The Annapurna Circuit is a trek located within the mountain ranges of central Nepal. The length of the trials varies between 160–230 km which depends on where motor transportation is used and where the trek is ended. This trek passes through two different river valleys and encircles the Annapurna Massif. The path reaches its highest point at Thorung La pass (5416m/17769 ft), reaching the edge of the Tibetan plateau. Most trekkers hike the route anticlockwise, as this way the daily altitude gain is slower, and crossing the high Thorong La pass is easier and safer.
The mountain scenery seen in the treks are Annapurna Massif (Annapurna I-IV), Dhaulagiri, Machhapuchhre, Manaslu, Gangapurna, Tilicho Peak, Pisang Peak, and Paungda Danda. Numerous other peaks of 6000-8000m in elevation rise from the Annapurna range.
The beginning point of trek is at Besisahar or Bhulbhule in the Marshyangdi river valley and concludes in the Kali Gandaki Gorge. Besisahar can be reached after a seven-hour drive from Kathmandu. The trail passes along paddy fields and into subtropical forests, past several waterfalls and gigantic cliffs, and through various villages.
Annapurna Circuit was voted the best long-distance trek in the world by various hikers as it consists of wide variety of climate zones from the tropics at 600 m asl to the Arctic at 5416 m asl at the Thorong La pass and cultural variety from Hindu villages at the low foothills to the Tibetan culture of Manang Valley and lower Mustang. Continuing construction of a road has shortened the trail and changed the villages. The Beisahar-Manag road has been built which passes through the trekking trail much of the time. With the construction of roads, mountain biking is becoming popular, with Mustang, in particular.
Standard trials for Annapurna circuit trekking
View of Annapurna massif and village of Manang and Gangapurna Lake, Nepal.
The trek rabges from 15–20 days and depends upon your itinerary, leaving from Kathmandu with a stopover in Pokhara before returning to the capital. The trek is moderate to fairly challenging and makes numerous river crossings over steel and wooden suspension bridges.
It is also possible to continue from Ghorepani to Tadapani, Ghandruk, Landruk, and then to Phedi, which follows the old Annapurna Circuit from the time when the road was not yet extended to Beni. The circuit can also be extended to visit Annapurna Base Camp (also called Annapurna Sanctuary). This trail turns to the north from Tadapani and rejoins the old circuit at either Ghandruk or Landruk.
While trekking in the Himalayas in the wet season is generally not possible, much of the Annapurna circuit sits within a rain shadow, so it is possible to trek most parts of the circuit year-round, including during the monsoon period. However, the days are often damp and many of the views are obscured by clouds.
October – November
This is the most popular hiking season in Nepal. Though the weather is generally warm, nighttime temperatures drop below freezing. This is the busiest period on the circuit and tea houses book up very quickly.
December – March
This is the coldest period on the circuit. Depending on the altitude, daytime temperatures will be cold and nighttime temperatures drop well below freezing. Thorung La Pass, which stands at over 5,400 meters, is often blocked with snow and may be closed for days on end. Clouds prevail more frequently, but clear days are still common. Towards March the rhododendrons start flowering. This period is also when avalanches are most common.
April – May
Because of the warming weather, April to May is the second most popular trekking season on the circuit. Most of the snow has melted. As the monsoon period builds toward the end of May, the days become hotter and more humid.
June – September
This is the monsoon period. Whilst the south section of the Annapurna Circuit near Pokhara gets a lot of rain, the northern parts often receive less than 10% of the precipitation due to their location within a rain shadow.
Annapurna area was opened to foreign trekkers in 1977 after the disputes between CIA-backed Khampa guerrillas operating from the area into Tibet, the local populace and the Nepal army were settled. The original trek started from the market town of Dhumre situated at the Kathmandu – Pokhara highway and ended in Pokhara, and took about 23 days to complete. Road construction started in the early 1980s both from Dhumre to the north and from Pokhara to the west and then up the Kali Gandaki valley. The road has now reached Manang on the Marsyangdi river valley and Muktinath on the Kali Gandaki side. Of the trek’s original 23 days, only 2 sections of 2-3 walking days in the length of the trek are now without a motor road, namely Thorong La pass and the section over Ghorepani/Poon Hill. In some places, new trails and routes have been marked so that the road can be partly avoided. The existence of the road has nevertheless changed the area, appearance, and atmosphere of the villages. The road facilitates transport, increasing the popularity of mountain biking in the area. Since 2011, companies in Muktinath and Jomsom rent out mountain bikes to tourists. As the road sees very little traffic, one can ride downhill (dirt road and/or single track) from Muktinath to Tatopani and descend almost 3000 meters in 2–3 days.
New areas near Annapurna have been opened for trekkers in the past years, such as Upper Mustang, Nar-Pho Valley, Manaslu, and Tsum Valley. Currently, trekking in these areas is restricted and subject to extra permits, costs, and other limitations.
In October 2014, Seth Wolpin achieved the fastest known time in 72 hours and 4 minutes. He started in Besisahar and finished in Nayapull, following all the New Annapurna Trekking Trails.
It is reported that time has been recently surpassed by Greek athlete and philanthropist Lefteris Paraskevas, who, in May 2017 completed the classic route of the Circuit, from Besisahar to Nayapul, in 68 hours and 22 minutes.
Q.How difficult is the Annapurna Circuit trek?
The Annapurna Circuit trek may lie in a remote region of the Himalayas making it challeinging but achievable and absolutely worth your time.
Q.Is Annapurna Base Camp harder than Everest?
Everest Base Camp treks are usually above 5,000m are thus making it more challenging than the Annapurna Base Camp trek. In Higher altitudes region there is lower oxygen levels therefore hikes must be careful and always talk to their guide if any problem occurs. Temapurture is also colder as you move through higher altitude.
Q.What is the difference between Annapurna Circuit and ABC trek?
The Annapurna Base Camp trek is shorter as it only take 7 to 9 days to complete .Which makes the Annapurna Circuit is longer and more challenging than the Annapurna Base Camp trek.
Q.Can a beginner climb Annapurna?
Well, now is the time to make a plan and set the goal. With some training, preparation and a good team around you, it’s a goal that’s achievable for so many. If you want to get started on an “easier” trip, we think that Annapurna Base Camp is the perfect trek for beginners.