trekking in nepal tours in nepal rafting in nepal biking in nepal jungle safari in nepal adventure in nepal cheap flight to nepal hotels in nepal

An Adventure of
a Lifetime - a Journey in which you discover that the Himalayan peaks are a symbol that you, on your own, are capable
of great things...

more topics...
other destinations...
bhutan information
tibet information
quick links...

Journey of the Annapurna Circuit

My friend, Dan, and I had travelled from Australia to do the three-week AnnapurnaCircuit. We set off from Kathmandu with our porter, Suresh, on 17 September - post-monsoon season is a great time for trekking, with the rain bringing many lush crops, new-born animals and generally clear weather and views. It's also not too busy on the track (October-November is the peak season).

Day 1 - Depart Kathmandu.
Missed the 8am bus to Besi Sahar where the trek starts, tried to catch up to it in the taxi, failed, and had to get another bus to Dumre, then switch to a smaller bus to Besi Sahar which was so full we had to sit on the roof (until it poured with rain). Day 1 ended in a guest house in Besi Sahar, not having trekked anywhere. Those who didn't miss the bus would have done 3 hours trekking already and be sitting in Bhulbule by now…

Day 1 (take two) - Besi Sahar to Ngadi
Set off bright and early (after enjoying great views of white peaks from our guest house), had lunch in Bhulbule where we crossed our first suspension bridge (great excitement!), before making it to Ngadi by about 3pm for our first village guest house experience. That is, a tiny room with two beds above the family's 2-room home. Very friendly family and locals and we loved sitting on their front porch drinking tea and watching their kids playing and the local cows wandering up the main street.

Day 2 - Ngadi to Syange
Beautiful walk through humid rice fields - I took too many photos. But I fared better than Dan, who had forgotten to bring a hat and was slowly getting sun stroke in the warm weather. When it was time to stop walking we found ourselves in Syange village. The sparse guest houses and the not-so-attractive village is a good reason to keep walking if you can. Our English friend, Ros, would agree after suddenly throwing up out her window in the middle of the night after some very dodgy potato curry for dinner!

Day 3 - Syange to Tal
Steep walk today, but the waterfalls and suspension bridges over the torrential Marsyandi River rewarded us for our hard work. Suresh maintained that the day's walk was not steep, so Dan and I developed some trekking lingo for Suresh: "Nepali-flat" (read "steep") and "Australian-flat" (read "downhill/flat"). Suresh then taught us some handy Nepali words, such as pistare, pistare (slowly, slowly) and moto manche (fat man - that was Dan). Tal was a bit of a change of scenery - the village was on a plane by a section of the river that resembled a lake (tal means "lake").

Day 4 - Tal to Danaqu
Some more "Nepali-flat" sections on this day, and my stamina started to fade a bit. But we were rewarded by a lovely guesthouse in Danaqu when we stopped at 2pm (apple trees and a cute baby in the sunny courtyard, and even a hot shower). Warm apple pie for dessert topped off our enjoyment of this place.

Day 5 - Danaqu to Chame
Another "Nepali-flat" day, and the scenery was becoming more alpine, with fewer rice paddies and more apple and fir trees. We stopped off in Chame (altitude 2630m) - our first really cold night. There was a bit more action (and shopping) in Chame, so we stocked up on trail mix and chocolate ready for the prices to go up with the altitude in the following days.

Day 6 - Chame to Pisang
As we trekked further north the people become more Tibetan in ancestry, and Buddhism become the main local religion. We arrived in Pisang (3190m), with a Buddhist temple overlooking the pretty alpine village. These villages had ever-longer rows of prayer wheels, which we always tried to spin on arrival (which could take ages). First hint of altitude here, as Dan started to get the headaches of altitude sickness.

Day 7 - Pisang to Braga (Manang)
Amazing scenery after Pisang as we passed a black skateboard ramp mountain, and some serious white peaks. Loved watching the villagers harvest their crops - my favourite was the pink-flowered champa (buckwheat) which grew darker red as it was harvested. It looked like back-breaking work beating the grain off the harvested and dried bundles. Braga (3475m) was about 30 minutes before our designated rest day of Manang and we stopped there because a brand new guest lodge caught our eye and the views were spectacular. Our friends walked up to the Buddhist temple overlooking Braga, but Dan and I stayed in our room trying to ward off the altitude-induced headache that had hit us.

