April 20: Danaqu – Chame
Prices at the guesthouses have certainly gone up since my last trek around the Annapurna Circuit 20 years ago. Black Tea cast 20 Paisa (100 Paisa = 1 Rupee) at Besi Sahar on my first trek compared to the 20 Rupees it costs today, a one hundredfold increase. To be fair, ACAP (Annapurna Conservation Area Project) had not yet fixed the prices of all menus in the region and what we paid back then was the same as what the locals paid.
At today’s prices, however, trekkers pay much more than the locals. The average Nepali gets by on a wage of 75 cents a day, and will certainly not be able to afford what we pay. Trekkers are paying first world prices in a third world country. One has to wonder where all this money is going? I certainly hope that my money is somehow benefiting the region, and not just the lodge owners.
Here’s a selection of items and prices taken from the current menu at Chame. You will find cheaper prices lower down and higher prices going up, but this is pretty much an average of prices you can expect during the trek:
Black Tea 20
Instant Coffee with Milk 55
Mineral Water 110
Dhal Bhat 250
Mixed Fried Rice 210
Mixed Pizza 315
Instant Noodle Soup with Egg 130
French Fries 150
Mushroom Soup 105
Room Charge (Normally negotiable)
Double Room with attached bathroom 250
Double Room 200
Exchange Rate at time of visit: 1 USD = 62 NRs
At 2008 prices, trekkers would be wise to budget at least USD20 per person per day while on the trek. If you end up with excess cash, you can use it to pay your hotel bill in Pokhara or Kathmandu. In any case, it is better to carry a little too much than too little, as exchanging currency will be a problem on the trek, and the few places that you can do it give you a poor exchange rate.
Shangri La: Rooms: ***** Food ***