Autumn too cold for Nepal? Not at all. In fact, October and November are the best times to go. The country sprouts green after the summer rainy season and the snowcapped peaks are stunning against the crystalline blue sky. Trekking the Annapurna Circuit is the best way to become one with the highest mountains on earth and this may be the last year you can do it before the hiking path is paved over for good.
The Annapurna Circuit is a 300 kilometer trek that uses ancient trade routes connecting Nepal and Tibet. It starts in Bhulebhule (reachable from Kathmandu) and ends with an astoundingly beautiful panorama atop Poon Hill. It starts at an altitude of 900 meters and climbs to 5,500 meters at the Thorong La pass before dropping into the Kali Gandaki Valley, one of the deepest gorges in the world.
It’s a demanding climb and the entire circuit takes 11 days, though it used to be 17 before they finished the road on the backside. The plan is to pave over the entire thing by 2012. Trekking purists hate it, others are not so fussed. When it's finished, it'll mean more tourists and less trekkers.
The Circuit is renowned for arresting views of the Annapurna massif and its collection of 8,000-meter-plus peaks, but people also come for the cultural and religious mélange of Nepalese and ethnically Tibetan people. The lower elevations are predominantly Hindu; the higher you go the more Tibetan it becomes. Up there you’ll pass through the Mustang region, one of the last refuges on earth for the ancient Tibetan religion, Bön.
The Circuit is a "teahouse trek" meaning there are plenty of places to stay along the way so you don’t need to lug camping gear. Everything you need you can get in Kathmandu.
Fly direct from Hong Kong to Kathmandu on Cathay Pacific for RMB8,500. Check out travelzen.com for flight and accommodation options.