The Annapurna Circuit used to be an 18-day trek. Most trekkers begin the trek from Besisahar on the eastern end of the circuit and finish at Birethanti on the western end. The most gruelling part of the trek has to be the crossing of Thorung La (5416m) which sits between the western and eastern flank of the Annapurna massif.
Recent development in the area has greatly shortened the trek for those who can’t afford such a long holiday. The motorable road on the eastern side ends at Chame while that on the western side goes all the way to Muktinath. In practical terms, the Annapurna Circuit can now be done in a week! If you fly out from Jomsom, it’s even shorter. While purists may decry this as an assault and insult on the natural environment, it does bring convenience to the residents and visitors who are either unfit or unable to afford a 3-week holiday.
I have decided to take advantage of this recent development to introduce two pampered boys from the Land of Sheltered Walkways to an environment that will train and test the mind and spirit. Admittedly, this is going to be my most “sissy” Himalayan trip, but for the boys, it’s going to be a major challenge. My original intention was to take a jeep from Pokhara to Muktinath (with a night stop at Tatopani), then fly back from Jomsom. Then, I received news from my old friend Jyoti that the road is damaged at Dana. It won’t be repaired in time.
Below is my revised itinerary:
Stage 1 : Fly to Jomsom – drive to Muktinath and return to Marpha via Kagbeni.
Stage 2 : Drive from Marpha to Dana, trek past road block, board connecting vehicle to Tatopani
Stage 3 : Drive back to Pokhara.
Stage 4 : Drive to Lumbini night at hotel.
Stage 5 : Drive back to Kathmandu
Stage 6 : Return to Singapore.
Of course, there is more than one way to do a quickie on the western part of the Annapurna circuit. Some may argue that I shouldn’t fly in due to altitude problems. The reason for flying in is because it would be much easier to do part of the exit trek on foot (due to the road block) than to enter with a full load at the beginning. The exit trek is also downhill compared to the entry trek. The highest point to be explored is Muktinath 3710m. We’re flying straight into Jomsom 2800m and will overnight there. Anything below 3000m should not require acclimatisation.
The next day, we’ll be driving to Kagbeni and Muktinath on a daytrip. Altitude should not be a serious issue as we will be descending to spend the night at Marpha 2670m. From there, we’ll be driving back to Tatopani and Pokhara. So far, this plan is only theoretically feasible. If it works out, it would be a great itinerary for groups with pampered kids and the elderly.
I have only 8 days to fit in the 6 stages. The Lumbini part may interest them least of all, but I do want them to understand a bit about the birth of Buddhism. The exact plan will depend on the situation on the ground and I just love to make such life/death decisions. I’ll be posting on-the-road updates on my Facebook page and Twitter account. Do follow me if you’re interested. Detail write-ups will be posted on the blog after my return.
Read all about it here.