This article is an itinerary.
Throng La pass in Oct of 2013
A view from the Annapurna circuit
The Annapurna Circuit is in Nepal.
This circuit is considered one of the best treks in the world though road construction is threatening its
reputation and its future as a classic trek. Yet no one disputes that the scenery is outstanding: 17 to
21 days long, this trek takes you through distinct regional scenery of rivers, flora, fauna and above all
There are four regions that are passed through on the trek; Lamjung, Manang, Mustang and Myagdi.
Lamjung and Myagdi of the lower elevations are both predominantly Hindu and with lush green
subtropical valleys with villages and terraced farming.
Manang and Mustang are of the higher elevations and are predominantly Tibetan Buddhist. The
Manang people are Gurung (not Tibetan descent) and are very proud of their unique cultural heritage
and merging of lower land Gurung and Tibetan cultural influences. People of Mustang identify
themselves a lot closer with Tibet and the Mustang region has actually been part of Tibet in history.
Mustang also is one of the last places in the world to view the ancient Bonpo Religion in action.
Villages to note for Bonpo are Thini and Lupra near Jomsom, and Nargon near Kobang.
The trek goes counter-clockwise from Besisahar to Nayapul and reaches its summit in Thorung La
(pass) at the height of 5416m, or 17,769 feet. The route goes past the following mountains: Manaslu
(an 8,000-plus meter peak), Langtang Himal, Annapurna II and IV, Annapurna III and Gangapurna,
and, of course, Annapurna I and Dhaulagiri -- passing through the world's deepest gorge in between
those two 8,000-plus meter peaks. Poon Hill, at the end of the trek, affords views of those two
mountains, as well as South Annapurna and Machapuchare, the "Fishtail Mountain."
The trek also goes through Buddhist villages and Hindu holy sites, most notably the village of
Muktinath, a holy site for both Buddhists and Hindus, and Braga, one of the oldest monasteries in the
From Dharapani to Kagbeni you will be walking the Annapurna section of The Great Himalaya Trail, a
long distance trekking route that connects Nepal from East to West.
The eastern portion of the trek follows the Marsyangdi River upstream, to its source near the village
of Manang. To get there several days of up-hill hiking are required. Then the route goes over the
pass, a grueling day of hiking, and back down the other side, where it meets up with the Kali Gandaki
River. At the end of the trek, several options are available: following the river further to the road
proper to Beni and catching a bus to Pokhara, or adding on a trek to the Annapurna Base Camp
(ABC Trek), aka the Annapurna Sanctuary Trek. A relatively new option is to ride down by
mountainbike from Muktinath or Jomsom, turning road construction in a positive thing for tourism.
Mustang is on it's way to becoming a major downhill biking destination.
This is a "teahouse trek," meaning there are villages with lodges and restaurants to eat and stay in
along the entire route. You are expected to eat breakfast and dinner in the same lodge where you are
spending the night. Prices of rooms are seemingly inexpensive because of this (NPR100 to NPR300
for a double) - lodge owners tend to make more money on the food and drinks they are selling you
than on the room where you are sleeping.
View of Annapurna massif near Manang.
The main trekking season is October and November with crowds going crazy at this time. It is
possible to do the circuit most of the year. The shoulder seasons of September and December are a
good choice because the weather is almost as good and the circuit is much less busy. Spring is also
great, less people and warmer, but some guide books warn of higher chance of foggy views
compared to the peak-season in October. Summer is also possible but with lots of leeches.
While it is possible for experienced hikers to do the trek without the support of guide and a
porter (it's done by the majority of the backpacker so) many wish additional support. The path is
quite easy to follow and every three hours (max) you will arrive upon a small village with lodges and
restaurants. As there other trekkers around you often end up meeting people and making friends and
trekking partners along the path.
Please note that many hotels in Kathmandu and Pokhara will try to tell you that you NEED a guide
and they're just the person to help. It is actually illegal if they do it without a Trekking agent who
covers the legal needs for organizing a trek. Please be very wary, stories of trekkers being scammed
are all too frequent on the trail.
If you do decide to go with a guide through a hotel please ensure that the deal involves a Trekking
Agent so you have no legal trouble later on.
