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The classic Annapurna Circuit trek (sometimes called the “Around Annapurna trek”) encircles the Annapurna massif. “Anna” means grains and “purna” means plentiful in Sanskrit. The Annapurna massif in north-central Nepal includes one peak over 8,000 metres (26,000 ft), thirteen peaks over 7,000 metres (23,000 ft), and sixteen more over 6,000 metres (20,000 ft). The massif itself is encircled by the Kali Gandaki gorge to the west, the Marshyangdi valley to the north and east, and by the Pokhara valley to the south. The Annapurna Circuit trek takes you through some of the most amazing and diverse landscape and cultures in Nepal.
The trek begins in densely forested and terraced hills, a region inhabited by Hindu groups of Nepal. Once past Pisang the landscape changes dramatically as the dense forests give way to barren landscape of the Tibetan plateau. Here you enter the Manang valley which is inhabited by gypsy traders of Tibetan origin. After several rest and short days for acclimatization, head north over Thorung pass and descend to Muktinath village. At Muktinath there is a shrine revered by both Hindus and Buddhists.
The Annapurna Circuit trek ends in Jomsom from where a flight through the Kali Gandaki gorge brings you to Kathmandu. You may opt to continue and complete the full circuit of Annapurna. There is a newly built unpaved road from Jomsom to Tatopani (3 days trek) but views of the Dhaulagiri range from here are awe-inspiring. Beyond Tatopani, ascend to Ghorepani Ridge and to Pun Hill from where a 360 degree view of the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri mountains is possible. This is indeed one of the most spectacular mountain viewpoints in the world!
|Day 1||Arrival in Kathmandu||Kathmandu||1,340m/4,300ft|
|Day 2||Exploring Kathmandu||Kathmandu||1,340m/4,300ft|
|Day 3||Kathmandu to Jagat||Jagat||1,300m/4,350ft|
|Day 4||Jagat to Dharapani||Dharapani||1,960m/6,500ft|
|Day 5||Dharapani to Chame||Chame||2,700m/8,800ft|
|Day 6||Chame to Pisang||Pisang||3,300m/10,800ft|
|Day 7||Pisang to Manang||Manang||3,700m/11,600ft|
|Day 9||Manang to Yak Kharka||Kharka||4,110m/13,500ft|
|Day 10||Yak Kharka to Thorung Phedi||Thorung Phedi||4,600m/14,200ft|
|Day 11||Thorung Phedi to Muktinath||Muktinath||3,800m/12,450ft|
|Day 12||Contingency day||Muktinath||3,800m/12,450ft|
|Day 13||Muktinath to Jomsom||Jomsom||2,743m/8,990ft|
|Day 14||Jomsom to Pokhara||Pokhara||827m/2,713ft|
|Day 16||Kathmandu to home|
Arrive Kathmandu. You will be met on arrival at the Tribhuwan International Airport. Transfer to Hotel. Day Free. Enjoy welcome dinner. Briefing during dinner. (Dinner)
Boudhanath (also called Boudha, Bouddhanath, Baudhanath or the Khasa Caitya) is one of the holiest Buddhist sites in Nepal. Located about 11 km (6.8 mi) from the center in the northeastern outskirts of Kathmandu, the stupa’s massive mandala makes it one of the largest spherical stupas in Nepal. The influx of large populations of refugees from Tibet has seen the construction of over 50 Tibetan Gompas (Monasteries) around Boudhanath. As of 1979, Boudhanath is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Drive to Pashupatinath, Nepal’s most sacred Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva, with its two-tiered golden roof and silver door. Shiva, meaning “The Auspicious One”, also known as Mahadeva (“Great God”), is a popular Hindu deity. Shiva is also regarded as the patron god of yoga and arts. Here, you’ll probably witness a Hindu cremation along the banks of the Bagmati River and many Asetics and Sadhus.
Continue to Patan Durbar Square which is situated in the center of Patan city and also known as Lalitpur. Patan houses the residence of the former Patan royal family. Patan Square and its surroundings is a good specimen of ancient Newari architecture. There are three main courtyards in the palace: Mul Chowk, Sundari Chowk and Keshav Narayan Chowk. Mul Chowk, the oldest one is at the center of Patan Durbar Square.
