Today we wandered over to the tourism board office to get our permits to trek. The Trekking Information Management System (TIMS) card is new, required for all treks in Nepal now. No problem getting those, though they cost us twice as much as if we had arranged the trek through an agency. Still, it's only $20 each.
The Annapurna Conservation Area permits were 2000 rupees each, a bit more than $20. No problem getting those either.
The permits to get into some of the restricted areas we want to go were a different story. The books say you don't need to book through an agency to get the permits for Nar-Phu valley, so I asked at the tourist board office. They sent us across the hall, where we were told to go to the Immigration office, a 15 minute walk across town.
After about an hour at the immigration office, we discovered that you can't get the permit for Nar-Phu (or any of the restricted areas, now) unless you go through an agency.
Well, two out of three ain't bad, or so I've heard.