Upper Mustang-Phu Valley Traverse Via Saribung La: Day 16 – Meta To Koto

Previous Post: Day 15 – Phu To Meta

Meta To Koto – Himalayan Map House

  • time: 7:00 – 2:00 p.m. with many rest stops
  • distance: about 14.5 km.
  • the high point of the day: Meta at 3586 m
  • maps: Himalayan Map House Annapurna Circuit Trek MapHardcopy maps from Himalayan Map House are available in Kathmandu and Pokhara.
  • Nepal Govt Survey Dept 1:50,000 topos:  2884 05 Chame; 2884 Bagarchhap

Meta to Koto – approx. 14.5 km.

6:15 a.m. – our Meta campsite on the front lawn of one of three or four guesthouses in the village

6:20 a.m. – our tent crew dismantling the tents while we have breakfast at Meta

Just above and to the south of our guesthouse (it may have been the Terelha Guesthouse and Restaurant) was what looked like a newly constructed Hotel Marpa International.

Meta – the new Hotel Marpa International

Steps leading down from our guesthouse to a lower level and, at least his morning, a group of donkeys waiting for their day to begin.

an overview of the guesthouse scene at Meta – three or four choices

620 a.m. – Meta donkeys waiting for another Naar/Phu workday to begin

And then it was off – Koto on the Annapurna Circuit was the day’s destination, and it felt like the end point of our trek, even if the official end was Besi Sahar. On this day, we would meet seven trekkers coming up from Koto, more than we had met in the nine days from Tsarang.

Also impressive was the number of bridges we crossed as the trail bounced from one side of the Naar Khola to the other.

first bridge south of Meta

looking down at the Phu Khola  on the path to Koto from Meta

About an hour into our walk, we passed by Singenge Dharmasala. If you’re coming from Koto, it is a possible tent site before moving up that last 1 1/2 hours to Meta; the porters’ shelter, the outhouse, and the litter at the site show that some have. It would all depend on how tired you were when you got there. It certainly has none of the views and facilities that Meta has! There is that steel bridge just south of the site and, five minutes further down, a waterfall that the trail passes under. It would make for a brisk shower! (Not the place to lose your footing!)

Dharmasala – a possible stop on the way to Meta from Koto

waterfall over Meta-Dharmasala trail

the 2nd bridge down from Meta











waterfall over Koto-Meta trail near Dharmasala

looking south from the Koto-Meta trail

a porter with a 1 m x 3 m corrugated aluminum sheet

the porter passes us by on the way to Meta and beyond

bridge #5 S of Meta on the trail to Koto

Meta-Koto trail cut into the rock wall

9:40 a.m. – a teahouse stop on the Koto-Meta trail

A more substantial teahouse was just a bit south of our tea stop – the 3 Sister Restaurant and Lodge. For those coming off the Annapurna trail from Koto (2600) and making the ascent up to Meta (3560), it might be a good intermediate stop instead of trying to do Koto-Meta in one long hard day. By now, the pine forest and the lush vegetation have replaced the barren alpine look!

3 Sisters Restaurant and Lodge – about 2 km. North of the Soti Khola campsite

We pass another new teahouse/lodge soon after. The trail runs through a pine forest, which has actual soil underneath! On a stretch of the collapsed hillside, we see a crew of ten young men in “break” mode from their task of rebuilding the trail. They seem to have minimal equipment; most wear flip-flops and wool caps.

A bit further down the trail, we step aside for a few moments as another donkey train makes its way up to Meta and points beyond. The animals do not seem overloaded and look to be well-treated.

At 11:00 or so, we are approaching the confluence of the Soti Khola and Naar Khola. On the north side of the junction is a well-used campsite with a stone outhouse and a litter dump on the trail side. Our cook team is already there, and within minutes lunch is served. We spend perhaps an hour sitting in the shade and relaxing, and then it is off again.

Naar Phu Khola  lunch stop just above the Soti Khola

The trail leads to a new metal bridge perhaps 20 meters up, but we choose the log bridge.

Crossing the Soti Khola – two choices!

The log bridge over the Soti Khola

There are still a couple more bridges to cross as the trail goes from one side of the river to the other. The sections of forest trail are interspersed with some dramatic 100-meter stretches carved out of the rock face. The one in the image below is on river right as we approach Koto.

looking back (i.e. north)  at a section of the trail near Koto blasted out of the rock face

trekkers sign at the bridge at Koto

As we walked across the metal bridge, I stopped to take a photo of the fourth major river of our trek.

  • We had walked up the Kali Gandaki to Tsarang in upper Mustang:
  • We had roughly followed the Dhechyang Khola to Damodar Kunda and then the Namta Khola to the toe of the Khumjungar Glacier.
  • Once over the Saribung La, it was the Layju Khola and then the Phu/Naar Khola that we followed to get to the bridge I was standing on.

Now I was looking at the Marsyangdi Nadi, the river whose headwaters are up near Manang and which flows down to Besi Sahar, the beginning point of the Annapurna Circuit and the end point of our trip.

The rivers, as much as the snow-covered mountains they come from, had provided the framework for our 200+ kilometer walk through some incredibly scenic landscape.

the Marsyangdi Nadi as it flows under the bridge at Koto

Just on the other side of the bridge, I looked down to the left and saw a town garbage dump. My thoughts turned back to the trekkers’ notice on the other side – “Return batteries and non-disposable waste for proper disposal.”  Later that afternoon, I would see the following dump no more than 5 meters off the road into Koto –

Koto garbage dump on the side of the road

While not discounting the mess that a few trekkers cause, the garbage dumps like the one I was looking at are clearly the work of Nepalis. They need to take responsibility and do something about plastic containers, wrappers, and glass beer bottles. Perhaps putting a price on the empty bottles and cans would encourage people to bring them to a central deposit place where they could be dealt with more appropriately.

Naar-Phu Checkpoint and gateway to the Nar Phu trail

Main Street Koto is the Annapurna Circuit trail. We passed the checkout and turned left onto the road you see below. We were headed for the Hotel Super View and its lawn, which would be our campsite for a night.

Koto at 2 in the afternoon

Koto street scene – later that afternoon

Koto – Hotel Super View – one of many guesthouse options

Next Post: Day 17 – Koto To Tal

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