Annapurna Circuit Trek, Difficulty, cost, Itinerary, Weather, Route, Permit

  December 4th, 2019


Introduction to Annapurna Circuit Trek

Often voted the best long-distance trek in the world, Annapurna Circuit Trek is not just an adventurous experience; it’s a travel therapy to rejuvenate your soul.  The Land of Buddha comes to life as you witness the surrounding hills and mountains radiate peace and tranquility as you trek along the circuit.

As you pass through Manang, the trek yields you the magical sceneries of Manaslu Range, which follows the trail of Marsyangdi Valley to the north of the main Himalayan range and crosses a 5416m pass to descend into the dramatic desert-like, Tibetan-style scenery of the upper Kali Gandaki Valley. If your life were a cinema, the Annapurna Circuit trek is where you want your film to have an opening shot.

On this circuit, you experience myriads of transformation as you bear witness to the scenery and the cultural diversity which dramatically changes from subtropical rainforests, domesticated paddy fields, and the world’s deepest river gorge to ice flows. The train of yaks and mules shall assist you if you choose to, to conquer the trail. Meanwhile, the mountains that surround you will take care of you as you undergo a divine transformation as a traveler.

Highlights of Annapurna Circuit Trek

The Annapurna Mountain and The Neighbors let the trekker relish the view of the panorama of mountain peaks ranging from 6000m to 8000m like Annapurna I and II, the Machhapuchhre Peak, the Nilgiri Himal, the Mount Gangapurna, the Lamjung Peak, the Pisang Pak, the Dhaulagiri range and many more. The Pastures of the terrain surrender themselves to the monumental view of the mountain ranges which in turn humble the trekkers as they taste the slice of heaven.
 
The Thorang La Pass situated between the Khatung Kang and the Yakawa Kang Himals connects the village of Manang to Muktinath offering the trekkers mesmerizing view of the rivers traveling down to the valley and offers the canvas of a freshly painted Annapurna and Dhaulagiri Peaks with the sky as the backdrop.

A religious detour to the Muktinath Temple introduces the God of the valley to the trekkers. God is believed to bless them with the tranquility as the trekkers enjoy the company of the hundreds of Hindu and Buddhist pilgrims from all around the world. The artifacts and the architectural beauty of the place add value to the spiritual experience while the forty water-sprouts promise them atonement from the humanly sins if bathed under.
 
The Apple Capital of Nepal, Marpha, a stone-lined Buddhist village picked right out of heavenly paintings, offers trekkers resting place where they can take time to re-energize themselves as they embark on their trekking route.
 
Pokhara, the place from where the Annapurna Circuit Trek officially begins, is a beautiful city in the valley that offers a peaceful introductory view of mountain sights and serene lakes.

The village of Jomsom which is situated by the banks of the river Gandaki painted with the picturesque backdrop of Annapurna and Nilgiri Peak. The village practically captures the God as Shaligram, which is abundantly found on the river banks in Jomsom, is believed to be the natural state of Lord Vishnu as per the Hindu Mythology.

What is the Best Time For Annapurna Circuit Trekking? 

Annapurna Circuit Trek welcomes you any time of the year. However, if you were to look for the best season, then we will recommend you the time of soothing Autumn (October to Mid December) and the lively Spring (February to April) which are the two best seasons to plan the said trek in Nepal.

The autumn season that begins from Early October and spans up to Mid December is considered one of the best times in Nepal to embark on the Annapurna Circuit Trekking. As the monsoon is just over, you will witness the clearer sky and you will not miss the beauty of the greenery of the valleys. The considerate weather offers you the captivating views of sceneries and a perfect and least risky trail to walk on.
The season of spring, spanning from February to April is considered the second-best time for Annapurna Circuit Trekking. The dry and snowy season bids farewell by clearing the trails of cumbersome snow. The warmth of the season supports you as you witness the romantic affair between the hills and the red rhododendrons.
 
The winter spanning from mid-December to January makes the trekking difficult as the trail suffers from severe snowing and storms. If you love extreme adventure, you might find the time good but it is generally advised to avoid the season. Also, during the time of May to September, the trail suffers from the severe downpour that makes trekking difficult and the scorching heat of the summer also affects the travel experience.

