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Mountains near Thorung La - Annapurna CircuitMountains near Thorung La - Annapurna Circuit

Annapurna Round
Fifteen Days

In autumn of 2010 I ventured out into the Nepali Himalayas, accompanied by my trusty porter-cum-guide Dhan, to attempt one of the classic treks in Nepal - the Annapurna Circuit AKA Annapurna Round.

I opted for a package with Alliance Trek & Expedition costing $650, which included my aforementioned porter-cum-guide; all accommodation and three meals a day whilst trekking; three nights bed and breakfast at Pokhara on completing the trek; permits; plus transport along the way. I'd been advised to just pay for the porter/guide, and pay for everything else as I go . . . but I know what I'm like. I'd be constantly worrying about money along the way and skipping meals to save a few rupees. I did a few sums and didn't think I'd save much that way either, and at least I wouldn't have the stress of worrying I'll run out of cash.

You can read how I got on by clicking the links below.

Getting There, 25th September - Kathmandu to Bhulbhule
Day One, 26th September - Bhulbhule to Jagat
Day Two, 27th September - Jagat to Dharapani
Day Three, 28th September - Dharapani to Chame
Day Four, 29th September - Chame to Pisang
Day Five, 30th September - Pisang to Manang
Day Six, 1st October - Free Day Manang
Day Seven, 2nd October - Manang to Yak Kharka
Day Eight, 3rd October - Yak Kharka to Thorung Phedi
Day Nine, 4th October - Thorung Phedi to Mukinath - Crossing Thorung La
Day Ten, 5th October - Mukinath to Marpha
Day Eleven, 6th October - Marpha to Ghasa
Day Twelve, 7th October - Ghasa to Tatopani
Day Thirteen, 8th October - Tatopani to Ghorepani
Day Fourteen, 9th October - Poon Hill Sunrise then Ghorepani to Hile
Day Fifteen, 10th October - Hile to Nayapul then Pokhara by Bus

Annapurna Trek . . . Finiss!


So now my trek is over - "finiss" as they say in these parts. I'm left with some great memories and 3,000-odd pictures to sort through. It was a wonderful experience with some great highlights, like climbing Thorung La. The scenery along the way was superb, and the sounds of nature were the perfect accompaniment. I feel that I was very lucky with the weather, and think that October is the best month to do the trek, especially for the lone traveller. I can't imagine how crowded it gets in high season, but it sounds far too busy for my liking. I met some lovely people along the way, and the South African group in particular will remain in my memory; such a warm group of friends, I would look forward to bumping into them each day.

The first couple of days were pretty scary for me, or at least parts of them were, and the three days spent walking on the road were not so pleasant. The highs did outweigh the lows though, and I was glad I did the trek. If I did it again I would take longer, and explore more of the regions I walked through. There are some great side trips around the Manang area (which would also aid acclimatisation), and some pretty villages along the way where I wouldn't have minded stopping in. I'd also avoid the road section another time, either by catching a jeep or bus along it, or by using an alternative route (which I'm still convinced exists, despite what Dhan says). I think another time I'd just get a porter - one who is used to carrying bags - and not a guide, to give me more flexibility regarding route and pace.

My packing was pretty much spot on - about the only thing I didn't use was my water-filter bottle, although I did add chlorine to the water occasionally, when I didn't feel 100% confident of the water source. I'm not sure that drinking the local water would work so well for everyone. I think that five months in India - plus possibly getting sick in Kathmandu - made me more tolerant to organisms in the water. About the only thing I would add another time is proper knee supports. I had elasticated tubes, but my knees could have done with a little more help going downhill. The hiking sticks were an absolute must, and I'm definitely going to buy more in Kathmandu.

The trek has certainly given me the taste for more. I'd love to try Everest Base Camp next time - and Langtang trek sounds interesting too. I guess Nepal goes onto my long list of 'countries to return to'. And who knows . . . maybe the next time I go to the Lake District, I might actually get out of the car and walk!

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