Annapurna Trek

Trekking in the Annapurna

The Annapurna Base Camp (ABC) Trek, a trail along the Annapurna region in the north-central region of Nepal, is believed to be one of the most popular trek destinations both in and outside Nepal.

Mt. Annapurna rises to 8,091 meters and is the 10th highest mountain in the world. The ABC Trek in particular is an itinerary of 11 to 16 days and designed for people wishing to reach the Annapurna Base Camp on foot, starting from the beautiful Lake City of Pokhara.

This invigorating trek passes through magnificent sceneries of charismatic waterfalls, villages, farmlands, rhododendron forests, and mountain vistas.

Annapurna Base Camp
Annapurna Base Camp

 

Getting there

On the first day, you can board a bus in Kathmandu, Chitwan or Bhairahawa, or take a flight to Pokhara from where the trek kicks off. As it is a trek trail, you mostly spend six to seven hours in moderate walking everyday.

On the first day, after crossing the suspension bridge over the Khumnu Khola, you reach Ghandruk, an uphill and beautiful village mostly inhabited by Gurungs and stay for the night there. Another day, you take up a few steep climbs and descents from Ghandruk to Chhomrong.

The next morning, you head out of Chhomrong along the Modi Khola. Then you descend a series of long and steep stone steps into deep bamboo and rhododendron forests and reach Dobhan shortly. You can spend your night there at the lodge.

The following day, you take a gradual ascent of about four hours to reach Deurali. On the 5th day, you start your trek to the Machhapuchhre (Fishtail) Base Camp (MBC). The hike from Deurali to MBC is somewhat strenuous but the unfolding view of the majestic Machhapuchhre is certainly a rewarding experience.

Day 6 is the big day when you walk two to three hours from Machhapuchhre to the Annapurna Base Camp. The mesmerizing views of the Machhapuchhre, Annapurna South, Annapurna I, Hiunchuli and other peaks await you at the Base Camp. There you can find moderate accommodation lodges or teahouses to spend the night.

In the following three to four days, you head down to the valley, starting to descend from the ABC, back through the MBC, Deurali, Dobhan, and Bamboo to Naya Pul. As you start to descend, you will discover that heading down is much easier than climbing up.

Trip highlights
The trek involves the vicinities of some of the highest mountains on the earth and the magnificence of the sunrise over the snow-capped Himalaya. Along the path, you also pass through a diverse range of geographical and cultural variations, and amazing variety of flora and fauna in between. Great views of the mid-western Himalaya, including Dhaulagiri, Manaslu, Machhapuchhre, and the five peaks of the Annapurna Range in Pokhara, are the first attractions of the trip. As you trek along, you pass through thick bamboo, oak and rhododendron forests up the side of the

canyons. Occasional glimpses of wildlife species like wild boars, deer, and maybe even snow leopards awe you. The scene of the magnificent sunrise over the Himalaya from the Annapurna Base Camp at dawn is something you will definitely savor for your lifetime.

Health cautions
The Annapurna Base Camp trek takes off from the Lake City of Pokhara at a mere height of around 800 meters above sea level to the high altitude of over 4,000 meters with gradual acclimatization process. So it should be planned sensibly while considering the vagaries of acute mountain sickness (AMS). Those with known heart, blood, or lung diseases are highly recommended to consult their doctors before they set out on a trip like this. A person of an average physical fitness and health, however, can successfully accomplish this trek. Some prior exercises and regular jogging will be of additional help. Nonetheless, keeping a positive attitude, confidence, and strong determination are the golden mantra.

Trip essentials
Autumn (mid-September to mid-December) and spring (March to May) are the best seasons for the Annapurna Base Camp Trek. The days are sunny with marvelous views of the vistas, but the nights are usually cold and can even fall to freezing points. So pack your light T-shirts or pullover, and a down jacket. Sleeping bag rated to zero degrees Fahrenheit is a must. It is always good to carry a scarf or a sunhat along with a pair of UV protection sunglasses. Also pack your hiking shoes, and do not forget extra laces.

Information courtesy:
Himalayan Glacier (P) Ltd
Call 01-4411387

source: republica, 04 OCT 2013

Top 11 Popular Landmarks of Pokhara

The Top 11 Popular Landmarks of Pokhara are ever enthralling to the domestic as well as international visitors. Pokhara, “the Lake city” in Nepal is surrounded by the beautiful high mountains and the panoramic range of high Himalayas. The village settlements and hill stations in the periphery of Pokhara are pristine. The various sites within the valley are tremendously beautiful at the one hand and on the other hand it is a trek junction for Annapurna Base Camp Trek including various other short hikes. Beyond natural beauty, Pokhara is also full of various popular landmarks. The top 11 of them are listed below.

