A complete guide to Annapurna Circuit Trek

A complete guide to Annapurna Circuit Trek

Annapurna Circuit Trek is one of the busiest & popular trekking destinations in Nepal among the trekkers from all over the world. With a total of 160-230 km approx trekking route length & diverse geography, believe me, you’ll have a real adventure and new experience. Therefore, today’s topic “A complete guide to Annapurna Circuit Trek” will ensure the routes, seasons, price, map and many more.

Route of Annapurna Circuit: Your trek begins from Besishar (7 hours drive from Kathmandu) following the beautiful Marshyangdi river. From here, it’s all the way up to the highest point to Thorong La Pass 5,416m & concludes in Jomsom following the world’s deepest Gorge (Kali Gandaki river).

On this trek, you’ll pass through a subtropical forest, beautiful paddy fields, lively local villages & cultures, picturesque highlands & lowlands, stunning mountains & cliffs along with the world’s deepest Gorge. No wonder, Annapurna Circuit is considered as world classic trekking route.

First, here are the essential tips & information of Annapurna Circuit Hike:

Basic Facts About Annapurna Circuit:

LocationCentral Nepal ( covering five major cities of Nepal: Lamjung, Manang, Mustang, Kaski & Myadi )
Trek DistanceApprox 160-230km ( Depending upon the route )
Terk DifficultyMedium
Trek LengthGenerally 12-20 Days
Max Elevation Thorong La Pass (5,416m / 17,769ft)
PermitsACAP & TIMS

When to trek in Annapurna Circuit trail?

Trekking in Nepal is not as easy as you may think, especially in mountain regions. Normally, the mountain region’s altitude is higher than 5,000m & temperature could go around -20°C. That is the reason why there is always a risk when trekking.

With this Annapurna Trail, you’ll ascend from as low as 750m-Besisahar to 5,416m high-Thorong La Pass. Nobody can go direct to the higher altitude 5,416m because of altitude sickness possibility.

Similarly, the weather up to 2,500m altitude is sunny & warm during the day & chill at night. But not to mention, as you ascend to higher altitude i.e from 2,500m to higher, the temperature begins to drop down & gets even colder. Therefore, the best time to do Annapurna Circuit trek would be Autumn (October – early December) & Spring (March-May).

During the Autumn season, the skies get clear, the temperature becomes mild & the mountain views will be glorious. Additionally, you can grab the sight of Rhododendrons, lush forests of Pines & Oaks during your trek.

Likewise, at the time of winter, as a result of frozen ice & erratic weather, even Thorong La Pass may be temporarily shut. Attempting to hike at such a condition is like risking your life. Moreover, the unpredicted weather can be extremely deadly (see what happened in the 2014 Nepal blizzard disaster ). Similarly, in monsoon, the weather is quite moist & hiking all the way into the off-road trail, steep lands, and jungles will be very quite difficult. You can encounter heavy storms as well.

Best itinerary for Annapurna Circuit Trek:

Introduction: The circuit trail officially opened in 1977 for all the trekkers. And at the very start, most of the trekkers started their trek from Besisahar & hike in an anti-clockwise direction to cross Thorong La Pass & heading down to the Jomsom.

The reason to hike anti-clockwise is to get enough time to adjust high altitude. In the anti-clockwise process, you will trek from lower to higher altitude taking a long itinerary.

In most of the itineraries, you will have normally 6 to 7 days before you cross Thorong La Pass (5,416m). On the contrary-hiking from Jomsom, you’d only have 2 days before crossing pass. Similarly, the path is steep hill & difficult to trek.

Best Itinerary: Here are our 12 Days Annapurna Circuit Trek Itinerary:

Day 01:Received at airport & transfer to Hotel.
Day 02:Visiting historical & cultural sites in Kathmandu.
Day 03:Drive to Tal 1,700m via Besisahar -09/10 hrs.
Day 04:Trek to Chame 2670m - 05hrs.
Day 05:Trek to Pisang 3,100m -05hrs.
Day 06:Trek to Manang Village 3,540m -05hrs.
Day 07:Rest day at Manang for short excursion & Acclimatization.
Day 08:Trek to Yak Kharka 4,100m -05hrs.
Day 09:Trek to Thorong high camp 4,925m 05 hrs.
Day 10:Cross Thorong-La pass 5,416m & Muktinath 3,700m -07hrs.
Day 11:Trek to Jomson 2,800m -06hrs.
Day 12:Fly back to Pokhara.

