Where the Great Trek REALLY started

Trip Start Jul 10, 2006
Trip End May 31, 2007

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Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Nepal is simply stunning with scenary more breathtaking with every new valley, and people who are very warm, especially considering they have been through incredible civil unrest and hardship for decades.

We did what is known as the "Annapurna Circuit" trail - 16 days of hiking/trekking, looping around the Annapurna Sanctuary area. The crown of the circuit is the Thorong La Pass at well over 5,000 metres, which is breathtaking in more than one way!
Never having done this kind of physical activity before, with a serious case of inertia (I hate hills! I hate hills!) and very unfit (from weeks of a sedantry diving lifestyle) we took off for Besisahar - where the trail begins.

Over the following fornight we walked for about 5-7hours every day, ate more than our bodyweight in rice, roti's (Cheppati) and Tibetan bread, and did our OWN laundry in glacial (freeeeezing) water!

We also took more photos than you could shake a memory stick at, and used up a lifetime of "Wow!"s in about 3 days. The best way to enjoy Nepal (from your desk, that is) is to view this photo album as a slideshow. See this option above!

Some of the highlights from the trek were:
* An altitude aclimitisation day at Manang, where we got to got to a movie "theatre", eat pop-corn, and even try Yak steak. Sitting on the roof of our hotel and look at magnificent scenary around us we were already 50 metres higher than the highest point in South Africa!
* Meeting trekkers from all over the world, and sharing the trail with donkey & goat trains that were more nimble over the climbs than we were.
* Most beautiful breakfast spot ever
* Getting to know our Nepali guide, Ramesh & Porter, Krishna and find out a bit about their lives
* Losing about 5 kgs each but eating anything we wanted!
* Making it over the pass - on the 2nd attempt! (Nicky showed signs of hypothermia on the first attempt so we descended and started again 2hours later when the temperature was more "accomodating". Fortunately the weather held, which made for a spectacular climb, and a knee-annihilating 4 hour descent!)

Lowlights include:
* Having money extorted from us by Maoist rebels, and seeing their Red "graffiti" slogans all over buildings, natural features & telephone poles.
* More blisters than life itself, and no Compeed to be found anywhere!
* The site of where a landslide killed about 30 people 6 months ago
* 4 people killed on Thorong Peak 3 days after we went over the Pass

The Annapurna circuit was fantastic and would recommend it to anybody who even vaguely enjoys good scenary! It's very doable, and a lot more beautiful than the Everest Base Camp trek (...should you be so tempted).

Next stop was a few adrenaline-filled days around the Pokhara area. Who's afraid of heights???

We arranged our entire Nepal trip through a Nepalese agent called "Trekking Team" who we recommend both for value and authenticity of experience. (www.trekkingteam.com)

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