Best Facts about the Annapurna Circuit Trek

Best Facts about the Annapurna Circuit Trek

Nepal houses several high-altitude treks, which include trekking through gorgeous terrain. Some of these trek routes are more dramatic and full of adventures; meanwhile, some are surprisingly easy. Annapurna Circuit Treks falls under those rare, surprising, yet fulfilling awe-inspiring journeys.

Many might be wondering as well, “Why Annapurna Circuit Trek is so special?” Well, the answer to that question is Annapurna Circuit Trek, a unique journey in the Himalayas that incorporates dramatic emotions and hypnotizing scenery all in one.

And then again, people might also be thinking, “What makes the Annapurna Circuit Trek dramatic?” Well, the contrast on the terrain. The landscape on one side differs dramatically from that on the other; the journey ultimately becomes dramatic.

That is why the Annapurna Circuit Trek is one stunning journey in the western mountains of Nepal. One part of the trek goes past lush forest, grasslands, and flowers blooming on the side of your trail. On the other is the almost arid, stunning landscape, with barren mountains and practically no vegetation.

As the journey keeps on going, trekkers would be amazed to see the contrast in the region’s terrain. It gradually transitions from lush green forest to barren, rugged terrain in a few trekking days.

The journey further heightens the excitement level as it goes past some of the medieval villages where despite what modernity has touched the region, it has kept its ancient culture and beauty intact. All in all, it is a beautiful journey that wonderfully showcases the creation of Mother Nature at its prettiest state.

Above all, this whole blog includes necessary information regarding Annapurna Circuit Trek. But before we begin, here are some best and useful facts about the Annapurna Circuit.

Best Facts

  • Annapurna Circuit Trek entails crossing one of the highest mountain passes, i.e., Thorong La Pass, at the height of 5416 meters.
  • Annapurna Circuit Trek also includes visiting the highest Lake globally – Tilicho Lake (4949 meters).
  • It is a great way to encounter medieval villages and engaging Tibetan cultures preserved in this remote terrain.
  • It is also a part of the Annapurna region, but some trek portions go through downwind areas where the precipitation rate is very low.
  • A significant portion of the Annapurna Circuit trekking trail goes through villages settled under the shadow of the trans-Himalayas.
  • The rugged terrain of the Annapurna Circuit trail is home to snow leopards, Himalayan griffon as well as blue sheep, and much other wildlife.

These are some quick facts about the Annapurna Circuit trek. In the next section, you will read an overview of Annapurna Circuit Trek’s attractive features.

Best features of trekking Annapurna Circuit:-

The transitional geographical features of the trail

The journey of Annapurna Circuit Trek starts from the hustling town of Besisahar in Lamjung. The city lies in the mid-hills of Nepal, so until you reach Manang via Chamje, you pass the lush and green terrain of the area. However, once Manang is left behind, the route becomes more rugged and barren until you descend to the charming and busy Kagbeni to Muktinath. Overall, this world’s classic treks take you through virtually the whole range of Nepalese landscapes: From sub-tropical valleys with murky jungle rivers are the defining features, through gorgeous woodlands, and across Alpine meadows and conifer forests, to the rock and ice wastes higher up.

Medieval Tibetan Villages

Annapurna Circuit Trek entails passing several medieval Tibetan villages in the lap of the massive Annapurna range and Gangapurna Himal. These ancient villages are Manang, Braga, Muktinath, Kagbeni, and several others. Here you will see flat stone houses overlapped and small alleyways leading one home to another. Also, locals here follow Buddhism; thus, all along the trail, small and big chortens welcome you. At the same time, stone walls, mani stones, prayer flags adorn the trekking route. Having said that, each village at least has one cloister where all the residents come together for religious practices.

Crossing the daring Thorong La pass

Crossing Thorong La pass is a theatrical experience. It is vast and lies at an incredible height of 5416 meters, which is the highest trek’s highest elevation. Thorong La pass is a long, wide passage that separates Nepal’s drier regions from the rest of the typical green terrain of Nepal. The pass does not come easily. After walking hours, you finally reach the pass.

