Apr 5, 2011 at 2:17 pm #1271758
I'm starting to plan an Annapurna Circuit trip and have a few questions so that I know how much time I need to request off from work and when to take that time off. I was thinking about going in December/beginning of January since it's usually fairly slow at work that time of year and I don't have to use as many vacation days due to the holidays. I've read that October/November are the best, but will December be good as well? Does 3 weeks (23 total days including the weekends on both ends) seem about right for travel time, acclimatization, hiking the circuit and any side trips? I could probably take a 4th week, but not sure if it's necessary or not. I saw the Sanctuary mentioned as a good side trip, but any others you would recommend while in Nepal?Apr 5, 2011 at 2:27 pm #1720479
If you're traveling that many thousands of miles and hiking that far, why not spend the extra week? I would!Apr 5, 2011 at 2:30 pm #1720483
Yeah, it kind of seems silly not to. As long as I can get the 4th week off I probably will.Apr 5, 2011 at 4:56 pm #1720579
In general, the two seasons to avoid are June-August (Monsoon) and November-February (Winter). As a result, the two popular seasons to go are March-May (Spring bloom) and September-October (dry Autumn). If you try to go over Thorung La during the winter, be prepared for serious snow.
–B.G.–Apr 5, 2011 at 7:50 pm #1720698
I plan on being there around the same time with a few friends.
Fortunately we're all used to tromping around in deep snow for up to 6 months a year here, hopefully we'll survive the pass!Apr 5, 2011 at 8:07 pm #1720706
Bob's right that that's winter. Perhaps ask on the Thorn Tree forums for people with experience on the trek in those months. I've met people who hiked in December. It sounded rough, snowy and cold, but they did it.
That's plenty of time for the trek. I did the Circuit, Tilicho, Ice Lake and the Sanctuary in 17 days. Faster than most, but not the type of miles that I walk in the USA. Of course, the more time in Nepal the better!!
Many are choosing to take jeeps down the Jomson Valley. There is a road. Do you really want to walk a road? I did. Most don't.
In some respects, I consider the Annapurna Circuit to be dead or dying. They've built roads on one of the world's most famous treks. Does anyone know if the road up to Manang is finished yet? I suspect it's close. Then, the Circuit will truly be dead IMO.Apr 5, 2011 at 8:08 pm #1720707
Lots of people can tromp around in deep snow, and lots of people can hike over a 17,000 foot pass. However, if you have both at the same time, lots of people fail to make it over the pass. That could foul up your trip.
–B.G.–Apr 5, 2011 at 9:12 pm #1720743
Bob, I was starting to get that impression. The first site that came up in my google search said, "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." But then as I began to read other sites it seemed like that was not necessarily true.
Erik, How long are you going for? Do you have anything planned other than the circuit?
Jack, I'll have to check out that forum. What type of miles were you putting in to get that done in 17 days? I'm still in the beginning stages of my research, so not too familiar with Ice lake and Tilicho. Would you recommend them? Any other places you would have gone while you were there if you had more time? And yes, from what I've read it does seem to be dying, so hopefully I can get over there before it's completely dead.Apr 5, 2011 at 9:35 pm #1720751
I'm not sure how far it was, likely not too far over 200 miles. All side trips are good ones. It's a great region.
Tilicho however, I can't recommend. It's a beautiful place, but dangerous to get to. I don't think that it's appropriate that such a poorly maintained trail is on the tourist circuit. People die on it for a good reason.
One sketchy spot:
Apr 6, 2011 at 12:07 pm #1720994
Sketchy indeed. That looks like a nastier version of the sketchy portion of the kalalau trail.
I think I'll be able to get time off at the end of october/beginning of november, but only 3 weeks. I figure after travel time and a day or two in Kathmandu that will give me about 18 days of hiking. Does anyone know the total miles of the circuit plus the sanctuary? I'm seeing conflicting numbers in my google searches and am hoping the circuit plus sanctuary would be doable in about 18 days without feeling rushed.Apr 6, 2011 at 12:29 pm #1721001
In Nepal, the term "miles" has little meaning, so you get all sorts of conflicting answers.
If you ask a local there how far it is to the next village, he will say "One day." That might mean five miles or ten miles or 15 miles, and it depends on the trail conditions.
Tea houses and such tend to be scattered out at just about the right distance for you to stop there for refreshments or lodging. They don't care too much about how many miles it is to the next place.
–B.G.–Apr 6, 2011 at 8:40 pm #1721200
@rmkrauseLocale: Pacific Northwest
Any recommendations on getting to Nepal from the states? I've thought about doing the circuit but the cost of the airplane tickets alone to Nepal are high.
Are you guys doing the circuit solo or going part of some sort of group? Is it safe to solo the circuit? A while back ago at least I heard Maoists were an issue and demanding money from hikers to allow passage but I was unsure if this was a real issue and if so, how much of one it really was.Apr 6, 2011 at 8:48 pm #1721203
The old rule of thumb was that if you were on the East Coast, it was a cheaper ticket by way of Europe and India. If you were on the West Coast, it was a cheaper ticket by way of Korea and Thailand. Now the Kathmandu International Airport is small, but they handle 747's.
