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Sratch
9th April 2009, 12:01 AM
Hi,
I am looking at trekking in Annapurna in August. I know that this is not the normal/peak season and there could be some problems. Has anyone trekked at this time of year..?
If so does it rain for prolonged periods or just an hour or 2 ? Is it possible to have an enjoyable trek ? or is the place just covered in mud and water with no views ?

Many thanks for any suggestions !

yakshaver
9th April 2009, 07:10 AM
There are many posts on this subject if you search.

I trekked in June and July, and found July better. August should be better still. Althoug in June I only trekked the Kagbeni Jharkot and Kali Gandaki side.

You are likely to have rain and heat until about Chame (2500m) on the Marsiangdy side, about 3 days into the trek. From there on maybe for the next nine or 10 days, until you reach Jomsom/Marpha/Dana - you are likely to get nice weather (this section is protected from most of the monsoon effects by the Annapurna range). Mild with quite a lot of views. The meadows are nice and green and there are lots of flowers. In my view a much better trekking experience than in the "traditional" season. The last 3 days of the trek are likely to be overcast, rainy and hotter, although the rain does not last the whole day, usually 2-3 hours as you say. And it could be in the evening or at night. But you could cut this last part off, by getting into a 4wd or getting someone with a motorbike to take you to Beni, where you pick up the bus to Pokhara

So the bulk of the trek, the most interesting 9-10 days middle part, will be quite nice. Including crossing Thorung La.

Just buy some good strong insect repellent for the first 2-3 and last 2-3 days. It will keep the leeches away. Although I must say I had no problem with the suckers, and did not need to use the repellent. Maybe they don't like my blood or something. Felt quite offended.

Per
9th April 2009, 01:30 PM
Has anyone trekked at this time of year..?

Yes, Iīve trekked in the area four times in August. It is a wonderful time north of the Great Himalayan Range where there are four seasons (not three as in Kathmandu). Once north of the main range there is rain shadow, and conditions pretty much like alpine summer, all coniferous forests and meadows. As there are no high peaks in Thak Khola (Kali Gandaki) blocking of the trail of the clouds there is also a special rain shadow on the Jomosom side that stretches along the valley down to Kalopani and Lette. Strong wind after 10 AM, and little or no rain fall in the main valley which is kind of arid.

The trails south of the main range, especially, Annapurna Base Camp should be avoided, as there may be a lot of torrential rain and trails have a low standard, not monsoon proof.

Last time we had no rain beyond Thak, on the Marsyangdhi side.

Leeches are not found at all on higher elevations, e.g., Jomosom and Manang, and are only problem on small trails (like ABC). The worst leech problem, especially for first time visitors, is encountered in Thamel. They typically pose as friends, and will tell you anything to make you spend money so they can get as much as possible of you. Can cost you hundreds even thousands of dollars.

Be particularly aware of guides that are not aware of the rain shadow and the pleasant summers in Manang, it implies that they are from three-season-places and donīt know anything about Marsyangdhi and Thak Khola, except for which lodges gives most commision for bringing clients.

Sratch
11th April 2009, 08:18 PM
Guys,
Many thanks for your replies - most helpful! This is a great forum.

Im definitely going to do the circuit so, but will try and leave it until as late in Aug as possible. Duly noted about the leeches - Asian bugs do seem to have find my blood sweet, but I will be in India for 6 weeks prior so should be adept at spotting them by then.

Im still in 3 minds as to what way to trek. As a 1st timer (Iv never trekked over 1,000m but am reasonably fit) would you recommend? (a)travelling with a reputable trekking company (b) travelling with a guide (c) travelling on my own and hopefully meeting some fellow trekkers on the way with the possibility of a guide/porter on the higher routes.

I plan on travelling light and will stick to the tea house trails.

Thanks again

yakshaver
12th April 2009, 03:56 AM
You can easily to the AC without any support, in terms of finding you way etc. There are plenty of villages and lodges along the way to ask for directions etc at least until Manang.

My suggestion for a first timer, expecially if you travel light, is to go with a guide or porter guide.

In August there are likely to be few tourists on the AC. When I did it in July 06, we met just one Austrian lady and her porter-guide, all the way to Ranipawa, near Muktinath, where we met a couple more tourists.

