Best and Worst of the Annapurna Circuit

21 Comments 20 April 2010

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Tiger Balm Tales Vol. 22

Best and the Worst of the Annapurna Circuit

Near the end of hiking the circuit, my father and I reminisced on some of our best and worst experiences over the past 21 days. We compiled a list of the best / worst of our Annapurna Circuit experience. Remember…this is only our opinion!

My Dad Me
Best Food Onion Tomato Lasagna in Marpha (so good he had it for lunch and dinner!) Dharapani’s Mushroom noodle soup and Momos
Best Guest House It was unanimous…our Gunsang guest house had the best hospitality there was and a great view that you would never tire of. Not to mention our ensuite toilet!
Worst Guest House Also unanimous – the first guesthouse we stayed in with the bucket shower in the smelly outhouse was the worst. They people were super nice, but the rooms left something to be desired. Since we experience the ‘worst’ on the first night – we had nowhere to go be up from there!
Best Village Marpha – the apple capital! agreed with Marpha for it’s clean and colorful décor, but the little village of Shikha came in a close 2nd!
Worst Village Unanimous again…Ghorepani. Maybe this was due to the fact that we had to work so hard to get up there, and then realized it was just an over-touristed village with no character…and crappy cinnamon rolls!
Most surprising thing about Nepal the people were so friendly, courteous, and welcoming. the country gets better the on the 2nd trip…I never thought it was possible to get any better!
One thing you wish you would’ve brought with you More Tiger Balm! Clothes pins
The one thing you should’ve left at home. Waterproof pants and a pocket knife Bug Spray
Most difficult thing to adapt to The altitude of course! Wearing the same clothes for 5 days+ in a row.
Scariest Moment Running from the rock slide and navigating the snow on the other side of the pass. The narrow trails with big drop offs, the bus ride to Tatopani, and of course the mouse in my bed!
Lasting Memory the experience in Puma was on top of his list, followed by the Thorung La Pass My return to the village of Puma was also special – but it was a lasting memory because I was able to bring my dad with me and introduce him to Puma this time.
Why should people come to Nepal? A lot of people shouldn’t; this type of ‘roughing it’ isn’t for everyone. However for the people that enjoy a simpler way of travel, you should come to see how hard people work to make a little living. How appreciative they are about little things we take for granted. You should come to see the mountains, meet some of the nicest people living in the hardest environments.

Also in alignment with the ‘Best of’ theme – I’ve also put together a photography album – The Best of Annapurna Circuit Photography – check out my Global Photography Website!

Have you hiked the Annapurna Circuit?  Share some of your best/worst experiences in the comments!

Your Comments

21 Comments so far

  1. Just finished reading this book that I checked out at the library: It was great! I thought of you and your blog while reading it. Have you read it yet?

  2. Leigh says:

    I hiked around Manaslu many years ago – camping instead of guesthouses. I think the worst thing was the food – cabbage pizza, a beautiful but inedible cake made with rancid butter and they even messed up the oatmeal. The second worst thing was lieing in a sleeping bag knowing you have to get up to pee – about 3X/night because you’re trying to stay hydrated at altitude.

    But the people were absolutely lovely and the scenery was some of the best ever.I’d go back in a heartbeat.

    • admin says:

      Oh – what memories! Going thru the ‘do I pee?’ or ‘can I hold it’ debate in bed is always an ordeal! Especially when it’s freezing outside and that means you have to put on your hiking boots, warm clothes, and headlamp just to go to the bathroom! I wish there was some way you could pay to have an ‘iron bladder’ in those situations!

  3. I hiked the Annapurna Sanctuary in 2000. It was an incredible experience. I hope to get back to Nepal at some point. As you say, the people are amazingly gracious and the landscape unparalleled.

  4. Ahi says:

    This is very cool. I made a list like this after finishing and it’s quite similar. Funny.
    I had the best food in Marpha too, and found the worst cinnamon rolls in Tatopani. But my favorite village was Ghyaru; so medieval and amazing views of Annapurna II.

