Annapurna Circuit

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Nepal

Annapurna Circuit Reviews

davejo davejo
268 reviews
Marpha, the white village Jan 30, 2017
When hiking around Annapurna be sure to spend a night or even two nights at Marpha, which in my opinion is much better than Jomson. It stands at 2,680 m altitude and most of the houses are white-washed, very similar to the buildings on some of the Greek islands. The houses can be several floors high and are made from local stone without using cement or mud. "MAR" means hard-working and "PHA" means people, but the locals rely on tourism to make their living and rearing mules. Marpha is also famous for fruit, especially apples, from which the locals make jam and brandy. If you take a rest day here there is a track that leads up the west ridge to the original settlement of Old Marpha where you can find the Nyingma Buddhist Gompa. From here you can enjoy a good view of the valley and the village below, but be careful as there can be ferocious winds in thee afternoon.
goat herd passing the main street …
white-washed buildings of Marpha
2 / 2 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
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davejo says:
Thank you so much
Posted on: Jan 31, 2017
HORSCHECK says:
Another very interesting review of yours. Well done.
Posted on: Jan 31, 2017
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davejo davejo
268 reviews
Hiking across Thorang La Jan 28, 2017
Best to Cross the Thorang La from Phedi as you only have to ascend 1000m compared to 1600m from Muktinath. Some people manage it from Muktinath but this is very dangerous as you may get disorientated with altitude sickness, and even die. If you start from Phedi you would have a couple of days in Manang to acclimatise, then an early morning trek to Phedi where yu can spend a further night before the attempt of the Thorang La in the morning. We had an early breakfast at 4 am so we could leave with our flashlights at 4.30. The trail was easy to follow as it winds its way above phedi and it took us 2 hard hours to reach the pass. We were very fit as we had just come from a 30 day trek at Everest, so most people take a little longer than this. We had a wonderful view at the top ( a rocky desolate place) where we spent an hour before continuing down to Muktinath. Later in the morning it can become very windy (over 100km p h), and covered by clouds, so that is the reason to reach the top early.It was real tough on the knees coming down 1600m, so be careful not to fall. March, april, October and November there should be fewer problems crossing the pass but even then be prepared to spend extra nights in Phedi if there are unexpected snow falls. The rest of the year the pass would be very difficult to cross and it would be closed for the worst months.
Thorang La
Thorang La
1 / 1 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
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davejo davejo
268 reviews
Pisang, famous for archery Jan 30, 2017
Pisang (3,250 m above sea level) is an amazing place to spend the night, but actually it is divided into two villages, Upper Pisang and Lower Pisang. Pisang is probably the last place to spend the night before making the short trek to Manang and if you are lucky you may catch an archery competition. Most of the locals are from Tibetan origin, and possibly that is why they are so keen on archery. I spent the night in Lower Pisang and i heard that there was going to be an archery competition the next day at Upper Pisang so i made my way up there through the potato fields that where there were many rocks, but apparently the rocks retain the heat and make it ideal to grow potatoes. When i reached the medieval village of Upper Pisang i turned a corner and an arrow came flying past my head, signifying that the archery competition had well and truly began. I checked into the lodge and joined the locals sitting on the flat roofs watching the competition.
archery competition
Upper Pisang
1 / 1 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
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davejo says:
I was lucky not to get an arrow in my face
Posted on: Jan 31, 2017
HORSCHECK says:
David great review with brilliant photos of your adventures in Pisang.
Posted on: Jan 31, 2017
davejo davejo
268 reviews
The Kali Gandaki Gorge, deepest in the world Jan 31, 2017
Soith of Jomson you will spend some hours walking in the riverbed in the Kali Gandaki Gorge and when you each Tukuche you will have to wade through the shallow river to reach the other side. Tukuche is worth stopping at for an hour or so, just to visit the brandy distillery. Purchase a bottle and have a sip on these cold nights. You may catch sight of horses carrying goods for villages further up the river. Some say it is the deepest gorge in the world as it lies 5,571 m below Annapurna 1. Centuries ago the gorge was used as a trade route between India and Tibet.On the west side of the gorge is the magnificent Dhaulagiri at 8,176 m, while Annapurna is on the east side at 8,091 m. The Kali Gandaki river has its source on the Nepali/Tibetan border and eventually flows into the Holy Ganges river.
horses on the trade route
Kali Gandiki Gorge
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davejo davejo
268 reviews
Don't bypass Kagbeni Jan 31, 2017
The Annapurna circuit actually bypasses Kagbeni (2,840 m) but it is well worth making a slight detour to spend a night there, or even include a rest day. Kagbeni actually lies on the route from Jomson to the old capital, Lo Manthang. I guess the detour takes you a couple of kilometers off of the main route and before you arrive there you will spot the huge red Kagchode Thubten Sampheling Gompa which was founded in 1429. If you manage to gain access to the gompa you will see 500 year old texts that are written in gold, trumpets and exquisite festival masks. I was lucky enough to be in Kagbeni during a festival when the monks paraded through the village with their musical instruments and their precious books etc. In Kagbeni's narrow lanes you may come across Evi and Meme, grandma and grandpa , the village protectors. Meme is in a state of permanent arousal and was freshly painted for the festival.
The big red gompa
Meme, always aroused
monks during the festival
Kagbeni, in the distance
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davejo davejo
268 reviews
The stairway to heaven Jan 31, 2017
On the third or fourth day on the Annapurna circuit you will pass by the stairway to heaven, an immense sloping rock face known as Paungi Danda. While you are passing by you are unlikely to see the top because of the angle but a few kms later when you are trekking through the pine forest on the way to Tal, take a look behind you and if it is clear you will have a magnificent view of the huge rock face. Probably you may see snow right at the top. This is an amazing slop and on of the highlights of the whole trek.
magnificent rock face
view from pine forest towards Tal
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davejo davejo
268 reviews
Careful when crossing iced over waterfalls Jan 28, 2017
After you leave Hinko the trail passes over the stream and sometimes it is difficult to follow if there has been fresh snow. There are a some waterfalls that are on the left, which have been iced over due to the cold weather, but there is still a flow from the waterfall which passes underneath the frozen ice. Do not try to traverse this as the ice can be very thin and you will fall through it to the cold water below and i imagine it would be extremely difficult to rescue yourself. I, actually clambered across the frozen ice at the base of a waterfall but on the way back i noticed that the ice had started thawing and there were already holes in the ice where i had walked the previous day.
frozen over at the bottom of water…
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davejo davejo
268 reviews
Chomrong, Little Switzerland Jan 28, 2017
Chomrong is worth spending the night before you continue the trek to ABC. The lodges cling to the side of the hill offer good views of the valley and surrounding mountains. Some of the lodges here remind trekkers of chalets in Switzerland, and the village is so enjoyable, peaceful and picturesque that i have stayed here on three occasions. After spending a night here (as it is the entrance to the ABC (Annapurna Base Camp) trek hikers continue down the path until the bottom where your papers are checked (don't know if this is still the case) then after that it is a steady 2-3 day climb up the valley to the Annapurna Sanctuary.
Lodges at Chomrong
towards ABC (Annapurna Base Camp)
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davejo davejo
268 reviews
A village festival in Ghandrung Jan 28, 2017
At Ghandrung we were lucky enough to catch a village festival which seemed to be organised by the women who danced and performed a mini play. I believe this was held in May but not sure if it is an annual event.The festival included dancing, playing musical instruments, and comedy , (i believe). Naturally we did not understand much but the locals made us welcome, also offering us drinks. I believe that the festival was one of the highlights of the year when all the villages turned out to watch the show. Ghandrung is well worth stopping at and there is a great view from the north end of the village where you can see the valley that you have to cross on the way to Chomrong.
Ghandrung festival
Ghandrung festival
Ghandrung festival
Ghandrung festival
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davejo davejo
268 reviews
Tal, a beautiful village on the east of the circuit Jan 28, 2017
Tal, a village at 1700m is worth staying a night, There is a waterfall on the right hand side at the end of the village but it is extremely cold to take a quick shower. Tal means lake so there was originally a lake here before it was filled in by landslides caused it to silt up. The village has houses and lodges lining each side of the trail that passes through the village. There is an impressive stone gate as you enter Tal, but once you have checked into a lodge be prepared as Tal is surrounded by steep mountains and it will get very cold once you are in the shade after the sun goes down.
gate to tal
Tal village
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Happyharold Happyhar…
3 reviews
Annapurna Circuit March 2nd 2014 Jul 22, 2014
The Annapurna Circuit was a most amazing experience, due in no small part to the extensive snow cover at the higher altitudes. We were experienced independent travellers who, because of a through preparation, experienced few health or safety issues. We expected the best but were fully prepared for the worst. Most important we listened to our bodies and added 2 additional ascent days when my buddy started showing early signs of altitude sickness.

