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Annapurna Circuit Trek is long considered one of the world’s best high-altitude treks. It takes you through an incredibly diverse landscape, from lush lowlands to the high Himalayan pass. The route was first established as a trekking destination in 1997. Since then, this trek has held its stature as the holy grail for adventure enthusiasts worldwide. You’ll be trudging through some picturesque villages, subtropical forests, barren lands, and high passes. On this trek, you’ll get to savour the view of some of the world’s highest mountains, including Dhaulagiri, Annapurna, and Manaslu.
Annapurna Circuit Trek is considered a challenging trek, even for experienced trekkers. For most trekkers, this life-long adventure begins from Besisahar, located at 760 metres. Then, it heads towards the Annapurna massif in an anti-clockwise direction, crosses over Thorong La Pass at 5,416 metres, and descends to the Lower Mustang region. Finally, the trek ends at the Lakeside City of Pokhara.
Since you’ll be travelling from 760 metres up to 5,416 metres in a span of two weeks, the risk of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) is higher on this trek. With well-marked trails and a string of teahouses, Annapurna Circuit Trek is ideal for independent trekkers and guided travellers.
The Main attractions of Annapurna Circuit Trek
The main attractions of this route Manang valley, Ice Lake, Milerapa Cave , Muktinath Temple, Kagbeni Village, Marpha, Dhumba Lak, hot spring at Tatopani and Panoramic View from Poon Hill.
Annapurna Circuit Trek goes over a mountain pass Thorung La 5,416 meters is another highlight of this trip. Thorung La Himalayan pass stands impressively at the elevation of 5,416 meters above sea level. It is a truly an adventure trekking journey from a low river valley up towards the mountainous landscape. Eventually, you will cross the pass just to descend to another side of the mountain and enter another river valley. Marshyangdi River Valley and Kali Gandaki River valleys will offer their distinct charms to the trekkers.
Annapurna Circuit Trek Highlights
- Enjoy the sight of some of the world’s highest mountains, including Dhaulagiri, Annapurna, and Manaslu
- Cross the highest mountain pass of Nepal — Thorong La Pass at 5,416 metres
- Trudge along the deepest gorge in the world at Kali Gandaki Gorge
- Witness the diversity in the landscape with high valleys, picturesque villages, and mountain trails
- Enjoy the most beautiful sunrise with 360-degree mountain views from Poon Hill
- Opportunity to observe massive cultural diversity and rustic lifestyle of the natives
- Visit the holy temple of Muktinath
Annapurna Circuit Trek Cost
The budget for Annapurna Circuit Trek will depend on the number of days you spend on the trail and the way you choose to travel. The cheapest option is to travel independently and carry all your stuff yourself. Likewise, booking a group tour via an international company is likely the most expensive one.
If you’re planning to trek the Annapurna Circuit independently, it might cost you anywhere between USD 450 to 700 on a 17-day itinerary. However, if you hire a guide and a porter to accompany you throughout the trek, the trek cost might be somewhere between USD 800 to 1500. Likewise, an international tour company will most likely charge you USD 1400 up to 2300. `Now, let’s go through the detailed breakdown of all the costs involved while trekking to Annapurna Circuit for 17 days.
Note: The budget of Annapurna Circuit Trek can also vary depending on the season you choose to trek. If you choose to travel in the peak trekking season, the price of the services is likely to be higher. Meanwhile, if you do the Annapurna Circuit during the off-season, you might be able to wrap up the trip on a relatively cheaper budget.
Accommodation in Annapurna Circuit Trek
Annapurna Circuit Trek is a classic teahouse trek. You are likely to find standard teahouses as well as luxury hotels on the trek. Although most of the teahouses are basic, they offer all the necessary facilities and decent meals. Even during the busiest seasons, you won’t have any difficulty finding rooms in this region.
Usually, rooms in Annapurna Circuit have two single beds with pillows and blankets. Some teahouses also offer a small table between the beds. You are likely to find both attached rooms and standard rooms. For standard rooms, you’ll have to make do with a shared bathroom. While you may find western toilets in the lower reaches of the trek, you might have to cope with squat toilets at higher altitudes.
