16th  to  30th October 2009 | Nepal

The Annapurna Circuit Trek 2009

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The Annapurna Circuit Trek (Nepal)

October 16 to 30, 2009

This was G4G's 28th challenge.

This fabulous 11-day trek covered 120km through the stunning Himalayan Annapurna range, following ancient paths used as trade routes between Nepal and Tibet. It was the ‘big one’ for G4G in 2009 and required training, stamina and perseverance, but the breathtaking scenery was ample reward for our efforts.

We trekked between 7km and 19km per day, from Besi Sahar to Jomson, with an acclimatization day in Manang before the tough test of this challenge - the Thorong La pass, 5415m, which touches the edge of the fabled Tibetan plateau.

As the path ascended from 900m to over 5000m, we passed through a wide range of climatic zones and saw diverse plants, animals, landscapes and the different ways of life of the many people who live there. 

Each campsite is surrounded by magnificent mountain scenery, including Annapurna (the first 8000m peak ever to be climbed), the huge ice pyramid Dhaulagiri, and Machhupuchhare, considered by many to be the most beautiful mountain in the world.

We also visited the New Youth Children’s Development Society near Kathmandu, to see for ourselves the wonderful work they are doing for the most needy children of the region.

 Level:  This was an Extremely Demanding test of fitness and determination.  There was no technical climbing, but there were plenty of challenging sections and trekking at high altitude was tough.   G4G ran a number of free training sessions before the challenge.

Number of participants: Maximum 25 per group.

Registration Fee: AED 1,850/-

Minimum Sponsorship: AED 19,000/- 

Assistance provided in advance by G4G: Fund-raising ideas; training & fitness suggestions; safety & medical advice; clothing & equipment advice.

What G4G provides on the Challenge: flights and transfers, hotels/tents (on a double-occupancy basis), food, guides, medical & vehicle back-up.

Essential to leave behind: Day-to-day problems.

Essential to bring: Determination & a sense of humour!

 

Day 1: October 16, Friday

Arrived in Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport. Upon arrival, we were met by a ground handler representative and transferred to the hotel. At the hotel’s lobby welcome refreshments were served and room check in assistance provided.

Eve: Pre-trip departure briefing, followed by welcome dinner at a Nepali restaurant featuring cultural program.

Overnight at hotel in Kathmandu.

Day 2: October 17, Saturday

After breakfast, we checked out from the hotel in Kathmandu for our travel (about 6 hours) 173 kilometers to the village of Besi Sahar, where the trek started, stopping at Riverside Spring Resort in Kurintar for a Nepali thali lunch.

Besi Sahar (823 m) is the main town of Lamjung district. Until recently, this market town of 2000 inhabitants was called Besigaon. However, since the opening of the road to Manang, in the late seventies, the village became a compulsory stop over for those who go trekking around the Annapurna and was renamed Besi Sahar.

There are several administrative offices here, as well as post-offices and a police check-post, where our trekking permit was examined for the first time.

Dinner and overnight camping at Besi Sahar.

Day 3: October 18, Sunday

We started our trek by heading northwards, until we reached the District Forest Office. Then we ascended 150m, heading towards Pam Khola on the other side of the small bridge. The track goes up again till the hamlet of Sanuti, less than thirty minutes away.

Walking across fields of paddy, barley and corn to reach the village of Bhalam (about 1 hour). Then we crossed Khudi Khola on a suspension bridge to reach the first Gurung village also named Khudi (792m). It takes about two and half hours to reach the Nagdi village (860m) from Khudi.

Dinner and overnight camping in Nagdi.

Day 4: October 19, Monday

We started by heading north to a suspension bridge crossing the Nagdi Khola. At this point, the track on the right leads to the village of Utsa. The path going up towards Mardyangdi leads to the village of Lampata in the Manang District.  

The climb is quite steep and it took about two hours to reach Bahundanda, a village sitting on the headline at a height of 1314 meters. Bahundsnda means “Brahman’s hill” which explains the origin of the people. We stopped here for lunch and to enjoy the view of Mount Phungi (6379m), towards the North.

After lunch, we climbed down a steep slope for about thirty minutes until we reached the Dhule Khola, crossing over to reach the village of Besi. After about an hour, we got to see the magnificent waterfall at Syange (1136m) flowing from the high plain hamlet of Ghulima. From here it took about two hours to reach Jagat, a village along the ridge of the mountain, at a height of 1340m. 

Dinner and overnight camping in Jagat.

