Conquering the Altitudes of the Himalayas.
by Keven Osborne
Travelling to Nepal late November, I got there just after the peak tourist and trekking season of September-October. Monsoonal rains usually end late August, and in September you're usually greeted with warm air, clear skies and lush landscapes. The dry season runs until May or June but the cold of winter, especially at altitude, deters visitors during the winter months.
However, when I was there, the lower-lying Kathmandu Valley still held onto its humid warmth. Kathmandu is a fascinating city; with a population of 750.000 it's dwarfed by many of the Subcontinent’s megacities. Still it maintains the chaotic bustle of most Asian cities and a charming old town labyrinth of cobbled alleyways lined with uniquely carved wooden window, lead to hidden temples, courtyards and stupas.
The Annapurna Circuit is a 230km trek ranging between 840 - 5.516m elevation. The experience rewards you with wonderful local people and incredibly diverse scenery and fauna. At lower altitudes you may be accompanied by an abundance of multi-coloured butterflies – reds, yellows, blues, creams – and dragonflies dancing with one another in the temperate sunlight. Glacial runoff form opaque turquoise rivers that plummet over rocks and boulders on the valley floor, creating ferocious white water rapids and innumerable waterfalls. Gaining altitude, flora and fauna becomes more alpine with other wildlife emerging, including raptors, or birds of prey, with 3m wingspans gliding high in the afternoon thermals. Dozens of vast glacial features awe-strikingly define the landscape.
Village communities turn more indigenous as the trek becomes completely inaccessible by vehicle. Donkeys carry supplies and there’s always a friendly tea-house to rest those tired hiking boots. A truly phenomenal country.
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