Annapurna Circuit offers you a lifetime experience of different climates, cultures, lifestyles while traversing Nepal’s most challenging trekking routes. The trek route is about 170-230 km long with some of the world’s most stunning views, experiences and adventures.
This guide and information aims to provide the most detailed itinerary and information possible to help you understand, visualize and plan your Annapurna Circuit trek. We will provide you information about best season to travel, best routes, cost to expect and many other details. It is important to understand the fact that in the Annapurna circuit ride you will see the landscape and scenery change after every step. This is the reason why it is considered as the most challenging trekking route in Nepal. Buddhist culture influences many places along these routes and you will see villages decorated with prayer flags and monasteries.
Distance: 170 – 230 (distance may vary by route)
Permits required: TIMS card and ACAP permit
Start Point: Besishahr/Sange/Jagat/Chame/Manang
End Point: Muktinath / Jomsom / Nayapul
Highest Elevation: 5416 m / 17769 ft (Thorong La Pass)
Difficulty Level: Medium to Hard
Accommodation: Guest House, Tea House, Lodge
Best Season: Spring (March-May) and Autumn (September-November)
Trekking grade and trek preparation
The extreme level of this trek is mild to moderate; So you don’t need to do hardcore exercise while preparing for the trek.
However, it is recommended that you do some light exercise to get yourself up and running. For the trek you have to walk for 5-6 hours every day, covering about 15-20 km per day. Some days during the trek you have to walk for 7-8 hours to reach your accommodation, and so you should be up for the challenge. You can do some simple cardio exercises, and you are ready to finish the trek with a sentence.
Food is available along the trekking route
In most guesthouses you will find a very varied menu. They serve you everything from local cuisine to western dishes. When you reach your accommodation, you will be tired of looking at the food items available. You can expect bakery items, tea, coffee (real ones), almost all kinds of food on this trek route. Additionally, there are soups (noodles, vegetables, garlic, tomato, chicken, etc.) available to boost your immunity for the next day’s trek. As this is a hilly area, you will be welcomed with a variety of hot drinks.
Some towns along the route may offer you popular western fast foods like pizza, burgers and hot dogs. However, the best value for money you pay for food may be the local dal bhat, which consists of rice, lentils, vegetables or non-vegetarian items, and you are free to add more rice dal and curry at the end. It is best suited for a person traveling on a budget.
Lodging facilities en route to Annapurna circuit
Talking about accommodation, guesthouses and tea houses are easily found on the trek. Generally, every tea house and hotel offers rooms on twin sharing basis. You have enough space to sit back, chill and relax. Don’t be surprised to find a well-equipped guest house with electricity, Wi-Fi, and hot showers. You can find guest houses with such facilities along almost the entire route of the trek. You can charge your devices and connect yourself to nearby devices.
All the guesthouses you will find on the route are of the same category and have similar facilities. The upscale guesthouse has basic amenities and very inconsistent Wi-Fi connections. However, having an attached bathroom to use at night will make you forget about everything if you don’t have to go out in the cold. Some upscale hotels may charge an additional $1 – $2 for using Wi-Fi and electricity to charge your devices. You can set aside 22-28 USD per day for your accommodation and food depending on expenses.
Internet connection and routing
You may be surprised to see that most of the Annapurna circuit trekking routes have internet connectivity. Most of the stopover places have guest houses that provide you with good working Wi-Fi connections. Guesthouses will charge 1-2 USD for using Wi-Fi. If you are using a trekking agency for the trek, they may have booked it for you. So please make sure you check your details with the agency well before you travel. The only place with limited or no internet connection is Thorong High Camp, where you may be charged a few extra dollars.
Best time to trek Annapurna circuit
Nepal’s weather is suitable for any trek in two seasons. The best time to visit Annapurna Circuit is March-May or September-November. October is the busiest month for the Nepali tourism industry as you will find many people trekking. June-August is usually the rainy season in Nepal and is not a suitable time for trekking, so it is advised to avoid it.
Similarly, it is difficult to complete the trek in Nepal during the winter months of December-February. Low temperatures and heavy snow may close some businesses at higher elevations.
As the trek ranges from a low altitude of 750 meters above sea level to a high altitude of 5400 meters, you should choose your trekking time wisely. Altitude sickness is a possibility on this trek; That’s why you should always ensure an extra day for acclimatization to high altitude. Read more
Altitude Sickness: How to Avoid Getting Sick?
As mentioned above, this trek is a very varied trek where you travel from very low altitude to very high altitude. You may get sick, and you should take good care of your health. Plan your trip to spend an extra day in Manang to familiarize yourself with the high altitude. When you descend to an altitude of 2500 meters or above you will experience symptoms of altitude sickness. Sometimes you can start developing symptoms even below that height.
High altitude sickness symptoms
Symptoms of altitude sickness:-
- Shortness of breath
- Mental fog
- If you develop any of these symptoms, calm yourself down and don’t panic. You need to do some basic things that can help you stay fit.
