WHAT'S NEW on the ANNAPURNA CIRCUIT

Telephones

Virtually every village now has phone service.  I didn't try it, but I did observe the locals in some guest houses trying for hours to get a dial tone.  In Pisang we did have our porter try to call Manang to reserve the specific rooms we wanted. He came back and said the guy would call after 5 pm when the electric came on in Pisang.  The porter checked after 5 and the guy said he made the reservation, but when we got to Manang they knew nothing about a phone call.

Internet

Satellite broadband internet is now available in several cities.  This photo is from the excellent cafe in Chame. Great speed but be fast as it is Rs 200 for 10 minutes ( about 30 cents a minute).  There is a cafe in Manang where the internet is Rs 300 for 10 minutes.  Small dark room and even though they have to run the generator to power the computers, they don't have any light bulbs on the generator. So go after 5 pm or take a flashlight to light up the keyboard.  There is a well lit and very busy internet in the base camp (no prices posted).  Bill spotted a internet in Muktinath across the street from the North Pole (I didn't check this one out).  And there are two in Jomson (both ends of town) but both had been out of order for weeks before we arrived.

Safe Water Stations

There are numerous SAFE WATER STATIONS around the circuit.  Most were closed or not staffed when I checked on them.  Water is Rs 35 per liter.  Sorry, but not reliable enough hours for me and not in most villages so I stayed with mineral water.  The cost of mineral water goes up the higher you go up the mountain.

Cost of 1 liter of mineral water

Kathmadu Bhulbhule Syange Chamje Dharapini Temang Bharatang Pisang Manang
15 40 50 70 70 100 100 100 70-100
Electricity

Virtually every village along the trail now has some electrical service.  On the east side it is generally from 5 pm until an unspecified time late at night and most days there is also a few hours before sunrise.  On the west side it is closer to 24 hours a day.

TV

With electricity many of the guest houses have a TV.  The guest houses further up the mountains that TV sets don't get any reception, but they do show DVD's

Solar Heaters

Solar heaters like the one in the photo on the left are common sites all around the circuit

Maoist Situation

The Maoists have signed a peace treaty with the government.  Many of the bunkered positions like this one at Manang airport are no longer manned by armed soldiers.

Road

Yes, they are building a road on both sides of the circuit.  Based on what I saw I would guess this project will be completed sometime next year.  IMO once the road is finished very few people will visit the Annapurna circuit.  There are many areas where the trail is now on completed portions of the road.  In those areas the old trail is no longer maintained or the road is where the trail used to be.  That means once the road is completed the trekkers would be sharing the trail with smoke belching vehicles.

MORE PHOTO OF ROAD CONSTRUCTION

Motorcycles & Mountain Bikes

From Muktinath to Gasha the trekkers now share the trail with motorcycles.  The motorcycle drivers all assume they have the right of way and they expect the trekkers to step off the trail and let them through.  Right now there aren't that many bikes so it is only a moderate nuisance.

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