One of the classic treks in Nepal, this popular route takes you all the way from subtropical jungle to high-altitude plateau, culminating in Thorung La at 5,419 m.

Highlights

  • Descend into one of the deepest gorge's in the world - the Kali Gandhaki
  • Reach 5,400 m over Thorung La, the highest point of the trek
  • Take a side trip to Tilicho, a high-altitude lake at 4,919 m
  • Veer off into the remote valleys of Nar & Phu
  • Customize this trek in a variety of ways to match your interests

Overview

Fast facts
Min. duration 20 days
Max. elevation 5,400 m (Thorung La)
Start/finish Bhulbule/Tatopani
Difficulty Challenging
Trek style Teahouse

Known as one of the most diverse treks in Nepal, the Annapurna Circuit ascends 4,622 m before dropping down onto a high-altitude plateau that takes you south along the Kali Gandkhi river valley. Road construction has changed the nature of this trek over the years (pushing as far north as Muktinath in the west and Manang in the east), but it still remains a beautiful trek that can be done in many different ways - from a short 9-day itinerary to a month-long journey around the entire Annapurna massif.

Muktinath
The village of Muktinath (3,800 m)
Thorung La
Looking west from Thorung La (5,418 m)
Trekking between Muktinath and Jomsom
Hiking between Muktinath and Jomsom
Village of Marpha
Village of Marpha (2,630 m)

Brief Itinerary

From Pokhara, you'll take either private jeep or public transport to Besisahar, from where you officially start your trek.

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Welcome to Kathmandu! Kathmandu
Day 2 Explore Kathmandu Kathmandu
Day 3 Drive from Kathmandu to Besishahar, Trek to Khudi Khudi
Day 4 Trek from Khudi to Bahundanda Bahundanda
Day 5 Trek from Bahundanda to Jagat Jagat
Day 6 Trek from Jagat to Dharapani Dharapani
Day 7 Trek from Dharapani to Chame Chame
Day 8 Trek from Chame to Pisang (10,466 feet / 3,190 m)  Pisang
Day 9 Trek from Pisang to Manang (11,548 feet / 3,520 m) Manang
Day 10 Acclimatization day in Manang (11,482 feet / 3,500 m)  Manang
Day 11 Trek from Manang to Khangsar Village (12,323 feet / 3,756 m)  Khangsar Village
Day 12 Trek from Khangsar Village to Tilicho Base Camp (16,138 feet / 4,919 m) Tilicho Base Camp
Day 13 Visit Tilicho Lake, Return to Base Camp (16,138 feet / 4,919 m) Tilicho Base Camp
Day 14 Trek from Tilicho Base Camp to Yak Kharka (13,156 feet / 4,010 m) Yak Kharka
Day 15 Trek from Yak Kharka to Thorung Phedi (14,599 feet / 4,450 m)   Thorung Phedi
Day 16 Trek from Thorung Phedi to Muktinath (12,467 feet / 3,800 m) via Thorung La (5,400 m) Muktinath
Day 17 Trek from Muktinath to Jomsom Jomsom
Day 18 Fly from Jomsom to Pokhara Pokhara
Day 19 Fly from Pokhara to Kathmandu Kathmandu
Day 20 Depart Kathmandu  

Best Season

Generally, the best (and busiest) time to trek the Annapurna Circuit is the spring and the fall, although a shortened itinerary (focusing on the northern, drier region of the circuit) is a great option during the monsoon. It's only during the winter that causes issues as Thorung La pass if often closed due to snow.

Accessing this Trek

The safest direction to complete this trek is counter-clockwise, which allows for gradual acclimatization as you make your way toward Thorung La. Traditionally, the route starts in Besisahar and ends in Tatopani, but road construction has opened up a number of options at both the beginning and end of your trek.

Road construction

Over the past few years, road construction has made much of the western and eastern sections of the Annapurna Circuit accessible by bus and jeep. The roads are bumpy dirt tracks, at best, but many trekkers now opt for a shorter version of this trek by starting farther up the valley (3-4 days into the traditional route) and ending even as early as Jomsom (then taking a bus to Beni or flying to Pokhara).

Kali Gandakhi Valley
Looking north up the Kali Gandakhi valley toward Tatopani, with the road heading toward Jomsom on the left

Permits & Regulations

If you're trekking in the Annapurna region, you'll need to purchase a TIMS card ($10) and an Annapurna Conservation Area Permit (ACAP) ($20 USD) before you go. There will be multiple checkpoints along the way where you'll need to show these.

Accommodation & Meals

As with other treks in Nepal, teahouses are available along the entire Annapurna Circuit, and all your meals, snacks and water can be purchased along the way.

Variations to this trek

There are a variety of ways to do this trek, a few of which are listed below.

Tilicho lake
Tilicho lake (4,919 m), accessed via a 3-day side-trip from the village of Manang

A shortened version

Given the road construction, this trek can now be done is as few as 8-9 days by starting as far north as Manang (3,520 m) and ending as early as Muktinath. If you decide to shave off the initial days of the trek, be sure to follow a proper acclimatization schedule before you attempt to cross Thorung La pass.

The 'full' Annapurna Circuit

From Tatopani (Day 18), you can continue east by following the local village trails along the Ghorepani trekking route, to Ghandruk, and finally ending in Nayapul from where you can take a jeep or bus back to Pokhara. This adds an extra 4-5 days onto your trek. If time is not an issue, you can even consider continuing farther to Annapurna Base Camp.

Including Nar Phu Valley

These two remote valleys of the Annapurna region are a great way to experience a desert-like landscape of Upper Mustang without paying for the $500 permit. From Kota Uppar (Day 5 of the Annapurna Circuit), branch north up the valley toward the villages of Nar and Phu. It's possible to complete a small circuit and link back up to the Annapurna Circuit by crossing the Kang La (5,300 m) and re-connecting at Humde.

Map

Map of Annapurna Circuit Trek - 20 Days
Map of Annapurna Circuit Trek - 20 Days

Recent Trip Reviews

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Lucia

Nepal's main trekking regions, Nepal - Jul 21 - Jul 29, 2018

Traveler: Lucia W. - Local specialist: Erin Green

Loved the trek so much! Didn’t really think about much before I go. Alex and Erin are very experienced in terms of giving good advice on the drier route during monsoon season and taking care of my arrival. Ngawang is such a experienced guide and he was very helpful along the trek. Food is very good and satisfying during the trip too ;)

Annapurna circuit trek - 16 days: one of the classic treks in nepal, Nepal - Mar 2 - Mar 15, 2018

Traveler: Sebastian S. - Local specialist: Sudarshan Shrestha

Sudarshan was super reliable at any times. He always answered within an hour. Has been very helpful with the planning of the trek. Super professional but also always worried and concerned about how my trek was going. The guide he provided me for the trek was one of the nicest human beings I have met throughoutmy life (Takta). I couldn't have asked for more, I had a great time with him. Making it an unforgettable experience for me. Sudarshan would always make sure the trek was tailormade to my... read more

Sudarshan was super reliable at any times. He always answered within an hour. Has been very helpful with the planning of the trek. Super professional but also always worried and concerned about how my trek was going. The guide he provided me for the trek was one of the nicest human beings I have met throughoutmy life (Takta). I couldn't have asked for more, I had a great time with him. Making it an unforgettable experience for me. Sudarshan would always make sure the trek was tailormade to my preferences. And he makes sure to meet with you after the trek to give some feedback on how things went throughout the trek. The one thing I can assure is that Sudarshan is highly recommendable to anyone seeking for some adventure in Nepal. He has the knowledge and professionalism to satisfy your needs.