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Thread: Annapurna Circuit in August 2015

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Location
    Rowley, MA. USA
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    5

    Default Annapurna Circuit in August 2015

    My girlfriend and I are planning to trek Annapurna Circuit in August. We are both reasonably fit, but we do not have a lot of trekking experience. We have experience skiing in Colorado at up to 13,500 feet.

    Our main questions are the following:

    What is the weather like at Thorong La in August? (We just went to a EMS near home and the guy had done EBC in May and freaked us out by telling us we need full winter mountain gear, goosedown layers, etc. Everything else I've read doesn't suggest this is necessary. We plan on bringing waterproof shells, base layers, fleece, hat, gloves, etc-- but goosedown and a -20 bag?)

    The second question is the guide question. We want to do this on our own, most of my impulses are telling me not to hire a guide. For one, how do I find one I can trust in Thamel or Besisahar? How do I know I will like the guy and am not being ripped off? There does seem to be benefits, arranging accommodation, sharing info about local cultures, maybe translating. I am really torn on this one. I'm not sure when we'll have the time and money to get back for an adventure like this and I want to make the right choices that keep us safe, but also allow for the most fulfilling experience.

    Any feedback would be appreciated.

    Thanks

    Justin
    Last edited by justinb; 1st February 2015 at 04:06 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
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    41

    Default Re: Annapurna Circuit in August 2015

    Hi Justin

    I have not trekked the AC in August but have in Langtang/Gosainkund/Helambu.

    The pass from G to H is about 4600m compared to Throung La at about 5400m so a considerable difference. However I did get to almost 5000m in Langtang. Beng monsoon there was plenty of precipitation but it all fell as rain and there was no snow or ice on the ground. This might not have been typical and it could have been an unusually warm year.

    Snow, rather than rain, is certainly possible on Thorung La so you would need to prepare for it - both expectations and kit-wise. The gear you list will deal with the rain and snowfall, in my view. So the question is about the down clothes and a bag. I took a down jacket but did not need to use it but if I was doing the same trek again or the higher, potentially colder AC, I would take one again. Even if it is not necessary while on the move it could be useful while taking in the views at the pass. It could be essential if, for some reason, you are unable to keep moving. It's also useful in the higher lodges in the morning and evenings. I don't think other down gear, eg over-trousers, is necessary.

    I would also take a sleeping bag as a matter of course so I take responsibility for my own warmth rather then rely on lodge blankets. That said, there should be no shortage of blankets out of season and they work well for some people; others might find them clean enough though a sleeping bag liner address that concern. It's difficult to say what rating you need because hard temp. data is hard to find. I used a -10C comfort rated bag in L/G/H and that was fine but for higher altitudes I would probably take a warmer bag, say -15C because I'm fairly conservative. A liner, base layers and/or lodge blankets can supplement a bag so it does not necessarily mean buying a new bag if you don't have a warm enough one. Decent, clean bags are available to hire too, less than $1 per day.


    A guide is not necessary from a practical point of view (arranging accommodation and route finding, as examples) nor do the regulations require one, though this has the possibility to change in the wake of the Hudhud tragedy. There is a safety benefit to a guide but by not trekking solo you are meeting the minimum safety requirements (in my view of course, others will have a different opinion). Hiring a guide has benefits as you mention though but if you do not want those then not hiring a guide is a legitimate, personal choice. If you want to trek on your own then do so.

    That said, some suggestions on how to hire a guide to try and avoid the problems you mention:

    Obtain a recommendations for agencies and independent guides, contact a few by email and tell them what you want (rather than asking what they recommend or offer), ask questions and start negotiations on service levels (there are limited options in my view) and price, draw up a shortlist to visit in KTM (most people start the AC from KTM), say two agents a guide or two. Continue negotiations, meet potential guides (key! ask the agents to line up a couple) to check knowledge, experience, language skills and whether you will get on (as best as one can). Decide and cough up. I need not take a lot of time and may be well worth it to avoid problems and get the right guide for you.

    This method means you do not commit before getting to Nepal or pay a deposit, can see if you trust the agent and guide and have a better chance to negotiate the best but fair price (internet offers seem to be higher for some reason; I think some agents try and quickly lock people in with a large deposit).

