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Dangers on the Sanctuary trail

August 28th, 2008 | Posted by Davey in 03-Nepal - (1 Comments)

The Lonely Planet says that there is significant danger of avalanches and landslides along the route to the Annapurna Sanctuary.  Trekkers have died and trekking parties have been stranded in the Sanctuary for days.

This was pretty evident throughout our trek, the aftermath of many landslides meant we had to change our route adding many extra hours.  We always checked with the oncoming trekkers the condition of the route ahead and being given the go ahead, we still encounter small and large slides that were both difficult and scary to cross – one wrong foot and it was good night Irene!

Tika, a guide for over 20 years, says there have been more larger slides in 3 years than in the last 15, a result of the increase in downpours due to global warming.  Last year 29 people lost their lives in one slide alone.

These pictures depict the enormity and difficulty of the slides.  Tika wasn’t very happy that I was taking photos, like all guides, he is worried that these photos when shown will deter potential visitors. 

Don’t let these pictures put you off, professionals like Tika will guide you safely. I’m pretty sure they don’t get slides outside of the monsoon season.

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Porters

August 27th, 2008 | Posted by Davey in 03-Nepal - (2 Comments)

One of the most astonishing sights in the mountain region is to see the the way in which food and supplies are transported.  Typically from Nayapul via porters or mules along the narrow and sometimes dangerous treks to the villages.

Overt the past few days we’ve seen everything from Pringles to marble, solar panels and rocks etc. being carried.  Men are no exception, women also carry goods.

As you can see in the first picture, I tried my hand at carrying a basket with a few potatoes and boy was it difficult – you need a thick neck!. Typically, loads weight up to 100kg – a porter gets around £15 for hiking two days, food and accommodation is provided.

I take my hat off to these hardened men and women. In the monsoon season many of the walkways are too slippery for the mules so they get a vacation.

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Guest houses

August 27th, 2008 | Posted by Davey in 03-Nepal - (1 Comments)

We would like to say that the guest houses were a great experience, but we’d be lying through our teeth.  You have to adjust rather quickly or you won’t survive.  The beds are uncomfortable, the showers are cold and are mostly in sheds outside, there is no heating in the rooms and the food is very very basic.

Nevertheless, after 8hrs of trekking there is nothing better than taking your wet boots off and sitting by the fire (if they have one) with a glass of rum. We were awoken many a night by the monsoon rain wondering if our time was up and soon to be carted by a landslide 2,000m to the bottom. 

All menus and prices are set by a mountain committee, so no matter where you stay the menus and prices are the same.  The guest house owners done their level best ensure were as comfortable as possible.  While we stayed in the guest rooms many of the families members slept on the kitchen or living room floor.

No need to keep writing, a picture speaks a thousand words and we have many pictures.

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Our guide

August 27th, 2008 | Posted by Davey in 03-Nepal - (1 Comments)

We would like to offer our sincere thanks to our guide, Tika, for making our trek  an unforgettable experience.  His knowledge of the culture, mountains and landscape made it both interesting and enjoyable.

We played cards, drank rum and laughed lots – hope your wife doesn’t read this

Dhanyabad (thank you).

Anyone thinking of trekking in Nepal, we would highly recommend Tika, he can be contacted on tikabhat061@yahoo.com.

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Annapurna Sanctuary

August 27th, 2008 | Posted by Davey in 03-Nepal - (0 Comments)

We’ve had an amazing experience over the past 7 days walking through remote villages and foot of the Himalayan peaks – memories that will last a lifetime.  It’s not for the faint hearted or for those who like their home comforts, but like us, if you’re willing to let loose a little and trust your guide you’ll have a unforgettable experience.

There is no denying that it was tough, in fact it was damn fucking hard.  The first day was exhausting, it started off nice and gentle but abut about 4hrs in it started to climb gradually, the last three hours were the hardest we’ve ever done.  We arrived at our first guest house in Ulleri at around 5pm, had dinner and straight to bed.  The accommodation was very basic and had no fire to dry our clothes.  The aches and pains, breathlessness, blood sucking leeches, slippery stones, heavy rucksacks, and the damn monsoon rain make trekking this time of year a soul searching endeavour.

Thankfully we decided to carry on and our legs soon adjusted, we got used to the uphill climbs, the rain and the cold. The beautiful people and the landscape made you quickly forget the previous days struggle.  Getting up at 5am every morning was not a chore it was exhilarating – the mountain air and the feeling of being on top of the world, literally!

We planned on going right to Annapurna Base Camp but having fallen ill with colds, the altitude, a lack of energy and the constant danger of landslides we decided with our guide that Chhomrung would be our highest point.  We had met a few trekkers who had braved the two extra days but were bitterly disappointed with the visibility having reached the top.  They couldn’t believe the photos we had taken from Chhomrung on one rare bright sunny morning – they were very jealous. These will be posted later.

To see how these people live in this vast wilderness is breathtaking. Forgetting the scenery, the constant struggle to survive brings a tear to your eye, but yet they seem the happiest folk on earth.

A quick breakdown of our trek:

Day 1 – Nayapul at 1025m up to Ulleri at 1960m

Day 2 – Ulleri up to Ghorepani at 2874m

Day 3 – Ghorepani up to Dueurali 3103m

Day 4 – Dueurali down to Tadapani 2721m

Day 5 – Tadapani up then down to Chhomrong 2300m

Day 6 – Chhomrong down to Ghandruk 1939m

Day 7 – Ghandruk back to Nayapul

To anyone vaguely thinking of visiting Nepal, we would say ‘please go’, it will enrich your life forever, the landscape is what it is, but it’s the people are what makes this country such an unforgettable experience.  We will never forget it and we will be back.

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