Return to the hotel to prepare for your Annapurna Circuit Trek. (Breakfast and Lunch)
We leave Kathmandu in our chartered vehicle through Nagdhunga, the gateway to central, eastern and western Nepal, for Besisahar and on to Jagat. The road winds downhill to Naubise and into the hills through the winding roads along the Trishuli River. Enroute we see more of the countryside that offers greenery, rivers, villages, farms and beautiful mountain vistas. At Mugling, we cross a bridge to enter Tanahun district and head towards Pokhara. We leave the highway to Pokhara at Dumre, and head north to Besisahar. About 2 hours drive from Besisahar takes us to Jagat, the starting point of our trek. You will stay overnight at Jagat. Overnight Lodge. (All meals)
Today you trek past several waterfalls and forests towards Chamje. Chamje is at an elevation of 1430m/4691ft. From Chamje you hike on towards Tal which is the first village into Manang district. Tal is at an elevation of 1700m/5577ft. From here, it is a grueling 5kms (2.5 to 3 hours) climb on switch backs to Tal where the valley opens into a large plateau of sandy beach and a river at the base of a waterfall. There will be a brief halt for lunch at Tal. After lunch at Tal, you continue to Dharapani. The hike takes you through fields of corn, barley, and potatoes, and further on through bamboo and rhododendron forests.
Overnight Lodge. (All meals)
Today is a long day of hiking. You leave Dharapani for Chame. On the way you will cross Bagarchhap (2160m/7086ft.) It is 2kms and around 1 to 1.5 hours hike from Dharapani. At Bagarchhap you will get to witness the typical flat roofed houses of local Tibetan design. Most of the day, you will be treated with the mountainous views of Lamjung, Annapurna II and Annapurna IV. Camp is at Chame, the district head-quarters. The walk from Bagarchhap to Chame is 21 kilometers and will take you around 7 hours. As you approach Chame two small hot springs by the town will add relief to your long day trek. Overnight Lodge. (All meals)
Today’s highlight is the Paungda Danda rock face (1500m/4921ft.), an interesting and large rock slab rising from the river. You start from Chame through a deep forest in a narrow valley. We will leave back the heavy vegetation as we go on. You will cross several suspension bridges on the way. After you sight the Paungda Danda the trail leads you to climb to Pisang. As you surface in the open from the narrow valley you will be surrounded by beautiful Himalayan peaks. You will then soon arrive at a U-shaped valley of Manang between two giant snow peaks. You then reach the camp at Pisang. Here the Pisang peak (6,091m/19983ft.) looms over Pisang village. Overnight Lodge. (All meals)
Today, you will find yourself above tree-line with some juniper trees. Stronger hikers may opt to take the higher route on the north-east of the valley. The mountain views from here are marvelous: Hiunchuli, Annapurna South, Annapurna I (8,091m) , Annapurna III (7,555m) and Gangapurna (7,454m) are visible. Continue past the village of Braka to Manang. Overnight Lodge. (All meals)
Today is an acclimatization day in Manang. You may take a short hike to the Gangapurna glacier. Or hike steeply to the cave above Manang. You may also take a strenuous 4-5 hour hike to the Ice Lake with fabulous views of Annapurna II. Overnight Lodge. (Dinner)
Today is a short day of 3 to 4 hours hiking to Yak Kharka. Leaving Manang, hike steeply to Tenki village. The trail then winds north-west leaving the Marsyangdi valley past several pastures and meadows to Yak Kharka (literally pasture) where you will see a lot of yaks grazing along the trail. Overnight Lodge. (All meals)
Today is another short trek day of 3 hours to the base of the Thorung la pass. Trek up the narrow Jorsang valley and then cross a bridge to begin a short but steep ascent to the base camp where there are a cluster of lodges. Overnight Lodge. (All meals)
The day begins early with wake up call usually around 3:00 am. The steep ascent to the pass can take up to 5 or 6 hours with our goal being to arrive at the pass much before 12 which is when the chilly winds start to pick up. The hike begins with a steep ascent to another cluster of lodges at Thorung High camp. A little later the trail becomes more gradual with switch-backs that never seem to end. At the top of the pass, there are spectacular views of the Annapurna range and the Tibetan plateau. Then it is a long and arduous descent of around 1,600 meters to Muktinath. As you walk towards Muktinath, views of the Dhaulagiri massif dominate the horizon. Overnight Lodge. (All meals)
Today is a contingency day for health or weather delays. If this day is not required, you can make a side trip to Kagbeni – the gateway to Lo in Mustang. Overnight Lodge. (All meals)
Descend to Jomsom. You have the option to take the jeep back to Jomsom. Or you may take the side-trail through the village of Lubra. For this, hike to the end of Muktinath village and slog up to a ridge. The descent is on slippery switch-backs with lots of pebbles. Nilgiri and Dhaulagiri dominate the skyline. A little past Lubra village, you will rejoin the road to Jomsom. Overnight Lodge. (All meals)
Fly from Jomsom to Pokhara. The day is free in Pokhara. You are free to wander around the lake side for souvenir shopping or to check out the many bars and restaurants. Overnight Big Pillow Inn or similar. (Breakfast and Dinner)
After breakfast, fly to Kathmandu. Full day sightseeing in Kathmandu. Visit Bhaktapur Durbar Square which is around 13 kilometers/8 miles east of Kathmandu. The Bhaktapur Durbar Square was the palace of the kingdom of Bhaktapur and the complex consists of at least four distinct squares (Durbar Square, Taumadhi Square, Dattatreya Square and Pottery Square).