Day 5: October 20, Tuesday 

In the morning, after ascending for about forty-five minutes, we reached Bhatti, from where it took another thirty minutes to reach the village of Chamje (1433m). It took about one hour to reach the hamlet of Sattare (‘top of the hill’, in Tibetan) from Chamje. This was an ideal place to have lunch. After lunch we started by walking along the ridge of the hills, then uphill for about an hour through the bamboo forest, to reach the village of Tal, set in the middle of the broad valley at a height of 1707 meters. Tal means ‘lake’ in the Nepali language. From Tal, it took about two hours forty-five minutes to reach Dharapani (1943m), which means ‘stream’.

Dinner and overnight camping in Dharapani.

Day 6: October 21, Wednesday

It took 45 minutes to reach the village of Bagarchap (2164m), which literally means ‘the river bank’. Bagarchap marks the barrier between the humid valleys of the south, which we crossed on the way, and dry regions of the high Marsysngdi. That the monsoon is more or less absent in this region was  evident by the change in vegetation. 

From Bagarchap, it took an hour to climb up to the hamlet of Dhanagya (2300m) where we stopped to have our lunch. After lunch, it took us 2-½ hrs to 3 hrs through the hamlet of Thanchock and Besi Salla (which means “the Garden of Pines”) to reach Kodo (also called Koto) meaning ‘Millet’ and then to the village of Kyupar (2600m).

Outside the village, a police check post controls the passess to the Nar Phu Khola Valley, which leads to Tibet. We had to show our trekking permits here again before proceeding to Chame (2713m), the District Headquarters of Manang District, which was another forty-five minutes away.

Dinner and overnight camping in Chame.           

Day 7: October 22, Thursday

We walked along the river to reach the village of Bratang (2919m), mainly populated by Tibetans. Here we stopped to have a hearty Lunch. On the way to Bratang, we passed through a pine forest with splendid views of Lamjung and Annapurna II and IV.

After lunch, it was about two hours walk to reach the top, where we planted a pine sapling, not only to establish that we had made it to the top, but also to contribute to the reforestation of the area. We walked down to Pisang (3185m) from where it takes about an hour to reach there. There were neither houses nor any water resources on the way down.

Dinner and overnight camping in Pisang.

Day 8: October 23, Friday

After we crossed the Pisang Khola there was a forty-five minute steep climb up to a pass. From the top of the pass we got a glimpse of Paunda Danda (4655m), mount Pisang and Manang valley, with right before us Mount Tilicho.

On the way down to Hongde we came across a check post where the trekking permits were again examined. We had our lunch here until the permits are examined.

After Hongde, the valley widens and we got to see the Annapurnas III and IV (7555m and 7525m) to the left, East and West Chulus (6584m and 6419m) on the right and, towards the horizon, there are views of the highest peak of Mount Thoroung (6481m) and to the east, the crown of Mount Pissang.

From Hongde, we climbed up to the ancient village of Braga (3505m). We took time to wander around Braga and explore this picturesque village with its flat roofed houses and visited the Gompa - not only the largest in the region, but also the richest with its fine collection of Thangkas (religious scroll paintings) and prayer books.

It took only forty-five minutes to reach Manang from here, which sits on the plateau of 3530 meters.

Dinner and overnight camping in Manang.

Day 9: October 24, Saturday

We took an extra day to rest and acclimatize before we proceeded to higher altitudes. We went for a walk in the afternoon to the north of the village, which offers a panoramic view of Annapurna IV and II to the southeast and Gangapurna (7455m) and Tarke Kang or Ice dome (7202m) to the southwest.

Dinner and overnight camping at Manang.

Day 10: October 25, Sunday

After leaving Manang the path climbed up till we reached the hamlet of Tengi (3642m). From here it took about an hour to reach Gunsang (3850m), then it was another one hour forty-five minutes uphill to Lattar (4250m).  We walked through Himalayan pastures - the domain of yak, a bovine of Tibetan origin, reared for its wool, milk and to transport goods. The Thar, a kind of wild goat that lives in herds, is also found here.

Dinner and overnight camping in Lattar.

Day 11: October 26, Monday

It took about two hours to reach Thorung Phedi, crossing one of the Thorung-La Pass. Thorung Phedi means ‘foot of the hill’ and it is situated at a height of 4220m on a small hill overlooking a high plateau.

Dinner and overnight camping in Thorung Phedi.

Day 12: October 27, Tuesday

We had to cross about twenty hills on the way to reach the summit, Thorong la, at 5,415 meters and it took about 4½ -5 hrs to reach here. On the way up, we got to see many prayer flags and several cairns (small mounds of rock).