Tilicho Lake – the highest Lake in the world

The tour to Tilicho Lake is not part of the classic Annapurna circuit trek route. Trekkers with a bit more flexible schedule opt for the detour of the Tilicho Lake. Situated on the lap of Mount Gangapurna sits majestic Tilicho Lake is at the height of 4919 meters, surrounded by massive snow-capped peaks. A few hours stroll around the Lake is entirely worthwhile. Its tranquil nature and exceptional beauty would lift your spirit. Besides, this serene Lake stretches all the way to meet the glacier at the foot of Mt. Tilicho Peak, 7,134 m

These are some of the best features of the Annapurna Circuit. One who is planning to explore the region shall make a shortlist of the things mentioned above.

Now that we have covered details regarding the attractive features of Annapurna Circuit. In the next section, learn everything you need to know about Annapurna Circuit Trekking.

The following section covers the trekking trail, trek difficulty level, physical fitness, best time for the trek, and other essential information regarding Annapurna Circuit Trek.

Distance

Annapurna Circuit trek distance depends on your itinerary. The classic trek route lasts for 18 days and covers the length of around 230 -260 km without any involvement of ground transportation from Jagat onwards. Till Jagat, hikers use jeep or any other vehicle suitable for an off-beat ride. After Jagat, it is a complete walking journey till the finish point of the trip. In classic Annapurna Circuit Trek, the start point is Jagat, and the endpoint is Pokhara.

Besides, classic Annapurna Circuit Trek itinerary, there are other trekking itineraries with a short time frame that hikers can follow. There are 12 and 14 days trek itineraries that have the same start points but different endpoints. 12 days Annapurna Circuit Trek starts from Jagat ends at Muktinath. Whereas 14 days Annapurna Circuit Trek itinerary starts from Jagat and ends at Jomsom, hikers can take a flight or a bus journey to Pokhara.

These days due to road construction, approaching the journey has become quite an easy task. At the same time, lessen the trekking days. With the availability of ground transportation and road construction perks, visitors nowadays explore the route on two or four-wheelers.

Road Construction on Annapurna Circuit

Road Construction on Annapurna Circuit began around 2005 in Nepal as a national plan. The national project began to connect Chame and Manang in the east and Pokhara and Muktinath. The road connection on the trail has been a boon for local business owners, with an increase in the number of travelers. But it has majorly affected the trek route on the west. And the ongoing plan has raised concern amongst keen trekkers and foreigners that this national plan would endanger the genuine sentiment of trekking and the beauty of the place. Also, they are wary it would threaten the title of world classic trekking trail.

Although it has scare trekkers with genuine adoration toward the route, trekkers can find alternative ways to avoid most road routes on Annapurna Circuit Trail and still enjoy authentic trekking experiences in Nepal. These alternative routes prevent the road routes and offer even more scenic landscapes and a great chance to encounter a wide assortment of Nepal’s wildlife and vegetation.

Best Seasons

Even though Annapurna Circuit Trek is a high-altitude trek, it is almost doable all through the year. Each season brings a different ambiance to this trekking trail. Nevertheless, if you have to choose the most convenient time, spring and autumn are the best seasons to do Annapurna Circuit Trek. Having said that, it is best if trekkers avoid doing the trek during the winter season. The weather gets highly challenging, and snow makes it more difficult. All in all, explore what each season holds for Annapurna Circuit.

Annapurna Circuit during the spring season

Spring season in Nepal from March to May. It is the post-monsoon season, so the snow of winter remains all the way through the mid-spring season. But as the days start to get more regular, it starts to melt. Although snow is remnant, spring still is one of the best seasons to do Annapurna Circuit Trek.

Moreover, it is also flower blooming season. Thus, mid-hills get lively with lush green forest and different wild blooms as well as pretty common rhododendron flowers. With beautiful flowers and lush surroundings, it is also an excellent time to spot various species of birds. Since it is one of the ideal times for trekking, expect the trail to be quite busy and teahouses packed. Also, nights and mornings are chilly, but warm sunny days make the springtime one of the good times for trekking Annapurna Circuit.

Annapurna Circuit during summer/monsoon

Nepal experiences summer and monsoon seasons at the same time. It is post-monsoon season hence, the surrounding during summer also stays vibrant with colorful flowers and lush hills and forest. Moreover, even If it is the monsoon season, Annapurna Circuit Trek is doable in this season. Monsoon is heavy in the lower and mid-hills of Nepal. Besides, a significant portion of the trekking region lies in downwind areas; hence precipitation rate is very low. In addition to that, due to monsoon showers, wildflowers begin to sprout. Thus trekkers get to wade through a thriving forest during the first few days of the trek. Afterward, it snakes through rugged landscapes.

