September 11, 2019
For those with limited time in Nepal but still longing for a taste of the awe-inspiring high mountain region, the Annapurna Circuit Trek is the ideal choice. This trek has been accessible to travelers since 1949 and has grown into one of the world’s most popular routes, attracting over 40,000 trekkers annually who seek out its exceptional natural beauty and cultural experiences.
Starting in the lowlands at 1000 meters, the trek rises to its peak at 5416 meters at Thorong-La Pass. Along the way, trekkers have ample opportunities to explore the region’s rich cultural heritage and natural wonders, while also taking in magnificent views of the mighty Annapurna mountain range. Passing through mixed cultural villages of Gurung, Tibetan, Brahmin, and more, the Annapurna Circuit Trek is a moderate hiking trail located in the Annapurna Conservation Area. The trail also features expertly crafted bridges over the Marsyagdi River and other streams, making it a complete package for any adventure-seeker.
The journey from Kathmandu to Jagat offers a scenic drive filled with stunning natural diversities and indigenous cultural villages to explore.
Trekking to the top of Thorong La Pass at 5,416 meters provides a spectacular view of the circle of White Mountain, including the massive Annapurna and Dhaulagiri peaks.
Along the way, trekkers will experience verdant forests, farmlands, waterfalls, glacial lakes, crystal-clear blue rivers, and local countryside lifestyles.
The path also passes by ancient monasteries and temples with unbelievable art and architecture.
After crossing Thorong La, visitors will reach Muktinath, the most popular Hindu pilgrimage site in Nepal, and enjoy the stunning Kali Gandaki valley view in the west.
Other sights include the world’s deepest gorge, Dana, and the popular Rupchechhahara waterfall. Finally, visitors can relax in the natural hot springs of Tatopani next to the Kali Gandaki River.
Trekking duration: 11 days
Best trekking months: September – Early December & March to May
Group size Limits: Minimum 1 and maximum 35 People
Accommodations: Basic Lodges and tea houses
Foods: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner Provides by the lodge
Highest elevation: Thorong La pass (5,416 m)
Major Highlights: Manang, Thorong la pass-Muktinath, Marfa, and Tatopani
Route of Trek: Kathmandu – Jagat – Manang – Thorong-La pass – Muktinath – Jomsom – Tatopani – Pokhara – Kathmandu
Day 01: Drive from Kathmandu to Jagat (1,300 m) – 8 hrs.
Day 02: Trek from Jagat to Dharapani (1,960 m) – 6 hrs.
Day 03: Trek from Dharapani to Chame (2,710 m) – 5 hrs.
Day 04: Trek from Chame to Pisang (3,300 m) – 5 hrs.
Day 05: Trek from Pisang to Manang (3,540 m) – 6 hrs.
Day 06: Acclimatization day at Manang (3,540 m)
Day 07: Trek from Manang to Letdar (4,230 m) – 4 hrs.
Day 08: Trek from Letdar to Thorang Phedi (4,600 m) – 4 hrs.
Day 09: Trek to Muktinath (3,800 m) via Thorang La Pass (5,416 m) – 8 hrs
Day 10: Trek to Jomsom (2,670 m) – 4 hrs
Day 11: Fly/Drive to Pokhara (9,00 m) – 8 hrs.
1 DAY: Arrival in Kathmandu.
Upon your arrival in Kathmandu, your journey to the Annapurna Circuit begins. You will be warmly welcomed by our airport representative and escorted to your hotel. Once you have checked in, you have the option to either rest for a few hours or take the opportunity to explore the nearby city. Later in the evening, you will be treated to a welcome dinner where our trekking leader will provide you with essential information about your trekking adventure.
2 DAY: Drive from Kathmandu to Jagat
Embarking from Kathmandu, your journey will take you by car along the Trisuli and Marsyagdi River all the way to Jagat. Although it is an 8-hour drive, you will have the opportunity to witness traditional houses, valleys, farmland, green hills, forests, and even the headquarters of Lamjung district – the Besi Sahar. After passing through Besi Sahar, we will continue our drive towards Jagat where we will spend the night in a charming lodge situated in the picturesque mountain area.
