Nepal – Annapurna Region

In 1988 I went to Nepal for the first time, travelling by bus from Delhi to Kathmandu. Although the trip took almost 2 days, and the bus was remarkably uncomfortable, it was one of the most spectacular journeys I have ever taken, and a most remarkable experience.

And then I trekked the Annapurna circuit, still considered by many to be one of the 10 classic treks of the world. It took 24 days to complete, and from the time we left Ghorka, until the day we walked down into Pokhara, we were travelling entirely on footpaths and saw no vehicles of any description.

Part of the walk is now over a new road, and whilst this is surely welcome to the inhabitants of the region, I suspect that it takes away a little of the magic of the trek.

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Village near Manang (posibly Mungji), on the Marsyandi River, close to the Annapurnas. In many ways, a typical Nepalese mountain village, it is built on man-made terraces, up steeply sloping mountainside, to avoid using any of the precious farmland available in the valley.

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View from Poon Hill. Poon Hill lies a little to the west of Ghorapani on the river Ghora (pani being water), west of the Annapurnas. Sunrise there consequently occurs behind the Annapurna peaks, including the spectacular Machhapuchhare, or ‘fishtail’ peaks. That said, this shot was taken towards the west, looking across the Kali Gandaki valley.

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This is dawn, though. Machhapuchhare and its double peak are shown clearly on the left.

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Mountains and glacial lake from the village of Manang.

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Lower down, the land is heavily terraced, fertile land being at such a premium that every available bit is used. These rice paddies are near the village of Chepe Ghat, on the Marsayandi River.

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Chorten. Chortens, or stupas as they are also commonly known, usually contain relics of saints or priests. The original stupas held relics of the Buddha, such as at the Temple of the Tooth, at Kandy, Sri Lanka.

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Mountains near the village of Muktinath. In the rain-shadow, here, the landscape is that of a high altitude desert.

 

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Mani stones on the Annapurna trail. Mani stones may be carved, painted or both, and serve a similar function to prayer flags, in that they either have a prayer or mantra carved on them (typically ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’ – from which the name ‘Mani Stone’ comes from – meaning ‘Hail to the jewel in the heart of the lotus’ i.e. The Buddha) or they may have a picture of the Buddha himself. Although they may be encountered singly or in small numbers by shrines or at Gompas, at times they make up huge walls containing many hundreds of stones, some of which may have been there for hundreds of years. These walls, like shrines or any other Buddhist relics encountered here, are passed on the left.

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Houses at Manang.

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The Upper reaches of the Marsayandi, looking down to Manang.

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Snowed in below Thorung La. Not an unusual occurrence. Thorung La is at 5415m (17,700ft). We arrived at our campsite early afternoon with the ground clear of snow and the sun out. This was the scene a couple of hours later, delaying our crossing the pass (‘La’ is Tibetan for ‘Pass’) by 24 hours.

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Crossing Thorung La. On the day we crossed the pass, we left camp just after 4 in the morning, and were down the other side by late afternoon.

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Looking west (and down!) from Thorung La). On this side of the pass there is far less precipitation and the land is noticeably drier. This is looking towards Muktinath.

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64 thoughts on “Nepal – Annapurna Region

      1. That’s what I was afraid of. Hopefully with the recent distribution of funds by the government, things will improve. Tell all your friends to return to Nepal – it really is safe! Last aftershock I felt there was last December.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Mick, what an amazing adventure – your stunning photos and description bring us into another world. Every photograph is fascinating, I love the houses, the paddy fields as well as the dramatic Himalayas. Thank you so much for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There wasn’t any alternative then, Monica. Lodges were few and far between, and the best you got at most of them were floorboards in a communal and incredibly smoky area. tents were the best choice, if more than a little chilly at times!

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    1. It was very uncomfortable, I must say. But strangely, even whilst I was on the bus, I was delighting in the whole experience. Often, these things are only enjoyable in retrospect, and you tend to gloss over or forget the discomfort, but I was aware of both the discomfort, but also that it was an incredible experience that I wouldn’t have missed for all the world.
      And yes, the Annapurna Circuit knocked spots off of the Everest one, although this was almost 30 years ago!

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  2. I have read this a couple of times. The photographs are stunning. What a wonderful memory for you? I loved the one of you trekking in the snow. Great memories, I bet? I mentioned before that I wanted to go overland, but I think its too late now. Not only politically but also age wise. I should have done it at 18, instead, I got married! 😦
    I so envy you the wonderful things you have experienced/ Life’s rich tapestry, and all that! you are a lucky man ( as an aside, I am off to a Fund raiser on Friday for people in Nepal. They are hoping to raise enough to continue building a new school )
    Great post. Thank you

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    1. Thanks, Jackie. They are good memories, yes. I once fancied going overland to India, but it never happened. Partly lack of money, partly never really having the courage to take that step, and then getting married. But even the overland journey from Delhi to Kathmandu was impressive, which just goes to show that you can have adventures without having to find the most extreme ones possible. And it’s never too late to do that, of course. I still fancy chucking a few clothes in a rucksack and heading off.
      And I hope the Fundraiser goes well – huge numbers of people in Nepal are still struggling to get by after the earthquakes.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. That must have been an incredible trip! Thanks for sharing the experience through your post. I doubt that I will ever make it to that part of the world (although you never know…), so I really enjoy reading about the experiences of people who have. Your travels are impressive!

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    1. Annapurna salt…I’ve never heard of it, and I’m not aware of any salt deposits in the area, but who knows? Hang on, I’ll Google it…a-ha. Annapurna is a brand, belonging to Unilever Hindustan, and it is a salt with added iodine.

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