The Complete Guide for Annapurna Circuit Trek

Nepal is the home of thousands of mountains, multi-culture, breathtaking natural beauty, fascinating civilization, unique tradition, geographical diversity, and rich and prideful ancient history. This specification brings thousands of tourists in Nepal every year to explore the beauty of this beautiful country. 

Annapurna Circuit “ Annapurna Sanctuary” trekking is simply the majestic and inspiring trekking trails in the world. This trail is the most commercial and oldest trekking trail in Nepal, because of its amazing natural beauty, sky-dominating mountains, rich culture and practices, and spectacular scenery of Mt. Annapurna ranges. With every step in this trekking trail the scenery and terrain change. Friendly locals, mystical culture, and wide landscapes, this trekking is a lifetime experience for all the travel enthusiasts around the globe. From green pasture terrain to the desert field which passes through the world’s highest pass Thorong-La pass. 

Starting with the green paddy field in Lamjung Khudi, thick forest and trail slowly change to more dry and arctic terrain. The more you climb, the villages and communities seem more influenced by Tibetian Buddhism. This is the reason why we can experience many Chorten, prayer flags, stone walls, mani walls, and ancient monasteries that resembles Tibetian Buddhism. In one sentence, this trail is a perfect adventure holiday for people who like challenges.

Annapurna Circuit treks required normally 15-21 days to complete the whole trekking. The time may vary because of the transportation facility and there are many beautiful side trekking. Annapurna Circuit also lies in the Annapurna Conservation Area which was established in 1985 and the largest conservation area in Nepal with the area of 7629sp.km and spread in Manang, Mustang, Kaski, Myagdi, and Lamjung. 

Trekking Facts

  • Total trekking days: 14 days to 21 days 
  • Trekking Grade: Moderate to Strenuous
  • Best Season: Spring (March-June) & Autumn (Sept-Nov)
  • Food & Accommodations: 
  • Transportation: Flight, Tourist Bus and Local Transportation 
  • Maximum Altitude: 5416m at Thorang-La Pass
  • Permit & Entrance: TIMS & ACAP card 
  • Total Distance: 160km-230km (Approximately)

Major Highlights of Annapurna Circuit Trekking

  • Stunning view of series of mountain ranges from 6000m to 8000m including Annapurna I (8,091m)- 10th highest in the world, Annapurna II, III, IV, Dhaulagiri, Machhapuchhre, Manaslu, Gangapurna, Tukuche, Nilgiri, Tilicho Peak and numerous other small peaks in this region. 
  • The highest point of this trekking trail is Thorang-La pass is the most fascinating and challenging part of this trekking. 
  • Tilicho lake, the lake located in the highest altitude in the world. Few more days required to go there. 
  • The deepest gorge in the world - Kaligandaki which lies between the Dhaulagiri & Annapurna. 
  • The most classy and commercial trekking trail in between the two highest mountain Annapurna and Dhaulagiri. 
  • Muktinath is the most significant temple for both Hindu and Buddhist devotees.
  • Trekking across the habitat of diverse flora and fauna. 
  • The homeland of ethnic groups like Gurung, Magar, Thakali, and their culture, lifestyle, tradition, and practices.
  • Poonhill is a beautiful panoramic viewpoint for the Annapurna mountain range and sunrise. 
  • Famous natural hot spring in Tatopani, a perfect place to relax your tired body after the trek. 
  • Pokhara, the most beautiful city offers a fantastic farewell to your trekking. 

Where is the Annapurna Circuit?

This is located inside the Annapurna Conservation Area with the starting point Lamjung which is 185km far from Kathmandu and it goes around five different districts for the entire trekking.

The Annapurna circuit is in the 5, 416-meter height at the Thorong La pass and descends to Muktinath and Jomsom.

Food & Accommodations

Foods and proper accommodations are vital parts of any kind of trekking. This trekking route is inhabited by the people. So, foods and accommodations are easily available almost every day as compared to other trekking trails in Nepal. Normally guesthouses and tea houses provide comfortable accommodations services and quality foods. As per your budget, you can select the fancy and normal foods and accommodations in the Annapurna Region.

During trekking, meals will be served as per the lodges and guesthouses menu. Most of the places, you can get almost all the varieties of local foods, continental and international taste. Both veg and non-veg meals are easily available around the trip. The standard package normally includes Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.

Normally breakfast includes eggs items, toast items, pancakes, oats, porridge, muesli, and tea/coffee. Good breakfast fuels up your body for the whole day trek. 

Lunch camps are easily available on the way and they serve noodle items, dumplings, traditional Nepal meal set, pasta, pizza, sandwich, spaghetti, and Thukpa soup. Trekkers usually take lunch between 12 pm to 1 pm. 

During dinner, there is the availability of soup items, vegetable items, salad, and hot items especially, which helps to keep your body warm and hydrated as well. Some people take a beer at lower altitudes as well.

