Nepal. Trek around Annapurna. Part 1. Preparation in Kathmandu and hitchhiking to the starting point

The track around Annapurna is the most popular in Nepal! Even Everest is visited less! I simply could not help but pass it, especially since I had already managed to escape to Everest in my last visit to Nepal.

Like most similar stories in Nepal, my story begins in Thamel – this is the main tourist area of ​​the capital of Nepal – a large village & nbsp; named Kathmandu! All tourists are dragged here, they are immediately placed, fed, dressed and in which of the numerous counters they are recorded in a group for a hike. In my case, it was necessary to replenish stocks of provisions before the hike, and to buy additional equipment for little things, like hats and gloves. I have not come across a place where you can get dressed from head to toe and pack a full backpack for a hike in the Himalayan mountains cheaper and faster than here. Moreover, it is the geographical and cultural center of the city and wherever you go from Kathmandu you will not miss this place.

There is such a hodgepodge of ancient buildings, an “Indian” market, modern and old cafes, and of course shops with tourist equipment, esoteric clothes and handicraft goods. After hundreds of monotonous “Chinese” collapse, it is very interesting here! But it becomes scary for the increasing spontaneous spending on various junk for yourself, friends and acquaintances.

In order to be in the national parks of Nepal without any problems, it is necessary to issue two things – a personal book of a pedestrian and permits, i.e. permission to stay in a specially protected territory of the country. For the most popular track in Nepal “Around Annapurna” one permit is enough. Together with the book for 2018, it cost about 3,500 rubles, if translated into ours, subject to registration in the main tourist center in Kathmandu. Prices are naturally higher in the field and at the entrance to the park. For lovers of freebies, the internet is full of information on how to bypass document checkpoints on the route, but here you need to understand that the posts are located where it is difficult to bypass them without endangering your life, and the Himalayas itself is not a very safe place. Trying to save on such a miserable amount, compared to, for example, ticket prices, equipment and hospital treatment is more of a diagnosis than just stupidity.

There, in the center, I came across a good reminder to tourists before going to the mountains. You can take a few minutes and check your knowledge of English. It will come in handy for you on the trail to communicate with tourists from all over the world along the route, buy food and book loggias if you go without your tent or just decide to relax in a cozy fragment of civilization. Now you can perfectly use translators on your phone, but they will not replace live communication for you.

This is how the book looked. Photo from student, but all border guards do not care, if only the person looked like.

Traffic to Kathmandu. One of the central streets of the city. There are a lot of cars there now, but only in the capital and at the entrances to it. The road even in the city is unpaved and the dust is almost always terrible, and in the rain the streets are buried in mud. Not all tourists like it, especially infuriates those who like to “relax in an exotic country”. For travelers, this has its own romance. Highways have no soul.

Closer to the city border, cars almost completely disappear from the roads. Their place is taken by two-wheeled vehicles and painted wagons. In some places there is a traffic jam of trucks, reminiscent of an endless train. If you are a fan of hitchhiking, then this is a great place to find friends and leave the city in the direction of some top. For others, Nepalese buses are always at their service, almost always crowded and cramped, but there is also romance in this! Riding around the Himalayas even on a bus at sunset is unforgettable, I even advise you to try it!

While hitchhiking, you will most likely run into smoky drivers. I hope you survived before getting into a truck with strangers! The guys are always cheerful and sociable, which is not surprising. Less often, there are more mature drivers (probably younger drivers, like motorcyclists in the joke, new every year), who are also very sociable and incredibly kind. We are ready to feed, drink, ̶n̶a̶k̶u̶r̶i̶t̶̶, let the truck drive, but on the weekend they will go around Nepal with you and show all the fun!

From Kathmandu to Annapurna, by the standards of Russia, it’s a stone’s throw. 200 kilometers along serpentines. By public transport or by truck, about half a day’s drive. On the way, it would be nice to make stops and climb out to enjoy the view and have a bite of strange food in local cafes. For example, you can try local cocktails. It’s a risky business, but life without risk is boring!)

In general, the road can be reached quite far, up to the town of Manang, but most tourists move to the village of Besisar and from there they stomp on foot.

Somewhere not far from the store, and before reaching Besisar a little, I spent the night in a tent, since there were no problems with the weather. The next day was the start of the hike, the start of my trek around Annapurna.