What impressed me above all else during my 14 days on the Annapurna Circuit was the beautiful scenery. So rather than bore you with too many words, I figured it’s time for a post that lets the pictures speak for themselves.
Day 1: Besisahar to Ngadi
Day 1: Following the NATT Trail from Besisahar to Ngadi
Our first day of the trek began with rather bumpy bus ride from Pokhara to Besisahar, where the Annapurna Circuit officially starts. For the first hour or so of walking, we found ourselves on a dusty road being passed by jeeps filled with trekkers being taken further up to the circuit so they could shorten their trek. Were we making a mistake by not doing the same? We wondered. Soon enough, we found a detour labelled by a red and white painted symbol signifying the Natural Annapurna Trekking Trail (NATT) which avoids the road. We took it, and were rewarded with gorgeous rice fields, small villages, and best of all, next to no trekkers!
Days 2 to 6: From Ngadi to Braga
The following few days of the trek took us through lush tropical green valleys and waterfalls to landscapes reminding me of the Canadian Rockies, filled with beautiful firs and pines.
Not only that, but we passed through countless landslides that were so well defined that I couldn’t help but take picture after picture! They were textbook perfect.
Day 7: Side Trek from Braga to Ice Lakes
Day 7: Side Trek from Braga to Ice Lakes
On Day 7 of the Annapurna Circuit, we decided on taking a beautiful side trip with over 1,000 m in elevation gain up to the picturesque Ice Lakes to help us acclimatize. I was exhausted by the climb, but the beautiful views made it all worth it!
Day 8: Braga to Yak Kharka
Day 10: Thorung La Pass
Day 10: At Thorung La Pass. We made it!
Besides the altitude sickness related symptoms, an ever worsening cold, a lack of a good night’s sleep, and the extreme cold, the ascent to Thorung La Pass went relatively well! Funnily enough I found that a less extreme ascent on Day 5 from Dukhur Pokhari to Ngawal was much more difficult, even though it was less of a gain in elevation! The climb up to Thorung La Pass was at least interspersed with a few flat sections, giving me a chance to catch my breath, as well as a quick rest at a tea shop over 5,000 m up!
Day 11: Lubra Pass
Day 11 I got to treat myself by doing a bit of local shopping from one of the artisans in Muktinath. We found so many little stalls in this cute little village filled with handwoven scarves and blankets made with yak’s wool! As we left the city, we got a chance to see the weaving looms up close. Further on we ascended Lubra Pass, which gave us a beautiful view of the Upper Mustang valley below.
Day 12: From Jomsom to Marpha
I had thought that the worst would be over after getting over Thorung La Pass, but I was wrong. The winds of the Kali Gandaki river valley were strong and unforgiving, and it didn’t help that we lost sight of the main trail and had to follow the road for quite a stretch, while being passed by motor cycle after motor cycle, jeep after jeep, covering us with a thick layer of dust. We spent a much needed rest day in Marpha, a quaint little town filled with home made apple pies, apple brandy and souvenir shops.
Days 13 to 14: Marpha to Tatopani
The last few days of our trek were much more enjoyable. The more we descended, the more things started to warm up and food/room prices started to drop. Best of all, once again we had the trails mostly to ourselves as many of the other trekkers took a bus from the town of Jomsom or a plane back to Pokhara!
Having the luxury of enjoying one of the most beautiful long distance trails in the world (almost) entirely to myself was one of my favorite memories of the hike! Not only that, but we even managed to spot a lemur deep in the forest! (at least, I think it was a lemur … it looked a lot like this little creature.
All in all, the Annapurna Circuit was a breathtaking trek well worth the effort! We hiked it from late October to early November, and although this is still technically considered “high season” we ran into much less trekkers than I expected. I’m already planning a return trip to Nepal to explore lesser known treks and discover more of this stunning country!