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Annapurna Circuit Trek Guide | Best Itinerary to Choose

Overview of Annapurna Circuit Trek

If you’re looking for that one trek that satisfies you and makes you think that it was the best decision of your life, then it is that Annapurna Circuit trek. Annapurna Circuit trek offers the most diverse experiences in the Himalayas. Circumscribed by the mountains, the trail seems surreal. Besides those ineffable natural sceneries, you get to know the communities inhabiting the mountainous region, their way of living, culture, and traditions.

The trail that runs alongside the burbling river and the sound that it makes will reverberate for a lifetime in your ears. I’m sure you will be enchanted with this Annapurna Circuit trek. You just have to be ready to hit the trail. You’ll definitely forget the lethargy that the tiring walks bring. You’re going to mop your sweat a lot but your determination will bring color with such a mesmerizing sight and a joy to behold.

Emerald glacier lake of Tilicho will take no time to spellbind you. But don’t set a stone to your thought to live there forever. Drag yourself back to the trail.

Thorang La Pass, an altitude of 5416m that you step on can make you emotional. Don’t hold your tears! For a person like me who knew I’m never going to climb that height again (for now-who knows what the future might bring), it’s a great place to rejoice.

Yes, it’s just a pile of the same ice and snow everywhere but the power of the mountain to lure you and its power to call you, again and again, is praiseworthy. All those ascents and descents will finally bring you to a different landscape, a different place where you can immerse in nature and culture.

Highlights of Annapurna Circuit Trek




Facts:

Maximum Altitude: 5,416 m

Distance to be covered: Between 160 – 230 km (depending on the route)

Fitness level: Moderate

Number of walking hours/day: 4-9 hours

Duration: 9-16 days depending on routes and length of walking

When to start (Best time to trek Annapurna Circuit Trek):

Though the Annapurna Circuit Trek can be done all year round, I recommend you to go either in the Autumn or Spring season. Annapurna Circuit might get closed in winter due to heavy snowfall.

Autumn (September–November): This is a dry season where the sky gets clear and the weather is clement. You have a great chance of having a close-up view of the mountains. This is the main (first) season for trekkers in Nepal. That’s why the trail often gets crowded with internal as well as foreign visitors.

Spring (March-May): This is the shoulder season where the spring awakens in the hilly regions, the best part being Rhododendron (a national flower of Nepal) along with the other flowers blooming all over the jungle. Trek in this season if you prefer a quieter trail.

Winter (December–February): If the chilling cold doesn’t get on your nerves, you are good to go trekking in the winter season too. You will be rewarded with mountains and the surroundings completely hooded with snow due to snowfall which creates awe-inspiring scenery (also, the quieter trails and serene surroundings). Annapurna Circuit might get closed sometimes due to heavy snowfall, though. Visibility for the view remains good for most of the time during winter otherwise.

Monsoon (Summer)(June–August): Though the Annapurna Circuit Trek can be done in monsoon, I will not recommend this. There is a high chance you may not get a glimpse of the peaks due to the clouds wafting all around. Other complications like slippery and muddy paths, mosquitoes, leeches, frequent rainfall, etc. are worth mentioning.

If you are looking for other places to visit in Nepal, narrow down the list.

Where to Start the Annapurna Circuit Trek:

Where to start depends on your time availability and your interest to walk to the locations even if it has access to transportation.  Annapurna Circuit comes with different options and duration. The one which you opt for depends on your interest and availability of time.

The itineraries below can be tailored according to your personal preference. The length of the trek depends on whether you choose to drive or trek down the motorable roads. You can choose to start your trek from Besisahar or Bhulbhule or Ngadi or Jagat or Chamje or Dharapani or Bagarchhap or Chame. You can choose to end your trek at Muktinath or Jomsom and drive or fly straight to Pokhara. You can also choose to continue to complete the circuit by continuing your journey from Jomsom to Tatopani (drive) and then trek from Tatopani to Ghorepani-Poonhill to Nayapul to Pokhara.




Annapurna Circuit Trek Itinerary:

1) Annapurna Circuit Short Trek: 9 days to 10 days depending on your physical fitness

If you have booked your trekking with an agency, they should make an arrangement for your trip.

If you are on your own, and if you are in Kathmandu, there are 2 options:

1) Public bus/microbus:

Either,

Catch a bus/microbus that goes to Besisahar directly, get off at Besisahar, and catch a jeep to Chame.

Head to either, Gongabu Bus Park or Kalanki to catch the bus. If you stay at Thamel, getting a ticket from Bus Park is my recommended option because you can get a comfortable front seat by the window. If you catch the bus from Kalanki, chances are that you might get the last seat that is uncomfortable.

Merits of the bus that goes directly to Besisahar:

  • You don’t have to change the bus after reaching Dumre. This saves time and money.
  • You don’t have to scrabble for seats.
  • Public transports are a lot cheaper than private vehicles.

