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  • Writer's pictureHannah Bywater

Trekking the Famous Annapurna Circuit

After trekking Mardi Himal and having rested for a solid 4 days in Pokhara, I was ready to set off on my next adventure. It was time to start my trek around the Annapurna Circuit. This has been something I have wanted to do for a very long time and one of the main reasons I came to Nepal. The circuit can take anywhere between 10-18 days to complete depending on where you start and end. Some people hire guides and porters to carry their things but I really wanted to do it on my own. There are some treks in Nepal that are mandatory to have a guide but this is not one of them, which is one of the main reasons why I chose it. It is a pretty popular trek so I wasn’t worried, especially having recently finished Mardi Himal. Although this was going to be very different in comparison to Mardi, I felt ready. I got on a bus from Pokhara which took me to Besi Sehar, the starting point of the Annapurna Circuit. The bus ride took about 5 hours and it was incredibly uncomfortable, as most bus rides are in this country. It was bumpy, the windows were rattling and a large man slept on my shoulder the entire time. I was very happy to get off that bus. Besi Sehar is the official starting point of the circuit but it is not necessary to start there. Some people take a jeep up to Chame or Manag but that cuts at least 5 days off of the circuit. I took a bus from Besi Sehar to Bhulbhule, the next village 9kms away. I decided to start in Bhulbhule because the trail up to this point is just on the road and it is incredibly dusty from all of the passing jeeps and buses. I didn’t want to miss any part of the trek but this only cut out about 1.5 hrs which I was willing to sacrifice to stay out of the dust. It was nearly 14:00 by the time I actually started walking so I just decided to go a little ways up to the next village of Bahundanda.

When I arrived, I didn’t choose a guest house, it chose me. This woman approached me as I was walking through the village and she said that my sisters were waiting for me up the stairs. I felt a very warm and welcoming presence so I followed her. She was so excited to introduce me to her daughters who are the same age as me. We all sat together and drank tea. She was very curious to know why I was out here doing this trek alone. She said she could never imagine her daughters doing that. I told her a little bit about my story and her eyes were wide the entire time. I had a really lovely evening with this family and appreciated the effort they were making for me to feel at home. I was the only guest staying at the place so it would have been very quiet without our conversations.

The next morning I woke up early to set off on my first real day on the trek. I walked down the stairs to the village and the trail marking was painted clearly on the wall in front of me. I looked left and could see the next one in the distance. I followed it and there was the next one and the next one. Once I got into a flow I decided to put my headphones in and listen to an audiobook. I thought that since I was going to be walking for the next 2 weeks I would have enough time to listen to an entire library worth of books. I started to listen to Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. In short, it is a story of a man and his son going on a motorcycle trip across the US. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend you read/listen to it. On this day, I listened to the first few chapters and I was enjoying it so much, maybe a little bit too much. I became so distracted listening to the book that I stopped paying attention to where I was going. I had found myself to be on this road that didn’t really seem like the trail and I noticed that it had been while since I saw the last trail marker. I had a feeling that I was going the wrong way but I didn’t even care. I just decided to continue for a while as I was enjoying the scenery. Eventually I came upon a cute little home with some farmers working outside. When they noticed me they came over with surprised looks on their faces and greeted me with Namaste Didi, followed by some Nepali. Although we couldn’t communicate verbally due to the language barrier they gestured to me that I was not on the trail, followed by “trail no”. As suspected, I was going the wrong way. They pointed me to this small trail going through their rice fields and told me to cross a bridge somewhere down there. I followed their direction, found the bridge and after a while connected with the trail again. Obviously I can’t multitask so I decided to turn the audiobook off and only listen to it in the evening during my down time. I actually really enjoyed my little side trek and found significance in it and what I had heard in the audiobook. Something that really stuck out to me was when he said “we want to make good time, but for us now this is measured with emphasis on "good" rather than "time" and when you make that shift in emphasis the whole approach changes.” I resonated with this so much. There I was solo trekking in Nepal, with no schedule, nowhere to be and nothing but time. So why rush? Whether I complete this trek in 10 days or 20 days, it doesn’t matter as long as I have a good time. I didn’t end up having enough daylight to reach the destination that I had anticipated to but that was due to my 3 hour detour. This wasn’t an issue because there are small little villages all along the circuit and it is easy to find somewhere to stay. I found a cute little guest house in chamche that had a beautiful view of a waterfall just outside of the dinning area. The couple running this place were so sweet and welcoming. Finding accommodations is not only easy but it is very affordable. For the past two nights the rooms have been free as long as you order dinner and breakfast from them. Both meals, and some tea came to a total of around C$10 per stay. As I go higher in altitude the prices will increase a bit but it is understandable as it takes a lot (mule/horse deliveries) to get the supplies up the mountain.



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