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Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal

Annapurna, NepalThere may be one trek that has it all: snow-capped peaks of the world’s greatest mountain range, steep rice terraced valleys, active villages along most of the way reflecting two major ethnic cultures, hot springs, holy pilgrimage temples, high mountain passes and much more. It is a trek of epic length, but offers many options for shorter, but still rewarding journeys. This trek is none other than the Annapurna Circuit.

While Mount Everest often captures the general public’s eye, the trek around Annapurna is often considered superior to the shorter Mount Everest Base Camp Trek. As a circuit Annapurna offers another advantage in that you don’t have to double back. You start at a much lower elevation 820m / 2,700’, but still attain high alpine altitude maxing out at 5350m / 17,550’ on Thorung La Pass. From a mountaineering perspective, Everest garners attention for its dangerous summits, while Annapurna proves to be a much more formidable mountain to climb with one person dying for every two who reach its summit.

Annapurna, NepalBy following the complete circuit, starting in Besi Sahar and ending in Naya Pul, you experience the delights of the many villages, encounter numerous temples, ecosystems and wildlife. Every day you gain impressive views of some of the most famous mountains in the Himalayas: Annapurna I through IV, Dhalguiri, Machu Puchari, Nilgiri and Gangapurna. By walking around them, you experience multiple views of each massif.

The Annapurana circuit is continuously evolving, but the one constant is its status as one of the world’s greatest treks. One of the most popular variations from circuiting is to fly into Jomsum and trek back. The second most common is to trek into ABC – The Annapurna Base Camp – also known as the Annapurna Sanctuary. The bottom line is that you can’t go wrong in trekking in the Annapurna region.


Days Trekking: 15-21 days
Distance: 248km 155 mi
Max Elelvation: 5350 meters, 17,550ft - Thorung La Pass
Starting Elevation: 740 meters, 9,200ft
Approximate Elevation Change: 4,610 meters, 15,215 ft
Price Range Independent: $300-700
Price Range Outfitter: $1500 - 3,000
Challenge Level: Difficult



  • Full-on daily Himalayan spectacular
  • Tantalizing views of Annapurna and the surrounding range from many viewpoints
  • Incredibly serine walks through 40-50 ft Rhododendrons trees in full bloom (March)
  • Spectacular array of villages.


When to Go

The prime trekking seasons in Nepal are fall and Spring. Fall in Nepal is October to early December and the Spring season runs from mid March to mid April. Fall offers clearer skies and more crowds on the trails. Spring presents a greater possibility for dusty or hazier skies Spring also gives you a chance to see the spectacular Rhododendrun Trees in bloom. Be aware that starting your trek too early could result in a shortened trek as the Thorung La Pass could be closed.


Guided vs Independent Treks

Nepal is perhaps the birthplace of the independent tea house trek. In the “old days” before guided treks, travelers ventured forth into the mountains going from village to village and staying at the same little tea-houses where locals stopped for a night rest and a cup of tea on their own journeys to and from their homes in the mountains. more...



The Himalayan range crests across northern Nepal sharing the border with Tibet. The Solu Khumbu Region which is home to Mt. Everest is 200 kilometers east of the Nepali capital of Khatmandu. Lukla is at the meeting point of the Himalayan foothills and the Himalayn Range. The trail winds north towards the village of Gokyo and then up to the Summit of Gokyo Ri. Everest itself saddles the Border between Nepal and Tibet.

Annapurna Circuit Map
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Annapurna Circuit Elevation Chart
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Access / Local Information

Kathmandu is the gateway for most Himalayan Treks. The Du is an easy flight from Bangkok, a little longer from Hong Kong and a puddle jump from New Delhi, India. You can also cross in to Nepal by land from India.

Kathmandu is a traveler’s paradise. Everything you need is available here. Hotels in any price range, culinary feasts of any world wide cuisine, cheap and fast internet access and a wealth of western bookstores are found in Kathmandu’s honky-tonk backpacker ghetto of Thamel. Furthermore, any trekking gear, souvenir and supplies you need can be had in the myriad of shops around Thamel.

The start of the trek is Besi Sahar which can be reached by a local bus. Some might prefer a tourist bus to Phokara and then a local bus to Besi Sahar, however the local bus was not overly inconvient until it got close to Besi Sahar. Many locals hop on and off there, but whether you take a tourist bus to Phokara or not, you'll still have this experience.

Day to Day Account - Jeff Salvage - Annapurna Circuit

By the time I was ready to start the Annapurna Circuit I had returned to the top of my trekking game. Having just completed Mt. Fitzroy, Torres del Paine and a trek back to the Everest region called Gokyo Ri, I was in shape and acclimatized to altitude. It was indeed a luxury. Unfortunately, it came at a cost. Before my Gokyo Ri trek some of my camera equipment was stolen, but I had enough backup equipment to make due. I only had to replace a lens and hope nothing broke as I ventured around Annapurna. Unfortunately, instead of enjoying my time between hikes, it was spent futilely hassling with the police to get an official police report which was necessary for me to process my insurance claim. The story continues....