These early spring snowfalls tested our physical and mental toughness because it doubled documented travel times between tea houses. This snow was responsible for the passes closure after a death and several medic-vac helicopter rescues.

Crossing the Thorung Pass with thick fresh snow between Thorung Pheti and Muktinath was a protracted and exhausting 12 hour challenge. The downhill section was extremely slippery because the fresh snow covered the icy trail. The additional rest days at Manang and Thorung Pheti proved critical in maintaining our stamina reserves. We observed several trekkers experiencing difficulties because they lacked quality eye protection, sufficiently layered clothing or trekking poles. Even some young, fit travellers experienced dehydration due to frozen hoses on their camel water packs.

Provided you are sufficiently prepared, the lower sections of the Annapurna Circuit are quite achievable and immensely rewarding. Especially around winter and at the higher altitudes the unpredictable weather conditions can become critical to your health and safety.

Critical to your research, get fit, break in your boots long before you reach Nepal.

Some lock-step guided tours have rigid schedules. Some medic-evacuations were necessary because trekkers started coughing blood after pushing themselves to ‘keep up’.

Get a guide if you lack confidence.

Quality trekking gear is very cheap in Kathmandu as too are toiletries and medicines you need.

Trek safe

Harry
Around Thorung Pass
Around Thorung Pass
Around Thorung Pass
Around Thorung Pass
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davejo says:
Wonderful photos by the way
Posted on: Jan 28, 2017
davejo says:
In '91 we were held up at Phedi for 2 days because of the snow. Finally on the third day we departed Phedi with our flashlights and reached the windy Thorang La before 8 am, then trekked down the other side, passed Muktinath and stayed two days to recuperate at Jharkot. It was sure hard on the knees coming down the other side. The same day they found a body of a Dutch girl who had perished a few days before.
Posted on: Jan 28, 2017
davidh007 says:
Great advice. Thinking of doing this next year. Is canister gas readily available and would it be worth the weight to bring microspikes/crampons/snowshoes
Posted on: Aug 14, 2014
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