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Round Annapurna Trek Reflection
At that time I felt bizarre when I sacked my warm clothes into my bag since it was the month of May which passes with a hot atmosphere. But I was well aware about my destination and my long awaited ambition was going to be fulfilled soon. I was about to trek one of the world’s most popular trekking trails- the Round Annapurna Trek in mid Nepal. Before that, I traveled to Dumre- Besishasahar- Manange Chautara- Syange (1,100m) from Pokhara (900m).
Finally, the adventurous trekking began from Syange of Lamjung on May 10, 2008. I was flanked by scribes Ram Gurung and Ghanashyam Poudel in that trekking. There was a 15 Kg of bag on my back and I followed the anti current of Marshyangdi River. The trekking went through a scenic grandeur in the fascinating land of Annapurna ways. My destination was Thorong-La Pass (5,416m), the highest point in the Annapurna Circuit and in the bordering area of Manang and Mustang which are known as the Trans-Himalayan districts.
I stayed at Jagat (1,300m) to pass my first night. Accommodation was cheaper than Pokhara but fooding was somehow expensive. I ate Dal-bhat, curry of potato, greens (rape-leaves), energetic chocolates, noodle soup and garlic soup including liters of water along the trekking way. Garlic soup and water were consumed more than normal since I had to struggle higher altitude day by day in the trekking of Annapurna Region which is taken care by Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) extended in 55 Village Development Committee of five districts (Lamjung, Manang, Mustang, Myagdi and Kaski) in 7629 Sq km of area.
I passed my second night at Timang (3,000m) where I recharged my camera battery. The dinner and room facilities were not so much standard which I got in my other stays. Gurgling Marshyangdi River, long suspension bridges, forests, numbers of tourists and dusty roads that were built overlapping the trekking trails were seen during the trekking. Yes, the newly built road overlaps the Annapurna Trekking trails in most of the areas but there are not operated the vehicles. I witnessed high cliffs, numbers of falls, big stones, caravans of pony and wildlife especially different kinds of deer, high hills, snowcapped mountains, multi cultural and multi ethnic diversities of Gurung, Thakali and Bhotes during my trekking.
Though I carried my cell phone in my pocket, it didn’t show the tower. But I remained able to contact Pokhara through it as I arrived at Chame, the district headquarter of Manang. Here are available Internet and telephone services. However the satellite telephone service is provided in most of the spots of the Annapurna Circuit. I used internet in a laptop that was available in a cafe of Manang Village (3,540m). The fare was bloody expensive. I paid 300 NRs for an hour of time. The fares for foreigners were more expensive than for Nepalis. High Camp, Kagbeni and Jomsom also provide such service in that trail.
Before arriving Manang Village, I enjoyed my 3rd night in a bed of Pisang (3,200m) of Manang district. There were numbers of cottages for accommodation in Pisang. Most of the lodges and cottages there were built with pinewoods. I could see the high degree of deforestation in Manang. Pinewoods help to resist the cold that blows in Manang so I carried and wore warm clothes against those cold waves.
Acclimatization is most important part of trekking in high altitude that I was heading for. So I passed my two nights (4th and 5th) in Manang Village. However I felt uneasy in breathing while sleeping in some of the spots. The cause was fewer quantity of oxygen. The tension went up along with the ascending up the higher parts.
However I confidently faced it to cross the Thorong La. I also faced sunny but cold days and felt dry in my lips and nose due to the sever blow of winds. Manang Village and Jomsom were the most striking places of that trail. Not only in Manang Village, in most of the places of Manang district, I saw dozens of monasteries, entry gates in both ends of a village, sandy land, tranquil Gangapurna Lake, numbers of Chorten, prayer wheels, flags in every households and old houses in the cliffy sides. In manang, I only saw sparrows, crows and doves in terms of birds.
Now, I was in Thorong Phedi (4,450m) to pass my 6th night. Before arriving there, I could see numbers of temporary tents in Yakkharka where people from different areas were passing their nights. They were here to search Yarsha Gumbus, a kind of mountain butterfly that has medical value to empower the sexual desire of people.It was early in the morning of 5:30; I started the trekking of important day because I was going to cross the Thorong-La that day (May 16). The atmosphere was not so much cleared and the sky was cloudy. I had to take rests after couples of steps because of the high altitude. I crossed high camp in an hour then some time later, a tea shop is seen in the height of 5,000 m above sea level. The owner charged 200 rupees for two packets of coconut biscuits and a bottle of hot water. I was now surrounded by mountain ranges of 360 degree. There were the piles of snow in the trails. I could see no vegetation around me. Only black stones, snowy lands and high rocky-mountains could be seen there.
Finally, I arrived at Thorong-La without the using of Diamox, tablets for high altitude sickness or acute mountain sickness. There were offered numbers of prayer flags by trekkers. I got my photograph taken and I also took few dozens of photographs. The climate was severely cold and wave of wind was blowing me. I was using black spectacles and so many warm clothes against adverse whether. After passing about 15 minutes there, I trekked down the Mustang for Muktinath (3,800m), a holy place for Hindus and Buddhists. In the 6th day, I ascended from the bank of Marshyangdi in Manang and descended in the bank of Kali Gandaki in Mustang, crossing the Thorong-La Pass.
