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Top Ten Treks in The World - #4 - Annapurna, Nepal

Annapurna Trek - NepalThere may be one trek that has it all: snow-capped peaks of the world’s greatest mountain range, steep rice terraced valleys, active villages along most of the way reflecting two major ethnic cultures, hot springs, holy pilgrimage temples, high mountain passes and much more. It is a trek of epic length, but offers many options for shorter, but still rewarding journeys. This trek is none other than the Annapurna Circuit.

While Mount Everest often captures the general public’s eye, the trek around Annapurna is often considered superior to the shorter Mount Everest Base Camp Trek. As a circuit Annapurna offers another advantage in that you don’t have to double back. You start at a much lower elevation 820m / 2,700’, but still attain high alpine altitude maxing out at 5350m / 17,550’ on Thorung La Pass. From a mountaineering perspective, Everest garners attention for its dangerous summits, while Annapurna proves to be a much more formidable mountain to climb with one person dying for every two who reach its summit.

However, did completing the Annapurna trek live up to it's hype? It's a hard question to answer. In many ways, the majestic mountains and small villages were as advertised. However, there were two major drawbacks to my journey. Both could be characterized by one word, progress.

Unlike the Everest Base Camp trek that starts at an isolated airport unconnected by roads and high in the Himilayas, Annapurna's journey starts in Besi Sahar. An undescript dirty little village, there is little appeal to it and the initial surrounding villages that are unfortunately connected via roads and internal combustion. As you get higher, the villages actually become more picturesque and eventually you lose the road. Sadly, once on the other side off the pass you again bump into the road. At the time of my hike, they were actually constructing a new road that would parallel most of the trail. Small villages were already being bipassed and whithering away in isolation.

So while following the complete circuit, starting in Besi Sahar and ending in Naya Pul, allows you to experience the delights of the many villages, encounter numerous temples, ecosystems and wildlife, the question is will the joys that made Annapurna a most see destination continue? Sure each day the impressive views of some of the most famous mountains in the Himalayas: Annapurna I through IV, Dhalguiri, Machu Puchari, Nilgiri and Gangapurna will delight you. The extensive trek around them allows you to experience multiple views of each massif and take in the subtle splendors of each view.

The Annapurana circuit provides many options for those without the tie to complete the epic journey. One of the most popular variations from circuiting is to fly into Jomsum and trek back. The second most common is to trek into ABC – The Annapurna Base Camp – also known as the Annapurna Sanctuary. The bottom line is that you can’t go wrong in trekking in the Annapurna region.

You can read a more complete story of our hike at our sister site www.greattreks.com or purchase our book A Journey Along the World's Great Treks.

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