From Dharapani to Kagbeni you will be walking the Annapurna section of [[The Great Himalaya Trail]], a long distance trekking route that connects Nepal from East to West.
The eastern portion of the trek follows the Marsyangdi River upstream, to its source near the village of Manang. To get there several days of up-hill hiking are required. Then the route goes over the pass, a grueling day of hiking, and back down the other side, where it meets up with the Kali Gandaki River. At the end of the trek, several options are available: following the river further to the road proper to Beni and catching a bus to Pokhara, or adding on a trek to the Annapurna Base Camp (ABC Trek), aka the Annapurna Sanctuary Trek.
This is a "teahouse trek," meaning there are villages with lodges and restaurants to eat and stay in along the entire route. You are expected to eat breakfast and dinner in the same lodge where you are spending the night. Prices of rooms are seemingly inexpensive because of this (100-300Rs for a double) - lodge owners tend to make more money on the food and drinks they are selling you than on the room where you are sleeping.
The main trekking season is October and November with crowds going crazy at this time. It is possible to do the circuit most of the year. The shoulder seasons of September and December are a good choice because the weather is almost as good and the circuit is much less busy. Spring is also great,
less people and warmer, but some guide books warn of higher chance of foggy views compared to the peak-season in October. Summer is also possible but with lots of leeches.
While it might for experienced trekkers possible to do the trek without the support of '''guide and a porter''' (it's done by the majority of the backpacker so), it should be understood to never trek alone. The path is quite easy to follow and every three hours (max) you will arrive upon a small village with lodges and restaurants. As there other trekkers around end up often meeting people and making friends and trekking partners along the path.
Please note that many hotels in Kathmandu and Pokhara will try to tell you that you NEED a guide and they' re just the person to help. It is actually illegal if they do it without a Trekking agent who covers the legal needs for organizing a trek. Please be very wary, stories of trekkers being scammed are all too frequent on the trail.
If you do decide to go with a guide through a hotel please ensure that the deal involves a Trekking Agent
so you have no legal trouble later on.
If choosing to make the '''trek independently''' you need to organize a few administrational things as well: While still in Kathmandu or Pokhara, don't forget to get your '''
trekking permit''' for the Annapurna Conservation Area ( ACA) as well as a so called TIMS Card (Tourism Information Management System), both of which are required and available in either city. It'll cost you 2,000 NPR for the Permit from the [http://www.ntnc.org.np/trekking-annapurna-and-manaslu-information-and-entry-permit-forms National Trust for Nature Conservation] and 1,660 NPR for the individual TIMS Cards from the [http://www.timsnepal.com/ Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal] (TAAN). Make sure you bring everything they need (e.g. 4 passport photos, name and mobile number of an emergency contact in Nepal, policy number and hotline of your insurance, etc) or it might take you the most part of a day to get everything sorted. In Kathmandu you can get both documents at the office of the Tourism Information Board, 20-30 minutes walk southeast of Thamel.
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Officials do check your permit at several places along the way, and the checkpoints are virtually impossible to avoid. You'll have to pay double, or 4,000 NPR, if you're caught without the permit.
Be aware that with the individual TIMS card (obtainable at the Nepal Tourism Board in Kathmandu and Pokhara) you are not allowed to take yourself staff like a guide or porter, you sign this! No one except you can obtain
a individual TIMS and who offers you such individual TIMS cards is doing so illegally , your TIMS might be fake. Do it yourself only!
Also grab an Around Annapurna Trekking Profile which is a great free pocket guide that lists
elevation and hiking time between every major stop.
Spend some time and money to
make sure you have '''adequate clothing''' for low temperatures and rain. Temperatures vary from oppressive heat in the lowlands, to freezing cold, even snowstorms, closer to the pass. For the cold a pair of hiking pants, thermals, gloves, beanie, worn-in hiking shoes (it can be done in runners but is dangerous), a warm inner jacket and a windproof outer jacket is essential. A neck warmer is also great to keep out the cold ! A hiking stick or 2 is also great to have for hills and icy sections.
The coldest periods tend to be when the sun goes down and you're at the lodge
instead of while on the trail. Don't worry about waterproof gear (apart from shoes) unless you've got it, are doing a difficult side trek or are planning to hike when the weather is bad.
Keep in mind that '''Pokhara and Kathmandu offer everything''' you could possibly need for the hike (apart from decent shoes) with surprisingly good quality for cheap pirated prices. Be prepared to become a walking North Face billboard!
Bring a '''sleeping bag''' rated for winter temperatures. Linens are not provided by the lodges
, and nights can get very cold. Warm blankets are provided so it is possible to use a basic two-season sleeping bag.
