5 independent reviews for Annapurna trekking holiday, Rhododendron trek

Reviews for Annapurna trekking holiday, Rhododendron trek

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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.

review 23 Apr 2009

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

What wasn't? Superb mountain scenery, a good challenging trek, really interesting culture, very warm and friendly Nepali people (including the guide and porter), the craic in the lodges with other trekkers over the evening meal, the flight over Everest and, sadly, the poverty and the eyesore that is Kathmandhu (though a not uninteresting eyesore).

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

Go with an open mind. Make sure you are fit enough to enjoy the demanding trek (Annapurna Sanctuary). Be careful about what you eat and drink. A reputable guide and porter are worth paying for.

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

Yes - the lodges certainly seem to be prospering, there was work for the guide and porter, the tour operator was a local Kathmandhu company, we used local transport facilities and everyone and his friend wants a tip. The Annapurna Conservation Project has done amazing work to protect the area through footpath construction and rules about environmental protection (eg not selling water in plastic bottles - though this applied only after Chhomrong.)

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

This was an excellent holiday, a great experience.

review 18 Nov 2008

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

Seeing the Annapurna Mountains from Pokhara and then walking slowly towards them day by day was just amazing. A perfect trekking holiday done at a good pace thanks to our super Sherpa/guide Krishna. The guesthouses were clean and adequate and the people very hospitable. Credit really goes to Krishna who had friends along the way that really made our trip special.

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

Prepare to spend a lot of money on water. The price of bottled water goes up with the altitude as the people carry each bottle up there. You might want to consider bringing purification tablets as the tap water doesn't look all that bad and you'll avoid consuming all those plastic bottles.

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

I think the local people did benefit from our trip. The guest houses are well oiled machines prepared to cope with small groups of tourists, however I'm not convinced it is very sustainable. Unfortunately wrappers and chip packets peppered every step of the way which could be down to local people as well as tourists. There is no offsetting programme for the flight to Pokhara but Yeti Airlines (the carrier) does sponsor a lot of social charities in Nepal.

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

Overall it was brilliant. Coming from the Middle East it was a short flight away but a totally different world. Not really off the beaten track but for what is considered peak season (November) the trails were really not overcrowded at all. We were well fed and guided. We had a lot of laughs with the women who work hard in the guesthouses. A breath of fresh air but shame about the litter.

review 27 Dec 2007

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

The highlight of our holiday was seeing the Annapurna range up close with perfect visibility under crisp blue skies. During December visitor numbers drop significantly so the trek was extremely peaceful and uncluttered and we had beautiful views and locations to ourselves. Another high point was the long evening discussions with our guide as we learned about the experiences of the Nepali people and the issues and concerns of mountain life.

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

This trek is ideal for people looking for a good hike without some of the extremes of high altitude trekking. Top tip is to bring some thermals for the cold December nights and something to keep you entertained in the evenings - there really is nothing to do except have a beer and a chat so Sudoku works well. Another thought might be to upgrade to a higher quality hotel at the end of the trip to add in a little luxury and comfort.

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

The travel company representatives were local people who talked with passion about Nepali issues and who cared for the environment and the people. Trekking definitely impacts the environment but also brings huge benefits to the local population and the holiday was designed to maximise that benefit.

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

This was an excellent, no frills holiday, an amazing experience and a great way to get to know some real Nepali people and discover the beauty of the mountains without the stresses of high altitude trekking. Anyone looking for luxury should probably look elsewhere but I found the simple approach very refreshing and a real adventure.

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