Photo: Thamel in Kathmandu
As usual it is good to be back in Kathmandu, the weather is sunny and warm so it is looking like a good start to the Spring trekking and mountaineering season. Climbers on Annapurna are taking advantage of these good conditions and are making good progress on the mountain currently fixing ropes between Camp Two and Three, check out Explorersweb for their round up of the latest mountaineering news from the Himalaya.
There have been several changes announced recently over the trekking permits for Nepal (called Trekkers Information Management System or TIMS). There are now two types: firstly organised group trekkers will be issued a blue TIMS card costing US$10 and secondly independent trekkers will be issued a green TIMS card costing US$20. TIMS cards will be checked while on trek so it is important you have these otherwise you might be returned to Kathmandu! The new TIMS rules are effective from April 1st 2010.
I read an interesting article this morning from the New York Times, the piece discusses the Annapurna Circuit and the impact of the new road on this classic trail, please click here to read the article At The Mountain Company we have been aware for a long time of this issue, we have been working hard developing our portfolio of treks to visit remote regions to avoid the ever increasing road construction in the hills of Nepal.
If you are looking for a trek with similar landscape and characteristics of the Annapurna Circuit you could consider the Manaslu Circuit to the east of the Annapurna Circuit. This trek starts at Arughat and finishes at Besishar the starting point of the Annapurna Circuit. Or for a more challenging alternative you could trek the Dhaulagiri Circuit that joins the Annapurna Circuit at Marpha however we then fly out from Jomsom so avoiding most of the road.
If you are looking to get away from the roads and busy trails then you should think about walking along the new Great Himalaya Trail ("GHT"), we are organising two sections of GHT firstly Upper Dolpo to Jomsom in April 2010 and Makalu BC to Khumbu in April 2011. Please get in touch with The Mountain Company if you are interested in joining one of these groups.