Adventures / Wild Hikes

Trek the Annapurna Circuit: 2019/2020 Season

Trek the diverse trails and ever-changing landscape of the bedazzling Annapurna region - includes Tilicho Lake. 17 days.

I'M UP FOR
Wild Hikes
DURATION
16 Nights
DIFFICULTY
Challenging
COMFORT
Basic
LOCATION
Nepal
SEASON
March—June, August—January
NEAREST AIRPORT

The Annapurna Circuit trek is one of the most spectacular trekking routes in the Himalayas, having opened to foreign trekkers in 1977. This magnificent trek takes you past Tilicho Lake, one of the highest in the world, onto the Thorong-La Pass at 5614m, and through the valley of Kali Gandaki - the deepest gorge in the world (three times deeper than the Grand Canyon) - and finally onto hot springs for some R&R.

You may also be interested in the 14 day Annapurna Sanctuary trek to Annapurna Base Camp.

Your hassle-free adventure includes:

  • 12 days of trekking
  • 13 nights of accommodation along the trek
  • 2 nights accommodation in Kathmandu
  • 1 nights accommodation in Pokhara
  • Local, professional English-speaking guides
  • Assistant leader on 4:1 basis
  • Porter on 2:1 basis to transport luggage
  • Welcome and farewell dinner in Kathmandu
  • Permits and entrance fees
  • Transfers from Kathmandu to Besisahar
  • Flight from Jomson to Pokhara
  • Bus Pokhara to Kathmandu
  • Airport transfers

Perfect for:
Experienced hikers who want to immerse themselves in the stunning Himalayan mountains - as well as tick one of the most famous treks worldwide off the bucket list.

Need To Know

The following are not included in the trip price:

  • Meals and drinks while on the trek
  • Travel insurance
  • Visas and vaccinations
  • Tips for the guides (optional)
  • Showers and charging while trekking

We do not include meals on the trek as from experience we know that altitude and physical exercise can mean appetites vary hugely. The cost of food rises as we ascend as it is all carried in by porters and yaks and as we get higher up, very little food can be grown. How much you spend per day will vary according to your choice of meal but generally, people spend between $15-$25 per person per day on meals and hot drinks. Below is an approx. breakdown of some items:

  • Dal Baht: $4 to $7C
  • Chow Mein: $2 to $4
  • Eggs: $2 to $4
  • Toast: $1.50 to $3
  • Tea/Hot Chocolate: $1.00 to $3.00
  • Chocolate Bars: $2 to $4

Teahouses will provide cold water free of charge however it needs to be treated to enable you to drink it. Please read the FAQ re our advice here. Other extra costs to be considered:

  • Shower: $2-$4
  • Wifi: $2-5
  • Electricity: $2-5

The trip will run with a maximum of 16.

Sure can! A lot of people do, it’s a great way to meet like-minded people.

Breakfast is usually either hot porridge, muesli or Tibetan bread served with an omelette or boiled eggs. The menus in the teahouses are very similar at every stop and there will usually be a choice of traditional Nepalese dhal bhat (a mixed plate of lentils, rice, vegetables and pickles - delicious and healthy!), Nepalese dumplings (momo’s), mixed noodles, pasta and even pizza. Although meat is available at some teahouses, we suggest you ask your guide for their advice re consumption as it tends to depend on how far it has travelled as to whether it is a safe option.

Absolutely, just make a request when booking.

Although most teahouses have the option to buy bottled water, we advise against it to reduce the use of plastic in the mountains (this ends up being burnt or in landfill out of sight). You will instead be provided with cold water that needs treating. There is a wide range of products available these days which are more effective than traditional purification tablets - some trekkers like to use UV handheld devices such as a Steripen but other options are available (just check the performance in freezing conditions).

You’ll hike from 4 to 8 hours a day, and gradually ascend from 760m to 5416m. While the trail is generally good, there are some more challenging uphill sections of the journey.

Much of the trek is within the capabilities of people with average fitness who are keen trekkers. Still, it is important to note that trekking at altitudes above 3000m/10,000ft is more demanding on the body than walking at low elevations. Some training beforehand will help and we advise doing at least one weekend of back to back days walking. The guide will set the pace and as with all altitude treks, the theme is ‘slowly slowly’ to ensure we adjust to the altitude. So although this trek is rated ‘Challenging’ there are plenty of hours factored into each day to ensure it is completed by all.

