Annapurna circuit trek with Naar & Phu and Kang La
Robin Boustead refers to this trek in his guidebook as “the future of trekking in the Annapurna region.”
With the advance of roads from from the south on both sides, its ‘circuit’ nature will never be the same and more trekkers are jumping on buses or jeeps as soon as they can. While it seems a shame for the natural beauty of the region and the people working in tourism in now-quiet villages, it’s brought some benefits for others previously days from the road-head, particularly in terms of reduced cost of basic goods and better access to medical help.
The only thing that is constant, they say, is change. And for trekking, old trails are being replaced by new. For instance, the Nepal Tourism Board and TAAN have developed a new trekking trail on the east side of the Kali Gandaki (in Lower Mustang) avoiding the road. Some groups now try the crossing over Tilicho rather than the Thorung La.
And then there is this ‘side-trek’, up to the villages of Nar and Phu, with the crossing of the Kang La. At the time of writing, it still requires camping for larger groups, but that will surely soon change, if it has not already – check with your trekking agent.
This area was closed to trekkers until late 2002, but still few venture of the well-worn circuit up to these little explored villages surrounded by many dazzling 7000m peaks.
From Koto (near Chame) the trek climbs up through beautiful forests, gorges and narrow canyons, visiting gompas along the way back in time to these ancient villages. Beyond lies alpine splendour and there are many day treks into glacial valleys, including Himlung Base Camp.
The return journey backtracks before heading west to the Kang La which gives stunning views of the Annapurnas – a real grand finale to this side trip before rejoining the regular route below Manang.
While weather conditions can never be guaranteed, the Manang Valley and the valley of Nar and Phu receive much less rain that the Pokhara side. That’s not to say that you will be trekking under blue skies in the monsoon period, but the huge bulk of the Annapurna range receives the worst of the monsoon, adding to the huge snowy glaciers that tumble down from it, and protecting the valleys behind.
You can see from this chart that the driest area in Nepal is Upper Mustang, and Manang and Nar Phu are just to the east and sheltered from the heavy precipitation of the rest of the country.
Moderate to Strenuous