The Annapurna Circuit is truly beautiful. The mountain range is breath taking and it reveals itself as you walk along. There are also wonderful side treks that you can add on, if you have the time to spare. We began the walk at the beginning of June which is also the beginning of the Monsoon season. We were lucky, however, because out of the 14 days we spent hiking, only one of them left us caught in the rain.
The beginning of the Annapurna Circuit was low-key in comparison to the beginning of the Everest Base Camp hike – it began with a five-hour bus ride. We left Pokhara at 6:30am, and arrived at Besi Sahar at around lunchtime. We had breakfast at a small restaurant and got on our way to Bhulbule. Boy and I were certainly feeling more prepared than we were for the first hike because our fitness had improved and we were acclimatised to the altitude. I thought, perhaps, we might complete the trek in less time than originally thought. Ha! What neither of us was prepared for was the heat. It was so hot, sweltering hot - a sandfly drowned in the sweat on my arm, that’s how hot it was! The heat definitely slowed the both of us down. It took about three hours to walk from Besi Sahar to Bhulbule. If I’m honest, this part of the trek wasn’t the greatest. The government is in the midst of building a road from Besi Sahar to Chame, and there are also lots of other development works happening the Annapurna Region (you can research this if you’re interested – lots of people have lots to say on the matter). It was great to walk through dense forest and along the beautiful rivers, but we had jeeps flying past, kicking up dust, which, when combined with the heat, made this leg of the journey a bit unpleasant.
Day Two was Bhulbule to Ghermu, and it wasn’t any easier – the heat was still overwhelming. The construction works had lessened slightly which meant less noise, and there were fewer jeeps going past which meant less dust. This leg of the hike was climbing through dense rainforest – I was on high alert for leeches at all times! What I noticed on Day Two of this hike is that the climb wasn’t nearly as steep or difficult as Everest Base Camp was. We hadn’t begun at altitude, and we were fitter, so it was easier overall. The only real trouble was the heat; it was ridiculous! Jagat was a town that was showing the effects of the road – nobody was staying here and locals are quick to let you know how quiet it has been for them.
Day Three was Ghermu to Tal. During the entire hike, this is the only day in which Boy and I were caught in the monsoon rains. It lasted about three hours and occurred in the afternoon, so everything was fine! The lodge we stayed in was really great, the lodge owner told us all about his life in the Annapurna Region and described the changes he had seen over his lifetime – mostly due to the amount of development that is occurring. I also noticed that the heat had dropped considerably - being outside had become much more bearable.
Day Four was Tal to Chame. This was a really tough day – it took about 10 hours and I was absolutely stuffed by the time we got to the lodge. We stayed in a nice lodge that my Uncle Geoff recommended and it was great, nice big room with an attached bathroom, and a brilliant Dal Bhat! Chame was lovely - it resembled Namche Bazaar because it has a large number of shops and facilities like a police station and an optometrist. The road had essentially finished by Chame so there were far more hikers than jeeps from this point on, which was a nice change.
I’m going to leave it here for now. The Annapurna Circuit was a funny one – the scenery really does take your breath away, but, in my opinion, the amount of development that is occurring in the region draws away from that beauty, somewhat, which is a shame.
The next post is going to pick up from Chame; the trek becomes far less road-y and much more hike-y from here!
Bye for now,