Nepal is a country which has been blessed with the mighty mountain ranges of the Himalayas which makes it one of the most beautiful countries in the world, the blessing is also in the form of the millions of trekkers it attracts from all over the world who come here to overcome and succeed in the most grueling trekking conditions in the world. Ever since Sir Edmund Hillary some sixty-odd years ago climbed up the Mt. Everest along with Tenzing Norgay, Nepal suddenly burst into the trekking map of the world and in the past three decades with almost all trekking routes being made available to trekkers the excitement and fever has just caught on. Nepal is blessed with some great treks famous among them includes the highest peak in the world Mt. Everest but the route that has been the love of every trekker around the world, the Holy Grail of trekking is the Annapurna Circuit.
The Annapurna Circuit is the name given to the trekking route that passes through the Annapurna mountain ranges in the heart of Nepal, the trek which is 20 to 21 days long is a beautiful journey through some of the great sights and sceneries that Nepal has to offer. The length of the trek varies around 160 km to 230 km depending on the route you select; the circuit is horse-shoe shaped and goes through the deep wilderness of the Annapurna wildlife sanctuary. Today, road construction is taking over much of the traditional route but the beauty still remains while trekking there one can choose to take the conventional path through the wilderness or take the road on some sections though you will have to confront a lot of dust en route. The Annapurna Circuit trek was officially declared for foreigners in 1977 once the conflict between the Khampa guerillas and the Nepal army was settled for good. The original trek which took about 23 days to trek started from the market town of Dhumre and finished at Pokhara.
The beauty of the trek is said to lie in its diversity, the Annapurna trek takes one through varying climatic zones and cultures which keeps the trekkers interested all throughout their trek. From the tropical climate of the low lying regions at around 600m to the deep pine forests at around 3000 meters, from the sweaty temperatures near the valley to the arctic like cold at the highest point of the trek at Thorong La which stands at 5400m above sea level. The trek takes people through jungles, rice fields of villages, Pine forests, dry river valleys, deep gorges, green hills and snow-capped mountains. Besides the geographical diversity that is one offer, the trek is also known for the exhibition it puts up for the cultural diversity of the region. The two most dominant religions in the area are Tibetan Buddhism and Hinduism. While crossing the many villages you will be able to encounter and experience the many facets of local culture.
Trekking in the Annapurna Circuit is best done during the autumn months of September-October, this time of the year see some ten thousand odd trekkers throng to the circuit for a glorious trek in to the Himalayas. Though Annapurna circuit can be trekked whole year round it is advisable to avoid going to trek during the monsoon months as the number of leaches is very high. One can trek during the shoulder months of November and December too along with spring which has warm temperatures. Trekking can be done in many ways you can hire a porter or a guide or both, porter will help you carry your supplies for the duration of the trek and also help with the route especially if it’s your first time. But beware not to go for the guides or porters available at the hotels in Kathmandu or Pokhara as many trekkers are scammed by them go for only authentic guides assigned to you by your trekking agent. In case you are doing the trek individually, then you will at least dedicate one full day to take care of the administrative side of the thing such as getting an entrance permit for Annapurna Conservation Area Project which you can get from the National Trust for Nature Conservation and get yourself a TIMS (Trekker Information Management System) from the Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal. With these administrative things done, equipments arranged and supplies taken care of you can begin you trek.
The trekking starts from Besisahar which can be reached by bus or taxi from Kathmandu, from Besisahar you start your trek to Khudi followed by Bhulbhule, Ngadi, Bahudanda, Chemche, Tal and Danaqyu these are the low lying areas which will be easy but sweaty too. Danaqyu marks the beginning of a cooler climate as the altitude reaches around 2500m. From Danaqyu to Dhukhur Pukhari is the low trail with altitude reaching around 3300m from Dhukhur Pukhari you hit the upper trail of the circuit going through places like Upper Pisang, Manang, Thrang Phedi and High Camp which is at 4500m. From High Camp you do two hour long trek to Thorong La pass the highest point of the trek at 5400 m before descending to the Hindu pilgrimage town of Muktinath. Muktinath marks the beginning of the downhill trek which culminates at the low hill of Poonhill where you can see the Mighty Mountains of the Annapurna Massif, a beautiful way to end the trek.