Once in a Lifetime Experience on the Annapurna Circuit Trek
A few weeks ago, in May, I completed 12 days on the Annapurna Circuit Trek. Annapurna is a beautiful area and I would like to share a few highlights from my trek. My 1st recommendation would be not to rush, plan some extra time to do some side trips (I heard a lot of good things about Tilicho Lake) and rest days if needed.
I began the trek in Syange with my guide Babi and I found the lodges and teahouses quite luxurious compared to my experience of trekking in my home country of New Zealand where camping or very basic huts are the norm. But after a day of trekking (4-5 hours so as not to ascend too quickly) I was very happy to have a shower, bed and home cooked meal (dal bhat!).
The views, type of terrain and wildlife varies greatly over the trek. The 1st few days we followed the river up the valley surrounded by green vegetation, waterfalls, farms, wild strawberries, ponies, goats, butterflies and the occasional monkey. As the altitude increased the vegetation reduced to low scrub and then disappeared altogether, but by then there were views of the beautiful snowy peaks! The best views of the mountain ranges were from Manang (3500m) where we stopped for 2 nights to acclimatise (I recommend this). A little way up the hill is a tiny monastery Praken Gompa where only one monk lives. It is worth a visit and also gives some more amazing views of the mountains and the glacier (and lake) on the opposite side of the valley.
The next night at Yak Kaka I had my first sighting of some yaks and also experienced Yasa Gumba – an expensive medicinal “herb” that is harvested around this area and there were many tents and people hunting all over the surrounding hills. Then it was on to High Camp and we woke up early the next morning to a glittering covering of snow, no wonder it was cold during the night! The steep trek up to Thorong Pass (5400m) was slow going at this altitude but we made it in good time and very good luck with the weather!
Amazing views of the surrounding mountains would’ve kept me there for a long time but the cold drove us down the other side of the pass for the long descent to Muktinath and back to civilization.