Day 8 - Manang (rest day)
It was a relief to only walk 30 minutes up the road to Manang (3500m) and find ourselves another nice lodge with amazing views - white peaks towering all along the Manang valley. To assist our bodies to acclimatise we all trekked up a steep track for 45 minutes to a stunning lookout beside a glacier and over-looking a turquoise lake. Couldn't breathe as I hauled myself up the track with my new walking stick (yes, I felt like an old woman). At altitude it's hard to get a good night's sleep, so the next day I didn't feel any younger and was happy to have had a rest day.

Day 9 - Manang to Letdar
Running out of puff very quickly now, so it was a steep struggle up the path towards Yak Kharka, where we stopped for lunch. This was a nice spot - really just two guest lodges - but after lunch we kept going the extra 45 minutes to the next stop-off, Letdar (4250m). Very bleak when we arrived there and I wished we had stayed the night at Yak Kharka instead. Letdar was freezing cold and I put on every item of clothing I had and went out to meet the local yaks (there were no villagers to meet up this high). One of the other trekkers we had met had already decided to go back to Manang due to altitude sickness, but we were managing despite our throbbing headaches.

Day 10 - Letdar to Thorung Phedi
Headed up the path towards the last night's destination before "the big day" - the Thorung La Pass. Everyone was following the up-path, but Dan and I happily followed some porters along a down-path and took the opportunity for some "Australia-flat" walking. Were completely exhausted and breathless even on a downhill stretch, and really battled up the last bit to Thorung Phedi (4420m) - really just two hotels, the third hotel and hydro power station having recently washed away in the monsoon. Once again to try and acclimatise to the altitude we hiked up to the High Camp, which was just a lodge about 45 minutes walk (read, stagger) up the STEEP incline. This was the walk we were going to have to do the next morning at 4am in the dark on our way up to the pass, and it was a bleak world up there with just rocks and a solitary donkey train to keep us company. Slid back down the slope to our lodge to ready ourselves for the next morning's exertions.

Day 11 - Thorung Phedi to Thorung La Pass to Muktinath
This was it - the big day. Rose at the crazy hour of 3.30am (other trekkers thought this was crazy too, but we were aiming to avoid the fierce wind on the way down). At 4.15am about 8 of us followed one of the porters in single file (with torches) up the path to the High Camp. Sunrise illuminating the first huge white peaks, we continued our walk up the frozen path and had a cup of tea (worth the exorbitant price) at a teahouse along the way. The final few hours walking to the Pass were damn hard (I could barely breathe, and a few people were vomiting as they reached the higher altitudes), but we were elated on reaching the coveted location - Thorung La Pass (5416m). After proud group photos with every Tibetan prayer flag and mound of rocks, we commenced the 1600m drop to Muktinath (3500m). The way down was almost as hard as the way up, however, and after 6 hours sliding down the gravel slopes our knees were starting to fail. Views of the arid Mustang mountains in the distance were stunning, as was the feeling of finally walking on flat ground as we approached Muktinath, a sacred Hindu site (passing lots of Indians making the pilgrimage to the temple).

Day 12 - Muktinath to Kagbeni
A very windy trek down to the old stone village of Kagbeni (2810m), but only 2 hours, thankfully. Enjoyed a stroll around the medieval village and the views up the river towards the arid Mustang region were amazing (like looking towards the end of the earth). The wind of Kagbeni made for a good washing day and, apart from clean clothes, we also enjoyed the start of the culinary delights of this side of the trek (pizza and chocolate cake to add to the usual chapati/fried potatoes/dahl bat trekking diet).