 Fewa Lake
Fewa Lake

1. Fewa Lake is a prominent landmark of Pokhara. It lies on the west corner of Pokhara valley. The lake covers an area of 4.4 sq km. The west bank of lake is surrounded by green rolling hill and thick forest and on the east of the lake there are hundredth of hotels, lodges, restaurants, travel and trekking offices, shops and other tourist related service centers. Besides, boating on Fewa Lake will be a thrilling moment once you gaze the rarely beautiful shadow of Machhpuchhre underneath of your boat. You can even cover this popular landmark of Pokhara if you happen to walk for Annapuran Circle Trek.

2. Devi’s Fall, the mystical sight of nature at the lower end of Fewa dam is also popular for its legend. The fall is named after the name of an ill fated tourist who was swept away by a sudden flow of Fewa Lake. The relaxing tourist did not know the sudden out flow of the water and swept way into the tunnel or craves and disappeared. Since then the fall has named as Devi’s fall and has become a popular site for the visitors.

3. Mahendra Cave, discovered in 1950, is one of the most popular visiting spot in Pokhara Nepal. 95% tourists go to visit the cave. It is in about 10 minutes drive from the heart of Pokhara city in the place named Batulechaur. The cave is rich in variety of rocks especially limestone and the rocks sparkle when light strikes on it. The stone that is dripping from the roof and covering the cave floor comes alive under the beams of the flashlights and increases the excitement of this dark adventure. As one of the darker sites in Nepal, the cave gives visitors the opportunity to embark on an adventure. There is still much of the cave that has not been explored and gives the cave an atmosphere of awe, when thinking of the mysterious, unknown territory that no man has yet been privileged to see. The cave is a wonderful creation of natural limestone. Nearby the Mahendra cave there is another cave named as bat cave where thousands of bat have made their home. Both caves are worth visiting.

4. Baharahi temple, the amazing site in Pokhara, is in the middle of Fewa Lake on a small island. It is not only a holly shrine of Hindu devotees but also a best spot to observe surrounding hill and settlements including towering and pointed peak of beautiful fishtail mountain. A five minute boat ride reaches the island. Religious functions like marriage, birth day celebration, wish fulfilling pooja are performed in the temple.

5. Seti George is geological wonder of Pokhara valley. Seti River has made awesome gorges in many parts of Pokhara. In some section the gorges goes more than 200 meter deep whereas the width is just about 20 meters. The best places to observe the wild feature of Seti River are K. I Sing Bridge, Mahendra Pool Bridge, Prithivi Chowk Bridge and some other small crossings of the valley.

6. World peace Pagoda, on the south west bank of Fewa Lake and on the top of Raniban, is a best site for day hike and birds eye view of entire Pokhara valley. One hour gentle trek to the top is also a best opportunity to experience local culture and tradition. Stupa site is a most favored site for internal and external tourists in Pokhara. Fewa Lake looks just underneath of the stupa and the towering fishtail mountain is one of the eye catching views from the site.

7. Buddhist Monastery in Pokhara is worth visiting site to experience Tibetan culture and tradition. While heading for Annapurna Sanctuary Trek, this site will be suitable place to visit in Pokhara. In Pokhara valley there are three Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in three corners east, south and north –west. They are established during the period of Tibetan refugee influx into the country in the time of Cultural Revolution in China.

8. Gupteshore cave is just the other end of Devi’s fall. Inside the cave a natural statue of lime stone has stood. People believe that the lime stone statue is a symbol of Lord Shiva. Today the cave is popular as a religious site of Hindu pilgrimages and in many religious occasion, devotees from all part of the country and even from India too visit the site. There is a small tunnel connecting Gupteshor cave to Devi’s fall.

9. Bindabasani Temple, located close to the Baglund Highway, is an oldest temple in Pokhara. The sacred temple of Goddess Bindabasini is a symbol of wish fulfilling Devi. Everyday hundreds of devotees visit the temple. The temple area is also a perfect centre for sightseeing. If you are planning for Jomsom Muktinath Trek-a pilgrimage trek in the Annapurna region, a short visit to the temple in Pokhara will be blissful. Furthermore, from the hilltop of the temple, visitors can capture the spectacular vistas of high Himalayas around Annapurna range.

10. Old Bazaar at the centre of Pokhara represents an ancient human settlement. Pokhara itself is a city of traditional home of Newari settlements. The bazaar has yet preserved its ancient buildings with their traditional design and architecture. Walking along the old Bazaar gives a glimpse of the ancient culture, tradition and architecture of Nepal that resemble ancient Kathmandu.

