Walking the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal

We spent the end of January and the beginning of February walking round the Annapurna Circuit. It's a great walk at this time of year because there are very few tourists and prices come down and the people in the lodges have a little more time for you.

We saw about 10 people in our 10 days of walking, meeting most people in Manang where it's wise to have a rest. One thing that puzzled us was how little people seemed to know about altitude, yet the Thorung La at 5400m is at a height that causes serious altitude sickness if people aren't careful.

We were really appalled at the guides, who were telling their clients that lodge owners don't like independent trekkers and telling them nothing about the dangers of altitude and making them sleep far too high on consecutive nights. Most of the guided treks were sleeping in Manang at 3500m, Letdar at 4200m and then High Camp at 4800m on consecutive nights...this is absolutely crazy.

They weren't even telling them to climb high and sleep low or telling them about the 'never sleep more than 300m higher each night over 3000m' advice given by all health agencies and by the National Park authorities. Without exception everybody was suffering from moderate altitude sickness, and without exception everybody was ignoring the advice on notice boards around them...another sign of altitude sickness!!!

We spent every day walking short distances, dropping off our bags at a lodge and going on amazing high walks above the valley, finding a great Ice Lake above Manang, reaching one of the base camps above Letdar and we even visited the Thorung La twice, once on just a day trip from Thorung Phedi. Going over the Thorung La was easy and we both slept like babies every night.

One thing we were also amazed at was the way the groups set off at 4am to cross the pass, positively dangerous at this time of year. We left at 9am from Thorung Phedi, took about an hour and a half to reach the top and spent ages on the pass basking in the sun.

We urge everybody to stop taking guides around the circuit, as it's causing all the prices in the lodges to shoot up, any lodge must provide alcohol and meat if they want guides to visit their lodges and every tourist is paying for it. As far as we could see, many of the guides were just having a free 'piss up' at the expense of their tourists and not even offering them good advice. We talked to many lodge owners who re-iterated that the guides were getting greedy and that their worst nightmare was the lone traveller with a guide and a porter!!

To cap it all we had to help one hung-over guide over the Thorung La pass because he was too ill to keep up with his client!!! The park authorities need to do something about this!!

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