You enter Nepal via Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu. In this city, drivers have no compunction against sounding their horn at tourists, but all traffic comes to a halt if there is a pigeon or water buffalo on the highway.
The trek is arranged by the provider’s staff on the second day, leaving you with a day to kill in Kathmandu. You could attend many interesting places – Kathmandu is, after all, a UNESCO World Heritage Site – or simply indulge in a shopping frenzy.
You are driven to Arughat, which is quite possibly the most uncomfortable stretch of this trek, taking from six to nine hours on a bumpy track.
Here your trek begins proper. You walk along the Budhi Gandaki river passing villages like Morder and Simre. From Arkhat River, you hike to Karyapani. Home will be a camp where there is a great opportunity for fresh water bathing.
The trail becomes interesting later in the day when you cut through forests. Look out for monkeys. You then ascend up onto a ridge above the gigantic rapids of the Buri Gandaki, before heading back down and continuing on a steep and rocky trail to the Gurung village of Labishe (880m). You will spend the night on the bank of Machha Khola.
You continue following the course of the Buri Gandaki river, ascending and descending many ridges. The trail becomes quite intense as altitude rises. On the way you will encounter hot springs and lush forests containing many endangered species. Eventually, the river valley widens and you continue along a good trail to Jagat where you stay for the night.
The trail crosses the river and ascends over a rocky ridge to the village of Salleri and then onto Setibas, where several ‘mani walls’ indicate to you that you are entering a region of Tibetan influence. This is one of the shortest days, with three hours bringing you to Philim where you camp for the night. You will have time on your hands, and a good way to spend it is enjoying the locally-grown coffee and tea.
Excitement stems from the changing elevation, topography and wildlife, not to mention the culture. You end the day at Deng.
You hike across farmland. Settlements are larger. You find yourself on intimate terms with Naike Peak, Manaslu North and Manaslu. You finish at Namrung after a final, steep climb.
The altitude produces an alpine climate. There are many mountain views in addition to pastureland and glaciers. The trail takes you through the village of Lho, where there are chortens and manis. Chortens, or ‘spiritually significant places’, are found at high places and are usually simple structures that are often adorned with prayer flags. Even in the most remote of places, there could be the remains of offerings by passing traders and pilgrims. They are believed to positively affect those who live nearby. Mani stones are stones inscribed with the mantra of the bodhisattva, Avalokiteshvara. A bodhisattva is something along the lines of an angel. The day concludes at Honsansha Gompa, where there is a stunning view of Peak 29 and Manaslu.
This a fairly short day. The trail comes onto a plateau at Shya (3,530m). From here the trail crosses a ridge, enters and then quickly exits a side canyon. You then descends onto a rock-strewn moraine. You then clamber across the boulders to arrive at a ridge overlooking the vast pastures and fields of Samagaon (3,541m). You rest or explore in the afternoon.
This day is entirely devoted to acclimatisation.
Today you trek to the settlement of Samdo which is nestled behind a ridge.
You hike along the Budi Gandaki river, which is constantly shrinking. Towering mountains surround you. Over the river is the huge settlement of Sumdu. Above this village is a stream that runs down the Gya La Pass, the gateway to Tibet, and the ruins of a village that was named Larkya Bazaar, which once thrived on trade with Tibet.
It is not long until you approach the northern facet of Larky Glacier, where the view of Cho Danda and Larkya Peak is momentous. The pass becomes steeper as you go. At the peak, catching your breath is very pleasant with Annapurna, Cheo Himal, Himlung Himal and Kangguru Himal before you. Then you hike to Tanbuche.
Today you trek along the river before descending through scrub forests to Dharapani.
Today you trek back to Jagat using a path on the classic Annapurna Circuit.
The trek ends at Nagdi.
You return to Kathmandu.