The Annapurna Circuit, known to locals as the "Goddess of the Harvests", boasts a wild spectrum of cultures, terrains, and inspiring scenery. You will trek through alpine pastures, forests and Tibetan villages. You will visit waterfalls, glaciers, lakes, apple orchards, and soak your tired muscles in natural hot springs. However nothing compares to getting up close to the mammoth mountain range of Annapurna Massif.
The Annapurna Circuit loops around the Annapurna Massif by crossing a high altitude pass of Thorung La at 5416m that touches the Tibetan plateau. The Annapurna Massif is often considered the most amazing mountain range in the Himalayas. With seven peaks in the area between 6000m and 8000m including Annapurna I which is the tenth highest mountain in the world, it's an awe-inspiring place, the views are just incredible.
The trail goes through the Annapurna conservation area and at its centre is the glacial plateau surrounded by mountains. The snow-capped peak, remote villages, isolated monasteries varied scenery and the diversity of cultures make this trek one of the most enjoyable and popular treks in the Himalayas.
Day 1: Arrive in Kathmandu, transfer to hotel and welcome dinner (1350m)
When you arrive in Kathmandu, you will be collected from the airport and transferred to your hotel. If you arrive early in the day, you can explore the city, rest in your hotel or indulge in the tasty cuisines served up by the abundance of appetising restaurants and cafes that cater to Western tastes. There is also a wonderful array of artisan shops selling everything from masala teas to luxurious pashminas to traditional Buddhist tankas (paintings that represent the images and stories of the Buddha).
Kathmandu is a chaotic yet charming city that can be an experience in itself. Many tourists become simply enthralled while wandering its labyrinthin of streets and watching its unique city life unravel before them.
In the evening there is a Welcome Dinner for the group that consists of traditional Nepalese food.
Day 2: Drive Kathmandu to Besi Sahar (823m) in 6-7 hours
Drive from Kathmandu (1750m) to Besi Sahar (823m) which takes 6-7 hours on the Kathmandu-Pokhara Highway. On route to Pokhara, you'll stop for lunch and have the opportunity to try dahl bhat a Nepalese staple meal that consists of lentil soup, rice, pickled vegetables and sometimes meat. Afterwards you can sip on a flavourful cup of Nepalese tea, which is milky, sweet and slightly spicy.
Day 3 Trek from Besi Sahar to Ngadi (860m) in 5 to 6 hours
The Annpurna Circuit Trek starts in Beshi. You trek along the riverbank and pass through rice paddy fields and Hindu villages. The trail then follows the river and passes a waterfall fueled by melting Himalayan snow. Continuing along the river, you'll arrive at Ngadi.
Day 4: Trek from Ngadi to Jagat (1400m) in 5 hours
Cross the suspension bridge and follow the trail through scrub forests until you arrive at Lampatta, a Manangi village where you will see many Tibetan-styled prayer flags. Following the trail, you'll then pass through Bahundanda village, descend to the river, cross the river, and trek further downhill to Jagat, an old customs post on the Tibetan trade route.
Day 5: Trek from Jagat to Dharapani (1943m) in 6 to 7 hours.
The trail follows the meandering trail that crosses a suspension bridge and continues upwards through a forest to the small village of Chamje (1430m). The trail continues to Tal, which has breath-taking views of the valleys that surround the village. Following the river you then reach the village of Dharapani at 1943m.
Day 6: Trek from Dharapani to Chame (2713m) in 5 hours
Continuing up the Manang on a rocky trail to Bagarchap, you'll have wonderful views of Manaslu and of Annapurna II and you will pass through forests of pine and oak, arriving at Danaque (2210m). The trail then descends though fir and pine-forested ridges to Koto and then to Chame (2713m) the administrative headquarters of the Manang district.
This remote location is the home of the Manangi people who have traded salt and yaks across this region for centuries. From Chame, you'll have distant views of Lamjung, Annapurna II and Annapurna IV, which will provide a wonderful end to a long day of trekking.
