Annapurna Circuit Trekking: The Ultimate Guide
About Annapurna Circuit Trek

Suppose you’re looking for a trekking adventure that will take you through stunning landscapes and diverse cultures. In that case, the Annapurna Circuit Trek is a must-do. This guide to Annapurna Circuit Trekking will provide all the information you need to plan and prepare for your journey, including insider tips and tricks to make your experience unforgettable. So get ready to embark on the adventure of a lifetime!

The Annapurna Circuit Trek is one of Nepal’s most well-known treks. It passes through incredibly diverse landscapes, from lush green valleys to the Thorong Pass, with the majestic Annapurna massif as an utmost adventure.

It is also an excellent alternative for experienced trekkers who want to deal with an epic Nepal trek on a budget because permit costs are minimal and guides are mandatory.

The Annapurna Circuit is rich with breathtaking scenery, yet it is not without flaws. In recent years, extensive road construction has significantly changed the nature of the trip.

In this guide to Annapurna Circuit, we will cover all you need to know to plan the perfect trek, including a suggested itinerary, practical information, and more. We’ll also talk about the best Annapurna Circuit Trek side trips and add-on treks for those seeking to extend their Himalayas expedition.

Annapurna Circuit Trekking transforms us into adventurers and teaches us about the survival of the fittest and struggles for existence. As a result, it is a beautiful place to visit if you are interested in natural phenomena.

Annapurna Circuit Trek: Overview

The following is a hypothetical 21-day trek on the Annapurna Circuit. It is not a fixed itinerary, only a proposed route. Some people stay in different villages along the way or shorten the days from the start or end. This route has good scenery, attractions, and enough acclimatization opportunities on the way to Thorong La (5416 m).

Trip Facts

Distance170 – 230 Kilometers
Duration15 to 21 days
DifficultyModerate to Strenuous
PermitsTIMS and ACAP
Trek Stars/EndsBensi Shahar/Naya Pul
Max. Altitude5,416 Meters
AccommodationLodges/Tea-houses
Best SeasonAutumn/Spring
Rice terrace in annapurna
Rice field terrace enroute Annapurna Circuit

Highlights

  • A trek around the world’s 10th tallest mountain, Annapurna I (8091 m), and within the Annapurna Conservation Area.
  • Experience the most fabulous views of Annapurna massif, such as Annapurna II, Annapurna III, Annapurna IV, and the Dhaulagiri range.
  • Thorong-La pass is the highest point on the Annapurna Circuit and the most strenuous phase of the trip.
  • Witness the spectacular mountains and landscapes from one of the most iconic viewpoints in the Annapurna region.
  • Tilicho Lake is the world’s highest lake (4,919m), and the Kali Gandaki Gorge between Dhaulagiri and Annapurna is the world’s deepest canyon.
  • Muktinath Temple is one of the most significant Hindu and Buddhist temples.
  • Natural Hot Springs at Tatopani to soothe your tired muscles and heal.
  • Explore the diverse landscapes, from lush green forests, deep mountain valleys, and mountainous slopes to the arid alpine plateau.

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Annapurna Circuit Trek Itinerary

The Annapurna Circuit Trekking is a challenging but rewarding adventure that requires careful planning. With a duration of 12 to 17 days, depending on your chosen route and pace, it’s essential to plan your itinerary.

Popular starting points include Besishahar or Chame, and the trek can end in either Jomsom or Nayapul. Altitude, weather, and acclimatization are essential factors to consider when planning your route, and it’s recommended to include rest days to allow your body to adjust to the high altitude and prevent altitude sickness.

DaysItineraryAltitude in MetersDistance
1.Drive to Bhulbule then Trek to Ngadi9307-8h00
2.Ngadi to Jagat14006h00
3.Jagat to Dharapani19706h00
4.Dharapani to Chame26506h30
5.Chame to Pisang31505h00
6.Pisang to Manang via Upper Pisang35007h00
7.Acclimatization day!
8.Trek to Leather42005h00
9.Leather to Thorong Phedi or High camp44005h00
10.Thorong Phedi to Muktinath via Thorong – La Pass 5416 m3800 7-8h00
11.Muktinath to Marpha2750 6h00
12.Trek to Lete19006h00
13.Lete to Tatopani11306h00
15.Tatopani to Ghorepani26507h00
16.ghorepani to Tikhedunga via Poon Hill14006h00
17.Tikhedunga to Pokhara9206h00
18.Drive to Kathmandu13506h00

If you’re planning to include the Nar Phu Valley in your itinerary, you may want to read this article: Discovering Nepal’s Best-Kept Secret: The Captivating Nar Phu Valley Trek.

