For those who want it all – from subtropical valleys to snow-bound passes to high desert landscape to some of the most fabulous mountain views – then the Annapurna region is the place to head for.
The ecological diversity of the central western Himalaya, which this region occupies, consists of a wide variety of wildlife – from the rhesus and langur monkeys and wild boar to the musk deer, black bear and blue sheep. Some 440 bird species have been recorded in this beautiful region. Mixed ethnic and religious communities, each with different lifestyles, can be encountered with variation in altitudinal gradients. While Hindus of Aryan descent occupy the southern lowland valleys; the Gurungs and Magars, with Mongoloid features populate the middle hills; and the Thakalis, Manangeys and Lopa, the latter two evidently from Tibet as their physical appearance and culture are similar to that of the Tibetans, eke out a living in the windswept valleys to the north.
Deep in the gorges, ammonite fossils abound and holy waters gush forth with the snow capped peaks creating a natural and spectacular amphitheater. Most treks begin and/or end near Pokhara, a peaceful and beautiful lake retreat, which is easily accessible both by road and air from Kathmandu. The hills in this part of the Himalaya abound in lodges and the treks here are marked by great scenery of both the lowland villages and high mountains.
Cho-Oyu trekking offers a number of popular as well as off-the-beaten-track treks in this region. These include the Nar Phu Trek; Ghorepani (Poon Hill) Trek; Annapurna Circuit Trek; Annapurna Circuit Trek (fly back from Jomsom); and the Annapurna Sanctuary Trek.