So you’re thinking of doing the Annapurna Circuit trek? Well, we’re here to help you prepare for your adventure ahead. From trekking costs to everything you need to know to trek the APC, we’re here to get you prepared so you’ll rock the trek!
Oh, and if you want to know Where To Stop And Stay On The Annapurna Circuit, no worries, we have you covered there too.
So let’s dive in, shall we?
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Annapurna Circuit Facts
The trail first opened in 1977, and have seen tourists from all over the world since. Doesn’t matter the age, you’ll find them on traversing the trails of the ever impressive Annapurna Circuit.
- Location | Central Nepal
- Trek Length | On average, 16-20 days
- Trek Distance | Depending on where you start, stop and if you take jeep transport and of course the optional side treks that are available, you can estimate between 160km – 230km
- Highest Point of APC Trek | Thorong La Pass at 5,416m (17,769ft)
Where Is The Annapurna Circuit?
First things first, where is the Annapurna Circuit trek? The Annapurna Circuit, or the APC as it’s sometimes called, is a trek within the Himalayan mountain range of central Nepal.
Where To Start The Annapurna Circuit
You can reach the APC by flying into Kathmandu and then taking a bus or taxi transport to where most trekkers start the Annapurna Circuit, in the town of Besisahar.
Most trekkers follow an Annapurna Circuit itinerary that begins in Besishahar. From here, trekkers continue in a counter-clockwise direction to reach and climb over the Thorong-La Pass.
The main reason for trekking Annapurna Circuit in a counter-clockwise direction is to let your body acclimate to high elevations.
When you star the trek from Besishahar and follow the trail in a counter-clockwise manner, you have almost two whole weeks to acclimate before crossing the tallest point of the trek, Thorong La at 5,416m (17,769ft).
How Long Does The Annapurna Circuit Take?
If you want to do the full Annapurna Circuit, meaning without the aid of jeeps and buses to get you to villages quicker, you can expect a 16-20 day trek.
You may want to consider doing another trek if you can’t allocate at least 18 days to this region. And this means 18 days for the trek, not 18 days in Nepal.
The above being said, we understand time constraints are a real issue for some travelers. If you need to cut a few days off your trek, you have a few options…
Before Thorong La Pass:
- Book a jeep in Besishahar to take you to Chame for about $180.
- Once in Chame, you can officially begin your APC trek.
After Thorong La Pass:
- Once over the pass, you’ll need to trek for a few days to you reach Jomson.
- Once at Jomson, you can book a flight to Pokhara or catch a jeep to Tatopani or Beni and then onto Pokhara the following day.
The most important advice we can give is not to rush this trek. Things move slower in Nepal and transportation, especially in the mountains can be unreliable.
You can run the risk of missing an international flight or worse, physically hurting yourself. Take it slow and enjoy the majestic mountain ranges and scenery you’ll be surrounded by.
When To Trek The Annapurna Circuit?
Wondering the best time to trek the Annapurna Circuit? Well, there are two seasons that are good considered optimal for the APC…
- Spring (March – April)
- Fall (September – October) PEAK SEASON
For us, we started our trek at the beginning of March and knowing what we know now, we suggest to start the circuit a little later – about mid March.
Why? Weather. We experienced a pretty gnarly snow storm that came with avalanches as well as frozen pipes (no running water) and freezing temps.
Trekking Permits For The Annapurna Circuit
Before you set off, you’ll need to check a few things off your ol’ “to-do list.” First things first. To enter the Annapurna region you’ll need two things:
- Entry Permit
- TIMS Card
Both can be obtained in Pokhara at the Nepal Tourism Board Office. The cost is $20.00 USD each / $40 total.
You’ll need to make sure you have your passport, 4 passport sized pictures and your travel insurance with you when apply for both documents.
How Much Does The Annapurna Circuit Cost?
Now, we did it on the cheap. The below is an average based off our experience and trekking in a group, without porters or guides. We also trekked in the spring, which is not the peak season for Nepal.
- Bus from Pokhara to Besishahar: $5 per person (one time fee)
- Entry Permit – $20.00 per person (one time fee)
- TIMS Card – $20.00 per person (one time fee)
- Avg. Meal / Beverage Cost (3 meals): $25 per person, per day
- Avg. Night Stay: $0
- We were traveling with 4 other people (6 total) and we made a deal with our accommodation that if all 6 of us bought breakfast and dinner, we could stay the night for free.
- Bus from Besishahar to Pokhara: $5 per person (one time fee)
TOTAL – $500 per person for about 18 days. That’s a little shy of $30 USD a day.
