The Annapurna Circuit, located in central Nepal is a long-distance trekking route beginning in Besisahar and ending in Pokhara. The Annapurna Circuit is one of the most popular treks in Nepal with its rice paddy fields, breathtaking subtropical jungles, and high-altitude plateaus. The Annapurna Circuit ascends to 15,164 feet (4,600m) and then drops down onto a high- altitude plateau taking you south along the Kali Gandkhi river valley.
While on the Annapurna Circuit, you will travel through four regions including Lamjung, Manang, Mustang and Myagdi. Lamjung and Myagdi are located on the lower elevations and are predominantly Hindu. Manang and Mustang are located on the higher elevations and are predominantly Tibetan Buddhist. The Annapurna Circuit itinerary goes past the following mountains: Annapurna I through IV, Dhaulagiri, Gangapurna, Langtang Himal, and Manaslu.
Road construction has changed the landscape of the Annapurna Circuit over the years giving trekkers new paths to follow. Due to the new construction, the Nepalese government has created NATT-trails (New Annapurna Trekking Trails). These trails are marked in either blue and white or red and white and lead trekkers onto roads better suited to trekking.
Typically, the Annapurna Circuit itinerary ranges from 14 to 20 days. In this article, we will follow a 20-day itinerary to complete the Annapurna Circuit. For acclimation reasons, the circuit is followed on a counter-clockwise direction. At its peak, the Annapurna Circuit intersects the Thorung La Pass 17,769 feet (5,416 meters) before descending to a high plateau and covers between 95-150 miles (150-240 km).
Day 1 Arrive in Kathmandu (4,593 feet/1,400m)Day 2 Explore Kathmandu (4,593 feet/1,400m)Day 3 Drive from Kathmandu to Besishahar (2,493 feet/760 m) and then trek to Khudi (1,512feet/461m)Day 4 Trek from Khudi to Bahundanda (4,295 feet/1,309 m)Day 5 Trek from Bahundanda to Jagat (4,265 feet/1,300 m)Day 6 Trek from Jagat to Dharapani (6,430 feet/1,960 m)Day 7 Trek from Dharapani to Chame (8,694 feet/2,649 m)Day 8 Trek from Chame to Pisang (10,466 feet/3,190 m)Day 9 Trek from Pisang to Manang (11,548 feet/3,520 m)Day 10 Acclimatization day in Manang (11,482 feet/3,500 m)Day 11 Trek from Manang to Khangsar Village (12,323 feet/3,756 m)Day 12 Trek from Khangsar Village to Tilicho Base Camp (16,138 feet/4,919 m)Day 13 Visit Tilicho Lake, Return to Base Camp (16,138 feet/4,919 m)
Day 14 Trek from Tilicho Base Camp to Yak Kharka (13,156 feet/4,010 m)Day 15 Trek from Yak Kharka to Thorung Phedi (14,599 feet/4,450 m)Day 16 Trek from Thorung Phedi to Muktinath (12,467 feet/3,800 m) via Thorung La (17,716feet/5,400 m)Day 17 Trek from Muktinath to Jomsom (8,999 feet/2,700m)Day 18 Fly from Jomsom to Pokhara (4,593 feet/1,400m)Day 19 Fly from Pokhara to Kathmandu (4,593 feet/1,400m)Day 20 Depart Kathmandu (4,593 feet/1,400m)
The Annapurna Circuit itinerary requires you to have moderate physical abilities as you will have to hike for at least 4-8 hours per day. It is more physically demanding to hike in higher elevations than in lower elevations. You also need to be prepared for several tiring ascents and descents. During the winter, you will be trekking on snow and ice, so keep that in mind when booking your Annapurna Circuit itinerary Exercising and jogging on a regular basis a few weeksprior to your trip to Nepal is a good idea if you want to complete the trek easily. If you have any existing medical conditions, consult your doctor before booking your Annapurna Circuit itinerary.
Best Time to Trek
Normally, the best time to trek the Annapurna Circuit itinerary is in the autumn (Sept. through Nov.) and in the spring (March through May). Of course, if you want to enjoy some alone time with nature, then you might want to consider going during the winter season (Dec. through Feb.). Most people find the winters temperature to be too harsh; however, a shortened itinerary focusing on the drier, northern region of the circuit is a viable option.
Permits and Regulations
While trekking the Annapurna Circuit, you’ll need to purchase a TIMS card ($10 USD) and an Annapurna Conservation Area Permit (ACAP) ($20 USD) before the trip commences. Multiple checkpoints will require you to produce your permits for inspection. If you are trekking with a guide, they will take care of all the paperwork and inspections for you.
Accommodation and Meals
With a guide, accommodations will normally include 3-star hotels in Kathmandu and Pokhara and teahouses along the AnnapurnaCircuit. The Annapurna Circuit is known as a “teahouse trek”, meaning that villages with lodges and restaurants are available to sleep and eat in along the way. All your meals, snacks and water will be provided or available for purchase along the route. Accommodations are very basic in the teahouses and get more basic the higher you climb in elevation. Normally, the rooms are on a twin share basis and rarely have a bathroom connected. We recommend that you carry your own sleeping bag while trekking the Annapurna Circuit.
When taking a trip to the Annapurna Circuit, you will need travel insurance in case of injury or health issues. Most travel insurance only covers treks up to a certain elevation, so making sure you get the correct amount of insurance is detrimental to the success of your trip. You will need an insurance policy that covers ambulances, helicopter rescue, hospital and doctor’s fees. The policy should also cover additional activities you may take while on your Annapurna Circuit trek. In addition, you will be trekking altitudes over 1,640 feet (5,000m); therefore, the policy should cover those altitudes.
In Nepal, it’s always a good idea to take the help of trekking agents when touring the Annapurna Circuit. They can make all arrangements for you including bedding, meals, routes, etc. Knowing what you want to do or see while on the Annapurna Circuit will help trekking agents and guides in knowing what to plan for on your trek.