To avoid altitude sickness, make sure to:-
- Walk/hike the route to allow your body to acclimatize and get more time to adjust instead of taking the jeep/bus.
- Make sure to take a rest/proper day when you are trekking uphill
- Do not drink alcohol
- Drink plenty of water while trekking.
- If you experience symptoms of altitude sickness, do not trek, inform your partner about your condition and rest. However, if symptoms persist for more than 24 hours, seek medical attention.
- You can get water pills and you can get acetazolamide, some pain relievers, and inhalers at the pharmacy as basic first aid kits.
What to pack for trekking
Before leaving Kathmandu, make sure to do your shopping right. There are many shops in the Thamel area where you can get all the essentials for your trek. Alternatively, you can get your trekking gear in Pokhara, but we suggest you shop in Kathmandu to avoid losing any important items. Find and check the details in the list for trekking on the device.
How much money to carry?
Annapurna circuit trekking is not that expensive if you know how to organize your trip. It will cost 1000-1500 USD per person to complete the entire trek. These expenses include your accommodation, food, beverages, transportation, and any additional expenses you incur during your trek. The above calculation is based on 14 days trek. We again asked for additional funds for those who prefer to go on each part of the route, including the hill walk. If you book your trek through a trekking agency, you still need to carry some extra cash because you might want to tip your porter, have some extra drinks or do some shopping. Fees range from 1600-4000 USD depending on services, types of companies (local or international), facilities, and hikers.
Where to withdraw money in Annapurna circuit?
It is not wise to take all the money from Kathmandu. You can withdraw a small amount in Kathmandu as there are many options for withdrawing money until you are in Pokhara. Once you leave Pokhara, your options are limited, and you should make sure to carry enough cash. Besishahr is the last town with many ATMs before descending through Thorang La Pass. There are also some ATMs in Manang but make sure your cards are compatible with these machines. Some hotels along the way offer to take some extra money to pay you against your transfer. It can be used in emergency situations. You will find 2-3 ATMs at the end of the circuit trek at Nayapul.
Travel insurance for the trek
Although you may never be asked for the entire trek, travel insurance is mandatory for trekking the Annapurna circuit. When you fill out the form for the permit you must fill in your insurance company information. You can choose a company with previous experience with outdoor activities and purchase your insurance. Nepal has many trekking destinations, and every year many people come to trek. Hence, it is wise and safe to have travel insurance as this trek makes people sick. World Nomads offers the most flexible travel insurance; You can check their website for a quote.
Check out travel insurance
Annapurna Circuit Trekking Itinerary
Itineraries may vary depending on your travel ability and the agency you choose to plan your trip. However, it’s usually just as common as places where people end up during their free time. Below is a brief itinerary of the trek ending at Jomsom.
Day 01: Jagat from Kathmandu via Beshishahr (1300m/4264ft)
Day 02: Drive to Lower Pisang via Chame (3200m/10498ft, 2670m/8759ft)
Day 03: Trek to Manang (3540m/11,613ft)
Day 04: Acclimatization Day at Manang (Walk to Ice Lake at 1600m/15,091ft and return)
Day 05: Second Day-Accommodation (Some prefer to continue their trek on the second day-)
Day 06: Trek from Manang to Sri Khark (4,000 m/13,122 ft)
Day 07: Trek to Tilicho Base Camp (4150m/13,614ft)
Day 08: Trek to Tilicho Lake (4920m/16141ft) and return to Sri Khark
Day 09: Trek to Yak Khark (4,050m/13,286ft)
Day 10: Reach Muktinath (3760m/12,335ft) via Thorang La Pass (5416m/17,769ft)
Day 11: Visit Muktinath Temple and reach Jomsom (2,720m/8932ft).
Day 12: End of circuit, 25 minute flight to Pokhara (800m/2,625ft)
Day 13: Return to Kathmandu (1,400m/4,593ft)
Day 14: Departure from Nepal
The itinerary shared above is for a shorter version of the trek. To reach Jomsom, one can reach Nayapul by continuing the trek from Muktinath temple. Bus and jeep services are available from Nayapul to Pokhara and then back to Kathmandu. Some of the major places you will visit on the Annapurna Circuit Trek and their main attractions are briefly explained in the section below:
Friendly to Pisang, Manang and Thorong La Pass
Pisang is a pretty village just before Chame and there are hotels, lodges and teahouses along most routes. However, when you are in Manang, make sure you find a good place on time. Pisang is an uphill hike from Chame, and takes about 6 hours to get there. You will feel the altitude gradually increasing, and the trek will take a toll on you. Pisang is located at an altitude of 3250 meters above sea level.
Manang is a beautiful hilly place situated at an altitude of 3540 meters above sea level. While going up from Geru, one can see panoramic views of Annapurna 2, Gangapurna, Tilicho etc. This route has all the scenic views of the mountains which will energize you and push you towards your destination. You can also see a century-old monastery which is also the largest in the entire Manang region.