3 DAY: Jagat to Dharapani- 1,960 m: 6 hrs. walk
Today marks the first day of your scenic trek, where we embark on a popular trail that descends through the forest and passes through several charming villages such as Chyamje, Sattale, Tal, and Karte. Along the way, we will cross a few bridges that are fixed on the cliff of massive rocks, while also passing by numerous traditional houses. Today’s journey is considered a relatively easy walk, making for a gentle introduction to the trek.
We will be staying at Dharapani tonight in a cozy lodge.
4 Day: Dharapani to Chame- 2,710 m: 5 hrs walk
Today’s trek towards Chame takes you along the ridge of the mountain and through the forest, offering a relatively easy walk on a flat path with stunning views of the surrounding scenery. Along the way, you’ll be treated to breathtaking vistas of Annapurna II, Annapurna IV, and Lamjung Himal, as well as the chance to enjoy a natural hot spring.
After a journey of approximately 5 hours, you will arrive at the charming mountain settlement of Chame, which also serves as a popular administrative center for the area. You will be staying in a locally run lodge in Chame, where you can relax and soak up the unique ambiance of the region.
5 DAY: Chame to Pisang 3,300 m: 5 hrs.
Leaving behind our current location, we will take a narrow trail that runs parallel to the Marsyangdi River and cuts through a dense forest. As we make our way towards Pisang, the forest gradually thins out, offering more visibility of the surrounding landscape. Beyond the forest lies a breathtaking vista of snow-capped mountains, made all the more stunning as we ascend beyond the 3000-meter mark.
Our enjoyable trek will take approximately 5 hours, culminating in the beautiful Pisang village where we will have the opportunity to dine and rest at one of the local tea houses.
06 DAY: Pisang to Manang (3,540 m): 6 hrs. Walk
Following a delightful and refreshing morning meal, we embark on a renowned trek towards Manang. The journey offers two primary routes: the lower trail and the upper trail, both passing through quaint villages like Nwagal. As we take each step with anticipation, we are met with breathtaking views of Gangapurna, Tilicho, and Annapurna mountains. The landscapes leading up to Manang are equally stunning, with a picturesque pine forest and remarkable rock formations.
07 DAY: Manang Acclimatization day (3,540 m)
Manang, located at an elevation of 3540 meters, is undoubtedly the finest tea house camp along the Annapurna circuit trek. It serves as an ideal spot for acclimatizing your body before proceeding further. From here, one can witness the awe-inspiring high mountain views of Gangapurna, Annapurna, and several other striking snow-capped peaks.
The town boasts a handful of monasteries that provide visitors with an excellent opportunity to immerse themselves in the local culture, which is influenced by Tibetan Buddhist traditions. If you’re physically fit and have the energy to spare, consider embarking on a day trip from Manang to Ice Lake of Gangapurna Mountain or visit the Milarepa bushiest cave.
It’s worth noting that sleeping during the day can hinder your body’s acclimatization process. Therefore, it’s recommended to hike at least a hundred meters higher than your lodge to adjust to the altitude. You’ll be spending another night in your lodge here in Manang.
Day 08: Manang to Letdar (4,230): 4 hrs walk
After breakfast, we resume our hike this morning. Today’s trail is mostly rocky and runs alongside the Jharsang Khola(stream) as we traverse through the terrain with frequent ascents and descents. We’ll need to cross some basic bridges and pass through local villages before reaching our destination for the night – Letdar, where we’ll be staying in a lodge.
Day 09: Letdar to Thorang Phedi (4,600 m)
We will trek upwards along the trail, navigating through the imposing rocks and stunning landscapes. The dry terrain offers a rich array of colors, culminating in the breathtaking backdrop of the majestic White Mountain. However, caution is advised as some parts of the landscape can be perilous. Nevertheless, the journey towards Throng Phedi promises to be enjoyable and memorable.
We are almost at Thorong-La, but for tonight, we will be taking rest in a lodge alongside our trusted guide, porter, and fellow hikers who we have met on this journey.
Day 10: Trek from Thorong Phedi to Muktinath via Thorang La Pass (5,416 m): 8 hrs.
