Annapurna Trek is the most beautiful trekking region in Nepal and one of the best hikes in the world! It is a land of ethnic, cultural and geographical diversity. Unbelievably, within this small area, there are dozens of ethnic groups with their own dialects, culture and traditions, lowland Aryans following Hinduism to highland Mongoloids following Tibetan Buddhism, sub-tropical lush green valleys to alpine valleys, deep gorge to highest mountains. The trek goes counter-clockwise from Besisahar to Nayapul and reaches its summit in Thorung La (pass) at the height of 5416m, or 17,769 feet. The route goes past the following mountains: Manaslu (an 8,000-plus meter peak), Langtang Himal, Annapurna II and IV, Annapurna III and Gangapurna, and, of course, Annapurna I and Dhaulagiri -- passing through the world's deepest gorge in between those two 8,000-plus meter peaks. Poon Hill, at the end of the trek, affords views of those two mountains, as well as South Annapurna and Macchupucchre, the "Fishtail Mountain."
Day 1 - Kathmandu - Besisahar/ Khudi (790m)
Today you will drive from Kathmandu for about seven and a half hours to the village of Besisahar. From here it is approx 1½ hrs to Khudi where we stay overnight.
Day 2 - Khudi - Bahundanda (1311m)
We cross the Marsyangdi and continue upstream until we reach the Nadi Khola, form where it is a climb uphill to the Bahundanda ridge. Approx 5 hrs.
Day 3 - Bahundanda - Chamje (1430m)
We descend towards the river once again to reach a bridge at Syange. The trail now gradually climbs into an increasingly narrow canyon. After crossing the river on a good suspension bridge near Chamcha, we continue the ascent. We overnight at Tal, the gateway to the Manang district, a beautiful flat meadow with several Tibetan houses and a splendid waterfall. Approx 5/6 hrs.
Day 4 - Besisahar - Bahundanda
We ascend the east bank of Marsyangdi through the main gorge. The trail here is at times cut out of vertical cliffs. We cross to the west side of the river at Dharapani, just south of Thonje, the confluence of the Marsyangdi and Dudh Khola rivers. You do not cross the river at Thonje but turn west and follow the trail ascending on the south side of Marsyangdi through forests and meadows for about one hour, then climb towards Namun Bhyangjyang and Temung Meadows, a series of lush pastures perched high above the river. Excellent views of Manaslu and the peaks above the Larkya Pass. Approx 5/6 hrs.
Day 5 - Temung Meadows - Kupar (2591m)
The trail runs diagonally from Temung through Thenchok village and down towards the river to Kupar which lies above the junction of the Marsyangdi with the Nar river, coming in from the north. Kupar has a police check point, and is near Chame. Between Chame and Pisang the effect of the Himalayan rainshadow can be observed. Though the forests do not disappear entirely, they become generally sparser with a greater percentage of juniper. The fields are sown with barley, buckwheat and potatoes - hardy crops which can thrive in cold, semi-dry regions. Approx 6/7 hrs.
Day 6 - Kupar - Pisang (3354m)
We pass through Chame, the Headquarters of the Manang District, and cross a bridge to north side of the river near the horticultural apple farm at Brathang. In the afternoon we start the spectacular ascent to Pisang. Before Pisang the valley makes a “dog’s leg” turn. This marks the beginning of the transition the transition between the wet and dry zones. The Marsyangdi is in full cry below, gaining momentum to break its way through the line of the main Himalayan range between Annapurna II and Manaslu. There is a choice of campsites at Pisang; near the river or just before the village itself in pleasant wooded country, sheltered from the wind. Approx 6/7 hrs.
Day 7 - Pisang - Braga (3445m)
We follow easy terrain through forests to a small ridge. Below and stretching into the distance is the upper Manang Valley. The southern tier of this valley is walled by Annapurna II, III and IV, Gangapurna, and Glacier Dome to the west. Just visible south of a distant sharp rock peak is the Grand Barrier and the basin containing Tilicho Lake. To the north, just out of sight, is the Thorong La. A long ridge of peaks bar the way to Tibet.
Descending from this view point, the path crosses a plain and passes Hongde airstrip and later the Sabji Khola. Braga is a cliffside village with several monasteries. There are excellent campsites in the fields below the village. Approx 8/9 hrs.
Day 8 - Braga
It is essential to spend time acclimatising at this altitude. There are splendid views of the peaks from both Braga and Manang. Manang is a large village situated on a rise immediately across from the huge glacier descending from Glacier Dome and Gangapurna. A beautiful emerald lake lies at its foot. Possible side trips include treks to: a lake about 3 hours north of Braga; the main Manang Gompa; or to Khangsar on the trail to Tilicho Lake.
Day 9 - Khangsar Village
Khangsar Village – approx 3-4 hrs round trip. Optional – attend class on altitude sickness.
Day 10 - Braga – Yak Kharka (3963m)
A purposely short day for additional acclimatisation. We pass the villages of Manang and Thankey before pitching camp at Chakadunga. A side trip to the stream flowing down from the West Chulu peaks can be attempted in the afternoon. Approx 4/5 hrs.
Day 11 -Yak Kharka - Throng Phedi (4405m)
The trail now turns northwest up the tributary valley of the Jargeng Khola. It is sometimes possible to see herds of blue mountain sheep along the cliffs. We cross a covered cantilevered bride and ascend to Phedi, the last campsite before the Thorong La pass. Approx 4 hrs
Day 12 - Throng Phedi - Thorong La Pass (5220m) - Muktinath (3810m)
The big day and the one we have all been looking forward to! Our ascent starts with a steep climb for 2-3 hours to a rock ledge and notch at 4605m. We then track along an undulating trail to the Thorong La itself at 5220m. At the pass we can see the Annapurna Range to the south and the Mukat Himal bordering Dolpo to the west. The peak immediately north of the pass is Thorongtse; to the south is an unnamed 6500m peak. The descent to our campsite at Muktinath is long and steep, but we are compensated by splendid views of Dhaulagiri. Most people find that this day takes them in the order of 10-11 hours. Muktinath is one of the most important pilgrimage sites for Hindus. It is mentioned in the classic Indian epic, the Mahabharata, and we may see pilgrims bathing in the holy water flowing from the 108 carved spouts surrounding the Vishnu Temple. Muktinath is also home to many ethnic Tibetans and is holy to Buddhists as well. Approx 8/9 hrs.
Day 13 - Muktinath - Kagbeni (2900m)
We continue to descend, gently this time, through fields and poplar groves, then steeply into the Kali Gandaki River valley. Approx 3 hrs
Day 14 - Muktinath - Jomsom (2730m)
We then follow the valley southward to Jomsom, the headquarters of the Mustang District. Jomsom is a large settlement with an airstrip, police station and a bank. Here, the Kali Gandaki river is called the ‘Thak Khola’ by the Thakali ethnic group, many of whom live in this area. Enterprising and ambitious, the Thakalis formerly dominated the salt trade with Tibet in this region and after its collapse diversified into running trekking hotels, construction, and other businesses. Approx 3 hrs.
Day 15 - Jomsom - Pokhara - Kathmandu
Fly from the short take-off and landing (STOL) airstrip at Jomsom to Pokhara for the connecting flight to Kathmandu.
This is a "teahouse trek," meaning there are villages with lodges and restaurants to eat and stay in along the entire route. You are expected to eat breakfast and dinner in the same lodge where you are spending the night. Accommodation in the best available tea-houses with all meals as per the lodge menu.
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