Since you cross Thorung La (5400m) I do suggest you have support with you. If you get struck by altitude sickness, sometimes your judgment is impaired, even if you could still walk. Bad things can happen. Also you may twist your ankle on your way down from the pass to Ranipawa. Having said that, there are plenty of people, who've done it solo, I am sure. I mean Messner has conquered Everest on his own (still, not the first time around...). But I don't suggest to you to go on your own over Thorung La. Maybe after you conquer Everest.

It is not easy to find support in Manang, for example, if you all of a sudden decide that you're in need of support. You can probably find a donkey and a donkey handler to accompany you over the pass, but it will be relatively expensive, I don't know maybe over 1000-1500 rupees a day (not that expensive in "western" terms). Few Nyasheng, if any, will do portering. They are rich enough not to need to do that.

My suggestion would be to go with one of the recommendadions from this forum perhaps (Sharon has some good people she usually treks with, and so do I...), in terms of a guide or porter guide.

Sratch
13th April 2009, 08:40 PM
Thanks Yakshaver. I will take your advice and go with a guide/porter. I can see there are plenty of recommendations from yourself and others so will arrange one of them. For the reasonable fee, peace of mind and local knowledge seems like a no brainer.

This forum is of great help re clothes, equipment, advice etc.. Keep up the good work!

I will of course let everyone know how I get on. In the meantime you will probably see a few more silly questions when I cant find answers in the forum.

Thanks
Scratch

Per
13th April 2009, 11:46 PM
I plan on travelling light and will stick to the tea house trails.



Then, you will do very well without a guide or servant. The trails is well known and utterly well described. AC is not a wilderness area. There are lodges catering to trekkers every few miles just waiting for you. There are a number of drawbacks with going with a guide. What if it turns out he is a pain in the ... after two days? Etc.

Michael Sunkist
14th April 2009, 04:05 AM
:eek: Nameste, as this is the time the monsoon season begins pack for that situation. I'd purchase a nylon waterproof cover for your pack (about 200 rupees) and a rain poncho made from the same material (also about 200 rupees) in Kathmandu or Chame, lightweight and when the sky opens up you will be glad you humped the combined weight of about 10 oz. You'll see leeches gaurenteed at lower levels below 10,000 ft. Try not to lean up against brush when a team of mules pass you as they will crawl onto your pack and slither onto your neck and shoulders. They are a bummer. Check your bod out at rest stations and remove with salt or a hot match, don't pull them off, they will leave part of their heads in you that can cause infection. Aside from that, happy trails.

Per
14th April 2009, 01:37 PM
You'll see leeches gaurenteed at lower levels below 10,000 ft. Try not to lean up against brush when a team of mules pass you as they will crawl onto your pack and slither onto your neck and shoulders. They are a bummer. Check your bod out at rest stations and remove with salt or a hot match, don't pull them off, they will leave part of their heads in you that can cause infection. Aside from that, happy trails.

On large spacious trails leeches are easy to handle. I have trekked around Annapurna in July and August without a single leech bite.

On large trails one walks mostly on flat stones, which are used to harden the trail. Then, you will hardly see any leeches, as they only appear when they can pick up your body heat. When you take a brake avoid grass. Sit on stone and look around. If a leech appears, they are really slow, you can easily flick it away with a thumb nail. Remember, leeches are utterly dependent on dampness, canīt live where it is dry.

If you are bitten, the best thing to do is to simply pull it off. Unlike ticks leeches leave nothing behind, and are clean, in the past they were sold in pharmacies and used to clean out infected gums etc. There are various brutal ways to get rid of them, salt, cigarette lighter, etc., but none is better than simply pulling them off as it is fastest, has the same effect, and means they get less blood.

As for dangers, the leech itself is clean, but there is a danger that something gets into the bite afterwards. Even the smallest infected wound can turn into a tropical ulcer, especially this season.

If you are going to hike on minor trails, with a lot of underbrush, they can be a real annoyance, as they sit on blades you brush against. An option, which should not be needed on the AC, is to soak your socks in the local snuff (khaini) over night, 1 l of water one packet of khaini, it will kill any leech that gets to your shoes.

By the way the first time one is leech bitten it may be kind of unpleasant. But once one realises that they are pretty much like mosquitoes that you swat, the drama disappears, one just tears them off and forgets about them.

Sratch
14th April 2009, 09:19 PM
Thanks for advice guys. I'll try to take these precautions to avoid the little buggers. Im not too squeamish and expect to get a few bites. As you say they are for the most harmless but hopefully I can avoid them.

