As many of you know, I am being the ultimate crazy mother, and leaving my two amazingly wonderful children, to trek the Annapurna Circuit over Easter.
It’s been a long time coming around, as I originally booked it in January 2011 to go October 2012, but had to change because of needing to do the trek over a two week holiday, so that my parents didn't have two weeks worth of school runs to do.
During my teenage years, and more so in my marriage, I kind of lost the love of walking. Even though I walked all the time, as I haven’t learnt to drive yet (though hopefully this won’t be true for much longer). So it probably did come as a surprise to most, that I wanted to do something like this. Especially when it involves 19 nights of camping!
But I do. I won’t ever do it again – twenty five days away from my children is enough, thank you very much. This twenty five days includes the two days of travel in Britain to get to Heathrow & back to sunny ol’ Wrecsam. But I will be continuing the walking, that I do love doing. I try to walk with my children in every school holiday, or teacher training day. As I don’t have them at the weekends, I can’t take them walking as often as I would like too, and the main reason I haven’t bought them proper walking boots.
I will be holding a Swishing event, hopefully sometime in February, where all funds will go towards the sponsorship of my trek.
So, as I stated in the title – I am on my knees and begging – please help raise money for this fantastic programme, from a great charity. As mentioned above, everything donated, or raised through Give as you Live, will go to the charity. Please help.
And a MASSIVE ‘diolch yn fawr‘ or ‘thank you very much‘ for those of you who don’t know Welsh or want to use Google Translate, to the people who have already generously sponsored me or helped me pay for the trek/equipment. You are all truly awesome, and I love you all.
And if you would like to do the trek too (as there are more spaces available on the one in Easter, and throughout the year), or just know more about what I will be doing – here is the blurb from World Expeditions, along with the itinerary and some other interesting information.
Day 2 In Kathmandu (1330m): This morning a sightseeing tour takes in the key attractions in and around Kathmandu. We will visit Pashupatinath and Boudhanath, returning to the hotel by 2pm. In the afternoon you may have time to explore Durbar Square, Patan, Swayambhunath or Bhaktapur, and the lesser-known towns that dot the valley on foot, by bicycle or trishaw. The area has an amazing range of fascinating highlights, whatever your interest. Excellent bookshops, extensive markets, and novelty and handicraft shops contrast with fantastic centres of cultural and spiritual significance – Kathmandu has more World Heritage sites than any other city in the world.
Day 3 Drive to Besisahar & Bhulbhule (approx. 7 hrs.): From Kathmandu we drive along to the Kathmandu to Pokhara highway. We divert off the highway at the bustling town of Dumre and continue for a further one and half hours to Besisahar. After lunch we complete the short drive to the roadhead at Bhulbhule (846 metres) in the Marysandi Valley.
Day 4 To Syange (1136m). Walk approx 5-6 hrs: An easy start and then a taste of things to come – the climb up to Bahun Danda, a picturesque village at the top of this formidable ridge. Then it’s down, across terraces and over small streams, before rejoining the Marsyandi and following it upstream for several km to our camp near the village of Syange.
Day 5 To Tal (1710m). Walk approx 5-6hrs: A wonderful walk today – with such changes in scenery and a range of gradients. From camp we head across the river and ascend steeply to finally reach the ridge top high above. We cross another suspension bridge before a continued ascent up a narrow and beautiful valley where, after rain, many spectacular waterfalls will flow. Just before camp at Tal we come over a small rise and enter a wide, flat valley with a long, silvery waterfall to the right.
Day 6 To Danakyu (2360m). Walk approx 6 hrs: Today’s trail crosses a broad flat valley followed by a small stream. We then ascend and make our way along a cliff towards a long suspension bridge. We cross and recross the Marsyangdi River a few times through forests of oak and maple before reaching our campsite at Danakyu.
