The holy grail of treks since it first opened to foreigners in the early 1980s, the Annapurna Circuit is one of the most popular high-altitude adventures in the world. The route crosses two different river valleys and encircles the Annapurna massif through lowland villages occupied by Brahmin and Chhetri ethnic people to the upper settlements of Manang Valley.

Highlights

  • Descend into the deep Kali Gandaki gorge
  • Climb up to Tilicho Lake nestled at the foot of the Annapurnas
  • Summit Thorung La Pass (5,416 m), the highest point of the trek
  • Encounter a wide range of landscapes and Buddhist and Hindu sites

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Welcome to Kathmandu! Kathmandu
Day 2 Drive from Kathmandu to Besishahar, Trek to Khudi Khudi
Day 3 Trek from Khudi to Bahundanda Bahundanda
Day 4 Trek from Bahundanda to Jagat Jagat
Day 5 Trek from Jagat to Dharapani Dharapani
Day 6 Trek from Dharapani to Chame Chame
Day 7 Trek from Chame to Pisang (10,466 feet / 3,190 m)  Pisang
Day 8 Trek from Pisang to Manang (11,548 feet / 3,520 m) Manang
Day 9 Acclimatization day in Manang (11,482 feet / 3,500 m)  Manang
Day 10 Trek from Manang to Khangsar Village (12,323 feet / 3,756 m)  Khangsar Village
Day 11 Trek from Khangsar Village to Tilicho Base Camp (16,138 feet / 4,919 m) Tilicho Base Camp
Day 12 Visit Tilicho Lake, Return to Base Camp (16,138 feet / 4,918 m) Tilicho Base Camp
Day 13 Trek from Tilicho Base Camp to Yak Kharka (13,156 feet / 4,010 m) Yak Kharka
Day 14 Trek from Yak Kharka to Thorung Phedi (14,599 feet / 4,450 m)   Thorung Phedi
Day 15 Trek from Thorung Phedi to Muktinath (12,467 feet / 3,800 m) via Thorung La (5,400m) Muktinath
Day 16 Trek from Muktinath to Jomsom Jomsom
Day 17 Fly from Jomsom to Pokhara Pokhara
Day 18 Fly from Pokhara to Kathmandu Kathmandu
Day 19 Depart Kathmandu  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Welcome to Kathmandu!

The cityscape of Kathmandu and Boudhanath Stupa
The cityscape of Kathmandu and Boudhanath Stupa

Flying into Kathmandu, you'll have views over the valley, the Himalaya, and the terraced fields below. After completing customs, a representative will be waiting to greet you outside the airport and to guide you through the initial culture shock of Kathmandu’s narrow, winding streets to your hotel.

Once you've settled in, head out and explore the city. Kathmandu Durbar Square is a great place to start your exploration, where you'll walk through narrow alleyways teeming with small shops, ancient temples, and local restaurants. If you want to stretch your legs, Swayambhunath, the white stupa rising above the valley, is the perfect spot to catch the sunset over the valley.

In the evening, the tourist hub of Thamel is a good place to grab your first meal, with a variety of restaurants to chose from offering both Western and local Nepali dishes.

Day 2: Drive from Kathmandu to Besishahar, Trek to Khudi

Part of the Annapurna Conservation Area
Part of the Annapurna Conservation Area

After breakfast in Kathmandu, you'll be transferred by private driver along the Kathmandu-Pokhara Highway towards Dumre and then follow a rough road near the Marsyangdi River until you get to Besisahar—a small town at the bank of the river (about a six-hour drive). 

From Besisahar, you'll have lunch and then begin an easy trek along the narrow trail to Pam Khola. Cross the stream and begin to trek along the Marsyangdi River towards the Gurung village of Khudi passing scenic ride paddies and subtropical forests. 

Driving time: 6-7 hours
Trekking time: 2-3 hours
Trekking distance: 4.3 miles (7 km)
Overnight: Khudi (2,592 feet / 890 m) 

Day 3: Trek from Khudi to Bahundanda

A local in the village of Bahundanda
A local in the village of Bahundanda

After breakfast in Khudi, you'll make your way through more of the Marsyangdi Valley with views of the Annapurna range, trekking along wooden and bamboo bridges before reaching the village of Bhulbule. The trail then comes to a picturesque waterfall on the river bank and as you hike along rice terraces with beautiful views of Manaslu range.

Following a gentle incline, you'll come to the village of Ngadi and stop for lunch. The trail then continues a more challenging ascent towards Bahundanda, which means 'hill of the Brahmins'. Located at the top of a hill, this is the most northerly Brahmin settlement in the Marsyangdi Valley and there will be time to explore the area before dinner. 

