Trekking in the Annapurna Conservation Area is no doubt one of the best travel experiences Nepal offers.
After getting there, you will surely agree that the Himalayas are one of the top seven Natural wonders of the world.
Whether you pick the 4-5 day trek to Poon Hill or decide to take an adventure through the whole Annapurna Circuit, you will get an opportunity to see diverse landscapes of lush forests, rushing rivers and waterfalls and, of course, impossibly beautiful mountain views.
You will encounter friendly locals as you adventure through small villages and, if you’re lucky, see some exotic and endangered animals. (Watch out for the leeches, though!)
While you trek through the mountains, it is important to remember that they are home to many local people and wildlife and as much as your visit is greatly appreciated, there are some rules you should be mindful of.
As a conscious trekker, I would suggest you keep these four things in mind:
Conserving the forest
Cutting trees is not allowed inside the Conservation Area. So, firewood is brought from elsewhere and carried up the hills on horseback. Because of this, hot showers are sometimes a rare luxury.
Guesthouses charge Rs 50-150 for hot showers. So, even as your muscles ache or you are in the mood of that nice, long, hot shower, think of the locals who carried the wood up the hills. Don’t bargain with them and try to limit the time you spend in the shower. Remember, you can spend a day in the warm water in the natural hot springs in Jinhu!
Don’t light fires inside the conservation area.
It would sound pretty obvious that you need to protect wildlife in a conservation area. While you are in the area, it will make more sense to you. I recommend that you do not touch the animals or take them outside the conservation area with you. This could go a long way in protecting wildlife.
Cut down on pollution
As much as possible, try to keep your garbage with you and dispose it off when you leave the conservation area. Places like Pokhara have a better waste and recycling programme and do not require locals and horses to bring trash down the mountain.
Please don’t buy plastic water bottles. Take one or two bottles with you and buy water purification tablets before you leave. Most tablets will purify 1l of water in around 30 minutes. Alternatively, you can buy boiled water from your guesthouse for around Rs 50.
Try to use toilets whenever possible. Most guesthouses will let you use their toilets free of charge, but remember to bring your biodegradable toilet paper as they won’t have it. If a toilet is not available, make sure you relieve yourself at least 30 m away from any water source.
No to bargaining
Food prices are fixed and set according to altitude. As you climb higher, so does the price of the meals. Respect the prices and don’t try to bargain when it comes to food.
Being immersed in the nature of the Annapurna region of the Himalayas is a truly unique experience. You have the opportunity to experience culture unlike anywhere else on Earth. It is important that visitors do their part to keep the mountains beautiful for locals and other trekkers for years to come.