Annapurna Circuit Trek is one of the famous trekking routes of Nepal. It is one of the most beautiful trekking routes in the world and has attracted thousands of tourists every year. The mesmerizing views and welcoming local communities are some of the few reasons people keep coming back to do this trek. It is one of the country’s best long trials, with the overall trail going around 230 km. The average time to complete this trek in 15-16 days, but depending on one’s trekking speed and overnight destinations, the trek can be completed in a shorter as well as longer time frame.
Key Highlights of Annapurna Circuit
Annapurna mountain range: The grandiose Annapurna massif is the main attraction of Annapurna Circuit Trek. Annapurna (I, II, III and IV), Gangapurna, Annapurna South, Annapurna Fang, and Khangsar Kang make up the giant massif.
Diverse local cultures: From the starting point of the circuit, trekkers are introduced to the unique local cultures. The majority of the people living in this region are Gurungs, but as in the northern region, the Thakali community dominates.
Thorung-La Pass, the highest pass in the world: It is the climax and the highest point of Annapurna Circuit Trek. The pass is located at an altitude of 5,416m, and from here, the panoramic views of the landscape and mountains are impeccable.
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Century-old Muktinath Temple: This village comes right after Thorung-La Pass, and the serenity of the area is calming. This place is famous for Muktinath Temple, where devotees of both Buddhism and Hinduism come to pay their respects.
High Mountain Tilicho Lake: The cerulean glacial lake is so breathtaking that you’ll need a full day to admire its beauty. The mountains overlook the lake, making the view picturesque.
Annapurna Circuit Trek Itinerary
From Kathmandu, you head towards Besisahar, and from there, you trek to Bhulbhule. Trekking through the hills and enjoying the Annapurna massif’s views, you trek through villages like Jagat and Chame. From Chame, the trail starts to go steep, and you arrive at Lower Pisang. Here onwards, the landscape starts to be a bit arid, and you arrive at Manang, one of the big towns of the region. After acclimatizing for a day at Manang, you then head to the beautiful Tilicho Lake via Khangsar. Enjoying the frozen lake, you head towards Thorung La Pass, the highest point of the trek. Then the trek comes to an end when you descend to Pokhara via Muktinath and Jomsom.
Since there are many side options/locations to trek to, you can customize your itinerary. For example, you can extend the trek and visit Tatopani, the natural hot springs, to reward your aching body. You can stay an extra overnight at Manang to enjoy their hospitality and culture. There is also the option not to visit Tilicho Lake and shorten the trek.
Best season to do Annapurna Circuit Trek
The recommended time to travel is spring (March-May) and autumn (September-November) because the weather is stable and bright with less possibility of cloudy days. Because the weather is more stable than summer and winter, there are also fewer chances of weather events like rainfall and snow. The recommended months to trek are September and October. During this time, the weather is evident and is also the time of the national festival, Dashain, so that you can enjoy the festivities.
The average cost of Annapurna Circuit Trek
Permits and TIMS: Rs. 5,000
15-day trek (3 meals + accommodation): Rs. 25,000 to Rs. 35,000
Drinking water: Rs. 20 to Rs. 100 per bottle (Depends the altitude)
Porter (if needed): Rs. 2000- Rs. 22000 per day
Guide: Rs. 25,00- Rs. 35,00 per day
It is recommended to carry a minimum of Rs. 2,500 per day. If you wish to use miscellaneous services like shower or battery charging, then the minimum per day goes up to Rs.3,000 -3,500. If you have a guide and porters, then it is best to tip them as well. If your planned trip is more than 15 days, the costs will be higher. We suggest carrying an extra Rs. 1,000-2,000 per day in case of any emergencies.
TIMS, permits, and others
Before heading out to Annapurna Circuit, you need proper permits to trek. You can get your permit card at the checkpoint, but you’ll have to pay additional fees (extra Rs. 1,000/approx. USD 10). Since it is a protected area, it is important not to lose the permit card, as you’ll need to show it at checkpoints. To obtain it, you need to pay a certain amount.
Trekkers’ Information Management System (TIMS) card: Rs. 2,000 (approx. USD 20)
Annapurna Sanctuary permits (for foreigners): Rs. 3,000 (approx. USD 30)
Annapurna Sanctuary permit (for SAARC nationals): Rs. 1,000 (approx. USD 10)
These permits can be obtained from both Kathmandu as well as Pokhara. To get them, you need to visit the Nepal Tourism Board Office (Pradarshani Marg, Kathmandu) or Nepal Tourism Board Service Center (Damside, Pokhara).
It is also recommended to do travel insurance before you set out to trek. Since it is rugged terrain and there are high chances of suffering from altitude sickness, travel insurance will cover up for any serious incidents.
The starting point (Besisahar/ Bhulbhule) is around 800m, and the highest point (Thorung La Pass) is 5,416m. The altitude gain of every day varies, but on average it is about 500m. From Manang onwards, the altitude varies widely as you’ll be heading to 4,000m and above.
It is generally noted that in Nepal, about 40% of trekkers who trek to altitudes above 4,000m suffer from altitude sickness. Since the trek goes to more than 5,000m altitude, there are high chances of trekkers suffering from altitude sickness. As the oxygen level decreases with gaining altitude, it is a must not to overwork your body as walking rigorously needs more oxygen. To avoid it, one needs to walk at a constant pace and take breaks in between. It is also recommended to carry medication for altitude sickness.
If symptoms of altitude sickness occur (e.g., dizziness, nausea, headache), you need to take a rest and inform your guide. If the symptoms become severe, you might have to halt or cancel the trek. So it is important to avoid straining your body.
If you plan to trek to the Himalayas, the Annapurna Circuit Trek is the perfect place to start. From the mountain views to the hospitality, it is a place that is worthy of being on the bucket list of every avid trekker around the world.