Trekking the Annapurna Mountain in Nepal
The sun shines so brightly, unobstructed, over Annapurna Mountain, in the Nepal Himalaya. Stunning vistas escort you through forests, across pastures of grazing horses and cows, up rocky inclines and down slippery moss covered trails. You’ll encounter tracks that swerve drunkenly through rainforests, stone staircases and endless views of Annapurna Mountain and the Himalaya. The Annapurna Mountain trek in Nepal will change the way you see travel.
The best option for time-poor adventure seekers is the Annapurna Panorama trek which takes about 6 days.
The scenery on this trek is unforgettable. Trees extend their roots across the paths, creating steps to escort you through the terrain. Small clearings offer breathtaking views of Annapurna, breaking the canopy of trees. We continued down large stone staircases amongst gorgeous forests. Bring your iPhone, because you’ll want to photograph the lush and full forest, clear bubbling streams and moss covered rock faces.
Getting to Annapurna
You will arrive in the Kathmandu airport – an 80s inspired, dark brick building. The signs hanging above you will remind you that you can’t bring your cassette player onto the plane – no joke. Apart from needing a makeover ASAP, this airport functions well and you’ll be ushered through fairly quickly.
If you survive the chaos of Kathmandu, you’ll need to get a 7-hour bus to Pokhara, where you’ll start the trek.
Level of intensity of the Annapurna Panorama trek
The trek can be completed by almost everyone and is ranked by Lonely Planet as a ‘medium’ trek. The trek is through the mountains, so expect a lot of uphill. It does involve some large stone steps – on day one. You’ll have to endure the 3500 (it will feel like more!) stone steps to the small village of Ulleri.
The locals in the Annapurna region and Nepal
The Nepalese are beautiful people. They will always greet you with a polite ‘Namaste’ and a toothy grin. The children in some of the village towns will run out of their homes to greet you as you pass through. Give them a high five and some chocolate and you’ll have a friend for life.
You have the option of hiring a guide or a Sherpa to carry your bags. The guides won’t rush you and are extremely patient. The Sherpas are incredible, and carry more than 20kgs from a strap on their heads.
Accommodation along the Annapurna trek
The tea houses and lodges in these tiny villages are surprisingly pleasant, clean and comfortable. With the Himalayan backdrop, each guest house boasts its views, with the names like ‘Super View’, ‘Himalayan View’ and ‘Nice View’. The beds are basic wooden frames, with foam mattresses. In most places, a thick blanket is provided. Most rooms have two beds, and rooms are divided by large but thin wooden panels. Toilets and showers are either inside the guest house or outside. Most lodges had warm water, even if you have to wait about 10 minutes after the last person; to let the solar heating warm up again.
All dining rooms have a large stove at its center, radiating heat to all inhabitants on the small space. This is the perfect opportunity to huddle around the fire, sharing stories and woes with fellow trekkers and enjoy the heat while waiting for dinner.
The food on the Annapurna trek
The range of food served for dinner was staggering, especially considering what the lodge owners must do to get the food up the mountain. Spaghetti, pizza, curries, noodles and a range of potatoes is just the beginning. Dal Bhat is a Nepalese staple consisting of a lentil curry, and is surprisingly filling.
The highlight of the Annapurna Mountain trek
On day three, you’ll wake up at 4:30am to see the sunrise at Poon Hill, a defining moment on the trek. Stunning mountains of the region literally surround your viewpoint. An industrious Nepali has set up a stand with tea, coffee and hot chocolates, proving a hit with the cold and numerous tourists. The sun rises, engulfing the Himalayan mountains in sunshine, and it’s truly a magnificent sight.
What you’ll take away from the trek
The trek is an extremely rewarding experience. The freedom in heading out every day, with only your two feet escorting you, is liberating and rejuvenating. Exploring nature at its finest and purest form leaves you in awe of her power and majesty. The simplicity that comes with packing bags with minimal items, and only carrying what you need is the definition of freedom. Travel is about learning. It’s about perspective taking. It teaches you freedom. It allows you to feel humbled and in awe of the world around us. As you trek across bubbling streams, over old and worn wooden bridges, tip toe over rocks perched precariously in the middle of rivers and streams, you will pledge to never forget why you travel.
Author: Michelle Hyde
All images captured by: Benjamin Fehervary