West of Kathmandu, the Annapurna Circuit Trek is one of the most mythical Himalayan treks. Starting in the banana fields, with gigantic waterfalls springing from the rocks, crossing lichen forests, numerous bridges and villages, along the Marshyangdi river, we find ourselves amidst plains and canyons with lunar landscapes and semi-desert meadows. We travel more than 200 km and cross the Thorung La (5,416m), framed by Khatung Kang (6,484 m) and Thorong Peak (6,481 m), where the Himalayan summits run to infinity: Manaslu, Annapurna II, III, IV, Gangapurna, Dhaulagiri, Nilgiri and so on.
From shady rice fields to Tibetan high valleys, terraced fields to rhododendron and coniferous forests, we walk amid striking and surprisingly varied landscapes, continually dominated by sentries from the roof of the world. So, it is considered to be one of the most popular treks for landscapes view and also the second most famous trek in Nepal after Everest Base Camp Trek.
The highlights of the Annapurna Circuit Trek
- Trekking from the temperate and the subtropical climate to the alpine and subarctic climate of the Thorong-La pass, up to the trans-Himalayan desert of the Baragaon plateau.
- Religious and Cultural hotpot; Hindu, Tibetan, and shamanic cultures, who revel in temples, meditation and retreat caves, monasteries and ancient places of worship.
- The imposing peaks of Manaslu, Damodar, Annapurna, and Dhaulagiri Himal and the great pass of Thorong-La (5416m)
- The Kali Gandaki River Valley, the deepest gorge in the world between Dhaulagiri and Annapurna (over 5000 m between peaks and valley bottoms)
- Accompanied by one of our expert local guides with porter support you contribute to the local economy
Day 1: Arrival in Kathmandu (1,350 m).
Upon your arrival in Kathmandu, our representative will pick you up at the airport and drive to the assigned hotel where you will meet the rest of the group. The hotel is located nearby Thamel where you can enjoy shopping, restaurants, and cafes. Depending upon what time you arrive, in the afternoon your trek guide will brief you about the upcoming days and help you prepare. Rest of the day is at leisure. TIP: Please look for the Go For Nepal board at the opposite railing of the terminal. Overnight at Hotel in Kathmandu.
Day 2: Drive to Besisahar (760 m).
After breakfast (around 07:30 am) we drive along the beautiful hills of Nepal. Exiting Kathmandu at the Nagdhunga checkpoint, we drive on the Prithvi Highway to Dumre from whence we follow the Marsyangdi River to Besisahar (760m), a small town which is the capital of Lamjung district. On clear days one can see Lamjung Himal from north of Besishahar. The drive takes about 6 hours and we have the rest of the day at leisure to explore the town. Overnight at local lodge in Besisahar.
Day 3: Drive Besisahar to Chame (2,630 m), 6 hrs.
We set about for another day’s drive on a dirt track to Chame on the escarpments above the Marshyangdi river. Initially passing through lush green rice terraces, culturally mixed villages and deciduous forests the valley narrows transforms to narrow corridors with towering cliffs, apple orchards, barley fields, and stonewalled houses of local Gurung people. At Tal, we enter the Buddhist region of Manang. En-route we see of Manaslu and Annapurna II but at Chame, we have a towering view of the Lamjung Himal and distant view of Manaslu Himal. Overnight at guesthouse in Chame.
Day 4: Start Trek from Chame to Lower Pisang (3,200 m), 6 hrs.
Today, we start hiking on the jeep track on the Marshyangdi river escarpment and cross the river several times while passing prayer wheels. The trail is demanding as we ascend through a juniper forest, traverse across narrow ledges jutting on the cliffside far above the marshyangdi river. Views are plentiful and again the change in landscape is dramatic as we enter the sub-alpine region above 3000m. After lunch in Dhukur Pokhari, a beautiful valley with windswept hills, we walk through hiking trails and the main road to the beautiful valley of Pisang from whence the rain-shadow area of the trans-Himalaya begins. Overnight at guesthouse in Lower Pisang.
Day 5: Lower Pisang to Braga (3,450 m), 7.5 hrs or Manang (3,540 m, 8 hrs.
Today we hike the steep higher trail on the northern side of the river, crossing the Marshyangdi river multiple times, to the village of Ghyaru. After a short pitstop with views of Annapurna range, the trail is gentle with small ascents and descents till the village of Nagwal where we stop for lunch with scenic views. Post lunch we the trail is gentle and easy to the village of Braga. The houses in the small village are clustered on a cliffside to protect from the winds. Vegetation is sparse as Braga is above the treeline at the threshold of alpine forests. We can either stay overnight at Braga and visit the monastery there or walk for about 45m to the village of Manang. Overnight at guesthouse in Braga or Manang.
