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Annapurna Massif A Breathtaking Destination of Nepal


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Tourism and adventure

Tourism is not just for recreation and sightseeing but to do adventurous activities and many other things. There is a tourist class that loves adventure and the tourists in this class often plan their trips to the spots where they have an acute thrill of adventure. In fact, real enjoyment comes in life when you participate in adventurous recreation, not just small but active adventures. 

Active adventure 

If you love tourism and are an active adventurer you may find many tourist destinations in India and in International locations. The Himalayan region is the one to offer a lot of opportunities to active adventurers, which is superb from the perspective of both tourism and active adventure. These adventures take you closer to the destination through bike, hike, trail, or any other tough mode of travel. An active adventure like biking, hiking, walking, paddling, etc. is good for the body and brain. You may be one of the active adventurers and would need to plan your next travel itinerary to a tough destination. Here is something important for you that will help you to plan your most adventurous trip.

Annapurna Massif – The Real Destination for Active Adventurers

The Himalayas have ever enticed tourists as the destination for active adventurers. Annapurna Massif is a superb destination for these tourists. The name of this Himalayan spot is actually Annapurna, but the term “massif” is attached to this name because it is not a single mountain. The name Annapurna is derived from the Sanskrit words “Anna” and “Purna” which typically means “full of food,” and is often referred for a goddess who always feeds. However, a literal association of this name with this mountain range has not been reflected anywhere. The term “massif” refers to a compact group of mountains, especially one that is separate from other groups. Annapurna Massif is situated in north-central Nepal.

About Annapurna Massif in the Himalayas

The massif, bounded by Pokhara valley, Marshyangdi River, and Kali Gandaki Gorge and is 55 km (34 mi) long; the massif enfolds a basin known as Annapurna Sanctuary at the western end; the 10th  highest mountain in the world is the Annapurna Main; the 7,629 sq. Km (2,946 sq. mi) Annapurna Conservation Area, offers protection to the whole massif and its adjacent areas. This area is home to several world-class treks and includes both Annapurna Circuit and Annapurna Sanctuary. Annapurna Massif is not an ordinary tourist destination but a destination to access by the hardcore adventurers.

Historically the Annapurna peaks have been among the world's most treacherous mountains to climb with the particular case of the extremely steep south face of Annapurna I Main - a wall of rock that rises 3,000 meters (9,800 feet) - making it one of the most difficult climbs in the world.

The entire massif lies between Nepal’s two major river systems - Marsyangdi and Kali Gandaki. The 13 and 16 peaks of Annapurna Massif have an altitude of over 7000 meters and 6000 meters, respectively. Reaching Annapurna Massif is the Herculean task after Kanchenjunga that has a higher fatality rate. 

There are six prominent peaks in Annapurna Massif. Annapurna I (Main) is the highest and Annapurna II, Annapurna III, Annapurna IV, Gangapurna, and Annapurna South are in descending order based on their altitude.

Reaching Annapurna – The Tough and Deadly Massif

Annapurna massif is a tough and varied range of mountains. As reflected in the history of expeditions, Annapurna is among the world’s most dangerous and deadliest mountains to climb. The topography of this massif itself reflects the toughness of expeditions in this place. Annapurna is undeniably an enthralling massif that captivates climbers across the globe with its mesmerizing beauty. Many climbers have made scaling attempts in the past but unfortunately got stuck with her beauty forever. However, a few of them had successfully returned. Despite this, there is an impressive figure of over 150 successful conquerings on Annapurna Massif, but with a melancholy figure of 60 deaths. The percentage rate of successful conquest is, therefore, quite low. This is the reason why Annapurna Massif is also known by the name “Killer Mountain.” The climbers and Sherpas have tried other routes to stand on the summit of Annapurna, but the very route has the challenges that make Annapurna's conquer too difficult.

Why is Annapurna Massif dangerous and deadly?

With massively high and varying altitudes of various peaks in this massif, snow-clad peaks with the risk of avalanches, challenging terrain, and erratic climatic conditions are the main reasons that make Annapurna too dangerous and deadly.

The potential threat of avalanche breakdown

Avalanche breakdown is a potential threat to the Annapurna climbers. Being a mass of absolute mountains with snow-clad peaks all year round, the risk of avalanches always remains on the extreme because there are regular avalanche-prone areas and hundreds of avalanches. This apparently creates hardness for climbers and makes climbing riskier for them as well. They need to be fully aware of the conditions such as snow masses, ice, and the probability of unexpected rapid rock-falling before making the scaling attempts. The things get sometimes worsen due to technical difficulties of the terrain in the avalanche-risk areas; hanging glaciers and ice walls may flip any time; the climbers may need to lean on the knee-deep snow that may break off unexpectedly and walk exactly underneath huge ice cliffs. There have been several instances of the collapse of unstable overhanging glaciers, causing fatalities.