From the top, we got to see the Yakgawa Kang or Thorungse (6481m) to the north and Khatung Kang (6484) to the south and the Annapurnas, along with the Gangapurna, to the southeast.  In the horizon to the west, Dhaulagiri (8169m) and Mount Tukuche (6920m) were also visible.

From the summit, the descent to Muktinath (3802m) took about three hours and the difference in altitude is of 1600m. Here we came across another check post where we had to show our trekking permits.

Dinner and overnight camping in Muktinath.

Day 13: October 28, Wednesday

This was an easy day, as we walked down to Jomsom from Muktinath, though the winds were a little strong as we walked down the Kali Gandaki River.

Dinner and overnight camping at Jomsom.

Day 14: October 29, Thursday

Am: We proceeded to the nearby airport and boarded the plane for our 20 minute flight back to Pokhara. Upon arrival, we were met by a representative and transferred to a nice lakeside restaurant for relaxation and rest. After our short rest we started our sightseeing tour of Pokhara Valley.

Lunch was available for those who desired (at our personal cost) at a nice restaurant in Lakeside Bazaar. Then we were transfer to Pokhara domestic airport to board the 25-min flight to Kathmandu.

Upon arrival we were met and transferred to our Hotel.

Pm:  We had a free afternoon for last-minute shopping and packing.

Eve:  A farewell dinner was held at a nice restaurant in Thamel.

Overnight at hotel.

Day 15: October 30, Friday

We had the morning free until our final departure transfer to Tribhuvan International Airport for the return flight to Dubai.

Climate

Daytime temperatures in October will range from 22-25°C in Kathmandu and from 6-8°C at Annapurna Base Camp. Night-time temperatures will decrease as altitude increases, from 12-13°C to 1-2°C. It may well fall below freezing. Warm clothing is needed.

Health -  

The most important and simple thing you can do to prevent illness is to be properly immunized. Our medical advisor recommends that travellers should be immunized against Hepatitis A and B, a series of three injections, advising the first and second doses at least 6 weeks before departure. Typhoid and Tetanus are a must. Malaria risk is extremely low. The Dubai London Clinic will provide vaccinations to challengers on a cost only basis - contact the head nurse, Maria, on 04 344 6663 to make an appointment. The challenge is described as strenuous so good fitness is required - start training as early as possible. Keep hydrated on the trek by drinking water regularly.

Altitude sickness can occur but can be minimised by good fitness and "Diamox" tablets. Second most important - follow food and drink guidelines

Visa info for Nepal

Currently visas are purchased on entering at Kathmandu at a cost of US$30 (approx Dhs I10). One passport sized photograph and passports copies are also required. A departure tax of 1100 rupees (paid in local currency) will be levied. Gulf for Good will advise of any changes.

Travel & Medical Insurance

G4G will arrange group medical/travel insurance for you. You will be required to pay your insurance premium at least two weeks prior to departure. Further details about the premium, type of cover, insurance terms & conditions etc are available on request. 

Respect for the Environment

We maintain a firm commitment to conserve the areas we work in and ask you to do the same. Take only photographs and leave behind only footprints and tyre tracks.

Safety

We take your safety very seriously. It is our first and never forgotten priority. Please listen to your guides and follow their instructions. 

What We Supply

Return flight from Dubai, internal flights/transfers, daily meals, water and accommodation including tents (on a double-occupancy basis).  All your gear will be transported each day to the night stop, except daily necessities carried in your own day-pack.

A Typical Day

Days vary according to terrain and distance. However, you can expect a lunch stop, usually at a local restaurant. Two snacks per day are supplied at pre-established rest stops on the way. There will be time to socialize and explore before dinner.

Special dietary requirements can be catered for with prior notice. Boiled water is available throughout the day.

Personal Equipment

Travel light! Try to limit your baggage to around 15 kgs. All bags are to be clearly marked and lockable. Do not take or wear any valuables on the trek - it is best to leave them at home.

Please refer to the Kit List. All the items required for the trip can be purchased from major sports shops and cycling shops like  Wolfie’s.

 

Mission Himalaya Children's Eco Farm Home

We visited the Mission Himalaya Children's Eco Farm Home near Kathmandu , to see for ourselves the wonderful work they are doing for the most needy children of the region.

Having worked with this charity before, we know how professionally and passionately this orphanage is run.   They are moving to new premises in order to house more orphans and street kids, as well as give them more security, as the land and buildings will be owned rather than rented.   Our funds payed for the new building on land bought by other donors, including members of a previous G4G challenge.

