Sunday, 5 December, 2021

Annapurna’s scenic beauty mesmerises trekkers


Ballav Dahal

Popularly known as ABC, Annapurna Base Camp (ABC) is one of major tourism hotspots in Nepal. Surrounded by several snow-clad mountains, the 4,130-metre high base camp welcomes a lot of trekkers and nature lovers from across the world annually.
Starting from Kande or nearby Nayapul of Annapurna Rural Municipality in Kaski district, the week-long trek offers an amazing view of the famous Annapurna Range, many hills and valleys to tourists.
ABC Trek, which is also well-known as Annapurna Sanctuary Trek, is regarded as the first commercial trekking route in Nepal.
Mt. Annapurna I is the 10th tallest peak in the world. The peak that lies to the northwest of the base camp offers a magnificent view. Mt. Machhapucchre (Fishtail) is located in the southeast from ABC.
The snow-fed Modi River and its tributaries, numerous floral and faunal species and the traditional culture and lifestyle of the Gurung community are additional tourist attractions along the trekking trail to ABC. Visitors also get an opportunity to experience sunrise and sunset views. They gain a thrilling experience while viewing the high mountains that turn golden in the mornings and evenings due to the reflection of the sunrays.
Situated at an elevation of 3,700 metres above sea level, Machhapuchhre Base Camp (MBC) is another attraction of the trek to ABC. As its name suggests, Mt. Machhapuchhre is prominent for its unique shape of the tail of a fish. Its base camp is also a tourism hotspot from where one can have an unrivalled view of mountains. The distance between ABC and MBC is not far away.
The trail passes through diverse landscapes such as beautiful hills and valleys with bushes and dense forests. The periods between March and May, and September and November are more favourable for trekkers to explore this trail than other times of the year. However, adventurers visit this place in other months of the year as well. Although this is considered as one of the easy trekking trails in the country, trekkers are required to be fit physically. In most of the parts, the trail is well-managed. It is also neat and clean.
With the availability of teahouses along the trail up to ABC, trekkers need not have to be worried about accommodation and food. However, booking rooms in advance is recommended for the peak tourist season as the trail witnesses many domestic as well as foreign visitors. A total of four teahouses are in operation at ABC. They can provide accommodation facilities to around 200 tourists per night.
According to Yam Gurung, the owner of Snowline Lodge & Restaurant (P) Limited located at ABC, the number of trekkers visiting the area has been on the rise over the years.
“Even the number of Nepali trekkers visiting ABC has been increasing significantly for the last three years,” said Gurung.
Trekkers stay even in tented camps at ABC when there are no rooms in teahouses.
Gurung, who has been running the teahouse at ABC for the past 36 years, said that tourists visit the area mostly for sightseeing. “Autumn is the best time for tourists to come here. There are risks of icefall and avalanches in March and April,” he said.
A South Korean trekker Koh Jong-hwan observed that he found ABC like a paradise because of its exceptional scenic beauty. Koh and his friends are planning to visit Everest Base Camp (EBC) next year.
“I have been impressed with the unparalleled natural beauty. I will share this experience with my relatives and friends after returning home,” said Lee Keun Woo, another Korean trekker.
Similar was the experience of Australian trekker Gavin Davis. “I have gained a memorable experience as I have got to such an amazing place.”
A Japanese couple (Kobayashi Yu and his wife), who was found near MBC, said they had had life-time experiences during their trip to ABC. “It was really a wonderful trip,” said Kobayashi.
The trail has started enticing more and more Chinese trekkers as it has become popular in China over the years. The Annapurna region has now become more popular among the prospective Chinese travellers after renowned actress Xu Qing paid a visit to ABC and Mardi Himal Base Camp last month. She made her trips to these preferred destinations by helicopter following her appointment as a goodwill ambassador for Visit Nepal Year 2020 (VNY 2020).
Teahouse operators at Sinuwa and Deurali hoped that the inflow of Chinese trekkers into the Annapurna region would increase significantly in the days ahead as Chinese actress Xu has popularised the region. Her videos depicting her memorable trips have become viral on video media platforms such as YouTube.
The 50-year-old actress made her debut in the 1990 film Life on a String, directed by Chen Kaige. In 1992, Xu was nominated for the Hundred Flowers Award for Best Actress with her performance in the film Ripples Across Stagnant Water. Having featured in the television series At the Foot of The Imperial City, she gained a wider recognition in China.
Trekkers enjoy having a bath at a natural hot spring near Jhinu. They also get excited to see many cascading waterfalls. During the trek, they can also have an opportunity to see Himalayan tahr, yak, blue sheep, languor and many other wildlife species.
During the peak tourist season, helicopters operate chartered flights between Pokhara and ABC. This facility has become very useful to those who do not have much time to trek to the area. Even those who are unable to walk for several days have also stood to benefit from helicopter services.
However, helicopter flights often cause nuisance to trekkers as well as wildlife species found in the area. Heli pads are available at different places of the region. “Trekkers have already started feeling bad to see the expansion of road network even up to upper part of the Annapurna Region. The authorities concerned must stop the road expansion bid as road construction has shortened the trekking trail,” said Bom B. Budha, a Pokhara-based trekking guide.
Budha, however, hoped that trail would see more trekkers during the Visit Nepal Year 2020.