Michelle Harvey, our Travel Agent Sales Representative, has just returned from the Gecko's Annapurna Community Lodge trek.
This is one of our best short treks in Nepal, and gives you the chance to stay in community lodges, which are located well off the tourist trail in some of the region's smallest and most beautiful villages.
Over the past few years, Gecko's has worked with local communities to build these lodges, and by staying here you help support local schools and can even visit one if you wish.
Here are some of Michelle's highlights and stories from her 11-day trek:
After spending two days on the Annapurna circuit with other tourists, it was an amazing experience to spend the next four days off the beaten track. For four days we saw nobody but locals and our crew. You get a feeling of being really isolated and remote, and are really connected to everything around you.
By staying in community lodges, you get a real sense of giving something back to the local people. It's very rewarding to know you are empowering local communities. And at the same time it's awesome to wake up in a lodge, look out your window from bed and see breathtaking mountain views rather than having to unzip a tent!
Kopra Ridge was one of the most incredible places I have ever been. Waking up at 5am can be hard, but once you see the views of Annapurna out your window it's impossible not to get excited.
I have trekked the Inca Trail before, so was familiar with the signs of altitude sickness and knew what to look out for. My top tip is to go slowly, there is no rush! If you walk slower then you are at less risk of altitude sickness. You also need to communicate with your leader. These people are trained to help you, but they aren't mind readers so don't suffer quietly!
There is a huge diversity to the Annapurna trail. One minute you will be trekking through a rhododendron forest with lush green moss and beautiful red and pink flowers, and the next you'll be walking through villages where locals are going about their daily life. And finally, when you're standing on Kopra Ridge with its barren landscapes and yaks grazing you realise Annapurna has everything.
If you're feeling inspired to travel, Gecko's Get Me Out of Here sale is on until 31 July 2011. Take 15% off all Gecko's trips* departing by 31 December 2011.