Austrian, 28M & 30F) have done this route as described in the beginning of June 2018, right at the end of the dry season. We are both moderately experienced hikers, but without mountaineering experience or equipment, and we had pretty much perfect weather conditions all the time through. Still, none of us has been higher then 4.600m before and especially the technical difficulty of the pass-crossing has proven a big challenge.
For us it was 6days/5nights from Jomsom to Tilicho Basce Camp being completely self-sufficient, plus another day's hike onwards to Manang. We did it as part of our 30 day clockwise circuit around Annapurna. You might be able to do the route much faster, however you need to be properly acclimatized for that.

Please have a thorough look at the trail description below and at the end our comments regarding route planning, equipment, acclimatizing etc., before deciding for this trek. It should not be taken easy, however for us it has been a most rewarding challenge.

(Note that at the start of the trek we were both carrying 15k+ backpacks and we are generally slow trekkers, and took our time to acclimatize properly - the times stated are the times we actually needed, other people might be quicker.)

The trail starts in Old Jomsom (2720m) next to the wooden footbridge behind the bus stand. Follow the sign to Thini up through the town towards the hills. The path then follows the wired fence (partly on the road) until you reach Thini (2840m) after 2km/30mins. Alternatively you can also take one of the paths from the airport up to Thini.
Thini is the last point with food & accommodation until you reach Tilicho Base Camp on the other side of the lake a few days later. It is also the last water source until a stream 10km/1000vertical metres up the trail! Make sure you fill up enough water until then (if you acclimatize that is the next day!).

From Thini the trail starts climbing the hills just above the main square, alternatively you can take the longer, but flatter motor trek. The trail is partly identical/parallel to the road until it finally leaves the road at a switchback 2km/1.5hrs after Thini (there's a sign next to a tree). 5mins later, the path passes a goat shelter where there are a few muddy puddles collecting condensation water from some rocks - the water can be consumed after filtering only. Another 5mins later, there is a trail leading off upwards to Yharu Zhu viewpoint (another 2hrs from the junction). Instead you follow the trail straight on, which climbs steadily along the mountain's flank until you reach the next goat shelter (3600m) about 3.5kms/2hrs later. There is no water available here, but for the first time after Thini flat ground to set up a tent (and a good altitude for aclimatizing).

From the shelter, the trail climbs more steeply up the hill behind. It continuous more or less steadily, passing two more shelters (no water source) on the way until you reach a stream with a wooden bridge after another 4kms/2hrs. This is the first reliable water source after Thini, and there is a small spot to camp next to the river (4040m).

From here, after crossing another small stream, the path zig-zags steeply uphill until a ridge from where it contours flat along the hillside. Soon it passes two solid house with a pasture and a waterpipe, locals refer to it as Yak Kharka or Nam and there is ample space for camping. Shortly after, the trail crosses a river 2.5km/1hr after the wooden bridge. This stream might be hard/impossible to cross after heavy rain! The path climbs more steeply on the other side until reaching the ridge, which it follows all the way up (2km/500vm/1.5hrs from the river). The trail forks there at a signpost, the left path leads to the Northern Mesokanto La/Tourist Pass (apparently ropes & mountaineering skills are needed for that route); the right path (marked) goes to Mesokanto La. After 600m/20mins, you reach a campsite (4600m) with space for several tents and a watersource a few minutes up the trail. This is the last spot for camping before the pass and what locals sometimes refer to as Tilicho Base Camp (not to be confused with the one on the other side of the lake). The sunset here can be one of the most stunnings!

From the campsite, the trail crosses the stream, traverses the hill on the other side and then switches back onto a wide, grassy pasture. It's easy to lose the trail here in bad weather so keep a close eye on the blue markings, poles and GPS. 1km/45mins from the camp, you will reach a stone bench and the same stream again as below - the last water source before the pass & for 2km after. From here, the trail becomes a very demanding & dangerous climb! Make sure you follow the frequent blue markings & arrows. The path leads steeply straight up the mountain side right next to a little stream, and finally turns right to traverse above a small cliff. Even at the end of the dry season, there was still a small snowfield to be crossed, and crampons & hiking poles are highly recommended! Some bamboo poles indicate the way through the snow if there are no recent tracks. From there follow the blue markings further up, sometimes traversing, sometimes straight up. Parts of the way are very steep with lose rocks & gravel! Eventually, you reach Mesokanto La (5245m) 800m/350vm/3hrs after crossing the stream.

