09/26/2011

The apple pie trek: Annapurna Circuit, Nepal

The Annapurna Circuit is still considered as one of the best treks in the world. The scenery is outstanding: this trek takes you through breathtaking sceneries of rivers, flora and fauna circling the Annapurna massif. The trek goes usually counter-clockwise from Khudi to Pokhara and reaches its highest point at the pass Thorung La (5416m). Three eight-thousander can be seen on this trek: Manaslu (8156 m), Annapurna 1 (8091 m) and Dhaulagiri (8167 m). The trek goes through Buddhist villages and Hindu holy sites, most notably the village of Muktinath, a holy site for both Buddhists and Hindus.

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The best time for the trek is in October and November, right after the raining season. Beginning of October there is still a chance of rainy days, but from middle of October to end of November you have always blue sky and almost no rain. In December/January it can be very cold and the pass Thorung La can be blocked because of snow. We had rain the first 4 days of the trek (beginning of October) and the path was blocked on the third day because of a landslide. We lost almost one day which we tried to catch up the fourth day, and we reached a small simple teahouse very late in darkness and heavy rain. As a 'welcome present' we got a bucket of hot water for a shower, a place at the huge tiled stove to dry the clothes, a simple but tasty Nepalese dinner and a place to sleep. Luckily the next day all the rain was gone and since then we had beautiful weather every day.

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09/16/2011

Wild Patagonia: Torres del Paine

End of December 2006 I visited the national park "Torres del Paine" in Chile/Patagonia. The trip started in Buenos Aires and was a round trip in Patagonia. We visited all the beautiful places in Patagonia, like the Glacier Petito Moreno, the Fitz Roy area (Argentina) and Tierra del Fuego. This was an exciting trip, but I still remember the national park "Torres Del Paine" as the absolute highlight.

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End of 2006 the roads to the national park were still unpaved and the area was not very crowded although the park is famous and the main refugios on the east side are well developed for tourism. At the same time many roads in Patagonia were under construction for a better accessibility of the main tourist attractions. The question I had in mind whether Torres Del Paine will change to a place of mass tourism or hopefully would remain a quiet gem under the national parks. I'm not sure, but it is a matter of fact, that Chile is an extremely expensive spot to travel and the park itself is well known for rough weather conditions. So at least there is a good chance that the park stays fairly unattractive for mass tourism.

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