“Most recently, a dirt road passable by jeeps and motorbikes has been forged through the Kali Gandaki… this means that almost half the traditional Annapurna Circuit, the classic 18-odd-day looping hike in west-central Nepal from Besisahar to Naya Pul, is now along a highway.”
The majestic Annapurna Mountain range is a breathtakingly scenic subrange of the Himalayas and is comprised of the four districts of Lamjung, Mustang, Manang and Myagdi that allow visitors fantastic cultural immersion while trekking the region. Some of the tallest mountains in the world hold court here and although Mt. Everest takes the crown for being the highest, it is the Annapurna region that is more popular with trekkers due to its accessibility and dramatic geography.
And it is about to become a lot more accessible due to a new highway scheduled to be completed in Spring 2012. It is said that all good things must come to an end. In the case of the Annapurna Circuit some have reported that this new highway will forever change the area and the trek. Yes, it will change it, but will it be the demise of the Annapurna Circuit?
Martin Symington writes in detail of his good fortune of having experienced a new, alternate route to the classic trek that bypasses the new road. It is just as amazing as the original and offers trekkers not only a more remote experience, but also exposure to areas, like Upper Mustang, that were previously forbidden to foreigners. And to visit isolated villages that are unaccustomed to outsiders just adds to the sense of exploration and discovery.
“…each evening we dropped back to villages on the old Annapurna Circuit, trying hard not to feel smug about every astonishing day we were spending far from the madding dust and traffic.”
It is not clear just how this secret route will support the number of trekkers on the existing route, but it proves that as the world progresses and changes, it sometimes provides even better opportunities. At this point, trekkers shouldn’t fret that the world’s greatest trek is going to be done in by a highway.