Annapurna with G Adventures – starting out

Posted: October 23rd, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: travel | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment »

Way back in February of this year, when it was finally looking like I’d actually get the chance to take my year off, I was obsessively looking at travel itineraries on all sorts of websites. In an effort to keep me sane, and with the patient encouragement of @pipesdreams, I decided to book a trek in Nepal in October 2012 to give me a destination to work towards as I planned the rest of my trip. Now I am finally on that trek, writing to you from a teahouse at somewhere around 2100 meters elevation on the Annapurna circuit. 

I had some trepidation about joining this group as I had been in Nepal for 2 weeks before joining up with the group, and I had passed up several opportunities to go trekking independently with people I had met here in Nepal, but as it was already paid for I was pretty much committed. Joining the group in Kathmandu went smoothly, and there doesn’t seem to be any real annoying people which is awesome.

Positives of trekking with a big organized group:
– Porters to carry your shit, I’m trekking with a little 22L day bag instead of a full-on backpack
– The group composition is a welcome change. The youngest is perhaps 22 and the daughter of the oldest, a couple somewhere in their 50’s I think, with plenty of people in the middle. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had some great conversations with the 20-somethings in hostels, but occasionally it’s nice to talk with people who remember the nineties.
– No planning, just show up and our lead guide tells you when and where to be, where we’re ending up each night, etc.

Negatives of trekking with a big organized group:
– No choice, yes everything is planned for you but you can’t really shop around or really have much time to decide for yourself what to do. Want to stop for tea in the afternoon during your trek, too bad.
– More expensive: I noticed this in Egypt as well, there’s something about a group of 10+ tourists showing up which somehow adds 50% to the cost of all meals.

On the whole though, the negatives aren’t really that bad and in context of my wider trip I can give up a bit of control for a few weeks no problem. And really, dang the landscape is so brilliant that it doesn’t really matter where I stop for the night or if I spend 100 rupees more for my dinner than I should.

To summarize the trip so far:

Day 1: show up in kathmandu, meet the group

Day 2: wake up at 5:30, in bus on road for 6am. Twelve hours later arrive in Jagat. That’s twelve hours, about 8 of which are in a pretty comfortable minibus taking the death inspiring road out of kathmandu (a steep, winding mountain road, “paved”, packed with buses and trucks). After the minibus we switched to 4×4 jeeps that have likely been in continuous service since 1982, and after the wheel came off one of them and we got a replacement, we had several hours on a road that makes the road out of kathmandu look like a superhighway. It didn’t help that due to the breakdown we didn’t arrive until after dark. It was bumpy, dusty, gravelly except where mountain streams cut through the road, and the was generally at least a 250 meter drop off to one side or the other. As frightening as it was I can’t imagine what it was like for the porters who were riding on the roof with the baggage. OMFG

Day 3: Wake up at 6 because that’s when the sun comes up, but we didn’t leave until around 8:30. The trekking was beautiful, pretty much beside a beautiful rshing mountain river the whole way, milky blue with rapids that I now see from a beginner kayakers perspective as probably suicidal. And while we had lots of deadly cliffs next to our path, they don’t seem so bad when you’re actually walking and not depending on a jeep to deliver you to safety. Pictures will have to tell the story here, but it’ll be awhile before I can post pictures. Probably the part that would give most people the squeeky-grues was crossing the suspension bridges over the river. Made of metal, like walking on a grill on the sidewalk except shaking with the wind and other walkers, 150 meters over nothing but tens of thousands of litres of water per minute. It was a long, beautiful walk, and it took about 8.5 hours to reach our stop for the evening gaining nearly a full kilometer of altitude.

And that’s where I am as I write this, but likely not as I post this as there is no internet here… I’ve heard there might be internet available before I make it to Pokkara and if so I’ll post this, keeping my fingers crossed. 

Addendum!

There is internet in Chame, the administration headquarters of the Manag district here in the Annapurna Conservation area, so I can post this now. Unfortunately the internet isn’t exactly lightening speed, so text only, pictures will have to wait until we get to Pokkara. As for the hiking, Day 4 was significantly easier of a walk than Day 3, with stunning views of Annapurna II and bringing us up to over 2600 meters in altitude. We started out at around 8:30am, and made it to our guesthouse in Chame by 3:30pm. The cold is starting though, although it’s still warm enough for shorts (especially when in the direct sunlight), but when in the shadow of the mountains it gets chilly, I am especially glad for the wonderfully warm cashmere sweater @pipesdreams got me last year. Tomorrow we continue our trek, slowly heading towards our highest altitude on Day 10 as we cross the Thorng-La pass, I can’t remember exactly the altitude but I think it’s somewhere around 5500 meters, which seems crazy to me. As before, if possible I’ll try to post before we make the pass but it all depends on the Nepalese internet gods.


One Comment on “Annapurna with G Adventures – starting out”

  1. 1 Pipes said at 5:24 pm on October 23rd, 2012:

    This whole adventure sounds mildly terrifying, but you are having fun, I hope? Glad the sweater is keeping you warm in my absence, stay safe and keep posting, it is good practice for your brain to give order to all these wild new sights and sensations. I feel for your poor porters!


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