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Your flights to Lukla from Kathmandu may be diverted to Ramechhap Airport. Here’s Why!

Your flights to Lukla from Kathmandu may be diverted to Ramechhap Airport. Here’s Why!

Guide to The Annapurna Circuit Trek

An important things about the Annapurna Circuit Trek

Did you know the Annapurna Circuit trek constantly ranks among the best classic treks in the world? Every year, hundreds of thousands of trekkers embark on this adventure. Now you know that the adventure to Annapurna Circuit promises an extraordinary journey, you should definitely consider adding to this bucket list. And if you are already planning to do it in a couple of months, you should definitely consider reading this blog. We have covered everything you need to know about the trek that will help you plan, prepare and pace yourself for the adventure of a lifetime.

Annapurna Circuit trek overview

Location: Central part of Nepal

Trek Starting Point: Besisahar or Bhulbhule

Trek finishing Point: Muktinath or Jomsom or Nayapul

Trekking Duration: 15 to 20 days

Trek Difficulty: Moderate to Strenuous trek

Best Seasons: Spring and autumn

Permits: TIMS card and Annapurna Sanctuary permit

Highest Elevation: Thorong La Pass (5416 m/17769 ft.)

Accommodation: Teahouse, Guesthouse, Lodge

Add-on Trek: Annapurna Base Camp Trek, Tilicho Lake Trek

Key Highlights of the Annapurna Circuit Trek

  • Embark on an adventure to one of the world’s best long-distance trekking destinations.
  • Crossing Thorong La Pass is the sparkling highlight of Annapurna Circuit trek , where trekker find themselves surrounded by majestic mountains, fluttering prayer flags and a sense of accomplishment as they conquer one of the highest mountain passes in the world.
  • Throughout the trek, you’ll be treated to spectacular views of the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri peaks, among other stunning Himalayan mountains.
  • Visit and pay reverence to one of the world’s highest temples, Muktinath temple at 3800m (12467 ft.)
  • Witness the majestic Annapurna Massif, Lamjung Himal, and Dhaulagiri, with close-up views of peaks above 7,000m and 8,000m
  • Trek through diverse landscape ranging from subtropical forests to terraced fields, and high-altitude deserts.
  • Navigate the deepest gorge in the world, Kali Gandaki gorge.

Annapurna Circuit Trek Interesting Facts

  • The highest point on the trek is Thorong La Pass at 5,416m, making it one of the world’s highest trekking passes.
  • The Annapurna Circuit trek follows anti-clockwise direction, beginning from Besisahar and heading to Thorong-La Pass and descending to Jomsom or beyond.
  • The trek follows two major river valleys – the Marsyangdi River on the eastern side and the Kali Gandaki River on the western side.
  • The Annapurna Circuit trek serves as a gateway to the restricted Upper Mustang region.
  • The Annapurna Circuit offers breathtaking views of some of the world’s highest peaks, including Annapurna I (8,091 meters / 26,545 feet), Dhaulagiri (8,167 meters / 26,795 feet), and Machhapuchare (6,993 meters / 22,943 feet).
  • The trek is often referred to as the “Annapurna Sanctuary” because of the amphitheater-like formation of peaks that surround trekkers as they approach the base camp.
  • The Annapurna Circuit was historically a trade route between Nepal and Tibet, and remnants of this trade history can still be seen in the architecture and goods of the local villages.

Annapurna Circuit trek distance

The Annapurna circuit trek distance can vary depending on the route preferred. The total distance of the Annapurna Circuit trek spans 160 to 230 kilometers (100 to 145 miles), depending on the specific itinerary chosen by trekkers. And the full Annapurna Circuit trek spans a total distance of 260km (161 miles).

Insurance for the Annapurna Circuit Trek

Having insurance for the Annapurna Circuit trek is not just a recommendation; it’s an understated necessity that ensures financial security and peace of mind amid the unpredictable challenges of the Himalayan trails. Peace of mind, it is! Getting insurance that covers trekking about 4500–5000 m is a must when doing the Annapurna circuit trek. Your travel insurance must include coverage for medical emergencies, evacuation by helicopter, and trip cancellations. If we had to recommend the best travel insurance company, it would be World Nomads.

How long does it take to hike the Annapurna Circuit trek?

The Annapurna Circuit trek typically spans from 18 to 22 days, depending on the itinerary chosen. Some trekking agencies might offer a shorter itinerary as well. However, based on your fitness, trekking pace, and preferences, you can always customize the itinerary. The trail covers the extensive route that circumnavigates the Annapurna massif, covering Thorong-La Pass, Tilicho Lake, remote villages, and alpine meadows due to the circuitous route. The standard Annapurna Circuit trek starts from Besisahar, Bhulbhule or Jagat and ends in Jomsom or Nayapul. That said, some trekking companies might offer different itineraries, starting from Chame, or Syange. We offer a 19-day Annapurna Circuit trek, starting the trek from Khudi and ending in Ghandruk.