Annapurna Circuit trek route and itinerary 

You will be picked up from your hotel in Kathmandu after breakfast as you head to Besisahar which shall mark the beginning of the trip. The six hours long drive takes you through an immersive ride along a hilly road as you reach the Besisahar where you pass through the village of Khudi and Ngadi to spend your night at Syange.
The next day is when the actual trekking begins as you trek from Syange to Tal. The trekking starts from Jagat to Chamje where you begin to descend to Marshyangdi River, after taking a short break, and hike up to a cliff. A few hours later the district of Manang welcomes you to the village of Tal where you spend your second night and revel in the aura of the blissful village adorned by a humming waterfall.

 
The next morning, immediately after breakfast, you will trek to the Temang village. But before reaching the Temang village and spending the night there, you will cross through alpine forests and witness the serene wildlife there. The quaint villages you pass will forever remain in your memory as you gradually ascend to the village of Temang at an altitude of 2,210 meters.

The next day we will cross the ‘River Of Jackals’, the Syal River, and climb up through the dense walnut forests and enjoy the astounding views of the mountains. You cross several villages experiencing myriads of culture, tradition and agricultural lifestyle and arrive at Chame to rest for the day.

As traveling every morning builds into a habit, you leave the village of Chame and start walking towards Pisang. The beautiful trail winds through narrow valleys and thick valleys allowing you to witness more of the wildlife. As you emerge out of the forest, slightly ascending through a short trail, you reach the village of Pisang where you call it a day.
The next day will be a long day of travel with few breaks in between. The nine hours trail will be the challenging one as compared to the previous trekking in the trail but it also rewards you with the wondrous view of landscapes. That day you will find filling your bags with protein bars very purposeful as you trek from Ghyaru to Ngawal to Bragha. The fruit of the challenge shall overshadow your tiredness as you will observe the magnificent views of Annapurna, Gangapurna, Chulu East, and Pisang Peaks along your way. In the village of Bragha, you shall have your hot shower and the needed rest.
 
For the next two days, you take time to accustom your biological function to the climate of the surrounding by acclimatizing in the village of Bragha in Manang. On the first day of acclimatization, you will take a short hike to the magical blue icy lake. The color blue is rare in such altitude and therefore you will be witnessing the wonder of nature. You will rest there as you capture the place through the lenses of your cameras. Later in the afternoon, you will trek back to Bragha.
 
On the second day, you will, again, take a hike to Lake Gangapurna. The glacier that feeds this lake makes the water deep blue with greenish tint -- somewhere around emerald and turquoise. Wear your lucky clothes if you want to see the snow leopard as you pass through Yak Pastures and probably see the Yaks and Blue Sheep for the first time in your life. Later, you shall head back to Bragha to spend your third night there.
 
The acclimatization shall prepare you for the rest of the trek as you head to the Yak Kharka after a leisurely breakfast. Yak Kharka which is four hours long from Bragha is the place where Yak and other animals are domesticated. The vegetation gradually declines on your trail after you leave Bragha as the climate gets colder.
 
You will first arrive at Tenji and trek up to the hamlet of Ghunsang where you rest for an hour and after walking for an hour or two, you will reach the Yak Kharka where you savor the breathtaking view for the rest of the day.
Next day, you will leave Yak Kharka at a leisurely pace, as the day only consists of a short trek to Thorang Phedi, the base of the Thorang la Pass. You will be needed to climb a steep hill for an hour or two to reach the top from where you trek to Ledar walking along the bank of Jarang River.

The path shall deliver you exciting views of wildlife where you will see Eagles, Yaks, Blue Sheep, Horses, and snow leopards (given you are still wearing your lucky clothes). You should practice caution as the trail to Thorang Phedi can get slippery.
Once you arrive at the base, you can either set up a camp if you feel like or you can climb up to Thorang High Camp for the night.
 
The next day, you begin early as you trek to Thorang La to Muktinath. You walk as the shades of colorful flags paint the pass of Thorang La and mesmerize you. The flags signal the sky of your intention to witness ethereal beauty and the sky yields to the flags’ command. It opens up as it unfolds the extraordinary views of the Annapurna, Gangapurna and several other peaks ahead. To add to your viewing pleasure, you will also see some Glaciers flowing down in different directions. With several short breaks, you will finally take a spiritual detour to the temple of Muktinath. You shall rest there, cherishing the views the circuit has so far yielded.
 
