Nepal’s Annapurna Circuit is one of the oldest trekking trails in the Himalayas and has been open to foreigners since 1977.
This circuit is considered one of the best treks in the world though road construction is threatening its reputation and its future as a classic trek.
The trekking route is crossing Thorung La Pass, which sits at an altitude of 5,416 meters (17,769 feet) and connects the village of Manang in the east with the famous Hindu temple of Muktinath in Mustang in the west. The pass was originally used by locals as a trade route, herding agricultural products on yaks and donkeys.
The trekking to complete the Annapurna Circuit starts in the town of Besi Sahar, approximately a six-hour drive from the capital Kathmandu or a three-hour drive from Pokhara, a popular tourist destination.
Annapurna Circuit is one of the oldest trekking trails in the Himalayas and has been open to foreigners since 1977 (photo AP)
Many tourists still choose to walk from Besi Sahar and complete the trek in about three weeks, which takes them through small villages where locals provide food and accommodation. But in the past decade, an unpaved road runs to Chame, the headquarters of Manang district, which gives many trekkers the ability to rent jeeps and cut short the trek by at least a few days.
The circuit goes through Manang, from where trekkers can choose to hike to the Tilicho lake, one of the highest lakes in the world, sitting at an altitude of 4,919 meters (16,138 feet).
Described as “the best long distance trek in the world”, the Annapurna Circuit is known as the “apple pie” circuit due to the baked goods offered by tea houses along the route.
The circuit passes Mount Annapurna, world’s 10th highest mountain and one of the most dangerous.
This week, at least 32 people have been killed, and dozens are missing, after a devastating blizzard hit the key hiking route in Nepal.
The death toll of Nepal’s Annapurna Circuit has reached 28, officials say, after blizzards struck at the height of the Himalayan climbing season.
There are fears the final toll will be higher. Nine bodies were found on October 16 and about 220 people have been rescued, but many are still missing.
Nepalese, Israeli, Canadian, Indian, Slovak and Polish trekkers are among those killed.
Severe rain and snow in Nepal appear linked to a recent cyclone in India.
Tuesday’s exceptional weather was said to be part of the remnants of Cyclone Hudhud.
Most of the deaths happened when a blizzard hit a point on the Annapurna Circuit, a well-known trekking route in central Nepal.
The bad weather hit a resting place 14,800ft above sea level, not far below the circuit’s highest point, the Thorung La pass.
The death toll of Nepal’s Annapurna Circuit has reached 28, after blizzards struck at the height of the Himalayan climbing season
October is a popular trekking season and there were likely to have been many climbers on the passes.
Two military helicopters were sent from the capital Kathmandu to assist the rescue operation on Wednesday and nine people were rescued overnight.
Many more were rescued in Thursday’s search, with both private and military helicopters deployed.
Rescue operations were called off for the day when darkness fell on Thursday evening, but will resume again on Friday, October 17.
This has been a deadly year for Nepal’s trekking and mountaineering industry, which brings in huge revenues to Nepal, one of the world’s poorest countries.
An avalanche on Mount Everest in April killed 16 Sherpa guides and resulted in a massive reduction of expeditions to the world’s highest peak.
The latest disaster comes during the peak trekking period. Thousands of tourists head to Nepal in October, many to enjoy its high altitude mountain passes and pristine beauty. But this freak heavy snowfall caught the trekkers off guard.
Nepal’s high peaks attract some of the world’s best climbers – but trekking is generally safe and appeals to masses of ordinary outdoor enthusiasts.