Unfortunately entrance prices to get into National parks in Nepal have just been revised – And Revised Steeply I may add with Sagarmatha (Everest) and Langtang Tripling from 1000NPR to 3000Npr
Full details on the TAAN site below
The Annapurna Circuit is Still an Excellent Trek - But the time to do it is now, before the road building gets any further up the Marsyangai valley, You will read all sorts of reports about this road building, a lot of people paint it as Much Blacker than it actually is, The road had got as far as Syange when I was there in the spring 2008, It does somewhat spoil the look of the valley, but you won’t hardly notice most of it as the trekking route is on the other side of the valley most of the way. Once above Syange then you are into Awesome Country – But unfortunately this road is due to creep all the way to Manang over the next 4 or 5 years.
There is now a jeep road down the valley of the Kali Gandaki all the way from Muktinath to Beni, again you can avoid most of it by careful route planning, Personally I wouldn’t trek the section between Jomsom and Ghasa as there is little choice here with alternative routes –– However more Good News is that there is No plan to build a road from Tatopani over Poon Hill to Nayapool – So that at least is one part of this Excellent trek that Will remain untouched !!
So hence my advice – Do it Sooner rather than Later !!
I would tackle Trekking AC as follows
Start your trek at Bhulbhule (The road continues up the left hand side of the valley and you take the old trekking route up the right side) – Walk across the suspension foot bridge and spend you first night at the small lodge my the waterfall about 20 minutes trekking from the road-head
The next days trekking is up to Bahudanda (Short day but uphill so if you have the time why kill yourself !!) –
You then rejoin the road ½ way through your next day at Syange and have to walk along it – I have heard that there still isn’t much traffic on it as there is still gaps in the construction but it does continue until above Tal.
Then after Pisang you are into pristine mountain country and you will love it
After crossing Thorung La don’t stay at Muktinath, 20 minutes further on is the often overlooked village of Jharkot – a real treat – see my Nepal travelogue of the same name on the link below ;-)
Don’t miss Kagbeni, Avoid Jomsom – Maybe take a bus / jeep down to Ghasa from Jomsom where you can leave the road and trek down the opposite side of the valley (Old trekking route on the left) until Dana – Then you have ½ hours trekking on the road to Tatopani.
After Tatopani no more roads as you head up and over Poon Hill – Spend the morning in Tatopani and enjoy the hot springs when they are at the cleanest and quietest and split the long uphill day to Poon Hill (Ghoropani) into two.
Spend your last night at Birithanti, less than an hours trek from the road-head at Naya Pul and a real gem of a village.
The next day walk to Naya Pul, catch a local bus and you should be back in Pokhara in time for lunch ;-)
2011 Transportation Update
There is now only a local bus to from Kathmandu to Bhulebhule, Personally I would be inclined not to use this as it will be very slow and by the time you have either gone to the bus station the day before to get your tickets or paid an agent commission to get them for you, paid for a taxi from Thamel to the bus station it will work out a lot cheaper to get a Pokhara tourist bus to Dumre and change there for the local bus to Bhulebhule.
When you arrive in Dumre, Ignore all the minibus / taxi touts that will inform you that there isn’t a local bus to Bhulebhule, walk to the Y junction in the middle of Dumre main Street and there you will pick up local busses both from Kathmandu and Pokhara.
However – Things can change Quickly in Nepal so it will still be worthwhile making enquiries to see if the direct tourist bus has be re-established
As the road building progresses a New Annapurna Trekking Trail is being established in an attempt to preserver the Annapurna Circuit as a worthwhile “Wilderness” trek – Details of these alternative trails can be found in the link below
The trick is, 1st to buy a good map, then you can see that where the road goes down one side of the valley, often there is a path on the opposite side.
So, What I tend to do is ask at the lodges that I stay in, I have a chat with the lodge owner after studying the map and roughly planning where I am aiming for that night and say that I want to avoid the road and is it possible to go via “A” – “B” and “C” Usually the answer is yes, however sometimes it is no because there has been a landslide or the past is no longer passable.
Traffic as far as Jomsom (From Muktinath) shouldn’t be a problem, if it is you can cross the suspension bridge at Ekle Bhatti and trek into Jomsom on the old route. For another example I trekked the old route from Ghasa to Kopchapaini last spring.