The next day, you will visit the temple that boasts of sheltering an ever flaming fire which is believed to have been burning for thousands of years. After the Gods in the temple bless you spiritually, you will descend to the famous village of Kagbeni where you shall spectate the train of yaks and mules transporting the basic needs of the people living there. The mountains zoom in as you reach closer and closer.

The humbling view of the gigantic mountains shall leave you speechless. Cherishing the joyful experience, you will reach the famous village of Jomsom where you will get plenty of time to explore the archaeology of the medieval trading town. The locals welcome you with their unique cuisines and drinks, especially the local cider called ‘Marpha’. You will call it a day there as the trekking comes to an end.
 
Next morning, you will fly to Pokhara as the flights will not be available in the afternoon because of the windy conditions. In the city of Pokhara, you can choose your adventure as you please as the Annapurna Circuit trekking finally comes to an end. Take the deserved rest and catch a public vehicle (for local experience) or hire a private vehicle to travel to the capital city the next day.

Annapurna Circuit Trek Cost

The package, if you choose to travel with Highventure Plus, will cost you around USD 2690.The package includes 2 nights stay in a 3-star hotel in Kathmandu (breakfast included) and accommodation in Pokhara on twin sharing basis for 2 nights. It also includes permits to the conservation area, cost of Trekkers’ Information Management Systems (TIMS) card. Further arrangements for best local lodges and teahouses will be made (on a twin sharing basis) for your accommodation.
 
A professional guide, fluent in English, will be provided. Other assistants will also be provided at the demand of the client who will be paid and insured under the company’s policy. A down Jacket along with a duffle bag and one sleeping bag complemented by necessary first aid kit will also be provided.
For the transport in the roadways, the solo travelers will be provided the tourist micro or buses and a private vehicle will be provided for the clients who are traveling in a group. The package also includes all the Government and Official charges. At the end of the trekking, the clients will be provided an official certificate of completion along with some token of love. 
 
However, these do not include your national and international; ticket cost and visa expenses. Also, Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner (drinks of any kind included) throughout the trekking shall be bought by the clients themselves. The cost of the package does not include charges for excessive luggage. The client should buy their travel insurance policy as the package won’t be covering that.

Any extra accommodation cost along with the food charges, if it exceeds the days covered, will not be covered under the package. Personal expenses like phone recharge, laundry, hot shower, purchase of bottled water, hiring of extra porters and so on will not be covered. Tips for guides and porters are happily welcomed.   

Trekking Equipment Required 

In general, you will require four sleeping bags (the travel agency will provide you one), a duffel or a trekking bag of 70-80 liters (the travel agency can provide one), a down jacket (also can be provided by the travel agency if needed) and a normal travel bag of 25-30 liters. We advise you to buy light but strong trekking bags and duffle as the fabrics suffer from drastic changes in the climate and might become weaker. In regards to clothing, you will be required to adhere to the following requirements:
For upper body --shirts, fleece jacket or pullover, and a waterproof jacket are needed. A windproof jacket is highly preferred although they are often considered optional. For the T-shirts, a baggy cotton T-shirt is considered the best because you will have to spend significant time in a warm climate in the lower altitudes. Also, we highly recommend you to bring synthetic T-shirts as they absorb moisture quickly. For the waterproof jacket, we recommend you to buy the ones made of lighter fabric to ease your travel.

For the Lower body – you will be needed to bring hiking shorts, trekking pants, softshell, and hardshell pants, cotton pants or jeans. For hiking shorts, buying the fabric which dries quickly can ease lots of things during the trek. Also, for trekking pants, buy the ones that can be converted to shorts if the journey requires. Moreover, for softshell pants, buy a synthetic fiber that can absorb the most quickly and as for hardshell pants, it is highly recommended to buy a waterproof one. For extra wearable, have a pair of jeans or cotton pants.

For Inner-wears–in regards to inner wears, you are required to own lightweight underwear which is preferably made up of synthetic to help absorb the moisture quickly. The women are advised to own synthetic sports bras and also, you can also carry a swimsuit if you would like to.
 