Farewell dinner in Kathmandu. Overnight Hotel Tibet. (Breakfast and Dinner)
Arrive breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight home. (Breakfast)
Per person price (valid until December 31, 2020)
1 persons: $3,000 per person (includes single supplement)
2 – 3 persons: $2,400 per person
4 – 5 persons: $2,250 per person
6 or more persons: $1,950 per person
Single supplement: $300
US$ 150 per person discount on September, December, May and June departures
The above is technically the half circuit. We would gladly arrange to extend the trek to:
There are two preferred seasons for the Annapurna Circuit Trek: Spring (March through June) and Fall (October through November). Day time temperatures range in the 50’s and 60’s (10 to 15 Centigrade) while night-time temperatures are in the 30’s and 40’s (0 to 5 Centigrade). Expect night time temperatures of below Freezing near the Base Camp. Expect some late-afternoon showers in the Spring which is the season for rhododendrons and magnolias. October is historically regarded as the best month to trek with clear skies and better views of the mountains.
You can: A) organize your own trek; B) choose a Nepali company; or C) choose a western guided trek.
Option A is the cheapest. If you’re doing the Everest Base Camp trek on your own look to pay around $30 – $40 per person per day (without alcoholic beverages) for meals and accommodations. Add cost of guide and/or porter plus airfare and permits. There are a few luxury lodges on the trail that charge around US$150 per person per day for room. Meals are extra. Option B is mid-range and can cost between $1,000 – $2,500 with varying inclusions and exclusions. Make sure you understand what is included and what is not included in the package. The best way to choose a Nepali company is to ask for references. Option C would cost above $3,000.
Anyone who is reasonably fit and can hike 10-12 miles a day can sign up for the Annapurna Circuit Trek. Allowing for optimal acclimatization is the key. Most of the trek is on relatively level trail with some steep ascents and descents. That said, the better shape you are in, the more you will enjoy the trek. It is advised that anyone with a pre-existing condition consult their doctor before signing up for a trek.
We rate the Annapurna Circuit Trek a 5 on a scale of 1 (easy) to 5 (challenging).
Nepali tap water is NOT safe to drink. Even if you see the locals drinking water straight from the tap, never drink water before boiling or sterilizing. Bring water purifying tablets or other water purifiers. At higher elevations during the coldest times of year the water will freeze, so you’ll need to buy boiled water from teahouses. If you plan to use a STERIPEN, bring wide mouth water bottles. You would need at least 2 one-liter water bottles for the trek. Even if you plan to bring a hydration pack, bring 1 one-liter water to sterilize the water before pouring into your hydration pack.
Crystal Mountain Treks will provide you with a Steripen to use on the trek for no charge.
Meals on the Everest Base Camp trek start out being quite varied especially at the beginning of the trek in Lukla. But it becomes sparser as you ascend to the Everest Base Camp. In general, expect porridge (Oatmeal), toast, eggs (any style), muesli, hash browns, sausages etc for breakfast. And sandwich, pizzas, momos, noodles (dry and with soup), rolls, fried rice, Indian bread with vegetables etc for lunch and dinner. And expect Nepali dal-bhat (rice-lentils with vegetables and/or meat) at all the lodges.
Ours is an OPEN menu. Meaning we allow our clients to order anything from the lodge menu besides bottled beverages, specialty coffee and packaged snacks. We also don’t limit the number of items per meal as long as you aren’t wasteful. When choosing your trekking company, ask if meals are fixed or if you are only allowed to order one item from the menu. If this isn’t the case, costs can add up over 15/16 days.
Most of the places on the Annapurna Circuit trek route now has cell coverage. Lodges in some locations will offer wi-fi for between $1 to $10 per hour. You can also buy a Sim card with 5GB or 10GB data for under $25: do this in Kathmandu.
The more physically fit you are, the more you will enjoy the trip. There are three aspects to training for any trek.
1) Cardiovascular Training will make your body more efficient in using oxygen. Running, walking, swimming or biking, or any combination of these are great for cardiovascular conditioning.