Tough Terrain

The Geology and glacial structure of Annapurna make climbing on this massif more challenging and dangerous compared to the other mountain peaks of similar heights such as K2 peaks.

An unstable and rough terrain with steep grades, ice walls, and clefts is the main challenge. Most fatalities are mainly due to falls from a cliff or in the crevasse. Another fatal risk is skipping the steps on unstable ground. The injuries and deaths are common occurrences due to these reasons.

Erratic Climatic Conditions

Being situated on such high altitudes, Annapurna Massif is severely cold, and the peaks remain blanketed with thick layers of snow throughout the year. The weather here is, therefore, quite unstable and unpredictable. The bad weather may hit any time without a weather forecast; freeze is unexpected; high sharp winds and slow storms may occur any time. The potential dangers to Annapurna climbers, therefore, always persist because of unpredictable climatic conditions that pose a high threat to the mountaineers’ life.

 

The downsides that make Annapurna climbing more challenging

Deprived accessibility

Annapurna is quite inaccessible and dangerous to reach by land by an ordinary tourist unless someone is quite an expert mountaineer because this would be almost an impossible thing for someone to climb on such a high altitude amidst challenging train and snow-clad mountain carrying certain potential inherent risks of mountain climbing, but mountaineers actually accept these challenges. However, Annapurna’s access by air during emergencies was made using helicopter rescue missions for evacuation. Providing medical support to the climbers in a situation of emergency is an enormous issue, and moreover, there is no nearby hospital for immediate medical support to the sick or injured climbers. 

Lack of local support

Lack of local support is an added challenge to the Annapurna expedition. Everest mountain is a more prominent name than Annapurna from the perspective of global climbers, and Everest climbers have more support from the local communities. The inaccessibility and tough terrain of Annapurna deprives its mountaineers of support from the locals; for the climbers, local help is, therefore, hard to find in the form of Sherpas or porters. So, it’s quite difficult to deal with the supplies and logistics and to find a safe shelter in bad climatic conditions. Pertinent to mention, the distance between a few tea houses erected for Annapurna Base Camp Trek and the actual base camp is over a 4-hours walk away.

Height gains affecting turn-around-time

Height gains from the Base Camp to the summit are the important factor in Annapurna mountaineering; it is more, unlike Everest or other similar mountains. The Annapurna height gain is 3,961 meters when a climber ascends to touch the peak stands as high as 8,091 meters from the Base Camp situated at an altitude of 4,130 meters. So, the turn-around-time (TAT) can also be more to ascend and descend safely, and that exposes the climbers to the higher risks because they will spend more time on the perilous high altitude. The higher risks on the high altitude are because of oxygen deficiency and to combat this problem, mountaineers need to carry their own oxygen cylinder; only a limited amount of oxygen can possibly be carried due to weight issues, in the absence of Sherpas or porters. This is a major challenge when height gains are more, and the climate is extreme, especially the mountains get enervating in the evening, and the climbers feel exhausted; every footstep of ascending and descending matters more at this stage.

 

Tours and Activities to experience in Annapurna Massif

Annapurna Massif, as discussed above, is not a tourist destination for ordinary tourists due to its inaccessibility and extremely harsh climate. But there are a lot of opportunities for the nature-loving and adventurous tourists to make trips and perform various activities in the foothills and Base Camp of Annapurna mountain range. Let’s have a look at the tours that you can take and enjoy.

  1. Annapurna Foothills in Pokhara (Full-day hike by private operators)

You can hire your private guide for a day of hiking in the mountains. And to make a trip to the Nepalese villages to the foothills of Annapurna. This trip is excellent from the perspective of heading for a scenic drive from Pokhara to Kande and thereafter, hike to Australian Camp, Dhampus village, and Phedi. You can have an awesome glimpse of the Himalayas, including Annapurna Massif and Fishtail, during the trip from Dhaulagiri to Manaslu. The trip includes a vehicle, private guide, hotel pick-up, and drop-off.

  1. One-day Australian Camp Trek 

One-day Australian camp trek (trail) from Pokhara is a trip to have a stunning view of the Himalayas from a close distance, especially Annapurna South, Hiunchuli, Machhapuchhre, and Lamjung Himal. 

  1. Helicopter Tour to Annapurna Base Camp

This tour offers the experience of the breathtaking views of sky touching mountains along with a 30-minute ground experience and a cup of warm complimentary coffee. This is the best tour to witness the majesty of Annapurna Massif and to have eye-catching aerial views of scenic mountains, frozen glaciers, stunning waterfalls, and lakes.

