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Thread: Trekking the Annapurna Circuit in September - Trip report

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    3

    Default Trekking the Annapurna Circuit in September - Trip report

    Hello all.

    I'd like to report on a trip to Nepal I made with my girlfriend last September. We decided to do it early in order to beat the crowds. While the trip was what we consider a success, there were still a few drawbacks. Here’s the story of it.

    We did the Annapurna Circuit, from the "easy" side (i.e. counter clock-wise) and we end our trip with a short visit to the Chitwan National Park.
    This was my personal second time in Nepal. I’ve been there before, doing the Annapurna Base Camp in February 2005, right after the coup from the King. The vegetation at that time of year was mostly dry and yellowish, with the notable exception of the rhododendron forests that were blooming. This time around, we were greeted by incredibly green and lush post-monsoon vegetation. Also, both times, I used the services of an independent guide named Jagat Lama, who with some of his brothers and cousins as porters and second guides runs a very nice trekking guide cooperative. If you care about fair trade, these guys are what you’re looking for! They have loads of experience, very reasonable fees and the fees are split fairly between all the members of the trekking crew. Nobody staying in an office in Kathmandu grabs a fat cut on that! If you need more info: http://www.independent-trekkingguide-nepal.com/.

    So, we landed in Kathmandu September 5th, and stayed in the city on the 6th. It was very rainy until 2:00pm, and it cleared afterwards. On the 6th, we left for Besisahar by taxi, and we started the trek itself on the 7th.
    Although we were warned that it was very humid at this time of year, we were not ready for that level of humidity. For the first few days, we ended our trekking days drenched in sweat, and even if we hung our clothes at night, they would simply not dry; not until we arrived in Chame (2600m), where the air was cooler and drier.

    The first half of the trek was simply magnificent. The rice fields, the hundreds of waterfalls and green hills were breathtaking. The days were mostly sunny, albeit quite humid as I mentioned before. In the Manang valley, the scenery grew even more impressive, if that’s possible. The summits were clear until late in the morning, and from about an hour before sunset. During the rest of the day, they were covered in cottony clouds. For the next two days, though, the cloud cover grew to be permanent during the day, and it even rained during our night at Yak Karga; an unusual event in these parts, especially after the monsoon ended. We were a bit afraid that it would be fully clouded as we would be on the top of Thorong La, but as by magic, the morning we left for the pass was crystal clear, and we’ve had one of the best days of our lives.

    Jagat himself left us after we crossed the pass to go back in Kathmandu and pick up other clients. That was the plan from the beginning, and we didn’t mind too much as the hardest part of the trek was over. We were left with Kanchha, Jagat’s brother, which I had the chance to know from my previous trek in Nepal and whom I consider a friend, and Bhim, our porter.

    The second part is much drier in the beginning. The Lower Mustang Valley is virtually a desert. So, our trek went rather nicely for a day or so, and became much less enjoyable afterwards. The reason is the Road (with a capital ‘R’ to demonstrate all its ideousness) that is being built from Tatopani to Muktinath, with long stretches already in use by various motorbikes, tractors and jeeps (especially between Kagbeni and Lete). The government is currently destroying the trekking path to replace it by that famous Road. And in the areas where the Road isn’t fully built, Nepalese are currently blasting away the remainders of the old trail to make place for it. In my previous trek, two years ago in addition of the ABC, I also did a part of the Royal Trek (Nayapul to Koochepani), and nothing of this monstrosity was showing. For those of you who had the chance to go to Tatopani in the past, you will remember that the hot baths were adjacent to the forest. Well, no longer. The Road now passes between the baths and the forest. It was just so sad I wanted to cry. The hotel crew I spoke with in Tatopani were quite distressed by that also, as they know very well that before long, this village will no longer attract trekkers and western tourists.

    To top that out, the heavy rains of this year have left several parts of the trail completely destroyed by huge landslides that were quite an experience to cross. We tried not to look down to the river, dozens of meters below as we walk through them! ;-)

    After Tatopani, we continued on to Ghorepani, which we reached soaking wet on a very rainy day (September 25th). It was the first time where we had rain during the day, and it was a very hard experience for me who totally hates walking in the rain. But, considering the time of the year, and the fact that we did not have to walk in the rain until then, I consider myself lucky. The next day, it was still very cloudy, so there was no point going to Poon Hill. That was a drag. :-( Also, even if we managed to be almost solitary on the trek until then, we started to see more and more groups of trekkers from Ghorepani on. The season had started!

    We were back in Pokhara on September 27th, and we spent one full day there, leaving for the Chitwan on the 29th.

    Now, the “Chitwan” we saw was only border of it, from the village of Sauraha. The 65$ we paid covered a 2 hours elephant back trip, a “jungle jeep safari” on a road commonly used by local residents (it had only the “jeep” part of the “jungle jeep safari” name), a crappy room for 2 nights, plus transportation. We consider that it was clearly not worth it. Sadly, the hotels that are really *inside* the jungle did not opened until mid-October. Should we ever go back in these parts, we’ll clearly skip the crappy hotels in Sauraha, and go in the real jungle hotels. Document yourself thoroughly before paying for such a trip.

    If you want, you can see a few of the pictures I took during that trip at:
    http://picasaweb.google.com/jocelynl...epal2007BestOf
    (sorry, comments are in French!).

    So, all in all, we had a wonderful time, and avoided most of the bigger trekking crowds. However, we had a bit of rain and sometimes, the summits where covered in clouds, but we had a magnificent day at the top of the Thorong La. And our guide and porter crew were A-1 (once again, you can reach them at http://www.independent-trekkingguide-nepal.com/).

    Should I do it again, the only thing I would change would be the start date, that I’d push back two weeks or so. We’d still be somewhat ahead of the crowds, but we would probably have avoided the rain and part of the coulds.

    Should you have any question regarding that trip report or about trekking in the Annapurna region in general, feel free to post it here, or to send me an email at: jocelynlegault@gmail.com

    Cheers!

    joce.
    Last edited by joleg74; 13th November 2007 at 09:35 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Posts
    13

    Default Nice Report..

    Hello,
    It is a very nice post. Good job.
    Im Thiyagu(25 yr old, South Indian). Thinking to do the Annapurna Circuit this (early)September, probably like you did last year.
    Because of my tight schedule at work, I guess i'll be fixed with the dates.. So I'm wondering is it still worth a try to do the trek in September?
    Was it raining the whole day or some short time of the days?
    I'm thinking to do the trip alone, will you recommend?
    So, thats it for now.
    Any information could be helpful. Thanks.
    Regards,
    -Thiyagu.
    ________
    Honda Stream history
    Last edited by arunachala; 17th February 2011 at 09:40 AM.

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