One thing to be aware of is that if you are using a porter, they will always prefer trekking on the road as it has been graded, So you can have a bit of a battle on your hands convincing them to go the way you want to – But if you are pleasant but Firm you will get your way !!
There is now also a useful guide for avoiding the new roads on AC – The link is below
Personally I think that it is always better to keep the Guide and your own trekking food and accommodation expenses separate.
In my opinion these “packages” can lead to greed, as trekkers end up ordering much more food that they can ever eat because they think that it has already been paid for, where as the reality is that the more that they eat / waste, the less wages that are left for their Guide
Typically your own costs will work out at around $25 per day, This includes your food, accommodation, snacks and even the occasional beer / fizzy drink and bar of chocolate – . But again Not your airfare or park entrance.
You could get away with less than $20 per day but this would mean drinking only water / tea and having a repetitive diet and no treats !!
I have used the same agent in Kathmandu for my trekking for the past 18 years / 9 trips to Nepal and his staff prices are as follows
The professional trekking guide with government license holder cost US$25.00 per day.
The strong Porter cost US$15 per day
The Porter/Guide cost US$20.00 per day
Above cost includes insurance, food, accommodation, salary.
Above cost does not includes transportation by air / surface, tip, guest insurance
The Typically quoted "Package" price is around $55 per person for an all Inclusive price including guide and your own food and accommodation (But usually only tea or coffee 3 times a day with your meals and No fizzy drinks, beer or snacks). So there isn’t a great deal of difference in the price of the two, However by Not taking the “Package” it means that you can control the lodges that you stay in and both the times you eat and amount of money that you spend on the food.
Obviously a major consideration to any trek is the availability of Safe Drinking water, In Nepal you have several options of getting it !!
Please try and avoid buying bottled water as this does lead to a Huge Littler problem with all the empty plastic bottles being poorly disposed of !!
On the Annapurna Circuit there is a series of Safe Drinking Water Stations that sell water purified by ozonation.
You can read about the scheme and se where these stations are located on the link below.
On ABC after passing through Chomrong Bottled water has been banned, you can buy Safe Drinking water which has been boiled from lodges.
If you buy it last thing in the evening and pop it into a metal water bottle (After it has cooled a little) then pop this in a sock, you then have a hot water bottle for the night and nice cold drinking-water on hand the next morning.
Also a lot of water is now boiled on solar cooker like in the photo, So Safe Drinking Water at no ecological cost and still providing that essential extra income for those people that really need it !!
Both the above schemes provide an extra income for locally who badly need the money and the AC of Safe Drinking Water Stations also help fund ACAP
Last I heard that you can buy Safe Drinking water which has been boiled from lodges on EBC and Langtang too
Another option is Lugols Solution of Iodine – This is readily available from chemists in Kathmandu for a few rupees (But bring your own dropper / pipette bottle from home as the ones in comes in leek – Thus making a Big Mess of your pack !!!)
It makes the water taste a bit metallic so you should take something like “Tang” along as well to flavour your water.
Some people now bring their own water filters / Steri-Pens, although I think that this is a great idea, the downside is that by using your own water filtration system you are depriving local people of a much needed income.
Rather than starting AC at the more traditional Besisahar / Bhulbhule catch a jeep as far as you can up the Marsiange valley – This was Syange last I heard – From there it will take about 5 days to reach Manang – One night to acclimatise there (Although some say that if you spend a night in Upper Pisang that this isn’t totally necessary) – Then a night in Letdar, a night in Thorung Phidi, a night in Muktinath (Although I think Jharkot is a better option) and then your final night in Jomsom – So about 10 days to trek.
You can then catch a flight from Jomsom – But if you don’t want to fly you can go by bus / jeep to Beni and catch a big bus from there to Pokhara, this can be done in 24 hours but an overnight in Beni offers a bit more comfort.
Good Luck and Happy Trekking
Potential pitfalls of not getting along with someone on trek include
1) Not having the same understanding of Nepal – Things like walking on the wrong side of the Mani Walls and Stupa’s –This is considered as both disrespectful as well as bad luck
2) Trek- Mates selection of trekking boots – For instance you would't want a trek-mate to take a 20 year old pair that have given them blisters the last time they wore them. - I have always maintained that a trekker with unhappy feet will be an unhappy trekker – After all why on earth would someone spend over £1500 on a Nepal trip and be to Mean to buy decent, comfortable footwear??
