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Annapurna Circuit Jomsom Trek 15 Days

This trek completely around the famed Annapurna Massif offers the most diversity of any trek in Nepal: fascinating ethnic groups each with their own language, incredible views of many of the Himalaya's most famous high peaks, and constantly changing panoramas - from lush, tropical rice paddies and moss-laden.

There are Rhododendron forests to Tibetan fortresses clinging to rocky cliffs which will definitely stun you. Starting with a drive to Besisahar you ascend along the Marsyangdi river valley. You pass beneath snowcapped Annapurnas II, III and IV and a range of 6,000m.peaks stretching north to Tibet. You cross Thoroung La pass (5418m.) to reach the holy shrine of Muktinath. You then descend into the mighty Kali Ghandaki Valley - the deepest river valley on the face of the earth - 7000m deep between Dhaulagiri and Annapurna. At the end you trek through a wonderful rhododendron forest on the Gorepani Ridge and the picturesque Gurung villages before finishing back in the Pokhara Valley.

As this is one of the most popular trekking routes in Nepal many lodges catering to the needs of the trekkers have sprung up all along this trail and you will be staying in one of these lodges every night. Apart from being able to enjoy homely comforts you will have the added advantage of being guests to families of different ethnic people typical of this area. The Manang and the Kali Gandaki valleys lie along an ancient trade route between India and China, and a variety of ethnic peoples have settled here: Newars, Chettris, Gurungs, Manangeys and Thakalis.

Itinerary

Day 1:
Drive from Kathmandu to Beshishahar (760m.) and it takes about seven hours. You drive along the Kathmandu-Pokhara Highway to Dumre and then follow the narrow and paved road by the Marsyangdi River to Besi Sahar (823m.). It takes almost seven hours. Beshishahar is the district headquarters of Lamjung district. All the local government offices are situated here. From here, you can see some of mountain peak, natural sceneries surrounding the valley and the daily activities of local people. This headquarter is the centre from where the daily usable commodities are supplied to the different villages and numerous towns.

Day 2:
Trek from Beshishahar to Bahundanda (1310m.) which takes about six hours. The first part of the trail passes through flat level along the bank of the Marshyangdi River. You can enjoy the sceneries and the local culture of Gurung community. After lunch at Ngadi, the trail goes steeply upwards to Bahundanda which takes about two hours. At this point, you can see the area surrounded by eye-catching scenarios with snow capped mountains.

Day 3:
Trek from Bahundanda to Chamje (1430m.) and it takes approximately six hours. A steep trail descends for early half an hour and then follows flat path through rice terraces, before crossing a stream at the bottom of a small waterfall. It then climbs again and traverses the hillside high above the river before reaching the village of Lali Gaon. Ahead, the Marsyangdi valley forms a steep V-shape, and you follow the winding mountain path down through Syange (1100m.) where there is a beautiful waterfall above it and along the river for some distance. The trail then climbs steeply and the path is cut into the sheer cliff-face some 200-300m above the riverbed. Eventually you descend to the stone village of Jagat (1330m.) situated on a shelf which juts into the precipitous Marsyangdi valley. Now the trail begins to observe small ups and down to Chamje through the forests.

Day 4:
Trek from Chamje (1410m.) to Dharapani (1860m.) and it takes about six hours. The first part of the trail descends to the river and after crossing a suspension bridge, you begin a climb to Sattale (1550m.) on a path so steep that it seems one slip would send you hurtling down into the valley. You continue on an undulating path above the river, and at one point, where a tributary flows in from the opposite bank, the main river becomes covered with huge boulders that hide the water. Climbing the zigzag path to the top of the hill, you see the level, plain of Tal (1700m.) before you. Tal is the border between Manang and Lamjung district. Though it is enclosed by cliffs, the level area looks reassuring after the harrowing mountain paths just traveled on. You descend to a grassy riverbank, which leads to Tal with its hotels and teahouses. Beyond Tal, the valley narrows and the path becomes high and winding, and in several areas hewn from the rock itself. Beyond the small village of Karte (1900m.), there is a bit more cliff-walking before the path drops again to the river. You cross a suspension bridge, and climb the short distance to the stone kani marking the entrance to Dharapani (1960m.), and your camp for the night.

Day 5:
Trek from Dharapani to Chame (2670m.) which takes about five hours. As you cut through a narrow field from the village, the Dudh Khola, which originates from the south face of Manaslu, enters on the opposite bank. The Marsyangdi then veers to the left, and as Annapurna II becomes visible ahead, you arrive at Bagarchhap, a Bhote village with prayer flags fluttering in the breeze around Buddhist monastery. Continuing to climb through forests of pine and oak, you pass through Danaque (2210m.). There comes a small wooden bridge which takes you to follow steep ascent path upto Timang. It lies at the bottom of Lamajung Himal. The trail goes through flat level until you reach Chame where there are government offices, shops, and hotels. Chame is the administrative headquarters for the Manang district.

