View Full Version : Nepal’s shrinking Annapurna Circuit

30th May 2011, 01:10 AM
Source: BBC

In less than a year, a road will cut Nepal's classic 250-kilometre Annapurna Circuit in half, threatening the livelihoods of local villages and turning one of the world’s most challenging treks into a short hike in the Himalayas.

The Annapurna Circuit features several famous Himalayan high peaks including Manaslu, Dhaulagiri and Annapurna I, II, III and IV, with Annapurna I towering at 8,091 metres as the 10th highest peak in the world. A good taste of the trek, which includes Thorong La pass (the highest point at 5,416 metres) and skips much of the terrain thereafter, can be done in 10 to 12 days, but trekking entire 250-kilometre route requires closer to three weeks. When the road is fully constructed in spring of 2012, the first 10 days of the trip will be cut to a two-day dusty drive.

Though the new road will make it easy for short trips, resort-style hikes and commercial luxuries, it will cut out the earlier walking paths that Nepal and its loyal trekkers have coveted since the country first opened its doors to outsiders in 1949. It will also destroy the serene, expansive and raw environment that the country, envied for its hefty share of the Himalayas, has long been noted for. The thrill of reaching Thorong La pass, which once took an inspiring two weeks, will be shortened to two days, and this epic and emotional day, which haunts you in the most motivating way, will lose much of its glory if reached by such an industrial path.

Tea houses, porters, guides and craftsmen nestled in these villages have had a long history of supporting trekkers on their way to Thorong La pass and their livelihood depends on the passing foot-traffic. The three-fourths completed road will allow tourists to bypass these villages and drive straight up to Manang, a larger town where many trekkers take a rest the night before crossing the pass.

The quickened route may also take a toll on how hikers adjust to the higher altitudes. A slow and steady trek that allows time for acclimatization is the safest way to ascend and prevent altitude sickness, which could have fatal consequences.

The Himalayan Rescue Association, a non-profit health organization that offers safety seminars to trekkers in Manang, warns that ascending more than 300 or 400 metres higher than the previous day's sleeping altitude is not safe, especially when you are above 3,000 metres. The newly constructed road will lead from Besi Sahar, at 820 metres to Manang, at 3,520 metres, allowing travellers to ascend 2,700 metres in just two driving days.

Read more about it at: Nepals shrinking Annapurna Circuit (http://www.bbc.com/travel/feature/20110524-nepals-shrinking-annapurna-circuit)

2nd June 2011, 04:09 PM
strange are our ways. sometimes we ask for good roads to places we cannot go otherwise, and at other times become sad when this happens. one thing I am sure of though is that VTT is grinning from ear to ear..........talk about dusty roads and all that.......

3rd July 2011, 12:25 AM
strange are our ways. sometimes we ask for good roads to places we cannot go otherwise, and at other times become sad when this happens

Lets say in our highlands of Zanskar, the road from Padum to Darcha connecting the Leh-Manali road is being built. Now this is vital for all of the villages of Zanskar as they are too cut off with the only road outside being that connecting to Kargil and they are cut off for 7 months in a year.

They do need the road, but again definitely Zanskar will be less "wild" as it would have been before - but that us travellers saying. The local people need access and they should get it.

But one thing now, we are starting on trekking - an activity that we should have done at least 10 years back! Trekking is still and the best way to enjoy the Himalayas up close!