    All my own opinions...

    scoodly

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Germany
    Posts
    139

    Smile trekking Annapurna Circuit in August is awsome

    Hi justin,
    i did AC in August and it was one of the best treks i ever did in Nepal. you will no tso oftehn see the summits, as they ar often in the clouds but when they peak out they are splendid and oyu will see beautiful flowers.
    i have several photos of this trek on my website, but unfortunately the text is only in German . But the pictures will give you a good idea what marvels are waiting for you. have a look at http://www.nepal-dia.de/Nepal_Reiseb...annapurna.html .
    on of the amazing things was that i had less rain hours than twice in former treks during ocober! But it was raining at least every afternoon . There fore we started very early and when it started to rain a 3 PM we just had one hour left to reach the planned lodge. Neverless a big and strong umbrella is a must- but i used it more again the sun that again the rain .

    And you friend is right, you can get snow on thorong la even in summer an should be prepared. So long throuses, a long arm fleece and a windproof rain jacket are required. Aslo good shoe cream for oyu boots is necessary, except if you have waterproof Goretex shoes.
    Since many years a started to trek together with nepali guides and enjoy it very much. Many other trekers made the same experience. Again have a look at my website for recomended guides and porterguides.http://www.nepal-dia.de/int__England...ev_porter.html
    enjoy planning this beautiful trek Andrées

    For finding a reliable guide
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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
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    Rowley, MA. USA
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    Default Re: Annapurna Circuit in August 2015

    Thank you both for the information. We are both very excited for the adventure ahead and just want to be safe and prepared. We were able to get some good deals on clothing and equipment. I ended up buying a columbia down jacket that is good enough to ski in New England when it's -10 farhenheit (my girlfriend tried her's out last week) so I think it will be good for the pass, and packs up nicely too.

    I think we will probably go with a guide. Thank you for the recommendations. I like the idea of meeting with a couple of guides in Thamel and then choosing the one who seems right for us. If I understand correctly, when you hire a guide you pay them a daily fee and then also pay for their accomodation and meals? I think this might be the best way to go as this is our first real long distance trek in a country where we don't speak the language.

    We are staying at a place called Hotel Utse in Thamel for our first two nights, and they have offered services to arrange treks. Do you think this is a good way to go, or might it be overpriced? The hotel is 4500 rupees a night, which seems very high for Thamel, but it looks very nice and offers a free ride from the airport, as well as hot water and electricity 24 hours. Figure we might as well enjoy two nights of comfort before heading off onto the trek.

    Thanks again, the advice is much appreciated.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
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    41

    Default Re: Annapurna Circuit in August 2015

    At -10F the jackets should be more than warm enough.

    There are two main ways of hiring/paying for the guide; on an inclusive package or a daily rate. On a package you pay up front for everything inluding your own food and accommodation. This means the guide chooses where to eat lunch and whih lodge to sleep in and therefore where to eat dinner. He has the budget to manage so makes these choices. The agent will take a slice of the money yuo pay for food and accomm. and the guide might be a little creative.Not everything will be covered so there are extras to pay for; there maybe limits on the amount of food and rarely are all drinks covered. If you choose this method be clear on what is and isn't included.

    A daily rate means you pay for the fuide's salary, food and accommodation in advance and pay for your own food and accommodation as you trek. This is cheaper and more straightforward because you only pay for what you eat and drink, And, more importantly, you choose the accommodation (and the overall pace and itinerary) on for whatever reason - you like the look of a lodge, people you meet recommend it - rather than sleep where the guide gets the best deal for himself. It's your trip after all.

    Paying for the guide's food as you suggest could be very expensive. When using his own money his pay) he will eat normally, that is Dal Bhat for free, or very cheaply, because he is bringing lucrative business (you) to the lodges. He might have quite a party if you are paying. Few people pay the guide this way. Regardless of how you pay him, it remains his role to help you arrange the lodge and order food - not that it is difficult because the lodge owners speak English and the menus are in English - besides, it's all part of the experience to chat with the lodge owners and workers; because it's off-season you should have plmety of opportunity.

    I haven't stayed at the Utse but it seems decent enough (I have eaten there a long time ago). 4500 rupees should get a decent enough place (so should half that). Remember to negotiate advertised/internet rates because there is scope for big discounts in the monsoon. Watch out for the added 13% tax and 10% compulsory service charge. Most hotels can arrange treks and I'm sure it works out well for many but it could add to the cost - it's an extra link in the chain because they are not allowed to arrange treks unless TAAN-registered so should use an agent. No reason not to see what they have to offer though and compare.