Day 6: Acclimatization day.
Today we spend acclimatizing to get used to the altitude; either visit the monastery or hike the steep trail to the beautiful Ice lake at 4,600 meters. The excursion takes about 6 hours and is worthwhile with beautiful views of Annapurna range, Manaslu, Tilicho Peak, etc. Overnight at guesthouse in Braga or Manang.
Day 7: Trek to Thorung Phedi (4,420 m).
Finally leaving the roads, we walk above the treeline through narrow windswept valleys in the realm of the mountains where a few hamlets of lodges and tea houses offer accommodation and hot beverages for the weary traveler. The region is home to Naur (Himalayan Blue Sheep), Himalayan Tahr, Musk deer, and many others. Grand mountain views follow throughout the hike while Annapurna 3 and Ganagpurna massifs stand out among the rest. The hike is gentle with small ascends and descends for about 6 hours to Letdar (4,200m). Further, we hike with splendid views along the 2-hour gentle undulating trail to Thorong Phedi where we stop for the night. Overnight in teahouse Thorung Phedi.
Day 8: Trek to Muktinath (3,710 m) via the Thorung La (4,420 m).
The most difficult day of the trek, we start early on a sharp steep trail for 1.5 hours to Thorong High Camp (4,850 m) where there is just one tea house. Further on the trail is steep but wide which then eases off along glacial lakes to the stone cairns (also called mane) and prayer flags at the pass. The view from the top of Thorung La is mesmerizing as we can see on the north the ochre hills of Mustang and on the South of the mountains that we’ve passed. Since we are in the trans-Himalayan region, vegetation is sparse and the trail over the pass is long and steep, narrow at times. The descent takes about 3 hours to the quaint little village of Muktinath (3,710 m) Overnight at guesthouse in Muktinath.
Day 9: Trek Muktinath (3,710 m) to Jomsom (2,720 m).
Among arid landscapes opening on the Tibetan plateau to the north and high snowy mountains to the south, we climb a short pass (4000m) for an exceptional view of the Dhaulagiri (8167 m) and then descend to the unique village bon of Lupra. On the way, with a little luck, we can see the Bharal, the blue sheep of the Himalayas. We further continue on the Kali Gandaki gorge to Jomsom, a bustling tourist town full of cafes, lodges, and shops selling trinkets. Overnight at guesthouse in Jomsom.
Day 10: Trek end: Drive Jomsom (2,720 m) to Pokhara (827m).
Today is a long drive along the Kali Gandaki gorge via the villages of Marpha; famous for its apple production, Ghasa, and Beni. The Kali Gandaki swells up as we near Ghasa and the vegetation is lush and green all around the towering cliffs. The ride takes about 10 hours to Pokhara where we embrace civilization once again and can revel in its luxury. Overnight at Hotel in Pokhara.
Day 11: Drive Pokhara (827 m) to Kathmandu (1,375 m).
We drive along the Seti river to Dumre and continue on the Prithvi highway (the same route that we drove on the start of the trek) to Kathmandu for about 6-7 hrs. Rest of the afternoon is at leisure. Overnight at Hotel in Kathmandu.
Day 12: Departure.
Your trip to Nepal comes to an end. Our office representative will pick you up at your hotel 3 ½ hours before your flight time and drop you to Tribhuvan Airport. Wish you a safe flight back home.
What's included !
- Standard twin sharing accommodation in hotel in Kathmandu; Breakfast included.
- All your standard Meals during the trek (Breakfasts, Lunches, and Dinners).
- Tea house accommdation during the trek (Twin-shared room).
- Licensed English speaking guide.
- The required number of local staff and porters to carry your luggage during the trek (We assign one porter for every two guests).
- Food, accommodation, salary, insurance, equipment, and medicine for all staff.
- Annapurna Conservation Area permits and TIMS permit for trekking.
- Surface transfer from and to Kathmandu.
- Jomsom to Pokhara drive by bus
- Farewell dinner in typical Nepali Restaurant on second last day.
- Duffel bag and Sleeping bag during the trek (should be returned to us)
- All our government taxes, vat, tourist service charges.
- Rescue service arrangement only (covered by your travel insurance)
- All governmental taxes and Official expenses.
Optional (Available on extra cost)
- Jomsom to Pokhara flight
- Pokhara to Kathmandu flight
What's not included !