Trekking time: 5-6 hours
Trekking distance: 6 miles (10 km)
Overnight: Bahundanda 4347 feet (1325 m)
Accommodation: Teahouse

Day 4: Trek from Bahundanda to Jagat

A group of donkeys in Jagat
A group of donkeys in Jagat

After breakfast in Bahundanda, you'll start a steep descent through more rice paddies before crossing a stream at the bottom of a waterfall. From here, the path climbs up to Hani Gaon as you wind through fields along the river, crossing a long suspension bridge before arriving in Syange village. 

You'll gradually make your way uphill from the river where you'll begin one last steep climb and then descend again, eventually landing in Jagat. This village, with its iconic stone houses, has a great view of the Marsyangdi valley.

Trekking time: 4-5 hours
Trekking distance: 5 miles (8 km)
Overnight: Jagat (4,232 feet / 1,290 m)
Accommodation: Teahouse

Day 5: Trek from Jagat to Dharapani

A long waterfall can be spotted early along this trek
A long waterfall can be spotted early along this trek

After breakfast in Jagat, you'll descend along a rocky path until the trail nearly reaches the river before it begins to climb again through a tropical forest. You'll go up and down a few more times like this, and then follow a level track to a beautiful Gurung village of Chamje. Keep an eye out for the long and scenic waterfall on the opposite bank and views of the Annapurna range beyond.

From Chamje, it's time to descend back to the Marsyangdi River and then cross a suspension bridge as you climb to Sattale on a steep path, which at certain points has huge boulders that cover the rushing water. Keep climbing the zigzag path to the top of the hill and you'll catch your first glimpses of the village of Tal situated on a beautiful gorge by the river.

The valley then narrows and the winding path becomes higher with more areas of strewn rocks. Continue past the small village of Karte and enjoy the cliff-side path before the path drops again to the river. You'll cross yet another suspension bridge, and then climb upstream to the stone entrance marking the larger village of Dharapani.

Trekking time: 5 hours
Trekking distance: 9.3 miles (15 km)
Overnight: Dharapani (6,299 feet / 1,920 m)
Accommodation: Teahouse

Day 6: Trek from Dharapani to Chame

Trek through a forested trail along the river
Trek through a forested trail along the river

After breakfast in Dharapani, you'll begin a series of uphills and downhills as you start to see different types of vegetation and landscapes, as well as key Himalayan peaks. In fact, early in the trek, you'll notice that the Marsyangdi River veers to the left where Annapurna II becomes visible. Here begins a nice trail to get to Bagarchhap, a village known for traditional Tibetan architecture and plenty of prayer flags.
 
From here, the altitude gains and you'll continue to climb through oak and pine forests as you pass through Dhanakyu near a heavy waterfall. Further on, you'll enter an alpine area where the air gets cooler passing through farms and pine forests. The river soon enters a gorge where the path consists of steep stone steps. This is a good place to take a break and turn around for views of Manaslu—the 8th highest peak in the world.

The steep ascent will then head into rhododendron trees to Ratamron and then continue on a gently rising path, crossing a stream before entering another pine forest. From here, the trail climbs through fir and pine trees to get to the larger village of Chame, the headquarters for the Manang district with plenty of shops, conveniences, and teahouses.  

Trekking time: 5-6 hours
Trekking distance: 10 miles (16 km)
Overnight: Chame (8,629 feet / 2,630 m)  
Accommodation: Teahouse

Day 7: Trek from Chame to Pisang (10,466 feet / 3,190 m) 

Morning view of the Annapurna range
Morning view of the Annapurna range

Enjoy views of Lamjung Himal while having breakfast in Chame before you set off for Pisang. You'll ascend the valley passing apple orchards, rolling hills, small villages, and fir and pine forests towards a high, rocky area called Dhukur Pokhari—a nice place to stop for lunch. From this point, the valley becomes extremely steep as you follow the trail to Bratang. Wander through this area that was once used as the military station for troops who fought against the Khampa tribal revolution. 

A brief climb from the village brings you to a rock-strewn area where you'll cross a wooden bridge and follow a high, winding path, before crossing again back again. Make your way through more pine forests until you're greeted with expansive vistas of Annapurna II and Pisang Peak. From here, you'll come to a long mani wall by a bridge and the lower windswept village of Pisang with views of the Annapurna and Manaslu ranges. Once settled in Pisang, you can take an optional hour-long climb to Upper Pisang and explore the village's ancient Tibetan-style Buddhist monastery (with even better views). 