Day 7: Trek from Chame to Pisang (3185m) in 5 hours
Following the river and trekking through apple orchards, you'll arrive at Bhratang, an old Khampa settlement. The trail cuts through a steep and narrow valley surrounded by a thick, deep forest where impressive views of Annapurna II can be seen. As the forest gives way, you'll cross the river and be rewarded by Paungda Danda, a 1500m rock wall that reaches towards the gods. The surrounding prayer flags highlight its spiritual significance. Continuing uphill until reaching Pisang.
Day 8: Trek from Pisang to Manang (3530m) in 8 hours
The uphill trek provides very rewarding views of the Himalayas. On route you will trek though the culturally interesting villages of Ghyaru and Ngawal, where the residents are of Tibetan origin. The surrounding environment becomes increasingly barren until you reach Braga, a beautiful village with a prominent ancient gompa. Trekking a little further, you'll pass mini inscribed walls and reach Manang, another Tibetan-style village.
Looking towards the upper Manang Valley, you can see Annapurna II, III and IV, Gangapurna and the Glacier Dome. Looking west reveals Thorong La and Thorungtse and the peaks that separate Tibet from Nepal. The alternative option is to follow the other trail to Manang a less rewarding but shorter trek taking 5-6 hours.
Day 9: An essential acclimatization day
You will spend a second night at Manang, which is a great place to acclimatise. Sleeping in Manang for a second night will improve your performance at higher altitudes, which is needed when crossing the high altitude pass of Thorung-La. During the day, you can admire the views and relax, explore the area around the village, or take a short day hike.
Day 10: Trek from Manang to Ledar (4250m) in 4 hours
Well-rested, you'll climb up the valley and find yourselves trekking through alpine landscapes, with impressive panoramic views of Gangapurna and Annapurna III.
Day 11: Trek from Letdar to Thorong Phedi (4700m) in 3 hours
Today is a short trekking day, but the trail ascends steeply and takes you to high altitude terrain. The trails continue on a narrow, firm passage that gives way to a scree slope (small stones that move when you trek on them) and descends to Thorong Phedi.
Day 12: Trek from Thorong Phedi to Thorong La (5415m) to Muktinath (3802m) in 8 hours and van to Jomson
This day starts early and is very tiring. You will cross the high altitude pass called Thorong La and descend to Muktinath. Following a windy trail, the trek to Thorong La will take around 4 hours and the high altitude will make it a strenuous morning. The panoramic Himalayan views of snow-capped peaks stretching to Tibet are simply mind-blowing and you'll have great views of the Annapurna Range to the south.
After crossing the pass, you'll start the long descent to Muktinath, which has wonderful views of Dhaulagiri and Tukuche. Muktinath is religiously significant for both Hindus and Buddhists and is a place of pilgrimage. You will see gompas, pagoda-style temples, and religious and culturally important architecture.
Day 13: Fly from Jomsom to Pokhara (2560m)
Pokhara is a lovely lakeside town that has an ideal climate and is the launching point for trekking in Annapurna. It has a slow and relaxed atmosphere, an abundance of tourist shops selling artisan products and trekking equipment, and many delightful restaurants and cafes. You will have the option to go kayaking on the lake, take a yoga class, ride a bicycle, or just relax and explore the town. Many trekkers pass away the hours refueling in the restaurants and cafes!
Day 14: Drive from Pokhara to Kathmandu
You will arrive in Kathmandu around mid-afternoon. Kathmandu is a chaotic yet charming city that can be an experience in itself. Many tourists become simply enthralled while wandering its labyrinthian streets and watching its unique city life unravel before them.
Day 15: Fly Home
What is included in the Annapurna Circuit Trek?
All accommodation - hotels in Kathmandu and teahouses in the mountains
Guides and porters
Flight from Jomson to Pokhara
Rooms are based on 2 people sharing a twin room.
