Guides that will send you packing.
by: Bryn Thomas
Thank you to readers who sent in the following updated information including: Archie Archibald.
The information has not yet been checked by Trailblazer but it will be for the next edition.
Road building affecting this trekking area
Now that the Maoist problem has ended, the road building programme is advancing much more quickly along both the Kali Gandaki and Marsyangdi valleys. On the positive side, this means that some long treks such as the Annapurna Circuit can be done more quickly by taking a jeep for the first or last part of the walk; and this is a large trekking area so there are many trails taking you miles from the roads. Thanks to Archie Archibald for this December 2008 update information:
The road up the Marsyandi is being built at a great speed and seems to follow the old trekking path for long distances. We were held up for over 1 hour at Jagat while blasting was taking place. The trail is very dusty and rough in places.
I estimate that within a few years it will be possible to travel by jeep to near Manang.
While this is probably good news for the villages it will make trekking a pain as walking a jeep track does not really is not my idea of fun and I would probably opt to take the jeep.
Permits and visas
Permits are no longer available at the counter in Thamel. You have to schlep to the Nepal Tourism Board Building in Pradasani Marg. Price Rs 2000 per person.
Nepal entry visas at airport now cost US$40 for a 30 day visa.
Exit airport tax is Rs 1695 per person.
It is possible to get a jeep from Besisahar all the way to Syange (Rs 600).
Hotels in High Camp have a monopoly and we were charged Rs500 for a twin room. The highest we paid at any of the other lodges was Rs200 and this came with private bathroom and toilet. However, the service is efficient and friendly and the food is tasty.
The toilet here is the long drop type (necessary for the cold conditions) but it was so filthy that many peolple just went aroung the back of the sleeping wing and did their business there. Highly unhygienic.
Stayed at the Caravan Hotel in Ranipauwa - recommended for hot showers, western toilet and nice rooms.
Jharkot and Kagbeni are wonderful villages - well worth spending time in them.
There is now a jeep track all the way from Beni to Muktinath although there is no regular service beyond Tatapani.
Refer back to my previous comments on alternative trekking route.
The New Annapurna Lodge in Kagbeni and the See You Lodge in Kalopani are both recommended. It was here we got rooms with a private shower/western toilet for Rs200.
We intended walking out to Beni from Tatopani but took a 15 seater bus instead (Rs300 per person) and saved a 2 day hike on what is basically a road. It took 1 long day from Tatopani to Pokhara.
My biggest regret is that we did not go via Ghorepani and that we did not spend an extra day at Lharjung to to the Dhalagiri icefall side trip.
There were no problems with Maoists.