The Annapurna Sunrise is an experience that stays with you for a lifetime. It is one of the world’s most beautiful spectacles that I have ever witnessed. We make a point of getting out clients to witness this on every River and Soul tour! I remember the first time I saw it like it was yesterdy…
The light is coming!
…It was pitch black, 5:30am, when we left the hotel. We had hired a taxi (because who can be arsed at 5:30am?) to take us as far as it could up Sarangkot. I was with my friend Charlotte. We were both out in Nepal on a Rotary International project. Charlotte, being a professional photographer, was tasked with taking pictures for our project to help promote it back home. So, classically, she had brought a backpack full of stuff plus a tripod with her. It wasn’t a long drive, only 20 minutes from the hotel. The road took us almost at the top, about 4/5ths of the way. We got out and put on head torches as we made our way upwards.
There is a village perched on top of Sarangkot and quite wisely they charge for visitors to pass through and gain access to the viewing platform at its peak. So remember to bring some rupees if you’re planning on heading up there!
We happily paid and made our way to the viewing plinth. We are the first there. I remember thinking ‘Where is everyone? We have either made a terrible mistake and come to the wrong place or we’re lucky coz we get to nab the best spot!’. Sure enough others started to slowly appear out of the darkness below. And we waited, for what I wasn’t sure – I’d just been told it was a spectacular sunrise. Charlotte spent her time setting up the tri-pod and camera. I chatted to others as they arrived. And then slowly, out of the darkness, outlines in the sky appeared.
We were looking the ghosts of mountains. Only an outline, as if sketched into the sky with pencil. You could hardly see them at all. But one thing that did catch your eye was the size of them – they were HUGE! And I don’t just mean huge. I mean like stupidly massive. Here I was, at the top of what I thought was a mountain (1600m is way higher than Ben Nevis). But then I started to look up at the mountains of all mountains!
The tallest being Annapurna 1 at 8091m! But the most spectacular by far is Machhapuchchhre (also spelt Machapuchare and Machhapuchhre or know as Fish Tail), although only 6993m its peak is a knife edge arête and as the name goes – is shaped like a fish’s tail. The Annapurna range is a central part of Himalayas and as such contains some of the tallest mountains in the world!
As the light grew, so did the mountains. They stretched from left to right as far as they eye could see. And it was clear they did not diminish in size. It was like a giant wall stretching across the land – something Donald Trump would be proud of! Being early in the morning we got a perfect view as there was no haze. They were so clear. We could even see snow getting blown off the peaks!
Here comes the sun for the Annapurna Sunrise
The sun rises over the Annapurna foothills – Photo by Charlotte Gale
At around 7am we had been on the top about an hour and a half. We had seen the mountains appear out of the gloom and the sky was now blue. Charlotte and I decided we had been at the top long enough and wanted to head down for breakfast. We packed up her camera and started to head down. Just as we’d got out of the crowd on the viewing plinth, we heard everyone GASP! Spinning round we saw that the mountains were covered in gold! We pushed back through the crowd to our original spot and realised that the Sun had risen. We’d been on the top for so long and in the light, that we hadn’t actually realised that the Sun hadn’t risen – even today we kick ourselves over it!
The Alpine Glow of the Annapurna Sunrise – Photo by Charlotte Gale
The sun dazzled the mountains in the beautiful oranges and golds of an Alpine Glow. The Annapurna Sunrise was so magical to see all those colours come out of the black and grey of the night sky. That experience shall stay with me the rest of my life. Firstly, because we hadn’t realised the sun hadn’t come up. Secondly, because it was so unbelievable to see the Himalayas grow out of nothing into their full glory.
Charlotte and Callum at the top of Sarangkot