If choosing to make the trek independently you need to organize a few administrational things as
well: While still in Kathmandu or Pokhara, don't forget to get your entrance permit for the Annapurna
Conservation Area Project (ACAP) as well as a so-called green TIMS Card (Tourism Information
Management System), both of which are required and available in either city. It'll cost you NPR2,000
for the entry fee from the National Trust for Nature Conservation and another NPR2,000 for the
individual (green) TIMS Cards from theTrekking Agencies Association of Nepal (TAAN). Make sure
you bring everything they need (e.g. 4 passport photos, your passport, name and mobile number of
an emergency contact in Nepal, policy number and hotline of your insurance, etc) or it might take you
longer to get everything sorted. In Kathmandu you can get both documents at the office of the
Tourism Information Board, 20-30 minutes walk southeast of Thamel. Tourism Information Board
Office, Kathmandu, Exhibition Road, Kathmandu Bagmati Zone, 00977, Nepal (One block south
east of Ratna Park). Officials do check your permit at several places along the way, and the
checkpoints are virtually impossible to avoid. You'll have to pay double, or NPR4,000, if you're caught
without the permit.
Both documents can also be obtained in Pokhara, just at different desks in the same building located
Be aware that with the individual (green) TIMS card (obtainable at the Nepal Tourism Board in
Kathmandu and Pokhara) you are not allowed to take a guide or porter! No one except you can
obtain a individual TIMS and those who offer you such individual TIMS cards are doing so illegally. If
you are hiring a guide (and possibly some porters), you would need the blue TIMS card for group
trekkers which costs NPR1,000.
A shop selling baked goods on the Annapurna circuit
Also grab an Around Annapurna Trekking Profile which is a great free pocket guide that lists
elevation and hiking time between every major stop.
Make sure you have adequate clothing for low temperatures and rain. Temperatures vary from
oppressive heat in the lowlands, to freezing cold and snowstorms, closer to the pass. For the cold a
pair of hiking pants, thermals, gloves, beanie, worn-in hiking shoes (it can be done in runners but
some do not recommend them), a warm inner jacket and a windproof / waterproof outer jacket is
essential. A neck warmer is also great to keep out the cold! A hiking stick or two is also great to have
for hills and icy sections especially if you have bad knees.
The coldest periods tend to be when the sun goes down and you're at the lodge instead of while on
the trail. Waterproof gear is especially needed if you are doing a difficult side trek or are planning to
hike when the weather is bad.
Pokhara and Kathmandu offer everything you could need for the hike (apart from decent shoes)
with surprisingly good quality for cheap pirated products. Remember to bargain. Be prepared to
become a walking North Face billboard!
Bring a sleeping bag rated for winter temperatures. Linens are not provided by the lodges, and
nights can get very cold. Warm blankets are provided so it is possible to use a basic two-season
Everyday supplies, such as toilet paper, soap, Chocolate bars, and even hiking supplies like
headlamps and fleece jackets can be purchased along the way, though prices rise dramatically as
you go higher in elevation. Try to stock up lower down and buy local. Fruit, Coconut biscuits and Bon
Bon biscuits are made in Nepal, are a fraction of the price and taste great!
Maps are easy to get -- and very inexpensive -- in either Kathmandu or Pokhara. While the path is
easy to follow be aware that these maps should not be used for critical navigation as they are not
very accurate. However they are useful for pointing out the various mountains.
Bring along a sufficient amount of money for the entire trek, though you can use cash traveler's
checks or exchange US dollars in Jomsom or Chame. There are no ATMs on the trek after
Beshisahar (except for an unreliable ATM in Jomsom). A day on the lower villages of the trek can
cost as little as NPR700 (food and accommodation only). A day in the higher points of the trail can
cost NPR1200. You can do the trek for about USD13 a day if you go independently.
Budget for NPR1000 per day if you are a very modest spending trekker, though those on a budget
can get by with less and people who want to live it up a little should allow for more. Please note that
despite the efforts of ACAP there could be variations in pricing that will surprise. For some reason the
region between Tal and Chame is more expensive than from Chame to Manang which is at more
difficult to access! As the prices seem to be fairly set throughout each village though do not concern
yourself with hunting around a village looking for a cheaper place and try not to stop at the first lodge
you see so that trekkers are spread through the village. Quite often the nicest lodges are on the way
out of town.