2) Strength Training by either using free weights or machines at the gym will build hiking strength. Walking stairs, especially with a pack will simulate the hiking environment. We also recommend practicing squats. Trekkers will encounter low hanging obstacles to duck under, and many toilets are at ground level, which requires a low squat.
3) Endurance Training is where you build endurance in the months leading up to your trek, slowly increase your length of training sessions. By the time you are 2 weeks from the scheduled trek date you should be able to ascend 3,000 ft. in a 3-4 hour period.
In the end, the more your training simulates a trek, the better off you will be. So hiking 4-5 hours outdoors, uphill and downhill, about once or twice a week in addition to other cardio vascular training at the gym or at home will greatly benefit and prepare you for the trek.
Most tea houses have a common toilet. Some tea houses, especially those at the beginning of the trek, have en suite rooms. While squat toilets are more prevalent, newer lodges have Western style toilets.
It is possible to shower in almost all the lodges. And hot shower usually means a bucket of boiled water. Be prepared to pay anywhere from $2-$5 for this service.
Layering is key. And it’s always recommended to trek with good branded gear. A good pair of hiking boots that’s been broken in is very important. Good top and bottom base layers, a mid layer (fleece or capilene), and an outer layer (Gore-tex or other material). If you tend to get cold quickly, bring a down parka especially for the evening at the lodge. On most days, you’d be hiking in a convertible hiking pant that can be converted into shorts and one or two top layers.
if you’re trekking with Crystal Mountain Treks, we provide a sleeping bag (rated to 0 degree F or -17 degree C), duffel bags, down jacket and Steripen for water purification to our clients for no charge.
It is possible to buy cheap and relatively functional gear in Kathmandu – convertible pants, down jackets, fleece, Gore-tex jackets. But remember, you get what you pay for. Wool gloves, hats, socks are available too.
There are quite a few branded stores too. North Face, Moutain Hardwear, Marmot and Sherpa. If you’re coming from Australia or Europe, items in these shops are probably cheaper than back home. But if you’re coming from the US, it’s better to buy branded gear at home.
Crystal Mountain Treks was my first trekking experience, and it was everything I could have asked for! Our guide and porter were so amazing and helpful, and they made sure we felt completely prepared and safe, and that we were having a good time.
CANDU (Kandu) was so amazing. She is so kind and fun and made sure we were well taken care of. I felt very safe being with her and would do a trek with her again someday! The lodges were just what we needed and provided all the necessary amenities.
Thank you so much Jwalant for setting up an incredible experience! I am definitely going to recommend Crystal mountain to friends and family.
Our trek overall was incredible. I can not say enough how integral Kandu and Roshan. We enjoyed their company and humor at lodges as well as during the trek, and they encouraged us and helped out when things got tough. They were our translators, supporters, teachers, guides and friends. I really have nothing bad to say about them, they were utterly perfect and we loved them. Daily distances were challenging but always doable (though the first day was a bit tough, maybe because we had to start from Syange and we were just tired as it was our first day). The last day over the pass was tough but felt worthwhile and like the proper way to do it. Kandu was very attentive about altitude sickness – and I always felt taken care of and checked in on, plus the elevation gains felt fine. All of the lodges were good, and the food was pretty good along the way. I think our favorite lodges were in Manang and Upper Pisang.
I just want to thank y’all so much for making our trek fun and smooth. We felt like we accomplished a lot by making it to the top of Thorungla, and could not have done it without Kandu and Roshan. It is evident that Crystal Mountain Treks is made up of kind, hard-working, and very well-trained guides, porters, and stuff. If I trek again, I will absolutely return to this company because of their dedication to making your experience a great one.
Our Annapurna Circuit hiking adventure was the most challenging 5 week trek we have ever completed, but also the most awesome experience – one which we will never forget. The intent of trekking in Nepal was to experience all that Nepal had to offer in terms of people, culture, food and the beauty of the Himalayan mountains. Our experiences with Crystal Mountains Treks exceeded these expectations – well done for the excellent organisation. Ram is an excellent guide and a very good recommendation. He did an amazing job to ensure our experience was safe at all times, was always very considerate of our needs and flexible in every approach. His constant advice to khripaya bistaari tala jhara was excellent advice. What’s the hurry? Take is slowly, enjoy the scenery, stop for a cup of tea. Many cups of tea were drank throughout the trip. The tea bill alone must be one of the biggest you have seen! Ram’s level of leadership with Sune, Raju and Sujan was outstanding. The accommodation, local hospitality and food (mitho, mitho) was perfect and we enjoyed every day. Ram was always willing to explain the Nepalese culture and go out of his way to show the historical and religious aspects of Nepalese life.