Trekking the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal
It’s the beginning that’s worst, then the middle, then the end. But in the end, it’s the end that’s the worst. Samuel Beckett
Nepal – People and the nature
The Nepali people are compassionate, friendly and genuine and a smile is never far away. Having you as a visitor enjoying the beauty of the nature is making them proud.
Trekking in Nepal
An advantage coming to Nepal are the choices of trekking routes. Moreover make a choice of area depending how hard and technical trek you want. As well as what your wallet allows because the price of the entry permits differs between the trekking routes.
While in Kathmandu or Pokhara go to the Tourism Board Office and apply for a TIMS card and area permit. Depending where you are going to trek find prices and information on the link.
Tea House – Your accommodation on the mountain
Have a dreamy nights sleep at one of the many tea houses. A wooden floor, a naked lamp in the ceiling, a gleep in the window making the curtains wave and sinking through the mattress reaching the bottom is what you can experience at some tea houses.
Pay a low price as 100-500 R / 1-5 $ per night, sometimes even for free if you eat on the restaurant. Mostly I paid 100 R for a room and made a deal to eat at the tea house. Furthermore, guests tend to gather around the fire in the dining hall making it an oppertunity to socialise. Rather than stepping into the sleeping bag in the room without a heater.
The Nepali food is tasteful and generous. Dal Bat is the national main dish with rice, lentil soup and vegetables, have a refill and eat as much as you can.
Worth to mention, the menu price are getting higher further up the mountain. But never the less still cheap. A moderate spending on around 10-15 dollars per day.
Where to start trekking on Annapurna Circuit Trek?
Buses are going from Kathmandu and Pokhara to the start of the trek in Besisahar. The bus price going to Besisahar can get as cheap as 400R (year 2018). Ask around at the travel shops for the best prie. The buses are going from the tourist bus station in Pokhara and Kathmandu and takes around 5-6 hours. I call the buses the “popcorn buses” because you need to hold on while popping around on the bumpy roads. Worth mentioning is that some trekkers choose to go with a jeep from Besisahar a couple of villages up the mountain to save some time.
Help – Mountain Sickness
Decreasing amount of oxygen on high altitude will effect your body and mind. Be aware of the altitude sickness and listen to your body. Headache, nausea and fatigue are common symptoms of Acute Montain Sickness (AMS). Listen to your body and descend to lower altitude if the problem persists. On acute situations ask for help assisting you down the mountain with a jeep, helicopter transport or even a donkey. Flying with a helicopter is fun but only when you voluenteer doing so. If you want to know more, read about “Acute Mountain Sickness – AMS”.
Attend to a AMS course in Manang at the Clinic/Hospital starting daily at 3 o’clock. A doctor specialized in high altitude sickness giving the course for free.
To prevent AMS eat food high on carbohydrates as bread, rice, pasta, beans and potatoes. According to the sherpa’s they suggest garlic soup and to drink plenty of fluids. Diamox is a water pill to prevent and reduce the symptoms of altitude sickness.
Trekking alone, is it a good idea?
Annapurna Circuit Trek is a social mountain. At the tea houses and on the path you meet a lot of cool and social trekkers from all over the world. After a couple of days the solo trek could turn into a group doing the trek together. To have company while trekking the pass on 5500 m is a wise idea if something is going wrong. Both men and women are trekking alone and as to my experience nothing but great things happenend.
What is the worst about trekking the Annapurna Circuit Trek?
When you are in the need to go, you will think twice before running to the outside floor levelled “dry toilet”. It is cold, smelly, you need to crouch and there is no toilet paper so bring your own. But hey, the bears shit in the forest and so can we.
There are showers even on higher altitude, but naked and sometimes only with cold water is not appealing. An alternative is to baby-whipe yourself instead of showering, especially on altitude over 3000 m. Many times the shower is combined with the toilet and it makes it even less attractive. The shower is heated with electricity, solar och gas. I found the gas showers best in test.
The heat and the wind in Jomsom/Kagbeni is rough. The feeling is like walking in a desert storm. A scarf or bandana with a pair of sunglassas will help you persevere.
If you are scared of hights, Annapurna mountain is a great place to train and get resilient.
What is the best about trekking the Annapurna Circuit Trek?