11. Museums in Pokhara are unavoidable landmarks that need to be visited if you are advancing for Annapurna Circuit Trek in Nepal. Annapurna Museum, located inside the P. N .Campus, is a Nepal’s only one butter fly museum. The museum has preserved more than 500 species of butterfly and many species of birds. It is popular among the scholars and researchers. Likewise, Pokhara Regional Cultural Museum, at the city centre, is the best site to observe and experience the culture and tradition of different ethnic communities of Nepal. Similarly, International Mountain museum is only one museum in the world to preserve mountaineering history and equipment used by different climbers since the mountaineering history began. Inside the museum compound there is a climbing wall and a replica of Mt. Manaslu Himal as well. Furthermore, Gorkha Memorial Museum keeps a collection of Gurkhas’ brave history as well as the equipment, dresses and medals associated with them. While roaming around the landmarks of Pokhara, just make a short visit at this site and know how Gurkhas were known to the world as the brave fighters. Besides, there is also a wide range collection of Nepalese army history and their dress and equipments.

Top 5 Annapurna Treks

The top 5 Annapurna Treks are regarded as a paradise for trekkers. The top 5 treks offer beautiful views of the mountains while you are surrounded by the wonders of nature. Besides, stunning views of the Himalayan range, the region is also widely known for wildlife sanctuary. The government of Nepal has declared Annapurna region as a conservation area. Apart from natural bounties of the region, these treks also enhance to see the amazing life styles and culture of the indigenous people, who have resided in these steep hillsides for centuries. The Annapurna Treks are the extraordinary adventures to be in the company of some of the highest mountains on earth. The Top 5 Annapurna Treks are listed here chronologically.

Annapurna Sunrise Trek (Poon Hill Trek)
Annapurna Sunrise Trek (Poon Hill Trek)

 

1. Annapurna Base Camp Trek is believed to be one of our most popular treks in the world. The trek is suitable for those trekkers who would like to get to Annapurna Base Camp but are restricted time-wise. This invigorating trek to Annapurna Base Camp passes through waterfalls, villages, farmlands, rhododendron forests, and mountain vistas. The base camp trek, like others in the Annapurna region, takes off from the lake city of Pokhara at a mere height of around 800 meters to a high altitude of over 4,000 meters with gradual acclimatization process. You also pass through a diverse geographical and cultural variation with amazing ranges of flora and fauna in between. Needless to say that throughout this trekking journey you get to enjoy the sheer magnificence of the Himalayas, including two mountains that are above eight thousand meters – Mt. Annapurna (8091 m) and Mt. Dhaulagiri (8167m); hospitality and rich culture of the local community and the brilliance of nature.

2. Annapurna Circle Trek is one of the most popular classic treks in the world that takes you from 830m to 5,416m through the deep valleys and high mountains encircling the giant Annapurna Himal. The most enchanting trek further provides you a chance to meet with wide range of culturally rich ethnic groups and walk in a diverse terrain, from subtropical jungle to a high and dry landscape resembling the Tibetan plateau. While experiencing an opportunity to interact with assorted ethnic groups, it will be a walk by the world’s deepest Kali Gandaki gorge, an exciting triumph over one of the world’s highest pass -Thorong La, the Manang valley, the spiritual Muktinath and the most fantastic viewpoint-Poon Hill. Upon the completion of this magical trek, you will find you have gone through the entire Annapurna massif and reached the Zenith.

3. Annapurna Sanctuary Trek is a spectacular journey on foot to the South Face of Annapurna I – a pleasant hike through the ethnically diversified villages and forests assorted by flora and fauna. Explore the way upstream along the Modi Khola into the Annapurna Sanctuary, a valley surrounded by towering Himalayan peaks including the breathtaking Machhapuchhare (6,993m). Experience the opportunity of watching sunrise over the Dhaulagiri and Annapurna ranges from Poon Hill as the bequest of the trip. Traversing through valleys, villages, rivers, waterfalls, and forests and enjoying the magnificence view of nature, you continue your journey passing through more crystal clear views of the unconquered Machhapuchhare peak (6,993m) – tip of which resembles a fishtail. Your journey gets slightly more difficult during the ascent to the Machhapuchhare Base Camp (3,700m). The peaks of Annapurna-III (7,600m) and Annapurna-IV (7,400m) are visible from this point and the gigantic glacier of Machhapuchhare makes its presence felt. The next leg of the trek will take you to Annapurna Base Camp (4,130m), a natural amphitheatre, a picture that will remain with you forever. The sunrise is another view of note as it gradually illuminates the peak of Annapurna-I (8,091m). The vicinity is also popular for its natural hot springs.