Trekking time: 5-6 hours (10 miles / 16.5 km)

Day 8: Trek from Pisang to Manang (11,548 feet / 3,520 m)

Dawn on the Himalaya near Manang
Dawn on the Himalaya near Manang

After breakfast in Pisang, you'll hit the trail to Manang. The path ascends a steep ridge through forests leading to views of the Manang Valley, Humde village, and Tilicho peak. From here you can take in the rolling hills and expansive plains of the Sabje Khola Valley where the Annapurna massif soon becomes visible. You'll then cross a wooden bridge over the Marsyangdi River to get to the tiny village of Mungji, as well as the village of Bryaga, with its notable monastery including chortens and mani walls surrounded by more snow-capped Himalayan peaks.  

Continue trekking along rolling hillside until you reach the large village of Manang. Once settled, you'll have opportunities to explore more of the area's Tibetan culture, truly a standout in this remote mountainous region.

Trekking time: 5 hours (12 miles / 19.5 km)
Accommodation: Teahouse

Day 9: Acclimatization day in Manang (11,482 feet / 3,500 m) 

Mountain lake near Manang
Mountain lake near Manang

Today is a rest day so take advantage of being able to sleep in before breakfast. This is an important opportunity to acclimatize to the higher altitude before tomorrow's crossing of the Thorung La mountain pass.

You can choose to take it easy in Manang and explore the busy village's streets or pick between several day-trips that come with amazing views.

Some ideas include:

  • Hike up the hill behind Manang and visit the monastery for a 360-degree panorama of the Annapurna range and Manang Valley. You'll then cross the river to see the magnificent icefall coming down from the Gangapurna.

  • Take a more challenging hike to Ice Lake, which takes about 5-6 hours and offers more views of the region.

  • Visit the Himalayan Rescue Association aid post in the village which makes an interesting and educational visit.

In the evening, have a leisurely dinner in Manang and watch the sunset.

Day 10: Trek from Manang to Khangsar Village (12,323 feet / 3,756 m) 

Metal bridge near Manang
Metal bridge near Manang

After breakfast in Manang, you and your rested muscles will begin a half-day's trek to Khangsar Village along the trail headed for Tilicho Lake. The path heads out of Manang through the western gates and then follows the path down to the river. You'll walk along the bank and through the valley of weathered rocks with views of Annapurna II. 

Once you get to the Khangsar Khola on the bridge, you'll ascend to the nice Tibetan-style village of Khangsar, also known as the ‘last village of Nepal’.

Trekking time: 4 hours (6.5 miles / 10.5 km)
Accommodation: Teahouse

Day 11: Trek from Khangsar Village to Tilicho Base Camp (16,138 feet / 4,919 m)

View from Tilicho Base Camp
View from Tilicho Base Camp

After breakfast in Khangsar Village, you'll continue trekking along a wide new path until you get to a Buddhist monastery. From here, climb towards a high ridge where you'll reach an intersection where the new trail and the old trail collide; take the new trail and ascend to another steep ridge before descending back down along switchbacks.

You'll eventually reach a scenic valley and then cross a little stream putting you at Tilicho Base Camp, your spot for the next two nights.

Trekking time: 5 hours
Trekking distance: 4.5 miles (7.2 km)
Accommodation: Teahouse

Day 12: Visit Tilicho Lake, Return to Base Camp (16,138 feet / 4,918 m)

Tilicho Lake
Tilicho Lake

Today, you'll start with an early breakfast before a nice roundtrip loop to Tilicho Lake in the Manang district. It takes about 3 hours to get to this clear body of bright turquoise water, one of the highest lakes in the world. You'll hike through high alpine landscapes with plenty of snow-covered rocks—a striking contrast against the vibrant hue of the lake. 

Have lunch and take your time to enjoy the lakeside surroundings before returning to base camp for the night.

Trekking time: 6 hours
Trekking distance: 6 miles (10 km)
Accommodation: Teahouse

Day 13: Trek from Tilicho Base Camp to Yak Kharka (13,156 feet / 4,010 m)

Yak Kharka
Yak Kharka

After breakfast at base camp, you'll follow a gently winding trail high above Khangsar village with more views of the Himalayan giants as you pass through juniper bushes and the ruins of old Khangsar. From here, follow an unmarked trail which leads you down to an old log bridge between Gumsang and Yak Kharka, an area where yak herders bring their animals to graze. This is where you'll stop for the night.