3) Try to show a little regard for the area that you are trekking through, I try to discourage trekkers from buying plastic bottles of coke and mineral water, especially if the route that you are trekking is little trekked with very little litter, try to remember that there is no infrastructure in place for removing any plastic bottles left behind by trekkers.
4) Don’t be mean with your trek-mates, put your hand in your pocket and pay your fair share of the bill and don’t let the rest of the group to subsidise your trek – Agree to the tips you leave your trekking staff and after the trek don’t forget tips for the trekking agent (Especially if he has done a good job at a reasonable price), also don’t forget to tip for his office boy who provides you with cups of coffee free of charge as well as tips for the hotel staff if they have also looked after you well.
There can also be numerous other problems, I have just listed a few potential more glaring ones – How to avoid these – Difficult but without careful selection of your trek mate you do risk having your trek ruined – don’t risk having your trek marred and cutting it shorter than planned through not being careful enough with your selection of a trek mate.
For a decent view of Everest from the ground the only real option is to fly into Lukla and trek up to Namche Bazaar – Realistically this would involve a 4 day trek
Day 1 – Early morning flight to Lukla and trek to Benkar (Recommended lodge is “Waterfall”)
Day 2 – Trek Benkar to Namche Bazaar
Day 3 Trek to Panorama Hotel for lunch and views of Everest
Day 4 – Trek back to Lukla
Day 5 – Early morning fight to Kathmandu, arriving in time for breakfast
Good Luck and Happy Safe Trekking
If you only have a Very Short time to go trekking in Nepal then without doubt the best short trek is The Poon Hill Trek, This can be done in 3 days Pokhara to Pokhara, However it is quite a strenuous trek going continuously uphill for two days, the second day being on a Lot of steps – If you can squeeze an extra day you would be better of by far doing a circular route to Poon Hill by
1) Early Morning bus from Pokhara to Naya Pul and trek to Ghandruk
2) Ghandruk to Tadapani
3) Tadapani to Ghoropani
4) Early rise, Poon Hill, Breakfast at Ghoropani and trek back to Naya Pul and an evening bus back to Pokhara
However if you only have 3 days available then from Pokhara you would catch a bus to Naya Pul on day one and from there trek to Hile, Day 2 trek to Ghoropani, Day 3 This will be a long day, you would get up before the sun and do the short trek up to Poon Hill for the sunrise, then trek back down to Naya Pul (All downhill) and an evening bus back to Pokhara
Happy and Safe Trekking
These are a relitivly new names for an old trek and has several alternatives but one would be as follows
1) Leave Pokhara mid-day by taxi to Phidi and trek to Dhampus, arriving there late afternoon – ½ day uphill through terraces
2) Dhampus to Ladruk – about ¾ days trek crossing one ridge then mainly downhill to Ladruk
3) Ladruk to Chomrong - about ¾ days trek downhill at first to cross the Modi Kosi at “ New Bridge” (No Bridge!) and the Steeply uphill to Chomrong
4) Chomrong to Tadapani – About ¾ days trekking, Slightly up and first then cross a shoulder and down, over a long suspension bridge then up all the way to Tadopani
5) Tadapani to Ghoropani – About ¾ days trekking, Down at first then undulating to Ghoropani ¾ days trekking
6) Ghoropani to Naya Pul – Full days trekking. Up before dawn and trekked up to Poon hill for the sunrise, Breakfast and pick up your rucksack, then all downhill to Naya Pul - Late afternoon bus back to Pokhara arriving late evening, all down hill as far as Birithanti, a lot on steps then fairly level from there to the road-head at Naya Pul (If you have more time then instead of trekking to Naya Pul, you could spend the night in Birithanti which is a pleasant little village less than an hour from Naya Pul – Then catch an early bus back to Pokhara the next morning)
It is a Great little trek, particularly if you are short of time or want an introduction to Trekking in Nepal – It is a Tea-House Trek and can be done entirely independently or with a guide and porter – Up to you !!
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