Demerits of the bus that goes directly to Besisahar:

  • These public transports are untidy, overly crowded, and can take a long time to reach the destination.
  • Seats are congested, and might not be in a condition so uncomfortable.
  • There is a limited number of buses that goes to Besisahar, and they depart at a certain time. So you have to wait till its departure time.

Or,

Catch a bus going all the way to Pokhara Baglung/Beni/Jomsom, from Gongabu bus park, get off at Dumre and catch a Jeep from there to either Besisahar or Chame.

Merits:

  • There are too many of them and depart at regular intervals.

Demerits:

  • These public transports are untidy, overly crowded, and can take a long time to reach the destination.

2) Taxi/Cab/Jeep:

You can hire a taxi/private car/jeep from Kathmandu to reach either Dumre or Besisahar (directly) and take a jeep from there to Chame. Hiring a taxi/cab/jeep can be a comfortable and fast alternative. But it is more expensive than public transport, obviously.

If you are in Pokhara, all the above options remain the same. The only difference is that you should catch public buses/micro buses/tourist buses that go to Kathmandu. To catch public buses you should reach Prithvi Chowk. If you stay in Lakeside, catching a tourist bus that goes to Kathmandu from the tourist bus park near Rastra Bank Chowk is the better option. You can hire a private car or jeep too.

MY RECOMMENDATION: Read the itineraries below to get the rest of the information so that you could  avoid needless lengthy trips, and save your time, money, and energy.)

Day 1: Kathmandu to Dumre (135 km, 4-5 hrs drive) to Besisahar (45 km, 1.5-2 hrs drive) to Dharapani to Chame (15 km, 1 hr drive, 1900 meters alt.)

Day 2: Chame to Lower Pisang (3200m; 4-5 hrs. trek)

Day 3: Lower Pisang to Manang (3540m; 6-7 hrs trek)

Day 4: Rest day at Manang

Day 5: Manang to Yak Kharka (4050 m; 4-5 hrs trek)

Day 6: Yak Kharka to Thorang Phedi Base Camp (4400m; 4-5 hrs trek)

Day 7: Thorang Phedi Base Camp to Thorang La Pass (5416m) to Muktinath (3800m; 8-9hrs trek)

Day 8: Muktinath to Jomsom to Pokhara (10 hrs drive)

Here is the list of top places to visit in Pokhara.




2) Annapurna Circuit Trek combined with Tilicho Lake (11 days)

The difference between this trek and the ‘Annapurna Circuit Trek’ is that you trek out of the normal Annapurna Circuit route to visit Tilicho Lake and return back to continue the circuit. This adds 3 extra days to your itinerary.

Day 1: Kathmandu to Dumre (135 km, 4-5 hrs drive) to Besisahar (45 km, 1.5-2 hrs drive) to Dharapani to Chame (15 km, 1 hr drive, 1900 meters alt.)

Day 2: Chame to Lower Pisang (3200m; 4-5 hrs. trek)

Day 3: Lower Pisang to Manang (3540m; 6-7 hrs trek

Day 4: Rest day at Manang

Day 5: Manang to Shree Kharka (4040m; 3-4hrs trek)

Day 6: Shree Kharka to Tilicho Base Camp (4040m; 3-4 hrs trek)

Day 7: Tilicho Base Camp to Tilicho Lake to Shree Kharka

Day 8: Shree Kharka to Yak Kharka (4050m; 5-6 hrs trek)

Day 9: Yak Kharka to Thorang Phedi Base Camp (4400m; 4-5 hrs trek)

Day 10: Thorang Phedi Base Camp to Thorang La Pass (5416m) to Muktinath (3800m; 8-9hrs trek)

Day 11: Muktinath to Jomsom to Pokhara (10 hrs drive)




3) Annapurna Circuit Trek (Complete Circuit)

Day 1: Kathmandu to Dumre (135 km, 4-5 hrs drive) to Besisahar (45 km, 1.5-2 hrs drive) to Dharapani to Chame (15 km, 1 hr drive, 1900 meters alt.)

Day 2: Chame to Lower Pisang (3200m; 4-5 hrs. trek)

Day 3: Lower Pisang to Manang (3540m; 6-7 hrs trek)

Day 4: Rest day at Manang

Day 5: Manang to Yak Kharka (4050 m; 4-5 hrs trek)

Day 6: Yak Kharka to Thorang Phedi Base Camp (4400m; 4-5 hrs trek)

Day 7: Thorang Phedi Base Camp to Thorang La Pass (5416m) to Muktinath (3800m; 8-9hrs trek)

Day 8: Muktinath to Jomsom to Tatopani (5 hrs drive)

Day 9: Tatopani to Ghorepani 

Day 10: Ghorepani to Poonhill to Nayapul to Pokhara

 





Accommodation and Food


Things to be aware of:

  • Don’t forget to keep yourself warm, especially, if you are traveling during the spring and winter seasons—Numbness due to cold may ruin your trip.
  • Since some stretches are prone to avalanches, you should remain cautious, especially if you are traveling during the spring months or if you are traveling just after the heavy snowfall.
  • Public transports are untidy, overly crowded, and take a long time to reach the destination.