Day 13 - Kagbeni to Marpha
Up early to avoid the wind to walk the one hour to Jomsom, an unattractive town, but our first taste of civilisation. This is the largest town on the trek and has a busy airport where many people start or finish their treks. Enjoyed a large meal of cakes, croissants and other foods we had missed during the past 2 weeks, changed some money, and then continued on to Marpha (2665m), the culinary capital of the trek and a lovely village. Our lodge there had a sunny courtyard with a small lawn - yes, grass! - and some comfy couches. In the spirit of such luxury some of our group got heavily into the local apple brandy and there were some horror stories the next morning of Dan's night by the toilet bowl!

Day 14 - Marpha to Kalopani
The path on this side of Jomsom was much busier with the increased number of trekkers, and there were so many donkey trains that it was sometimes a real traffic jam. Learnt quickly to stand on the inside of the track to let the donkeys pass, so as not to get knocked into the river below. The flora had changed from arid mountains to green English-style forest, with the added bonus of abundant marijuana plants. My German friend got very excited and by the end of the day had stuffed my day pack full of the buds (can't remember Kalopani…)!

Day 15 - Kalopani to Tatopani
Body starting to suffer, after so many days trekking without a rest. An eight hour walk to Tatopani did not aid my recovery. Perhaps it was my weakened physical state, but I was less captivated by the scenery and the village life than on the other side of the Pass. The Tatopani hot springs (steaming natural spa baths beside the river) went some way to reviving my spirits, however.

Day 16 - Tatopani to Sikha
Due to my poor physical state, it was necessary to break the trek up into shorter days so, unlike many others who went on to Ghorapani, I stopped in Sikha after a steep climb. It had been a while since we had had an uphill day and I actually enjoyed it - you can get sick of going down hill.

Day 17 - Sikha to Ghorapani
Happy to see some more tropical scenery again - rice paddies and banana plants in the steep valleys. This was still a busy path, though, and there were loads of guest lodges to choose from. Above Ghorapani was Pun Hill, the site of most postcards of the Annapurna peaks and a must-see view, I was told. So I prepared to rise early to walk up to Pun Hill before breakfast.

Day 18 - Ghorapani to Ulleri
Up at 4.30am to climb up to Pun Hill (3210m) in anticipation of some amazing views. But unlike our previous luck with sunny skies at the Pass, we reached to peak to see clouds all around and only the odd glimpse of a white peak behind the mist. So straight back down for breakfast - and to buy a postcard of Pun Hill (friends on the trek went up Pun Hill the next day and it was totally clear, so I guess it's just a lottery). After breakfast it was a tough walk down some neverending stone steps to Ulleri, where we paused for our last night of the trek (and apple brandy again, to celebrate).

Day 19 - Ulleri to Naya Pul
Relieved that this was the last day of walking, but would miss the relaxed life of the mountain villages and the simplicity of life there. Another down hill, knee-breaking walk to Naya Pul and then a final taxi ride to Pokhara. What a shock to return to the busy tourist shops and comparative luxury of the Pokhara hotels. But I was happy to recover from the trek and eat until I put all my lost kilos back on, sitting by the beautiful lake.

If I did it all again, what would I do differently?

(a) Less luggage! Smaller rucksack! Ideally I would pack a smaller bag of just 8kg or so and carry the whole lot round the circuit myself. I think the porter was a luxury that I afforded but could have done without (our's cost US$10 per day which we shared and you can get cheaper). If I had struggled at the higher altitudes I could have rented a porter at that point for just a day or two. But for those who want to take it easy or who aren't too fit, a porter would be a good idea - it's personal choice.

(b) Go slower. We took 19 days to do the circuit and it nearly killed me. If you can spare around 25 days I think that would be ideal. Extra rest days in villages like Kagbeni, Marpha or Tatopani allow you to get into village life a bit more (as well as letting your legs recover a bit).

By: Suzanne Brown

To contribute information or become a sponsor, please contact us.

related topics
Trekking in Nepal
Hotels in Nepal
Tours in Nepal
Nepal Cheap Flight Tickets

other topics viewed by visitors
Traveler's Guide
Bhutan Information
Nepal Information
Tibet Information

Home   |    Site Map   | Blog  |  Contact Us   |   Press Releases   |   About Us   |   Terms & Conditions   |   Privacy