Around Annapurna CircuitPosted on Nov 30, 2013 by Maze215 under Trekking
Tags: Annapurna Circuit, Thorangla Pass, Tilicho lake, Manang, Mustang
1. Highlights of the tour
Some of the main highlights of the circuit are
Except for the danger of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), crossing 5416m high Thorang La pass is technically easy and wonderful experience. For your information, the highest hill around valley Phulchoki is only 2782m.
2. Mustang’s desert landscape
No place anywhere in Nepal resembles Mustangs’ desert Landscape which is due to the fact that it lies behind the Annapurna range which blocks the rain. This also means that travel to Mustang during monsoon is possible although the road from Beni won’t be good during that period.
3. The traditional settlements & greener landscape of Manang
While road access has modernized Mustang, Manang retains much of its traditional character thanks to absence of Road. Manang is also eye pleasingly green.
4. Wonderful Mountain view
This is of course expected of every mountain circuit. The circuit offer view of Annapurna range consisting of Annapurna, Machhapuchhre, and the blue Nirgiri among others, the Dhaulagiri Range and the Manaslu Range.
5. The wide Kali Gandaki River
The Kali Gandaki Gorgelying between the Annapurna Range &Daulagiri range theoretically happens to be the world’s deepest gorge. Although the above fact is hardly noticeable the Kali Ganadaki river valley with its very wide river bed draws attraction
6. Moderately difficult trails with good Fooding & Lodging facilities
The Annapurna Circuit is a very popular trekking route. It was opened to foreigners in 1977AD. Being popular trekking route, there are network of Hotels & Guest houses all along the main trail.
The route difficulty is moderate as the trails follow the valleys except if you intend to visit Lake Tilicho. Chances of getting lost are low. For most of the circuit, settlements can be reached in not more than 3-4 hrs.
7. Muktinath Temple
If you are religiously inclined, taking bath in 108 taps and 2 ponds in Muktinath relives you of all your sins as per the Hindu sayings.
8. The mystic Tilicho Lake
Although the Tilicho Lake doesn’t lie on the main circuit, a visit to the lake can be accommodated which adds 2 day to the whole tour. The Tilicho Lake is popularized as the highest lake at 4919m [although this claim is disputed]. The road is little difficult with narrow trials and land slide areas on the way. And fooding and lodging facilities were limited at the time of visit.
1. Trek yourself
Going through trekking agencies are absolutely not required. You can save that money and hire a local guide midway if you really want to, instead of paying for the trekking agencies. All bus tickets can be brought at ‘Gongabu bus Park’ where the counters are clearly labeled.
2. Starting early
Start as early as possible in the morning. Usually 5am-6:30am but not late than that. It’s because the morning time is most comfortable for walking so the more distance we can cover in morning the better. It is better to have breakfast at next station or settlement. We tend to have Dal bhat at around 10-2pm. That way the meal will cover the whole day.
3. Knowing about next point.
Before going to next point, try to know about the next point or settlement by asking the local people. For estimating time to next location, it is IMPORTANT to add at least 1 hour extra to the time specified by the locals. It is not their fault; it’s just they the local people tend to travel faster nor do they stop for photograph or rest.
When possible, we can ask for the contact no of hotel or dining place at the next station and make a phone call beforehand to prepare the food. It saves a lot of time by ordering the food earlier. As a bonus, the contact no is useful if we happen to get lost midway. However don’t expect it to work every time as mobile network is extremely unreliable in remote locations.
4. Stay on same path
If going in large group [5 or more], there is no use trying to stay together. Some will be fast and some may be slow. But whenever path divides or is confusing, we tend to wait or make an arrow mark [ à ] on the trail with our trekking sticks so that all of us stay in one path [even if that is not the right path]. The fastest of us would order the food at the next station saving time for others.
5. Avoiding night travel
The average distance from 1 settlement to the other is 3 hours, so it is advised not to travel further if you reach a settlement at 4pm or later unless you are sure that the next point is nearby.
6. Hospitality rule
It is considered rude to sleep in one and dine at other in these places. So you are to accommodate both in one place as far as possible.
4. Tour Itinerary
All the location name and heights are taken from the Map published by Nepal Map Publisher Pvt. Ltd
Kathmandu to Besisahar to Syange [1100m]
The bus takes us from Kathmandu to Besidahar, the head quarter of Lamjung from where we take a local bus or jheep to Syange. The tickets are available at Gongabu Bus stop. It is a good idea to book the tickets few days earlier.
