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(Almost) Full Annapurna Circuit in 1984 video

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3,886 posts
(Almost) Full Annapurna Circuit in 1984 video

I went through my surviving slides from 1984 and -86 Annapurna Circuits from Dumre to Pokhara, and made a slideshow out of them for YouTube.

Annapurna Circuit Time Machine: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wxXPsO0Zuzo

Things have really changed from the times AC was the "Best Long Hike in the World". As we know it is not the best, or long, or much of a hike either anymore.

39 replies to this topic
Oslo, Norway
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1. Re: (Almost) Full Annapurna Circuit in 1984 video

Wonderful! I watched it last night. Looking forward to more tales from the past.

OG Australia
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2. Re: (Almost) Full Annapurna Circuit in 1984 video

I have been in two minds about watching it.

30 years ago today ( well Easter Sunday ) I was spending my second day of that trip in Kathmandu waiting on friends to turn up on the Monday to head to Pokhara to begin the walk. I was staying in a guest house just backside of Thamel with a view across to Syambu Stupa.

It was my fourth trip to Nepal in six years as a young ‘no idea what to in life’ person. For all the angst about Nepal these days I cannot deny it has been a constant true north.

I have watched some pretty dumb movies lately so I guess I should instead.

Edited: April 04, 2021, 5:47 pm
Surrey, United...
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2,891 posts
3. Re: (Almost) Full Annapurna Circuit in 1984 video

Ark: huge, huge thanks for taking the time to put this together and post it up. I really enjoyed it - no ego nonsense, not a single selfie stick.

The human (local) side of things in the video, is very similar to the villages I have stayed in (guides' village for 49 nights , over 11 stays 2011-20 and another Nepali's village for 6 nights over 3 visits). Even in my guides' village, which is not (at all) on any tourist trail, there is clearly a lot more money about - the clothes are all much better, but the cooking, social side (especially the kids who are a bit wild but very happy), the looking after animals and gathering of fodder, chopping of wood, are all pretty much as the video.

Obviously the scenery has not changed (bar ice retreat) and the video captures the tremendous variety that you get on AC. The scenery and change of same, and the strong sense of being somewhere very different, are the great appeals of AC for me.

I last did AC in Jan 2016 (my AC4) and Ghyaru, Ngawal, upper Manang (ie the old part) and some of the other villages were little changed - even Ghandruk had survived 'development' quite well. If people wander to the villages north of Jharkot, and/or walk down from Muktinah via Charu and Dzong to Kagbeni, in 2016 at least all the villages were little changed - this trail, for me, is simply wonderful.

One of my favourite parts of AC has always been the west side from about Marpha down to Ghasa - even in 2008 (AC2) a lot of tourists were being driven through here.

As I have posted before, if people have just a modicum of curiosity, and are not unthinking slaves to standard itineraries, AC is incredibly rich in the sorts experiences it has to offer. I have not so far even mentioned the wonderful, old Buddhist monasteries. We try and eat in some of the smaller places that locals use, and for several years have often asked the lodge staff to cook their own, local food for us - this is usually far better than much of the standard 'western' stodge on offer in many lodges (though I did have a good English breakfast at Yak Kharka in 2016).

We tried to get the Dhaulagiri icefalls in Dec 2012 (AC3) walked a long way up (some great views), but the trail petered out and we were still quite a way from the ice. I assume the ice is retreating. We walked from and back to Tukuche (the Dutch Bakery - great lodge), so it was a long day - we walked back in the dark, along the river bank (quickest) with lots of dogs barking excitedly.

Plan is for AC to be my next trek, hopefully this winter - I hope to do it all the way from Besisahar to Nayapul or Dhampus Phedi, as ACs 1-4. I am working on some notes about the various AC side trips that I have done, and will post it up quite soon.

Edited: April 04, 2021, 5:56 pm
OG Australia
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4. Re: (Almost) Full Annapurna Circuit in 1984 video

Great music! So much the better as slide show!

Level Contributor
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5. Re: (Almost) Full Annapurna Circuit in 1984 video

Nice collection of pictures, thanks for memory lane (my slides are similar but few).

I remember the walk from 86/87 as go solo stay in teahouse, surprised to learn it was expedition in 84.

Bengaluru, India
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6. Re: (Almost) Full Annapurna Circuit in 1984 video

Nice!. In 1984, I was yet to hit my teens and being from India, which was very similar to what we see here, - I am really glad things have changed a lot for the better in 25 years - maybe not for hard core trekkers, but the quality of life of people have changed drastically.

Also I am guessing there were no choppers either. Say if someone were to fall seriously ill midway through the route - at least 7 days walk back to the nearest road head - what was the game plan?

Edited: April 04, 2021, 9:55 pm
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3,886 posts
7. Re: (Almost) Full Annapurna Circuit in 1984 video

In 1984 we did see somewhere before Ghorepani a shoestring style hippie couple with this problem, the guy had dislocated his hip joint. A porter (local farmer from upper village) carried him towards Pokhara, he was in great pain. The village medicine man tried to pull the hip back to place (several helpers trying to hold his still) to no avail. Nothing else possible than carry on for almost a week more (no roads west of Pokhara), and they did not even have enough money for the porter and food.

Like I have said, hiking long treks at that time required determination and commitment, and there were some risks involved now simply side-stepped with a wad of money. Only choppers in Nepal were operated by the Air Force, and they were no inclined to fly around picking up trekkers in trouble.

In 1989 there were 75 rescue flights per 100000 trekkers, in 2018 there were 3500, most of them rescue scams.

Edited: April 04, 2021, 10:47 pm
Brussels, Belgium
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8. Re: (Almost) Full Annapurna Circuit in 1984 video

I have no photos, but if you can read French, I wrote a short account of my January 1983 solo Annapurna trek here: https://voyageforum.com/v.f?post=10111100;

Lake District...
Destination Expert
for Nepal, Kathmandu
Level Contributor
7,038 posts
39 reviews
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9. Re: (Almost) Full Annapurna Circuit in 1984 video

Great photos and Thanks for sharing them with us all Petrus.

It looks as though things changed quite a bit in the 10 years between 1984 and 1994 when I first trekked the route. First of all myself and my trek mates (Indipendant trekkers with no staff) caught a (local) bus direct from Kathmandu to Bedisahar. There was no bridge at Dumre and busses had to ford the river and the journey took 12 hours but was incident free.

Besishar was small and simple, more Iess on one street and the end of that was the end of the road.

We met a young English couple the next day on our way to Bahundanda, they had started thier own trek in Pokhara, it had taken them about a week to trek from Pokhara to Bahundanda and they described the route as very undulating and only having simple Bhatti style teahouses.

This couple stayed with us all the way to Ghoropani where we trekked down to Naya Pul and they continued via ABC to Phidi (Which sounds like what you did)

Many of the lodges we stayed in were very simple usually only candles, no dining rooms so we took our meals in the kitchen with all the locals watching food being prepared and conversing as best we could.

I also have some fantastic photos myself, but still all on 35mm slides.

One place we stayed was a village called Latermarang which we were told was entirely washed away a few years later in a flood.

Manang had a few lodges to choose from and we also took our aclimitisation day here trekking over to the nearby Gangapurna glacier.

There was a lodge at Ledar, The Julong White Hotel, I think it only had about 2 rooms as I remember 5 of us squeezing into one room which i am pleased to say had 5 beds, but absolutely no floor space.

We crossed Thorung La without incident, I think it was 23rd December.

We took the day off for Christmas Day in Jomsom, there was by this time a German Bakery there with cakes flown in from Pokhara if flights were operating. So a very pleasant and relaxing day spent there before it all went a bit wrong in the evening as The Monalisa Guesthouse where we were staying attempted to "Roast" us a chicken for Christmas Dinner 😟😟 and the inevitable happened 🤮🤮

We soon recovered and continued our trek enjoying staying at The Tukuche Guesthouse then eventually took advantage of the Hot Springs at Tatopani then up to Ghoropani and Sunrise on Poon Hill New Year's Day 1995 😁😁

One day I'll have to scan my slides in and do something similar to Petrus 😁😁

Edited: April 05, 2021, 12:32 am
Level Contributor
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2 reviews
10. Re: (Almost) Full Annapurna Circuit in 1984 video

Fantastic treat, thank you so much for sharing. Although things are different, some remained unchanged.

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