Short answer: $1455 USD.

That’s for two of us with a guide and a porter for a 17 day Annapurna Circuit trek, inclusive of all food, lodging, transportation, entrance & trekking fees, starting and ending in Pokhara, with an exchange rate of 70 Nepali Rupees per 1 US Dollar in 2010. It DOES NOT include any transportation costs getting to Pokhara or any lodging or food in Pokhara.

Long answer:

$1455 USD (101,860 Nepali Rupees) or $43 USD per person per day. Here’s a breakdown of expenses:

Food and Lodging: $562
Since the evening meal is included in the lodging bill, I’ve lumped these together. And the lodging costs are actually just a pittance, easily averaging $3 (yes, $3) a night and always below the cost of a beer. How much food is this? Well, I’d say the right amount.

The largest variable in food expenses is beer — often the most expensive item on the menu. And understandably so. The beer you hold in your hand as you gaze upon the snow-topped Himalayan peaks spent days getting there on someone’s back — either a donkey or a porter. We didn’t drink any beer before the pass. Partially because I have hydration issues that beer exacerbates and partially because we weren’t sure how our cash was going to hold out. After the pass, we had a beer or two at each dinner.

Transportation: $100
Bus to Besi Sahar from Pokhara. Bus and taxi from Marpha to Tatopani. Taxi from Naya Pul back to Pokhara.

Entrance Fees: $80
This includes the trekking fee as well as entrance to various gompas (monasteries).

Guide and Porter: $714
If you were to go independently you could not pay this and cut the overall cost of this trek in half. It’s part of our foreign aid policy to go to a country and hire guides. We did not go through a trekking company — I contacted Devendra directly by email (devendra-pun@hotmail.com) — thereby assuring that there was no company taking a cut in the middle. We also decided to hire a porter to carry one of our bags. The fees to Devendra included the guide/porter insurance. And this cost reflects our tip as well.

Our goal was not to trek as cheaply as possible, nor was it to trek in luxury. I am proud that all of the money we paid went to the local Nepali folks themselves — no intermediary companies took any cut. And it was by far the least expensive seventeen days we’ve ever spent on vacation that wasn’t camping. As for that ‘value for money’ ratio, I think it was quite the bargain.