Annapurna Circuit during autumn

If there is a favorite time to do the trek, then the autumn time from September to November is the best time to do Annapurna Circuit trekking. During the autumn time, skies remain clear, showcasing the snow-clad mountains standing tall against its deep blue skies. Around mid-October, the trails start to get browner. Furthermore, during autumn, the nature surrounding the trekking route is at its finest, so it is peak trekking season. Travelers globally mostly visit during this time to witness its magnificent beauty. Thus, expect to see a busy trail and packed teahouses.

Annapurna Circuit during winter

Annapurna Circuit during winter is the best in terms of scenery. But, the weather can be challenging. And it gets windy too. Teahouses remain open, but there is a chance of snow blocking the Thorong la pass. During the winter season, most people who live at higher elevations descend to lower elevations to avoid the cold and windy air. Also, opting for Annapurna Circuit would require a solid preparation.

Solo or hire an agent

Annapurna Circuit Trek is a pretty popular journey, so if you go on this peak during peak season, you will definitely meet fellow trekkers from whom you can ask for guidance. But it not necessarily a good idea to rely on somebody when you are in a remote place. As much as it is nice to navigate the trail on their own, it still carries the concern of losing ways and not being thoroughly accustomed to the people of the region and its best features.

Hence, although it might cost a bit much, taking the service of professionals guarantees safety and trekking like a local. They will not only ensure a well-planned journey but also a safe journey full of life experiences. Thus, go over quality than quantity for best and unforgettable memories.

Difficulty

Annapurna Circuit Trek is a moderate trekking journey, although it is a high-altitude trek. Although it is rated as a moderate journey, some aspects of the trip are demanding. The initial part of the journey is a moderate hike with a gradual climb through the valley. But the terrain becomes difficult once hikers cross Manang. The path afterward is narrow and through a slope that directly looks down to the Marsayngdi River. Thus, trekkers must be wary of their steps.

Similarly, another challenging part of the trek is crossing Thorang la pass. The pass crossing is long, but once they pass Thorung La, the journey entails a steep 1600 meters drop to holy and touristy Muktinath. Trekkers should be conscious of their physical fitness. It is a long walking journey in the Himalayas, so one should be reasonably fit and healthy.

Altitude sickness is real, and how can we avoid altitude sickness during the trek?

To prevent altitude sickness, there are several things a trekker can do. For instance, staying hydrated is the key; hence don’t forget to drink water frequently. Likewise, do not rush the journey just because you have some energy left. Take it slow and move gradually as per the prepared itinerary. Also, avoid drinking alcoholic beverages. Moreover, if possible, avoid eating heavy meals, which are hard to digest up in the mountains.

Training for Annapurna Circuit Trek

Annapurna Circuit Trek is a moderate journey that has been mentioned quite a few times in this blog. Nevertheless, it is also a high-altitude journey that involves crossing one of the highest mountain passes. Thus, the challenging part of the trek for some might result in really challenging times. Therefore, without prior trekking preparation, do not start the journey. If you do not think you have adequate training for the trek, then postpone the hike for another time. Because as much as physical strength is essential, mental preparation is also necessary.

Thus, make up your mind, plan a schedule to prepare yourself physically, and start working on it. For Annapurna Circuit Trek, at least 2-3 months of solid preparation is essential. Trekkers can start the training with mild activities such as morning walks and then jogging to improve cardio exercise. After few days, when you think your body is ready for a little more extreme exercise, you can increase your jogging pace to running gradually every day. Similarly, if time allows, go hiking, swimming, and cycling journeys because these are good workouts for cardio.

Besides cardio, another essential aspect to work on is strength building. The journey requires walking on uneven and peddled paths that will tire your legs. Hence to strengthening your legs, you can start doing squats. Additionally, flexibility is another important aspect that you can improve by stretching exercises such as hamstring, shoulders, quadriceps, psoas major, and shoulders.

There are some general considerations to make before embarking on an Annapurna Circuit Trek.

In the following section, you can learn about lodging, food, and other essentials.

Accommodation

Accommodations on the Annapurna Circuit Trek are generally teahouses or guest houses. It is important to remember that the trek route of Annapurna Circuit is remote; hence the accommodation is decent with limited services. The rooms at the tea houses/guest houses are twin share types of rooms. Rooms are not spacious but offer enough space for two sharers. The rooms are clean and pleasant, and beds are set up with mattresses, bedsheets, blankets, and pillows.