Besides, most teahouses in Annapurna Circuit also offer hot showers. However, they’ll often charge you an extra amount for a hot shower, particularly at higher reaches.
Best Season for Annapurna Circuit Trek
Annapurna Circuit is not a ‘turn up whenever you like’ kind of adventure. Autumn (September to November) and spring (March to May) are the two best seasons for Annapurna Circuit Trek.
If you trek in autumn, the weather usually remains dry with less chance of snowfall. Moreover, the sky will remain crystal clear, offering marvellous views of the landscapes and mountains. The only downside of travelling in autumn is that the trail remains busiest.
Spring is considered the second-best season to trek to Annapurna Circuit. The temperature, even in higher altitudes, during these months is moderate and warm. Compared to autumn, the chances of rain or snow are relatively higher during this time of the year.
During winter (December to February), the temperature at higher elevations can go below 20℃. Although the daytime temperature can be tolerable, you’ll need to carry hefty gears to survive the nights. Most of the high passes are covered in deep snow. Hence, crossing the Thorong La Pass can be quite challenging or even impossible at times.
It is better to avoid trekking the Annapurna Circuit in the monsoon (June to August). Monsoon brings warm and wet weather. Since most of the days remain cloudy, the visibility is abysmal. Additionally, there’s a higher risk of landslides at different sections of the trek.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
1. How long does it take to trek the Annapurna Circuit?
Annapurna Circuit Trek is one of the most versatile trekking routes in Nepal. The trek length depends upon the route variations and optional side trips you choose. The trek covers somewhere between 160 to 230 kilometres based on the itinerary you choose.
You can complete your Annapurna Circuit Trek in as little as eight days or extend it up to 30 days. However, the standard Annapurna Circuit Trek would require at least 16 days to complete the whole itinerary.
2. Can I do the Annapurna Circuit Trek on my own?
Definitely! You can trek to the Annapurna Circuit on your own. You can go for a solo adventure, travel with a partner, or hike with a group of friends.
Having said that, trekking independently means you’ll need to go through all the hassles, including carrying your backpacks, route planning, and navigating. Additionally, you’ll be required to sort out the trek logistics, including permits, accommodation, and transportation, all by yourself.
Apart from that, the routes of Annapurna Circuit are easily navigable as most of part of the trail is well-marked. You’re also bound to come across many independent trekkers and make new friends along the way.
If you have prior experience of trekking in the high Himalayas, travelling on your own is hands down the best and cheapest way.
3. How fit do I need to be to do the Annapurna Circuit Trek?
Annapurna Circuit Trek is a multi-week, high-altitude trek in the foothills of the Himalayas. On average, you’ll be walking for about five to seven hours every day through rocky terrains, high valleys, and steep passes. Compared to some low-altitude treks in Nepal, Annapurna Circuit is a bit challenging.
Thus, you need to maintain a decent level of physical fitness to complete the trek. Regardless of your fitness level, it is better to do some cardio-oriented exercises a few months before hitting the trail. If you’re willing to hit the gym to build your strength, we recommend you focus on the core and legs in particular. Likewise, squats might come in handy for this particular trek as few of the teahouses in the upper section only offer squat toilets!
Besides physical fitness, Annapurna Trek also demands mental fitness. Since you’ll be crossing Thorong La Pass at 5,416 metres, you should consider altitude sickness seriously.
4. Annapurna Circuit Trek vs. Annapurna Base Camp Trek
Most people tend to confuse Annapurna Circuit Trek with Annapurna Base Camp Trek for all the right reasons. Although both of these treks are part of the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP), they are entirely different treks.
The primary differences between these treks are the level of difficulty and the length of the route. Annapurna Base Camp is a relatively moderate trek that covers about 75 kilometres from start to finish. Compared to this trek, Annapurna Circuit Trek is a bit strenuous, covering between 160 to 230 kilometres.