Day 7 To Bharthang (2840m). Walk approx 6-7 hrs: The trail we follow today climbs over three steep forested ridges and crosses the river before reaching the Administrative Headquarters of the Manang District. We pass many mani walls with Mayu Prayer wheels – typical of villages in this region. An easy undulating trail after lunch leads us to our camp.
Day 8 To Pisang (3475m). Walk approx 6 hrs: We continue our walking this morning through a steep and narrow valley after which we have our first view of Paungda Danda rock face. A tremendous curved slab of rock that rises more than 1500 metres from the river. We also gain excellent views of Annapurna 2 to the south and Pisang Peak to the north east. A short, steep start to the day but the reward is an excellent view of the entire Manang Valley with Tilicho Peak at its head. Then we descend to the valley floor and trek across dry grazing land to our campsite for tonight.
Day 9 Pisang to Ngawal (3600m). Walk approx. 5-6hrs): From Pisang we leave the main trail leading to Manang and follow a less frequented trail to the north of the Marsyandi Valley. We head to the secluded village of Ghyaru before following an ancient trail lined with mani walls to Ngawal (3600 metres) and a delightful camping site just above the village. After establishing camp we visit the monastery at Ngawal that has close cultural ties with the nearby Nar Phu region.
Day 10 Ngawal to Braga (3450 m ). Walk approx. 2-3hrs): The trail heads down through conifer forest with commanding views across the valley of the mighty Annapurna range. After re-joining the main trail we head to the historic village of Braga (3450 metres). In the afternoon we have plenty of time to visit some of the outlying monasteries between Braga and Manang that reflect something of the regions rich cultural history and ties with Tibet.
Day 11 Braga to Manang & Thare Gompa (3930m). Walk approx. 5-6hrs): A superb day. From Braga it is only 30 minutes to Manang. After a brief halt we again head off the main trail first to the village of Khansar and then to the tiny Khare monastery (3930 metres). We camp in the vicinity of the monastery savouring remarkable views of the ‘Grand Barrier’ above the sacred Tilicho Lake while to the east is the unmistakable profile of Manaslu, at 8156 metres, the 6th highest mountain in the world.
Day 12 To Yak Kharka (3980m). Walk approx. 4 hrs: From our camp we wind around the contours gaining ever more impressive views of Annapurna III and Gangapurna before we reach the Josang Valley and the campsite at Yak Kharka.
Day 13 To Thorong Phedi (base of the pass – 4404m). Walk approx 4 hrs: Another short but strenuous day as we continue up the valley and cross the Jorsang Khola on a small cantilevered bridge before edging our way around loose scree slopes to finally reach a couple of ramshackle tea-shops at the foot of the awesome Thorong La. An early night is advised as we have a big day tomorrow
Day 14 To Muktinath (3802m) via Thorong Pass (5380m). Approx 10-12 hours: A long, arduous day rewarded with unsurpassed views. We set out from Phedi before daybreak in order to reach the top of the pass before late morning and avoid the notorious Thorong winds. The first section up the pass is steep and it’s slow going. The trail winds around eemingly endless switchbacks with each “false top” leading on to another ridge. Finally we see the massive prayer flag- covered cairn which marks the top. From here the views back over the entire Annapurna Range and across to Mustang and western Tibet are unbelievable. The cold up here soon has us heading down to Muktinath. It is a very weary group of trekkers who hit the sack that night. A day of Himalayan highs in every sense of the word!
Day 15 To Marpha (2665m). Walk approx 6 hrs: A long walk today but there is much of interest to see along the way and the scenery undergoes some dramatic and very beautiful changes. The trail heads south down the great Kali Gandaki Valley, a lunar-like landscape where the Tibetan culture is very much in evidence. With Annapurna on our left and Dhaulagiri on our right, we are trekking through the deepest valley in the world. We move on into a region peopled by the Thakalis – hoteliers and innkeepers by trade who have built some quaint and very picturesque villages. The walking is flat and on wide, open trails.