Food on Annapurna Circuit Trek

Nepali, Indian, Chinese, and a few western dishes such as steak, pizza, and pasta are pretty common foods available during Annapurna Circuit Trek. Therefore, one can find pretty much varieties of dishes at the teahouse. Similarly, the teahouses serve delicious meals and bakery goods for trekkers. The food menu with its content might surprise few trekkers too. Alongside, trekkers with dietary restrictions won’t have to worry about their meals. Although many locals might not be familiar with trekker’s dietary restrictions, it is crucial to inform the cooks beforehand. With instructions from trekkers, the cooks will prepare a fulfilling meal for you. Henceforward, vegan, veg, non-veg, and gluten-free meals are all available on the trek route.

Accessing the Internet during the Annapurna Circuit

Internet connection is relatively good; however, in some places, you may lose the connection. WIFI facilities are available in the teahouses. But for that, trekkers will have to pay a certain amount of fees. Since WIFI connection is available only in the teahouses, we advise you to buy a SIM card and connect with the world any time you want. SIM cards offer several internet data plans, and you can choose any plan appropriate for you. The most used SIM cards of Nepal are NCELL and NTC, which are readily available for purchase around the city.

Bathrooms and Hot Showers

Two types of toilets are available on the trail. You will find the classic squat-down kind of toilets and western flushing type of toilets. In some teahouses, bathrooms are houses, and in some, they are located outside of the housing area.

Teahouses offer Shower facilities too. Cold and hot showers are both available, but trekkers must pay specific fees for a hot shower. It is difficult to get enough hot water during peak season, so it is advised to inform the teahouse owner in advance. Also, as already told earlier, the teahouses are simple, which means bathrooms too are basic. Please don’t expect to get showerheads. Those who wish for a hot shower will get a bucket of hot water and a jug. You pour water over your head and take a bath.

Drinking-Water

There are various ways one can access clean drinking water on the trek. Mineral water bottles are not available to purchase on the hike, so bring your thermos or water bottle. You can buy hot water/water at the teahouse for NPR 50 per bottle. The cost might increase as you ascend to the higher elevation. Moreover, several public water taps are available on the route from where you can fill your water bottle. Trekkers looking to use this method are requested to bring a water purification tablet to purify the water.

Electricity

Electricity is available all through the trek, but trekkers will have to pay a certain amount for the services. Teahouses use solar panels to generate electricity. So electricity is a luxury in this part of the country. Hence, a certain amount of fees are applied to travelers using the service. It generally ranges around NPR 200-400 as per the location. Also, before using the services, always make sure to negotiate the price with the teahouse manager.

Annapurna Circuit trek for beginners

Indeed, novice trekkers can do the Annapurna Circuit trek. But rookie trekkers will have to prepare themselves by doing physical exercise and training. It is a high-altitude trek; thus, the hike can be challenging during some of the journeys. Hence, it is recommended to go on hiking and do activities like cycling, swimming, and running to improve endurance capacity. Also, being mentally prepared for the trek is equally essential. Therefore, if novice trekkers are mentally and physically ready for the expedition, they won’t find the journey strenuous. Nevertheless, do not forget it is a testing journey.

ATMs on the trail

Some places have ATMs; however, we suggest you bring enough cash from Kathmandu to last through the journey. You never know if the ATMs are functioning or not. Please note that shops or tea houses do not accept foreign currency; therefore, make sure you exchange your money into Nepalese rupees.

Necessary Trekking Permit

For Annapurna Circuit Trek, trekkers will need to show a Trekking Information Management System (TIMS) card and Annapurna Conservation Area Permit.

Last words

With a mountainous backdrop, barren hills making a vast and arid valley to the green hillside villages, Annapurna Circuit Trek is a journey filled with surprising scenery every other day. This staggering trek route is a hiker’s paradise thus owns its title of the world’s classic trekking trail.

The mentioned facts about the Annapurna Circuit Trek here contain tremendous information that is useful for trekkers looking to explore this incredible trail.

About Author

Balaram Thapa

Balaram Thapa, an executive director at Nepal Hiking Team had a long journey before making NHT one of the revolutionary tour operators in this competitive field of Tourism. He finished his Bachelor’s degree in Travel and Tourism from Tribhuwan University in the year 2000.


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