Annapurna Circuit Trek is a magnificent hiking trip which combines trekking, hiking, sightseeing, wildlife spotting and a cultural tour into a single traveling experience. You will enjoy close views of surrounding peaks of Annapurna, Dhaulagiri and Fishtail Mountain (Machapuchare), and have a first-hand experience of local cultures, tribes and cuisines. This is a “living trek”, which means a hike through genuine Himalayan villages, not settlements created to accommodate tourists. As such, it offers wonderful opportunities to come face-to-face with local people living their lives the same way they did centuries ago. Naturally, the world is changing and so the face of the Annapurna Circuit is evolving: there is 24 hour electricity in every village, many guesthouses have WiFi, and porters are more likely to carry mobile phones than prayer beads. Many sections of the trail have now become a road, and there are two airstrips along the way. But fear not, whatever new technology and infrastructure has entered the region, you are still in for a magnificent Himalayan experience!
Rich in culture and architecture of the mountain tribes of Gurung, Magar and Manangi, the leisurely-paced 23 days of Annapurna trekking takes you into the heart of authentic Himalaya. Spending your time observing local culture is an essential aspect of the journey, as are the multitude of side hikes during rest days in remote villages, and generally soaking in the fun of mountain life. Thorong La Pass (5,416m/17,769ft) is the highest elevation you will reach during the trek, and you will spend well over a week above 3500 metres, in the domain of yaks and lammergeiers.
The circuit trek starts in the town of Besisahar, on the outskirts of Pokhara. The trail takes us to Tal, at which point we leave Hindu Nepal behind and enter the world of Tibetan Buddhism. The mountainous village of Manang (3,500m/11,482ft) marks the beginning of the second phase of the trek; the jeep trail ends, and from here it is the calm of the hike, babble of creeks, rumble of the spectacular icefalls, and low grunts of the yaks grazing on surrounding slopes. After crossing the Thorung La Pass, we descend down the pilgrimage trail of Muktinath, Jomsom, and Beni, taking in the superb views of the Kali Gandaki valley.
Here is a rough itinerary of the Himalayan Trexplorers’ Annapurna Circuit Trek:
Day 1: Arrival day in Kathmandu (1,300m/4,264 ft)
Day 2: Logistical preparation day in Kathmandu
Day 3: Drive to Beshishahar (830m/2,723ft), 6-7 hrs drive
Day 4: Trek to Bahundanda (1,310m/4,298ft), 5-6 hrs walk
Day 5: Trek to Chamje (1,410m/4,626ft), 5-6 hrs walk
Day 6: Trek to Dharapani (1,960m/6,430ft), 5-6 hrs walk
Day 7: Trek to Chame (2,710m/8,891ft), 6-7 hrs walk
Day 8: Trek to Pisang (3,200m/10,496ft), 5-6 hrs walk
Day 9: Rest Day in Pisang: Explore Upper Pisang, or join a hike up to Pisang Peak Base Camp
Day 10: Trek to Manang (3,500m/11,482ft), 4-5 hrs walk
Day 11: Acclimatization day at Manang (3,500m/11,482ft)
Day 12: Trek to Yak Kharka (4,110m/13,484ft), 3-4 hours walk
Day 13: Trek to Thorung Phedi (4,400m/14,430ft), 3-4 hrs walk
Day 14: Short move to Thorung Phedi High Camp (4,800m/15,750ft)
Day 15: Rest day – explore the trails around the Thorung Phedi High Camp, take in the views and allow for superb acclimatization.
Day 16: Trek to to Muktinath (3,800/12,467ft) via Throng La (5,416m/17,765 ft), 7-8 hrs walk
Day 17: Trek to Marpha (2,670m/8,760ft), 6-7 hrs walk
Day 18: Trek to Ghasa (2,120m/6,955ft), 6-7 hrs walk
Day 19: Trek to Tatopani (1,200m/3937ft), 4-5 hrs walk
Day 20: Trek to Ghorepani (2,850m/9,350ft), 5-6 hrs walk
Day 21: Poon Hill hike and trek to Tadapani (2,710m/8,891ft), 5-6 hrs walk
Day 22: Trek to Pokhara (823m/2,700ft), 5-6 hrs walk & 1 hrs drive
Day 23: Drive to Kathmandu (1,300m/4,264 ft), 5-6 hrs drive
Day 24: Departure from Kathmandu
After finishing the trek, in addition to being giddy with excitement over having visited one of the most amazing regions on the planet, you will have the horrible task of deciding which of the 11 thousand photos you took will be kept and which ones will get deleted. Not an easy task! Additionally, the journey will end in Pokhara, Nepal’s centre of adrenaline sport, where you will be able to indulge in kayaking, rafting, bungee jumping, paragliding, and many other adventure activities. You can choose one (or few) of those, or simply relax by the lakeside with a cup of coffee in one hand and a book in the other. Your choice!