A team including Steven Kingsley Berry, a tourism entrepreneur from the United Kingdom, has recently trekked through the less-explored Annapurna North Base Camp Trekking route in the Annapurna Circuit. For the last 35 years, Berry has been sending mountaineers and trekkers to Nepal through his Mountain Kingdoms Ltd., a travel agency in the UK. The trekking team had an aim to expose and publicize the little-explored Trek. The trek to the Annapurna North Base Camp started from Narchyang of Annapurna Rural Municipality-4.
The route is the most fantastic, unique and safe trekking trail to the Annapurna North Base Camp that lies at an altitude of 4,305 metres above sea level, the team concluded.
Offering alluring views of mountains like Annapurna I, Mount Machhapuchhre, Himchuli and Dhaulagiri, the trekking route going through dense green forests, waterfalls, caves and glaciers was discovered in 2068 BS while exploring the path taken by Maurice Herzog in course of ascending Mount Annapurna (8,091 metres), it has been said.
A local team led by tourism entrepreneur of Narchyang Tej Gurung discovered the trail after the old trekking route to the Annapurna North Base Camp through Tukuche of Mustang and Bhusketmela of Narchyang became risky, said local people. The team of 15 people took four days to reach the Base Camp through this newly discovered trail. They made temporary bridges in 62 places to cross streams and rivers.
The route is also known as the Maurice Herzog trail. On 3 June, 1950, an expedition team led by Herzog for the first time successfully scaled Mount Annapurna (8,091 metres), the 10th highest peak in the world. So, the trekking trail to the Annapurna North Base Camp has been named after Herzog, according to Shesh Kanta Sharma, a member of the team led by Berry and representative from the Mountain Legend Pvt. Ltd.
Berry, 74, who has explored various mountainous tourist destinations of Nepal, said the trekking trail is best and safe. “We have come here to search for trekking routes so we can send trekkers here from the UK. I could not think that the Annapurna North Base Camp Trek is so short and safe compared to the North Annapurna Base Camp. We are really amazed,” he said.
Foreign tourists wish to explore the trek as it carries a history, said Sharma. “This trail to the Annapurna North Base Camp is safe. There are flatlands at the Base Camp reducing the risks of natural disasters. The place is rich in natural beauty and biodiversity. Tourists can be attracted in large numbers when the area is exposed. Preparations should be made for building infrastructures accordingly,” he said.
Hotel facilities should be expanded on the way, he said. Forty-two kilometres away from Narchyang, the Annapurna North Base Camp is accessible by motorable road up to 20 kilometers to Humkhola and by trekking 22 kilometers from Humkhola.
Seeing potential, tourism entrepreneurs of Myagdi have rolled up their sleeves to promote the area. A team including tourism entrepreneurs Amritman Shrestha and Raju Hamal of Bhurungtatopani of Annapurna Rural Municipality-2, the entrance to the Annapurna Base Camp, have recently explored the Trek in search of its potentiality.
The influx of domestic and foreign tourists could increase when the trail, the shortest alternative to the Annapurna North Base Camp, is promoted and exposed, said Shrestha, who runs a tourist-standard hotel in Tatopani. The Rural Municipality has joined the campaign to promote the trail and the Base Camp, said the Rural Municipality Chairperson Bharat Kumar Pun. The local level has taken initiatives in constructing additional tourism infrastructures and bringing the area to public attention, he added.
In 2005, Herzog reached Narchyang via helicopter and showed concerns about the development of the newly discovered trekking trail. In 2067 BS, the Annapurna Tatopani Rupse Festival was organised in a bid to bring the Annapurna Base Camp, Bhurungtatopani and Rupse waterfall to public notice.
Later, the trekking trail was constructed through Narchyang, Chhotepa and Humkhola with a budget allocated by the Tourism Ministry. The Rural Municipality organised the First Annapurna Tourism Festival in Narchyang in 2076 BS. There are suspension bridges, resting places and other infrastructures built along the way. The Tourism Ministry released Rs 28 million in different times, and the Annapurna Conservation Area Project over Rs 4 million to construct infrastructures along the trail, said tourism entrepreneur Gurung.
Construction of resting places at the Annapurna Base Camp, Dharamdhunga, Bhusketmela, Guphaphant, Sandikharka, Humkhola and Chhotepa is underway.
The Base Camp is surrounded by various mountains like Annapurna, Tilicho Peak, Baraha Shikhar and Nilgiri. Panchakunda Lake is an additional attraction of the area. Stretched over 20,000 square metres, the turquoise lake attracts and entices tourists.
The Phutphute waterfall on the way is another centre of attraction for tourists, said Amrit Subedi, chief administrative officer of the Annapurna Rural Municipality. Other attractions of the area are Pancha waterfall, Rato waterfall and Aakashe Gufa (cave), he said. Blooming rhododendron flowers and wildlife of different species including snow leopards, blue sheep, bears, musk deer and wild dogs found on the way can attract tourists and trekkers, said a local tourism entrepreneur Tej Gurung.
Initiatives have been taken to construct infrastructures and make publicity of the trail, said the Rural Municipality vice chair Diwa Kumari Tilija.
Lately, the inflow of tourists and trekkers has increased to explore the newly discovered trek, according to Tilija.
However, the Annapurna North Base Camp lacks facilities like hotels, drinking water, communications and toilets forcing the tourists to manage all these things by themselves, said Lok Bahadur Phagami, ward chair of Narchyang.
He called for collective efforts to manage these facilities for increasing tourists.
Rabi Tamang of Seven Summit Treks, a travel agency, said he had to manage drinking water for climbers and tourists by taking the water from the Panchakunda Lake, around one-hour walk from the Base Camp. Another problem facing tourists here is a lack of mobile networks, he added.
Kamal Khatri/ RSS