- Nepal Visa
- Air travel to/from Nepal,
- Lunch & dinner in Kathmandu,
- Soft/hard drinks, laundry, postage, telephone bills, all items of personal nature,
- Personal clothing, insurance against accidental, medical and emergency rescue evacuations,
- Respective expenses if one returns earlier from the trip due to sickness or emergency purpose.
- Sightseeing around Kathmandu valley.
- Travel Insurance
- Emergency helicopter rescue evacuation arrangements will be covered by travel insurance.
What is trekking ?
Trekking is an adventure activity in which people walk through villages and climb few hills. The path is usually steep hill and we will likely encounter snows at higher altitude.
Is trekking good for me ?
In my opinion, trekking is good for everyone who is physically fit, healthy and loves adventure and outdoor activities.
Do I need a guide? By the way, I have already trekked or hiked before ?
You will be trekking countryside, high elevation, wild and remote areas of the Himalaya. Guide does not only show you trekking paths, he also helps you to be safe and entertain you during the trekking. And this will make your trip joyful. Although you have experience of trekking or hiking, our guide will certainly enhance your good experience since most of them have more than 10 years experience in the Himalaya.
How difficult is trekking and climbing ?
Difficulty of trekking depends on specific trek. We define difficulty of trekking through trip grade. Basically, there are 3 types of trekking - Easy trekking, moderate trekking and hard trekking. But climbing is of course harder and challenging but It also can be categorized from less challenging to hard challenging.
Is travel insurance necessary ?
Indeed, travel insurance is mandatory. It must cover Helicopter rescue and medical insurance, in case of some emergency. We would like to suggest you World Nomads because it covers medical evacuation and heli rescue up to 6000 m.
What types of permit are required for trekking ?
It depends on specific trekking routes. Some areas like Upper Mustang, Manaslu Circuit, Upper Dolpo etc require special permit, whereas other require only conservation area/national park permit. All trekking routes require TIMS. But don't worry ! We will manage all permits for you.
How long do we walk each day during the trekking ?
During the entire trek, we usually walk 4 to 6 hours each day. It will be between 5 to 15 kilometers each day.
What type of accommodation is provided during the trekking ?
Standard twin shared accommodation is provided in hotel in Kathmandu. In higher elevation, there is not luxurious hotel. So tea house and lodge accommodation is provided in the higher elevation.
Will I have to carry my own luggage ?
Of course not. We provide a porter who will carry you stuffs. But remember, a porter is provided for 2 trekkers, and each porter can carry only up to 20 kg.
Were the trekking routes damaged by earthquake 2015 ?
Some of the trekking routes were damaged but most of them were not. Among them, Langtang valley was badly damaged, but now it is reconstructing and safe now. Earthquake 2015 caused avalanche in Everest and killed several mountaineers and also destroyed some tea houses. But rest of the places of Everest are relatively unaffected. Western Nepal was not affected by earthquake at all.
What are the best places to go trekking in Nepal ?
There are several possibilities which are almost endless. Everest Base Camp, Everest Three Passes Annapurna Base Camp, Annapurna Circuit, Langtang Valley, Manaslu Circuit and Upper Mustang are the most popular routes. But there are numerals trekking places all round the country.
Should I tip guide and porter ? How much should I tip ?
It is not mandatory tipping to guide and porter. But they appreciate your small gratuity after your trek ends. By the way, tipping is a great way to show your appreciation for team and devoted attention of guide and porter to your successful trip. But you are free to give tip to guide and porter how much you would want.
What type of insurance should I have ?
Considering the terrain and the potential health risks, it would be extremely unwise to travel to Nepal without Health Insurance. Choose a policy that covers medical and emergency repatriation, including helicopter evacuation. Prior to travel, read the small print of your policy. Certain activities may be classified as ‘adventure’ or ‘extreme sports’ and these may require additional cover. Many policies will not cover you for activities above 4000m.
What should I pack for my Annapurna Trek ?
Personal clothing along with passport and insurance. The trekking list will be provided by the company.
Should I bring sleeping bags and down jackets?
Yes, you should ! It is necessary to bring. Either you will bring it from your home or rent here in Kathmandu.
Where can I keep my valuables safe?
Before your trek, you can keep your passport and valuables in the Hotel safety deposit box. Go For Nepal Treks can store for you whilst on your trek, as your Trekking permits (TIMS) (Trekking Information Management System) will be as good as your passport. Your medication should be carried with you on the trek.