It’s probably obvious by now how much we loved our time on the Annapurna Circuit. From the simplicity of life upon it, to the charm of the little towns we stayed in, the Himalayas had us fully and completely besotted.
And to top it all off it is ridiculously good value for money. In 3.5 weeks we spent a measly 52,460 rupees each. That is $527, or £336 for 26 days of travel. £13 a day is definitely the cheapest we’ve been for a long, long time and it came so easily. Money was the furthest thing from our minds as we ordered $8 yak burgers as a treat in Manang and drank an obscene amount of tea day in day out. It’s safe to say that we splurged. And when we were walking for 7 hours a day, we had no qualms about it!
Having the time of your life, having daily treats and still spending so little is the stuff of travel dreams right? Nepal makes this happen and some.
So, to give you a clearer idea of how far your money does go here is a little cost breakdown of our trip.
First of all we had to kit ourselves out because I don’t know about you but I’m not prone to travelling with down sleeping bags and trekking poles. Thamel in Kathmandu and Lakeside in Pokhara are awash with cheap and easy trekking stores where you can buy pretty much anything you could need to do any kind of trekking in the country. From a day hike with fake Teva sandals to a major expedition to Everest with -30°c down trousers, you’d be forgiven for turning up in Nepal empty handed and buying everything here.
You can rent gear too, which our friends on the Annapurna Base Camp trek did for a minimal amount but we bought our stuff and are now happy owners of some rip-off North Face sleeping bags and more. Overall, everything we needed cost around £40 each. Here are the prices in Nepalese Rupees.
Sleeping bag, 3000
Carabiners, 100 each
Water bottle, 500
Down jacket, 2500
These prices came with a little bargaining and a few walk-aways and you can definitely find even better deals if you look for them.
The lodges and restaurants along the trek are regulated by local tourism committees, which make them all incredibly similar. The age and luxury will definitely differ from town to town and lodge to lodge but we never worried too much about trying to find the best place. At the end of the day a hot meal and a bed, 3inch mattress or not, were all we wanted.
Our cheapest room on the trek was 50 rupees each for a simple triple. Our most expensive was 200 rupees each for a twin bed with inside shower that was, for the first time on the trek, hot! You’ll usually pay an incredibly reasonable 100 rupees per person at most lodges.
Many people will tell you that beds are free as long as you eat in-lodge but I would advise against this practice. The rooms are so cheap as it is that I really don’t see the point in making the lodge owners lose out on a couple of dollars. While these people aren’t exactly poor, they live very self-sustainable lives, you can’t argue with the fact that we have more than they do and they are trying to earn an extra income. Basically, no one likes a stingy traveller.
There is an (usually) unspoken rule that you eat where you sleep and the menus differ very, very rarely so expect the same selection of dal bhat and momos everywhere you go. That said, the prices differ on an altitude basis. The higher you go the more expensive meals and drinks become. Our daily expenditure went from 1600 rupees on the first day to 2400 in Thorung Pedi at 4540m above sea level.
We typically spent around 500 rupees per meal, breakfast, lunch and dinner, including drinks. Daily extras included extra afternoon tea (a staple and probably our biggest expense) from 40-100 rupees, chocolate bars at 150 rupees and the (very) occasional beer at a whopping 450 rupees or more.
Water at filling stations cost around 60 rupees which we took advantage of whenever we could to avoid chlorine overdoses from our water purification tablets and we often bought 40 rupee packets of coconut biscuits to munch on during the day.
As I’ve said we usually did little more than walk, eat and sleep as this is all there is to do on such an adventure. However, we did step out of this pattern whenever the town offered something different. In Muktinath and Kagbeni for example we paid around 200 rupees to visit the monasteries and in Manang we paid the same price for a ‘cinema’ ticket with free tea and popcorn.
While I didn’t keep a item by item budget I hope this shows you that the Annapurna Circuit, and other Nepali treks, really are some of the world’s most affordable treks. People so often comment on how lucky Oli and I are to travel so much, and it’s true, but we also make conscious decisions money wise when it comes to our travels. When we are working, we save as much as we can and we don’t travel to expensive places.
Travel doesn’t have to break the bank to give you memories you’ll never forget.
So, have you booked your ticket to Nepal yet?? Where is the cheapest country you’ve ever been?