When I first started planning my RTW trip, I’d never given a second thought to visiting Nepal, and had never even heard of the Annapurna range. Early in my process though, I met Mike and Anne Howard of HoneyTrek, who couldn’t speak highly enough of the tiny Asian nation. While I caught a lot of flack from fellow travelers for booking an organized tour with Intrepid to trek the Annapurna Sanctuary – a range of mountains in the country’s west – it didn’t change any of the scenery. And best of all, my boyfriend got to join me and celebrate his birthday with two weeks of hiking, hot springs, and teahouse stays. Tag along by clicking through the photos below.
Tips for trekking in the Annapurna Sanctuary
Practice on the stair master. My trek training was just taking long walks. At the advice of Intrepid, I thought as long as I could stay on my feet for four to six hours, I’d be okay. And I mostly was. But the Annapurna Sanctuary trek involves a lot of up and down. Much of the path is straight flagstone steps with many steep climbs and descents. If doing it again, I’d spend less time just walking in my training and more time on the stairs.
Pack light! There are many porters who get overloaded – it’s dangerous and irresponsible. Intrepid ensures no porter carries more than the legal limit, but less is always better. A few must-haves you don’t want to leave out: a headlamp for finding the bathroom at night, a SteriPen and water bottle to purify tap water and reduce waste, silk thermals for chilly nights at altitude, and cough drops. You can get a kind of decongestant on the trail, but no lozenges.
Take the opportunity to detox. Drinking alcohol and eating meat make your ascent harder to adjust to. We kept a vegetarian diet and avoided alcohol until the trek was over. We had enough trouble hanging onto our health at altitude. No sense in making it more difficult. I couldn’t believe it when I saw folks drinking and smoking cigarettes up in the mountains.
Withdraw all the cash you need for your trek in advance, but change it back to US dollars before you leave. Apparently, it is illegal to take Nepali rupees out of the country. Whoops! I didn’t get in any trouble with the law, but I am now in the quandary of having cash that no one will exchange.
For the love of all that is holy, observe basic trail etiquette. Let people know verbally if you’d like to pass them, particularly on narrow paths. On the trail’s many suspension bridges, match the step and pace of the person in front of you. And always greet folks you encounter with a friendly ‘Namaste.’
Love slideshows? Check out my photos from Pompeii.
What was your first multi-day trek? Tell me in the comments!