• Annapurna Circuit
    Annapurna Circuit
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A Great Walks readers asks us about hiking on Nepal.

"I’ve read some terrific stories about trekking in Nepal in your magazine. I’ve always wanted to do this, but over the years a combination of rugby injuries, extra study, additions to the family and work have seen me put it off. I just turned 50 and it’s back on my radar. My brother (58) and my son (21) are both keen to join me. I’ve been looking up all the companies online, comparing itineraries, prices etc. It then occurred to me that you might be able to point me in a clearer direction here.
My thoughts were toward:

  • The Annapurna Circuit as it offers a good immersion into the country including access to more villages, people, experiences?
  • Avoid large mountains as my knees have seen better days, although passes would be good.
  • I was hoping to be there and back inside a fortnight.
  • Teahouses in various villages interest me as opposed to camping. I want to be able to eat meals etc amongst locals.
  • We would need a guide and someone to help with kit maybe?
  • Do we need to book teahouses ahead (if I don’t go with a company)?
  • Does going with an established company just offer certainty to the programme (ie) a place to stay, support etc?
    Brian Phelps

Hi Brian, hiking in Nepal is a wonderful experience. I spent some months hiking all over the Himal about 20 years ago in India, Nepal and Tibet and I just loved it. Depending on how experienced you are you can either walk in Nepal independently or through a guiding company. There are some great ones in Australia such as Raw Travel (rawtravel.com) or you could go with a local operator of which I'm sure there is a lot to choose from.

I walked the Annapurna Circuit and up to Annapurna Base Camp on my own. It took just over three weeks and the walking grade was moderate to challenging. There were some high passes but if you're reasonably fit it shouldn't be too hard. It has nice, wide clear tracks, lots of teahouses to stay at and enough people on the trail that you won't feel totally alone (unless that's what you want and then I wouldn't recommend the Annapurna!)

No matter where you walk in Nepal you're going to want good knees. The last thing you want is to cop a knee injury in the middle of the wilderness – but if that happens make sure you have Medivac as part of the travel insurance. At the end of the day you know your knees and what they can take so it's your call. It'd be worth seeing a GP for expert advice.
You can definitely see some great parts of Nepal in two weeks and one way would be to catch an internal flight to your walking destination to save time i.e you can fly to Jomsom from Kathmandu and be right in the heart of the Annapurna region. You can also fly to Lukla and from there walk to Everest Base Camp and then return to Lukla but I'm note sure how long that would take as I never did it.

Teahouses are your best option for accommodation whilst on the trail. They're cheap, have pretty good food (and maybe beer and chocolate!) and you don't have to carry a tent or camping gear. You don't need to book teahouses along the way as there are lots to choose from – but also be prepared for pretty basic accommodation – and take a really good sleeping bag. The teahouses are not usually heated. Also if you need any spare gear there are dozens of outdoor gear shops in Kathmandu selling new and second-hand products. Happy walking! – Ed

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