Day 16 To Lete Khola (2430m). Walk approx 4-5 hrs: The soil becomes richer, the villages more substantial and affluent, and the crops change from potatoes to barley and buckwheat which, in season, make for a spectacular show of colour against the barren mountain slopes. The walk today is easy but we have quite a distance to cover. The valley begins to narrow after lunch and the forest begins to reappear and thicken to provide even more magical walking conditions. All the way to camp we have great peaks above – on this day Tukuche Peak and Annapurna South.
Day 17 To Tatopani (1189m). Walk approx 5-6 hrs: We head towards Tatopani, gradually ascending the forested trails, and turning left to reach a ridge top. The ridge is marked by a Chothar (resting place).The trail undulates until we reach our lunch stop. In the afternoon a long descent is followed by a short descent that takes us to our nights camp. Tatopani means ‘hot springs’ and after 14 days on the trail, the baths are a welcome sight.
Day 18 Tatopani to Chitre (3400m). Walk approx. 4hrs: From Tatopani we cross the Kali Gandaki River and commence our gradual ascent to Chitre. We pass through a series of settlements including the prosperous Magar village of Shikha. We camp in the vicinity of Chitre and savour views back to the Kali Gandaki Gorge and its remarkable profile wedged between the huge Dhaulagiri and Annapurna massifs.
Day 19 Chitre to Ghorepani (2775m). Walk approx. 2-3hrs: An early start is imperative to complete the trek to the Deorali pass and detour to Poon Hill (3210 metres). The climb from the pass takes about an hour to reach Poon Hill where you will be rewarded with uninterrupted views of Dhaulagiri, Annapurana South and Hiunchuli to name a few. It is without doubt one of the best vantage points in the Annapurna. On this stage we camp in the vicinity of Ghorepani.
Day 20 Ghorepani to Ghandruk (1500m). Walk approx. 6hrs: We enter a pristine pine and rhododendron forest as we wind our way to the settlement of Tatapani. It is a wonderful traverse through the forest and a fine contrast from the previous stages on the trek. We gain views of Annapurna South from Tatapani before heading through a series of clearings that define the trail to the substantial Gurung settlement of Ghandruk (1990 metres). After establishing camp we visit the local Gurung museum in the heart of the village.
Day 21 Ghandruk to Naya Pul (1340m), drive to Pokhara 2 hours: After taking in dramatic views of Annapurna South we follow a well-defined trail that winds down to the Modi Khola and the village of Birethanti. Glancing back you will appreciate one last view of Machhapuchare and the Annapurna before heading around to the unlovely town of Naya Pul. From here our bus will be waiting to take you to Pokhara for a well-earned hot shower and an evening of celebration with your trek staff.
Day 22 Fly Pokhara to Kathmandu: After breakfast we transfer to the airport for our fight to Kathmandu, a spectacular mountain flight along the face of the Himalaya. On arrival we transfer to the hotel.
Day 23 A t leisure in Kathmandu (1350m): There are a million things to see in Kathmandu and we recommend you spend this day wandering the town and exploring the valley on bicycle or by taxi. The old Royal Palace & Durbar Square are absolute musts. Our W.E. staff can arrange a guide and/or transport should you wish, or you can head off armed with a map and let the day unfold.
Day 24 Trip concludes Kathmandu: After breakfast, arrangements cease unless further ones have been made. Those people travelling by aircraft to other destinations will be transferred to the airport.
Food: Unlike most companies, World Expeditions includes a full meal service as part of the trip price. We believe in the value of providing you with a full service trek which is to lower the risks to you and to ensure you stay healthy, travel safely and with maximum enjoyment. The cost of meals in tea houses and lodges in the main trekking areas is not cheap, the choices are often limited and a lot of the food is fried. By joining one of our camping treks you’ll have a full time personal cook and assistant on hand to prepare a creative menu using almost all fresh ingredients and carefully managing the food preparation and hygiene standards that would otherwise cost you $40 a day or more. Many of our trekkers write to us to compliment the food they received on trek which is testimony to the quality of our fully serviced treks. Every day is different but here is a sample of one days menu on the trail:
Breakfast: Tea, coffee or hot chocolate served in your tent, porridge or a grain cereal, toast with spreads, eggs –fried, omelet or boiled, baked beans and fried tomatoes, boiled water.