Before you go, check on the status of the road being built on the eastern portion of the trek from
Besisahar to Chame. In winter 2009, the the construction of the road interfered with trekking with
some parts being dangerous to navigate. Locals tend to talk up the road and downplay its negative
aspects. Be advised: road walks in Nepal are very unpleasant, and unhealthy, due to the large
amounts of powdery dust that tend to kick up from passing jeeps and buses.
Be prepared for all manner of bathrooms. Sometimes you'll get a modern flush toilet with private
access, other times you'll have to venture out in the cold to use a smelly squat toilet. Even so, all
lodges have running water. Be aware that it will probably not be HOT water. Typically, a solar shower
might give you a luke warm 'power shower' if it's been a sunny day, otherwise the thing to ask is if the
water pipes run through the fire in the dining room or kitchen as once the fire is going you'll be
steaming with the best of them!
Pokhara provides a great spot with meeting other trekkers who have finished the trek. Always feel
free to start up a conversation in a bar or restaurant to source the latest information on what's
happening on the trek.
One of the trucks that drives from Nepal to China through the Himalayan
Dhaulagiri as seen from the Jomson area. Travel is by pedal bike.
Though not required, porters and/or guides can be easily hired in Pokhara or Kathmandu at many
travel agencies. As a classic "tea-house trek," which goes from village to village and does not require
trekkers to bring along food or camping equipment, porters and guides are far from necessary,
though many trekkers still like to use them.
If you do hire a porter or a guide, Nepali tourism officials ask that you make sure you pay a fair wage,
limit the weight you require them to carry, and ensure they are properly clothed. Pay attention to their
health when you get up in elevation, since some porters may not tell you if they feel ill. Altitude
sickness is potentially fatal if ignored.
Depending on where you end your trek, buses and taxis are available to take you to Pokhara, a great
place on a lake to spend a few days unwinding and relaxing. Kathmandu is about a six hour bus ride
from Pokhara, easily arranged once you're ready to leave the lakeside town.
You can try and walk the lower stages at a faster pace maybe combining two of them into one so that
more time can be spent on acclimatization on the higher stages. For example a couple of extra days
can be spent at Manang and utilized by climbing to one of the many peaks around it and coming back
down so as to increase the production of red blood cells. You can also see the origin of the
Marsyangdi River in Manang. Taking the high trail from Pisang via Ghyaru and Ngawal, and sleeping
in either of those villages also helps acclimatization. As those villages are already higher in elevation
than Manang, the extra acclimatization day in Manang can be skipped. The best part about this trek
is the varied scenery it has to offer. You start from tropical forest in Besisahar, see terminal moraine
near Manang and then move past the snow line across the Thorung La and then to the barren
landscape of lower Mustang and Muktinath. It is possible to bike from Muktinath to Tatipani. With bike
rental available in Muktinath.
Scenery on the Annapurna circuit 2014
The village of Marpha in Nepal
There are guesthouses in all the villages scattered along the trail so set whatever pace you like and
enjoy the views. The hike between Besisahar and Bhulbhule is pleasant enough. It is the jungly bit of
the hike and provides a nice contrast to the various ecosystems you will be hiking through in the
coming days. Therefore I would recommend against taking a bus to Bhulbhule. It will likely take you
the same amount of time either way as the road is a potholed mess and the buses are slow,
uncomfortable and run infrequently.
Besisahar (820 m) to Khudi: 7 km, 2.00 hrs
(note: It can typically be a long journey to get to Besisahar from Kathmandu. If you can arrive at a
reasonable time it's worth considering walking directly on to Khudi and stopping there for the night.
It'll be more basic but cheaper than the much larger Besisahar, and it will give you a good start the
next morning. The first day, usually Besisahar to Bahundanda, can be brutally hot, and ends with a
long climb. Knocking a couple of hours off of this and enabling you to spend more time out of the heat
of the day isn't a bad thing.)
Khudi (790 m) to Bhulbhule: 2 km, 1.00 hrs
Bhulbhule (840 m) to Ngadi: 4 km, 1.15 hrs
(note: Ngadi has good views of the snow-capped mountains in the early morning)
Ngadi (890 m) to Bahundanda: 4 km, 1.45 hrs
Bahundanda (1310 m) to Ghermu: 5 km, 1.30 hrs
Ghermu (1130 m) to Jagat: 3 km, 1.30 hrs
(note: Ghermu sits in an open valley and is therefore a more pleasant place to spend the night than
Jagat. Jagat is a dirty, congested village that sits in a narrow chasm.)