Per,
What has your experience been with guides/porters ? As a 1st timer I would be a little nervous about traveling on my own. I dont have much trekking experience and although Im reasonably fit Im not sure how I would cope with a bag on back at 4,000/5,000 meters.

Also what was your experience of trekking at this time of year. Was weather a big issue ? Was there many other trekkers or is the trail deserted apart from locals ?
Thanks

Per
15th April 2009, 02:36 AM
What has your experience been with guides/porters ? As a 1st timer I would be a little nervous about traveling on my own. I dont have much trekking experience and although Im reasonably fit Im not sure how I would cope with a bag on back at 4,000/5,000 meters.

We do not use guides or porters for several reasons:
i) we donīt like to use human beasts of burden, nor do we like to travel with a servant or several servants;
ii) we donīt like to come with foreigners in tow, the locals that live along the AC, especially in the higher places, do not porter as they find the job degrading, speak different languages and have a different culture (the diffence depends on what tribe your porter comes from);
iii) guides can be a real nuisance, take command over your trek, get commision from the places you stay, or be just generally disagreeable, though some can be nice, recruit the wrong one and you will find there is no easy way to get rid of him;
iv) there is no objective need for guide, the trail is virtually littered with lodges, and utterly well described, you can buy a guide book in Kathmandu for just a few dollars, essentially you follow the valleys and all you have to keep track of is that you are on the right side of the river.

I think it is esential to understand that it is not a wilderness area. It is a large well defined trail, with a lodge every few kilometers, that sell lemon pancakes, french fries, fried eggs, hot lemons, not to mention coca cola and beer. They have good rooms, loos, even hot showers at times. So, you donīt have to carry much more than a tooth brush and a change of clothes.

The crossing of Thorung La is not mountaineering. In July and August there will be no snow, especially in August, and with lodges on both sides, so it should not be a problem. Though, it should be said, there is always a risk for a freak snow storm. If so, stay in the lodge at Phedi and cross the next day. Snow melts fast in August.

Also what was your experience of trekking at this time of year. Was weather a big issue ? Was there many other trekkers or is the trail deserted apart from locals ?
Thanks

South of the Himalayan range it is not too much fun, it tends to be either steaming hot or drizzle. Not fun if you have to do long ascents. On the north side you are in rain shadow, and it is quite nice, rather like alpine summer.

There tends to be quite a few trekkers then too, but far from crowded, one never has to worry about finding a lodge with a free room.

yakshaver
15th April 2009, 04:13 AM
Regarding leeches, as mentioned, I did not have any problems as I used insect repellent. Tropical strenght.

Regarding guides and porters, I differ from Per, though I respect his opinion. I had good experiences all along. I found it particularly rewarding to have a Nepali trekking with me, especially on the occasions of trekking on my own, but even in groups.

I guess I found a good guide, who also works with a nice bunch of porter-guides, and they always made my trips memorable.

There were also a couple of instances where the guide was worth a lot more than the money paid to him, when he had to run down from Namche to Jorsale at night with my 10 year old son on his back, who was loosing consciousness with sudden altitude sickness...

I guess I am not that dogmatic in my approach to the ethics of employing people as... human beasts of burden, or as guides. Many in Nepal do portering for locals as a matter of course, and for pays of maybe half of what a tourist pays. Or even less, if you take into account the tips a tourist usually gives at the end. And they do carry a lot more (40-60 kg loads are not uncommon) than the 15-20kg they carry for a tourist.
I found the two guides I employed as particularly helpful and knowledgeable. I agree with Per, you can strike a "bad" one, but from most accounts and recommendations you read, it seems many people have good experiences. And I guess the safest thing would be to go with recommendations of people who've trekked with guide/porter-guide more than once.

For me, it is a matter of preference, and which style you want to do your trek in.

Perhaps a good read might be my piece on this matter, which is on the home page of this site, titled "Should you hire a porter or a guide?":

http://www.nepal-dia.de/int__England/EV_porter/ev_porter.html

It might be a bit dated, but I believe it still contains useful info and might help someone make their decision about they style they want to go about trekking in Nepal.


