The Annapurna Conservation Area
The most popular trekking destination in Nepal covers 2600 square kilometres offering classic mountain views and providing a wide range of geographically diverse scenery from sub tropical plains through to the trans-Himalayan in the Manang and Mustang region. This area incorporates the Annapurna Sanctury and the Kali Gandaki gorges. Peaks include the Annapurna Masif, Dhaulgiri, Fishtail and Hiunchuli and is predominantly inhabited by Gurung, Magar and Thakali people.
The area has been a smash hit in the world of conservation. Perhaps this is the area that pioneered a successful conservation without armed personnel. With the help of the local people, this highland could be well protected. With a trekking circuit from mid hills to the foothills of the Himalayas – Annapurna region covers an area of 7629 sq. km. Beginning from 790 m, the highest altitude reaches 8091 m of the Mountain Annapurna 1. This is the most visited trekking area in the mountain region. More than 60000 visitors every year. Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) has been running it’s programs in the area with an aim to conserve nature and it’s local community. (For more information visit our ACAP page) Vegetation and Wild Animals:
- The Annapurna Conservation Area offers innumerable sights of water falls, mountains, natural flowers and rural settlements. If you trek from the west you will be travelling along the Kali Gandaki River.
- Apart from natural sights, the area is rich with flora and fauna. There are above 1200 plants with around 40 orchids and 9 species of rhododendron – the national flower. There are around 100 mammals including the rare snow leopard and blue sheep in the upper sub-alpine area, 478 species of birds such as the protected multi-coloured Impheyan, koklas and blood pheasants. 39 reptiles and 22 amphibians and many types of butterflies in the area.
- Reaching beyond the Himalayas, both on foot or by flight, this is one of the most fascinating expereince while trekking in the Annapurna Circuit.
- Trekkers beginning their adventure either from the west or east starting point, reach behind Mt. Nilgiri as they near Jomsom, the District Headquarters of Mustang.
- While you celebrate your victory for having reached behind the Himalayas you can see the above 8000 m mountains like Dhaulagiri standing right infront of you.
- Ghandruk will be your first expereince where you will see the locals have conserved ecology and at the same time have earned their livelihood through tourism.
- Past Ghandruk you will reach Ghorepani from where you can sight a panoramic view of the Annapurna ranges to the north on top of Poon Hill.
- Descending from Ghorepani, as you go towards the north, you reach Tatopani where there are natural hot water springs, that offer an excellent place to relax and bathe.
- As you proceed further towards Jomsom you reach a place called Kalapani. From here is where Mt. Dhaulagiri stands on the same ground you are standing on!
- Jomsom is a popular place for visitors where you experience many cultural sights. Annapurna region has around 120000 human population from 10 different ethnic cast groups.
- For more nature and cultural sightseeing go towards the north at Kagbeni, where you can continue onto explore the Upper Mustang – the once forbidden Kingdom. Or trek towards the Muktinath Temple, the Hindu pilgrimage at the height of almost 4000 m. Further ahead is the Thorung La Pass at an altitude of 5410 m. If you want to climb over the pass it is better to do it from the east side, going around the circuit anti-clockwise, makes climbing the pass alot easier
How to Get There:
- The Area is easily accessed from Pokhara. A three hour bus drive to Beni in the west and start trekking into the area, or a one hour bus drive to Besi Sahar in the east to start the Annapurna Circuit trek. A one hour bus drive to Naya Pul (Birethanti) to start the trek to Annapurna Base Camp or Jomsom, or fly to Jomsom from Pokhara and trek back down.
Important Points :
- There are many small lodges/teahouses along the way which will provide food, drinks and accomodation.
- Government regulations prohibits lighting camfires in the conservation area. You need to carry kerosene and sufficient warm clothing.
- Visitors should carry out what they carry in. Place rubbish designated palces.
- The flora and fauna in the area are fully protected. They should not be disturbed.
- Do not wear revealing clothing.
- Respect privacy. Ask before photographing people or religious sites.