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Annapurna Circuit Trek
Annapurna Himal stretches 70 kilometers east-west between the deep gorges of the Kali-Gandaki (west) and the Marsyangdi (east). It is an impressive snow range studded with nine peaks exceeding 7,000 metres, the highest being Annapurna-I (8,078 m). The most dramatic peak is, however, the pyramidal Machhapuchre (6,997 m), which lies just 29 kilometres north of Pokhara town (913 m). From the tropical valley of Pokhara to the slopes of Annapurna, lies a land of immense contrast in flora and fauna. The tropical valleys are inhabited by Hindu castes while on the temperate highlands are large villages of the Gurung tribe, famous as Gurkhas.
A mountain is like a diamond with various facets. Fortunately, the Annapurna range can be viewed from all sides by making a trek round it. The three-week trek start at Bensi-Shahar in Lamjung. It is 45 km. by fair weather road from Dumre on Prithvi Highway. The drive is through Marsyangdi Valley with extensive paddy fields. Beyond Bensi-Shahar, one walks along the Marsyangdi passing through Brahmin, Chhetri and Gurung villages and good views of Manaslu and Himalchuli peaks. Two days north at Bahun Danda is the end of paddy and Hindu culture. Then begins the gorge of Marsyangdi and village of highlander Gurungs.
Beyond Thouje, the track turns west following the Marsyngdi river upstream. Two days further on opens up the broad valley of Manang with Tibetan-style flat-roofed houses. The people are Buddhists and great traders. The whole northern face of Annapurna range fills the southern horizon. The exit west from Manang is across Thorang pass (5,416 m). From the pass, one can have an spectacular view of mountains of Manang (east) and Mustang (west). Then there is a steep descent to Muktinath (3798m.) where there are shrines and springs sacred to both Hindu and Buddhists.
The people are Bhotia with flat roofed house. Jomsom, on the bank of Kali Gandaki river can be reached in a day from Muktinath. Jomsom to Lete is the country of the wide flood-plain of meandering Kali-Gandaki. The inhabitants are of Thakali tribe with elegant stone houses. South of Lete, the trek follows the deep gorge between Dhaulagiri and Annapurna peaks. Two days later, one is in Magar tribal area around Tatopani. The return to Pokhara is across Ghorepani pass (2,895 m), rich in temperate forest.
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