'''Everyday supplies''', such as toilet paper, soap,
Chocolate bars, and even hiking supplies like headlamps and fleece jackets can be purchased along the way, though prices rise dramatically as you go higher in elevation. Try to stock up lower down and buy local. Fruit, Coconut biscuits and Bon Bon biscuits are made in Nepal , are a fraction of the price and taste great!
'''Maps''' are easy to get -- and very inexpensive -- in either Kathmandu or Pokhara. While the path is easy to follow be aware that these maps should not be used for critical navigation as they are not very accurate. However they are useful for pointing out the various mountains.
Bring along a sufficient amount of '''money''' for the entire trek, though you can use cash traveler's checks or exchange US dollars in Jomsom or Chame. There are no ATMs on the trek after Beshisahar (except for an unreliable ATM in Jomsom).
A day on the lower villages of the trek can cost as little as 700NRs (food and accommodation only). A day in the higher points of the trail can cost 1200NRs. You can do the trek for about $13 USD a day if you go independently.
'''Budget''' for 1000 NR per day if you are a very modest spending trekker, though those on a budget can get by with less and people who want to live it up a little should allow for more. Please note that despite the efforts of ACAP there
is still some wild swings in pricing that will surprise. For some reason the region between Tal and Chame is more expensive than from Chame to Manang which is at more difficult to access! As the prices seem to be fairly set throughout each village though do not concern yourself with hunting around a village looking for a cheaper place and try not to stop at the first lodge you see so that trekkers are spread through the village. Quite often the nicest lodges are on the way out of town.
Before you go, check on the '''status of the road''' being built on the eastern portion of the trek from Besisahar to Chame. In winter 2009,
the the construction of the road interfered with trekking with some parts being dangerous to navigate. Locals tend to talk up the road and downplay its negative aspects. Be advised: road walks in Nepal are very unpleasant, and unhealthy, due to the large amounts of powdery dust that tend to kick up from passing jeeps and buses.
Be prepared for all manner of '''bathrooms'''. Sometimes you'll get a modern flush toilet with private access, other times you'll have to venture out in the cold to use a smelly squat toilet. Even so, all lodges have running water. However, it may not always be HOT water. Typically, a solar shower will give you a luke warm 'power shower' if it's been a sunny day, otherwise the thing to ask is if the water pipes run through the fire in the dining room or kitchen as once the fire is going you'll be steaming with the best of them!
'''Pokhara''' provides a great spot
with meeting other trekkers who have finished the trek. Always feel free to start up a conversation in a bar or restaurant to source the latest information on what's happening on the trek.
Depending on where you end your trek, buses and taxis are available to take you to Pokhara, a great place on a lake to spend a few days unwinding and relaxing. Kathmandu is about a six hour bus ride from Pokhara, easily arranged once you're ready to leave the lakeside town.
You can try and walk the lower stages at a faster pace maybe combining two of them into one so that more time can be spent on acclimatization on the higher stages. For example a couple of extra days can be spent at Manang and utilized by climbing to one of the many peaks around it and coming back down so as to increase the production of red blood cells. You can also see the origin of the Marsyandi river in Manang. The best part about this trek is the varied scenery it has to offer. You start from tropical forest in Besisahar, see terminal moraine near Manang and then move past the snow line across the Thorung La and then to the barren landscape of lower Mustang and Muktinath.
== Itinerary ==
'''Besisahar (820 m) to Khudi''': 7 km, 2.00 hrs
'''Khudi (790 m) to Bhulbhule''': 2 km, 1.00 hrs
'''Muktinath (3800 m) to Kagbeni''':
(note: When you arrive in Muktinath, you are back to civilization. The trail is hiking a dusty road until Gharkhola where the two separate. From this point forward expect to be stepping off the road frequently to allow trucks
pass [and local assholes on their motorbikes that will honk at you and try and run you over if you don’t move aside when they could instead use the ample space on the other side of the road to pass. ] For 200 npr you can catch a truck from Muktinath to Jomsom. Muktinath is expensive, a mess and not an endearing place to stay – though it is worth a brief stop at the tourist office to read up on the history and culture of the area. Either stay down the road in Jharkot or on the other side of the valley in the very inexpensive and charming hamlets of Purang and Jhong.)
(high trail) '''Muktinath to Jhong''': 3 km, 1.5 hrs
(high trail) '''Jhong (3540 m) to Kagbeni''': 6 km, 1.45 hrs
(low trail) '''Muktinath to Jharkot''': 1 km, 1 hrs
(low trail) '''Jharkot (3550 m) to Khinga''': 3 km, 0.45 hrs
'''Poonhill (3200 m) to Ghorepani''': 3 km, 3.00 hrs
(note. The walk up Poon Hill in the morning can get very crowded. Rather than head up there, head up th hill the other side (as if heading to Chomrong), you'll have a better view and you'll have it to yourself.)
'''Ghorepani (2870 m) to Ulleri''': 2 km, 1.00 hrs