Backpack the Annapurna Circuit Trek

Annapurna Circuit Trailhead - Search Nearby - Added by Rachel Davidson

Spend 12-18 days experiencing the high-altitude Himalayas on one of the best treks in the entire world. 

The Annapurna Circuit Trek continually ranks as one of the most famous and popular treks in the entire world. This route will take you through lush lower valleys, alpine apple orchards, and high-altitude icy climates, eventually reaching the crux of the entire trip on Thorong-La Pass at 17,770 ft.

One of the biggest attractions of this trek is that once you reach Jomsom on Day 12, there are bus options to help you get back to town. Many people end their trek here, though plenty of others continue on to the famous Ghorepani region at the official end of the circuit. Here, you’ll have a chance to climb Poon Hill, one of the most popular and most staggeringly beautiful sunrise spots in the Annapurna region.

Sample itinerary from Lonely Planet:

  • Day 1: Besi Sahar to Bhulbule (2,756 ft.)
  • Day 2: Bhulbule to Ghermu (3,707 ft.)
  • Day 3: Ghermu to Tal (5,577 ft.)
  • Day 4: Tal to Chame (8,891 ft.)
  • Day 5: Chame to Upper Pisang (10,859 ft.)
  • Day 6: Upper Pisang to Manang (11,614 ft.)
  • Day 7: Rest day in Manang – Opportunity to hike to Ice Lakes (15,157 ft.)
  • Day 8: Manang to Letdar (13,780 ft.)
  • Day 9: Letdar to Thorung Phedi (14,600 ft.)
  • Day 10: Thorung Pedi over Thorung-La (17,770 ft.) to Muktinath (12,467 ft.)
  • Day 11: Muktinath to Kagbeni (9,185 ft.)
  • Day 12: Kagbeni to Jomsom (8,924 ft.) – Opportunity to fly back to KTM or Pokhara
  • Day 13: Jomsom to Marpha (8,760 ft.)
  • Day 14: Marpha to Larjung (8,366 ft.) – Opportunity to hike to Ghhursanbo Cave
  • Day 15: Larjung to Ghasa (6,595 ft.)
  • Day 16: Ghasa to Tatopani (3,937 ft.)
  • Day 17: Tatopani to Ghorepani (9,416 ft.)
  • Day 18: Ghorepani to Naya Pul (3,510 ft.)

Of course, it is best to be flexible with your itinerary and allow a few days of wiggle room in case you choose to spend an extra day acclimatizing or adding on a detour. 

Logistics

This trek begins out of Besi Sahar, which is about a 5 hour bus ride from Kathmandu and roughly $5 USD. The trek ends in Naya Pul, about 1.5 hours outside of Pokhara. Busses run between Kathmandu and Pokhara all day long, ranging anywhere from $3 for a local bus or $15 for a "luxury" tourist bus.

Do not expect to find an ATM, hot shower, pharmacy, laundromat, Wi-Fi, or other amenities on this trek. A few towns do feature these luxuries, but you should be prepared to forgo them so you don’t get your hopes up. You’ll also need to allot a full extra day in Kathmandu to collect your TIMS (Trekkers Information Management System) card and ACAP (Annapurna Conservation Area Permit) before you take off on your trek.

Expectations

  • Cost: Nepal is well known for its affordability. Many lodges are $1-3/night, or totally free, but it is expected that you purchase all meals where you overnight. Budget $10/day and you’ll be just fine.
  • Lodging: This is one of Nepal’s “teahouse treks,” where you are walking through villages with ample food and accommodation options. That means no packing a tent, stove, and other cumbersome camping items – though you still will want a sleeping bag. Teahouses have virtually no insulation, though the common room is kept warm by burning yak dung (during limited hours). The higher you hike, the more primitive lodges will become. 
  • Food: Meat is available in the Annapurna region, though it will be increasingly expensive in the higher-elevation lodges. Dal bhat is the Nepalese staple that you will find on every menu: Rice, lentil soup, and curried vegetables. It’s inexpensive, filling, and carbo-loaded for extra stamina!
  • Weather: Spring and fall are the most popular times to trek in Nepal because of the generally good weather conditions. That being said, conditions at high altitude conditions are often unstable, and you should be prepared for rain, snow, and even blazing hot temperatures anytime you trek.
  • Support: Local guides are a great resource to help you navigate and learn the history and culture of Nepal, as well as a great way to contribute to local economy. Porters are available out of Kathmandu, Pokhara, or nearly anywhere along the trail. You can also hire a guide for the day on your Thorong-La crossing if you don't feel comfortable going over the pass alone.

Common courtesies and culture

Only give and receive things with your right hand, left hands are considered unclean. Nepalese eat with their hands, and if you choose to do the same, be extra careful your left hand does not touch your food or plate.

Pay attention to cultural sensitivity. Nepalese do not wear shorts, and while some Westerners think “it’s okay” to make an exception for themselves, be aware that you will stand out. You should also honor religious customs, like walking clockwise around stupas and shrines, and always staying left on the trail – especially past prayer stones.

The bottom line

The Annapurna Circuit is widely accepted as one of the best - and most popular - treks in the entire world. With its flexible bus options, manageable difficulty rating, and stunning alpine landscapes, you will absolutely fall in love with Nepal if you embark on this classic Annapurna route.

Distance

145 Miles RT

Elevation Gain

15014 ft Gain

Type

Loop

Activities

Rock Climbing, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking

Adult Beverages
Bathrooms
Family Friendly
Food Nearby
Groups
Romantic
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildflowers
Wildlife

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

Reviews

Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

This is a hard trek despite how popular it is

And what makes it hard isn't just the walking. In fact, if I had a slightly lighter backpack as I should have, that wouldn't have been so bad. Its the other things, like no internet (yes be one with nature but the maps online are SO MUCH BETTER than paper ones!). Or the 8 hour bus ride to the trail start. Or what about the leeches (in rainy season, don't recommend unless you want the trail to yourself and unique views hardly anyone else gets). And how about those jeep rides on the edge of muddy cliffs, rock slides, over water falls, through rivers. Good times and happy to be alive. But worth it for sure. If I had to do it over again here's my advice. Pack as light as you possibly can without risking freezing. Go right before or right after busy season so the weather is still decent but there aren't so many people (but still some people...it would have been more enjoyable with more trekkers). Prepare to do the entire circuit. The short cuts (ie extra bus rides, flights, jeep rides) just aren't worth the extra risk they place your life in. Enjoy! Respect the culture and the locals. Keep the landscape clean!

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