This morning during breakfast Namgya messaged me that the permits were expected today and that we needed to get a PCR-test. We needed to go to HAMS (Hospital for Advanced Medicine & Surgery), the only hospital that is allowed to test foreigners. It was busy and social distancing seems an alien concept. After filling out a few forms and paying, we get another form and wait in line until we are called, get a test-tube and can walk to the swabbing booth. A lady siting in the booth behind a screen with two holes for her hands, swiftly takes swabs. The results should be ready in 6-8 hours. Pemba took me back to the hotel and we packed stuff that needs to go directly to Manaslu Base Camp.
Late afternoon Namgya called me that he had received the permit and that I needed to come over to finish the bottle of wine he had opened Sunday and that Wongmu would cook some dinner. When Pemba came to fetch me, I asked him to go by the nearby pastry shop to buy a big cake for Namgya’s family to celebrate. Namgya was still very busy arranging stuff when I arrived. Despite it was well more than 10 hours since we were tested, no results from the PCR had arrived. Namgya said that he had tried to reach the hospital but without success. As I suspected that a foreign request might get a bit more attention, I called HAMS and the operator kindly connected me to the COVID-test center. I explained the situation and they mailed our negative results straight away.
The main problem is the route we will follow. Basically, there are two itineraries possible (see: Manaslu 2021 – itinerary). The preferred route follows the western trail but is blocked at several places by landslides. In the end it is decided that the materials for Manaslu Base Camp will be send via the alternative route via the eastern trail, but that we will follow the western trail. So, tomorrow we will drive to Besi Sahar (a ~7 hour drive) and see there what the best options are to continue. If needed, we can go by helicopter across the blocked stretches it seems. Anyway, tomorrow at dawn, we hit the road !