Where does the Annapurna Circuit start?

The Annapurna Circuit trek typically commences in the village of Besisahar, the gateway to the Annapurna region. To reach Besisahar, you’ll need to drive or fly to Pokhara from Kathmandu and continue to Besisahar. The bus departs from Gongabu Bus Park in Kathmandu and takes about 6 to 8 hours to reach Besisahar. A private vehicle like a taxi or jeep can be quicker than public buses. Other starting points are Bhulbhule (approximately 7km from Besisahar / 1.5 hours drive), Jagat (approximately 29km from Besisahar / 3 hours drive), Syange (approximately 30km from Besisahar / 2 hours) and Chame (approximately 66km from Besisahar / 4 hours drive).

Where does the trek finish?

Like with the starting points, you will have many options to finish the trek. Muktinath can be the first place to conclude your trek, from where you can hop on a public bus or private jeep to Pokhara or Kathmandu. But if you want to continue trekking, you can choose to finish at Jomsom, Tatopani or Nayapul. Or, you can trek all the way to Ghorepani, ascend to Poon Hill and finally conclude the trek at Ghandruk.

How difficult is the Annapurna Circuit trek?

The Annapurna Circuit trek is a challenging trek, ideal for experienced trekkers. You will start the trek as low as 760m (2,490 ft.) and ascend to as high as 5,416m (17,769 ft.). The ascent to the Thorong La Pass at 5,416m can be challenging due to high altitude and the risk of altitude sickness. The trail covers a variety of terrains, from subtropical forests and terraced fields to alpine deserts and one of the highest mountain passes in the world, providing a diverse but physically demanding journey. The difficulty of the Annapurna Circuit trek is frequently juxtaposed with that of the Everest Base Camp trek.

How to avoid altitude sickness while doing the Annapurna Circuit Trek?

The imminent danger of trekking to the mountains in Nepal is Acute Mountain Sickness or altitude sickness. If you’re travelling above 2400m (8000 ft.), you should be careful of altitude sickness. Most people easily develop symptoms of altitude sickness like headache, breathlessness, difficulty sleeping and vomiting. The best way to avoid altitude sickness is by acclimatizing to the altitude. It’s important to prioritize a gradual ascent with a slow pace, allowing your body to adjust to the increasing altitude. Staying hydrated and avoiding smoking and drinking are equally important. If you experience any of the symptoms of altitude sickness, you must not ascend further and consider descending to a lower altitude.

Is the circuit suitable for beginners?

In general, this trek is considered suitable for trekkers with some level of experience. It might be challenging for beginners due to the high altitude and varied terrain. However, beginner trekkers with good physical fitness levels and proper preparation can embark on this adventure. They must engage in physical training for a month or two and gradually increase their endurance level. They can start with cardiovascular fitness through regular exercises like hiking, running, or cycling to enhance endurance. Strength training, particularly focused on the legs and core, will help through steep inclines and descents. Their fitness training can also include flexibility exercises such as yoga to minimize the risk of muscle strains. The most effective fitness preparation involves hiking in your home country while carrying a loaded backpack.

Is the Annapurna Circuit still worth it?

Absolutely. Undoubtedly, the Annapurna Circuit trek remains one of the best treks in the world. Annapurna Circuit trek has been voted the best long-distance trek in the world. In 2020, Lonely Planet listed the Annapurna Circuit trek on its Ultimate Travel List: Top 10 travel experience. This trek remains a highly sought-after trek in the world, offering spectacular scenery, cultural diversity, and exhilarating adventure. In recent years, the main concern has been the development of roads in certain parts. However, the trek retains its allure and immense value. The challenge of crossing Thorong La Pass and the loop, either anticlockwise or clockwise, offers different perspectives and experiences. The incredible views of the mountains like Annapurna I, Annapurna II, Annapurna III, Dhaulagiri, Machhapuchre and surrounding peaks add to the beauty of this trek. Adding to this, the opportunity to interact with local communities like Gurung, Manangi and Thakali makes it a worthy adventure.

How to get permits for the trek?

You need the Annapurna Conservation Area Permit (ACAP) and the TIMS card. To obtain a TIMS (Trekkers’ Information Management System) card for trekking in Nepal, you’ll typically need passport-sized photos, your passport, personal details like name, insurance, and details of your guide and trekking route and itinerary. The cost is NPR 2000 (approximately 23 AUD). After getting a TIMS card, you can apply and get the Annapurna Sanctuary Permit which requires you to fill out the form and present necessary documents like passport, photos and a fee of NPR 3000 (approximately 34 AUD). You can obtain both these permits at the Tourism Information Center in Kathmandu or Pokhara. Permit requirements might change, so it’s essential to verify the current regulations and necessary permits from the authorities in Pokhara or the tourism office before starting your trek.

