Annapurna Circuit in Nepal Is a Great Way to Explore Lesser Developed Country
“This book takes a good look at the good, the bad, and the ugly of travel in a lesser developed country,” wrote Peggy Beaman in an Amazon book review of ‘Getting High–The Annapurna Circuit in Nepal‘. Thank you, Peggy.
No, I don’t claim to be Hemingway. Nor do I purport to be another Bill Bryson or Bruce Chatwin. However, I have found that long journeys on foot bring out the best not just in people, but their writing as well. Perhaps that is why travel writing is such a rich genre. A person gets to experience a place more meaningfully, more soulfully, more fruitfully, when moving on foot. Better yet, I have yet to visit a country (with the possible exception of America) where the people don’t respect people who travel by foot. Why is that? Maybe they think it shows a basic respect for their culture. This is especially true in poor countries.
Last fall I traveled to Nepal to walk the popular Annapurna Circuit. My first impression of this exotic country sandwiched between the colossi of China and India was that it is the poorest country I have ever seen. And I never altered that impression. Trekking through the Annapurna Circuit provides some clues as to why. Ten of the sixteen highest mountains in the world lie within this modest-sized country. Whether it be in America or abroad, economic development is more difficult in such jagged terrain. The people tend to be more provincial, because exchanges of goods, ideas, services, etc. are substantially more difficult. But the good news is that the people make up for any lack of sophistication with authenticity, bravery, and goodwill. For centuries foreigners have been blown away by these mountainous folk. This is reflected in the diversity of trekkers on the Circuit; it is the most international contingent imaginable–every bit as cosmopolitan as El Camino de Santiago. The terrain is challenging without requiring technical skills or engaging in life-endangering situations.
The word travel is derived from the Anglo-Latin word, ‘travails’. Clearly, trekkers on the Annapurna Circuit are more likely to have a richer, more authentic trek than somebody who chooses a more conventional, santized way of travel (package tours, etc.). So than you Peggy Beaman for comprehending that the Annapurna Circuit shows the good, the bad, and the ugly of travel in a developed country. That’s why I went in the first place.
Bill Walker is the author of Getting High–The Annapurna Circuit in Nepal. He has written other outdoor adventure narratives, including Skywalker–Close Encounters on the Appalachian Trail, Skywalker–Highs and Lows on the Pacific Crest Trail, and The Best Way–El Camino de Santiago.