Frontiers of Travel Articles
Travel to Beyond the Annapurnas
Organised group tours: The following tours for Beyond the Annapurnas are available:
Descending from the Tibetan Border to Chame on the Annapurna Circuit, the newly accessible valley of the Naar-Phu Khola is one of the most exciting trekking destinations in Nepal. We spend 9 days exploring this lost Buddhist region, trekking northwards as far as the remote stone-built village of Phu, whose inhabitants continue to trade across the border. Retracing our steps only briefly, we then turn off westwards into a broad and rocky tributary valley, passing numerous chortens, mani walls and unusual gateways en route to Naar. Climbing to cross the Kang La (5306m) at the head of this valley, the views of the arrayed peaks of the Annapurnas are nothing short of breathtaking. After an abrupt descent to the Marsyangdi River, we trek out the last two days on the Annapurna Circuit. You can be amongst the first to visit this untouched corner of Nepal!
North of the Annapurnas and off-limits to travellers until the early ‘90s, the ancient and mysterious kingdom of Mustang is geographically and culturally a part of Tibet. Mustang prospered in the 15th Century, when its strategic location enabled it to dominate the salt trade between Tibet and Nepal. Its distinctive, white-painted villages, Tibetan monasteries and impressive wayside inns, a legacy of hundreds of years of cross-border trading, make Mustang a place apart, unlike anywhere else in Nepal. The landscape is different here, too - eroded clonglomerate cliffs coloured by striking earth pigments in variations of red, yellow, brown and blue, with a backdrop of the distant snow-capped peaks of the Annapurnas and Dhaulagiri. With the gradual encroachment of the jeep road into Mustang, we now have the opportunity to change and improve the way we run this amazing 2-week adventure holiday. After a flight to Jomsom beside the Kali Gandaki River, we hike for just 2 days from Kagbeni to Geling, then transfer directly to the fairy-tale walled city Lo Manthang and spend a day there, exploring amongst its brightly painted houses and secret alleyways. This approach avoids protracted walking on, or within sight of, the jeep track, whilst still allowing us to see all of Mustang's important villages, chortens and distinctive scenery. However, the best is still to come, as we walk-out from Lo Manthang on the east side of the Kali Gandaki River. This 6-day trek takes us into the most interesting part of Mustang, where very little has changed almost since time began. Crossing passes up to 4200 metres and visiting a succession of remote settlements, such as Dhi, Tange and Tetang, we head southwards towards the looming presence of the Annapurna Himal. Finally arriving at the colourful pilgrimage centre of Muktinath, on the Annapurna Circuit, we take a jeep down to Jomsom to complete one of the best trekking adventures in Nepal.
After a pleasant 4-day introductory hike to Koto on the north side of the Annapurnas, we leave the main 'circuit' trail and trek north to the isolated village of Naar. From here, we strike out on a route that follows the Labse Khola and leads beyond the Chulu peaks into the almost unknown Damodar Himal. We reach the high point of our route at the generally snow-bound Teri La (5560m), a pass 'discovered' by Bill Tilman in 1950. The core of this long and varied route is a brilliant week of trekking through a wild and uninhabited area, with camps at elevations of between 4000 and 5000 metres. We finally reach the upper Kali Gandaki Valley at the beautiful village of Tangge and have a further week to explore the 'forbidden kingdom' of Mustang, including a visit to the outrageous walled settlement of Lo Manthang. If you want to get off the beaten track - try this one!
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