Trek to Kapuche Lake: ‘The Virgin Iceland’
It had been more than a year since Covid-19 took over the world, and during that time, when we were all afraid to leave our homes, my group of friends and I decided to go on a trek to Kapuche Lake, the world's lowest glacier lake, located in the north-east of Nepal's Kaski district in Sikles village. I first heard of Kapuche Lake a year ago, when it was hit by a massive avalanche. That was the point at which the Sikles and the Kapuche Lake began to get attention. Still, I didn't have much more information or ideas concerning the lake; all I knew was that there had been a massive avalanche.
So, after deciding on a location, I conducted some research on the area and was astounded by how lovely the Sikles village and lake appeared, and my excitement level began to rise. So I packed my belongings and we planned to leave on March 6, 2021. We started our journey from Kathmandu's Swayambhunath to Pokhara early in the morning; it was a long day of driving. We waited for our vehicle to pick us up at Amar Singh Chowk in Pokhara to take us to Sikles.
Sikles is a picturesque Gurung village located 3-4 hours off-road from Pokhara. To go to Sikles village, we'll have to travel a terrain that's flanked on all sides by hills and massive boulders. For those of us who live in a city, those enormous hills covered in trees spiced up with those rough roads were rather interesting to experience. We passed through villages like Kahun Khola, Kaseri, Bijayapur Khola, Kaure, Taprang, Chipli, Parche, and finally Sikles on our way to Sikles. We stopped in between at a bakery store in Tangting village and ate a lot of muffins and other bakery things with hot tea because we were all starving. When we arrived at Sikles village, it was already dark, so we used a flashlight on our phone to find our guesthouse, 'Namaste Guest House.' We had dinner and went straight to bed after arriving at the hotel because we were exhausted and needed to recuperate before starting our walk the next day.
We awoke the next morning as the sun rose, and the view from our hotel was breathtaking: green hills all around, with a glimpse of the white Annapurna peak in the distance, a gorgeous Gurung hamlet, and fields of green paddy. After breakfast, we drove to the top of Sikles Hill, where there was Sikles Park, which took about half an hour. The park was enormous, with buffaloes gazing around, but due to the howling wind and frigid weather, we decided to return to the hotel for lunch. We then had lunch at our accommodation before beginning our journey to Hugu, which is a road that leads to Kapuche Lake.
The trip to Hugu village, where we will spend the night, took about 5-6 hours. When we first started our trek, the routes were fine, moderate, road construction was ongoing, we were descending through dense Rhododendron forest, crossing bridges, and so on. Overall, our trek went smoothly, and at one point, we arrived at a location with a beautiful 64-meter-high waterfall called Yedi. So we snapped a few pictures, filmed some drone footage from Yedi's bridge, and continued on our way. The biggest challenge of the walk was starting the rising pathways after crossing the bridge. The trail began to become difficult, with steep stairways leading to the tops of the hills; some sections of the route were also perilous, with one bad step leading directly to the freezing Madi river. But the scenery was hypnotic, those small trails, the fresh air, huge giant hills all around with water running at a rapid pace, those waterfalls dropping from the middle of the hills, those dry yellow long grasses on the way, it all seemed so wonderful. Despite our heavy breathing, weary legs, and backache from lugging our large baggage, we were able to forget about it all and enjoy the gorgeous scenery.
Even though it was already spring, the weather changed on us and began to dump rain. Even though it was raining, we did not stop for a second because we still had a long distance to go. Until our eyes could see, there were no traces of any families or settlements. We were already exhausted by the difficulty of the path we had to cross. Our bodies begged us to stop, but our minds refused, and we continued walking. It was about to get dark, but then our eyes caught a glimpse of a few houses, and we became excited. We came to a large river and a wooden bridge after a few minutes of strolling. We were astounded to see the river running at its fastest speed, but we were terrified of crossing the wooden bridge, and the opposite side of the river was our last target for the day. Despite the danger, we took advantage of every opportunity to take photographs and videos on that extremely dangerous bridge before arriving at our hotel in Hugu village.
I was astounded to see those tiny houses of one room each made of bamboo, similar to a cottage. The village was so underdeveloped, there was no electricity nor any network. I had never been to a place like that before where everything works on solar, which is also good in a way but it felt like I’ve come to a different world. It was still raining at night so we were quite worried that the other day was going to be a rainy day as well. But keeping everything aside, we had our dinner, sang songs, played ukulele, and went to bed early because we were way too tired and also we had a long day tomorrow.
We had to wake up early in the morning to start our hike to Kapuche Lake which was only 2 hours of walk from Hugu. As soon as I woke up and stepped out of the room, I saw a huge mountain right in front of my eyes, sparkling; I got so excited to see how the weather turned out to be good and those mountains shining like the rising sun gave a kiss to it. We packed our breakfast and left for a Kapuche. Despite having a rough and tough trail, it was easy for us to walk as we left all our luggage at the hotel in Hugu. The more we walked, the more we started getting closer to the mountains. It was a sunny morning, so the view was clear as crystal with blue sky above. We walked through the bamboo forest and were lucky enough to witness mini avalanches multiple times on the way to Kapuche Lake. We climbed up the hills and crossed steep trails.
After walking for more than a couple of hours, we started spotting green water spots while crossing the forest. I started getting excited but the view was not clear as the path was covered by bushes and trees. As soon as I crossed the path, I saw a huge mountain and beneath that a green glacier lake. I got flattered because I was not expecting it to be that breathtakingly beautiful. I was stunned for a few moments, I was only staring at that beautiful green lake. I forgot all my pain, my sore legs and started enjoying the mesmerizing view of Kapuche Lake and I felt like all those difficult walks and everything was worth it in the end. The feeling I got as soon as I witnessed those beautiful green lakes and white mountains is not expressible at all, I was over the moon at that very moment.
Then we had our breakfast at the bank of the lake enjoying the beautiful view and those small avalanches happening time and again and not to forget, we took an opportunity to take pictures and videos, cleaned the area where we had our breakfast, and decided to leave the place afterward. I wanted to have some more moments, but we had a very long way to go, so we decided to return. We planned to return to Sikles the same day. As we were returning to Hugu, the weather started changing so we speeded and reached Hugu, had our lunch, and packed our bags. But as soon as we were all set to start our trek, the unpredictable weather started getting worse, it started raining but we had to keep moving. With a sweet farewell from the people of Hugu, we started our journey to Sikles village. It was raining heavily, and the surrounding was covered with fog which was beautiful at the same time.
So after walking for 4-5 hours in the rain, we finally reached Namaste Hotel in Sikles village, and it was already too dark. It was the end of our trek, we were all tired but at the same time, we did not forget to make our night the best night. We had dinner, had a bonfire, danced even if our legs were hurting badly.
The next day was a day to say goodbye to the sickles village, we had our breakfast and after a final farewell with a tika and a flower from the locals of the hotel, we proceeded towards Pokhara for 4 hours of drive in a jeep. So we decided to stay at Pokhara for 2 nights and eventually got back to Kathmandu on the 6th day.
So the trek to Kapuche Lake is going to be a lifetime experience for me. It was tough but the audacity of not stopping kept us moving forward. There is a saying, ‘The best view comes after the hardest climb’ which is indeed very true. The trek is by far one of the best treks I’ve ever done and I suggest to everybody willing to go for a short yet adventurous trip, Kapuche Glacier Lake Trek can be the best option.