Annapurna Base Camp Trek is a classic out-and-back adventure. On this trek, you’ll walk via the trails of Chomrong to the base camp and retrace the same route back. On the contrary, while doing the Annapurna Circuit Trek, you’ll be trekking around the entire Annapurna massif. So, you won’t have to retrace any route on this trek.
The highest elevation point of the Annapurna Base Camp Trek is 4,130 metres at the base camp. In comparison, you’ll be crossing the Thorong La Pass at an altitude of 5,416 metres on the Annapurna Circuit Trek. Thus, the risk of high altitude sickness is much higher in the Annapurna Circuit.
Since you’ll have to cross a high Himalayan pass in the Annapurna Circuit Trek, the trekking season is mainly restricted to autumn and spring only. On the other hand, Annapurna Base Camp offers a much larger window for trekking. You can just about trek to Annapurna Base Camp any time of the year. However, stay cautious of the avalanche sections while travelling in winter.
Moreover, the trails of Annapurna Base Camp are dominant with typical Gurung household and culture. In contrast, the journey of Annapurna Circuit begins from a Hindu village. As you enter the Nupri Zone on the trek, you’ll pass through several Buddhist villages, including Manang and Pisang. Hence, Annapurna Circuit Trek offers more cultural and ethnic diversity.
5. Why is the Annapurna Circuit Trek so popular ?
Tourists enjoy Annapurna Circuit Trek as it is a complete package. Travellers start from their journey through the lush green forests and move upwards admiring the majestic mountain views. Additionally, this trek provides fascinating insights on the local lifestyle and culture that is practised in these regions. The journey takes you from Besisahar to the rural villages of Manang and then to the holy temple, Muktinath itself.
For a traveller and nature lover, there is so much in the Annapurna Circuit. It is a combination of both natural beauty and religious sentiments that is why this trek offers such a unique and delightful perspective.
- Airport pickups and drops via a private vehicle
- 3-star hotel accommodation in Kathmandu and Pokhara with breakfast
- Tea-house accommodation during the trek
- All meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) during the trek
- Welcome and farewell dinners
- All ground transportation on a comfortable private vehicle as per the itinerary
- Domestic flights (Kathmandu-Pokhara-Kathmandu)
- An experienced, English-speaking and licensed trek leader
- Porter service (2 trekkers: 1 porter)
- Salary, insurance, equipment, food and accommodation of staff
- Duffel bag and sleeping bag (to be returned after trip completion)
- T-shirt and trekking maps
- All necessary paperwork and permits (ACAP, TIMS)
- First Aid kit (carried by your trek leader)
- All government taxes
- Nepal Tourist Visa fee
- International airfare to and from Kathmandu
- Excess baggage charges
- Travel and rescue insurance
- Personal expenses (phone calls, laundry, bar bills, battery recharge, extra porters, bottle or boiled water, shower, etc.)
- Single supplement USD 150 per person
- Tips for guide(s), porter(s) and driver(s)
Day 1 Arrival in Kathmandu (1300m) / Transfer to Hotel
You will arrive at the capital city, Kathmandu. Our representatives will aid you in your transfer to the hotel. Kathmandu is a vibrant city with a large population and where the roots of culture and traditions still run deep. You can visit a few of the beautiful landmarks this city has to offer such as, Swayambhunath, Boudhanath and the Basantapur Durbar Square.
Day 2 Drive to Pokhara, Besisahar (800m) on a private vehicle [7-Hours] and shared jeep drive to Dharapani (1860m) [3-Hours]]
We will start early morning journey from Kathmandu to Besi Sahar in a private drive. The drive Besi Sahar will be exciting with scenic views of hills and Trishuli River. Once at Besisahar, which will take about 7 hours, we will will transfer to a shared jeep that will take us further to Dharapani. We will reach the destination by the evening and spend the night in Dharapani.
Day 3 Trek from Dharapani to Chame (2670m) [5/6-Hours]
After wake up and breakfast, continue the trail towards the headquarters of Manang District. Manang and Mustang are both known as the nation beyond the mountains - due to their geographical location. Appreciate the beauty of Mount Annapurna II and IV along with Mount Lamjung. Take a soothing dip in natural hot spring near Chame.