Regarding the crossing of Thorung La: it is, as Per says, definitely not mountaineering, and in August even less so, presumably (there was certainly no ice or snow in July 06, but it can happen at any time at that altitude...). However I remember the trek in December 05, where towards the bottom of the steep descent, maybe about one hour and a bit away away from Ranipawa, one tourist from our group WHO HAD NO TREKKING POLES (!!!, he just had a wooden stick which proved useless - no tungsten tip) had to be continually helped not to lose his footing on the icy inclne. A fall would have been at least very hurtful if not positively dangerous. As eveyone else was busy watching their every step, the guy was very glad to have the sure-footed guide holding and supporting him for at least about half an hour.

Per
15th April 2009, 01:31 PM
On high altitude there can always be surprises, and one has to be prepared for them. The critical factor on Thorung La will be your acclimatisation. The longer time you have spent on high altitude the easier it will be. Manang is a nice village for acclimatisation: it is high and there are many nice sites to go to for day hikes. I might also be a good idea to go up to the crest of the pass without rucksack, just a chocolate bar or two for luggage. I have done that twice when I crossed from Muktinath to Manang. It is good for acclimatisation, and you get a good idea of the trail, and if you like you can always run down. So, if you feel uncertain, when you reach Thorung Phedi, stay two nights, and use the day to go up to the crest.

First time I crossed in July there was a Dutch sadhu who crossed in thongs, flip flops, and he had no problem. There was no snow. Looked like this

http://www.lowdin.nu/Treks/Tilicho93/Mesokantola0022.jpg

Once I crossed from Manang in August. When we woke up in Manang to set off there was two or three centimetres of fresh snow, so we stayed in bed until the sun came out and melted it and then hiked to Thorung Phedi in the afternoon. Next morning we set off, it was a bit chilly in the morning, but as you can see, people were ok with shorts on the crest.

http://www.lowdin.nu/Treks/Tilicho81/Film0560.jpg

From what I understand some enterprising locals run a tea shop on the very crest nowadays.

yakshaver
15th April 2009, 03:37 PM
From what I understand some enterprising locals run a tea shop on the very crest nowadays.

Yes they do but they are not always there all the time. There is now a full on "tea" shop built. But no one was there in either late Dec 05, or in July 06 when I went by myself. Santaman was saying that they are there "in season", as in Oct-Nov-early Dec, and March-April-May.

Sratch
16th April 2009, 09:41 PM
Ok, thanks guys.

Two different points of view which gives me a lot to think over.

I do plan on traveling very light, so I think traveling without a porter would be possible. However I will be traveling alone and dont have much experience which makes me a little nervous as well. However as ye say its not a wilderness and there is lodges every few km's. Maybe I can meet someone over there or through this forum which would ease my mind.

Anyway this is something I will have to decide for myself. My heart is saying to me go alone but my head is saying take a porter.

Cheers for the advice !
Adrian

Per
17th April 2009, 02:57 PM
I do plan on traveling very light, so I think traveling without a porter would be possible.
Good thinking, the less you carry the more fun the walking. Every respectable hotel in Kathmandu has luggage storage facilities, so you can leave most stuff behind.
Maybe I can meet someone over there or through this forum which would ease my mind.
There are always many trekkers. If you travel without staff you meet more other trekkers, guides tend to not encourage contact with other trekkers as the info you get from them might affect the flow of money from you which they like to have control over.

In my experience trekkers seek each other company for the hard bits, e.g., Poon Hill and Thorung La, so it is usually easy to find some one for those.

Suginami
17th April 2009, 04:16 PM
leeches can be deterred by several things but citronella works quite well and is not harmful. You have to apply it quite often like sunscreen. In Borneo we always wore leech socks and they work. Light cotton puttees that go up to the knee. The researchers always wear them. Wash them out at night. But there are very few parts of the trek where you are walking in close proximity to bushes. Its flat stones and well worn paths. There is no trail breaking at all. Its a stroll.

Going with a guide can be great as they quickly become friends. I would look through the recommendations section. Honestly Nepalese really really need the money so please pay some one. Create a job. I employ people all the time I am in Nepal as drivers, guides and experts. They are really good company.

kewlduderules
24th April 2009, 09:41 PM
I am really happy I found this forum. I am too looking to do a trek during the monsoon.

We really did want to do the Annapurna Sanctuary trek. However, now that I read the posts in this forum- I am having second thoughts.

If I want to do a 10-12 day trek, what is the recommendation in late July? I read that 2 possibilities are Annapurna Circuit and Mustang. Anybody have any suggestions? Is it possible to still do the Annapurna Sanctuary trek?

:confused: