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aJaga| c0| FAzja na lajcie 2013, Nepal, Trekking| 8, , ,

Trekking around Manaslu took us only 11 days. We ended march in the village Dharapani – located on the trail leading around the Annapurna massif – much earlier than we had initially planned. Remaining question: What to do next? We could stay in Nepal for some more time, and spend at least one week more in the mountains. We had also yet unused permits – retained after trekking around Dhaulagiri (we just had to do light, almost imperceptible modification of the dates on the TIMS cards and enrich our itinerary with the MarphaBeshisahar episode). There were also good reasons against staying. We did not want to continue trekking around the oh-so-popular Annapurna. Our reserves of stamina were almost empty after an exhausting “run” through the Manaslu Conservation Area. And the most important we had no money with ourselfs, because we gave last rupees to our guide in Samdo… We were able to obtain more money pretty easily (by taking a shared jeep to the nearest ATM in the Besisahar and returning to Dharapani the same day). Therefore, we rejected all the other reasons against going… And that’s how we ended up on the most popular trail in Nepal – Annapurna Circuit.

We did not expect too much from the trekking. we treated the route with a wink, and called days spent on the Annapurna “the rest ones”. Maybe just after a few all-camping, cold and really exhausting treks we lost a point of reference? Perspective of guesthouses with warm shower, eat, which we did not have to carry on our back (Ha. Not really, as we have added a few pounds by habit, just in cause) and simple as a wire trail seemed to us truly idyllic… And that was what we needed!

How was it? Annapurna surprised us positively. Very positively. We expected crowds, touts, tourists, kitsch. We found end-of-season emptiness, silence and space. In mid-December, most guesthouses were already closed for the winter, and on the trail we met relatively few people (but really interesting). We were accompanied by the paramount views and very stable, sunny weather. And although it was getting colder by every day, we strongly recommend to go there just after season!

Practical info

When to go?
While trekking season in Nepal typically lasts from April to May and from October to the end of November, it is definitely worth it to go for the Annapurna before or after the season. In December, the weather usually is stable. It is sunny, although already very cold. You can find a few hikers here all winter, but Thorung La pass in January/February is sometimes impassable (apparently).

Red tape
For the trek we need: TIMS card – Trekkers’ Management Information System ($20) and ACAP – ticket to the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (2000 NPR). Both of these documents can be obtained in one day in Kathmandu Tourist Service Center ( or in Pokhara.

Getting there and back
Trekking can be started as early as in Besisahar (bus from Pokhara 5h – 220 NPR, from Kathmandu 8h – 500 NPR) or take up a jeep (1400-1500 NPR) to Dharapani (much better choice). You can finish after crossing the pass in the village Jomson (going to Pokhara would take all day – bus to Beni – 1400 NPR, then by bus to Pokhara 220 NPR, 5h) or continue walking down to Marpha, Ghasa, Tatopani, or all the way back to Pokhara. The trail goes however mainly by a jeepable gravel road or bypasses it a little forcefully by going the opposite edge of the valley – not really worthwhile.

Tourist Infrastructure
Tourist services on the trail are almost overdeveloped. Hotels grow next to each other (the new ones have appearance like barbie dollhouses). After the season you can rent a room for 100-150 NPR, and in many places it can be absolutely free if we commit to eat at the hotel. Interestingly, in virtually every village you can find a bed with a really hot shower (gas shower). Meal prices are affordable (dal bhat 350-450 NPR, boiled potato 200 NPR). The budget option for breakfast is to do it by yourself (you can bring with you oatmeal, cereal, muesli, nuts and dried fruit) and with cooking facilities we save on hot beverages too.

In the villages we passed on the way there are many small shops, tea houses and local eateries. Everywhere you can buy: instant noodels, tuna in a can, cookies and other sweets, and in many places also selroti bread baked with semolina. In Chame, the largest village on the trail, you can buy almost anything, and the offered product range is much greater than in Besisahar.

There is no ATM on the entire route, the last one is in Besisahar. In case of emergency we can use cash advance service at the bank in Chame (with hefty commission – 10%) or in the Hotel Yeti in Manang (even higher fees). In Jomson there should be a bank and apparently even working ATM (we weren’t looking for it).

Camping on such a well prepared, tourist trail is rather an excess of form over substance. There are just a few good camping places on the trail (away from human eyes, with access to drinking water). The tent can be used if You want to do the trekking on a shoestring in peak season – for example, using guesthouses’ gardens (access to water, showers, toilets). Although we think that if you do not plan to explore areas off the beaten track it’s better not to take camping equipment.

Gas cartridges and fuel for petrol stoves can be obtained in Besisahar and several other villages on the trail along the way (eg. in Manang you can buy cartridges and kerosene).

Annapurna belongs to the arid regions, there is water shortage on the trail (it is only available in the villages and several streams crossing route), so you should always have an emergency supply of it – at least a liter – with you. On the way you can use the safe drinking water stations (40-50 NPR for 1 liter), however the majority of them was already closed in December. We drank untreated water, but we do not encourage anyone to take example from us. Better to have water purification tablet, a mechanical filter or SteriPEN.

We can recommend the Annapurna Circuit trekking to anyone, regardless of the scale of his previous mountain experience. The navigation is simple and the route is very well marked (with all of the side trails). Eastern part of the route to the east leads by jeepable gravel road (from Besisahar to Manang, form Chame only motorcycles ply the way because the car bridges haven’t been built yet) The western side is entirely passable by bus (from Mukinath to Beni) so you can easily come back to civilization safely in case of emergency. The only possible danger during trekking is the AMS and getting to higher attitudes (carry a supply of Diuramid). The trail climbs gradually, which should ensure that everyone, regardless of its physical predispositions will obtain rather good acclimatization. And although it is the highest tourist trail in the Himalayas, Thorung La pass (5416 m) isn’t difficult. (We can say that half of the trails in our Polish Tatras are harder.)

How to plan a trekking, day by day? The possibilities and options are many. Along the way, you can take a few side trips into the surrounding valleys: to the PisangPeak Base Camp or Tilichio Lake. We opted for a shorter 7-day variant. We especially recommend side trail to the Ice Lake – hence the good weather we will see the best panorama of the surrounding mountains, including the entire range of Annapurna. Detailed information about the route planning can be found in many places on the internet. We can definitely recommend this description:

Track can be downloaded as KML or GPX.