Nepal is a trekking heaven, and Annapurna is known to have some of the best trekking circuits in the country. In fact, more than 60% of people who visit Nepal for trekking activities go here. This massif found in the Himalayas stretches over 55 kilometers and has one of the highest peaks in the world – Annapurna I, which rises 8,091 meters above sea level. It belongs to only 14 existing peaks that reach the 8,000-meter mark. It is also one of the world’s most dangerous climbs. As of 2007, there had only been 150 climbs to the summit, and 58 of these resulted in fatalities.
Annapurna has other high peaks. Specifically, it has 13 peaks that are more than 7,000 meters above sea level and 16 peaks that are more than 6,000 meters above sea level. The whole region is encompassed within the Annapurna Conservation Area, the biggest conservation area in Nepal. The deepest gorge in the planet separates this massif from the Dhaulagiri massif.
There are a number of trekking routes within the massif, the three major ones being the Annapurna circuit, the Jomsom trek, and the Annapurna Sanctuary trek. The Annapurna circuit goes around the Annapurna Himal and actually encompasses the Jomsom trek. Many consider this as the best trekking circuit in the world. The entire trek takes 17 to 21 days and passes through the two lower elevation regions of Lamjung and Myagdi and the two higher elevation regions of Manang and Mustang.
The Jomsom trek is the reverse version of the last third leg of the Annapurna circuit. It winds upstream of the Kali Gandaki river and takes trekkers through varying landscapes. It starts from Jomsom and ends in Pokhara. Because it is shorter than the Annapurna circuit, trekkers are able to do more activities like rafting and observing wildlife. Trekkers can also spend more time sightseeing.
The Annapurna Sanctuary trek covers the southern foothills of Annapurna. It is a relatively easy trek with very good views of the Himalayas. It is perfect for those who prefer a trek that is challenging but not too rough and still gives them a chance to witness the amazing flora and fauna of this part of the Himalayas. Alternative routes with varying degrees of difficulty can be taken in going to the sanctuary.
If you plan to go hiking in Annapurna, you can hire porters from travel agencies. Porters are supposed to help you carry some of the load. However, you do not really have to bring a lot of stuff because these treks go from one village to another, allowing you to find places to stay and places to eat at every stop. Thus, you can hire porters that double as guides.
Keep in mind that these porters must be paid well and not be given too much to carry. You must ensure that they have food to eat and that they are clothed properly for the high-altitude temperatures. Try to observe them from time to time to see if they are feeling well especially when you reach higher elevations, as some porters will not say anything even when they do not feel well. Generally, though, the porters are fit for the task.
A trek in Annapurna is an experience you should not miss when you go to Nepal. Just make sure that you are prepared for it. Do the necessary physical preparations before you go on your trip.