4. Annapurna Sunrise Trek (Poon Hill Trek) is a relatively easy walk meandering through villages and rhododendron forests. This invigorating trek reveals some of the best views of the Himalayas especially from the Poon Hill which is considered as the best viewpoint in the Annapurna region. Just behold the magnificence of the sunrise over the snow-capped Himalayas that illuminate the peaks of the entire range and leaving you spellbound! While trekking along to Ghorepani, you marvel at colorful orchids and clear views of the splendid high mountains including the two eight-thousanders – Mt. Annapurna (8091 m) and Mt. Dhaulagiri (8167m). Upon reaching the final destination, Poon Hill (3210m) is a reward in itself, perhaps one of the most beautiful viewpoints on earth. The added presence of rice terraces completes the picture making it a photographer’s paradise. Then, you trek to the beautiful Gurung village of Ghandruk and enjoy the ethnic hospitality along with the cultural magnificence of Gurung Museum. Overall, the beautiful trek is suitable for those travelers who desire to have family fun in the rural mountainside with up-close Himalayan views.

5. Annapurna Circuit Trek, a magical trek, takes you around the entire Annapurna massif reaching the Zenith at Thorong La Pass (5,416m). Annapurna Circuit Trek, one of the most popular classic treks in the world takes you within the world’s tenth highest mountain, the Annapurna. From a mere height of 800 meters to the high altitude of 5, 416 meters, you will pass through a diverse geographical and cultural variation with an amazing range of flora and fauna in between. The initial days of the trek involves walking through rice farms, forests and friendly villages in the lower realms of the Annapurna Conservation Area. Just imagine the thrills of walking through world’s deepest Kali Gandaki Gorge, with Annapurna I rising to 8091m to the east and Dhaulagiri hovering at 8167m to the west! Cross the highest pass, Thorong La on the way from Manang to Muktinath, savor the fabulous mountain views from the summit of Poon Hill at 3,210m and discover more than ten different culturally rich ethnic groups that reside in different climate zones of Annapurna Circuit.

Top 7 ways of trekking in the Annapurna region

The top 7 ways of trekking in the Annapurna region are the extraordinary adventures to be in the company of some of the highest mountains on earth. Mt. Annapurna rises to 8091m and is the 10th highest mountain in the world. The Annapurna region lies in the foothill of Mt. Annapurna in North-central Nepal stretching along with Lamjung Himal from the Kali Gandaki in the west to the Marshyangdi in the east. Trekking in the Annapurna region involves walking through rice farms, forests and friendly ethnic villages in the lower realm of the Annapurna Conservation Area. The treks also provide a chance to visit the Hindu pilgrimage site – Muktinath. Besides, the 7 ways of trekking also cover Tatopani, Ghorepani, Ghandruk, Pokhara, and Kathmandu. Here are listed the top 7 ways of trekking in the Annapurna region.

Annapurna Region
Annapurna Region

 

1. Annapurna Circuit Trek, a magical trek, takes you around the entire Annapurna massif reaching the Zenith at Thorong La Pass (5,416m). Annapurna Circuit Trek, one of the most popular classic treks in the world takes you within the world’s tenth highest mountain, the Annapurna. From a mere height of 800 meters to the high altitude of 5, 416 meters, you will pass through a diverse geographical and cultural variation with an amazing range of flora and fauna in between. The initial days of the trek involves walking through rice farms, forests and friendly villages in the lower realms of the Annapurna Conservation Area. Just imagine the thrills of walking through world’s deepest Kali Gandaki Gorge, with Annapurna I rising to 8091m to the east and Dhaulagiri hovering at 8167m to the west! Cross the highest pass, Thorong La on the way from Manang to Muktinath, savor the fabulous mountain views from the summit of Poon Hill at 3,210m and discover more than ten different culturally rich ethnic groups that reside in different climate zones of Annapurna Circuit.

2. Annapurna Base Camp Trek is believed to be one of our most popular treks in the world. The trek is suitable for those trekkers who would like to get to Annapurna Base Camp but are restricted time-wise. This invigorating trek to Annapurna Base Camp passes through waterfalls, villages, farmlands, rhododendron forests, and mountain vistas. The base camp trek, like others in the Annapurna region, takes off from the lake city of Pokhara at a mere height of around 800 meters to a high altitude of over 4,000 meters with gradual acclimatization process. You also pass through a diverse geographical and cultural variation with amazing ranges of flora and fauna in between. Needless to say that throughout this trekking journey you get to enjoy the sheer magnificence of the Himalayas, including two mountains that are above eight thousand meters – Mt. Annapurna (8091 m) and Mt. Dhaulagiri (8167m); hospitality and rich culture of the local community and the brilliance of nature.

