Maps are one of those things that people love or people don’t want anything to do with. I am in the former category. I have been working a little with the Great Himalaya Trail project, putting together a website and working out how to promote the trail and less-trekked areas in Nepal.
I have often wondered if looking at maps make a difference to peoples decision about where to trek. Does looking at the trails, the place names and the shading affect a persons desire to visit the place where pictures and text might not? I don’t know. And do people prefer to go to Annapurna region along with 70,000 others every year rather than the stunning Dolpa area where the visitor numbers hover around 1500 per annum.
There is a price difference for sure, but if you are going to spend so much on flying so far to get away from it all, then why do the same as other like minded people.
There was an article written in the New York Times recently regarding the demise of the Annapurna Circuit, headed by a beautiful picture of Poon Hill at dusk where I will be next week. Perhaps demise is a little strong. But roads are advancing everywhere in Nepal. Whereas not so long ago the pilgrimage to Muktinath used to be a very long walk indeed (unless you flew), now you can get there by bus and jeep. For trekkers this means sharing the trails with buses: enduring ‘horning’ and holding a cloth over your mouth. Additionally the quiet and historic winding trails are exchanged for a dusty dirt track, simply because it is level and thus easier and faster. That is if people choose to walk at all – many cross the Thorung La and motorise themselves home. Long established lodges now stand empty a few tens of meters from the roads.
On the flip side, food prices in villages have dropped massively, Jomsom can now export its apples by road, hospitals are now just a day and a few hundred rupees away.
This is life and progress. The Annapurna Circuit has changed. Now those looking for the experience that it was twenty years ago, as seen in this article, will have to look a little further, but it is there to be found. Maybe this map will help them find it.
You can buy this Dolpa map here online. It is extremely difficult to find this map in book or maps shops in Europe and the USA, simply because of a lack of distribution network / demand. Click the button below, fill in the details and I will post it to you, wherever you might be in the world, usually within a day. Please fill your address in carefully! Any questions before buying, just add a comment below and I will get back to you as soon as I can.