If you are a solo traveller on the Annapurna Circuit trek, you will be matched with another solo traveller of the same gender. In the teahouses in the mountains occasionally the rooms are based on an occupancy of 3. This is determined by the teahouse and the rooms available. If required, a singles supplement can be paid so that you have your own hotel in Kathmandu.
What is not included in the Annapurna Circuit Trek?
Equipment such as a rucksack, boots and a sleeping bag.
When is the best time of the year to go?
There are 2 main trekking seasons in Nepal: October to November and March to May. However you can go all year round.
Flights from London to Kathmandu?
Accommodation on the Annapurna
When trekking the Annapurna Circuit it is very important that you understand that the accommodation on the trek is very basic. Please expect to stay in a room similar to the one below:
Teahouses are basic clean guesthouses made from stone and wood, typically they have rooms that have two single beds with a shared bathroom outside the room. Below is a picture of a basic teahouse and depending on the village, you'll often stay in teahouse of a slightly better standard.
For more information on what to expect on the Annapurna Circuit please see our article on teahouse accommodation
Fitness level and altitude for the
Annapurna Circuit Trek
The high altitude and the trekking duration of 12 days is what makes the Annapurna Circuit classification difficult. The good news is that unlike the Everest Base Camp Trek, the altitude increases gradually and you only spend 2 nights above 4000m, therefore you are much less likely to suffer from any altitude sickness related symptoms. Additionally included in the trekking duration of 12 days is 1 acclimatisation day where you will have the option of having a rest day.
We recommend that all trekkers exercise 3 to 4 times a week prior to the trek as the fitter you are, the easier it will be. A fit person, who can manage a long hard day's walk (6 -7 hours) on a trail that has steep inclines and declines and then do it again the day after, or strenuous exercise classes such as aerobics or spin three times a week, should be suitably fit for the Annapurna Circuit.
Spending time on the stair master or a steeply inclined running machine is also a very good form of pre-trekking training. It is not a problem if you are a slow trekker as we encourage people to trek at their own speed and we have plenty of breaks.
To combat the possibility of developing altitude sickness symptoms, our porters will be carrying your heavy items, we will have frequent breaks, and we recommend taking anti-altitude sickness tablets called Diamox or Acetazolamide (generic equivalent). On the Annapurna Circuit trek there is also 1 acclimatisation day where we stay in the same village for 2 consecutive nights. Individuals worried about their physical capacity due to chronic illness or how about taking Diamox should consult their doctor.
Temperature and sleeping bags on the Annapurna Circuit Trek?
As the temperature gets as cold as -7 degree Celsius at night in high altitude, a season 3 or 4 sleeping bag is recommended.
Season 1 = +5 degrees Celsius
Season 2 = 0 degrees Celsius
Season 3= -5 degrees Celsius
Season 4 = -10 degrees Celsius
Season 5 = -15 degrees Celsius
Do not worry about the cold, in the day at the highest altitude; temperatures can get up to 13 degrees Celsius.
Make the most of being in Nepal and see the world's largest mountain up-close. A small airplane will fly you from Kathmandu and will circle around Mount Everest for mind-blowing Himalayan views of snow-capped peaks and Mount Everest.
The flight lasts around 40 minutes and will depart early morning, giving you the afternoon to explore Kathmandu. An extra night's accommodation is included in the package.
Duration: 1 extra night
You will experience Nepal's tropical weather on your 3-day jungle safari. The highlights include riding an elephant and close-up views of the one-horned Asian rhinos of Nepal. If you're lucky you may even see a Royal Bengali Tiger.
Descend the Rapti river in a hand dug-out wooden canoe and wonder at the crocodiles, aquatic wildlife, and birds. Top it all off with a visit to the elephant breeding and conservation centre and learn about the efforts to stop poaching.
Duration: 3 extra days
We have just come back from a 15 day trek of the Annapurna Circuit and we are still reeling with our experiences.