When is the best time to hike the Annapurna Circuit?

Spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November) are the two prime seasons to do Annapurna Circuit Trek. The best months are March, April, October and November. These periods offer clear skies, balmy weather and excellent visibility of the majestic mountains. While autumn offers cooler temperatures and cleaner air following the monsoon, making it a popular destination for hiking, spring brings flowering flowers and a somewhat milder climate. Both seasons present ideal conditions, allowing trekkers to experience breathtaking landscapes and remarkable mountain views.

What is the accommodation like on the trek?

The route of the Annapurna Circuit Trek is dotted with teahouses and lodges. The teahouse is the most common accommodation option on the Annapurna Circuit trek, featuring basic facilities like a twin bed with blanket and pillow, a shared bathroom and a communal dining area. Dining areas in the tea houses serve a variety of meals, including both local and international dishes. They might have shared bathrooms with squat toilets and cold running water, although some places might offer hot showers for an extra cost. Electricity is often available for charging devices, but it might come with an additional cost. At higher altitudes, it might be cold, so we suggest you bring your own light sleeping bag.

What is the food like on the circuit?

The food menu of most teahouses generally includes a mix of local and international dishes, ranging from everyone’s favourite Nepali dal bhat (rice and lentils) to pasta, noodles, soups, and hearty breakfast options. Food items like dal bhat, noodles, vegetables, and meat (chicken) are staples and readily available. Some of the international dishes commonly available include pasta, noodles, pizza, sandwiches, and burgers. If you love momo, good news for you: many teahouses serve delectable momo. For hot beverages, generally, they serve teas like ginger tea, lemon tea, masala tea, and coffee. Espresso coffee is available only at selected teahouses along the Annapurna Circuit trek.

Do you need a guide for the Annapurna Circuit trek?

Yes, you need a licensed guide for the Annapurna Circuit trek, like with every other trek in Nepal. As much as we hate to say this, you cannot trek solo to Thorong La Pass. As of April 1, 2023, a trekker must hire a government-certified guide. Remember that you must hire a guide through government-authorized trekking companies in Nepal. You can expect to pay $40 per guide per day, which is subject to change depending on his experience and the nature of the trek. You can hire a porter as well, who carries the bag for you and charges $30 per day.

How to get to the Annapurna Circuit?

From Kathmandu, you can fly or drive to Pokhara. From Pokhara, hop on a local bus or hire a private jeep to Besisahar. It can take around 2 hours to reach Besisahar from Pokhara. Besisahar is the starting point of the Annapurna Circuit trek and leads through various villages all the way to Thorong La Pass. You can also start the trek from Bhulbhule, which is 7km ahead of Besisahar.

What to pack for the Annapurna Circuit Trek?

When it comes to packing for any treks in Nepal, the packing list remains largely consistent. The packing list for the Annapurna Circuit trek tends to be similar to that of the Everest Base Camp trek. However, specific considerations may vary due to differences in altitude, climate, and trek duration. For the Annapurna circuit trek packing list, you can consider the following items. This packing list serves as a general guide. Adjust it based on your personal preferences for the specific season of your trek.

Clothing:

  • Moisture-wicking base layers (at least 2 pairs)
  • Fleece or down jacket
  • Dry t-shirts (at least 2) and long sleeve shirt
  • Waterproof jacket
  • Trekking pants ( 2 pairs)
  • Convertible pant
  • Sturdy hiking boots
  • Moisture-wicking socks (at least 3 pairs)
  • Gaiters
  • Sandal
  • Sun hat or beanie
  • Lightweight
  • gloves
  • Poncho or rain jacket

 Personal Items:

  • Sunscreen
  • Personal medical kit (optional)
  • Wet wipes and hand sanitizer
  • Towel
  • Power bank

 Toiletries:

  • toothbrush
  • toothpaste
  • biodegradable soap
  • Deodorant
  • Camera and gear

 Gear:

  • Backpack Sleeping bag with liner
  • Trekking poles
  • Headlamp
  • Water bottle or hydration system

Documents:

  • Passport and its photocopy
  • Passport-size photos for trekking permits
  • Travel Insurance document

Is Wi-Fi and Electricity available on the Annapurna Circuit Trek?

Most teahouses en route have Wi-Fi and electricity. Many teahouses and lodges along the trekking route do offer some form of charging facilities for electronic devices, usually for a fee. However, the availability and reliability of electricity can be affected by weather conditions and the infrastructure in each village. It’s advisable to pack a portable power bank or solar charger to charge your electronic devices. You may also want to buy a local sim card (NCELL or NTC) with data to ensure convenient communication and internet access during your trek on the Annapurna Circuit.

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