Accommodations in Annapurna regions are normal and there are enough lodges and guesthouses on the way. But, during the prime trekking season, if you are doing solo trekking, sometimes it might be harder to get the rooms. The rooms have limited facilities and furniture as compared to the room of the normal city area. Some lodges provide the attached bathroom but normally there will be common bathrooms during the entire trekking. 

The rooms are mostly twin-sharing and cheaper (normally 3-7$) per night in a normal guesthouse and lodges. If you want to experience the luxury and fancy accommodations, the options are mostly available in Ghandruk, Jomsom, and Chame. AC and heater facilities are not available, so bring your sleeping bag. Normal guest houses and lodges have large sharing dining and in the middle, there is always a typical heater to make the room warm. So, you can take dinner and chat with other trekkers as well as you can play pokers as well.

The Internet and electricity facilities are normally available almost all day. Laundry services are available. The hot shower is available in all the lodges but you need to pay extra ( 5-7$) for it. You can buy trekking gear and other normal stuff in Besisahar and Chame. Drinking water is available in all the lodges and guesthouses.

We suggest bringing some protein bars, nuts, candy, and chocolates, which provides additional energy while trekking. As the altitude gets higher, the price of the menu also gets limited and expensive.

Permit & Entrance

Government and local bodies charge some fee for the development, safety, and security of this conservation area. Since Annapurna base camp lies inside the Annapurna conservation region, both solo and group trekkers are required to collect the individual permit ACAP permit. The ACAP permit costs Rs 3,000 ( 26$) for the foreigners and Rs 200/- for the SAARC nationals. 

There is another entry permit card, which is a TIMS card ( Trekkers Information Management System). Nepal Tourism Board and TAN office Pokhara both provide this card to the trekkers. You can collect from anywhere with a copy of your passport and two pp size photographs. It required Rs 2,000 (20$) for the TIMS card.

Guides & Porter

Trekking in the Annapurna region is not easy at all. But with the help of experienced team members, proper food and drinks, rest and acclimatization can take you to the world’s most famous trekking route. If you are booking your trip through the local travel agency, then they will arrange guides and porters for you. Guides provide you the information on the whole trek, safety measures, arrange your food and accommodations and make sure your permits and all the flight tickets. Porter helps you to carry your luggage normally.

Guides are normally trained and well experienced with good speaking English. You can check before you depart to trek. Normally, if you are booking a trip through the local agency, you get a chance to meet your guide in Kathmandu and he/she will start guiding from day one.

One thing you need to keep in mind is that, at the end of the trekking, the guide and porter expect good tips from you. These people are hardworking and they put all the efforts to take you and your staff to your dream destinations in an extreme mountain environment.

Travel Insurence

When we are traveling in highly adventurous and risky places, we don't think much about what's wrong might happen to us. Trekking and hiking at high altitude in very remote mountain regions can bring real risks. So, insurance is very important on any high mountain treks and hikes. Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) is common for everyone and especially the Annapurna Circuit still does not have the proper road transportation in the whole trail. So, any kind of serious illness and difficulties can be rescued through a helicopter.

Every insurance company doesn't provide high altitude insurance security. So, make sure if you ate trekking in the Annapurna region then you must have insurance that covers up to 6,000m altitude, which includes Thorang-la Pass and Tilicho lake.

For more details you can visit our insurance policies description: 

Acute Mountain Sickness & its prevention: 

Acute sickness is not a regular condition if it occurs when the body is not able to adjust at high altitude. So, sickness varies from person to person in terms of age, health, and physical fitness. As we go higher, the level of oxygen in the air becomes lower and atmospheric pressure becomes thinner. Normally, Annapurna Circuit trekking offers illness beginner and common trekkers which are also called Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). If the symptoms of the illness are not taken care of properly, the condition can even turn dangerous.

Common symptoms of AMS

  • Loss of appetite
  • Headache 
  • Nausea and vomiting 
  • Tiredness and dizziness 
  • Difficulty in sleeping 
  • Increase heart rate and shortness of breath

Prevention

  • Keep your body hydrated, take more than 4L of water per day 
  • Take plenty of rest after a daily hike 
  • Take enough food during trekking 
  • Wear enough and keep your body warm 
  • Descend to lower altitude when you feel symptoms 
  • Ascend slowly and acclimate your body as per the requirement.

There are few medicines like Diamox that help to prevent sickness. But, remember one thing, before taking any drugs related to AMS consult with related doctors or medical experts. 

When to trek Annapurna Ciruit Trek ?

Nepal has six seasons: Spring, Summer, Monsoon, Autumn, Late Autumn or pre-winter, and Winter. Among all this season Spring (March-May) & Autumn(Sept-Nov) are the most suitable seasons for the Annapurna Region trekking. Autumn & Spring season is the best season for the Everest Region trek because the weather conditions are much suitable for trekking. The sky is usually clean and clear and the views of the mountains are so visible. Summer and winter are not the ideal time for trekking but at your own risk, you can travel anytime all around the year. But, there is no barrier for trekking around the year also. This trek can be done at any time in the year. 

