The walk to the Annapurna Sanctuary is a classic walk in the middle of the heart of the Annapurna massif. Destination is the Annapurna base camp, a moraine surrounded by 6000m to 8000 m (19,685 ft to 26,246 ft) high peaks. This land is sacred to the Gurungs, the inhabitants of the surrounding area. According to their tradition women and members of lower classes are forbidden to enter this region. Unclean foods such as meat, eggs and garlic are not allowed, neither is slaughtering nor hunting. Naturally the sanctuary, which was only ever visited by shepherds for short periods, was a paradise for animals and plants.Today the Annapurna Sanctuary attracts over 10,000 visitors annually. As many as forty walkers meet at the base camp daily. This overuse has left its mark on nature. The problem of waste disposal in particular has not begun to be solved. Some Gurungs see the cause of accidents and catastrophes as being the deconsecration of their temple.On the ten-day trek to the Annapurna Sanctuary the visitor will experience marked changes in the spectacular scenery, ranging from the greenery of the foothills with rice-terraces to the stark upper mountain scenery with glaciers and sparse vegetation. The Annapurna Sanctuary is surrounded by the peaks; starting in the south-west and going clockwise, they are as follows: Hunchuli (6441 m (21,139 ft)), Annapurna South (7219 m. (23,693 ft)), Varahashikhar (7647 m (25,097 ft)), Annapurna (8091 m (26,555 ft)), Khangshar Kang (7485 m (24,566 ft)), Tarke Tang (7193 m (23,607 ft)), Gangapurna (7455 m (24,467 ft)), Annapurna III (7555 m (24,796 ft)), Gandravachuli (6249 m (20,509 ft)) and Machhapuchhare (6993 m (22,951 ft)).Over the last 8 km (5 mi.) there is an almost 2000 m (6561 ft) difference in height so that plenty of time is necessary to acclimatise. In places the path is slippery. In winter the risk of avalanches makes trekking impossible (sometimes dangerous in March and April).The accommodation and guest houses on the upper section of the route are basic and only open in season. Good mountain shoes and warm clothing are essential.From Pokhara by jeep or taxi to Phedi below Dhampus.From Phedi the path leads to the village of Dhampus on a mountain ridge. Beyond a pass lies Landrung, a typical Gurung settlement. Then the path drops down into the valley of the Modi Khola. From here it is possible to reach Ghandrung by climbing steeply. Further upstream, after crossing the Modi Khola, the route to Chomrong climbs steeply.Chomrong (2050 m (6726 ft)) is the last place on the route which is inhabited all year round. In case of avalanches or snowfalls it is best to wait here for better weather. Above Chomrong only shepherds were once to be found but now there are lodges which are open in the main season.From here it is downhill to Chomrong Khola and then up to Khuldi (2380 m (7808 ft)). The route cuts first through bamboo then rhododendron woods. The entrance to the sanctuary is behind the two lodges of Dhovan and is marked by a small chorten and prayer flags. The locals leave offerings of rice, small coins and red strips of cloth to ensure the protection of the god Pujinam Barahar. It is a few hours to the Machhapuchhare base camp. Its name is a little misleading as so far there has only been one expedition to the Machhapuchhare. Two hours further on is the Annapurna base camp (4130 m (13,550 ft)). To acclimatise properly it is recommended spending one night in each camp. The return journey follows the same route to the gate of the sanctuary as the outward journey. There are various routes to choose from below Chomrong.The return journey could be from Chomrong via Chandruk (2012 m (6601 ft)), one of the largest Gurung villages. From here the route can join up eastwards with the Jomsom and Annapurna Circle trek at Ghorepani. Along this relatively new stretch through luxuriant woods there is only one place to rest in Tadapani. From Ghorepani follow the first stage of the Muktinath route in the opposite direction to Pokhara.