Pokhara | Nepal
Pokhara | Nepal
Pokhara | Nepal
Pokhara | Nepal
Pokhara | Nepal
Pokhara | Nepal
Pokhara | Nepal
According to expert trekkers who have been to Nepal quite a few times, the Annapurna Circuit Trek is one of those life-altering experiences. The trek takes you across a circuitous trail around the Annapurna Massif, one of the world's colossal and significant mountain systems. The entire Annapurna Trek keeps you captivated throughout.
The 16-20 days that you spend on the trail will create enriching experiences that you can cherish all your life. From soaking in the visual splendor of mother nature to walking across varying climatic zones and terrains, the Annapurna Circuit Trek offers a flurry of upsides. You can even step into the quaint villages and enjoy the amicable Nepalese people's hospitality during your stay at the tea-houses.
But what drives these people from around the world to come back to this challenging trek? The thrill of embarking on a dangerous expedition could be one of the plausible reasons. Many amongst us get an adrenaline boost from doing things that involve some risk. For others, the spectacular scenery of the Annapurna Massif is enough!
The Annapurna Circuit Trek encircles the Massif and lets you enjoy the world's mightiest peaks from close quarters. This coveted trail stretches across central Nepal. The Annapurna Massif encloses Annapurna I to IV, Gangapurna, Macchapucchre, Tilicho Peak, Manaslu, Dhaulagiri, Paungda Danda, and Pisang Peak, amongst others. Apart from featuring the tenth highest peak globally- Annapurna I (8091 meters), the Massif is home to several other peaks ranging from 6000 to 8000 meters.
The highest point of this Annapurna Trek is the Thorung La Pass (5416 meters), located at the Tibetan plateau's edge. The distance varies depending on the route taken and whether you are embarking on the optional side treks. But generally, the trek length is 160 to 230 kilometers. Most of the trekkers hike anticlockwise as it offers a gradual altitude gain and enables them to cross the risky Thorung La Pass in a much safer and easier way. This extensive Circuit Trek concludes at the Kali Gandaki Gorge, considered the deepest gorge globally.
One of the most incredible upsides of the Annapurna Circuit Trek is that it can be done solo or in a group. While going solo has its unique advantages like solitude, not adhering to a fixed itinerary, and is relatively cheap. However, there are potential dangers. These include hazardous areas, risk of acute mountain sickness, the hassle of carrying all your luggage and gears alone, booking accommodation and organizing permits, and personalizing your itinerary.
In contrast, going as part of a group will relieve you of the burden of carrying luggage, organizing permits and booking accommodation in tea-houses all by yourself. The tour operator or the travel company will do all these on your behalf and will also engage responsible guides and porters who will keep you updated about the local stories and information while assisting you throughout the trail. But you have to adhere to a specific itinerary, and the Annapurna Circuit Trek cost becomes quite steep when you are a part of the group expedition.
Some of the unique offerings that the Annapurna Circuit Trek has for every hiker are discussed below.
According to expert hikers and seasoned campaigners who have frequented the Annapurna Circuit trails, the trek's difficulty level ranges from moderate to somewhat challenging. The evergreen three rules of mountaineering apply here as well - it is further, taller, and more demanding than it looks! The difficulty level can be attributed to the following points.
You need to replenish your senses with the breathtaking spectacles and natural beauties around, or else it is easy to lose motivation.
As it is customary for most Nepalese Himalayan Treks, the Annapurna Circuit Trek should also be undertaken during the pre-Monsoon/Spring-Summer and the post-monsoon/Autumn seasons. The pre-Monsoon season stretches from the end of February to early June, whereas late-September to the beginning of December constitutes the post-Monsoon season. The Annapurna Circuit Trek best time befalls these seasons.
Nearly perfect weather conditions characterize these two very distinct trekking seasons. The skies are mostly clear, but you never know when it turns cloudy, especially if you embark on the expedition during the pre-Monsoon season. Apart from that, the weather conditions are hot and balmy in the lower regions, whereas the high-altitudes are cool and rejuvenating with light snow. The level of snow increases in the post-monsoon trekking period.
For some daredevil souls, the Annapurna Circuit Trek itinerary spans the frigid months of December and January. Though the conditions are extreme, and there is a chance of encountering severe blizzards that drape the Thorung La Pass with massive quantities of snow, the natural beauty is breathtaking. But you should refrain from venturing close to the Monsoons as the heavy Monsoonal-Summer downpour creates a slippery trail and gives rise to dangerous conditions across the trail.
Though it is essential to pack for every eventuality, you should also try to minimize your luggage. Even if you are part of a group expedition, carrying massive luggage quantities means your porter will be subjected to more strain. Thus, you should ditch the unnecessary stuff and carry only the bare essentials.