Jagat (1300 m) to Chamche: 4 km, 1.00 hrs
Chamche (1385 m) to Tal: 5 km, 2.00 hrs
Tal (1700 m) to Karte: 4 km, 1.30 hrs
Karte (1870 m) to Dharapani: 2 km, 1.00 hrs
(note: Dharapani is a good place to stay with good views up both canyons)
Dharapani (1900 m) to Bagarchap: 2 km, 1.00 hrs
Bagarchap (2160 m) to Danaqyu: 2 km, 0.45 hrs
Danaqyu (2200 m) to Koto:
(upper trail) Danaqyu to Thanchowk: 6 km, 2.15 hrs
(upper trail) Thanchowk (2570 m) to Koto: 4 km, 1.00 hrs
(lower trail) Danaqyu to Latamarang: 1.5 km, 1.00 hrs
(lower trail) Latamarang (2400 m) to Koto: 5.5 km, 2.00 hrs
Koto (2640 m) to Chame: 2 km, 0.45 hrs
(note: Koto is small, clean and quiet as compared to the hustle and chaos of Chame. In Koto there is
also a nice Tibetan Buddhist Monastery and great mountain vistas.)
Chame (2710 m) to Bhratang: 7 km, 2.00 hrs
Bhratang (2850 m) to Dhukur Pokhari: 6 km, 1.30 hrs
Dhukur Pokhari (3240 m) to Humde:
(note: there is a trail between Lower and Upper Pisang. Upper Pisang has quaint old-school lodging
and an active Tibetan Buddhist Monastery worth visiting for the Sunset and Sunrise chants.
Furthermore, the villages along the upper trail are full of character and the views along the trail are
perhaps the best of the whole circuit.)
(upper trail) Dhukur Pokhari to Upper Pisang: 1.5 km, 1.30 hrs
(upper trail) Upper Pisang (3310 m) to Ghyaru: 4.5 km, 1.45 hrs
(upper trail) Ghyaru (3730 m) to Ngawal: 5 km, 1.45 hrs
(upper trail) Ngawal (3680 m) to Humde: 2 km, 0.45 hrs
(lower trail) Dhukur Pokhari to Lower Pisang: 6 km, 1.00 hrs
(lower trail) Lower Pisang (3250 m) to Humde: 7 km, 2.00 hrs
Humde (3330 m) to Bhraga: 6 km, 1.45 hrs
Bhraga (3450 m) to Manang: 2 km, 0.30 hrs
(note: Manang is a pleasant enough place to spend a rest day. It is clean and has a couple of “movie
houses” with good DVD collections. There are many day trips one can take here. A map of times,
distances, and locations is next to the central stupa. If you have the time, an excellent side trip is the
hike to Tilicho Lake from Manang, returning to the main trail at Yak Karkha. This could take up to 3
days. As the lake is at 4900 m, it's good for acclimatization and is a worthwhile spot to visit briefly.)
Manang (3540 m) to Yak Kharka: 9 km, 3.00 hrs
Yak Kharka (4050 m) to Letdar: 1 km, 1.00 hrs
Ledar (4200 m) to Thorung Phedi: 5 km, 2.30 hrs
Thorung Phedi (4450 m) to High Camp: 1 km, 0.45 hrs
(note: High Camp at 4900 m has loads of beds and great views of the surrounding mountains.)
High Camp (4850 m) to Thorung Pass: 5 km, 2.15 hrs
Thorung Pass (5416 m) to Charabu: 6 km, 2.45 hrs
Charabu (4230 m) to Muktinath: 4 km, 1.15 hrs
Muktinath (3800 m) to Kagbeni:
(note: When you arrive in Muktinath, you are back to civilization. The trail is hiking a dusty road until
Gharkhola where the two separate. From this point forward expect to be stepping off the road
frequently to allow trucks pass. For NPR200 you can catch a truck from Muktinath to Jomsom.
