Hiking the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal

The Annapurna Circuit is considered one of the most beautiful, yet accessible, hikes in the world. During the trek you traverse from the Hindu-dominated lush lowlands to the Buddhist barren highlands. The trek goes counter-clockwise and reaches its summit in Thorung La (pass) at the height of 5416m, or 17,769 feet. Road construction is threatening this trail, so it is advisable to go quickly and enjoy the serenity before jeeps begin zooming all the way to Manang. Even if your vacation time is limited, you can fly to Nepal and complete the trek within 14 days.

Why Nepal

Nepal has the highest mountains in the world. Where else can you hike in view of Everest, Annapurna, Dhaulagiri, Lhotse or Manaslu?

It has a tradition of catering to foreigners: everyone speaks English, it is safe and you can arrange and purchase in Kathmandu or Pokhara everything needed for the hike.

Tea house trekking does not require carrying food or a tent.  Most villages along the trek have adequate accommodations and plenty of places to eat. A nice meal by the fireplace in a lodge and a hot shower at the end of the day are treats that you will not have if you go camping.

While many people do hike this trail during the busy season, it never feels crowded, and you will meet interesting people from all over the world.

Map of Annapurna Circuit

The Hike

Historically the trek started at Besi Sahar, but since the road is being extended, it is possible to catch a jeep further up the river valley close to Chame, thus cutting two days off the trek. I did not find the trek particularly difficult, though it is important to stay at least two nights in Manang as part of the altitude acclimation process.  The first few days of the trek are spent walking in warm lush valleys and as you gain altitude,  the mountains begin to appear, temperature drops and vegetation diminishes. The Nepali-Hindu population makes way for Tibetan-Buddhists.

Once you leave Manang, you will spend two nights gaining altitude preparing to cross the highest point of the route, Thorung La pass, where the air is thin and cold.  The crossing is usually done early in the morning and from there you quickly descend over 1600 meters to the pilgrim village of Muktinath, a pilgrim place for Hindus. The high pass should not be a problem as long as the weather is good and you have taken it easy during the hike. From Muktinath, you can catch a jeep to Jomsom and from there, hop on one of the numerous daily flights back to Pokhara (and from there to Kathmandu).

People in good physical shape who are not too susceptible to altitude sickness can complete the trail in 10 days, including an obligatory rest day in Manang, which means one can fly to Nepal, get organized in Kathmandu and recover after the trail within a two-week period. A nice break from routine!

A guest house on the trail

When to go

Spring and fall are the best months (March-May and September-November). If you go before early March, you may find the pass inaccessible due to snow. Summer is monsoon season (too much rain). The air is clearest in autumn.

About Arnon Kohavi

Arnon is a tech entrepreneur and worldwide traveler. He writes hotel reviews and travel guides for Mapplr to help people find the best places and itineraries.

Comments

  1. Arnon, great to see this — were you there lately? I hiked the circuit back in 1984 — that’s where Julie and I met, at a guest house in Tatopani. Glad to hear that it it’s kept its charm!

  2. Shalom Arnon.
    A few years ago we hiked half the Annapurna circuit from Pokhara to past Jomsom and then flew back in a small propeller aircraft, one of the highlights actually. We didn’t really have enough time to do the whole circuit and decided to do the trail clock-wise, the western side is more interesting but it makes Thorung La almost impassable. We did get part way up to the pass before the elevation got to us. We had our 2 youngest boys, to help with carrying the gear so 5 of us in the family did it solo. We hiked it in August, summer vacation, the only time we all had off. Lots of rain, we didn’t see the mountains for 3 days but when the snow-capped peaks popped out on the 4th morning, it was worth it. Got some great photographs. Incredible adventure.

  3. Nepal is wonderful place to be. More suitable for the adventure seekers and wilderness lovers. Nepal has lot for the trekking and hiking lovers. Annapurna Region Trek, Langtang Region Trek, Everest Region trek are among the popular trekking trails in Nepal.

  4. What Is a Trek?

    Whether you begin your trek at a road head or fly into a remote mountain airstrip, a large part of it will be in the Middle Hills region at elevations between 500 and 3000 meters. In this region, there are always well-developed trails through villages and across mountain passes. Even at high altitudes there are intermittent settlements used during summer by shepherds, so the trails, though often indistinct, are always there. You can easily travel on any trail without the aid of ropes or mountaineering skills. There are rare occasions when there is snow on the trail, and on some high passes it might be necessary to place a safety line for your companions or porters if there is deep snow. Still, alpine techniques are almost never used on a traditional trek. Anyone who has walked extensively in the mountains has all the skills necessary for an extended trek in Nepal.

    Some treks venture near glaciers, even cross the foot of them, most treks does not allow the fulfillment of any Himalayan mountaineering ambitions. Nepal’s mountaineering regulations allow trekkers to climb 18 specified peaks with a minimum of formality, but you must still make a few advance arrangements for such climbs. Many agents offer so-called climbing treks which include the ascent of one of these peaks as a feature of the trek. There are a few peaks that, under ideal conditions, are within the resources of individual trekkers. A climb can be arranged in Kathmandu if conditions are right, but a climb of one of the more difficult peaks should be planned well in advance.

    Trekking in nepal take you through a country that has captured the imagination of mountaineers and explorers for more than 100 years. You can meet people in the mountain villages whose lifestyle has not changed still in generations. Most people like and trust foreigners. Nepal is in-depended country.

    Adventure Holidays in nepal
    Many of the values associated with a hiking trip at home do not have the same importance during a trek in Nepal. Isolation is traditionally a crucial element of any wilderness experience but in Nepal it is impossible to get completely away from people, except for short times or at extremely high elevations. Environmental concerns must include the effects of conservation measures on rural people and the economic effects of tourism on indigenous populations. Even traditional national park management must be adapted because there are significant population centers within Sagarmatha (Mt Everest) and Langtang national parks.

    The Himalaya are extended from eastern India Assam west to Afghanistan. It is a chain of the highest mountains on earth and it covers a region of deep religious and cultural traditions as well as an amazing diversity of people. Trekking in Nepal is a special mountain experience.

    Adventure Trip in nepal Villages embrace many ethnic groups and cultures. The terrain changes from tropical jungle to high glaciated peaks in only 150 km. From the start, the towering peaks of the Himalaya provide one of the highlights of a trek. As your plane approaches Kathmandu these peaks appear to be small clouds on the horizon. The mountains become more definable and seem to reach impossible heights as you get closer and finally land at Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan Airport.

  5. There are many times in life that we want to experience an adrenaline rush. The smartest idea would be to check deals online. There would be plenty of sites that will offer you good deals for a trek. You could talk to any of your friends who have been on a Nepal trekking tour in fact.

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