The scenic mountain view giving the opportunity to a photo moment every 500 m. As well as having a dialogue with yourself and let the mind wander, sort out things and contemplate.
*Kids, don’t read this. Marijuana is growing in the wild in Nepal. On the hard map there are the places were it grows (it is true).
Feeling joyous on 5500 m on the top of the mountain pass. Giving hugs and congratulating your trekking friends is a true and wonderful moment.
What will trekkers miss about the Annapurna mountain?
Unexpected happenings. As the english guy who was proposed getting married to the farmers 15 year old daughter. The crossaint and coffee on the german bakery shop. The laughter around the fire in the tea house. The camraderie with people becoming your friends. The endless mountain scenary. The eagles and the musk deers. Early morning ray of sunshine. The short break looking behind you understanding what magnificent climb you just done. The mission and simplicity of doing trekking every day and reaching a goal. Having time for your self. The Neapli people. The food. The nature.
Annapurna Circuit Trek – Day by day
Day 1 – 19 March 2018
Besisahar – Bahundanda 13 km
Altitude: 800m – 1310m
Path: Hiking on the road, last part trekking before Bahundanda is steep and tough, passing small villages, nice hike with great scenary
Hotel: Early morning breakfast at Hotel Puspanjali Guesthouse and restaurant in Besisahar with friendly staff, good food and comfy bed (price 300 rupees).
Notes: In Bahundanda there is a hotel name North Pole and the owner was ruud and pushy and I decided to leave the hotel, packed my things and paid 200 Rupees. This was the first time in my life I change accommodation and I was really happy I did.
Day 2 – 20 March
Bahundanda – Tal, 14 km
Path: Techniqal trail while hiking on the hill side, nice bridges over the river, good leg training, passing small villages, drinking water along the way. Walked on the road instead of trail with horse caravans, jeeps and tractors passing by. The road is carved out of the mountain and with a vertical steep into a gorge.
Hotel: Peaceful Guesthouse, hard mattress, nice flower garden, a social dining hall and wifi in the room.
Notes: In the village Tal there are many hotels and a good strategy is to look on at least a couple of them for the best pick. For example, feel the thickness of mattress, check the function of the wifi, control the hot water in the shower, look for social areas, other tourists to chat with, a friendly owner and the price for room.
The city Tal is located on a flatbed in a mountain gorge with a river passing by and the river banks are filled with sand. With beautiful and majestic waterfalls as well as hot springs.
Day 3 – 21 March
Tal – Chame, 21 km
Altitude: 1720 m
Path: Great weather and the morning sun shining on the mountain tops. Wearing the dune jacket while it was a bit nippy. It was an advanced trekk on the mountain side and some hills were tough to climb.
Hotel: Kangla Inn Hotel close to Chame, very fresh with a comfy bed, price 100 R, food getting a bit more expensive.
Notes: Buying clothes in Chame to prepare for the cold at higher altitude.
Day 4 – 22 March
Chame – Lower Pisang, 15km
Altitude: 3197 m
Time: 8:00- 15:00
Path: Easy and high speed trekking on the road instead of the alternative path, passing a deep mountain gorge.
Notes: Met Labka from Kathmandu, 59 years old with 27 years experience as a guide and porter. Never went to school and self learned in English. Positive and smiling, always seems to be happy. He carries a bag about 20 kilo heavy.
In a simple wooden coffee shop in Lower Pisang I met an elder local lady. She might be over 90 years of age walking with a cruch. She could not speak any English but we tried to communicate with sign language. With some help from the shop owner I was told she lived in the village Upper Pistang her whole life and worked as a farmer. She had pain in her knee and the local doctor giving her medicin. I was impressed she was walking between the villages because Upper Pistang is at a higher altitude and many steps on the way. The owner of the cafe seemed to be from Tibet according to the flag hanging on the wall. She has a husband and a daughter 9 years of age studying on a border school and living in Kathmandu.
Hotel: Maya hotel. Gas shower, wifi, dining hall with fire place, a friendly owner. A group of 15 Israeli trekkers also living at the hotel.
Day 5 – 23 March
Lower Pisang – Manang, 14 km
Altitude: 3519 m
Notes: Easy trekk from Pisang to Manang. Mostly on the road with a tremendous view over the mountain and the river.