When you trek in the mountains, there always the risk of getting altitude sickness, regardless of how old, young, fit or unfit you are. We would expect most trekkers to feel some mild symptoms of altitude sickness (headache, sleeplessness, heavy breathing) when over 3500m. Our guides are trained to identify the symptoms of altitude sickness so if any more serious symptoms are noted, there is a strict procedure regarding extra care or a rapid descent if needed. All of our trips have been designed with altitude best practice in mind so acclimatisation days have been built in and our experienced guides follow advice to ‘walk high and sleep low’.

We work with some of the best leaders in the industry. Every single one of them is government licensed and very experienced. In order to ensure guides’ high standard of performance, the host provides them with top-notch in-house training that covers, Leave No Trace (LNT) principles, advanced wilderness first aid, hyperbaric chambers, oxygen system, mountain rescue and incident management.

Tips are not included in the trip cost. These are entirely at your discretion but the norm in Asian culture means there is an expectation to tip for good service. Your guide will help with advice however we suggest the below as a guideline per person:

  • Porters: You will have a porter per two people - we suggest US$1-$2 per person, per porter, per day.
  • Assistant Guide: We suggest US$2-$3 per person, per assistant guide per day.
  • Guide: You may also consider tipping your guide for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however, as a guideline US$3-5 per person, per day can be used.

Of course, you are free to tip more or less and the amount should be reflective of your perception of service and quality - a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.

There are 3 different seasons for trekking in Nepal:

Winter (Dec-Feb): Despite being seen as ‘off-season’ this is often the best time to trek in Nepal. The nights can be very cold (down to minus 20ºC) but the trails are quieter and the mountain views are often at their best due to the clear sunny skies.

Pre-Monsoon / Spring (March-May): Temperatures rise significantly in Spring and flowers are in full bloom in the lower lands. Although it can still drop below freezing at night, the daytime temperatures tend to sit between 10-15ºC.

Post-Monsoon / Autumn (Sept-Nov): This is the most popular time to trek in Nepal with sunny and mild days generally. It can get cold and windy at higher altitudes however skies are usually clear.

Of course, mountain weather is notoriously hard to predict and snow can be expected on any trip so come prepared.

As the Annapurna Circuit has wide trails, and as much of it is in the rain-shadow the summer months of June-August are still good to trek. These months are a great time to have the trails almost entirely to yourself.

We recommend checking the Travel Health Pro site for up to date information:

https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/country/159/nepal

All of our trips include a porter per every two trekkers. They will carry up to 15kg of kit so your overnight bags and spare clothes will be transported for you (7.5kg per person). You will only need to carry a ‘day pack’ with essentials in (extra layer, snacks, water, suncream, camera etc).

Your host recommends packing the following:

  • 1 rucksack/duffle bag for the porters to carry with your overnight kit (duffel can be purchased in Kathmandu for approx. $20)
  • 1 day pack as above (approx 30ltr) with waterproof cover
  • 1 waterproof jacket
  • 1 pair waterproof trousers
  • 1 down jacket
  • 1 pair lightweight trekking trousers
  • 1 set of thermals (merino is ideal)
  • 2 trekking t-shirts/shirts (shoulders covered)
  • 1 mid-layer (fleece or similar)
  • 1 pair trekking boots (must be worn in)
  • 1 pair lightweight trainers for evenings
  • 1 pair waterproof thick gloves
  • 3 pairs thick walking socks / 3 pairs lighter walking socks
  • 1 warm wool hat
  • 1 buff or similar
  • 1 sunhat or similar
  • Spare underwear
  • Swimming costume

Kit - 4 season down sleeping bag - Sleeping bag liner - Trekking poles if needed - Travel towel - Sunglasses - Personal medication and first aid kit - Hand gel - 2 x 1ltr water bottles - 1 x headtorch - Suncream - Water purification tablets/system - Small biodegradable bags to take toilet tissue off the mountain/to camp each day - 2 x passport photos for trek permits

You can hire a down jacket and sleeping bag in Kathmandu for the below approx. prices. Please ask your host if this is needed so they can assist you with how to arrange the hire.

4-Season Sleeping Bag Rent: Approx $2 per day Deposit: $80

Down Jacket Rent: Approx $1.5 per da Deposit: $50

On some trekking days/acclimatisation days there will be some downtime at the teahouses. A pack of cards and a book may come in handy here.

A metal SIG bottle can be useful to fill with hot water before bed and used as a hot water bottle.

Please remove all unnecessary packing before you leave home and ensure you take all plastic off the mountain to be disposed of in Kathmandu.

We’ve teamed up with the guys at World Nomads to offer insurance designed for adventurous travellers across 140 countries that includes overseas medical treatment, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities. To get yours sorted, click here. For trips to Nepal please ensure that your insurance covers trekking at altitude and includes helicopter evacuation.