Trekking the Annapurna Circuit route gives you an opportunity to see Tibetan culture through communal settlements. When you are in Manang, make sure you take it as a chance to bond with the altitude. You will find many people who have not stayed more than one night and one day. To prepare yourself and prepare for the trek of around 4500 meters, you can spend a whole day hiking around Manang. These locations will help you prepare for the extreme conditions you will face in the next few days.
It is recommended to allow a day or two to acclimate to the environment depending on your health and physical condition.
Muktinath via Tilicho Lake, Yak Khark, Thorong High Camp, Thorong La Pass
Yak Kharka is an old Tibetan settlement where Kharka means pasture, and here you can find large numbers of yaks (mountain cows). Yak Khark is at an altitude of 4200 meters above sea level and is about a 4-5 hour walk from Manang. You will continue to follow this route through peaks like Annapurna II and Tilicho Lake.
Another day and another 5-hour trek from the banks of the Jorsang River will take you to a place called Thorang Phedi (Thorang High Camp). This will be your stop for the night, and you can take another day to acclimatize yourself before you trek through the much-awaited Thorang La Pass. Thorang High Camp is located at an altitude of 4525 meters above sea level. On this route, you have to walk through a narrow path where landslides have occurred. However, you don’t have to worry too much about a place for a stopover at the high camp area as it is a popular station before trekking through Thorang La Pass.
The difficult terrain and rough shape of the path will make it difficult for you to walk, but the beautiful view at the top will motivate you to walk. Thorang La Pass is located at an altitude of 5416 meters and is the highest pass in the world. From here a panoramic view of beautiful mountains welcomes you which makes you forget all the difficulties. The good thing about this trek is that once you trek through the pass, you are greeted with a path going downhill. This gives you some relief as another popular place to visit is Muktinath. The trek will take you around 4 hours depending on your walking speed. Don’t forget to make memories by standing on the world’s highest pass and the toughest part of the trek. You will reach Muktinath in the morning, where you can find many places to stay. Many people plan to finish their trek at Muktinath and return to Pokhara or Kathmandu from here.
Circuit completed in Jomsom, Tatopani and Nayapul
Few people have the guts and energy left to trek the next leg of this route to Jomsom, another popular destination. A large number of tourists come to Jomsom every year in winter. Roads can be used, and you will find jeeps and buses to travel. But the real fun is traveling and enjoying nature as much as possible.
Jeep services are available at Muktinath, giving an alternative to people who don’t have the time and energy to trek. Walking is suggested from Jomsom and if you are tired, take a bus or jeep to return to Pokhara.
There are two options to reach Tatopani, take a bus from Muktinath or Jomsom or trek by road. If you prefer to take a bus, it will cost you around 900 NPR from Jomsom. Depending on your time availability, you can end your trek anywhere in Muktinath, Jomsom, Tatopani, or Nayapul…Also, you can visit the hot springs around this place; The name Tatopani comes from this hot spring. As you continue your trek to reach Ghorepani, you will see some trekkers coming from the opposite direction as well. This is because it overlaps with another popular trekking route of Poon Hill.
At the end of the Annapurna circuit trek between Ghorepani and Nayapul, you can find many trekkers.
Booking with Annapurna Servite, Self-Guide or Company is the best option.
Is one of the questions many trekkers ask when planning a trek in Nepal. There are always two sides to a coin, similarly there are pros and cons to doing a self-planned trek or using any trekking agency. Let’s discuss both the pros and cons.
A self-planned solo trek (individual trekkers)
If you are planning to trek the Annapurna Circuit alone, it is recommended that you have prior trekking experience in Nepal. It should be understood that crossing the world’s highest pass, Thorang La Pass, is not an easy trek. You can put your health at risk, and in extreme cases it can be fatal, which you can remember if you decide to do a solo trek. Another problem you may face as a solo trekker is when you have to book a hotel during peak hours. The Annapurna Circuit has a large number of visitors during peak season, and hotels can be overcrowded. Hence, it is not recommended to trek solo, especially if it is your first visit to Nepal and you do not have high altitude trekking experience.
The downside of being a self-planned trek is that you have to take care of everything yourself. You should arrange your backpacks, accommodation, permits, itinerary, and everything else you need to carry yourself during the trek. You are going to miss professional help from your guide during peak times. But it will also be your learning opportunity.
Annapurna Circuit Trekking with a company
If you want a hassle-free trek without the fear of missing anything, this could be the best option for you. The cost of the trek will be higher than a self-managed trek as different services have to be paid for. The advantage of using a company is that you will be provided with helping hands right from the beginning of the trek. You don’t have to think about accommodation, trekking itinerary, trekking permit, TIMS, guide, etc. It is recommended to book your trek using the services of trekking agencies who can assist you in every way. It is not advisable to plan your trek in the month of February as this is not the best time for trekking in the region.
As we mentioned above, the only disadvantage is that the amount spent can be high. Similarly, you should stick to their plans and itinerary. However, all this being said, you can enjoy professional guidance and get to know the places better when walking with an experienced guide.
[The information and charges mentioned in the Annapurna Circuit Trek Guide and Information are based on current dates and are subject to change]