Nepal: Trekking the Annapurna Circuit
Many veteran trekkers still consider the 200-mile Annapurna Circuit the ultimate long-distance trek in Nepal, even though there is fairly high trekking traffic on the Circuit these days. The route encircles the Annapurna Rangea collection of massive, snow-covered summits, many over 26,000 feet. While walking the circuit, you will encounter 17,000-foot passes, glaciers, the world's deepest valley, pine forests, rice paddies, tundra, remote villages, and ancient monasteries. Most trips start up the Marsyandi River, then continue north in the wooded Manang Valley through Chamje, Pisang, and Braga (or other villages in the valley). You must take your time initially, getting used to the elevation. Midway through the trip, you will encounter 17,771-foot Thorong La Pass, one of the most formidable passes in trekking. It may sound crazy to suggest starting up the pass in the middle of the night, but when you clear the pass at daybreak, the reward for your questionable sanity is a breathtaking view of the world's tallest mountains glowing in the pastel light of dawn.
On the other side of the pass, it is a steep descent to the Hindu and Buddhist shrines at Muktinath (12,500 feet). From there, you pass through the Kali Gandaki Gorge, a rugged valley three times as deep as the Grand Canyon. As you descend the Kali Gandaki towards Pokhara, there are continuous views of 26,796-foot Dhaulagiri, and other 20,000=-foot+ peaks in the Annapurnas. Take time to enjoy the view, as Pokhara is the last stop on the circuit before returning to Kathmandu.
It is simple to hire your own guide in Kathmandu, who will arrange lodging in villages along your route and cook your meals. Total cost, including your lodging, will be $25-$100 per person per day, depending on your level of luxury. If you prefer more security and structure, there are a host of seasoned outfitters who can take you around the Annapurna Circuit.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication