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396 Reviews

  • Reviewed January 2020
    Jonnie Treharne

    Annapurna, Thorong La and Excellent Guide

    Completed the Annapurna Circuit in December 19, as I had previously done the EBC trip and was aware of just how great Nepal is. The ACT did not disappoint and I was again amazed by the scenery, wildlife and the friendliness of the local people. The trek uses tea houses for accommodation with hotels in Kathmandu and Pokhora at the start and finish of the trip. All of these provide good accommodation with acceptable amenities and I could not fault the food. 3 weeks in duration, it contains about 17 days of treking. Despite being graded “tough” it is the crossing of the Thorong La pass at 5,416m that gives it this rating. The trek to Gohrepani and Poon hill are less difficult as they are not at altitude. Therefore, it is eminently achievable, even if you are not that experienced at altitude. Most days are between 5-8 hours treking, but the pace is sedate enough to allow you to acclimatise and get the most from the environment. Our guide - Dorjee Sherpa was outstanding. A young man full of enthusiasm and knowledge Who enhanced the entire experience

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Crossing the Thorong La pass. This is a demanding climb if starting from Thorong Pedi (base camp) and can be made more difficult by the weather conditions. Therefore the sense of achievement in attaining the pass is well deserved. It should be tempered by the realisation you still have 8 hours of treking left to reach Muktinath!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Dorjee Sherpa was a very knowledgeable and capable guide. He fostered an excellent relationship with all of the group and also facilitated the development of relationships between the group and porters. He was hard working and ensured the experience of each individual within the group was enhanced. He provided an excellent service at each and every tea house ensuring that the needs of all were met. He imparted his knowledge of the area, fauna/flora, religion and legends and was simply outstanding. He conducted dynamic risk assessments when required and I even witnessed him carry the rucksack of a struggling tourist across the pass! He has a bright future in this field and I cannot sing his praises highly enough. Well done!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Bring snacks for the long walking days - despite good food and multiple tea stops I could have done with carrying more carbohydrate/energy bars such as H5. I would carry a few travel squashes as you need to drink a lot of water which becomes boring Read the trip notes concerning tipping and allocate the appropriate funds for this - this is only moral and just for the work that has been done to support you. Bladders and tubes will freeze so Nalgene bottles are essential

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The strength of any tour company is in its people, particularly those indigenous employees who deliver the holiday and enhance the experience through their knowledge, approach and good nature. Dorjee Sherpa and his team were second to none and without them the ACT would not have been the success it was. They were outstanding and should be given just recognition for their efforts from Exodus.
  • Reviewed January 2020
    Euan Stanwix

    Absolutely Amazing Scenery

    This was my first trip to the Annapurna region and chosen because I'm not sure what it will look like in even 5 years time with all the road development going on. Yes, there are a couple of days where you're walking on a dirt road which used to be the trail but the lasting memories are of the spectacular scenery, the fantastic Nepalese people, the great camaraderie in our group and our leaders who were superb organisers and really good fun as well. The first time you catch sight of the Annapurna range is just awe-inspiring as the snow-capped peaks tower above you. You could never tire of that amazing panorama. Other obvious highlights are crossing Thorong La pass at 5,400 metres (it got tough above 5,000 metres!), the sunrise on the top of Poon Hill and the numerous river crossings on suspension bridges. However, I will also take away the warmth of the local people, the great food, the little insights you get into Nepalese village life as you walk through the mountain villages and a better appreciation of the people and their culture. They have far fewer material possessions than people in the UK but seem to smile a lot more - a lesson in there I think. I would recommend this trip to anyone who has a love of mountains and different cultures but don't wait too long because the 'development' of the Annapurna Sanctuary area continues at a pace so the landscape is changing, and not necessarily for the better if you like your trekking without too much traffic.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Getting to the top of Thorong La pass at 5,400 metres. We got up at 2:30a.m. at around 4,500 metres and set off with head torches for the top of the pass. After a tea stop at 5,000 metres it started to get tough and our group had a collective feeling of relief and achievement when we reached the top of the pass in glorious sunshine. How people climb 8,000 metre peaks without oxygen I do not know. The trek is very well organised inasmuch as you gain altitude slowly in the 8-9 days before Thorong La and so most of the party didn't need Diamox and only had occasional headaches which is quite normal. The sunrise at Poon Hill also deserves a mention as it is absolutely spectacular and not at all arduous compared to Thorong La.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader was Tsering Dorjee Sherpa. I've been on numerous organised tours with various travel companies and I can say that Dorjee was one of the best leaders I've had teh pleasure of meeting. He was mature beyound his 23 years, extremely well organised, very passionate about Nepal and his Sherpa heritage and went out of his way to ensure the trip ran smoothly and that everyone enjoyed it. He was ably backed up by other guides and a team of porters, all of whom interacted with our group and collectively we had a great experience. If you're lucky enough to have Dorjee as your guide you will have a great trip and will learn a lot about Nepal, it's people and its culture.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    (1) Changing money in Kathmandu - the Himalayan bank will give you a much better rate if you bring new £50 notes. Any used £20 notes were scrutinised and any with writing on, slight rips in etc. were not accepted. It's also difficult to change the Rupees back to Sterling in Kathmandu so leave time to go round a few bureau de change. The rates are pretty similar across the bureaux de change (2) Most of the tea houses have power of some description to charge electrical items (USB or Mains) but power banks to charge phones / camera batteries are useful. Take a bag to put all your batteries in and put it in your sleeping bag at night to prevent them losing charge (3) The Exodus sleeping bags / down jackets tend to be on the heavy and bulky side and as weight/bulk is at a premium it's good to bring your own if you can. We had sleeping bags rated down to -2c (comfort) which were fine coupled with merino baselayers at higher altitudes (4) We had a Steripen, as did a number of our group, and they are the best thing for these types of trips as they probably cost the same as all the chlorine dioxide tablets you would need instead but you don't get the nasty aftertaste of tablets. Be sure to bring spare rechargeable batteries and a fast charger to keep the batteries charged. (5) We bought diamox in Kathmandu (£1 compared with £30 for a private prescription in the UK). We didn't need them in the end but we did use Ibuprofen for the occassional headache. Drinking lots of water is essential and a number of the group thought the garlic soup of the trail may have helped alleviate altitude issues

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    You don't need to be super-fit to do the Annapurna Circuit as most days don't exceed 12 miles but the altitude can be debilitating. As you can't train for altitude just ensure you have a good base level of fitness, your boots are well broken in and you are very familiar with all your gear. For the photographers I took my Canon EOS with a 10-22 and 70-300 lens. Yes, the long lens weighs a fair amount (1 kg) but you get some fantastic close-up photos of the Annapurna range. Also make sure you take a polarising filter because the glare can wash out your photographs.
  • Reviewed December 2019
    Stephen Sinnhuber

    Just amazing, and tough!

    My wife and I had long wanted to do this trek and when the 45th anniversary deal came up we booked last Feb. We then had months of worrying if we would make it, training, more training, buying gear, more gear etc etc! We needn't have worried. Our whole group made it thanks to Bikash and his team who were incredible throughout. Bikash ensured we ate enough (lots!), drank enough water (lots!), kept our hats on (haha) and made sure we did everything possible to avoid altitude sickness and make it. Whatever he did worked! We saw people in other groups dropping like flies and being helivac'd out. But we (11of us) were all fine! I have been on many Exodus trips but on this one the group dynamic was exceptional. The teamwork and camaraderie were second to none. I guess because the trek is very challenging. Don't underestimate this trek, it is very tough!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Getting to base camp itself after all the self-doubt we had about making it. Sitting quietly on my own looking at the vastness of the mountains around me. It's spectacular. But everywhere you trek is spectacular. Base camp is simply a highlight among many.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Exceptional. Bikash was a fantastic leader along with his team of Kami, Lakpar and Yak man (haha). We would not have made it without these guys!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Do not underestimate this hike. it is tough. Make sure you are fit! It's not a race. Go as slow as you can. The guides set the pace. Follow it. Its cold so bring some good layers and rent the sleeping bag at least. The bag was very good quality. A Steripen was very useful. A thick fleece and or lightweight down/thermoball gilet (or better still jacket) is very useful inside the tea houses. Only the main room is heated and then usually only for the evening. Only eat veggie food and dont drink alcohol while on the trek. We avoided any illness as a result. Try and sit on the left of the plane going to Lukla. Luggage is advised at 5kg carry on and 10kg check in. As a result I ditched some stuff at the start hotel but it turned out we could definitely take more. One of our guys had over 14kg check-in and its very cheap to pay the extra. Handwarmers were useful but only on EBC day really. We didnt need the many we brought! The recommended money to take on the trek was spot on.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This was one of the very best Exodus trips we have ever done. Amazing views, great trekking and fab company of the other clients and guides.
  • Reviewed December 2019

    Fantastic way to see Nepal

    Booked this as wanted to see Nepal without roughing it. Far exceeded my expectations. A great taster of several regions, the culture, fabulous scenery and wildlife of this incredible country. It may not be heavy trekking, but you still need to have a good fitness level for all the uneven steps and relentless ups and downs. It is pretty full on if you make use of the optional trips in free time, but there is so much to see. Kathmandhu is pretty much as you imagine, and as little time spent there as possible is probably a good plan, it was the least impressive hotel, dirty, crowded and polluted, but still has areas of culture and history worth a look. When the new airport in Pokhara opens, that might mean you can fly there which would reduce the long and 'exciting' road trip. Pokhara was a much nicer place all round and could have spent longer there. Chitwans wildlife was also amazing, we just skimmed the surface on this trip, could have easily spent longer there. The lodges are of a great standard, although unheated, so you need to dress accordingly. The food was far better than I anticipated, and with happy hour, I failed to lose weight or detox on this trip! The trekking was mainly off the main paths and as it was end of season, we saw very few other tourists either on the paths or in the lodges. It was only a group of 7 and felt like a very personal trip.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    So many to choose from! 1. The beautiful mountain scenery. We were very lucky to have 3 days of clear blue skies and stunning snow capped peaks. 2. the rural scenery of terracing and little villages with in depth viewing of the culture and local communities 3. The fabulous Nepali food, if you like curry and spicy, this is foodie heaven. There is plenty of it and all great quality, I had no stomach problems at all which was a nice surprise. 4. The lodges were amazing, so hospitable and well catered in stunning locations 5. Rhino viewing in Chitwan, some great encounters and some beautiful bird life plus the gharial breeding programme

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent. Keshar was a very experienced leader of 20 years. He was calm and competent with an amazing knowledge of everything that Nepal could show us, from the culture, food, restaurant suggestions and paths through the mountains. Couldn't fault him. He is very passionate about his country and supporting a lot of community projects. Would highly recommend him.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Make sure you are fit for the trekking else you won't enjoy it. Be prepared for all weathers, pack light but need clothes for freezing to sunbathing! We had from 18degrees sunshine, to relentless rain and thunderstorms in Chitwan. Be open minded as things don't always go to plan with travel in Nepal. The roads are rough, the traffic is completely terrifying and whilst distances are short, travel times are long. We had a car accident and had to spent half an hour waiting for negotiations into who's fault and who should pay! As the Dhalai Lama says, cultivating patience and tolerance is the key to happiness...…...

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This was a trip of a lifetime, it's cultural, physical, and spiritual all rolled into one. It opens your eyes, and exercises the body, mind and soul. Highly recommended. Not a softie trip, this is still trekking...…..but be prepared to be blown away.
  • Reviewed December 2019
    Richard Christie

    Walking the quieter circuit brings its own reward.

    This is a fantastic trek through scenery varying from: farmland, forests of pine trees, walking along river gorges beside foaming rivers, through villages full of character and smiling children and finally beside amazing snow clad high mountain peaks. All of which we did with very few other trekkers.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Walking up to the Larkya Pass as the dawn slowly broke behind us revealing snow covered mountains all around.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    As always Valerie looked after us really well and added that bit extra to the enjoyment of the trip. This time sharing her experiences of climbing Manaslu by reading excerpts from her diary of the trip.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I was pleasantly surprised with my first experience of a lodge (Teahouse) based trip. Remember you need to budget for buying your own lunches and evening meals on this trip but the food available is tasty and the choice varied enough to cover most desires. if you need a 'pick me up' along the way then try the Apple Fritters with Custard! Although the rooms in the lodges are basic they were all clean and the beds comfortable. Remember a supply of wet wipes for the nights when it is too cool for a proper wash.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    A fantastic, quieter alternative to the more well known Annapurna Circuit but don't wait too long before doing this trip. Roads are slowly being driven in from both ends which will be good for the local population but could detract from the scenic value of the trip.
  • Reviewed December 2019
    Pagan Dave

    Fantastic Trip

    My first trip to Nepal and what a great experience. Beautiful countryside and views, had a fantastic time and now want to go back to do some of the trekking mountains. Watch out its addictive!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Being surrounded by famous mountains, crossing the tall suspension bridges with yak trains carrying supplies up the passes, amazing!!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Experienced nice guy, took good care of us, firm when he needed to be but shared our enthusiasm for the experience.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Yep, silk sleeping bag liner very useful, fingerless gloves for the cold evenings in the tea houses, tracksters worked great during the day and for the evenings too, merino wool thermals were absolutely brilliant, wool jumper better than synthetic fabrics for keeping smell free, cards for the evening, good (compact) camera for the scenery not my digital SLR! I used Diamox and was glad I did, no altitude sickness problems. In November it took clothes a few days to dry so pack enough. keep your bags within the weight limits, our porters had to carry our bags so please be considerate. Trek wasn't as physically demanding as I expected, get fit before you go and you will enjoy it more.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Watch out, if you go once you'll want to go back again! I was the only person on the trek for whom this was a first visit.
  • Reviewed December 2019
    Sharon Green

    Fantastic Trip!

    This was our first trek and we we struck gold - the scenery and people of Nepal are beautiful. They have left a lasting impression and a return trip is a must. The porters and guides looked after us - lugging our gear and organising food and accommodation, pointing out wildlife and keeping us safe - always smiling, they created a real family feel to the group. I miss the early morning wake up call of a cheerful Namaste with a cup of tea and a stunning sunrise.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Two stand out (& emotional) moments-Looking down on a pair of Golden Eagles gliding on the thermals only 15 feet away & Reaching Annapurna Basecamp - achieving the goal and surrounded by jaw dropping scenery

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Balkrishna Tamang (Milan) was a great leader. I have no experience of others but the bar is now set very high! He was tireless in ensuring everything went to plan and everyone was happy.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Keep your bags as light as you can- not an easy task but watching the porters lug 2 kit bags and their own gear is a humbling experience
  • Reviewed December 2019
    Michelle Burton

    Fantastic trip - great scenery, well paced, brilliant leader

    We had the most wonderful trip on the Mini Annapurna Circuit in Nov 19 with a great group of 6, and a brilliant leader Jangbu. The scenery was amazing throughout and so varied - starting off warm with jungle and rice terraces, going through to the barren and snow covered pass. The group was made up of 3 couples (40's/50's/60's) who all met on this trip but worked really well together and was a nice number. The itinerary was very well thought out, from walking times between breakfast, tea stop, lunch, and afternoon. A slow enough pace that no-one was pushed, out of breath or sweaty. No-one got altitude sickness as the increase in altitude every day was so well managed. The food was much better and more varied that expected (fried rice, fried noodles, soup, curry, chips, pizza, and occasionally even items like lasagna, burritos etc. And of course desserts like apply pie, and mars bar rolls !

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The peace and tranquillity on the trail. Going end-Nov meant it was very quiet, and we even had a lot of the tea houses all to ourselves. Every day the views were amazing and fascinating to see it change the higher you went.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our leader Jangbu was superb. Nothing was too much trouble, he was always on hand to answer any question, order our breakfast, tea, lunch, dinner, sort out wifi, charging, showers, safe drinking water etc. He made sure we all knew the next days plans, what to wear, what to carry etc etc. We felt completely confident and comfortable with his leadership and advice, considering he has been doing this for years, and has even summited Everest 6+ times ! He made sure we only ate in safe places, advised us on what to eat, what to drink, where not to eat, and even made sure the hygiene in each place was up to standard - including going into the kitchen to assist ! No-one from the group got ill, and he was always on hand for any questions, had no downtime for himself, and even on the final day was around at breakfast and to ensure we all got our transfers to the airport and to say goodbyes.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The trip notes do cover everything you need to know - just keep re-reading them as whatever you need to know is in there ! The trail is very dusty - not just the jeep tracks, but also the walking trails, so expect very dusty boots and trousers, and a buff is essential every day. A few essential items to bring: Buff (needed every day of trek) Steripen and wide-mouth Nalgene bottle Body wipes (unreliable hot showers, and sometime too cold to want one) Hydration pack - drink on the go Hand gel - multiple bottles Diamox (start on day 3) - can buy in Kathmandu/before the trek Lots of toilet roll (3 each) Pillow case V. warm clothes - it was -8c on the morning we went over the Thorong La pass. Decent 4-season sleeping bag (we used this every single night), and sleeping bag liner to keep it clean The tea houses vary in quality - some quite smart and new, others more basic and old. We had more rooms with ensuites than shared bathrooms, and the higher you go, they all have a hot stove you can gather round in the dining room to warm up. None had heating in the bedrooms so you are only in there to unpack/pack and sleep. We normally slept in some of our clothes, and needed the 4-season sleeping bags and sometimes provided blankets as well. We only ended up having a few showers as either the hot water ran out, or the rooms were too cold to want to undress/come out wet, so body wipes were much needed ! You are advised not to drink alcohol over 3000m so this meant from day 4 onwards until you are in Jomsom on the final trekking day - 8 days without !

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We were a bit daunted by this trip, and potential for either getting altitude sickness, or getting ill from general hygiene on the trail. But we didnt need to worry. The itinerary is planned so you acclimatise well and the leader really looks out for you. We all religiously used hand gel at all opportunities - even cleaning the cutlery, and as a result, no-one got sick. I would 100% recommend Exodus and going guided as it takes away all hassle and concerns, from planning, pace setting, and even to knowing the safe places to eat/drink. We met a lot of people travelling in 2's/3's without guide or porters, and every evening they had to find somewhere to stay, were pouring over maps planning route, worrying about weather forecasts etc. Whereas we were all calm and had 100% faith in our leader Jangbu. Even down to what to wear, when the sun will hit the path etc. Invaluable. You also have the knowledge that you have someone there to help if you get ill, they carry any medication you may need, and even have an oxygen cylinder the entire time. None of group got sick from food or altitude which cannot be underestimated.
  • Reviewed December 2019
    David Southall

    The most amazing trip I have ever taken with memories never forgotten.

    If you wish to challenge yourself and witness some of the most amazing views on the face of this planet then this is the trek for you. Yes, you need to train, Yes you need to have a positive mind set, Yes, you will get cold, Yes you will NOT be staying in 5star hotels along your trek. YES, you will find things out about yourself, YES you will do things that you never though possible. YES YES YES you will have the greatest time. Go ahead. Book it.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Reaching Everest Base Camp as a compete team and seeing the Nepalese culture of how little they have and yet they smile every day are grateful for everything.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ha Ha Tenzing Sherpa was the most positive and inspirational leader anyone could ask for. His knowledge and character and laughter was simply infectious. I would request him again to guide any trip.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Dont overpack Take enough underwear and socks Limit to a 2/3. base layers/ Mid layers and let the down jacket do the rest. Drink enough water even if you feel you are not thirsty. Avoid meat on the trek.
  • Reviewed November 2019
    Andrea James

    Annapurna sanctuary

    This was an amazing trip with Poon hill sunrise and Annapurna base camp sunrise , both of which we were spoilt on clear skies and lovely weather, The guides and porters were all amazing, trying to communicate with their broken english, our main guide Milan was fantastic , with his knowledge of mountains and other areas in nepal. I would highly recommend this trip, just be sure that you love steps and that you love mountains and breathtaking views!!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Getting to Poon hill toview sunrise and Annapurna bbase camp sunrise! Mindblowingly beautiful, to the point of tears!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    MILAN was amazing his knowledge of the area was fabulous and then organising meals out in Pokoraha and Kathmandu also arranging our missed flights, done all with a smile!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Just make sure your fit enough to deal with all the steps, and always look back from where ever your going or been as the views from all angles are just so beautiful