One of the classic treks of the world, the Annapurna Circuit takes backpackers through a variety of landscapes, climates and even cultures, from the low lying Hindu villages to the stark Buddhist hilltop towns. The trek is breathtaking — sometimes literally so at higher altitudes — so before you embark, take some time in Pokhara to relax, get rejuvenated and get prepared for the 17-21 day adventure.
Pokhara's lakeside district is lined with hotels, restaurants, Internet cafes and trekking shops. Drop by the AM/PM Organic Café for a tasty cup of Himalayan coffee and chat with fellow trekkers fresh off the circuit for tips of the trail. Rent a bicycle and ride through the rice fields to nearby villages. Borrow a rowboat and take an afternoon float on the lake marveling at the mountains of the Dhaulagiri and Annapurna ranges. Stretch your legs and break in your boots on a sunset hike to Sarangkot.
Guidebooks warn against trekking alone, especially if you are a woman, but my experience was that the path is easy to follow, the Nepali people are kind and helpful, and there are many others trekkers on the route. If you decide to trek solo, don’t forget your entrance permit and TIMS card.
On the eve of your departure, treat yourself to a hearty meal at Lemon Tree, famous for its sizzling fish dishes fresh from the lake.
Then board an early bus to Beshishar and a jeep to Bhulbhule. As you begin your walk, the river, the forest and the mountains emerge like an answered prayer.