Sometimes the old ones are the best! The Annapurna Circuit is one of the most famous and much loved treks in the world. I still wear the sweater I bought at Ledar in 2000. I have so many memories. Since then there have been changes with the roads that are being built in various parts of the trek but cleverly new tracks are emerging to avoid the roads. The scenery remains totally breath taking and if you haven't seen the Annapurnas for yourself, I would strongly recommend going and experiencing the wonderful Annapurna Circuit.
The trek starts in Lamjung where we climb through pretty rice terraces, following the Marsyangdi River through numerous hill villages. As we climb we leave the Hindu communities behind and enter Buddhist communities with huge prayer flags and mani walls.
Here we slow the pace as altitude becomes an issue. This gives us plenty of time to visit the incredible Braka Gompa (monastery) and explore the villages around Manang. The village of Braka is my personal favourite and whenever I need to imagine I am in my special place, it is Braka I go to in my head. Blue sky, sparkling water from glacial run off, yaks and wonderfully clean air. Everywhere I look- it is breathtaking. I potter up to Manang for a slice of cake at the village coffee shop and listen to the excellent lecture on altitude put on each day by the Himalayan Rescue Association.
Past Manang, we climb closer to the mountains, snowy white peaks everywhere. The Thorong La Pass at 5,416 metres is a challenge and when we finally arrive, there is just time for some photos before we need to move on due to the intense cold and lack of oxygen. Descending to the temple at Muktinath, we enter the Mustang area. The scenery changes and so do the people. We are now amidst the Thakali people who are most welcoming and keen to introduce us to their culture.
Fields of buckwheat announce our arrival in Mustang. We head to our favourite guest house in the ancient viillage of Kagbeni. "Namaste Didi" calls the friendly owner, who I have known now for over 15 years. The food is fabulous and we tuck into wild mushroom soup and Kagbeni buckwheat bread. I am back in heaven! In the afternoon we explore the village and relax in the sun with a piece of warm home made cake. We are right on the border with Upper Mustang which has restricted entry and still has it's own King!
At Jomsom, trekkers have the option to fly out to Pokhara or continue down the Kali Gandaki river towards Tatopani and up to Poon Hill.
Hardened walkers can continue all the way into Annpaurna Base Camp where they are rewarded with stunning views of Annapurna 1, Annapurna South and Fishtail.