Syange to Timang [2270m]
The trail follows the Marsyandi River through smaller settlement of Jagat, Chyamche, and Tal. Along the way, there is a place where the road literally passes through a waterfall. At Dharapani we get the first glimpse of Tibetan influenced villages with entrance marked by Chorten. Crossing the wooden bridge there is fair amount of steep climb. At the end of the day we reach Timang.
Timang – Chame [2870m] – Humde [3280m]
From Timang it is 3 hours trek to Chame. Chame happens to be district headquarter of Manang District. Chame is a small sunny settlement, which happens to be the good place to buy goods you may have forgotten. From Chame we head on to Dhikur Pokhari from where we take a long lower road to Humde which takes around 3 hours. Unlike the previous day the road is gentle and the terrain is wide and pleasing.
[Update: The latest update suggests that a vehicular road upto Chame is being constructed. This will probably shorten the route by 1 day. The condition of the road is however unknown.]
Humde – Manang [3540m] or Khangsar [3734m]
From Humde, it is a pleasant walk to Manang. On the way lies the unique Braga village. The landscape around the village is picturesque. The road splits at Gangapurna Lake. If you want to continue to Thorang La Pass one can move upwards and stay in Manang.
To visit Tilicho Lake we take the lower route which leads to Khangsar. But before that take a visit to Manang village, as there is a shorter route from Khangsar towards the Thorang La Pass which skips Manang village. The trek to Tilicho Lake adds 2 day to the itinerary. As said earlier, the roads are little difficult with narrow trials and land slide areas on the way.
Additional Day 1
Khangsar to Tilicho base camp [4150m]
There used to be two route but the upper route is nonexistent now due to landslide so take the lower route. It is a 5-6 hours journey to the Tilicho Base camp which passes through the landslide areas. There is a single hotel at the base camp. You can leave all the extra gears at a Hotel in Khangsar as we need to return the same way.
Additional Day 2
Tilicho Base camp – Tilicho Lake [4920m] – Khangsar[3734m]
From the base camp, it is 3-4 hours to the Lake. Towards the end, it is a steep climb to the lake which suddenly comes into view. Start the journey early in the morning to avoid the wind. The view of the lake shall surely leave you breathless and relive all the pain of the journey.
From Tilicho it is possible to reach Jomsom through Mesokanta Pass but it requires one day camping and there is no settlements on the way plus you will also skip Thorang La Pass.
After spending time in the Lake we make our return all the way to Khangsar.
Khangsar – ThorangPhedi [4450m]
From Khangsar we head towards Yak Kharka. In between there are wooden bridge, abandoned yak sheds and high point from where the large portion of Marsyandi valley is visible. The road to Ledar passes through wide green fields.After which it is a narrow trail to Thorong Phedi.
Crossing Thorang La Pass [5416m]
Before crossing Thorang La Pass, ask for a person who will carry all your baggage on a mule to the other side upto Muktinath. Since it’s a steep climb the price of Rs 250 per bag [2011 price] is definitely worth it.
Take only few necessary items with you. You may as well take Garlic with you. Although I’m not sure if it works for AMS, it does helps psychologically.
It is advisable to start as early as possible because of the wind which generally starts blowing after midday. Some people start around 4am in morning but 5am in morning will do which means we have to get ready before that.
It is then a steep climb to Thorang High Camp at 4590m and from there to top of Thorang La Pass [5416m]. It takes about 4-6 hours in total. It is advisable to ascendslowly to prevent AMS. And do check for the signs and symptoms of AMS, the link for which have been provided below. At the pass there is a small hotel and a monument. There are 3 adjoining lakes near the pass towards Thorang La peak that you can visit.
After that it is 3-4 hours easy but long descend to Muktinath.
You can offer your prayer, take a bath in 108 spouts, get refreshed and stay at Muktinath
Muktinath [3760m] – Kagbeni[2800m]–Jomsom [2720m]
From Muktinath, you can reach Jomsom through Jeep. But if you aren’t tired the better option will be to trek to Jomsom through Kagbeni which looks like an oasis in a desert. From Kagbeni we can travel alongside the wide Kali Gandaki River to Jomsom. Once again start as early as possible. You may also visit and stay in Marpha, the settlement popular for apple brandy but check if seats for buses are available from here.