Most nationalities require a visa for Nepal so check with your embassy before leaving - there is usually the option of obtaining before or upon arrival. All nationalities also require a passport that must be valid for 6 months beyond the intended length of stay.

We’ve sourced some great optional activities for you to do in and around Kathmandu should you wish to explore that little bit further. Please discuss these directly with your host who will be able to book them for you.

Cook Like a Local: This short cooking workshop (approx. 3 hours) teaches you how to cook popular Nepali dishes like MoMo and Dal Bhat. You’ll meet your teacher and accompany them shopping, then head to the kitchen and learn to cook alongside them. Price: Pay what you think the workshop is worth!

Shop Local: A 2/3 hour guided exploration of the markets of Kathmandu. Prepare to learn about the vendors that line the crowded narrow alleyways and to witness everything you could ever imagine being sold, haggled and bargained for. A great experience to learn about the melting pot of cultures that exist in Kathmandu. Price: $9-$50pp depending on the group size

Master the of Arts: Patan Durbar Square is popular for its Fine Arts and this trip will explore the local factories where handicrafts are made. We’ll visit 2-3 factories and learn about traditional processes and see art being produced. Price: $14-$59pp depending on the group size.

Introduction to Shamanism: Shamanism, which is believed to heal many diseases, is not practiced widely these days however this trip enables you to meet a practising Guru and learn all about this age-old tradition. We’ll visit a small house to have an introduction, followed by lunch and a drumming session where we’ll learn the importance of rhythm pattern to healing. Price: $90-$150 depending on group size

Got a question not covered here? Contact the host.

Location

View map

Kathmandu is famed for its World Heritage sights with include of the holiest Hindu temples and one of the largest Buddhist Stupas in the world. Despite the 2015 earthquake which brought devastation to parts of the city, the heart of Kathmandu is as intoxicating and exciting as ever.

The Annapurna Circuit trek is quite simply one of the ultimate trekking experiences in the world. This epic circuit takes you high into the Himalayas, with a high point at the Thorong-La Pass of 5416m, the highest navigable pass in the world. That makes it longer and higher than the Sanctuary trek to Annapurna Base Camp, but both routes have one thing in common - spectacular views of the Annapurna range throughout.

Start point

Kathmandu Airport - anytime

Your adventure begins at Kathmandu Airport (KTM) with your private airport transfer. Private transfers are included, so you’re free to book any flight. Your driver will be waiting for you in the arrivals area and will take you to your hotel. You’ll meet your trek leader and fellow adventurers for dinner later that evening.

Finish point

Kathmandu Airport - anytime

At the end of your adventure, you will be dropped back at Kathmandu Airport in time to meet your return flight. You’re free to book any flight and a transfer will be arranged from your hotel.

What to Expect

Day 1: Arrival in Kathmandu

Once you arrive at Tribhuvan International Airport (KTM), your host will pick you up via private vehicle and drop you at your hotel. After checking in we’ll have a pre-departure meeting with our guides to run through the final plans and arrangements for the trek. We’ll finish the day with a group dinner to get to know your team.

Day 2: Kathmandu To Taal

After breakfast, we will drive approx. 180 km through beautiful riverside scenery before reaching Besisahar in time for lunch.

From here, a local jeep will take us to Taal, where we’ll spend the night in a local lodge.

Day 3: Taal To Bagarchap

Today, the hiking begins. We’ll start on a rough track along the ridge of the Marshyangdi River before reaching the beautiful valley of Bagarchap.

5 hours of hiking

Day 4: Bagarchap To Chame

This morning, after breakfast, we’ll start by ascending through beautiful pine forests for approximately 6 hours, reaching Chame, the headquarter of Manang district.

6 hours of hiking

Day 5: Chame to Upper Pisang

Today’s trek will be slightly more challenging as the trail climbs along rocky steep paths through the forest. This route offers some of the most magnificent views of Pisang Peak, Annapurna II and the waterfalls near Brothan Village.

The day will end in Pisang, where we will spend the night.

6 hours of hiking

Day 6: Upper Pisang to Manang

From Pisang, the trail climbs through glorious Yak pastures, crop fields and even past a Tibetan monastery where you will stop for the views of Annapurna II, III and IV.

If you can drag yourself away from the incredible mountain views, you will continue on to Manang, where your accommodation awaits.

5 hours of hiking

Day 7: Explore and Acclimatise Manang

To avoid altitude sickness, it’s vital to acclimatise before proceeding so today is about exploration and rest. We have optional walks planned that include either Bhojo Gompa or Gangapurna Lake.