Annapurna Circuit Trek Map

Because of a series of trekking lodges and well-marked routes, this trek is easily accessible for independent hikers and guided expeditions. If you are going to Nepal with a trekking company, they will provide you with a map as a complimentary gift, but if you are a free independent traveler, make sure you get a map in advance at the Map House Shop in Thamel.

When to go

Nepal has specific periods of the year, like many treks across the Himalayas, when the weather is ideal for trekking and mountain trips. We believe that September, October, November, or March, April, and May are the best and most favorable months and seasons of the year for trekking in the Annapurna circuit.

We recommend trekking during the post-monsoon season (late September to late November) when the weather is calm and dry and visibility to the mountains is at its best. While it may be busier during peak season, this is the best time to see Nepal at its most beautiful.

If you want to avoid the crowds, spring (March to May) is also a fantastic season, with long days and pleasant weather. However, please note that this is also the time of agricultural burn-offs, so it is possible to have a minimal view of the mountains, especially in the Kathmandu Valley and Pokhara.

Getting required permits

Make sure you have two permits with you before you begin your adventure. You might go to the Nepal Tourism Office in Kathmandu to get these permits if traveling independently. However, if you plan your trip with your travel agency, they can get these permits on your behalf.

Annpurna Circuit Trekking Permits
Trekking permits

Because the Annapurna Circuit Trek falls within the Annapurna Conservation Area, you will require TIMS (Trekking Information Management System) and ACAP (Annapurna Conservation Area Permit). During your trek, they will check these permits at various checkpoints.

If you go through a trekking company, the entry permit cost of ACAP is US$28 per person and US$20 per person for a TIMS card.

Trek difficulty and preparation

The extremity of this Annapurna Circuit Trek is moderate to strenuous; thus, you do not require significant training when preparing for this trek.

Preparing for annapurna circuit Trek
Prepare for a trek.

As you prepare for the Annapurna Circuit Trek, the first step is to train for at least 2-3 months before the trip. It would help if you concentrated on cardiovascular exercises and strength training to build endurance and stamina.

To prevent altitude sickness, you must take your medication and gradually get used to the altitude. Rest days should be taken if you feel under the weather, and you must stay well-hydrated throughout the trek.

Food

Food is of high quality, and we recommend you taste Dal Bhat. Dal Bhat comprises lentil stew with rice and curried potatoes or meat. You have boiled potatoes with chili sauce or curry with rice. Stew contains meat, potatoes, and veggies in a thick sauce. These are the essential Nepalese foods; however, every lodge will also provide a variety of Western meals.

Food during a trek in Nepal
Food during a trek

Breakfast comprises fried or boiled eggs, omelets, toast, pancakes, Tibetan bread, muesli, porridge, tea, coffee, and chocolate.

Lunch/Dinner—Soups (tomato, garlic, vegetable, mushrooms, etc.), veg fried rice, Dal Bhat, curry w/rice, noodles (mix fried, veg, egg, w/cheese), macaroni, spring rolls (veg, egg, cheese, mixed), Momo (boiled or fried mini pasties with either veg or meat), pizza (all types), fried potatoes (w/veg or cheese), chips.

Desserts include apple pie, rice pudding, fruit cocktails, chocolate cake, and Snickers pie.

Accommodation

The accommodation is warm and comfortable yet highly convenient; however, when you go higher, they become basic. Rooms are twin beds with two beds per room with a shared bathroom. Unfortunately, they do not have a bathroom attached unless you buy an upgrade during the Annapurna Circuit Trek and only in certain lodges.

Everest lodge Trek
Accommodation during Trekking in Nepal

Mattresses, pillows, and blankets are available for use on the beds. The living room, used for dining and resting, is heated in the evenings with a pot-bellied stove. Lodges are always social locations where you can meet many other traveling enthusiasts. Many people will have books to read, while others will have phones. Almost all have hot showers, which are typically heated by gas.

Altitude Sickness: How to prevent getting sick

This trip covers a wide range of ventures from a very low altitude to a very high elevation. So, you may become susceptible to illness and must take care of your health. Add an extra day in Manang to your itinerary to adapt to the high altitude. As you ascend from lengths of 2500 meters and above, you may experience symptoms of altitude sickness. Sometimes, you may even get symptoms below this level.

Symptoms of acute mountain sickness

  • Difficulty sleeping.
  • Dizziness or light-headedness.
  • Fatigue.
  • Headache.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Rapid pulse (heart rate)
  • Shortness of breath with exertion.
Altitude sickness symptoms during annapurna circuit trek

If you experience these symptoms, be calm and do not panic. First, however, you must adhere to some basics to remain fit.

