The Annapurna Circuit is a popular trek that winds through the incredible scenery of Nepal. The circuit, which takes an average of three weeks to complete on foot, passes Buddhist communities, mountain peaks at elevations of more than 17,769 feet, holy Hindu sites and incredible scenic views. Whether are you are a novice hiker or an experienced trekker looking for the next big adventure, this path is one that should certainly be considered. Read on for everything you need to know about trekking the Annapurna Circuit including when to go, what to bring, where to stay and more.
When Should You Go?
Most people will agree that the best time to trek the Annapurna Circuit is in October or November. At this time, the temperatures are pleasant, rain is unlikely and a lack of fog makes the scenery spectacular. However, the trek is one that could theoretically be taken at any time of the year. Spring can be beautiful thanks to warmer temperatures and fewer crowds but some cloud can make it less scenic. Ultimately, choose the conditions that fit with your desires and your travel schedule. Whenever you go, the lodges and restaurants will be open, as there is no closed or off-season along the Annapurna Circuit.
Do You Need a Guide or a Travel Group?
When trekking the Annapurna Circuit, you will have the option of carrying all your own supplies as a backpacker and hiking independently, joining a guided tour, joining a group of fellow trekkers or hiring a private guide or porter to carry your supplies. While it is never advised that you make the trek entirely on your own, guides and porters are not necessary for most fit individuals. Porters are typically only suggested for families with young children or elderly adults. If you do trek independently without a guide, then you will need a permit from Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal, which will run around 1,660 NPR per person. Many people prefer to travel in groups for safety, but in the peak seasons you will undoubtedly run into fellow trekkers along the way every few miles.
What Sites and Attractions Are Along the Way?
The main attractions in the Annapurna Circuit are certainly the Himalayan Mountains. The circuit runs through the range itself, winding up and down incredible peaks like Dhaulagiri, Manaslu and Annapurna. The highest point along the trek is at Thorung La, where the elevation is a staggering 17,769 feet. Along the way, trekkers pass through dense forests filled with monkeys, small Tibetan Buddhist communities, holy Hindu sites and plenty of affordable dining and lodging options. Most trekkers do the circuit anti-clockwise, starting in the Manang valley and finishing in the Kali Gandaki. This is because the climb over the Thorong-la pass is easier this way, with fewer ascents on the crossing day.
What Should You Bring?
Although a three-week long trek through Nepal might seem like something you will need a lot of supplies for, the reality is that trekkers will need very little. Most backpackers bring plenty of warm clothing, a spare pair of shoes, a camera, a sleeping bag, a book or two and some snacks. Lodges are anywhere from three to five kilometer away from one another, so you will never be far from a warm bed, drinks or food. Also keep in mind that almost every product you could need will be available along the way, but prices do tend do rise the further you get in elevation.
What are the Available Accommodation Options?
Every few miles along the Annapurna Circuit will be a small private lodge. These lodges provide guests will a place to stay year-round. Bring a sleeping bag, as there are typically no linens included with the room fee. Remember that guests are expected to buy their dinner and morning meal at the lodge for an additional cost. Even with a full breakfast and dinner, along with nightly accommodations, it is possible to trek along the Annapurna Circuit for less than $15 USD each day.
Where Does the Annapurna Circuit Begin and End?
The Annapurna Circuit technically starts in the town of Besisahar and ends at Nayapul. Most trekking groups and tours, however, will meet in Kathmandu to begin their journey. Similarly, many people who have completed the Annapurna Circuit will head to the city of Pokhara, where affordable lodging and a vibrant nightlife serves as the unofficial end to the adventure. If you have additional time its possible to visit the Annapurna Sanctuary, the hidden valley situated in the horse-shoe of peaks that comprise the Annapurna Himal. This is an excellent trek in its own right, getting right up amongst the mountains, including the stunning fishtail peak of Machapuchure. Care is required however; it is the only major trekking route with avalanche risk. Always follow the advice of the local authorities.
If you are interested in the incredible journey known as the Annapurna Circuit, then consider an upcoming vacation in Nepal. Whether you want to enjoy the company of friends, take in unparalleled mountain views in the Himalayas or embark on a spiritual journey, the answer lies along the well-travelled path of the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal.