Where are you off to?
Those are the two questions I often get asked when I come back from my adventure/running holidays. Organised events and races do still interest me and there are some which I really want to do before I die; however, self-organised adventures are the ones currently on my mind. My Mongolian trip has started it and although it was an organised experience (some might argue with me on this one 😎), it was a very small event, first of its kind, which made it special and different to a normal race.
Shortly after Mongolia I decided to do the Level 3 PT course which took up most of my weekends and evenings from March until July. No racing, no travelling, no longer adventures. I was bored and…
I was craving another lifetime trip.
Nepal has been on my must-go-and-run-there list for a long time and after hearing great stories from my friends I decided that 2016 is the year when Lenka runs Nepal.
October and November are apparently the best month to go there so the timings worked out great. My bf, Paul (💩) and I decided to go in November and self-organise everything including the route. This is where it got really tricky at first as we couldn’t pick the route.
The route – Annapurna Vs Manaslu
When you type in Google ‘Nepal routes’ or ‘Nepal trekking routes’ the first results you get are about the popular Annapurna circuit. After reading a few (a lot!) pages, blogs and websites I got to realise that it really is the #1 tourist destination. Breath-taking views, tourist-friendly trails (all nicely marked) with lots of teahouses on the route are the key selling points. Also, you don’t need to have a guide, but on the other hand, the trek is quite busy – full of tourists!
Next thing, I chatted to Lizzy Hawker, as she lives there and has run pretty much everywhere in Nepal. She suggested Manaslu circuit trek – the views are even more spectacular and is less travelled and busy. The only downside is that on to top of the permit you must have a guide.
Both Annapurna and Manaslu are incredible treks, however they seem to be very different despite their neighbouring positions.
// Spectacular views
// Busier than Manaslu
// More comfortable trek for a less seasoned traveler
// Better Wifi and mobile signal coverage
// More ‘luxury’ in the Teahouses including toilets, hot showers, electricity and WiFi
// No need to hire a guide
// A more cultural and mentally taxing experience
// Less busy
// Must have a guide
// Not so much western luxury
As Hayeley Turner who has trekked Manaslu, Annapurna and Everets in a row, puts it;
Manaslu circuit felt like truly authentic Himalayan experience, as there were no western toilets, very few locations with WiFi, and generator run electricity at best.
Photo by MagicalNepal.com
After spending a few evenings with Google researching both routes and trying to pick one I decided to go mad and run both. Lizzy mentioned that you can do both in 14 days easily – I know, I’m not her nor a mountain goat but you want to make the most out of your time in Nepal, right?! The good thing about both circuits is that they share the village of Dharapani where we will be able to combine the two into one big trek/trail run. Sweet!
The route planning has been the most challenging thing on our whole Nepal trip so far. We basically started mapping everything on MapMyRun. A very manual and boring thing. But we did and I sent the route plan to my friend Rich, founder of Trail Running Nepal and a race director of the Manaslu race. Yep, he is the best person to talk to about all things Nepal and running related.
Well his response wasn’t really…encouraging. In fact, our planning failed big time!
This was his exact response;
This will kill you with alttiude sickness. After Namrung, you can take it slower for a few days while you acclimatise. Once you are over the pass, then you can do big distances every day. I will try to make some suggestions in a spreadsheet next week. Bug me when I haven’t done it!
Time to go back to square one and start all over again! I mean it wasn’t a complete fail – we just need to slightly adjust it and go slower so we have time to acclimatise. Once we get on to the Annapurna circuit trek we’ll be able to speed up. The route is still work in progress so will update it in the next blog post. But the flights are booked and…
on 10 November, Paul and I will be landing in Kathmandu ready to run for 14+ days and explore the beautiful trails of Nepal. Self-supported and self-organised. #WeRunNepal.