Note: You can customize as per your desire also as well as you can book Annapurna Circuit Trek with us for a better experience.

Annapurna Circuit Trek Map:

Annapurna Circuit Map

This Annapurna Circuit trek map is designed according to the original map. As you can see, you will trek from anti-clockwise from Besisahar all round to Pokhara in Annapurna Circuit Trek. When doing circuit trekking, you will see some of the highest peaks like Machhapuchre (6,933m), Mt. Annapurna (8,091m), Tilicho Peak (7,134m), Nilgiri (7,061m) and many more.

Permit for Annapurna Circuit Trek & Permit Fee:

Annapurna Circuit trek falls on the Annapurna Conservation Area. So, you must have TIMS ( Trekking Information Management System ) & ACAP ( Annapurna Conservation Area Permit ) when hiking on the Annapurna circuit trail. These permits are checked in various checkpoints during the trek.

Generally, these permits are provided by your trekking agency if you book with them. But if you’re solo trekking then you can get these permits in the Nepal Tourism Board Office. It is located on Pradarshani Marg, Kathmandu or in Pokhara at the Nepal Tourism Board Service Centre. Or you can get the permit at the ACAP entry permit counter in Besisahar also.

The permit fee is as follows:
-ACAP fee for foreigners: NRS 3,000 / Approx. USD 30
-ACAP fee for SAARC nationals: NRS 200
-TIMS fee: NRS 1,000 Approx. USD 10

Here are the contact details of offices where you can purchase the permits.
-Nepal Tourism Board Office, Kathmandu: 01-4256909
-Nepal Tourism Board Service Centre, Pokhara: 061-465292
-ACAP entry permit counter, Besisahar

Self-Organized Trek or Trekking Agency?

This is the most frequently asked questions when it comes to trekking in Annapurna, or say while trekking in Nepal. To be honest both of the options are viable & have its own merits & demerits.

a)Self-Organized Trek:

Over the years, many foreigners tend to trek Annapurna Circuit all by themselves unlike in the Everest region. Also in recent years, the construction of roads is making these trekking routes shorter & easier for trekking.

However, the best side of the self-organized trek is that you can get the freedom to do whatever you want to do. You will have your own itinerary, you can hike on your own pace not worrying about the fixed time to complete the trek. Also, it’s much cheaper than booking with the trekking agency in Nepal.

But there is always a drawback while you are organizing trekking in Nepal all by yourself. The very first & foremost issue is that you will need to take care of everything all by yourself. You’re responsible for carrying all your backpacks, purchasing permits, finding accommodations, making itinerary & so on. Especially during peak/busy time, getting accommodation will be a real hassle. In the worst scenario, you need to spend your night in the camp or dining area.

Also, not to mention you will not have a professional & experienced guide to prevent you from possible dangers like altitude sickness, worst weather. Most importantly, you will also miss most of the details & information.

b)Trekking with Agency:

This is the most convenient means to enjoy your Annapurna Trek to the fullest. Everything you will need throughout the trek will be organized by your trekking agency in Nepal. Similarly, you don’t have to carry your heavy bags & you will get the best possible accommodation throughout the trek even in rush hour.

So, what can be better than getting our own comfort space after such a long day of a tiring hike? From a trekking agency, you will get a well-experienced guide also.

Just think, having a professional guide by your side to look after you throughout the trek is the best feeling you could get while trekking in Nepal. They will be like a caring friend who will take all the responsibilities. They will take care of your health, food, stay, and also informations. Personally, I would highly recommend to trek with an agency (Pristine Nepal Treks & Expedition). We provide 100% satisfaction and health security.

Light Physical Fitness for Annapurna Circuit Trek:

A complete guide to Annapurna Circuit Trek

Yes, you don’t need hard physical fitness to complete Annapurna trek. However, it’s definitely worth to put some effort into the gym or other activities to be fit.

In general, you’ll have to walk for 5-6 hours covering around 10-15kms in a day during the trek. But don’t worry you will have lunch break & rest break on the way. But some of the days on your trek involves straight 7-8 hours hike like from Muktinath to Jomsom or during the day you pass Thorong La. That is why you have to build up some stamina to do this trekking.

Likewise, the Annapurna trail is also considered to be one of the easiest yet the most beautiful trekking trail. Therefore, do a simple basic cardio training & you are good to go.

What is the cost for Annapurna Circuit Trek?