Muktinath has some decent accommodation and food after your 1700 m descent from the Thorung
La and also has Hundu and Buddhist temples that you can visit. You can also stay down the road in
Jharkot or on the other side of the valley in the very inexpensive and charming hamlets of Purang
(high trail) Muktinath to Jhong: 3 km, 1.5 hrs
(high trail) Jhong (3540 m) to Kagbeni: 6 km, 1.45 hrs
(low trail) Muktinath to Jharkot: 1 km, 1 hrs (note: 1 hour is possibly longer than you would expect
to take; the road is well worn and mainly on a fairly gentle down hill)
(low trail) Jharkot (3550 m) to Khinga: 3 km, 0.45 hrs
(low trail) Khinga (3355 m) to Kagbeni: 6 km, 1.45 hrs
(note: Kagbeni is an amazing little town with hidden alleyways and European like charm. It is easily a
place to spend a couple of nights.)
Kagbeni (2800 m) to Eklebhatti: 2 km, 1.00 hrs
(note: The hike into gale like winds along the dusty road from Kagbeni to Jomsom with jeeps and
motorbikes hurtling by at high speed is… not enjoyable. Take a jeep instead.)
Eklebhatti (2740 m) to Jomsom: 7 km, 2.00 hrs (but seems longer)
(note: hiking into Jomsom feels like hiking into a ghost town and will leave you with an uneasy feeling
that you won’t find a place to stay. Keep walking. All the guesthouses are on the other side of the
town by the airport. It will take about 15 minutes to get through town to where the guesthouses are.
From Jomsom you can either take a 20 minute flight back to Pokhara for about USD100 or bus it for
~$20 on a multi-stage all-day affair that will get you back to Pokhara after dark. Bus: Jomsom to
Ghasa; change buses; Ghasa to Baglung (or get off at Gharkhola); change bus; Baglung to Pokhara.)
Jomsom (2720 m) to Marpha: 6 km, 1.30 hrs
Marpha (2670 m) to Tukuche: 6 km, 1.30 hrs
Tukuche (2590 m) to Kobang: 4 km, 1.00 hrs
Kobang (2640 m) to Larjung: 1 km, 1.00 hrs
Larjung (2550 m) to Kokhethanti: 3 km, 1.00 hrs
Kokhethanti (2525 m) to Kalopani/Lete: 3 km, 1.00 hrs
Kalopani/Lete (2535 m) to Ghasa: 7 km, 3.00 hrs
Ghasa (2010 m) to Kopochepani: 4 km, 1.30 hrs (note: the road as of 2009 had made it up as far as
Jomson, and this route can be used to walk down. The road route is a wide, fairly level route that will
get you a good distance quickly, however, you will have to contend with the dust thrown up by the
4x4s and the lack of scenery. A route off to the left takes you on a steep incline away from the road
and back onto a proper path. This way is much harder, but much more fulfilling)
Kopochepani (1480 m) to Rupsechhahara: 2 km, 0.45 hrs
Rupsechhahara (1500 m) to Dana: 3 km, 1.00 hrs
Dana (1400 m) to Tatopani: 4 km, 1.30 hrs
Tatopani (1200 m) to Ghara: 5 km, 2.15 hrs
Ghara (1700 m) to Sikha: 6 km, 1.00 hrs
Sikha (1935 m) to Chitre: 1 km, 1.45 hrs
Chitre (2350 m) to Poon Hill: 2 km, 1.15 hrs
Poon Hill (3200 m) to Ghorepani: 3 km, 3.00 hrs (note. The walk up Poon Hill in the morning can
get very crowded. Rather than head up there, head up the hill the other side (as if heading to
Chomrong). You'll have a better view and you'll have it to yourself.)
(note. Continuing on the path mentioned in the note above, will take you along a ridge, and across a
valley to the village of Chomrong, two days into the Annapurna Base Camp trek )
Ghorepani (2870 m) to Ulleri: 2 km, 1.00 hrs
Ulleri (2010 m) to Tikhedhunga: 2 km, 1.00 hrs
Tikhedhunga (1500 m) to Birethanti: 6 km, 2.00 hrs
Birethanti (1025 m) to Nayapul (1070 m): 1 km, 0.30 hrs
Naar-Pho Valley was opened to foreigners in 2002 and only a comparatively few tourists have visited
the area so far. The area has a totally Tibetan character and the two main villages Phugaon and Naar
are both located at over 4000m altitude. A trekking permit is needed for this restricted area, and it
must be arranged through a trekking agency. It is also compulsory to have a guide, and as there is
not much tourism infrastructure to speak of, most groups visiting the area choose an old style
camping trek with porters, cooks etc. Entrance to Naar-Pho is from Koto (before Chame) and exit is
via Kang La pass 5300m to Ngawal. A side trip to Naar-Pho requires a total of 9 days if two nights
are spent in both Phugaon and Naar. As hiking from Koto to Ngawal takes normally 2 days along the
AC, a side trip to Naar-Pho adds about 7 days to the total trekking time.
