In May, after Chiara finished her volunteer position with Build Change, we tacked on an extra two weeks in Nepal to trek the world-famous Annapurna Circuit. We didn’t have time to hike the complete circuit, but we did the most popular segment, which includes the impressive Thorung La Pass (5,416 meters/17,770 feet). For the rest of the trail, we traveled by a combination of jeep and bus, to get from the official starting point of Besi Sahar and back to Pokhara.
Below is a brief summary of our trip, along with links to our Instagram photos and a video we made of the trek.
The traditional Annapurna Circuit goes from Besi Sahar to Pokhara via the Thorung La Pass and Ghorepani. However, road construction from Besi Sahar to Manang, and from Jomsom to Pokhara, has made the trekking experience on those sections less enjoyable. Alternate trails have been constructed to keep you away from the road as much as possible, but nowadays most people start the trek in Chame and end in Jomsom, where you can fly or bus back to Pokhara.
We opted for the shortened trekking route of Chame to Marpha (just past Jomsom) in about 10 days. This gave us plenty of time to take rest days and acclimate to the altitude gain. Between Marpha and Pokhara, we stopped for one night in Tatopani because we had heard there were good hot springs there. If we were to include the omitted sections of the trail, it would have added approximately 7 days to the journey at our leisurely pace.
Overall we were pleased with our decision to cut out the road sections, even though more hardcore trekkers told us it was worth it. The section from Chame to the Thorung La Pass was some of the most beautiful mountain scenery we’ve seen in our lives, with spectacular views of 7,000+ meter peaks the whole way. Once over the pass, you enter the Mustang Region, which is an arid high desert, that borders Tibet, and almost looks like another planet compared to the lushness of the east side. From Kagbeni to Tatopani was not a particularly enjoyable section for us. Every day howling winds rip up the valley from the south and, with all the vehicle traffic, the air is choked with dust. We had originally planned on trekking further, but once we spent a few days trekking in near sandstorm-like conditions, we decided to stop at Marpha and take the bus to Tatopani.
Rather than write another lengthy blog post describing each day in detail, we thought we would post links to our Instagram, where we already posted a daily journal with photos. See below for the links, and enjoy!
1st Day: Chame → Upper Pisang
2nd Day: Upper Pisang → Braga
3rd Day: Braga (with day hike to Ice Lake)
4th Day: Braga (rest day)
5th Day: Braga → Yak Kharka
6th Day: Yak Kharka → Thorung Phedi
7th Day: Thorung Phedi → Ranipauwa (Thorong La Pass!)
8th Day: Ranipauwa → Kagbeni
9th Day: Kagbeni → Marpha
10th Day: Marpha → Tatopani (via bus)
11th Day: Tatopani → Pokhara (via bus)
We also took video clips each day, which we compiled into a 10 minute video summarizing our experience. Check it out below!