Trekking time: 5-6 hours
Trekking distance: 8 miles (13 km)
Accommodation: Teahouse

Day 14: Trek from Yak Kharka to Thorung Phedi (14,599 feet / 4,450 m)  

Yak sighting near Thorung Phedi
Yak sighting near Thorung Phedi

Today's scenic trek starts with breakfast in Yak Kharka before you take a slow, gradual climb towards your overnight location. You'll hike up a ridge and notice that the high altitude landscapes become more extraordinary along the way. Then descend to the Marsyangdi where you'll cross the river on a covered wooden bridge that leads to a small tea shop.

After a short ascent up the mountain path on the right bank, you'll follow a narrow trail and then trek down to Thorung Phedi (meaning: foot of the hill). Once settled, choose to spend your free afternoon either hiking up to the lodge at High Camp for some acclimatization or relaxing with a book and chatting with other trekkers staying the night. 

Trekking time: 6-7 hours
Trekking distance: 3.7 miles (6 km)
Accommodation: Teahouse

Day 15: Trek from Thorung Phedi to Muktinath (12,467 feet / 3,800 m) via Thorung La (5,400m)

Views from Muktinath
Views from Muktinath

Today begins at sunrise as this is the longest and hardest day of the trek! Start off with a four-hour walk to the top of the Thorung La at 17,717 feet (5400 m)—Annapurna Circuit's highest point—where you'll be rewarded with spectacular views over Mustang and Kaligandaki valleys, and the surrounding peaks. Take time for photos as the summit opens up to reveal a sweeping panorama of snow-capped mountains extending towards Tibet. The descent is almost as demanding as the ascent, so when you get to the bottom at Chabarbu, there is a teahouse where you can relax with a cup of chai and a snack.

Continue trekking on a long, grassy slope through a series of switchbacks towards the lower Mustang and head back to the serene village of Muktinath. This important pilgrimage site for Buddhists and Hindus is surrounded by rugged mountains with unparalleled views of Dhaulagiri—the world’s 7th highest peak.

Trekking time: 8-9 hours (10 miles / 16 km)
Accommodation: Teahouse

Day 16: Trek from Muktinath to Jomsom

Kali Gandaki river near Jomsom
Kali Gandaki river near Jomsom

Today will be a much easier day! After breakfast in Muktinath, you'll start a downhill trek to Jomsom village, passing through Lupra village with its own notable Bonpo monastery. This is a great alternative route that trekkers on the Annapurna Circuit Trek don’t normally use, so you will be further from the crowds and jeeps on the trail to Jharkot.

Before you get to Jomsom, ascend gradually to Kali Gandaki River and then walk through a sandy, windswept valley. Arrive at Jomsom village in the early afternoon with plenty of time to shower and relax before you celebrate the end of the trek.

Trekking time: 8-9 hours
Trekking distance: 11.8 miles (19 km)
Overnight: Jomsom (8,891 miles / 2,710 km)
Accommodation: Teahouse

Day 17: Fly from Jomsom to Pokhara

Passengers catching a flight in Jomsom
Passengers catching a flight in Jomsom

Today, after breakfast in Jomsom, you'll catch a 30-minute morning flight to Pokhara. Snag a window seat as the scenic mountain views en route will be nothing short of spectacular. 

Upon arrival in Pokhara, settle in your hotel and enjoy the afternoon and evening on your own. This relaxed lakeside town is the gateway to the Himalayas, so there are plenty of cool cafés, restaurants, water activities, funky shops, and yoga studios that cater to expats and adventure travelers.

Flight time: 30 minutes

Day 18: Fly from Pokhara to Kathmandu

The dense buildings of Kathmandu City
The dense buildings of Kathmandu City

After breakfast, you may have time to do more sightseeing, relax, or check out one of the Pokhara's coffee shops. About 1.5 hours before your flight, you'll be picked up from your hotel and taken to the domestic airport to catch your flight back to Kathmandu.

In Kathmandu, you'll be transferred to your hotel and can enjoy the rest of the afternoon and evening at your leisure. Explore Kathmandu's streets on foot, bicycle, or rickshaw, perhaps shopping for souvenirs or seeing anything you may have missed at the beginning of your trip.

In the evening, choose from a selection of Nepali, French, Vietnamese, and Middle Eastern dishes in Kathmandu.

Day 19: Depart Kathmandu

The all-seeing eyes of Buddha at Swayambhunath
The all-seeing eyes of Buddha at Swayambhunath

It's time to say farewell to Nepal. Enjoy your last moments in Kathmandu with breakfast in a café, a final stroll through the narrow alleys and temples, and some final souvenir shopping. A driver will be waiting for you at your hotel to take you to the airport for your return flight home. It's best to be at the airport at least two hours prior to departure.