Annapurna Circuit Trek: Hike around the massive Annapurna massif

1 December, 2020 | Reccy Guide

Annapurna is a 55 km wide massif comprising Annapurna I Main (8091 m), the tenth highest mountain in the world, Annapurna II and III, and several other seven and six-thousander peaks. What sets Annapurna apart from the other eight-thousanders is its treacherous terrain and a topography which is a favorite of  adventure lovers. The view of Annapurna massif is one of the unique selling points of Annapurna Circuit trek. The trek can only be done by the seasoned trekkers because of the high altitude passes it traverses though, of which Thorung La Pass at 5416m is the highest point.

Explore trip itineraries, accommodation, transport, required gear, fitness plan, insurance and more

As per religious beliefs, Annapurna is the goddess of food, nourishment, and health, deriving the Sanskrit name from the two words of “Anna” meaning food and “Purna” meaning fulfilled. The local inhabitants believe that the Goddess Annapurna resides above the mighty massif, which is home to several rivers, valleys, sanctuary, and natural territories. The massif is surrounded by Marshyangdi river-valley in the north and east, while the deep Kali Gandaki gorge stretches along the west and vivacious Pokhara valley in the south.

The Annapurna Circuit Trek has grown in popularity among the trekkers because it offers brilliant views of eight-thousander mountains. The trek is a circumnavigation of the Annapurna massif while crossing Marshyangdi valley to arrive at Pokhara valley. While summiting the Thorung La pass, it is an unbeatable experience to witness the rustic life of Manang and other local natives of the region. Enroute, the trekkers enjoy views of Annapurna I Main, II and III as well as Dhaulagiri (8167 m) and Mt. Manasalu (8163 m), the seventh and eighth highest mountain in the world, respectively. With views of several unnamed virgin peaks, and the exhilarating expanse of the snow-capped massif, this trail will inspire you with its natural beauty. 

Views around Annapurna

Presenting an interesting and intriguing mixture of culture, art, architecture, religions and local nuances, the trek starts from Kathmandu, which is a base of worldwide hikers, either preparing to head to Everest Base Camp or the Annapurna zone. The two cities of Kathmandu and Pokhara attract adventurers to explore the magnificent biodiversity of Nepal.

After a short jeep-drive from Kathmandu you will enter the Marshyangdi valley. The trekking route of the Annapurna circuit starts at the camp of Jagat. Treading the route of Marshyangdi river, the troupe rests at differing campsites like Dharapani, Chame, and Pisang before arriving at the village of Manang. The route comprises incredible views of Mt Manaslu, Annapurna, Dhaulagiri, Peak 29, among others. In the region between Pisang and Manang, you will experience the gradual emergence of Tibetan culture and influence and learn more about their farming and yak herding tradition. 

Manang is a beautiful hamlet, which gives you much-needed rest and time to acclimatize after a long, tiring journey. By exploring the locales, climbing Ice Lake (4500m), observing the icefall from Gangapurna, and by inhaling the fresh air of this pristine area, you will soak in the mesmerizing landscape of the circuit.

Views on the Annapurna trek

After crossing Thorung Phedi and Yak Kharkha, you will have to traverse the Thorung La Pass at an altitude of 5416 m. There are medical aid services in Manang and Thorung Phedi for the trekkers, as there are many cases of altitude sickness. Therefore, spending at least five days to traverse from Manang to Muktinath is mandatory. Thorung La is a high mountain pass that is usually utilized by the traders. The best season to cross the pass, and also to undertake the Annapurna circuit trek is March-April, and October-November, because rest of the time it is prone to avalanches, snowstorms, blizzards, whiteout, and other natural calamities.

On the way a key attraction is the famous Muktinath temple, which is a holy site for followers of Hinduism and Buddhism. The trek ends after having crossed the immensely beautiful villages of Marpha and Kalopani and then driving back to Pokhara, a valley that symbolizes peaceful living amidst lush surroundings.

The Annapurna circuit trek is a difficult hike and requires you to prepare diligently with the target of attaining your peak fitness by the time you land in Kathmandu. The terrain is taxing to your muscles and the thin air at high altitudes increases the risk of altitude sickness. The hot spring en-route Pokhara is the best halt to rejuvenate your nerves and tendons. For the hikers who have always desired to explore the massive Annapurna massif, it is a trip of a lifetime.

The Annapurna Circuit treks require two permit cards, which are TIMS, and Annapurna Conservation Area Permit (ACAP). Both these cards could be issued at either the Tourism Board Office at Kathmandu or Tourist Information center at Pokhara, open 10 am to 5 pm every day.

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