New guy here. Been lurking for awhile and really enjoy the trip reports, pics and general daydream fodder. And now I have a question I hope I can get some help with.
I've been thinking about a trekking trip to Nepal next March/April to celebrate my 40th B-day. I want to do something mildly epic (for me, not for most of you all ) and I thought the Annapurna Circuit trek might fit the bill for me. I'm trying to get a travel partner, but not having much luck with that.
Anyway, I've looked at Gap Adventures and Mountain Monarch companies recommended on other boards or general searches. I've seen some mixed/not great reviews for Gap, although not specifically for Nepal, but other trips of theirs. Mountain Monarch looks to be more "local" and I would be happy to see my travel money go there rather than outside.
Anybody have any firsthand knowledge of either of these companies or would like to suggest any others?
I've seen many suggestions of just getting to Kathmandu and hiring a guide/porter, but as a somewhat novice international traveller and potentially solo, I'm not sure I feel comfortable about it. I don't mind spending a bit more to get some of the details hammered out for me.
Not sure if this should be on the Asia board so please move as appropriate.
Thanks in advance for any replies.
I have been to Nepal / Himalyas several times (and even worked in Kathmandu for 6 months) and I can highly recommend my personal friend Ngima Dorji Sherpa. He runs a trekking company called Nepal Myths and Mountain Trails (http://www.nepalmyths.com/).
My trip experiences with Ngima and his team have always been extremely positive. Pls drop me a line if you'd like more details.
I went to Nepal about fifteen years ago after quitting my first corporate job and wondering what I was going to do with my life. Had always wanted to go to climb but settled for trekking.
Anyways, I went by myself and ended up meeting a guy who I ended up traveling with the remainder of my trip (India, Chitwan, etc.). There are so many people traveling thru Kathmandu from other places, it's not that difficult to hook up with someone or at least get information about where to go. It's not a sure thing though, so you may want to look into what kind of message boards, etc., are available. Luckily, we got along really well too, which is never a guarantee. That's one problem with groups. For better or worse, you'll be with the same group for three weeks.
I did the Annapurna Circuit too. Absolutely incredible. Some advice: if I had to do it again, I'd go in the fall since the air visibility is so poor in the spring. You only see the peaks first thing in the morning and then the haze usuallly obscures them.
Second, do a lot of walking first, not just to get in shape but to make sure you won't develop weird little problems from hiking for three weeks. I was in really good shape at the time (lots of hilly biking and running 35:00 10Ks) but I developed a lump on my achilles tendon that forced me to walk the last three or four days in cheap $2 flip flops--not easy when you're carrying a pack and doing 10-12 miles a day (although you'll see porters carrying 100 lbs of kerosene, logs or pipes wearing the same thing).
Take double the amount of memory you'll think you'll need for your camera. I took twenty rolls of 36 ex. film and wish I had brought way more.
If you have the chance, go to Mustang and the Annapurna Sanctuary. I didn't do Mustang because I really didn't know about it or investigate before the trip, and the Sanctuary is at the end of the trek, when you just want to be done with it. Hang out for a couple of extra days in Tatopani, soak in the hot springs, and rest up for a final push into the Sanctuary. I still really, really regret not going.
As a climber, I was really psyched on being in the mountains with a climber's perspective. However, a good climbing buddy had made the same trip a few years before and really stressed that it was a cultural experience. I thought he was feeding me a line, but he was right. You'll get sick, tired, cold, etc., but it really is an amazing opportunity to immerse yourself in another vibrant culture so different from our own.
Thanks for your replies. I am still in the information gathering stage of this trip. I'm really hoping to wrangle someone into going with me to avoid the 3 weeks with only strangers for better or worse issue.
I had heard that fall is more clear than spring, and had wondered whether I'd be better off going in the fall. That would give me more time to save some more money. I also have read that fall is much more crowded, so I guess there are always trade-offs.
Thanks also for the tip on Mustang and the Annapurna Sanctuary.
If this trip moves forward I'm sure I will have many more questions. Until then, thanks again.