Trekking in the Himalayas in three countries, India, Bhutan and Nepal, I realised one thing, that is when you are up there, you are really UP there. The Himalayas are like a drug, you are addicted and never satiated. Although the agenda remains about the same for all my treks, Annapurna Circuit trek felt like a luxury.
Here are six memorable experiences from my nine-day trek in Annapurna Circuit :
1. North face Gear in Nepal is equal to dirt cheap
The speciality of this trek is that you can literally travel empty backpacked. Buy everything you need for the trek-not to mention the things you couldn’t find elsewhere in the world- through the trail for dirt cheap. And the icing on the cake is, it is our trusted North face brand! I gave them all away to my avid trekker friends back home without having to lug any extra weight in the name of souvenirs.
2. Sleeping at warm and cosy teahouses with a scenic view
From one campsite to another, Annapurna Circuit abounds with tea houses. They are multi cuisine teahouses offering a delectable array of menu choices. The best part of the menu and something I enjoyed the most during the trails is a warm cup of lemon tea. For one, I can thaw my hands while sipping on the tea. And for another, it was refreshing. Unlike the other trails, end of a gruelling trek I retired to a cosy bed. I literally buried myself under layers of quilts and read a book, while the mighty glaciers, sometimes bordered by rustling streams, busied themselves providing a stunning view.
3. Trekking under starlit sky
Thorung La Pass (5,416 mt (17,769 ft)) to Muktinath was the most difficult, yet the most beautiful trail I’ve ever hiked. Difficult because we started the trek at 4 am while teeth chattered, to avoid wind, and to reach Muktinath before dusk. To add to the misery, the trail was super steep. Trembling under the biting-cold, unable to endure the pain inflicted by the cold, I’ve even entertained suicidal thoughts!
It was beautiful because one look at the placid starry sky saved my sanity and brought the “life is beautiful” thoughts back and obviously for the sense of achievement and all the adrenaline rush I enjoyed once I reached the highest point.
4. Horse riding in the Himalayas
The good news is that, unlike other trails, those who can’t trek to the highcamp, there is an easier way around. A horse will carry trekkers to the highcamp without any fuss. Towards the end of the trail, I chose to ride a horse simply because I wanted to ride a horse in the Himalayas. And it was the best horse riding I’ve ever done. Picture yourself enjoying the jaw-dropping views of snow-clad Himalayas on a stunning and composed horse. Devine is the word that comes to my mind.
5. Bike ride to Jomsom
We opted for a bike ride from Muktinath to Jomsom for the sheer thrill of riding in the Himalayan Mountains. Riding through the cold, steep, curvy and narrow mountains with awe-inspiring views was an adventure par excellence. We reached Jomsom with burnt faces caked with dirt, chapped lips, running nose and hay-like hair. The feeling was incredible.
6. Flew the smallest aircraft
We flew a 25 seater aircraft from Jomsom to Pokhara. My first smallest aircraft ever, where the air hostess, slouching really low and smiling right in your face, will offer you a toffee and a serviette and then retire to her seat for the rest of the flight. I don’t have fond memories of the flight as I suffer from motion sickness. But from what I was able to manage to view between bouts of nausea and dizziness, it was an interesting flight as the aerial view of the Himalayan peaks was stunning.
In essence, Annapurna circuit is a paradise for trekkers, shopaholics, foodies, photographers, mountaineers, temple, horse, yak lovers and adrenaline junkies.