To avoid altitude illness, make sure you do the following:

AMS prevention guide for Annapurna Circuit Trek
Prevention of AMS
  • Rather than taking a jeep/bus, walking through the trail allows your body to acclimate and gives it more time to acclimatize.
  • Make sure you take a rest day/acclimate as you go higher
  • Climb up and sleep down
  • Don’t drink alcohol
  • While hiking, make sure to drink lots of water.
  • If you have signs of altitude sickness, stop trekking, inform your partner, and rest. Seek medical attention if the symptoms persist for more than 24 hours.
  • You may take the water pill as a basic first aid kit, which can be obtained in the pharmacy as Acetazolamide, some pain reliever tablets, and an inhaler.

What Should You Bring On Your Trek?

Make sure that you complete your shopping right before leaving Kathmandu. Many shops in the Thamel sell everything you’ll need for your trek. You may also purchase your trekking gear in Pokhara, but we recommend shopping in Kathmandu to prevent missing essential items.

Back pack for annapurna circuit trek
How to pack your backpack?

Clothing

  • One hat or cap
  • T-shirts (1 for 2 or 3 days walking): Avoid cotton, as it takes a very long time to dry.
  • One sub-sweater or long-sleeved shirt.
  • Hiking sticks ( a pair).
  • 1-2 trekking pants, light
  • Raincoat
  • Jacket (thermal and windproof)
  • 1 Goretex jacket style, simple and light.
  • Thermal jacket (keeping warm Nov. – Mar)
  • Hiking socks
  • A pair of gloves (Nov. – Mar.)
  • Hiking shoes of good quality.
  • A pair of sandals.

EQUIPMENT:

  • Good quality sunglassesTelescope (based on habit)
  • A water bottle (Min. 1 liter)
  • Headlight and its batteries.
  • Sleeping bag (4 seasons)
  • One pocket knife (Swiss knife preferable).

MISCELLANEOUS:

  • Toiletries: Bio-degradable products.
  • Toilet paper + lighter.
  • Personal medicines:
  • Your regular medicines.
  • Antimalarial( loperamide deviation)
  • Intestinal dressing (Smetca deviation)
  • Anti-inflammatory ointment.
  • Painkillers (Paracetamol preferably)
  • Water purification pills: Although the taste is not good, it is better than buying a plastic bottle of mineral water.
  • Adhesive tape (Elastoplasts type 6 cm wide) effective prevention.
  • Set of plasters + compresses disinfectant
  • Treatment for colds and sore throat
  • Sunblock cream (skin + lips)

Things To Do in Manang

Manang is a famous destination on the Annapurna Circuit Trek because this small village high in the Himalayas is ideal for acclimatization. This travel guide includes the best things to do in Manang, excellent day trips, and helpful information.

  • A short Hike to the Praken Gumpa (Known as 100 Lama)
  • Visit tiny Khangsar village
  • Explore the Ice Lake
  • Exploring the Milarepa cave and Braga Gumpa
  • Visiting the Gangapurna Lake and Glacier
  • Visit Cultural Museum
  • Free Consultation of Acute Mountain Sickness
  • Drink fresh coffee & eat fresh pastries

Some FAQs about Annapurna Circuit Trek

How long does it take to trek to Annapurna Circuit?

The route length depends on where you start and end your trek so that it might be between 170 and 230 kilometers. You can accomplish it in as few as ten days or as many as 24 days if you go on a side trip. However, it usually takes 10 or 14 days to complete the shorter route and 18-21 days to complete the journey.

What is the best time to visit Annapurna Circuit Trekking?

The best seasons for trekking in the Annapurna region are fall (September to November) and spring (March to May). At the time, the skies are clear, and you can enjoy spectacular views of the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri peaks.

How Difficult is the Annapurna Circuit Trek?

Is that hard?
The Annapurna Circuit trekking (ACT) is moderately challenging. Although there is no technical climbing involved, it is helpful to have some hiking experience. The trip will take you through diverse terrain and along different routes.

Do I need permits?

Yes, Having the permits for the Annapurna Circuit Trek is compulsory. Two permits can be obtained from the Nepal Tourism Board in Kathmandu or Pokhara. If you trek through an agency, they will arrange for you on your behalf.

Final words

The Annapurna Circuit Trek is a popular trekking destination in Nepal. It offers stunning views of towering snow-capped peaks and lush valleys, taking you through some of the most beautiful mountain scenery. But it is a challenging trip. So, these 15 tips to help make your experience successful.

In conclusion, I hope you enjoyed reading this Ultimate Guide to the Annapurna Circuit Trekking. It’s the most comprehensive guide for trekkers and travelers interested in the Annapurna region of Nepal. Let me know in the comments below if you have any questions or comments. Thanks for reading!

About Author

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Kumar Lama
Kumar Lama is a founder of Himalayan Exploration Treks Pvt. Ltd. He is leading a team of travel professional offering tailor made travel services across Nepal, Tibet and Bhutan.