The ANNAPURNA REGION’s popularity is well deserved: nowhere else do you get such a varied feast of
scenery and hill culture and the logistics are relatively simple. Treks can all start or finish close to Pokhara, which is a relaxing place to end a trek and
a handy place to start one, with its clued-up guesthouses, equipment-rental shops and easy transportation to trailheads. With great views, just two days up
the trail, short treks in the Annapurnas are particularly feasible, and good communications mean the region is also fairly safe, from the point of view of
medical emergencies. Tourism is relatively sustainable, too, thanks to ACAP, the Annapurna Conservation Area Project. The inevitable consequence is
commercialization. The popular treks in this region are on a well-beaten track, and unless you step aside from them you’re more likely to be ordering
bottled beer from a laminated menu than drinking homebrew with locals.
The Annapurna Himal faces Pokhara like an icy, crenellated wall, 40km across, with nine peaks over 7000m
spurring from its ramparts and Annapurna I reigning above them all at 8091m. It’s a region of stunning diversity, ranging from the sodden
bamboo forests of the southern slopes (Lumle, northwest of Pokhara, is the wettest village in Nepal) to the windswept desert (Jomsom,
in the northern rain shadow, is the driest).
The himal and adjacent hill areas are protected within the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP). A quasi-park administered by
a non-governmental trust, ACAP aims are to protect the area’s natural and cultural heritage and ensure sustainable benefit for local people.