3. Annapurna Circle Trek is one of the most popular classic treks in the world that takes you from 830m to 5,416m through the deep valleys and high mountains encircling the giant Annapurna Himal. The most enchanting trek further provides you a chance to meet with wide range of culturally rich ethnic groups and walk in a diverse terrain, from subtropical jungle to a high and dry landscape resembling the Tibetan plateau. While experiencing an opportunity to interact with assorted ethnic groups, it will be a walk by the world’s deepest Kali Gandaki gorge, an exciting triumph over one of the world’s highest pass -Thorong La, the Manang valley, the spiritual Muktinath and the most fantastic viewpoint-Poon Hill. Upon the completion of this magical trek, you will find you have gone through the entire Annapurna massif and reached the Zenith.

4. Annapurna Sanctuary Trek is a spectacular journey on foot to the South Face of Annapurna I – a pleasant hike through the ethnically diversified villages and forests assorted by flora and fauna. Explore the way upstream along the Modi Khola into the Annapurna Sanctuary, a valley surrounded by towering Himalayan peaks including the breathtaking Machhapuchhare (6,993m). Experience the opportunity of watching sunrise over the Dhaulagiri and Annapurna ranges from Poon Hill as the bequest of the trip. Traversing through valleys, villages, rivers, waterfalls, and forests and enjoying the magnificence view of nature, you continue your journey passing through more crystal clear views of the unconquered Machhapuchhare peak (6,993m) – tip of which resembles a fishtail. Your journey gets slightly more difficult during the ascent to the Machhapuchhare Base Camp (3,700m). The peaks of Annapurna-III (7,600m) and Annapurna-IV (7,400m) are visible from this point and the gigantic glacier of Machhapuchhare makes its presence felt. The next leg of the trek will take you to Annapurna Base Camp (4,130m), a natural amphitheatre, a picture that will remain with you forever. The sunrise is another view of note as it gradually illuminates the peak of Annapurna-I (8,091m). The vicinity is also popular for its natural hot springs.

5. Annapurna Sunrise Trek (Poon Hill Trek) is a relatively easy walk meandering through villages and rhododendron forests. This invigorating trek reveals some of the best views of the Himalayas especially from the Poon Hill which is considered as the best viewpoint in the Annapurna region. Just behold the magnificence of the sunrise over the snow-capped Himalayas that illuminate the peaks of the entire range and leaving you spellbound! While trekking along to Ghorepani, you marvel at colorful orchids and clear views of the splendid high mountains including the two eight-thousanders – Mt. Annapurna (8091 m) and Mt. Dhaulagiri (8167m). Upon reaching the final destination, Poon Hill (3210m) is a reward in itself, perhaps one of the most beautiful viewpoints on earth. The added presence of rice terraces completes the picture making it a photographer’s paradise. Then, you trek to the beautiful Gurung village of Ghandruk and enjoy the ethnic hospitality along with the cultural magnificence of Gurung Museum. Overall, the beautiful trek is suitable for those travelers who desire to have family fun in the rural mountainside with up-close Himalayan views.

6. Jomsom Muktinath Trek starts from world’s deepest Kali Gandaki gorge and passes through an almost tree-less barren landscape, a steep rocky trail up and down hill and panoramic views of Nilgiri, Annapurna, Dhaulagiri and several other peaks. The initial days of the trek through the Annapurna region ascends through rice terraces and villages inhabited by the indigenous people. Continuing along the Kali Gandaki River Gorge, marvel at the splendid peaks of Annapurna-I and Dhaulagiri both of which reach heights in excess of 8000m. The trek gets interesting in Tatopani where you will have the opportunity to relax in natural hot springs! Then the trek passes through Jomsom and Kagbeni, the entry point of upper Mustang Region. Explore the hundreds of years old monastery, caves, local tribes and scenic beauties of the different landscapes. The grandeur of the Dhaulagiri Glacier is on show a little further up along with the first glimpse of the windy Tibetan Plateau on the way to the holy Hindu pilgrimage site of Muktinath (3800m). From Muktinath, you trek downhill to Jomsom village on the Tibetan Plateau where you can look around at the gateway to the “Forbidden Kingdom of Mustang”, and get a glimpse of the ancient traditions still in practice.

7. Annapurna Sunrise and Everest View Trek combines nature, adventure, culture, and hospitality – the best that Nepal has to offer. It is an opportunity to trek in the two of the most popular trekking regions in the world – the Annapurna and Everest. This trek features a wide range of spectacular scenery combined with unique cultural encounters. From mesmerizing views from one of the most beautiful viewpoints on earth, the Poon Hill of Annapurna to one of the world’s highest monasteries in Tengboche of Everest region, the trek combines a magnificent galore of both the natural and cultural panorama that Nepal offers. Moreover, the opportunity to capitalize an awesome beauty of Mt. Everest and other eight-thousanders would certainly make this trek a memorable experience of the lifetime. Besides, Kathmandu, Pokhara, Poon Hill, Ghandruk, Sagarmatha National Park, Namche Bazaar, and Tengboche are also tailored in this trek.

