Father-Son Self-Guided Himalaya Trek – Annapurna Circuit (1-18)
In December of 2011, me and my 15-year old son, Kurt, who has Asperger's Syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder, embarked on a month-long trip into the Himalayas. We took on a self-guided trek of the Annapurna Circuit, possibly the world's most famous trek. It is the place where the Dutch word "trek" became synonymous with "hike". We did this with less than two months of planning, and without previous trekking experience. The trek follows ancient paths used as trade routes between Nepal and Tibet. We stayed in lodges called "Tea Houses" along the way, eating primarily a vegetarian diet of Dal Bhat, a traditional Nepali staple food consisting of cooked rice, lentil soup, and fresh vegetables. At night, our down sleeping bags kept us warm in the higher altitudes where the temperature plummeted. The circuit wraps around the Annapurna range, the 10th highest peak in the world and it took us along four regions, Lamjung, Manag, Mustang and Myagdi. Of these the Manang and Mustang regions are high altitude, cold climate regions while the other two are subtropical valleys. The trail also took us into the deepest gorge of the world, and through a number of Buddhist and Hindu villages and holy sites. The complete journey was 210 kilometers and took us a little over 3 weeks. I hope you enjoy our story. -Bob Annapurna Circuit (1-18) Arriving in Nepal, Bob and Kurt spend a day taking in the sights, sounds, and smells of Kathmandu. We stay at the Kathmandu Guest House, a Rana mansion converted into a hotel and the place to stay if you're looking for charming characters rather than bland western amenities. They say that Nepal starts from Kathmandu, that Kathmandu starts from Thamel and that Thamel starts from the Kathmandu Guest House. The city of Kathmandu is named after a structure in Durbar Square called Kasthamandap. In Sanskrit, Kastha (काष्ठ) is "wood" and Mandap (मंडप/मण्डप) is "covered shelter." This unique temple, also known as Maru Sthal, was built in 1596 by King Laxmi Narsingh Malla. The two-story structure is made entirely of wood, using no iron nails or supports. Legend has it that the timber used for this pagoda was obtained from a single tree.