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Western Region – Annapurna
Nepal opened its borders to the outside world in the early 1950s, welcoming Maurice Herzog and the French expedition to Annapurna, who became the first to arrive and successfully summit an 8000m mountain. In the same year, Tilman and his expedition, which included Major J O M Roberts, attempted but unfortunately failed on Annapurna VI.
Between 1950 and 1965, Jimmy Roberts participated in eight Himalayan expeditions to the Annapurna area. During this period, he grew deeply fascinated with the region and recognized its potential for offering opportunities to travelers in a trouble-free manner.
In 1964, Jimmy Roberts established the first trekking and mountaineering agency in Nepal, ‘Mountain Travel’. His initial clients were three ladies who trekked to Everest Base Camp in 1965. Since then, the trekking industry has burgeoned not only in Nepal but also in mountainous regions worldwide.
In the early days, internal flights were non-existent, roads were scarce, and expeditions primarily relied on foot for their long approaches.
Between 1964 and 1986, thousands of people trekked in Nepal, with the majority exploring the Annapurna region under the guidance of Jimmy Roberts and his Gurkha teams. However, this influx of foreign tourists inevitably impacted the flora, fauna, environment, and local communities.
In 1986, the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) was established under the auspices of the King Mahendra Trust for Nature Conservancy. The aim was to redress the balance and integrate local people and communities into the burgeoning tourism industry. This initiative has been one of the most successful tourism projects in Nepal.
The Annapurna region boasts some of Nepal’s most diverse ecosystems. Despite the significant number of visitors, there are still off-the-beaten-path trekking routes where travelers can immerse themselves in local culture and lifestyle.
As the first Conservation Area Project, Annapurna has now become the first to attract attention from road developers. While new infrastructure may impact the initial trekking routes, it also opens up previously inaccessible areas. With the assistance of ACAP, local communities are managing tourism to minimize its impact on the environment, flora, fauna, and culture.
The Annapurna Circuit remains one of Nepal’s most diverse trekking routes, offering various options such as Tilicho Lake, Mustang, Nar Phu, or even Dhaulagiri, providing ample choices for enthusiastic trekkers.