  1. Annapurna Base Camp Helicopter Tour

This is the fastest method to reach Annapurna Base Camp. This is a one-day helicopter tour from Pokhara airport to fly parallel towards the northern Himalayan ranges before traveling east towards the Annapurna base camp. The flight offers splendid aerial views of mountain displays, other scenic locations, and beautiful towns.

  1. Annapurna Base Camp (Group sharing) Heli Tour

This is an economical group tour starting from Pokhara airport and flying towards the northern part taking you over Pokhara, Chomrong, Deurali, and the final land at beautiful Annapurna base camp. The tour includes a one-hour flight plus 30 minutes of ground time for breakfast, snapshots, and videos.

  1. Pokhara to Annapurna Base Camp Helicopter tour

This is also a 1 hour 30 minutes tour that includes a one-hour flight and 30 minutes ground time and offers a complete view of the tempting beauty of majestic Annapurna Massif and Kathmandu and scenic views of the several natural resources falling in the way of this flight.

  1. Mountain flight (around Mt. Everest, Mt. Annapurna, and Mt. Fishtail)

This is approximately a 3-hour tour taking you towards the east to see what you give you the value of your money. First comes Gosaithan on the left at an altitude of 8,013 meters, also called Shisha Pangma, and to its right is Dorje Lakpa at an altitude of 6,966 meters, appearing like the number 8 lying down and shielded with snow. Phurbi - Ghyachu on the right of Dorje Lakpa appears over Kathmandu valley. The fascinating thing about this tour is that the mountains come closer and closer as the plane moves along. Next comes Choba-Bhamare, the smallest one of the lots at 5,933 meters followed by the prominent spiritual Gauri-Shankar mountain at an altitude of 7,134 meters. This mountain is mythically believed to have protection from Lord Shiva and his companion Gauri.

  1. Rapid Annapurna Base Camp trek 

This is a 7-day budget trekking in Nepal for pleasant and scenic country treks on the high hills of great Annapurna Himalaya. This tour offers the experience of stunning views of snow-clad peaks at Annapurna Base Camp and beautiful Annapurna Sanctuary, trekking through beautiful tall rhododendron, magnolia, firs, pine woodlands, and exploring high hills Gurung traditional villages immersed with ancient culture.

  1. Nepal Himalayas Annapurna Poon Hill Trek Package 

The 6-days magnificent government-certified private guide trip in the Himalayas has been designed to behold the beauty of Nepal at the Annapurna Massif at an altitude of 3,210 meters. A walk of 5-6 hours a day on the model trekking destinations offers you the opportunity to interact and intermingle with the local villagers and to witness their everyday life. You can also enjoy the breathtaking views of sky-touching mountains apart from sunrise and sunset from a perfect elevation of Poon Hill over the Himalayas. This tour is family-friendly and offers excellent value for money. You will definitely enjoy this tour by enjoying a romantic night, including dinner, and by witnessing stunning aerial views.

  1.   Thirteen Days Annapurna Base Camp Trek

This tour brings you too close to the base of 7000 and 8000-meter peaks in a few days by combining several different landscapes. Annapurna Base Camp Trek follows a stone stair pathway that leads you beyond terraced rice paddies and lush bamboo and rhododendron forests. You will find yourself in a high glacial basin surrounded by eleven major peaks of Nepal. 

  1.   Annapurna Base Camp trek from Pokhara Nepal

The heart of the Himalayas has an Annapurna Base Camp trek with unrivaled beauty. The travelers can explore the rich flora and fauna of this region. They can also stay here to witness the culture of marvelous multi-ethnic villages.

  1.   Ghorepani Poon Hill Trek from Pokhara

This 5-days Nepalese trekking is an easy excursion to Poon Hill and Ghandruk. The tour consists of an intimate group of a maximum of nine people and a guide. The tour includes overnight accommodations in guesthouses along the way and daily breakfast. 

  1.    Annapurna Foothill Hiking

This eco-tourism wilderness trekking tour is a perfect holiday for family trekking that lasts for approximately 9 days in the company of your guide, and you reach the hiking destinations in the Annapurna Himalayan region. This is an easy-grade fascinating trekking package wherein you trek below 3,590 meters (11,847 ft) and get the cherished family holiday experience of your lifetime by watching breathtaking views of mountains, sunrise from high camp, blooming rhododendron, unique butterflies, and enjoying many more attractions of the hiking.

 

How to Reach Annapurna Base Camp

  1. Take a bus from Pokhara to Kimchi (400 NPR takes approx 4 hours) and begin trekking from there.
  2. Take a taxi or jeep to Nayapul (2000 NPR, 2 hours) and either trek from there or take a jeep further to Ghandruk (1500-2500 NPR, 2 hours)

 

There are many more trips that you can find when you visit Nepal and make a choice of the one that suits you best for your Annapurna excursion.

 

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