3 independent reviews for Annapurna trekking holiday, Rhododendron trek

Reviews for Annapurna trekking holiday, Rhododendron trek

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review 14 Oct 2017

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

The whole holiday - with a week of trekking and some days for sightseeing in Pokora and in and around Kathmandu was perfect. Love the combination of active and cultural; trekking through the beautifully lush lower ranges and visiting smaller settlements were our favourite.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Come well prepared with gear to suit the conditions and a well stocked medical kit. Everything went perfectly for us but of course anything can happen. There were opportunities during the trek to donate to schools needing to rebuild (all accepted with a neat receipt) and I wished I had taken more cash with me for this purpose - no ATMs along the way of course.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Nepal is highly dependent on tourism and it is clear they are very aware of this. The country is still rebuilding after the earthquake. Income from selling rooms and food to travellers is very important to the country. The Nepalese are naturally generous and gracious and it's important to reciprocate in kind. Rubbish in rural areas is burnt or buried so where possible reduce or carry out non biodegradable waste.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Brilliant. On all fronts - the country, the trek and the local tour operator. My daughter is planning to come back at the end of school to volunteer and to trek and the company has offered to assist set this up. I look forward to visiting the region again myself and will not hesitate to use our tour operator again. I also look forward to relying on Responsible Travel for access to holidays in the future. Many thanks to all.

review 11 Jun 2015

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

This trip was truly a trip-of-a-lifetime and we took home many fond memories. We loved seeing the clouds part and being amazed at the huge mountains, which are always taller than expected! Every single day involved a different terrain and view. On the way towards Poon Hill, we walked through rice fields, terraced farming on the hill sides, and rural villages. As we climbed higher, we hiked through beautiful rhododendron forests, which were in full bloom (March/April). Most importantly, our guides, Krishna and Pujan, really made all the difference. Krishna has been doing this for over 15 years, and so he has formed relationships and contacts in even the smallest villages. He would always go above and beyond to make sure we had what we needed and the best facilities possible. We even got to join in on some local dancing on our last night, something which the larger tour groups don't get chance to do. He was always very friendly and also excellent at giving us a flavour of true Nepali life, especially the cuisine and drink.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Be sure to ask questions about what you're seeing - the guides are always willing to share true Nepali life and have many funny anecdotes. You'll get way more out of it that way. Weather:We experienced every single temperature and weather whilst trekking, so do prepare for this. Light-weight t-shirts and shorts were worn during the day, with a heavier fleece top for the evenings. At higher altitudes (even just 2500ish), we used merino wool thermals, a couple of thick jumpers, hats, gloves, scarves etc. A down jacket is perfect if you feel the cold easily (I found it essential, but my husband didn't have one). It rained most days, but always after we finished our trek for the day, so it didn't bother us. We had cheap ponchos to keep us and our bags dry in sudden down pours. Bring a sleeping bag - there are often blankets at the teahouses, but it's good to have the guarantee of the warmth. Water purification tablets are great - it's a waste (of money and plastic) buying bottled water. We had (mostly) warm showers available each night, but don't always expect luxury - the teahouses vary greatly. They ranged from concrete buildings with flushing toilets to rickety wooden huts with paper-thin walls (which have a charm of their own). The food, especially Dahl Bhat is tasty and flavourful - much to the contrary of what I had expected from previous reviews. Packing: We needed less than we took. We carried a 30l back pack each, with daily essentials (including fleece as it started out cold). Everything else was carried by our "assistant" guide, Pujan. He was not a porter, like in other companies who carry 2 large bags from a strap on their head and trek ahead of you. He walked with us and carried just one bag (so we needed to pack both of our stuff into one duffel bag). In hindsight, we would have taken a 60l hiking backpack for him to use, as then he would have had more comfortable straps. Money: we took 1200 american dollars as spending money between two people. This bought meals, beers, souvenirs for the whole 12 days. You're often advised to barter, but keep in mind it's difficult to get ripped off, when you're probably only bartering over a few dollars. The tourist industry is incredibly important to Nepal's economy, so it is worth supporting. Driving: while a lot of other tourist companies hire out large minibuses, which travel incredibly dangerously along the mountain roads, Manakamana Treks employed private drivers that were safe and pleasant. They didn't take the same risks that other drivers do, which we truly appreciated.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

It's easy to see the tangible effects of benefiting the local people. Many of the teahouses exist only because of the people coming through on treks. This is particularly important now after the devastation of the earthquake. The company is native to Kathmandu, where both our guides were from. Our assistant guide was doing an internship for his business degree. In all of places, including Kathmandu and Pokhara, we were shown local places to eat, rather than the more touristy destinations. Part of the cost of the package (which is incredible value for money) goes towards your permit into the nature reserves.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

This was an exceptional trip, of course due to the stunning mountains, but mostly because of the fantastic work of Achut and his team. They made us feel welcome, safe and entertained. We would love to see them thrive, especially after the recent earthquake.

review 26 Aug 2010

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

I would recommend a visit to Bhaktapur and Changu Narayan which both provide a contrast to Kathmandu, particularly Bhaktapur which is a well preserved ancient city and you can still see the traditional Newari life there. Travelling through the villages you will see the women working in the paddy fields. Drinking masala tea overlooking the Phewa Tal against a backdrop of the mountains was wonderfully relaxing after the 6 day trek. I really enjoyed the bus trip back to Kathmandu from Pokhara and sighting langur monkeys on the Annurpurna trek was a real treat. The funeral pyres at Pashupatinath will be one of the lasting images.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Travellers may need to manage expectations. I trekked during the Monsoon season and visibility was poor so not much of a view of the mountains (although can be a problem at other times of the year). The upside was that there were very few tourists and I was often the only one staying in the lodges. If you want the company of other trekkers you may need to specify this. Need to take own towel and sleeping sheet. While some lodges have good facilities others are more basic. Be prepared for crawlies!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Staying in the tea houses does put money into the local villages. There's an obvious issue about buying bottled water when plastics cannot be recycled but this is one way locals can make money and few tea houses have purification facilities. There is a similar debate about the use of wood for cooking rather than kerosene or other sources of fuel and the threat of deforestation. These are difficult choices and need to be discussed with guides and travel agents. Specify in advance although choice may be restricted.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Very enjoyable. I was lucky that I had good guides.

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