From the pass, where you might have a first rewarding view of Tilicho Lake, you can follow the marked trail to the left towards the Eastern Pass & the South side of the lake (not recommended in the afternoon due to strong winds on the pass), or climb straight down the gully to the Northern Campsite (maybe 30mins, there is a hint of a trail to the right from the pass). On our GPS trek, we first followed the trail towards the Eastern Pass and then took a shortcut down another gully to the campsite. Next to the camp (4950m), there is a big stream with fresh water.

To cross the Eastern Pass from the campsite, always follow the stream back up the mountain until you reach the trail coming from Mesokanto La on the left after about 1.5km/270vm/1hr. Here, the valley of the river becomes very steep & narrow and there is another small valley on the right - follow this up & the trail out to the right, until you eventually see a signpost up on the open, flat plateau. From here the route is mostly a soft incline among the broad, open landscape, but it's often foggy, bad weather in the morning and there are no markings, hence it's easy to lose track - so keep a close eye on GPS, stone men and the occasional signposts. On our GPS trek you can see that we have been of the trek at least once - no need to follow our trek exactly!
After about 3kms/2.5hrs, the trail climbs steeply for a few metres on the right side and follows a rocky but flat bit (maybe some old snow there) along the flank of the mountain before reaching the Eastern Pass (5340m) a few minutes later.

From the pass, the trail (now marked red-white again) leads downwards, traversing high to the right before a short, steep ridge - here you should see the lake again for the first time. There's a sign at the bottom and the trail becomes more clear again, with some signs on the way. You will pass a nice viewpoint before crossing the Tilicho Khola river and traversing to the main viewpoint South of the lake - you can see the seasonal teahouse from afar and many people come up here as a day trip. If the teahouse (4960m) is closed the terrace offers an excellent, windproof spot to camp, but be aware that you will have visitors coming up to the view point from Tilicho Base Camp as day trips. There's some other spots nearby as well. The next water sources are Tilicho Khola 2kms back where you came from, or a small lake 700m down the trail towards Manang. It's a total of 4km/400vm/2hrs from the Eastern Pass to the teahouse.

From here on, the well-trotted trail is clearly visible & marked, and descends steeply along the mountain flank for 5.5km/2.5hrs until what is called Tilicho Base Camp, 1000vm further down. If you´re in the mood take some spare water with you to go down - a lot of people climb up to Tilicho Lake unprepared and will be happy about a sip or two. It's a small cluster of lodges and the first reliable place with food & lodging after departing from Jomsom/Thini (double-check in off-season!). Here our GPS trek stops.

From Base Camp, the path continues for 3km/1.5hrs more or less at the same altitude but with many ups & downs through a gorgeous, but dangerous landscape, where rockfall & landslides are very common. Locals and other tourists refer to it as `landslide area´. There is a fresh water stream soon after you've left the dangerous part, and a further 2km/45mins later you reach the single lodge at Upper Shree Kharka, 15mins later a few more lodges at Shree Kharka. Soon after, the trail crosses another stream and then forks: The upper, left path leads to Yak Kharka (10km) for Thorung La, the lower right path via Khangsar (3km/45mins) to Manang (another 6km/2hrs).
It's good to know that Manang offers the same range of products at similar prices as in Jomsom to stock up on provisions (including camping gas, muesli, cereal bars etc.).
Manang is a nice place to take a resting day (or two as we did).

It was hard for us to find much information on this trek, and maps, online and offline information about which route to take was sometimes contradictorily. Also the ACA office in Jomsom did not have much information on this route; however it turned out to be well-marked all the way through (usually red-white, bright blue at the pass and with occasional signposts).