Hotel: Himalayan Singi, price 300R. Great view over city of Manang
Notes: Went to a meeting about high altitude sickness at the clinic in Manang beginning daily at 3 o’clock.
Day 6 – 24 March
Manang – Gunsang – 8 km
Notes: Turned around in Gunsang back to Manang though I had a headache. Instead I spent a second day in Manang to acclamatize. Getting my strengts back by drinking water, sleeping and going to a German bakery.
If you are lucky you can see a group of musk deers between the villages Manang to Gunsang. It is a new species in Manang and classified as endangered. The face and back legs looking like the Kangeroo.
Hotel: Tilicho hotel, cosy and social areas with a beautiful view and comfortable sofa’s. Hotel:
Day 7 – 25 March
Manang – Yak Kharka, 10km
Altitude: 4010 m
Notes: The path from Manang up to Gunsang is steep but with a beautiful view. In the evening it began snowing and the locals saying that the pass is knee deep with snow. Four trekkers became sick of the high altitude, because of bad weather conditions the helicopter could not lift.
Patricia from the UK is 79 years old and done the Annapurna Circuit Trek six times. She is doing the trekking together with her porter.
Hotel: Himalaya, trekkers gathering around the cabin stove with tired eyes and red cheeks. A cute and hungry mouse woke me up in the dark trying to get to the cookies.
Day 8 – 26 March
Yak Kharka – Thorung Pedi, 7km
Altitude: 4538 m
Notes: Tough hiking on the steep mountain side to Thorung Pedi. One tea cabin on the way, paid 200 R for a lemon tea. When arriving having a head ache, went sleeping, feeling week, a high altitude tablet made me feel better.
Hotel: Thorong Base Camp Lodge is a hotel with many beds and a large dining hall. On this altitude the water basin is freezing to ice. When going to bed in minus degrees dress warm or chill to the bone. I might prefer a pile of snow before the outdoor toilet.
Day 9 – 27 March
Thorung Pedi – Thorong La Pass – Thorukani, 14 km
Altitude: 5416 m
Notes: Freezing cold in the morning, waking up 5:30 and breakfast at 6 o’clock. The ray of light meaning good weather condition on the top. Nervous about the pass and high altitude sickness, snow depth and falling accidents. The sound of the helicopter bringing out sick or injured hikers. 50 % oxygen level and water in the lungs, hungry and exhausted. After a long climb and slippery mountain side finally reaching the worlds highest navigatable mountain pass at Annapurna Circuit Trek in Nepal, Thorung La Pass 5416 m. The way down to Thorukani was harder then expected because it was slippery in the snow and warm in the sun.
Hotel: Bob Marley Hotel in Thorukani is a cool place with social areas, good music and a hot shower.
Day 10 – 28 March
Thorukani – Kagbeni, 9,4 km
Altitude: 2804 m
Notes: Hiking on asfalt road, very windy at Kali Gandaki Valley, in the afternoon it started to rain heavily.
Hotel: Mustang Gateway – Yak Donalds, great rooms with comfy beds, nice toilet and hot shower, 200 R.
Day 11 – 29 March
Kagbeni – Jomsom – Marpha, Hiking 5,6 km
Notes: Popcorn bus between Kagbeni-Jomsom. Holding the hat on on dirt road to beautiful Marpha from Jomsom. On the dirt road, windy afternoon. Playing pool, bought local and strong apple brandy Shrii Nigiri, 43% Marphak.
Hotel: Neeru Guest House, eating an apple cake baked in heaven, evening power cut, drinking local apple brandy.
Day 12 – 30 March
Marpha – Larjung, 12 km
Time: 09:30 – 14:00
Notes: Changing nature and back into the forest again following the river and the dirt road.
Hotel: Larjung Lodge, rather pee outside, cold as in Siberia.
Day 13 – 31 March
Larljung – Tutopani
Notes: Eager to feel the heat again ending up taking the bus from Larljung to Tutopani. Road construction making us leave the bus and trek 12 km to Tutopani. World’s best feeling jumping into the hot spring.
Hotel: Daulagiri Lodge. Fruit garden, cool athmosphere at restaurant, warm weather, outside, close to hot spring, 100 Rupees
Day 14 – 1 April
Tatopani – Pokhara
Bus 9 hours, 500R