During monsoon, the trail is normally wet, muddy, slippery and a difficult pathway with the constant rainfall. The views of mountains and landscapes are less fair as compared to autumn and spring. But if you try to trek during monsoon, then it's full of glory, gloomy, mischievous sky, different shapes of clouds on big mountains, green forest, rivers, and many waterfalls on the way. This trekking could be the new and adventurous experience for the trekkers. The crowd becomes fewer and hotels and lodges are easily available as well.

Preparation before trekking

Annapurna Region trekking is not that easy for those beginners. You need some practice, some discipline, early preparation, and best guidance to be able to take you to these amazing trekking destinations successfully. But, this doesn't mean you have to be a professional trekker. Anyone can go in this trekking but good health, physical fitness, and self-motivation are indeed required. There are few things that you can do as naive trekkers before the commencement of the trek: 

  • Do some short hikes and walk around 6-8hr a day in both uphill and downhill. 
  • If you don't have a habit of doing exercise, restart that habit at least a month before the trek.
  • Running, Summing, Cycling, and some other cardio exercises can boost your stamina. Which helps you during your trekking.
  • Try some Yoga steps which directly help in your respiration and drink more water and keep your body hydrated even before the trek.

Another important and essential thing is your trekking equipment and gears. Proper equipment includes sleeping bag, a pair of high mountain trekking boots, poles, a duffle bag, essential warm and hiking comfortable clothes, warm socks, gloves, sunglasses, sunscreen, and so on. Another major thing that we should keep in mind is, comfortable and warm but light things are best for high mountain trekking. Make sure all the necessary papers, documents, ideas of restricted non-restricted things are in that zone.
 

How is trekking grade?

The entire 21 days trek is diverse in itself with nearly 260km of total walking distance is not easy at all. You will start your trekking from Khudi which is 800m to maximum climb up to 5,416m Thorang-la pass.

The average hiking time is normally 5-8hrs/day and each day and daily average hiking distance is 10km along with 500m altitude gain each day. With the increase of altitude, the days and distance become shorter. 

The entire trail is well maintained and easily located and navigated. For normal Annapurna Sanctuary and Whole Annapurna Circuit trek does not require any extra mountain climbing skills. The whole trekking is considered as moderate to strenuous.

Transportation

Normally, Annapurna Circuit trekking starts from Besisahar which is 175km far from Kathmandu and it takes around 5-6hr vehicles. The complete trekking ends at Nayapul and standard and short Annapurna Circuit ends at Jomsom. You can directly fly from Jomsom to Pokhara or there is an alternative of the roadway as well. It depends on the interest of tourists.

For Solo Travelers

Annapurna Circuit is not easy to complete. It’s a long journey and we recommend to hire at least guide and porter (if needed), which is easier, safer and if you are a budget traveler, you can even save some of your funds as well. But, if you like to travel alone also, just trek during the prime trekking season, so that if you need any kind of assistance, the locals, guides and trekkers always be there to help in needy situations.

Normal Itinerary

Normally our trekking journey starts from Syange, Lamjung which is 7-8hr driving from Kathmandu. After this, the landscape, terrain, people, culture, and everything looks so different from Kathmandu. Prayer flags, stone wall, mani wall, monasteries, small houses, bushes, yak, cow, donkeys, and Dzho are the major attractions during hiking. Including sky-touching mountains, fancy and classy markets, thousands of trekkers on the way make your trekking more awesome.

Complete Annapurna Circuit Itinerary

Day01: Drive from Kathmandu to Khudi (7-8hr)

Day02: Trek to Jagat (6-7hr)

Day03: Trek to Dharapani (4-5hr)

Day04: Trek to Chame (5-6hr)

Day05: Trek to Pisang (5-6hr)

Day06: Trek to Manang (6-7hr)

Day07: Acclimatization in Manag 

Day08: Trek to Siri Kharka (5-6hr)

Day09: Trek to Tilicho Base Camp (5-6hr)

Day10: Trek to Tilicho lake and back to Siri Kharka (6-7hr)

Day11: Trek yo Yak Kharka (4-5hr)

Day12: Trek to Thorang Phedi (3-4hr)

Day13: Trek to Muktinath via Thorang-la Pass (8-9hr)

Day14: Trek to Marpha (6-8hr)

Day15: Trek to Kalopani (6-8hr)

Day16: Trek to Tatopani (6-7hr)

Day17: Trek to Ghorepani (7-8hr)

Day18: Trek to Tadapani and visit Poonhill before leaving fro Tatopani (6-7hr)

Day19: Trek to Ghandruk (5-6hr)

Day20: Trek to Nayapul and drive to Pokhara (3-4hr) trek and 2hr drive

Day21: Drive to Kathmandu (7-8hr)

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