    Enjoy the trek.

    scoodly

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
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    Rowley, MA. USA
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    Default Re: Annapurna Circuit in August 2015

    Thanks so much. The reponses have been very helpful. I think we will go with the guide and set up the agreement as you described, so the guide is paying for food and lodging out of his prearranged pay. I am pretty sure we could do the trek on our own, but it sounds like it would be nice to have a Nepali with us and who knows what kind of situation could arise in which we may benefit from having a guide present. I have a feeling, from everything I've read, that this will not be our last trip to Nepal, maybe once we have the experience we will go it on our own next time. There is always Everest base camp and I am sure a thousand other reasons to return to Nepal!

    I am also thinking that we may avoid the high prices at places like REI and EMS and buy some last minute gear in Thamel. I have heard that Shona's gear shop is a trustworthy place to shop for essentials.

    Thanks again

    Justin

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Posts
    41

    Default Re: Annapurna Circuit in August 2015

    You[re welcome. Pound to a penny you will return!

    There are hundreds of gear shops in Thamel, KTM and you could fully equip. yourselves for the trek. There is a range of quality and prices available; from genuine gear at official outlets at at similar prices to home (UK, at least) to the cheapest Chinese/Bangladeshi made kit and garments that is unbranded or an unknown brand. In the middle are fakes of brands such as TNF - these can be reasonable quality and good value but check stitching, zips etc carefully. Most places are not fixed-price so you will need to negotiate.

    The official stores - TNF, MHW, Salewa for example) are fixed-price as is Shona's.

    Shona's design and make down gear in their own factory in Nepal (along with a few other things such as fleeces and day packs). Quality is good and the prices competitive - I bought a sleeping bag for a trek that included EBC and it was good, I still use it in UK winters and it's hoding up very well, no problems at all. They sell some genuine brands too; I saw some Smartwool merino stuff and Petzl headtorches for example, along with the cheapest t-shirts and fleeces. There are other places that work on a similar basis - Sports Wear international.

    It's also possible to rent kit such as sleeping bags and down jackets for less than $1 per day.

    scoodly

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    British Columbia, Canada
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    402

    Default Re: Annapurna Circuit in August 2015

    We trekked the circuit in August 2014 -- it was great.

    http://www.trekinfo.com/forums/showt...oon&highlight=


    FYI: It CAN snow on the pass in August (it snowed the night before we crossed -- melted by the time we arrive at top -- and it started snowing while we were on top (making us high-tail it down). You must be prepared for this possibility. (However, lighter down sleeping bags probably fine.)

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
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    Rowley, MA. USA
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    Default Re: Annapurna Circuit in August 2015

    Thanks for the replies everyone. I have a few more questions,

    I've read a lot about corruption at the airport and difficult check-in procedures. How much truth is there in this, and is it anything to worry about?

    I've also read a lot about parasites and horror stories of sick trekkers. We are planning to use water purification and bottled water, but what about milk tea on the trek, is the milk safe to drink in your opinion?

    Thanks again

    Justin

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Posts
    41

    Default Re: Annapurna Circuit in August 2015

    Hi

    I think corruption at the airport is mostly a thing of the past and entering Nepal with visa or getting a visa on arrival is quite straightforward but takes a while if your flight lands shrtly after another.

    There are some things to watch out for though; for example, if getting a VOA have the correct fee in USD because it's cheaper (immigration use an unfavourable exchange rate to USD from other major currencies) and change can be an issue (you will probably lose out again). I suspect some of this money can end op in officers' pockets.

    There is a possibility of out and out corruption when people leave Nepal on an expired visa. The cost to regularise the visa and the fine can be much more than the official rate. But if people leave themselves open to that by breaching Nepali law then the consequences are theirs. Beyond that there are few problems; I've not experienced any entering or leaving and there are reports of difficulties on recent years on forums like this.

    Parasites - fleas, bed bugs, ticks and the like - have not been too much of a problem for me; one flea-ridden bed in a lodge n Jomsom apart. Bed bugs are a concern for some but higher up where it's cold they don't seem to survive and lower down on treks or in KTM, Pokhara etc, I haven't had a problem.

    Water requires some thinkng about and careful choices and purifying your own is a good choice. Bottled water less so in my view. Not because it is unsafe (though studies regularly find contamination), because they can be refilled (check the seal) or because it is expensive particuarly high up (increased porterage costs) but because the empties are an environmental issu.

    The milk in milk tea is usually boiled along with the water so is usually safe as I understand it but I don't drink so do not give it too much thought. I would not drink milk or add it to tea in the western way.

    scoodly

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