Annapurna / Nepal / A Mountain experience

  • December 23, 2013
  • By Travel Producer
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Want to try something a bit different? It involves spending time in the mountains, in the
crisp, crystal clear air that can only be enjoyed once everyday cares are left behind. As an
added bonus you won’t find your wallet under constant siege and for the price of a
reasonable European holiday, you can experience something not just different but
extraordinary. It’s the Nepalese Himalayas.
Getting there couldn’t be simpler. Take a flight to Kathmandu via Dubai (best option) or
Delhi (an idiosyncratic airport, shall we say) on Emirates, BA, or Jet Airlines. The prices
can vary a bit so get Travel Producer to shop around for you.
On arrival in Kathmandu it’s worthwhile spending a couple of days in the city sightseeing
whilst getting acclimatised to the differences in time and culture. A walk through the
streets will reveal the capital’s rich cultural and artistic heritage embodied in magnificent
medieval palaces, temples overflowing with flowers, courtyards full of drying chillies and
rice and tiny hole-in-the-wall, hobbit-sized workshops.
Then move on to the town of Pokhara, your base for the rest of your holiday in this
fascinating country of magic and mystery and contrasting fortune. The town itself is quite
‘touristy’ but in a nice way in that it unashamedly caters for visitors but doesn’t suffer
from touts, , shysters and sellers of tat who infest every moment of your day. If you are so
inclined, the happy traveller can spend their time rafting down a roaring Nepali river,
bungee jumping into a (seemingly) bottomless Himalayan gorge, canyoning, climbing great
mountain cliffs, kayaking the slothful lakes and eager rivers, or paragliding and mountain
biking amongst some of the world’s most dramatic landscapes. And when the daylight runs
out, the main street is bursting with good quality restaurants, lively bars and all kinds of
cafes (from nice coffee and rolls to fresh juice to internet). I like it and I reckon you will
too.
One of the other main activities based in Pokhara is trekking. Properly organised trips start
from here and visit many places in the area taking a few hours or a few days depending
upon your wish. However, the star attraction is definitely the Annapurna range. Treks that
last more than a day will involve porters who will carry your gear, food and other
essentials so that, along with an English speaking guide, you are free to enjoy the
spectacular scenery. All the routes can be done on a self-guided basis without problem but
I do recommend you arrange for someone to carry the majority of your gear (maybe
costing you as much as $10 per day) simply because it will make life so much more
enjoyable without the weight. This is particularly true if you are walking above 2,500
metres in altitude in the oxygen depleted air. Overnight stops are at one of the many so
called Tea Houses which populate the trails every few kilometres which are small dinner,
bed and breakfast establishments that will probably cost less than US$10 per person.
The Annapurna Sanctuary trek or, if you have time, the Annapurna Circuit trek are the
undoubted stars of the show as they pass picturesque villages that are home to Gurungs,
Manangis and Thakalis and offer breath-taking views of the mountains and their numerous
snow-capped 7,000 metre peaks. An added bonus is that the trekking lodges are the best
in Nepal.
Whichever trail you choose, take your time. This is not scenery to rush through. The
journey begins amongst fields of rice paddies, then winds between tall bamboo and up
through scented pine forests. It carries you over vigorous mountain rivers on bridges made
of wood and wire before enticing you past glaciers dominated by soaring peaks.
Although the weather can be changeable (bring a brolly!), I can guarantee you will enjoy
many days of perfect conditions, especially in the mornings. During these days, the sun
will stare down from an infinite blue sky with the sea of snow summits etched perfectly in
the crystal clear air. The sun’s rays will glitter diamante reflections off the flawless frozen
snow composing a canvas of one of Nature’s finest vistas. It will be spectacular,
mesmerising and emotionally uplifting. It’s something everyone should try to experience at
least once in our short life and this is your chance to lift your soul and fill your senses with
memories you will replay forever.
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