For Footwear -- you need a trekking boot, gaiters and sandals, for sure. For Trekking boots, we recommend you to get the hard sole lug-cleated boots as they are known to be durable in every kind of landscape. It is also suggested to have a pair of sandals as it helps you walk locally during your stay at the hotels and lodges. Then, for socks, you are required to own four pairs of synthetic and three pairs of woolen socks.
 
For Hand wears – The most essential are the gloves, mittens and hand warmers. For a warmer climate, own a pair of synthetic or thin woolen gloves. For colder weather, get a woolen or fleece gloves. If you carry mittens, Gore-Tex mittens are known to be the best. And for hand warmers, it’s completely your choice whether you want to have them or not.
 
Face/Skin protection --The snowfalls, heavy wind and the direct sun affect your face and your skin directly. Thus, we recommend you to have a cap or a hat with the stock of synthetic woolen hat or a lightweight balaclava. The glacier glasses having 100% UV protected the lens with side shields and hard-sided storage for the protection of your eyes are needed. The headlamp, ear muffs, neck warmer may not be necessary but it depends upon your choice.
 
First Aid Kit-- Though the trekking guides required by the rule to carry a first aid kit box but it is better to be safe than sorry. So, we suggest you have one as well. For this, you are required to have all the basic emergency equipment.

Personal care – Toothbrushes, Tooth Paste along with toiletries you use daily (we advise you to use the biodegradable ones) are required during the tenure of trekking.
Other important types of equipment and Documents – To comply with the law of the land Valid Passports with valid VISAs are the most. You are also suggested to carry other documents like passport size photos, airline tickets (and a copy), luggage locks, thick garbage bags (biodegradable), water bottle, small pouch/bag for travel documents, passport, wallet/purse complemented by pocket knife, sunscreen lotion (SPF 40 recommended) and lip balm of at least SPF 20.
 
Extras – You can add value to your travel experience by getting hold of a camera with necessary backup power, batteries, and chargers for all your battery-operated electronic equipment. You can also preferably carry books, games, snacks, binoculars, a notebook and pen, and extra glasses. If you carry tent poles, sleeping bag liner, thermos, hydration bladder with a drinking tube, pee bottle for men and pee funnel for women, you shall have smooth and convenient travel experience.
 
Here is a Light-sensitive Note that you might have to pay attention to – The villagers might take offense if you wear tight-fitting clothes specially made out of fabrics like Lycra (especially by the women). So, ensure that you pack something to wear on top of them if you decide to pack them.

Frequently asked question

When is the ideal time to trek in Nepal?

The ideal time to trek in Nepal are: a) Autumn (September to November), just after the end of monsoon, as the trails are dry and the skies are clearer to truly delight in the view and b) Spring (March to May), after the winter, as the cumbersome snow in the trail has melted and the winter storms have settled down for you to enjoy the wholesome experience.

Is it difficult to trek in Nepal?

In general, it is not. However, it depends on the difficulty of the trekking route and the expedition you choose to travel.

How can I prepare myself to be fit for trekking?

To ensure your fitness during the trekking, we suggest you walk more and if you have a treadmill or fitness machines nearby, access it to improve your stamina. If you have a place near you that you can hike on, or if you have a short trek route, please go ahead as the experience might help your body a lot to cope with the experience.

What are the necessary documents that I need to bring along with me?

The documents that are necessitated by the Government of Nepal are Visa Approved Passports that has the validity of at least 6 months, any insurance documents to prove that you are travel insured/life insured, 2 or more passport-sized photographs, flight tickets and other documents that you think will help you during the time of emergency along with the contact number of the person keen to you.

Is travel insurance really necessary?

Yes, travel insurance indeed is necessary but you should verify with the company that the contract covers the altitude that you are trekking at. It is highly suggested that you get the Travel Insurance in your own home country.

What happens in case of any emergency or even altitude sickness?

You must know that altitude sickness is a quite common phenomenon and thus the travel and tour companies are highly prepared for such a situation. You will be provided the necessary guidance to help you cope with the sickness by yourself but if the sickness keeps on worsening you will be suggested to go to the lower altitude. The guides are provided the necessary first aid training in case of emergencies. But in case of the injury or altitude sickness or any other health problem, the rescue team will be contacted and dispatched. In such cases, having an insurance policy helps a lot.