3 Women at Annapurna Circuit Trek

We are a group of 3 women that did a 16 days trek in the Annapurna Circuit from the 3rd to the 19th July 2013 and through this letter we would like to thank you for the service provided by your company.

Clara Chamizo Liñán,Verónica Nicola,Laurence Williams with guide
Clara Chamizo Liñán,Verónica Nicola,Laurence Williams with guide Tony

 

We would like to especially mention the excellent work performed by our guide-porter Tony. He was very professional at all times looking after us and making us feel cared about. He also provided interesting information on the flora, fauna, cultural aspects, etc. when requested and spontaneously. Even if we had the freedom to choose what we wanted to do during the trek, Tony was always helping us with his experienced knowledge to make the best or more appropriate decisions. Whenever any tense situation arose he was keeping calm and helping the team to stay in the same way. In addition Tony has been a good company after the trekking hours sharing time with us while eating and resting in the lodges. Regarding his English knowledge, we felt it was good enough to have a proper communication. At all times he was a very patient and respectful person both towards us and the local community.

Himalayan Glacier Guide - Tony
Himalayan Glacier Guide – Tony

 

Hoping that this information can be useful both for you and Tony we leave our sincere regards.

Best Regards
Clara Chamizo Liñán (Spain)
Verónica Nicola (Argentina)
Laurence Williams (Canada)

Annapurna Circuit Trek

This April I went for the fourth time with Himalayan Glacier for trekking in Himalaya, this time Annapurna Circuit trek where I was in the mountains for 18 days. As at the previous times I had a fantastic trek and reached Thorong La pass without problems. I went alone with a guide (Norbu) and a porter. This time I have chosen to go alone because I am 62 years old and go slower than younger people and have experience that it is the best to keep own pace at high altitude. Still I managed nearly all the daily treks but two according to the original plan. The part between Muktinath and Marpha I have chosen to make in two days instead of one, spending an afternoon and night in the wonderful village Kagbeni, and also the part Kalapani to Tatapani I made in two days staying in Ghasa. Importantly, as at my earlier treks with Himalayn Glacier, I felt very safe during the whole trek and this feeling was reinforced by the fact that my guide was getting telephone calls from Narayan at the main office who was checking how we are doing and if there are any problems.

Annapurna Area
Annapurna Area

 

Annapurna Area
Annapurna Area

 

Anna M Larsson

Annapurna Trekking

I was prepared to not like Kathmandu. I assumed it would be a typical thirdworld polluted, overcrowded, noisy, crime riddled city with a few UNESCO World Heritage sites to explore. My assumption was mostly right, but one quickly becomes intoxicated with sensory overload in this incredible city. Three days was barely enough to scratch the surface of this endlessly fascinating cultural maze of a place. Already I long to return to Boudhnath on a pilgrimage to once again feel the prayer wheels spin under my fingers, light a butter lamp, and circumnavigate the dome on the prayer flagdecked street.

Annapurna Circle Trek
Beautiful Reflection of mountain during Annapurna Trekking

 

We departed Kathmandu and after a 6 hour Hail Mary bus ride, a night in picturesque Pokhara, rendezvousing with Gopal, our shy porter, we finally arrived in Naya Pul, the starting point of our Annapurna trek! Here, throngs of trekkers, guides, and porters were hurriedly packing and doublechecking gear. A short hike (just a week prior, it had been only a path; now, civilization was encroaching with a gravel road bed) and we were in Birethanti, “Check Point Charley” if you will. All people trekking within the Annapurna Conservation Area Project have to purchase a TIMS card (Trekking Information Management System) and register at the various check points. There are multiple routes and treks one can chose in the Annapurna Circuit region. Routes and treks are based on budget, time available, and fitness level. We chose the Annapurna Sanctuary route to Annapurna Base Camp (ABC) as we wanted to explore the ethnic culture of the communities along the way, enjoy the flora and fauna of the sub tropical forests and alpine regions, while maintaining a constant panoramic view. Bill and I also decided that we wanted to trek by ourselves, and not join a larger group. Many people arrive in Kathmandu and trek alone, or arrange for a guide and/or porter once they arrive. Our choice was easy. Himalayan Glacier Trekking a highly rated outfitter has a US representative: Tony Monaco, a CMC member in Charlotte. Our itinerary was established according to our trekking ideas and our pre and post trek plans. One couldn’t ask for a better executed trip. People ask how to “train” for trekking in the Himalayas. In reflection, one should hop on a treadmill set at the highest tension for a couple of hours, then hike from Mount Mitchell to Deep Gap and back, double the altitude, and repeat daily for a few weeks. If one doesn’t follow this regimen, then pack some extra strength Tylenol. We were not prepared for the miles and miles of “steps”; it’s a trail building marvel, but a hiker’s pain in the quads and hamstrings.

