10 Best and Worst of Annapurna Circuit and Base Camp Trek

PictureToughest Girl:   Luisa Sousa from Portugal. Traveling independently she had no sleeping bag at Thorung Phedi Lodge where the temperatures reached 10 below Celsius. She was also seen eating Garlic Sandwiches the next day in Muktinath.

PictureMost Romantic Couple: Vincente and Irina from Paris. Irina is Romanian. I saw them first in a hotel in Manang where it was quite cold and they were huddled together reading the same single book. Saw them again at dinner in Yak Kharka the next night doing the same. Two days later near the end of a very tough 4 hour and 40 minute trek to the Thorung Pass at 5416 meters(18,500 feet) I noticed a large heart carved in the snow and written inside “Vincente and Irina”. Saw them again at late lunch an hour or so from Muktinath and had to get their picture. That night at “The Paths of Dream” Lodge they were dining by candlelight.


Strangest Proposition:  Tashi, the owner of the Hotel here we stayed at in Muktinath when hearing of my two eligible daughters, offered to marry one as it would allow him to come to America. I wanted nothing to do with that one and offered to put him in contact with Caitlin and Cali. Although I kind of like the idea of having him for a son-in-law if he will allow me to stay at the hotel. His hotel is “”The Paths of Dream”” Hotel in Muktinath which also got selected as having the best Dal Bhat in Annapurna region.
PictureWorst Drink: In Dhafu Pokhara a Tibetan family offered me some of their Yak Tea. I wanted to be polite so took a sip but I tasted no tea, only warm butter, milk and salt. My face cringed up and the Tibetans all had a good laugh. They did not seem to be insulted by my dislike of it but rather amused by my reaction and appreciative of my trying the Yak Tea.
Turned into a memorable evening. Just me and the Tibetan family. One of the girls played some songs on an iPOD and they would clap after each one. Beautiful song but I did not understand the clapping until they explained the girl with the iPOD was the one singing. I started clapping then and they all laughed. I shared some of my chocolate and they insisted I have some of their grilled goat. I had to pull a Jerry Seinfeld(mutton episode) and turn and spit the tough meat into my bandanna for later disposal.


Most Snickers Bars Eaten on the Circuit and Base Camp Trek:  Drew’s wife Genevieve swears that he had 42 Snickers Bars at least including a few deep fried Snickers Spring Rolls.  


Best Yak Burger: Tilicho Hotel, Jomsom. Excellent American style burger. Very meaty and tasty served with crisp English style Chips and tasty cole slaw. Right next to Jomsom airport.

Worst Toilet: Hands Down it was Thorung La High Camp. We got up there about 6:20AM and I went out to the toilet and had to maneuver around the turds lying all around the hole. Since it was below freezing up there there was no water to clean the toilets. The only plus was it was so cold that the smell was mitigated. I also could not think of closing the door with the smell so I stooped down with the door wide open and people outside walking about while I took care of business. Seems funny now but at the time not. 

Best Pillow:  Strange category but the Panorama View Hotel in Tadapani had a great big fluffy pillow that reminded me of the Heavenly Bed Pillows at the Westin Hotels. Of course after 17 days of trekking it may have been my imagination.

Worst Advice by a Trekker:   That would be me. At the Thorung La Hotel I told several trekking buddies that after the pass it was all steps and with the euphoria of getting to the pass the downhill was relatively easy. I stated this based on doing the Pass in 2003. Turns out I must have been delusional as there were no stairs until Muktinath which was about 4 hours and a very difficult downhill trek through ice and snow. Both my guide, Subai, and I wiped out once.

Best Dhal Bhat: Paths of Dream Hotel in Muktinath. According to Subai, my guide as he and all the Nepali’s eat Dhal Bhat twice a day.

Worst Dhal Bhat: Thorung Phedi Lodge.

Best Observation by an Irishman:  Gerard from Leetrim and now living near Kilmanhaim Jail in Dublin. “Nepal is the only place where a hotel room is cheaper than a beer”. In fact a single room on the trek was 150 rupees or about $1.50 and a beer was $3 to $4 depending on the elevation of the teahouse.  I also am unsure whether Gerard was happy the rooms were so cheap or upset that the beer was relatively expensive compared to the rooms.

Biggest Sandwich:  The Paradise Hotel in Kagbeni. They had a veggie burger that was 3 layers in between 4 pieces of bread with salad and chips. I immediately dubbed it the “Paul Austin” sandwich. I had trekked the previous few days with Paul and was amazed at his appetite. At the high elevations I could barely finish a meal and in fact he helped me finish a few. In Yak Kharka I accused him of being a hobbit as he ate a big lunch at 2PM and was ordering dinner at 5. Incidentally, Paul did the Thorung Pedi to Thorung La walk in 2 1/4 hours which amazed me. I did it in 4 1/2 and “the toughest girl on the circuit” did it in 3 1/2.




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