Today is the highlight of our trekking journey, packed with thrilling adventures that include walking on the Glacier Lake, climbing to the summit of Thorong La Pass, and traversing the rocky terrain. As we make our way towards Thorong Phedi, the ascent becomes more challenging due to strong winds. Therefore, it is recommended to start the hike early in the morning, as it takes approximately 3-4 hours to reach the top.
Upon reaching the top of Thorong La Pass, you will be mesmerized by the awe-inspiring mountain panorama. After that, we will continue our trek along the popular trail to Muktinath. However, be aware that the descent from the pass is quite windy, although the walking is relatively easy downhill. Tonight we will rest at a lodge in Muktinath.
Day 11: Muktinath to Jomsom (2,670 m): 4 Hours
We will follow a steep trail that leads us down to the Budigandaki River, where we will trek alongside the river towards Jomsom. This bustling town is renowned as a popular trade center and serves as the headquarters of the Mustang district. We will spend the night here in a lodge.
There are two options to reach Pokhara from Jomsom. You can either take a flight or a bus/jeep. If you opt for the latter, you can stop at Tatopani for an hour to enjoy a refreshing dip in the pool before continuing the journey to Pokhara. The flight takes only 20 minutes to reach Pokhara.
Day 12: Fly/Drive to Pokhara(850 m)
Following our overnight stay in Jomsom, we have two options for our journey to Pokhara. The first option is to take a morning flight, which takes only 20 minutes. Alternatively, we can choose to take a bus or jeep to Pokhara via Tatopani. We will spend one night in Pokhara before continuing our travels.
Hiring a guide for the Annapurna Circuit trek can be a great way to enhance your experience and ensure your safety on the trail. Here are some tips for hiring a guide:
Look for a licensed guide: In Nepal, guides need to be registered with the government and have a license. Make sure to check that your guide has a valid license to work in the area you’ll be trekking.
Check for experience: Look for a guide who has experience leading treks in the Annapurna region. They should be familiar with the route, know how to navigate, and be able to provide guidance on the best places to stay and eat along the way.
Read reviews: Check online reviews and recommendations from other trekkers who have used the guide’s services. This can give you an idea of the guide’s reliability, communication skills, and level of service.
Meet beforehand: If possible, try to meet your guide in person before starting the trek. This can help you establish a rapport and ensure that you are comfortable with the guide’s communication and leadership style.
Discuss fees and services: Make sure to discuss the fees and services that your guide will provide, such as food, lodging, and transportation. Also, clarify any additional costs that may arise, such as permits or gear rental.
Overall, hiring a guide can be a great way to enhance your Annapurna Circuit trekking experience, but it’s important to do your research and choose a reputable guide who can meet your needs and expectations.
During the autumn season, the skies are generally clear, and the foliage turns a beautiful golden color, making for stunning views along the trail. This season is also a popular time for festivals in Nepal, so trekkers may have the opportunity to experience local cultural events.
The spring season is also a great time to trek the Annapurna Circuit, with clear skies and blooming flowers making for a beautiful trekking experience. However, the trail can be more crowded during this time compared to the autumn season.
It’s important to note that weather can be unpredictable in the mountains, so it’s always a good idea to check the weather forecast and be prepared for changes in conditions. Additionally, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important to stay up-to-date on travel restrictions and health protocols in Nepal.
The Annapurna Circuit Trek is an ultimate trekking trail in the Annapurna region, perfect for those who want to experience local mountain culture while enjoying magnificent views of the complete Annapurna, Dhaulagiri, and Nilgiri peaks. This 11-day trek takes visitors to a remote area with many indigenous people and fascinating cultures. It is the second biggest trekking path starting from 800 meters to 5,416 meters, passing through cultural houses, farms, rivers, valleys, and offering mesmerizing views of the white mountains.
Approximately 40% of tourists who visit Nepal have a specific interest in Annapurna trekking, particularly the Annapurna circuit trek which offers a complete two-week holiday filled with unique experiences. However, some individuals may be unable to undertake the trek due to budget constraints, time limitations, or past experiences. Fortunately, there are alternative options available for those who still wish to experience the beauty of Annapurna circuit trekking.