Annapurna Trekking
Annapurna Trekking

Other treks/hikes that we have done around the globe were either wilderness camping or staying in a lodge of some sort. While trekking the Annapurnas we chose to stay in tea houses that were available in the a few villages scattered along the route. The operative word is “available.” Every day, there is a mad scramble in the afternoon to secure lodging. Lodging can only be booked “the day of”…and there may only be 3 lodges with 8 or so rooms in a given community. There may be 2, 3, or 4 hours of “extra” hiking if a room is not secured early in the day. Or, sleeping arrangements can get rather creative! Rooms are typically spartan with twin cots and a lock for the door. Toilets are Asian style and unisex. Showers, if available, are for a fee. Hot water, if available, is solar heated. The water in Nepal is highly polluted. The Modi Khola River (originating at the Annapurna Glacier) provides 95% of Nepal’s drinking water. The water supply to villages is medieval … a 1 ¼ inch PVC pipe runs from village to village, splicing home to home, and running (or not) nonstop. We observed the pipe strung through the jungle, tree to tree, lashed in place with bamboo “thread”. After several days, hygiene and water purification become tedious but necessary.

Before you dismiss considering a trek of this nature, I haven’t discussed one of the most intriguing elements: the people one meets along the way! There is of course ample opportunity to meet folks along the trail, stopping for tea, lunch, a break, or stopping to eat/sleep for the day. (People often commented on our CMC hats or AT volunteer patches on our packs.) Once your trekking is done for the day, people gather in the communal dining room. One’s personal space dissolves. We gravitated like magnets to anyone who looked remotely 60ish.

The higher theelevation, the sparser the crowd, the more likely we would meet up with people we met earlier on the trail. Rooms are very inexpensive ($3.50 a night), but require buying meals at the lodge. Thedining room tables typically had a wool blanket tacked along the sides; there was also a propane heater under the table which was lit at night. Everyone (gladly) paid 100 rupees ($1.25) to pull their boots off and stick their feet under the table, and pull the blanket over their lap. What warmth! We sat there for hours, chatting about the day’s trek, or writing in journals, eating, drinking, and playing cards. We identified people by their given name, or code names (Not AT trail names, but our personal way of identifying people). For example, “the Poles” were a hearty group that kept us honest. On our second day, Bill and I sat at the dining room table quite smug in the fact that we had trekked 14 hours in 2 days and were on our “track” timewise.

The Poles pulled in that night after trekking the same distance in ONE 12 hour day! They proceeded to each order a pint of rum, just as a “warm up” before their “real” drinking began. We were reminded of our time years ago hiking in the Bieszczady Mountains tracking Red deer with a Polish guide. We cursed him soundly under our breath, as we saw him in the distance rolling a cigarette, casually smoking, waiting for us, then striding off and leaving us again to trot to catch up to him. What a hearty lot, the Poles we were gladdened every timed we met up with them. At the same time, a young Spanish graduate student arrived. She was about to collapse, crying, gasping for breath. All the guides quickly came to her “rescue” as if they were the resident EMTs. What histrionics! We giggled at her demonstrativeness. We were not surprised that “La Princessa” never reached ABC summit. Another group, “the Taiwanese”, strode up and down the mountains; in one hand they held an IPad, in the other a bottle of water. Enough said. “California” and “Minnesota” were more or less our age. Minnesota made the summit, California did not. Mrs. California took a nasty spill at a creek crossing, ripping her knee. Meeting them at an afternoon rest stop, we decided to stay put, and they pushed on despite the weather that was quickly disintegrating. Drizzle turned to sleet with a fierce wind. (CA was sick in bed for 2 days and turned back.) Another couple we met, a bubbly Irish pair, had already made it to Everest Base Camp and now they were trekking to Annapurna Base Camp! “The Irish” were simply so thrilled to have sunshine that they would have kept trekking around the globe. A young Finnish couple smoked marijuana joints as fast as they could roll them. “The Finns” didn’t talk, just smiled. One quickly obtains the idea of “life” on the Circuit.

