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The classic trek in the Annapurna region is the Annapurna Circuit. The complete circuit has only been possible since the mid 1980’s when the Manang area was officially opened up to non-Nepali visitors. For an all round experience of the scenery and cultures of Nepal this trek has a lot to offer. Starting in the lush Marshyangdi valley, that separates the Annapurna range from that of Manashlu,the scenery is composed of luch cultivated fields with dense forests on either side. In the winter season, orange trees are laden with fruit and fragment frangipani blossoms cast their scent along the trails. As you travel higher the valley becomes more rugged until the villages and forests finally give way to the arid hills of Manang. The thorong La pass, at 5416 meters, marks the high point of the trek after which the trail joins the Kali Gandaki river that flows through the deepest gorge on earth.
This is a challenging trek that is not without some risks. The crossing of Thorong La can be dangerous at times, especially during unexpected snowfall so potential trekkers must make sure that they are well prepared and equipped for all eventualities. The trek can be completed in a minimum of 16 days, starting in Kathmandu and finishing in Pokhara. If a few extra days are allowed for it is then possible to enjoy several of the possible side trips and add immeasurably to the experience.
Most trekkers start the trek by taking the bus from Kathmandu to Besisahar. These days the journey is accomplished in around five or 6 hours which allows a few hours trekking on the first day. The trail from Besisahar follows the partly constructed road as far as the small market town of Kuldi. This road can be avoided by crossing the river below Besisahar and trekking along the east bank of the river rejoining the main trail at Bulbule.
The first few days of the trek follow the Marshyangdi through scattered farming communities inhabited by a mixture predominantly composed of Gurungs but with a sizable number of Brahmin communities. The crops range from rice and wheat at the lower elevations to corn, millet and barely as the altitude increases. Above the valley floor the hills are cloaked in forest with the occasional clearing indicating human settlements. Higher still, the snowy peaks of the Annapurna and Manashlu ranges dominate the skyline. A feature of this section of the trek is the number of high water falls that cascade down into the main river. The valley rises slowly so altitude sickness is rarely a problem at this stage.
After four days on the trail the river, which has been flowing from the north changes its course and flows from the west. At this point the landscape changes with steep rocky gorges on each side and large stands of pine making up the forest cover. By the time the district headquarter of Chame has been passed the hills are becoming more and more barren and the people predominantly Manangba. Look for a number of ancient temples, some of which represent the pre- Buddhist,Bon religion.
The tree line is reached a few hours before arriving at Manang where a compulsory rest day should be taken for acclimatization to the increasing altitude. There are a number of possible side trips from Manang that can be taken on the acclimatization day. Perhaps the most spectacular is to the west, across the river and up to the Gangapurna glacier with its deep blue lake formed by the melting glacial ice. The Himalayan Rescue Association clinic is located in Manang village and holds afternoon awareness lectures for trekkers warning of the dangers of AMS. These lectures are well worth attending.
From Manang, the trail passes through high alpine pastures until the small cluster of teahouses at Thorong Phedi is reached. An early morning start from here will allow you to reach Thorong La bby mid morning and then start the descent across the scree slope
To Muktinath before the afternoon cloud sweeps in. This whole section has no permanent settlements and shelter is hard to find. For safety , trekkers should never travel alone this section.
Muktinath , a famed pilgrims site for both Buddhists and Hindus, is a first major settlement reached after the crossing of Thorong La. Be sure to visit the temples here and especially look for the eternal flame, fuelled by natural gas, which can be found in the small Buddhist temple below the main shrine.
From Muktinath the views to the west are now of the Dhaulagiri range while to the north can be seen the arid hills of upper Mustang. The trail leads down through villages inhabited by people of Tibetan stock until it reaches the banks of the Kali Gandaki River, the home of the Thakali people, A further four days trekking down through this , the deepest valley on earth , brings you to the road head at Beni fro where busses to Pokhara can be found. Settlements of particulars interest below Muktinath are Jomsom with its Airport, a possible exit point to Pokhara, Marpha with its fascinating medieval architecture designed to ward off the fierce winds that blow daily up the gorge and Tatopani with its hot springs.
Annapurna Circuit trek goes along the Marshyangdi River, with great view of Manashlu and Himal Chuli view. The highest point of the trek is Thorung La pass 5414mhigh. Due to the difficulties of crossing the pass, the circuit is usually walked in an anti-clockwise. Trekking clockwise the longer ascent and shorter descent is considered a hard day to manage in one day.
After crossing the Throng La 5416m the trail follows Kali Gandaki valley- the world's deepest gorge passes between the giant Annapurna and Dhaulagiri mountains. Once you arrive in Tatopani you will be enjoy the Natural hot Spring and hike to Ghorepani, the best view point.
Day 1 :: Drive Kathmandu to Bhulbule via Besi Shahar (840m): . LD
Day 2 :: Trek to Dharapani (1881m): BLD
Day 3 :: Trek to Chame (2725m): . BLD
Day 4 :: Trek to Pisang (3100m): . BLD
Day 5 :: Trek to Manang (3540m): BLD
Day 6 :: Acclimatization day at Manang: This is a acclimatization day. BLD
Day 7 :: Trek to Yak kharka (4090m): . BLD
Day 8 :: Trek to Throung Phedi(4420m): BLD
Day 9 :: Throung - la Pass 5416m, then trek to Muktinath 3800m): BLD
Day 10 : Trek to Marpha (2670m), BLD
Day 11: Trek to Kalopani (2480m) BLD
Day 12: Trek to Tatopani (1219m). BLD
Day 13 : Breakfast at Local guest house and drive to Beni by local regular jeep and drive back to Pokhar by our car/ vam from Pokhara. You can enjoy the lake with mountain views on background. Trip ends in Pokhara. BL.
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