Annie Lewis, UK
Nepal and the Annapurna circuit has so much to offer and more. The amazing experience starts from the check-out at the airport and does not stop until your baggage is back in the hold 15 days later. It is a welcome sight to be greeted by your friendly Guide in what some may call a different environment to Heathrow. You are immediately set at ease that all is in control. (Everything but the traffic!)
Our guide, 'Sir Tanka' is with you every step of the way and was supported by excellent porters. In our case it was 'Denim Dennis' and 'Sherpa Bassan'.
Every corner of the circuit offers a new landscape, from tropical through to desert. Your camera will be busy. Whilst the route is clearly marked, with Sir Tanka's knowledge of the area and its history I felt closer and greater appreciation of what I was experiencing. You just can't catch him out on the heights of the various peaks!
On the lung busting big day of the pass, Sir Tanka offered support, encouragement and patience and to the surprise of yourselves, people we met on the way, as well as family and friends, we have the photographic evidence that we made it. What an achievement.
An experience that will stay with me for the rest of my days.
'Experience the Himalayas' is clearly well organised. The staff are knowledgeable, flexible, charismatic, very personable and experienced trekkers. They clearly want you to make the most of your time on the circuit and we did!
Approximately 70% of our customers are solo travellers and there are no single supplements. Our trips are very solo traveller friendly.
Rooms are based on 2 people sharing a twin room. If you are a solo traveller you will be matched with another solo traveller of the same gender. In the teahouses that we use in the mountains occasionally the rooms are based on an occupancy of 3. This is determined by the tea house and the rooms available. If required a singles supplement can be paid so that you have your own hotel in Kathmandu.
Is it safe for single women?
Nepal is safe for female solo travellers. The mountains are very safe and Kathmandu is safe for a large city. However please take precautions when out late at night, where possible you should not get into a taxi on your own.
Visa for Nepal?
What should I pack?
Which hotel do we use in Kathmandu?
In Kathmandu you will normally stay in the Nirvana Garden Hotel
in the Thamel area. The reasons that we use this hotel are:
a) It is located in central Thamel, which has many artisan shops, cafes, and restaurants.
b) It has a very large and peaceful garden.
What will I eat in the mountains?
For breakfast you have the option of porridge, fruit, omelettes, pancakes, toast with fried eggs, or tsampa (Tibetan porridge). For lunch and dinner you have the option of dahl batt (a tasty staple that consists of rice, a lentil soup, pickled vegetables, and curried potatoes), curried potatoes, pasta, spring rolls, lasagne, momo dumplings, or stir fry. It is not recommended to eat meat in the mountains.
Do I need adventure travel insurance?
It is important that you have adequate travel insurance that covers helicopter airlifts whilst trekking. The need for a helicopter is unlikely, but the mountains are remote and not accessible by car. It is essential that you get insurance for the altitude of your trek as some companies only cover treks to only 2000m or 4000m.
We recommend companies the following companies as they currently cover the altitudes of all our treks on their standard policies.
For more information please see Personal travel insurance
Weight limits for internal flights?
If you are flying internally in Nepal (Everest Trek and Annapurna Circuit) there is a 12kg weight limit per person and this is the total weight of both the hand luggage and the checked in luggage.
Can I drink the tap water?
Tap water is not safe to drink in the mountains. To help prevent contamination of the environment, we discourage tourists from drinking from plastic bottles especially when in the mountains. Non-plastic bottle options include:
1) Drinking boiled water from teahouses.
2) Drinking ginger and lemon tea.
3) Purifying tap/river water using a chloride pump, iodine, or chloride tablets. The taste of the tablets is not appetising, so it is recommendable to use a dissolvable vitamin tablet to add flavour.
Toilets and showers
On your trek, your accommodation will have western toilets and you will have access to western toilets during the day. At the beginning of the trek the showers are okay but as you get further up the mountain the quality reduces. You will be able to have a shower everyday but at high altitude it will be very basic and may consist of warm water being poured into a make shift outdoor shower. The good news is that at high altitude you need to shower less as it is colder.
Health and vaccinations?
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