A guide is not requisite to trek in Annapurna. However, we found that having one enriched our experience immensely. Basu was: a walking GPS, concierge service by phoning ahead for a nightly room, our gastronomical advisor who deciphered our menus, a constant natural history/cultural educator, a musician playing his bamboo flute, our “medic”, and most importantly, a friend. It is our opinion that the Nepalese government needs to continue to strive to provide for the wellbeing of the guides and porters who make these Himalayan treks possible. The trekking season is brief, maybe a total of 34 months of every year; finding other employment for the rest of the year is difficult. The trail led us through the Modi Khola valley, filled with rice paddies, fields of quinoa, turmeric, corn, squash, and cabbages. We shared the path with trains of mules transporting goods between villages, water buffalo, goats, sheep,  porters, and fellow trekkers. Passing through dense bamboo and hardwood forests, we arrived at Ghorepani. Our $3.00 a night room had a 5Star view of Machhapuchhre, Dhaulagiri, Nilgiri, and the Annapurnas! At 4:30 in the morning,wearing our headlamps and woolies, we climbed another 2,000 feet to Poon Hill for one of the most spectacular sunrise viewpoint in all of the Himalayan Range.

A steep descent, a steep ascent, and we arrived in beautiful Chhomrong, located on the lap of the Annapurna massif. We laid in bed that night with the moon shining on Machhapuchhre. We cracked open the window and breathed the frosty air. I declared that it just might be as close to heaven as we will ever get. The stars were floating just a fingertip away. Little did I know that Chhomrong was a turning point, literally and figuratively, for trekkers. This was the last village that supplies and any sort of luxury items (like toilet paper) could be purchased. The rest of the journey would pass by a few tea houses only no more villages with inhabitants, livestock, mule trains etc. The trail was too steep and treacherous; conditions are too harsh to travel/ live at the higher elevations. 2/3 of trekkers exited this section of the trail to loop to the lower elevations. In two weeks we viewed more waterfalls than the year spent hiking to the 100 on the CMC Waterfall Challenge. The Nepalese don’t bother to name any of them as there are so many. Most of the peaks aren’t named either; if they aren’t snow covered year round they are not “worthy” of a name. It was difficult for our guide to believe that Bill and I lived in the oldest mountain range in the world with such “low” peaks, and yet here we were in the youngest mountain range, and it contained 8 of the globe’s highest peaks. As the vegetation disappeared, our solitude in the wilderness became more obvious. We passed makeshift shrines built to honor individuals who perished in avalanches. Twice, helicopters churned through the canyon to attempt a rescue at ABC. Our attention remained riveted on the views of majestic Machhapuchhre. It is the one virginal mountain in the Himalayan range; the Nepalese government refuses to allow climbing on it. At 13,000 feet elevation, sleeping soundly became difficult. Besides the thinner air, it was cold. I tucked my batteries in my sleeping bag at night. I would have traded Bill for a pair of yak wool slippers. Our laundered clothes wouldn’t dry. The thought of taking our clothes off, much less having a cold shower, kept us in the same apparel.

We decided against stopping at Machhapuchhre Base Camp (MBC) for the night and trekked another 2 ½ hours to ABC. The trail between MBC and ABC is a strenuous path that leads right into the frozen heart of the Annapurna range. This is an unparalleled mountain experience with unparalleled views. We arrived at Base Camp just before the fog rolled in shrouding anything more than a foot in front of us. As luck would have it, the Poles arrived at our lodge within a half hour. We spent the evening eating bowls of garlic soup (supposedly good for altitude sickness; we didn’t experience any, so perhaps the soup works!) and eating some of the best pizza we have ever eaten.

Before dawn we trundled out for a position to watch as dawn seared the tips of the frozen peaks. I accidentally dropped my headlamp. There was a chorus of gasps as we listened to it clatter hundreds of feet down the mountain. I took a step back from edge, and firmly planted my feet. Red and gold commenced to etch across the amphitheater of rock and ice. The staggering scale of the mountains was all but overwhelming. Lost in our thoughts, we silently hung a prayer flag, and then slowly, savoring the moment, turned toward lower elevation.

First posted on CMC (CarolinaMountainClub.org) eNews March 2013 by Ann H

Annapurna Base Camp Trek

Again (this is my second trip with Himalayan Glacier) I had an amazing experience with Himalayan Glacier. Sundar is a great guide and I enjoyed the flexibility in my trip. Chandra was able to go ahead in the morning to find a good place to stay. The guesthouses and hotels chosen were all comfortable and the food was always fresh and good. The communication was great, and I was well taken care of. Pick ups, flights etc, where always on time. Also I was lucky to have met so many other inspiring people on the track which was a bonus. The highlight of the trip was playing volleyball at 4130m with the guides and porters. I enjoy the Himalayas a lot and feel at ease when I am in the mountains. Thank you for making my trip special, hope to see you again soon

Bigi Cameron with Guide
Ms.Bigi Cameron with Guide

 

Playing Volleyball on the way to ABC
Playing Volleyball on the way to ABC

 

@ Annapurna Base Camp
@ Annapurna Base Camp

Bigi Cameron
Germany