The Annapurna Circuit trek, day #1. From Pokhara – Besi Sahar – Bhulbule to Ngadi Khola. Finally time to start trekking on the Annapurna circuit.
After spending a few days exploring Kathmandu and Pokhara and buying all the gear needed for the trek. It was finally time! Leaving to the start of the trek.
A bit about the Annapurna Circuit.
The Annapurna Circuit is probably one of the most famous treks in Nepal. The circuit is located in the Annapurna conservation and circles around the Annapurna Massif. A small mountain region, located in the famous Himalayas. Probably the most famous peak in this region is Annapurna I: known as the 10th highest mountain in the world and as the most deadliest mountain above 8000 meters. Scary stuff!
Fun fact: it was the first peak above 8000m climbed in the world, completed in 1950. Image how hardcore those climbers must have been at that time using 1950s gear.
Completing the circuit will take 15-21 days and covers somewhere between 160-240kms, depending on the starting and endpoints. The highest point reached on the circuit is Thorong La Pass with an altitude of 5416m. There are various sidetracks along the route which adds several km as well. The main trekking seasons are October-November and April-May.
Since we spent more time in Central Asia and Iran than we planned, we didn’t make it to Nepal until the start of December. But after doing some research December should still be possible unless the weather changes for the worst. (Which happens very very fast in the mountains as we later found out).
The Annapurna Circuit trek, day #1
Pokhara – Besi Sahar – Bhulbule – Ngadi Khola: 5km
Total distance covered by foot: 5km
Finally, filled with excitement we made our way to the bus station in Pokhara. Months we have been thinking about this trek and finally it was time to start. The past days we spend preparing, buying all the right gear(hopefully) and talked to several people about our timing of the trek: December. Not getting any real answers in Pokhara, other than “hire me as a guide”. So we bought some warm clothes, crampons and a set of trekking poles and we were ready for an adventure!
Our bus left Pokhara at 07:00 and it took about 5-6 hours before reaching Besi Sahar. Super excited, nervous, a bit scared, happy were some of the emotions we felt during the bus ride. We did a bit of trekking in Kyrgyzstan and crossed the Pamir Highway a few months earlier. Going up to 4900meter without any issues, so we felt confident about the altitude. But other than that we are not experienced mountaineers, also being out of season added to the whole excitement. What if a storm would hit us, what if we get stuck? What if, what if…. but hey we wanted adventure – this is adventure. Luckily the bouncy bus made us doze off for a few hours and before we knew it we arrived at Besi Sahar.
A big advantage of trekking in December is that there are hardly any people on the trek. Getting off the bus we met Emily from Denmark and Alberto from Italy. The four of us were the only ones arriving and soon we decided to team up. Nice!
Besi Sahar officially is the start of the Annapurna Circuit, but because of road constructions it is advised to skip the first bit and start walking from Bhulbule. After checking in at the Annapurna Conservation post we got on the local bouncy bus to Bhulbule.
The bus is an old beat up passenger bus which takes roads that we consider 4×4 roads. A helmet is advised!
The bus dropped us off at Bhulbule around 14:30. After putting our kidneys back in place we found the trail. The sign pointing us in the direction of Manang. Manang is where we planned to take a rest day to acclimatize before heading into higher altitude. This was gonna take us another 6 days to reach. Many kilometers to cover before getting there!
Already the scenery was breathtaking, walking through forest and jungle surroundings. Staring at the giant snow peaks on the horizon.
After 5km we arrived in the tiny but cozy village of Ngadi Khola. Since it was almost 17:00 we decided to stop here for the night. Upon entering the village we were greeted by a bunch of elderly half-naked ladies who were taking a shower right next to the track. Alberto and I stopped and looked at each other not knowing if we should wait or continue. But after a few seconds the ladies started screaming of laughter at our surprised puppy faces. We figured this is probably normal so we continued our way. What a great way to live.
Since it is off-season there are no people around. So we were the only foreigners in the village. We picked the first guesthouse next to the bridge and took a hot shower. We knew hot showers were gonna be in short supply in a few days, so better to use the opportunity now!
As soon as the sun set it got really cold (we had no idea what being cold meant at that time hahaha). Luckily the owners of the guesthouse had some local wine (Raksi). A Vodka like drink made from millet or rice. The taste wasn’t that great but it was a good conversation starter over dinner. We got to know each other a bit better and after some more local wine we made our way to bed.
What a perfect way to start our adventure.