On most maps, you find two routes: the Southern one via Kaisang and Mesokanto La, and the Northern one across Mesokanto Northern Pass/Tourist pass. It turned out that the actual marked trail is a combination of the two and the only feasible route without mountaineering skills & equipment (according to our information). The Southern route via Kaisang is currently not possible because all of Kaisang is a military training area. The Northern route forks towards the end, with the right path leading across Mesokanto La, and the left path across the Northern/Tourist pass - according to one hiker we met, for this you would need ropes and mountaineering equipment.
Apart from Wikiloc, you will also find the route all the way trough on Maps.me, and we've added most waypoints there as well.

You could definitely do this route in reverse as well, still you need to be prepared to be at least two or three nights/days completely self-sufficient in regards to food & camping.

For us it was really important to be properly acclimatized, and we didn't have any altitude-related health issues - we highly recommend following the basic guidelines for acclimatizing:
- we've never slept higher than 500vm as the previous night, once above 3000m.
- we've climbed an additional 100-200vm higher and back to our campsite every day.
- we've drunk 3-4 litres of water (not including coffe & black tea) per day each.
- listen to your body's signals (headache, fatigue, etc...) and don't go higher if you show any symptoms.

We were carrying ultralight tent (3 season), mats & sleeping bags, all suited for temperatures down to zero and a bit below. At this time of the year this was perfectly fine. We have proper hiking boots, one hiking pole each and just for this trip we also carried crampons - we only needed them for 15 minutes but then we were very glad to have them, and would definitely recommend bringing some!
We use a Sawyer Mini filter for water treatment - water was a big issue on the first two days (see route description), thereafter it was no problem to find good water sources regularly. Between the `base camps´ we didn´t filter the water coming from streams, as the area higher up is not populated at all and we therefore considered the water to be safe.

Since we have already been hiking for 2 weeks when we arrived in Jomsom, we needed to stock up on most supplies, which turned out to be a bit of a challenge- if you can, bring as much as possible with you. Prices are obviously higher and it's worth comparing at different shops, eventually we found our usuals (oats, nuts, dry fruit & vegetables, noodles & flat rice, snickers, cookies and chocolate). We also carried some boiled eggs & potatoes and fresh vegetables, fruits and bread for the first days.
We usually use an alcohol stove but couldn't find spirit (other then 100ml glass bottles in the pharmacy) in Jomsom, so we activated our emergency gas stove and bought a highly overcharged camping gas cartridge at the only trekker's shop in Jomsom.
If you do the route in reverse, it's much easier (& a bit cheaper) to get supplies in Manang, including camping gas.

There is no good place for renting proper equipment in Jomsom!
But we were able to re-sell our equipment in Manang, which we bought second-hand in Pokhara and we didn't need for the remaining of the trek.

We've written this description to our best abilities and according to our experience - we cannot take responsibility for any possible mistakes or misinterpretations. Please be safe, use your common sense and most of all enjoy the mountains!! We highly appreciate your comments and ratings :)
Wilderness hut

Goat Shelter and water puddle

Only muddy and very little water available

Shelter without water

Quite big goat shelter with several rooms & even space to put up a tent. BUT NO WATER AVAILABLE
Wilderness hut

Shelter without water

Goat shelter, space for tent, BUT NO WATER AVAILABLE
Wilderness hut

Shelter without water


Water & Camping

First clean water available since Thini! Nice spot for camping
Wilderness hut

Building along the way

Wilderness hut

House & camping of shepherds

Water pipe available





Turn-off Mesokanto Pass

Follow the trail to the right


Last possibility to camp before the pass, seems to be what locals call Tilichu Base Camp. Proper flat space for at least 3 tents, water source a few minutes up the trail.





Stone bench



Mountain pass

Mesokanto La


Northern Campsite

Lots of flat ground, fresh water nearby


fill up here for crossing the Eastern pass

Possible campsite

flat space for one tent, next to river



Small stream

Mountain pass

Tilicho Eastern Pass





Without view

Seasonal Teahut

Only open during peak season!!

Small lake

No running water, but good to drink after filtering/treatment

1 comment

  • Photo of Wonho Shin

    Wonho Shin Oct 28, 2019

    It was a great help to me because you shared your experienced information.I'm planning.I wish I could have been helpful to other people too.

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