Should we need to have a trekking guide?

The new trekkers are highly suggested to have a trekking guide as they may not have adequate knowledge of the technicalities, topographies, climatic conditions, health guidelines, and first-aid training and so on to plan the trek accordingly. Also, the trekking guides are the encyclopedia of information about local places and the location you are visiting which will ensure that your travel experience is excited and interesting. Besides, you will have an experienced company with you. But if you have a professional trekking experience, especially in Nepal, you can opt to not have one. However, you must take note that the government has made them necessary in many trekking routes.

Do I need porters as well?

The porters are not necessarily needed but if you wish to make your travel baggage-free, you can always take a porter with you. This way you can also help promote local employment and contribute to the economy.

What are the other permits I need for the trek?

The permits that are necessary for the trek will be acquired by your tour company. However, if you choose to be informed, you will need to have a TIMS (Trekkers’ Information Management System) card which is a basic permit in Nepal for trekking purposes and you will be required to acquire other permits as necessitated by local bodies of the place you are trekking in. For the solo trekkers, you can have FIT (Free Individual Trekker) permit, however, this is not valid for the areas that restrict you from going on solo trekking.

Can I solo trek/travel in Nepal?

You can solo trek or travel in Nepal but some local bodies forbid it as they require at least two travel permits. Also, some bodies require you to have a travel guide. To comply with this system, you can maybe find another solo traveler and produce two travel permits and go solo together.

How will the food and water be during the trek?

The foods that are usually served locally in the remote teahouses do not promise you the myriads of cuisine, however, whatever plain food they offer you will be good and hygienic that will help energize you during the span of your trekking. If you choose to camp then you can get local supplies and cook them as per your taste. Since the meat products do not survive because of the absence of refrigerating facility, you will be required to turn vegetarian throughout your travel. It is advisable to carry bottled water which is available in the base camps that cost around US$ 1 to 4, as the natural water in the trail might not suit your body.

What souvenirs can I buy in Nepal? Also, how much amount is good for extra expenses?

For souvenirs, Buddhist memorabilia, carved masks, puppets, wood carvings, jewelry and you can also get good locally hand-knitted woolen products, hats, cashmere shawls, Pashminas and so on. The Souvenirs are generally available in Thamel in Kathmandu and Lakeside in Pokhara.

When it comes to the extra expenses including souvenirs, not considering the food and drinks provided by the Hotel/ Teahouse or travel/trekking company, we recommend you to have around US$200-350 along with you so that you can purchase some clothing items and food items of your liking, if necessary. In addition to that, you can also withdraw money from ATMs in major cities with the banks if you have a VISA or MasterCard.

Can I buy the trekking equipment in Kathmandu or should I bring it along with myself?

Yes, the trekking equipment can be bought in Kathmandu as they might even cost a little less. However, quality is not guaranteed. For this reason, you can also choose to bring them with yourself.

What are the things I need to carry to the trek?

You are required to carry cool as well as warm clothing as the climate drastically changes during the span of your trekking. You might have to carry a sleeping bag as you might at times not be able to make it to the teahouses or at times when they are unavailable. A small portion of snacks and Protein bars will come handy to help you maintain the stamina. You can also carry waterproof wearable, hand sanitizers, water bottle, first aid kit, cap, lotion, sunglasses and other things that you might find necessary.

Are Ice axe and Crampons necessary while trekking in Nepal?

As the trails are marked nicely by the professionals, you will not necessarily need Crampons and Ice axe. However, if you are planning to visit in the winter when the trail is covered with snow and fog, you will need them as the visibility is minimal at that time. In another suitable season, as we suggested above, you can maybe bring microspikes as they can be carried easily. To your advantage, Microspikes are comparatively costlier. If Ice Axe is really necessary, the trekking company will provide you one as they understand the specifications of the tool needed.

Lastly,

In conclusion, the overall trekking experience, despite its physical and emotional taxes, will yield you one of the most beautiful life experiences. People rarely get to go to heaven in their lifetime and here you will get to live and dine in it for trek spanning for more than a week. If you love adventure and if you admire the beauty equally, we recommend the Annapurna Circuit Trek.
 

Comment

Our Team