This is one of the highest lakes in the world at 4920 m. and requires 2-3 days from Manang. Walk
through Khangasar. One to two hours after Khangasar you will find Tilicho Peak Hotel where you can
have lunch or spend the night. Tilicho Base Camp Hotel is a further three hour walk from there. The
lower route is the safest but has many landslide areas. The lake is reached by walking three hours up
from the Tilciho Base Camp Hotel at approximately 4100 m. Snow leopards are around in this area
but you are more likely to see blue sheep and yaks. Being at the lake can be cold as it can be very
windy. Going back, it is possible to walk from Tilicho Peak Hotel directly to Yak Kharka via Old
Khangasar so you do not have to backtrack all the way to Manang.
For health, please read up extensively on altitude sickness and have some diamox on you just in
case (this can be bought in pharmacies in Nepal). In summary from Wikipedia; the drug forces the
kidneys to excrete bicarbonate in the urine, therefore making the blood more acidic. Acidifying the
blood stimulates breathing, which increases the amount of oxygen in the blood.
Note that diamox is not an immediate fix for acute mountain sickness; it speeds up part of the
acclimatization process which in turn helps to relieve symptoms. This may take up to a day or two,
and requires waiting without any further rapid ascent. It is often advisable to descend if even mild
acute mountain sickness is experienced. If serious sickness is encountered or symptoms of HAPE or
HACE occur, descent with another trekker is A MUST.
Please consult the pharmacist when purchasing regarding Diamox use and do your own research,
there is also a free talk in Manang given on Altitude Sickness every day during season which is great
for knowledge before doing the pass. One thing that is often overlooked is that your body requires
large amounts of water at altitude to counteract sickness, therefore keep a bottle on you at all times!
The Round Annapurna Trekking Profile also has a good summary of symptoms on one of the pages.
Also pick up some antibiotics for stomach infections while at the pharmacy, getting a script for
bacterial and a script for amoebic infections is recommended. Luckily pharmaceuticals are so cheap
For drinking water, the best practice is to treat all water as being contaminated, even (especially?)
water in the cities. The main two options for trekkers are to use the safe drinking water
stations along the trek for a small fee or bring your own water purifiers. Chlorination tablets are
available in the main cities as well as Iodine tablets. You can also use a filter with a ceramic cartridge
which should remove anything 1 micron in size or larger or a UV treatment system such as a
Steripen. You might want to combine two of these systems just to make sure you have made the
water completely safe. Use treated water for drinking and for brushing your teeth.
Please do not buy bottled water on the trek as there are no rubbish disposal systems on the trek. It
is less expensive and better for the environment to treat your own water.
For safety, at all trekking times INCLUDING side treks carry a head torch, water, some food and a
mobile phone with helicopter evac number (on Trekking Profile) in case of emergencies. People do
get lost and have died on this trek, especially if feeling the effects of altitude sickness. On all side
treks make sure you trek with other people as the path and facilities are not up to the same level as
the main circuit.
Treks in the popular trails of Nepal are usually safe, but it is always advisable to trek with at least one
friend or with a local guide & porter. Some trails are known for encounters with desperate bandits
although this is fairly rare.
Learn about altitude sickness before you set out on this trek. Also see your doctor before leaving
home to make sure you have all the proper vaccinations, and that you bring with you all of the
medications you will need. (Antibiotics and altitude medicine are good things to have.)
Leave No Trace
Even though the trek goes through villages with electricity and flushing toilets, Leave No Trace
principles still apply, since most of the trek is still in the "backcountry." There are no ways to deal with
trash away from the roads, meaning trash is either packed out on foot, or ends up a heap somewhere
on the outskirts of the village.