Most of the people are confused, what is the cost for Annapurna Circuit Trek? Is it cheap or is it expensive because the Annapurna circuit is the most popular trekking trail. They are not sure about the actual price for this trek.

But to your surprise, the cost ranges only somewhere from $700-$1,000 USD per person, either you travel solo or with trekking agencies. So, if you are paying more than that then it may be the additional services that we also don’t know.

However, depending upon the Annapurna Trek itinerary also, it can affect the cost of this trek. If you are doing this trek by taking a long route itinerary then it will cost you high. Similarly, all the cost you pay will cover all your permit fees, transportation fees, food & accommodation along with guide & porter fee.

According to the data, on average of $20-$30 per person per day is enough for you to pay for your lodging & foods (meals & soft drinks).

What types of foods & accommodation are in Annapurna?

Talking about the accommodation, you can easily find guesthouses & teahouses along the whole trek. Generally, every teahouse & hotel provides the room on the basis of twins sharing. And don’t worry the rooms are big enough to chill & relax.

Even though it’s in the high altitude, the hotels & lodges are well facilitated with Wi-Fi, electricity, telephone & hot shower. However, they will charge you a certain fee of like $1 or $2 per device.

And to the main point, when it comes to food, I am 100% sure you’ll fall in love with the cuisines there. You can expect every sort of food here from bakeries to western items.

After a long day hike, getting served by delicious foods is just mind-blowing.
Especially having typical Nepal food Dal (Lentil), Bhat (Rice) with curry is perfect. There is also a saying ‘Dal Bhat power 24 hours’. Next time when you trek Annapurna, make sure you have Dal & Bhat.

On a serious note, there are so many cases of people bargaining for accommodation & food prices. But, just to let you know that ” it is very hard to manage all the necessary stuff on such remote areas”. Also, people here are fully dependent on the tourist income for their survival. So, it is very necessary for every trekker to understand the situation they are in & help the communities instead.

Annapurna Circuit Trek Packing List:

A complete guide to Annapurna Circuit Trek

The key factor for a successful journey is to go well prepared. So while traveling to Nepal, make sure you come fully prepared unless you want to get welcomed by unpleasant events.

You already know that hiking solo in the Annapurna circuit means carrying out your own bags. I bet you don’t like the idea of hiking Annapurna with heavy loaded bags. Do you? So, make sure your bags are as light as possible.

Through the Trekking agencies of Nepal, you can hire a porter for your trek also. But it doesn’t mean that you can have everything included in your bags that are not necessary. Of course, without a doubt, Nepali porters are super strong but they are in fact human as well. Make sure that you are not pushing them more when trekking.

Indeed, they will help you carry your bags so that you can easily accomplish your trek without any difficulties. Similarly, according to the trekking law, a porter can’t carry more than 25kg of loads.

Here is the essential Annapurna Circuit Trek Packing List for you:

  • One down Jacket
  • Two Thermal Tops & Jumper
  • Two pairs of trekking pants & one trousers
  • One woolen hat & buff
  • One pair of woolen gloves
  • Two pairs of underwear & socks (you can wash)
  • One pair of waterproof trekking boots
  • One pair of sandal or shoe
  • Sunscreen & sunglass
  • Water purification tablets or sterilizer
  • Sleeping Bags
  • Trekking Poles
  • Portable charger
  • Basic first aid kit
  • Other basic personal essentials

Managing your backpack is most important when trekking in Nepal.

Medical Attention: Altitude Sickness

Altitude sickness is a major problem & nightmare for all the travel enthusiasts while trekking in Nepal.

As your trek starts from Besisahar, you’ll keep on ascending to the max altitude of this trek 5,416m (Thorong La Pass). If you are prone to altitude sickness, more likely, you will start to see the symptoms from an altitude of 2500m+ from Chame (very rare case).

Similarly, the chances of getting altitude sickness is very low as you’ll ascend very slowly. Besides, you’ll have a rest day at Manang located at an altitude of 3,519m also. By that time, your body will be already adjusted to a higher altitude too.

Similarly, you can check your oxygen level in health posts at Manang. Also, you can find an information board about altitude sickness along the way.

If you’re hiking solo I highly recommend you to take Acetazolamide “water pill”, Aspirin & Lung inhaler with you. And as soon as you feel anything unusual then seek help from other fellow trekkers & fall back to lower altitude before it gets any worse.

Also, for those who are traveling with guides, make sure to inform them about any disorder beforehand. Information about the Altitude sickness and the Curing method is very helpful when trekking.

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