There is also the option to visit the Himalayan Rescue Association post if you are interested in learning more about the amazing work they do to prevent casualties in the Himalayas.

Day 8: Manang to Siri Kharka

After breakfast at Manang, we’ll start to trek up to Siri Kharka, which is the trail leading to Tilicho Base Camp.

As few trekkers come this way, we’ll enjoy the serenity of the mountains and knowing that we are about to see one of the great wonders of the world.

5 hours hiking

Day 9: Siri Kharka to Tilicho Base Camp

The target for today is Tilicho Base Camp, which we’ll reach by hiking along the valley from Siri Kharka. We’ll have the afternoon to rest. Make sure to check out the stars from this beautiful vantage point.

4 hours hiking

Day 10: Tilicho Base Camp To Siri Kharka

Today, we’ll explore the Tilicho Lake, one of the highest lakes in the world. As it most likely be below freezing we can likely walk on the lake, a once in a lifetime experience (the guide will, of course, decide if safe to do so). From here we’ll hike back to Siri Kharka to call it a day at a local tea house.

7 hours hiking

Day 11: Siri Kharka To Yak Kharka

From here, we’ll continue towards Yak Kharka, taking a steady pace today. We overnight at a local tea house.

6 hours of hiking

Day 12: Yak Kharka To Thorong Phedi

From Yak Kharka, we will continue to trek towards Thorung Phedi Base Camp. We follow the Jorsang River until eventually descending down a narrow path and reaching our final overnight before the big day tomorrow.

6 hours of hiking

Day 13: Thorong Phedi To Muktinath

Today will probably be the most challenging - and rewarding - day as we trek through the Thorong-La Pass which stands at 5416m, making it the highest navigable pass in the world. It takes 4 hours to reach, but as they say, good things come to those who wait.

The pass offers amazing panoramic views of the high desert mountains along the Kaligandaki valley. A perfect opportunity for some amazing photos.

From here, the trail descends downwards to Muktinath, our rest point for the day. Muktinath is a holy place of Hindus and Buddhists, so it is the perfect place to enjoy the tranquillity of the mountains.

10 hours of hiking

Day 14: Muktinath To Jomsom

Our descent continues along the Kaligandaki River with magnificent views of Mount Annapurna and Dhaulagiri. We overnight at a tea house in Jomsom, a gateway to the Upper Mustang, where we can enjoy some warm beverages and a good night sleep after a long final day of trekking.

10 hours of hiking

Day 15: Jomson to Pokhara

Today we’ll take a local flight from Jomsom to Pokhara (35mins). In Pokhara we’ll be staying near the lake where the mountains remain a constant in the background. Tonight we can enjoy some of the many lakeside bars as we celebrate our achievement and reflect on our time in the mountains.

Day 16: Pokhara to Kathmandu

An early start this morning as we’ll be transferred to the Pokhara bus station at approx. 7am.

We’ll be taking a tourist bus to Kathmandu that takes approx. 7 hours.

Day 17: Departure from Kathmandu

Enjoy a lie and breakfast at your hotel. You can spend your last day exploring the city or take the transfer back to the airport, and back to reality.

Note: *The actual itinerary and the duration of the activities are subject to change due to group abilities and preferences, weather conditions and forecasts, special events, etc. In unforseen situations such as natural disasters, political demonstrations and flight cancellations, there may be extra expenses payable by you that can be claimed on your insurance.

Accommodation

Generally, most adventures to Nepal are based in remote areas where the accommodation will be basic. On the trek you will stay in ‘teahouses’ - these are mountain lodges that tend to have a communal dining area and basic toilets. The bedrooms are almost all twin-share however there may be the odd night where a triple room will be used in peak season. There’s no heating so your warm sleeping bag is needed. Wifi is often available for a small cost, and many places offer hot showers for a small surcharge. There is usually the option to also pay a small amount to charge your goods so pack an adaptor if needed.

In Kathmandu, you’ll stay in a centrally located tourist hotel so can expect an en-suite room with air-con and wifi included. The hotel is located in the heart of Thamel, close to the main shopping area and the heritage sites.

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Dates & Prices

Prices include

Accommodation · Airport Transfers · Guide · Local Transport · Meals As Described · Happiness Guaranteed · 100% Financial Protection · No Single Supplements

Please note: Flights are NOT included and must be purchased separately.

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Optional Extras

Make your life easy. Once you have reserved your space, your host can help you arrange the extras you’ll need. Here are some guide prices which can be confirmed with you during booking.

Additional Night in Kathmandu Payable Before Departure
Additional Night in Kathmandu Single · · · Per Night
Additional Night in Kathmandu Twin/Double (shared) · · · Per Night