The Dispelling Charm of the Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal

the dispelling charm of the annapurna circuit trek
| 4 min read

The Annapurna Circuit is one of the most classic and picturesque trekking sites in Nepal, if not the world, where you can see at a close range the mountains of Annapurna Massif, Macchapucchre, Manaslu, Gangapurna and Tilicho Peak. This is why it’s been voted as the best long distance trek in the world. Each trek, depending on weather conditions and skillset, takes around 17 to 21 days finish. The traveler will trek 160 to 230 kilometers (100 to 145 miles) of rocky land and high altitude.

In the Annapurna Circuit, you’ll also be able to experience a variety of climatic zones from as low as 600 meters (1,968.5 feet), where you start, all the way to its highest point, Thorung La Pass, at 5,416 meters (17,769 feet) above sea level. The entire trek is moderately challenging. A very real but subtle danger is high altitude sickness. That is why most trekkers choose to hit the route counterclockwise because the altitude gain is slower.

Most climbers will attest that the whole scene is bliss, from the yaks sharing the road space with you to the new experiences like tasting seabuckthorn berries. Most experienced travelers prefer carrying their own gear and taking care of their own permits and travel insurance, however, there are travel outfits who also do that at the jumpoff point.

What are you waiting for? Take the holy grail of trekking, the Annapurna Circuit. Here are some answers to a few of the common questions that will help guide you, before the trip.

Where does the trek start?

Chame bridge, Annapurna Circuit
Source: Photo by user Doug Letterman used under CC BY 2.0

The trek usually starts in Beshishar and ends at the Kali Gandaki Gorge. To get to Beshishar, you’ll need to take a seven-hour bus ride from Kathmandu. The whole ride is quite pleasant, though. You’ll be able to pass through several waterfalls, cliffs, forests, paddy fields, and old villages. Continuing road construction in order to make the villages more accessible has somehow changed the vibe of the circuit. You’ll also find that it’s now popular with mountain bikers.

Annapurna Circuit 18 Days Tour

Address: Central Nepal

Website: Annapurna Circuit 18 Days Tour

What will I pass through?

Tea-house on Thorong La pass - Annapurna Circuit, Nepal - panoramio
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Sergey Ashmarin used under CC BY-SA 3.0

The trek will pass through several mountain regions, particularly Manaslu, Langtang Himal, Annapurna II and IV, Annapurna III, Gangapurna, Annapurna I and Dhaulagiri. You’ll also be able to see the world’s deepest gorge, between two 8,000 meter (26,247 feet) mountains. You’ll also be able to trek through four regions particularly Lamjung, Manang, Mustang and Myagdi. Manag and Mustang have the highest elevations and are predominantly Tibetan in culture and belief. Mustang is where you’ll also find, in action, the last ancient religion, Bonpo.

What will I see?

Trail leaving up into the rhododendron forest (4525879516)
Source: Photo by user Greg Willis used under CC BY-SA 2.0

The Annapurna Circuit will take you through different villages, the most prominent of which is the village of Muktinath, where two religions live in harmony - Buddhism, and Hinduism. There, you’ll be able to visit Braga, one of the oldest monasteries in the area. When you reach the eastern part of the circuit, you’ll also be passing by the Marsyangdi riverside, all the way to Manang village. The village is used to tourists and people will usually greet you with a heartwarming “namaste”.

The village trail will then lead you to another uphill hike, for a day. It then opens up onto the Kali Gandaki River, also known as the Black River. You don’t have to trek the whole way, though. As previously mentioned, the improving roadways are changing the landscape of Annapurna. You can take a mountain bike or rent a jeep and take some of the alternative trails. You can end the circuit by taking a bus from Beni to Pokhara or go to the Annapurna Sanctuary also known as Annapurna Base Camp.

There are also many side destinations, such as Tilicho Lake, which can be accessed from Manang. Tilicho Lake is one of the highest lakes in the world. You can also spot a lot of yaks and blue sheep there.

15 Day Annapurna Circuit Trek from Kathmandu

Address: Central Nepal


Where can I stay?

Himalayan View Hotel and Restaurant, Yak Kharka (4560846106)
Source: Photo by user Greg Willis used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Most of the trekkers opt to bring their own sleeping bag and pitch their own tent. However, for those who need a bit more comfort, such as a good bed, electricity, and WIFI access (however, slow) especially after a grueling 7 to 8-hour day of trekking, you can head to some of the lodges at the villages you pass through. There’s an unwritten rule that as good guest practice, you should eat in the same lodge as where you sleep. Rooms are cheap and so most owners make more profit from the food they prepare for their guests.

However, the bathrooms might not be in their best state. You may also need to get used to cold showers as most lodges use solar power. If the sun doesn’t come out, water is lukewarm, at best, bitingly cold, at worst.

Annapurna Circuit Teahouse Trek

Address: Central Nepal

Website: Annapurna Circuit Teahouse Trek

When is the best time to go?

Ghyaru Village, Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal
Source: Photo by user Simon Desmarais used under CC BY-SA 2.0

The Annapurna Circuit is one of the rare circuits that can be trekked throughout the year, even during the rainy season. Most people prefer to trek from October to November, though, because the weather is still warm and the sky is clear. This is also the most expensive time to do the circuit, especially if you’re considering taking a “tea trek”, where the traveler stays close to modern comforts such as lodges and villages. Most tea houses are completely booked during these months. The second most popular trekking period is from April to May.

However, if you’re the type of traveler who doesn’t like crowds, the best time to go is from December to March. These are the coldest months and the paths are less crowded. However, there’s a risk of having the roads blocked by snow and avalanches are common during this time.

Annapurna Teahouse Trek

Address: Central Nepal

Website: Annapurna Teahouse Trek

Looking for a guide?

the dispelling charm of the annapurna circuit trek | looking for a guide?

This 17-day trekking adventure is a sufficiently decent effort to enjoy what Annapurna Trail has to offer. Enjoy breathtaking views and changing scenery day by day, rocky terrains to lush fields and remote desert. Challenge yourself as you reach hardest treks and the highest point of the trail, the Thorong La Pass standing at 5,416 metres (17,769 ft). Deepen your knowledge of the country as you meet different ethnic groups: Thakali, Gurungs, Magars, Brahmans and many more. This is a lodge to lodge trip type and includes all transportation, full-board accommodation, trekking fees and travel/rescue arrangements. Extra insurance should be arranged at your own cost.

The Classic Annapurna Circuit Trek - 17 days

Joining the drove of Annapurna Circuit fans

While the Annapurna Circuit is certainly not the most picturesque and some would argue there are easier, more accessible postcard moments in New Zealand, nothing quite compares to the combination of climate, culture, and sense of place that Annapurna has. The trek is nothing new - it has been open since the 1980s. Many have sung the praises of the high Himalayas but after trekking this route yourself, you’ll probably want to join in the chorus.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Johanna Michelle Lim is a brand strategist, creative director, and travel writer based in Cebu City, Philippines. She swims in jellyfish-infested oceans, treks through mountains, rides rickety...Read more

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