Day 4 Trek from Chame to Pisang (3100m) [5/6-Hours]
After breakfast, continue along the trail. Hike against the eye-dropping steep terrain in the region. Today's trip will bring out a sense of adventure as we descend very low into the Marshyandi Valley and later ascend towards the village of Pisang. Feast your eyes with wonderful view of Mount Pisang and other looming mountains.
Day 5 Trek from Pisang to Manang (3540m) [5/6-Hours]
Another adventure begins with a dayful of journey towards Manang - a civilization beyond the mountains in the north. The terrain starts looking barren as we move forward. The dry yet extremely chilly wind will seep inside our clothes. It's recommended to have good quality down jackets and wind cheaters in this trail. We will visit Barge, a local monastery in the region.
Day 6 Acclimatization at Manang
We will spend the well-earned rest day and necessary acclimatization at Manang. For health concerns, it is extremely important that we spend the day actively (hike to Gangapurna Lake, Vraga Village and/or Himalayan Rescue Association Office) and prepare for the next day ascend.
Day 7 Trek form Manang to Ledar (4200m) [5-Hours]
With enough rest and a good breakfast, we are ready for a trip to Ledar Village. Ascend out of Marshyandi Valley and continue hiking through pastures and forest. We continue gaining elevation as passing through Ghunsa Village and large grassland. Watch yaks and horses grazing peacefully and cross a small stream as you continue along the trail to reach Ledar. Ledar is about an hour walk from Yak Kharka, where it is also possible to spend overnight.
Day 8 Trek from Letdar to Thorung Phedi (4550m) [3/4-Hours]
We are approaching nearer and nearer to the mighty Thorung-La pass every day. Thorung Phedi (base of mountain) is about 3-hours walk from our starting point. It is the last settlement before we make the ascend towards the high pass of Thorung-La the next day.
Day 9 Trek (cross) Thorung La Pass (5416m) and reach Muktinath (3760m) [7/8-Hours]
Thorung (Thorong) - La Pass is the highest accessible mountain pass in the world. Even with that record, it is not possible to access this pass in winter. We will wake up very early (4 am) and start our journey. Our objective - reach the highest point in the pass by midday and start descending towards Muktinath on the other side. Don't forget to take a picture at the highest spot in the pass to show it afterwards to friends and family. It is a great achievement. Continue towards Muktinath.
Day 10 Trek from Muktinath to Jomsom (2720m) via Kagbeni [5-Hours]
Muktinath region is named after a holy temple by the same name. This temple has a great significance in both Hindu and Buddhist culture. "Muktinath" translates to "the lord of Nirvana". It is commonly believed that washing yourself in the temple's 108 sprouts washes away all the sins of the soul. Every year, many pilgrims from Nepal, China, India and neighboring countries make the journey to this temple.
We trek along the Kali Gandaki Plateau, ancient Tibet looking landscapes and the apple kingdom (Marpha) before reaching Jomsom, another popular town in the area. There is also a domestic airstrip in the town.
Day 11 Flight from Jomsom to Pokhara.
After breakfast, we will take a flight from one of the most adventurous airports in the world at Jomsom. On your arrival in Pokhara, you will be driven to your hotel. Free time to explore the ravishing city Pokhara which is famous as the city of natural wonders with the spectacular Phewa lake, caves and the heart-throbbing mountain views it offers.
Day 12 Tourist bus Drive from Pokhara to Kathmandu [7-Hours]
We will have an early breakfast and get on the bus to Kathmandu. If you prefer a journey full of scenes rather than sleeping, make sure to get a seat on the left by the window.
Once in Kathmandu, we will spend the rest of the afternoon resting and later meet for a farewell dinner. Share your experiences and say goodbye to your friends, guides and Hiking Adventure staff.
Day 13 Airport Transfer / Departure
Our representative will aid you in your departure. According to your flight schedule, you will be transferred to the Airport in Kathmandu. Bid farewell and fly back home, or towards your next adventure.