Annapurna Region is another most popular trekking region for Nepal travelers. Trekking in this area offers good scenery of both high mountains and lowland villages. This region has also been recognized as one of the world’s best trekking trails according to survey by Modern Maturity (USA). As the name suggests, the centre piece of this place is the range of mountains that includes Annapurna I, the first of the 8000m peaks to be climbed. Also included in this region is another 8000m giant, Dhaulagiri, which is located west of Annapurna I. Between these two mountains lies the valley of the Kali-Gandaki River, the deepest gorge in the world. Views of lush, fertile farmland and stands of undisturbed natural forest, snow covered mountains and encounters with a mixture of many ethnic communities all add up to a diverse range of experiences that makes this area one of the most satisfying trekking destinations in Nepal.The popular trekking routes of this region are Annapurna Circuit,? Jomsom, and Annapurna Base Camp, Sikles, Lamjung, Dhaulagiri, Upper Mustang and around Pokhara. The best time to visit is during spring and autumn.
The another fact of this region is Annapurna chain of mountains lies inland which causes a large chunk of land to fall in the rain shadow area. Hence these parts are considerably drier than the southern slopes of the mountains. This leads to unusually diverse landscapes and the possibility of trekking even during the monsoon season.
Regardless of the trek chosen it is most likely that Pokhara will be either the starting or ending point of your trek. Pokhara is located 200 km. west of Kathmandu and can be reached by road in five to six hour or by air in 30 minutes from the capital. For road travel there are a number of tourist buses available daily from Kathmandu, Bhairawa and from Chitwan.
There is no scarcity of tourist facilities in and around Pokhara. The tourist area here is beside Phewa Lake the largest of the three lakes in this area. The suburbs of Lakeside as it is known and Damside both provide a wide range of accommodation and restaurants along with the usual variety of trekking and travel agencies and suppliers of souvenirs and trekking equipment. If you are trekking in the eastern side of the Annapurna massif, the most likely starting point will be Besishahar, the headquarters of Lamjung district. However, roads are reaching further up into the trek routes making it possible to start the trek from either Khudi or Bulbule. Buses from Kathmandu, Pokhara and the Tarai arrive here on a daily basis. The bus trip from Kathmandu to Besishahar takes around five to six hours but. Most treks starting or ending in Pokhara will require the use of buses or hired cars to reach the trailheads.
Permits and Fees
Most of the Annapurna trekkings are within the area of Annapurna Conservation Area (ACAP). So to trek in this region permit is required. The permit must be purchased before starting the trek. We assist you to purchase that permit. The proceeds of these fees are largely used for local community development within the project area.? In the case of Upper Mustang Trek along with ACAP Permit, another special permit and fee is levied depending on length of visit. Visitors must also carry a TIMS (Trekking Information Manual System) card to do any trek in this region. We also issue that card to our clients
People and Culture
The most prominent ethnic groups in the Annapurna region are Gurung, Thakali and Manangba. The Gurungs are the most widely distributed and are found from the hills of Gorkha district to as far west as Palpa. Their heartland lies on the hills and valleys between the Marsyandi River and the Kali Gandaki. The Thakali come from the upper Kali Gandaki valley around Jomsom where their traditional farming has being supplemented by trade and, in particular, hotel and restaurant businesses. The Manangba are found in the upper reaches of the Marsyandi River and are in many ways similar to the Gurungs to whom they are possibly related. They are skilled traders and trace their roots back to Tibet. The Manangba and Gurungs of the upper hills are followers of the Buddhist faith with traces of their ancient, shamanism still apparent. The communities that live further south are predominantly Hindu. All of the communities around here, particularly the Gurungs are known for their cultural performances, which are routinely seen while trekking in the region. Many villages along the trails will arrange cultural performances for trekkers during the main seasons.
Flora and Fauna
As can be imagined, the range of geographical and climatic regions has led to a diverse flora and fauna within the Annapurna region. Both Pokhara and Besishahar are below 1000 m in altitude and their climate is tropical. These areas are heavily cultivated and the landscape, therefore, largely consists of terraced paddy fields for most of the year. The area is also famous for its winter crops of oranges, which can be purchased fresh from the trees along the trails in the foothills. As you progress higher up into the hills the natural vegetation changes from the tropical species to more temperate stands of forest trees including oak, beech and rhododendron. These finally give way to coniferous forests of pine and, ultimately, juniper just below the tree line. In the rain shadow, to the north of the mountains, the landscape being an extension of the Tibetan plateau is quite barren. Only stunted bushes and shrubs grow around here, the exception being the area close to the rivers where irrigated cropping is possible. Wildlife seen here includes a variety of birds like the pika and among animals: blue sheep and Himalayan Tahr.
Most of the trekking routes in the Annapurna region are well serviced by teahouses along almost the entire length of the trek. This is particularly true for the more popular treks like the Jomsom trek, the Annapurna Circuit and Annapurna Base Camp treks. Trekkers should be aware, however that there is always the risk of being stranded by bad weather or injury/sickness between teahouses, particularly in the more remote parts of the trek itineraries. A good example is on the Annapurna Circuit where there is one very long day when the high pass of Thorong La has to be crossed. There is little or no shelter available for most of this day and some trekkers have been caught unprepared by bad weather and altitude problems. The treks in less developed areas, particularly the Dhaulagiri Circuit and the trek east of Lamjung, definitely require trekkers to be self sufficient in food and shelter.
When to visit
As with most of the trekking areas in Nepal, the best time to visit are during spring and autumn. Spring is the time for rhododendrons to blossom while the clearest skies are found after the monsoon in October and November. At these times the weather is generally mild and there is little rainfall. Unlike other parts of Nepal, the monsoon, from June to September, is the ideal time to visit this region that falls in the rain shadow. In particular, upper Mustang is the perfect destination during the rainy season. The winter months provide good trekking conditions throughout the foothills but some of the higher passes will be closed due to heavy snow fall.