You should carry both light and comfortable clothing for the daytime hikes and warm and heavy clothes for the frigid nights and when you cross the altitude of 3000 meters. Moreover, rains are pretty common so you should carry waterproof clothes and footwear. You should take a few pairs of hiking pants, shorts, a pair of waterproof pants, a couple of light shirts, thermal tops and bottoms, a fleece or wool jacket, one goose-down jacket, and a few pairs of socks and underwear.
A beanie and a buff should be carried consistently, apart from thick gloves or mittens. Carry sunglasses to escape the glare of the daytime sun and hiking poles to tread comfortably on the trail. Good-quality and robust waterproof hiking boots of superior make are one of the essential things that you require for your trek. Apart from this, you should take a spare pair of shoes for your time at the tea-house.
A well-stocked medical kit will keep you prepared against unexpected events and medical emergencies during your trek. Carrying band-aids and blister plasters will prevent blisters from causing irritation while you trek. Apart from these, Immodium to avert diarrhea, antihistamine tablets for protection against allergies, antibacterial creams for cuts and scratches, anti-nausea tablets for motion sickness, anti-inflammatory gel for injuries or other flare-ups, ibuprofen for pain relief are mandatory.
Water safety is also a massive issue in Nepal, and once you hike up to great heights, fresh drinking water becomes quite rare. So apart from a medical kit, you should carry provisions like water purification tablets that will enable you to drink fresh, palatable water.
Taking utmost care of your health and hygiene is imperative for a successful Annapurna Trek. Carrying toiletries and essential hygiene products like toothpaste and toothbrush, towel, shampoo, biodegradable soap, hand sanitizers, lip balm, face and body moisturizers, sunscreen, nail clippers are a must. Women ought to carry sanitary napkins, tampons, or menstrual cups. Besides, always keep wet wipes and extra rolls of toilet paper handy since maintaining hygiene in the Nepalese Himalayas should be your initiative.
The TIMS card and ACAP permit are the two most essential permits that you need for the Annapurna Circuit Trek. As of 2019, the combined cost of both is roughly 50 USD. If you are traveling with a tour operator or a travel agency as part of the Annapurna Circuit Trek package, they will take care of these permits. In contrast, you have to organize the same from the Nepal Tourism Office based out of Kathmandu if you wish to trek solo.
Apart from these essential permits, you should keep other travel documents handy. These include your visa, passport, a few copies of your passport-sized photographs, voucher, travel insurance, air tickets, map and guide book, a considerable amount of Nepalese currency, etc.
Sometimes, the beds you get at the tea-houses are hard as rocks and not warm enough. In addition to that, the tea-houses may lack insulation at times due to their rudimentary construction. So, expecting a fireplace to warm yourselves in your room could be a misjudgement. Carry a sleeping bag with a hood and an insulated mat to keep yourself warm and sleep comfortably.
Charging your electronic devices is a costly affair as you trek higher up the Annapurna Circuit trails. Therefore, carry extra batteries, charger, power bank, headlamps, plug adaptors, and memory cards apart from your mobile phones and cameras.
Apart from trekking poles and suitable water bottles, you can also carry binoculars, earplugs, and eye masks for your convenience.
The Annapurna Circuit Trek spans for 15/16 and could even extend up to 18-20 days. Then again, some veteran trekkers might complete the entire trek within 14 days. Anyway, the itinerary below is the usual one that spans 18 days. Let's take a look.
You need to be physically and mentally fit to complete the Annapurna Circuit Trek successfully. While most of us focus on physical fitness, we tend to neglect the psychological side. Some days it could be tough to hike further. There might be an unprecedented danger that springs on the way. Or you could get affected by AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness). Keeping a steely resolve and looking for the prize that lies ahead could do the trick for you.
You need to be physically fit, but that does not mean that the Annapurna Trek demands a marathon fitness level for you to be a part of it. Though most trekking itinerary comprises 5-6 hours of trekking with plenty of rest and lunch break, you might need to rise early and set forth for 8-9 hours of trekking on certain days. On other days, you might have to cover 20 kilometers across Nepalese flatlands.
Thus, you should build your general endurance and do cardiovascular exercises for a couple of months before beginning the trek. Include cardiovascular workouts like swimming, running, cycling, and consecutive days of long walks, preferably through undulating terrain, into your weekly training schedule. You can also try carrying a backpack and increase its weight while you embark on these long hikes.
Another critical thing to keep in mind is that you have to get used to your feet being inside boots for days. This could yield spectacular results.