Jomsom – Ghasa – Beni
Take a bus or jeep ride to Beni. The ticket counter is near bus stop in Jomsom. You have to switch the bus at Ghasa. In between there are Rupse Fall - a very large water fall and Tatopani - Hot water spring. We took a night bus to Kathmandu from Beni. You may take rest for in Pokhara.
About the Schedule
A vehicular road is being constructed upto Chame. If completed, you may even be able to save a day. The Annapurna circuit will take about 8 day at minimum based on the above schedule. If you tend to walk slowly, you can add a day to the schedule. Manang is a good point for a rest day and shall give you time to acclimatize and you can also have side treks to upper pisang and other villages.
Since we also visited Tilicholake, it took us 10 days in all
5. Necessary items
|Water Proof shoes [Rs 3000 & above] |
Water proof moderately thick jackets
Few extra T-shirt& socks [as at the end of the day it will be wet with sweat]
|Trekking Stick [Rs 350] |
Map [Rs 300]
Toilet paper, Brush/paste
A torch, Match or Lighter
A 500ml transparent pet bottle
Knife and whistle for survival in emergency
|Medical|| Food |
| Band Aid, Tube Betadine |
Sancho, Paracetamol, Pain killer
Move, Bandage, Knee bands
Metrodazole tablet, Electolyte Solution like Nava jeevan
Sunscreen [you will get the burnt skin anyways]
|None specific but you shouldn’t miss Nuts, beaten rice, Candies and some pre-cooked noodles |
Garlic as a preventive measure for Acute Altitude Sickness
6. Facilities and Expenses
- Electricity is available in most places and since it’s not the national grid, Load shedding problems are not severe. A multi-plug to charge the gadgets will be helpful. You may be charged for charging though.
- Network towers both NTC and NCell were available randomly. Signal are weak so switching to Flight mode will keep the cell running longer
- ATMs are available at Besisahar and at Jomsom but both are unreliable as at both places they were closed due to no electricity or technical problems when we tried to used them.
- Drinking water was not a problem. We drank water directly from the streams without any problem.
- The meals [Dal, Bhat] costs higher as we go up. It was highest at Tilicho Base Camp at Rs 250
- Elsewhere below, it was generally between Rs 100-150 for plain meal
- Accommodation cost was normally not more than Rs 500 per Room and it is costlier on the Mustang side.
- We incurred in total about Rs. 8000 per person for the whole tour including transportation cost but it depends on how you travel. It is recommended to skip meat.
- All the costs are of 2011, you may consider 10% inflation rate for estimate
- As mentioned earlier, guides and going through trekking agencies are absolutely not required. You can save money and give a tip to the local people, hire a local guide midway instead of paying for the trekking agencies. All the people we met were friendly and helpful. However don’t trust them on time required to reach next point as our walking pace is slower than the locals.
- Guides are however compulsory for non Nepali Nationals. Non-Nepali trekkers require ACAP, TIMS for regular circuit and special trekking permit for Naar, Phu& Upper Mustang. Foreign trekkers are advised to take the permit in Kathmandu or Pokhara as the fee is double at checkpoints. They may check the wiki travel page for more info.
7. Leave No Trace
Follow the basic rule of Trekking
Leave nothing but footprints
Kill nothing but time
9. References and Useful links
All the location name and heights are taken from the Map published by Nepal Map Publisher Pvt. Ltd
Wiki Travels Page - http://wikitravel.org/en/Annapurna_Circuit
Acute Mountain Sickness [AMS] - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altitude_sickness
Day 3 |There are unique rock formations on the way which is said to have been the effect of wind over long time
Day 4 | Another unique rock formation and there are coves in this one. Its too far away to visit though
Additional Day 2 | And Finally the joy part. After the steep climb the quiet Tilicho Lake is a pleasing sight.
Additional Day 2 | Getting lost in the way and spending night out at 4500m is something that wasn't expected.
Day 6 | It is a steep climb to the 5400m high Thorangla Pass. Finally the prize of the hard work. A chorten at Thorang-La Pass and the momento of the visit.
Day 6 | There is a tea shop at the top of the pass. A cup of tea here is expensive but it's worth it.
Day 6 | It is a gentle descend to Muktinath. The endless desert landscape of Mustang can be seen all the way.
Day 6 | Muktinath Temple marks the end of the Journey. But if you have energy left in you can trek through oasis of Kagbeni to Jomsom on the next day
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