    • admin says:

      How funny that we had some of the same things. I just loved Marpha – such a different town from the rest of the circuit. I never went to Ghyaru – on what side of the pass was it located? We skipped a few towns after the pass as we were behind on our schedule and had to jeep for a couple of days – maybe we missed it then!

      • Ahi says:

        Ghyaru is on the upper route out of Pisang. When I went through Marpha, the trees were just about to bud, but the trees were still dead. I imagine it would be so much better when they were all blooming.

  5. YaelfromIsrael says:


    I just finished reading this entire amazing blog and I can barely sit still with enthusiasm… I’m planning the Annapurna Circuit this September and it looks soooo marvelous!

    Your pictures are wonderful. May I ask which camera you use?

    • admin says:

      Glad you liked the Tiger Balm Tales- it was a wonderful trek and I guarantee you’ll have a great time! I use a Canon 40D and carry 3 different lenses with me – wide, telephoto, and a good every day lense – 20 to 60 mm. I don’t use a tripod as that would be too much to carry along with all of my other equipment.
      If you have any questions as you are planning your trip, let me know – I’m more than happy to help!

  6. It sounds like you agreed on most of your best and worst – I would have thought that another best would be sharing the experience together – fun times with your loved ones are the things that stay with you.

  7. Jaime says:

    Great list! My husband and I hiked a half circuit & Annapurna sanctuary trek in December. I couldn’t agree with you more about the Ghorepani disappointment. The legs were burning from that darn climb and for what? A cold guesthouse and expensive so-so food?

    We spent three months in Nepal and are still sad we left. It’s such a special place!

    Great job on your trek!

  8. I’m still debating whether or not I can actually do this, especially since I blew out my knee in Mexico. It’s all healed, but the potential for re-injuring it, and my tentative relationship with altitude had me wondering. But after I read this latest post it renewed my determination!

  9. Mark H says:

    I walked a similar trying trek around the Everest region some years ago including a pass called Teschi Lapcha. Our group camped too but unlike som eof the comments, one of our highlights was the stunning food that the cook could provide under somewhat limited conditions – a fascinating mix of Nepali (dhal baht) and western food including cakes whenever a birthday occurred. I’ve greatly enjoyed your magnificent writing through this inspring series.

  10. Karen says:

    Thank you for such a wonderful insight to the Annapurna Circuit. I am planning to go this September.

  11. Charis says:

    Sherry, thanks so much for writing this blog! It includes lot of great information, good stories, and wonderful, wonderful photos! My best friend and leave Seattle for Kathmandu in late Feb this year to do the Circuit. I’ve been planning for weeks, and blog such as yours are really helpful and motivating.

    Thanks again.

    Quick question: is it easy to get boiled water in most eating establishments and tea houses? I’m used to backpacking and not bringing a stove is weird for me!

    • Sherry says:

      How exciting – you will have a wonderful time!! I miss Nepal very much!
      As for boiled water…don’t worry about it at all – the tea houses will boil water for you all the time. They understand tourists well along the route – and actually everywhere in Nepal that I’ve been. No stove necessary at all!
      Good luck!

  12. Jim says:

    Enjoying reading your travelog. Worst lodge we stayed in was in Besishar, also at the start, where ants had overrun our room due to food scraps left behind. But we ended up in the owners’ quarters – Nepali hospitality! I’m sure the road is a plus for the Nepalis, but glad to have done this circuit in 2004 before the road. Your comment about making your own path down through the snow from Thorung La was spot on my experience.

  13. Seems like I can’t thank you enough for posting all this information about Annapurna Circuit. A group of my friends are heading that way next week and I’m sure they would love to have this information. Thanks!

    • Sherry says:

      Great – I hope it helps! If my dad and I can make it – I’m sure your friends can! You can download the Tiger Balm tales ebook and access all of the info offline too. Good luck!

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Sherry traveling the world

I'm Sherry, a corporate cube dweller turned nomadic traveler. I travel to off-the-beaten-path destinations to bring you unique travel experiences and photography. But it's not just about travel, it's also about life experiences of a middle age wanderer.
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