Not mentioned above is the gear we had to purchase when in Kathmandu. We spent around $125 in clothing but we’re able to sell it all back and get $45 back.
Annapurna Circuit Side Treks
Now, one of the great things about the Annapurna Circuit is the side treks offered along the way. Some take a few hours where others will take a day.
These small side treks are great options for those looking to acclimate and higher elevations for shorter bursts.
- Tilicho Lake: The most popular of the side treks lies outside of Manang and sits a 4,919m/ 16,138 ft
- Milarepa Cave: Located11 kilometers from the town of Nyalam, hike to a cave where it is said a Tibetan poet spent many years mediating. Used as a pilgrimage for some and a good acclimating hike for others.
- Ice Lake: Start at the village of Braga or Mugje and head up to the Ice lake that site at 4,620 m / 15,157 ft
- Odar Village: Not so much an acclimatization hike, even though it’s up there, Odar is a great “off the beaten path” village to get some quiet time and lunch.
Hiking The Annapurna Circuit With or Without A Guide and Porter
First, understand there is a different between a guide and a porter. A porter will carry your gear where as a guide will guide you through the trek.
The need of a porter or a guide is completely and solely up to you and your style of hiking and physical abilities. For us, we did not hire a porter or a guide when trekking the Annapurna Circuit.
Why you ask? Simple, we believe in carrying our own pack weight and we wanted to save money.
What about getting lost? To ease any fears on getting lost on the Annapurna Circuit, don’t be worried. The paths are clearly marked and this trek is a well traveled one, meaning you will see fellow trekkers along the way. Just be smart and do not wander off the trails.
NOTE: If you wish to book a porter or guide, you can do so in Kathmandu or Pokhara at one of the many trekking agencies or check out the Annapurna Trekking tours offered Viator.
Hiking The Annapurna Circuit Solo Or With A Group
You can do either – completely up to you! There are pros and con’s to each option so do what is best for you and your style of travel.
If you’re hiking solo, the biggest pro is you have the freedom to go and do what you want. The con’s of hiking solo are all from a safety standpoint:
- If you get hurt or sick, you’re alone and fending for yourself
- While it doesn’t happen often, solo trekkers do go missing in the Himalayas’ so it’s good to have a buddy that can keep an eye on you
- For solo female travelers, not saying that it’ll happen, but hiking with a buddy lowers your risk of harassment
- If you go at it solo, you also have to organize everything yourself (which could be a bonus if your a planner) like permits, tea houses, etc.
As for hiking in a group, the biggest con is doing what the group wants to do. Sometime this can be a bit of a headache and requires you to make a few sacrifices. However, the pros of meeting new people and sharing an unforgettable experience together was worth it to us.
We went the group route and it was amazing. We met a few people in Besishahar and trekked with them the rest of the way.
Is the Annapurna Circuit Right For Me?
The APC is tackled by thousands of visitors each year and they come from every background and age range. If you are in decent shape, you can do the Annapurna Circuit (APC).
However, by no means is this trek a leisurely stroll. It’s important your fit as you walk long days (8 – 12 hours) so if you have any joint issues, this trek will be very strenuous on your body. The days are long, so yes, your body must be ready for it.
The first few days you’ll go through a series of steady ascents and descents through rice fields and lush forests.
The Annapurna, Manaslu and other various mountains tease you by coming in and out of view. Eventually you reach pine forests and walk along cliffs that show you rushing rivers and snowy capped peaks.
At about this time, you start going up and up and up until you reach the goal of crossing the biggest pass in the world, Thorong La Pass at 5,416m.
Is The Annapurna Circuit Dangerous?
With everything there are risks and the number one reason people don’t finish the APC is because of not listening to their bodies.
People flock to Nepal and push themselves in order to meet flight deadlines or other obligations. These things can lead to injury, altitude sickness and even death.
Also, PLEASE stay on the path! There are instances where trekkers wandered away from the trail and seriously injured themselves or have even died.
Safety Tips For Trekking in Nepal
Like any place in the world, using common sense and listening to your gut usually does the trick. But if more advice id needed, check out the below.
- Check in at the proper check points
- Travel with a buddy
- Let your family or friends back home know your route, intended start and finish dates (aka just let them know where you’ll be)
- Stay on the trail
- Drink loads of water
- Listen to your body and don’t push yourself
- Carry altitude sickness medication
- Just be smart and use common sense
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– Lauren & Jesse Stuart (The Stüs)