Day 6:
Trek from Chame to Pisang (3100m.) which takes about five hours. With Lamjung Himal (6893m) sparkling in the morning sun, you set off for Pisang. The mountain disappears as you climb the path up the valley, passing a huge apple orchard. You continue through a fir and pine forest, climbing to a high, rocky area as the opposite bank becomes an impassable cliff. From this point the valley becomes extremely steep-sided as you follow the path to Bhratang (2950m.).In the past this was the military station for troops who fought against the Khampa tribal revolution, but the dilapidated buildings are all that remain of that era. A short climb from the village brings you to a rock-strewn area where you cross a suspension bridge and follow a high, winding path, before crossing back to the right bank again. You now walk through a pine forest and as the forest ends, the valley changes from a V-shape to a gentle U-shape, opening up a wonderful vista before you. You can see the east peak of Annapurna II as well as Pisang Peak (6091m.) to the north-east. Continuing on, you come to a long mani wall by a bridge and the lower village of Pisang.

Day 7:
Trek from Pisang to Manang (3540m.) and it takes about five hours. Beyond Pisang, the trail climbs a steep ridge which affords good views of the Manang valley and Tilicho peak (7145m.). Descending past Manang's airstrip at Hongde (3320m.), you come to a level area from where the north-east face of Annapurna III rises majestically above you. From the wide plains of the Sabje Khola Valley, Annapurna IV (7525m) also becomes visible. Just beyond this point you cross the considerably reduced flow of the Marsyangdi Khola via a wooden bridge to the tiny village of Mungji. Cultivated fields appear on both sides of the path and off to the right, below a craggy mountain, you can see the village of Bryaga with its splendid monastery. Large chortens and mani walls abound and the tall peaks of the Himalaya spread out before you - Annapurna II, Annapurna III, Annapurna IV, Gangapurna (7455m) and, to the rear, Tilicho Peak (7145m). After a short steep climb you reach Manang which is a surprisingly large village for this remote mountain region. You camp here for the night, amidst the fluttering prayer flags which adorn the houses.

Day 8:
Rest day at Manang and hang in and around town. This is an important rest and acclimatization day before crossing the Thorung La. There are optional day walks such as crossing the river to see the tremendous ice-fall coming down from the Annapurnas, or climbing high above the village for a full panorama of the Annapurna range and the Manang Valley. There is also a Himalayan Rescue Association (HRA) aid post in the village which makes an interesting and educational visit. Moreover you can visit Ganagapurna Glacier Lake to make your rest day a memorable one.

Day 9:
Trek from Manang to Yak Kharka (4018m.) and it takes about three and half hours. Now the trail ascends gently all the way to Yak Kharka passing through the Gunsang (3960m.) village. En route, you can see panoramic views all the day.

Day 10:
Trek from Yak Kharka to Thorong Phedi (4450m.) which takes about 3 and half hours. Leaving Yak Kharka, you climb gradually to a ridge before descending to the headwaters of the Marsyangdi and crossing via a covered wooden bridge. After a short ascent up the mountain path on the right bank, you follow a narrow trail across an unstable spree slope and then descend to Thorung Phedi.

Day 11:
Trek from Thorong Phedi to Muktinath (3800m.) via Thorong La (5416m.) Pass and it takes about seven hours. It demands an early start today for your crossing of Thorung La [5416m]. The trail becomes steep immediately on leaving camp but as this trail has been used by local people for hundreds of years, the path is well defined. The gradient then eases and after around 4 hours of steady climbing, you reach the chorten and prayer flags of the pass. The views are dramatic to say the least, from the snow-covered mountains above, to the head of the Kali Gandaki valley below and the brown and purple hills of Mustang which are spread out before you. The descent to Muktinath is a knee pounding 1600m but it is compensated for with excellent views of Dhaulagiri. Eventually the moraines give way to grassy slopes before a pleasant walk along the Jhong Khola Valley to Muktinath and its shrines and temple.

Day 12:
Trek from Muktinath to Kagbeni (2800 m.) and it takes about three and half hours. You now begin the trek descent down the dramatic Kali Gandaki Gorge, initially through arid country in the same geographical and climatic zone as Tibet. After passing through Jharkot and Khingar villages with typical Tibetan architecture, you follow path steeply down to Kagbeni, a primitive village famous for Tibetan architectures. People living there follow the Tibetan life style and culture. There is situated a monastery said to belong to 15th Century. Kagbeni is the border for Upper Mustang.

Day 13:
Trek from Kagbeni to Jomsom (2710m.) which takes about three and half hours. Your trail passes through the bank of Kali Gandaki passing through the Eklebhatti. The trail is windy after late morning. The river flows through broader course. Jomsom is the headquarters of Mustang and it is split into two towns and between these two towns passes through Kali Gandaki river. There is access of internet and banking facilities. From Jomsom, you can enjoy the magnificent views of Nilgiri and Tilicho peak. Here you stay overnight at hotel.

Day 14:
Fly from Jomsom to Pokhara which takes about 35 minutes. The flights are available during the morning time. The strong breeze blows during the after and frequent change of the weather prevent the flight being landed and taken off in the afternoon. During the flights in morning, the sky looks very clear which makes you able to enjoy the splendid views of different mountain peaks.

Day 15:
Drive from Pokhara to Kathmandu by tourist mini bus that takes about seven hours. While driving from Pokhara to Kathmandu, you head up to Damauli, Dumre, Muglin and Kurintar where the Nepal's first Cable car is operated to reach to Manakamana Temple. En route, you could enjoy the mountain views, green sceneries, rice terrace fields, vegetable fields and people being engaged in their daily life activities. From Naubishe you climb up to Thankot, the gateway to capital city. You can also fly from Pokhara to Kathmandu which takes about 25 minutes.

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