Few options for the Annapurna Circuit Trek:
Mainly there are 3 popular options for the Annapurna circuit trek which are as bellows:
The Annapurna circuit trek itinerary is typically lengthy, but it offers the opportunity to experience various cultures from the lowlands to the upper regions of the Annapurna range. The trek starts with a 7-hour drive from Kathmandu to Besisahar, then follows a set itinerary that includes Thorong La Pass and Muktinath before continuing on to Jomsom, Marfa, Tukuche, Kalopani, Ghasa, Tatopani, Ghaorepani, Naya Pul, and ending in Pokhara. This classic Annapurna round trek allows trekkers to experience the mountain lifestyle, culture, and daily life of the locals. For those more curious about countryside life, traditions, and behaviors, as well as the breathtaking Annapurna mountain panorama, option one Annapurna circuit trekking is the perfect choice.
Option two provides a shorter Annapurna circuit trek for those with limited time, but still want to experience the incredible Thorong la pass at 5,416 meters and the charming local villages. Instead of starting the trek from Besisahar, you can take a bus or jeep straight to Jagat, skipping a few days of trekking. From Jagat, you can follow the popular trail of the Annapurna circuit to Thorong la pass and continue on to Muktinath. Then, trek to Jomsom and take a flight to Pokhara to complete the journey in just 12 days.
This option is ideal for those who are short on time but have a strong desire to witness the stunning mountain views and immerse themselves in local culture along the way.
If you choose this option, you’ll start your journey in the charming city of Pokhara, known as the gateway to the Annapurna region. From there, you’ll take a scenic drive to Nayapul and begin your trek towards Ghorepani. This section of the trek is famous for the stunning sunrise view from Poon Hill, which offers a panoramic view of the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri mountain ranges.
As you continue your journey towards Tatopani, you’ll get to witness the world’s deepest gorge, the Kali Gandaki, and the Rupse Chhahara waterfall, which is a popular spot for trekkers to take a refreshing break. The natural hot spring in Tatopani is another highlight of this trek, where you can soak your tired muscles and relax next to the gushing Kali Gandaki river.
After Tatopani, you’ll trek to Muktinath, the most popular Hindu pilgrimage site in Nepal. Along the way, you’ll pass through the unspoiled Thakali and Gurung villages, where you can learn about their unique culture, traditions, and way of life. Even though you won’t be crossing the Thorong La pass, this trek still offers stunning views of the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri massifs, making it a perfect choice for hikers who are short on time or who want to avoid high altitudes.
How long is Annapurna circuit trekking?
The length of the Annapurna Circuit trekking can vary depending on the specific route taken and the pace of the trekker, but typically it takes around 15-20 days to complete. The total distance covered on the trek is approximately 160-230 km (100-145 miles), depending on the specific starting and ending points. However, there are shorter options available for those with limited time or budget.
What are the best months to go to the Annapurna circuit trek?
The best months to go for Annapurna circuit trek are during the spring season (March to May) and autumn season (September to November). During these months, the weather is generally stable, dry and clear which offers excellent views of the mountains. The temperature is also mild and comfortable for trekking. However, it is important to note that the weather can be unpredictable in the mountains and it is always recommended to check the weather forecast before starting the trek.
Is the Annapurna circuit trek very difficult?
The Annapurna circuit trek is a moderately difficult trek that requires a good level of physical fitness and some prior trekking experience. The trek involves walking for 6-7 hours a day on average, sometimes on steep terrain, and includes crossing a high altitude pass (Thorong La Pass) at 5,416 meters. Altitude sickness can also be a concern for some trekkers. However, with proper preparation, including acclimatization days, and a gradual ascent, most trekkers with moderate fitness levels should be able to complete the trek successfully.
Are there any problems with Altitude mountain sickness?
Altitude mountain sickness (AMS) is a concern for many people who trek in high-altitude regions like the Annapurna Circuit. AMS is caused by the lack of oxygen at high altitudes and can cause symptoms such as headache, dizziness, nausea, fatigue, and difficulty sleeping. It’s important to acclimatize properly by ascending slowly and staying hydrated to reduce the risk of AMS.