Read More...

Current project status:

After considerable unforeseen difficulties Mission Himalaya purchased the land and has completed the vast majority of construction.   The orphans are starting to move in!

The best way to ensure that you are dressed correctly is to wear the correct layers, starting from against the body. The biggest mistake made by people is to start off with cotton against the skin. Cotton absorbs moisture perfectly, but has absolutely no wicking properties. “Wick” means that the fabric draws moisture away from the body and allows it to evaporate on the outside. Cotton against the skin will trap moisture, ensuring a cold and miserable time. So, don’t take chances with incorrect clothing.

The first layer should offer good insulation and be a “wicking” type of thermal underwear. The middle layer, using a product like a polar fleece should provide insulation and warmth. The outer layer should be windproof, waterproof and breathable. Ventex, Gore-Tex, Weathertite or Jeantex products offer these properties.

Camera
Taking pictures with a fully automatic camera at altitude is perfectly possible, but always have a new battery in your camera when going into cold areas. A mechanical camera works just as well, provided you have the knowledge to operate it successfully. Cameras exposed to cold do not cease functioning, but if you keep it inside your jacket and the lens is warm, it will likely form condensation when suddenly exposed to cold. This condensation will freeze under certain conditions. Therefore, keep your cameras dry at all times.

There are numerous classic photo opportunities. It is recommended that serious photographers take a small portable tripod, as it could be cold enough that you cannot keep the camera steady.

Packing
Remember that you will be in the mountains for at least 11 days. You need to take enough clothing, especially socks to last for this period.

Mental Preparation
It is well within you to trek to the Annapurna. Remain in a positive state of mind, without being overly confident. This mental stamina will make the more difficult parts easier to complete. Always focus on your goal and do not get involved in inconsequential matters that will rob you of your concentration. Being physically prepared assists a great deal in being mentally confident for the physical part of the Challenge.

Day Pack
Make sure your daypack is properly packed and complete by the time you start each day You will be unlikely to see the rest of your luggage during the day.

Final Notes
Trek at a pace that suits you, do not rush. Take frequent rests. Drink at least 3 – 4 litres of water a day. Remember, good body water balance is one of the keys to a successful trek!

Check List: Tick as you collect:

Base Layer:

  • 1 Pairs Medium Thermal Underwear leggings (long) Cotton to be avoided 
  •  1 Pairs Medium Thermal Underwear top (long) Cotton to be avoided
  •  4 pairs wicking sock liners. Cotton to be avoided
  • Regular underwear - wicking material

Thermal Layer:

  • Fleece jacket or equivalent
  • Fleece pants or equivalent
  • Thermal Gloves
  • Thermal hiking socks
  • Quick Dry shirts
  • Down jacket
  • Fleece scarf or equivalent

Outer Shell:

  • Long length waterproof, windproof, breathable jacket  (eg Gore-tex or equivalent)
  • Trousers waterproof, windproof, breathable (eg Gore-tex or equivalent)
  • Poncho or rain jacket

Additional Gear:

  • Sleeping bag rated to at least -5oC, preferably -15oC
  • 35 litre day pack (with padded shoulder and hip straps)
  • Hiking Boots (Gore-tex recommended or treated leather boots or equivalent)
  • Trainers trousers with zip-off legs
  • Trekking trousers with zip-off legs
  • 2 sets travelling gear (trousers, shirt, shoes, socks, underwear)
  • Wide brimmed hat for sun and rain
  • Trekking poles
  • Sunglasses
  • Protective glasses, clear for contact lens wearers in dusty, cold conditions
  • Sunscreen SPF 30+
  • Lip Balm
  • Water bottles insulated or hydration bladder, 3 litre capacity combined
  • Wash Cloth
  • Buff or Bandana
  • Quick Dry Towel
  • 1 Headlamp with extra bulb & batteries
  • Camera with extra film, batteries & lenses
  • Packs of trail mix snacks
  • Packs energy powder mix for drinking
  • Travel documents
  • Cash currency (US$)
  • Toilet Paper
  • Personal toiletries and medication
  • Plastic bags for packing
  • Wet Wipes

Miscellaneous

Nepal is two hours ahead of the U.A.E.

Take US Dollars to change

Good Reference Books are the Lonely Planet Guides to Nepal, available from branches of Magrudy’s.

Compulsory

Inform us of any important changes in your medical condition. 

A relaxed attitude - and a sense of humour !