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Thread: Annapurna Circuit trip report

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2005

    Default Annapurna Circuit trip report

    We have just finished the Annapurna Circuit and I can't add much to the excellent trip report by Mr Silvertop, but here is a little news. We trekked from 28/2 to 17/3. Started in Besisahar (didn't take jeep/bus to Bhulebhule), took the high route from Pisang via Ghyaru and Ngawal and attempted to get to Tilicho via Khangshar. On the way out we went via Ghorepani and Ghandruk.

    - Fuel prices have increased so taxi rides are a little more expensive. 400 nrps from the airport to Thamel, 3000 to Besisahar from Pokhara, 1250 from Nayapul to Pokhara.

    - We didn't encounter the Maoists anywhere on trek. The only sight of them was driving past Pokhara Lakeside in their election campaigning Land Rover.

    - We collected our TIMS certificate at the Pokhara NTB office when we paid the ACAP conservation fee. I think we needed 4 passport photos (or was it 3?), 2 for TIMS and 2 for the ACAP permit. You can get photos done at several places near the NTB/ACAP office but the intermittent electricity supply doesn't always make this easy. Although Julia was able to get a photograph done, even though there was no power, fairly quickly I think it is Worth taking a few photos with you as you need a couple for the Visa too. The TIMS registration included details of your travel insurance (policy number and contact number) and your next of kin details. So it is useful to have a note of these.

    - The beginning of the trek was quiet. We didn't see any other trekkers at all until the third morning.

    - Look out for Langur monkeys in the trees just before the hike up the hill to Tal.

    - The road is generally avoided on the Marsyangdi side save for the stretch around Bagarchap. There is a lot of work going on forcing the road through after Chamje, although this consisted of guys trying to break up huge rocks with hammers and metal spikes. Sometimes they are working above you and you need to take care of rocks being thrown off.

    - The weather was generally fine and clear save for 1/2 a day of light snow near to Bhratang. Up to Throung Phedi the lowest temperature I recorded in our lodge room was 1 degree C, 4 degrees at the very least everywhere else. Although ice was present outside showing that it was below freezing outside the lodge rooms are reasonably well insulated. My -5 bag was plenty yet again and I was never cold at night sleeping up to 4500m. Out of 9 treks I have only once experienced temperatures low enough so I was cold at night, even at 6250m! My personal opinion is you don't need as warm a sleeping bag as many people take. It was colder in London when we got home on Sunday!

    - On the Jomsom side it rained/hailed 4 or 5 days on the trot, though only for an hour or two at most in the early afternoon. There were a few electrical storms, big hail stones and it got wetter as we got lower. We were indoors for most of it, but got absolutely drenched near to Ghandruk. I haven't seen rain that heavy for quite a while. Still didn't think it was worth taking waterproofs though. Would have used them just once and we were soon able to dry out our clothes once at the lodge. One of those big plastic poncho
    things that goes over your pack as well might be good especially if you are trekking in the Ghorepani/Sanctuary area.

    - The rhododendrons around Ghorepani were stunning. The forest there really is amazing. If you haven't seen them in flower you owe it to yourself to see them in full bloom. There is nothing else quite like it. The Jasmine on the forest floor smelt absolutely wonderful too (unlike me).

    - Had a really hot shower in the Snow Leopard lodge in Marpha - the food was not so good however. We deviated from Dal Bhat for one night and chose a veggie burger. This consisted of 2 stales slices of bread with mayonnaise and ketchup splodged on it and a slice of apple and a slice of cabbage!

    - The woman in the Hotel Laxmi in Khangshar made the best Dal

    - The Mona Lisa lodge in Shikhar made the best Dal Bhat I've ever had

    - The shower in the Sunny View lodge in Ghorepani was so hot you couldn't actually get in it and there was no cold tap.

    - Quite a few people we met complained of bed bug bites. Most had hired sleeping bags from KTM. Beware!

    - I didn't find that the road detracted very much from the whole experience. The AC is so much more than just the walking - the fascinating villages and
    people and the wonderful natural wealth of the area. The road could be avoided for 95% of the time and it remains a world class trek. I am glad that we didn't fly out of Jomsom and think that the whole trek is still a very worthwhile proposition. It never was a wilderness trek in any case. For me it wasn't as spoiled as some have made out. I trekked the AC in 2002, Jomsom side in 2003 and the Marsyangdi side in 2004. This last trek was equally as enjoyable, just different because of the road in places, not worse IMO. It is what it is and the road is now part of it. The worst part of the road is around Jomsom, with a few motorbikes and jeeps passing you but not really that bad at all, but that section has always been dusty and windy and, for me, the least enjoyable part. But the AC is worth continuing with after here as there are so many interesting places to experience after Jomsom.

    - Ghyaru and Ngawal are well worth doing and were a major highlight. The views were tremendous and the villages fascinating.

    - Khangshar is also a worthwhile side trip. There is a newly built lodge at about 3900m an hour or so past Khangshar. Going via Khangshar and this new lodge on the way to Yak Kharka is a worthwhile acclimatisation side trip. We took the direct route from Khangshar to Yak Kharka which we were told would take an hour. It took 5 hours and was quite a slog but does take you to a fascinating view point looking back over Manang.

    - We attempted to get to the Tilicho Base camp lodge (which was open - check in Khangshar) and went via the high route (there are two routes - high and low - the low one is supposed to be more treacherous). At around 4700m where the trail stops climbing it goes across steep landslides before heading down to Base Camp. When we were there the trail was impassable. A landslide had removed the trail for a short section and I found it impossible to kick steps into it as it would fill in the steps immediately as it was very loose and steep. The drop was large and a slip would be very costly, I didn't fancy it without a belay.

    It may have improved now with some more traffic but as we saw it the higher route is not "safe" as it is described on the ACAP signs. We turned round at that point and we saw a party who had successfully crossed the lower path. They were either more brave than us or the lower trail was more substantial.

    - We crossed the pass from Thorung Phedi and left at 5.30am. This meant it was light by the time we got near high camp. There were a number of people who crossed the pass that day but I was amazed to find that we had the top of the pass completely to ourselves for an hour when we were up there as everyone was either in front or behind us. The weather was fine but windy, there was some snow on the ground and as it was old, compacted and icy in places it was a little treacherous. Poles were useful but I almost wished I had an ice axe with me to cut some steps here and there. There were patches of dodgy, sloping snow on the descent too which meant 100% concentration was required on the way down.

    - When you have your permit checked at the police post in Jomsom don't put it away as there is another checkpost (ACAP one) ten yards away!

    - I recharged my camera batteries in a number of different places and didn't get charged for the privilege apart from in Manang.

    - Didn't try the internet anywhere on trek so have no idea of what was good and what wasn't

    - Didn't suffer as much noise as the Silvertops although I always have earplugs with me. In Pokhara though, next time, we will stay towards the Damside end of Lakeside. There were a few live bands playing in the evening next to the hotel we were in, although they did finish by about 10.30. One of them was exceptionally good and the covers they played were extremely tight and competent. Sounding like a bunch of session musicians and I would have liked to have seen them play. But they were very loud!
    Last edited by Escher; 26th March 2008 at 11:08 PM.

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