There are some precautions that trekkers can take to prevent AMS, such as taking rest days, drinking plenty of water, avoiding alcohol and sleeping pills, and ascending gradually. It’s also important to be aware of the symptoms of AMS and to descend immediately if they occur. If symptoms worsen, it’s important to seek medical attention.
Trekking agencies and guides usually have experience with AMS and can advise on proper acclimatization and treatment. It’s important to discuss any concerns about AMS with your trekking agency or guide before starting the trek.
What kind of accommodation can you get during Annapurna circuit trekking?
The Annapurna circuit trek is a Tea house trek, meaning you won’t need to carry a tent or food as everything will be provided by the tea houses and lodges along the way. However, it’s important to note that the rooms in these tea houses and lodges are quite basic and usually have shared bathrooms. While you’ll have a bed, private locker, pillows, mattress, and a small tea table in your room, blankets are not always provided, especially during peak season (Sep to Oct or March to May). It’s therefore recommended that you bring your own sleeping bag to ensure you stay warm during the chilly nights.
While the lodges do have a heating system in the middle of the dining hall, it’s important to note that the rooms themselves may not be heated. If you feel cold, you can stay in the dining hall instead of your room until it’s time to sleep. Overall, the tea houses and lodges along the Annapurna circuit trek provide the basic necessities for a comfortable stay, but it’s important to come prepared with your own sleeping bag and warm clothing to make your trekking experience more comfortable.
How much Nepali money/USD do I need per day?
The cost of the Annapurna circuit trek varies depending on several factors such as the length of your trek, the time of year, the level of comfort you desire, and your personal spending habits.
On average, a trekker can expect to spend around $20 to $30 USD per day for food, accommodation, and other expenses like water, snacks, and charging electronic devices. However, if you choose to stay in more luxurious lodges or teahouses, the cost can increase significantly.
It’s also important to note that if you plan on hiring a guide and/or a porter, their fees will add to the total cost of the trek. Additionally, if you plan on purchasing souvenirs or participating in other activities (such as hot springs), this will also increase your daily expenses.
Overall, it’s recommended to bring around $500 to $1000 USD for a two-week Annapurna circuit trek, depending on your preferences and additional expenses. It’s always better to carry some extra cash as there are limited ATMs on the trek and they may not always be in working condition.
How much money do I need?
The total cost of the Annapurna Circuit trek can vary depending on several factors such as the season, type of accommodation, and level of comfort you prefer during the trek.
On average, the cost of the trek can range from $800 to $1500 USD per person. This includes permits, accommodation, food, and transportation costs. However, this does not include the cost of international flights, travel insurance, and trekking equipment.
If you are on a tight budget, you can save money by staying in basic tea houses, eating local food, and carrying your own gear. It is also recommended to travel during the off-season when prices are lower. On the other hand, if you prefer more comfort, you can choose to stay in luxury lodges and hire a porter to carry your gear.
It’s always a good idea to plan your budget in advance and carry some extra cash for unforeseen expenses.
Is a trekking permit compulsory for Annapurna circuit trekking?
Yes, trekking permits are compulsory for Annapurna circuit trekking. There are two permits required: the Annapurna Conservation Area Permit (ACAP) and the Trekker’s Information Management System (TIMS) card. These permits are required to help conserve the natural environment and provide safety information to trekkers. The cost of these permits varies depending on the season and nationality of the trekker. It is important to obtain these permits from authorized offices or through a registered trekking agency.
Is the Guide and Porter Compulsory?
As of my knowledge cutoff date of September 2021, hiring a guide or porter was not mandatory for trekking the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal. However, it is highly recommended for safety reasons and to enhance the overall experience of the trek.
The Annapurna Circuit is a challenging trek that takes around 2-3 weeks to complete, and it involves traversing a variety of terrains, altitudes, and weather conditions. Having a guide can help you navigate the route, provide you with important information about the local culture and environment, and ensure your safety throughout the trek.
Porters can also be beneficial, especially if you are carrying heavy backpacks or equipment. They can help lighten your load, allowing you to focus more on enjoying the trek and taking in the stunning scenery.
Ultimately, the decision to hire a guide or porter for the Annapurna Circuit trek is up to you. However, many trekkers have found that it greatly enhances their experience and provides them with invaluable support and assistance along the way.