Had a great independant trip out to Nepal Nov-Dec in the Annapurna region of Nepal trekking the Annapurna circuit from Khudi taking the high route from Pisang via Ghyaru 3670m and visiting Tilicho lake ,crossing the Throng La 5416 m and down to Tatopani and over and up to the Annapurna Base camp.
The first part of my trip was some what disapointing due to the ammount of road construction underway to link Manang to the lower regions of the Marsyangdi valley with detours in place to avoid rock blasting areas, and the fact that you can now travel all the way to Muktinath by 4x4,wagon, bike up the Kali Gandaki and by bus all the way to Jomson.I did manage to get off the road sections in parts especialy going over the top of Muktinath via Jhung, and visiting Tiri in mustang and in parts lower down towards Tatopani, however you are drawn back to the main route because of the lack of Tea houses.
i saw a lot of other travelers giving up on the dusty road, and grabbing a 4x4 or wagon to get them to Jomson for a flight out, or down on towards Pokhara this has caused some concern to the local Tea house owners as they are now loosing out!
Reports are that some of big trekking companies are looking for an alternative route, and in some cases knocking this great trekking route on the head?.
Leaving Tatopani and its welcome hot springs, i crossed over into a different world with lush vegatation and farms walking a trail that was free of 4x4 and bikes over to poon hill and then on up the Sanctuary to Visit the Annapurna Base camp and finaly returning to Pokhara for some R&R.
i fully recommend the trip,even with the road construction in places The high route for its vista and Tilicho for its solitude, the pass at 5416M is a challenge, Muktinath as a place of Reflection and the Sanctuary a different world that remains under strict conservation rules to protect it.
sounds a great idea given that i have been in Nepal last Nov and Dec and it would maybe help others,who are on a plan to make the trip in 2010, and beleve me i can say that the Annapurna Region has changed for the worse since Jon did it last, and its not going to improve.
i was just out in Nepal last Nov and Dec and i dont know if this info will help? first things first, cut the costs by just sorting your own trip out easy enough by just starting with travel costs, i take it you have your flight sorted? the next step is getting to the trail head if you are going to start from Pokhara the tourist bus leaves early approx 0730 from KTM and if you need to save say 12$ just take the local bus. Lots of cheap digs in Pokhara down on lakeside at the far end near Mikes eats, more expensive towards damside. If you are on your own try and get others to share taxi up to besi or its the bus?.this is where life gets interesting, as for the trek i did the whole circuit taking in the high route via Ghyaru 3670 mtrs great for acclimatisation and well worth the leg work for a room with a fantastic view,i stayed up and arround there for two days. Given that the route up from the trail head is now under road construction in parts, the area up arround Ghyaru and Ngwal provides you with your first real taste of the annapurna region. i went up to Tilicho lake and avoided Manang was not for me its not cheap, and full of groups etc, but if you are feeling fine go straight to Gunsang 3900mtrs the two lodges offer fantastic views.As for where you go next is up to you i went to throng base camp and had a side trip prior to going up and over the pass in snow conditions, a tip if you have a pair of light weight rubber kahtoola spikes they will come in handy if its hard snow on the ground.
i have got to say that for a pair of boots that you can wear straight out of a box, these will take some beating less that of their new addition, took these arround the Annapurna circuit and up onto ABC in Nov and Dec and didnt even notice them on my feet. if you are looking to lighten your load then these are a good starting point, i also wore Injinji toe socks and they are not thick to boot, the padding in the boots worked brill, my last point is the locking lace outlet,it is fantastic and does exactly as jon decribes in the boot review.
My cup of tea all this Pulk work, good to see they got a good guy on board to sort em out! ex Royal Marine SBS guy, Bernie shrosbree i met that guy when i was surf canoeing in cornwall, oustanding canoeist and if my memory serves me he was well up with the best in the UK as a major player in the Britvic challenge endurance competitions plus iron man etc.