The Maoists were pretty bad several years back, but I thought that had been settled. Check the U.S. State Department site about Nepal. If there is too much political instability, they will warn you.
All of the people in Nepal that I know are off in the other direction, the Khumbu Region, not in the Annapurna Region.
–B.G.–Apr 6, 2011 at 10:39 pm #1721239
Most of the cost of a self guided hiking trip to nepal would be the flight. In country expenses aren't much. I'd suspect flights to be about $1300-1500. There is potential to save a lot of money by buying two separate round trip tickets. One to Bangkok and back. And then Bangkok to Kathmandu.
It is very safe to solo the circuit. Well, except the general hiking hazards… breaking a leg, altitude, etc Unless you're a total newbie and a scaredy cat, I'd go without a guide. The circuit and the sanctuary are tourist treks, not wildland adventures. Consider a guide if you want to get off the Circuit. In order to do so, it's required that you have a guide. The best places would open up to you then.
Maoists are not currently an issue. Visit the Thorn Tree forums for the most recent info.Apr 6, 2011 at 10:43 pm #1721241
Great maps are for sale all over Nepal. They list distances in hours. 18 days of walking would be plenty for me to do the treks you want to do. Limits at first are primarily about not gaining too many feet of elevation per day. If you find yourself short or rushed, you could easily take a jeep instead of walking the road down past Jomsom. Or you could cut out the Sanctuary.
It's hard to recommend distance per day not knowing you. Are you out of shape and have a preference for six mile days? Are you a maniac hiker that loves 35 mile days?Apr 7, 2011 at 5:37 am #1721303
The circuit is currently the only "definite" of our Nepal trip, but I'd like to add a little more if I'll have the time. The unknowns in the air, currently, are whether or not I'll be in school this fall semester (or going to school in the spring semester) and what the winter break schedule will be like, and similarly the winter break situations of my traveling companions.
Given the possibility of unsafe conditions over the pass, we'll probably take a look at some of the rest of the available trekking in the region as a backup option if we have to cut the circuit short. Mostly our desire to do the circuit this winter stems from the urgency created by all the development as mentioned here to do it before it's "dead," as one poster put it. This winter is the only viable stretch of time we all have off.Apr 7, 2011 at 11:42 am #1721479
My understanding is that people definitely do the trek in December. There are two issues. Cold and snow. It will be cold. Possibly really cold. Bring a thick down jacket and a good sleeping bag. Ultralight, thin down jackets won't be enough!
Moisture however (snow on the pass) is more of a crap shoot. It can snow anytime during the year. Winter is not necessarily the snowiest time. If it snows, it's likely that you won't be breaking trail over the pass. There is economic incentive for locals to keep the route open, plus they use it a little themselves. If there is a major snow event (unlikely but possible!) the pass can be shut down for a long time. I've heard of people waiting a week for conditions to change. Sometimes people are forced to turn around and head back the way they came. Again, this is unlikely! People hike the route in December routinely.
Enjoy Nepal. It is special and spectacular!Apr 21, 2011 at 4:35 pm #1727690
Anyone have any idea how hard it is to find a place to stay in the villages if getting there later in the day? Is it worthwhile to bring a tent as a backup in case all places are full in a particular village, or do they usually not fill up? It's looking like I'll end up being there in November now.Apr 21, 2011 at 5:13 pm #1727709
"Is it worthwhile to bring a tent as a backup in case all places are full in a particular village, or do they usually not fill up?"
In Nepal, there are two normal seasons for tourists, spring and fall. Fall would be about September-October. Once the fall tourists have passed through, some of the small village tea houses close down, and the people move with their animals to lower elevation villages for the winter. The few tea houses that remain open for the season may be filled to capacity with winter travelers. I've seen them. Some looked decent and some were pretty ugly. Besides, at some of the tea houses you may find lice to be a problem, so you would be better off with a tent out in the field.
–B.G.–Apr 22, 2011 at 10:49 am #1727988
Thanks Bob. So October would have more tea houses open than November would, but also a lot more people competing for space at those tea houses? As far as bringing a tent goes, are there plenty of campsites to choose from? Any local restrictions that would limit the options?Apr 22, 2011 at 11:38 am #1728028
Since I'm assuming the same would apply for December, I guess I'd better start looking into a good 4-person shelter…Apr 22, 2011 at 12:49 pm #1728073
"Thanks Bob. So October would have more tea houses open than November would, but also a lot more people competing for space at those tea houses? As far as bringing a tent goes, are there plenty of campsites to choose from? Any local restrictions that would limit the options?"
In Nepal, the post-monsoon trekking season starts right at the end of the monsoon rainy season, but that may be anywhere from September 1 to October 15. That is when you will see the intimate groups of 75 Asians walking together on a guided trek. As the season runs later and the weather gets colder, the population density on the trail will drop off.
Depending on exactly where you are, there may be campsites. If you are deep in the forest, it is generally up for grabs. If you are closer to a village, then it may be somebody's pasture land, and it is generally good form to offer the villager a small amount of money if you camp there. I think the money was typically the equivalent of one US dollar for a group of tents, but I don't remember how many rupees that is. Note that these pastures often have obstacles left behind by the yaks and goats. Claimed pasture lands often have a rock wall around them, so you can tell.
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