Lunch: Lemon drink, tomato, cucumber and carrot salad, cheese and gherkins, chapatis, pizza, canned tuna & meats, fresh oranges and bananas, tea, coffee or hot chocolate, boiled water.
Dinner: Creamed corn soup, steamed vegetables, steamed rice, fried chicken, goat curry, daal, spaghetti, chocolate cake, fresh apples, tea, coffee or hot chocolate, boiled water.
Weather: The pre-monsoon period – In March the cold, dry winter season begins to give way to warmer, wetter spring conditions. Mornings are usually clear with cloud build-up bringing occasional afternoon rainstorms. Views of the mountains in the middle of the day and afternoon may often be obscured. Daytime temperatures increase quickly in March with temperatures of up to 30 degrees Celsius and mild nights. At higher altitudes it is similar to the conditions of the post-monsoon period, however there is usually more snow, which has accumulated over the winter period. There are spectacular displays of rhododendrons and wildflowers at this time of year. Late spring conditions ie April and May, are generally hot at low elevations and as the clouds build up to the next monsoon, daily afternoon rainstorms are common.mountain flights The flights to and from Pokhara are a spectacular journey and a highlight of any trip to Nepal. Unlike the small mountain airstrips that use small aircraft and are often unreliable due to weather delays, this flight is from the major airport of Pokhara to the capital of Kathmandu. The many flights between these two cities use larger aircraft and have frequent schedules. The views of the Annapurna, Manaslu, Ganesh and Langtang ranges are breathtaking.
A Typical Day: You will be woken with a cup of tea brought to your tent between 6 am and 7 am, followed by a small bowl of warm water for washing. Before breakfast you pack your gear into your kit bag which is then taken by the porters and will not usually be available to you until camp that afternoon. We are usually on the trail between 7.30 am and 8.30 am. Following a good morning’s walk, we stop for lunch at around 11 am. Lunch is usually a 2 hour break to allow for the trekker’s meal followed by the crew meal. This break also enables you to do your washing in the warmest part of the day, catch up on your diary, read or rest. The afternoon walk is generally a little shorter and camp is usually reached by around 3 pm to 4 pm. Once
we have reached camp and the kitchen is set up afternoon tea is served. Washing water is again provided to enable you to wash at the end of the trek day. Until dinner there is time to rest, explore the surrounding area and villages or sit and chat with the crew and local people. Dinner is usually served around 6 pm to 7 pm. Remember to bring your torch and water bottle to the mess tent so it can be filled with boiling water. It then makes a great hot water bottle. Trekking evenings afford some of the best memories of your trek, whether it is talking, playing cards, chatting with the crew or joining in some singing and dancing with the local people, it is always a special time. All camp chores are done for you, leaving you free to use your time to the fullest. You carry only a light day pack as your gear is carried by yaks or porters.
Trip Grading: Anyone undertaking a moderate to challenging adventure should be aware of the physical and mental demands involved. A good level of fitness is required as days can involve 8 to 10 hours of strenuous exercise in very remote and rugged terrain. Altitudes are generally less than 6000metres although higher pass crossings are possible. Generally
trekkers can expect to carry a day weighing around 8kgs. The terrain will often be rugged and uneven under foot. Weather conditions may be harsh at times, and you will need to be comfortable trekking in adverse weather conditions. We suggest up to one hour of strenuous exercise each day, interspersed with a good bushwalk at the weekend. The best exercise for trekking is bushwalking involving relatively steep ascents and descents; multi day walks are ideal preparation for our challenging adventures.