Some of the hotel and lodge entrepreneurs assumed me a guide or porter rather than a tourist before I giving them my introduction. They have a concept that all the Nepali who trek are porters or guides. Manangis shown good hospitality but Mustangi remained more professional during my trek. Rishi Budathoki, the NTB in-charge in Pokhara, Santosh Sherchan, the office in-charge at ACAP office in Manag and hotelier Binod Gurung in Manang helped that trekking very much.
I stayed at Jomsom (2,710m), the district headquarter of Mustang, to pass my 7th night. The 22-day long trek has been shortening in 15 days due to the road construction but I set a record, trekking the Round Annapurna Trek within 7-night and 8 days. Next day, the anticlockwise 215 Km long trekking around the Annapurna Massif ended in Mustang and I arrived to Pokhara via jeep, bus and a taxi.
Annapurna Animal description
A pika is a small mammal, with short limbs, rounded ears, and no external tail
Most people haven’t heard of pikas, but these small critters are commonly spotted on the Annapurna Circuit. A pika is similar in appearance to a chinchilla, albeit slightly smaller. They are native to the colder climates of Asia, Eastern Europe and North America and are sometimes called rock rabbits or coneys. Pikas are most active during the winter season as they don’t hibernate; instead they rely on collected hay for warm bedding and food.
Most species live on rocky mountain sides, where numerous crevices in which to shelter occur, although some pika also constructs crude burrows. A few burrowing species are native to open steppe land. In the mountains of Eurasia, pikas often share their burrows with snowfinches, which build their nests there.
Each rock-dwelling pika stores its own “haypile” of dried vegetation, while burrowing species often share food stores with their burrow mates. Haying behavior is more prominent at higher elevations. Many of the vocalizations and social behaviors that pikas exhibit are related to haypile defense. Pikas commonly live in family groups and share duties of gathering food and keeping watch. Some species are territorial.
Blue sheeps on the Annapurna circuit trek are good cliff climbers
Yes, you really can spot blue sheep on an Annapurna circuit trek, although slate grey would probably be a more apt description. These sheep are also known by their Nepalese name, bharal, and can often be spotted clambering over rocky crevices on the Annapurna Circuit. Both male and female bharal have horns, although the males curve sideways in the manner of a Victorian moustache, whilst the females grow upwards and straight. They are hard to spot as they tend to camouflage well against the slate grey of the mountain drop and tend to freeze once they feel they are in danger of being approached.
Mysterious, majestic, and elusive. The snow leopard is not easy to spot. But when you do, the memory of it is etched forever in your mind.
The stunning snow leopard is one of the most elusive creatures in Nepal with only between 300 and 500 left. The northern region of the Annapurnas is their main hunting ground, where pika and bharal are plentiful. The snow leopard hunts during dawn and dusk and spotting one of these beautiful creatures is an incredibly rare privilege whilst on an Annapurna circuit trek. Snow leopards are able to kill up to three times their size and when they’ve made their kill they will stay with their prey for several days protecting it from scavengers and eating it very slowly.
Red pandas, which resemble raccoons, are about 42 inches long, including a long, bushy tail. They weigh between seven and 14 pounds. Their red-and-white markings blend in with the red mosses and white lichens that grow on the trees in which they live. Their soft, dense fur covers their entire body—even the soles of their feet. Red pandas use their long, bushy tails to balance when they’re in trees. They also cover themselves with their tails in winter.
The red panda is native to Nepal and can often be spotted whilst walking the Annapurna circuit, as they make their homes on the slopes of the southern Himalayans. The red panda is very heat sensitive and can not tolerate temperatures of over 25C. As a result, red pandas sleep during noontime when the sun is at its hottest, with their bushy tales sheltering their faces.
The Himalayan tahr is a large ungulate native to the Himalayas in Nepal. It is listed as Near Threatened by IUCN, as the population is declining due to hunting and habitat loss.
The Himalayan tahr is another animal that you perhaps haven’t heard anything about. This black, long-haired, goat like creature is native to the Himalayan Mountains and most active during the early morning and late afternoon. They can often be seen resting on a rocky outcrop during the day and will bolt for the hills once approached. However, when you learn that tahr hunting is a native sport among many of the tribes on the Annapurna circuit, its no wonder that they may shy away from human company.
The Yeti is an ape-like cryptid taller than an average human that is said to inhabit the Himalayan region of Nepal.
The scientific community generally regards the Yeti as a legend, given the lack of conclusive evidence, but it remains one of the most famous creatures of cryptozoology.
The Yeti or Abominable Snowman is said to frequent the Annapurna circuit and many locals are convinced that they’ve caught a glimpse of him. The animal has been described as ape-like, with shaggy brown hair, sharp teeth and no tail. Stories have been told of the yeti killing yaks and attacking locals, so whether you believe them or not, you better watch out as who knows what may lurk on the slopes of the Annapurna circuit.