The Annapurna Circuit is one of the biggest mountain trekking routes in the world.
The route boasts lush scenic landscapes home to amazing picturesque Tibetan temples and small farming villages.
Recent changes to the trail have raised the question of whether the trek still lives up to its former glory. Some trekkers have even gone as far as suggesting alternative treks.
Therefore, it would not be surprising if you wondered if the Annapurna Circuit is still worth it.
Trekking the Annapurna Circuit is worth it. The recent changes, comprising a few road constructions and other amenities, only make the trek relatively easier and open up more avenues to experience the beautiful route. Even though the organizers still provide detour routes for climbers who want to experience the trek in full.
Is the Annapurna Circuit Difficult?
Yes, the Annapurna Circuit trek is tedious; however, it is completely doable. Although it is best to ensure you are physically and mentally fit before going on the trek. The trek does have its ups and downs along the way.
There are short straight plains that won’t be as difficult, and then there are the long, difficult plains and steep climbs coupled with the altitude changes.
Then, there is the fact that you have to do this all with limited amenities. Even though the trek is tasking, it is also highly rewarding.
To help you organize your trip better, here are a few facts about the Annapurna Circuit:
- The Annapurna Circuit trek is a 12-21 days trek that circles the Annapurna Himalayan Mountain Range, which the trek is named after.
- The mountain, Annapurna I, sits at 8091 meters/ 26545 feet above sea level and is the 10th tallest mountain on Earth.
- The trail begins below 1000 meters and peaks at the highest point, Thorong La, 5416 meters above Sea level. Thorong La is considered the longest mountain pass in the world.
- The Annapurna Circuit passes through Manang, Mustang, Lamjung, and Myagdi.
The lower altitude regions like Myagdi and Lamjung feature lush green subtropical landscapes and scattered villages where terraced grain farming is practiced.
While the higher altitude regions like Manang and Mustang feature Tibetan-style temples and epic mountain views.
Here the villagers are predominantly Buddhists who draw cultural influences from Tibet.
- The trek could start from Besisahar or Kathmandu, depending on the itinerary of your tourist guide or agency.
Then it follows the Marsyangdi river upstream to its source in Manang. The trek continues until it reaches Thorong La, the trail’s summit.
The Circuit’s terrain and the weather are quite demanding and unpredictable. Being well prepared is your best option to brace for the difficulty ahead. Here is a link to a reliable Trek guide agency.
Also, below are a few tips you could include in your planning before setting off:
#1. Carry What You Need
Considering the arduousness of the trek ahead, traveling light is a necessity. This tip is very crucial.
The porters on the trek can only carry 10kg of your gear, while anything extra will have to be on your shoulders.
Make sure your bag pack contains medical supplies, a sleeping bag, Winter Jackets, thermal layers, and a torch light.
#2. Pick Out the Best Time of the Year
October and November is the best time for trekking on the Annapurna Circuit. The weather during this time of the year is mostly clear and dry.
So you can be safe from experiencing hazardous storms or extreme temperatures. However, these periods are also the busiest on the trail.
You can opt for less busy periods like during the winter season from December to March. However, the temperatures at high altitudes are extremely cold.
Below is a table that compares the pros of the best Annapurna Circuit visiting seasons and their cons.
|September-November||Best time for the trek. The weather is clear and dry||At the busiest time of the year, planning could be difficult.|
|December-February||Clear weather, gentle snowing.||Extremely cold days and nights.|
|February-early April||Warmer weather, Pink Rhododendrons in full bloom.||Pre-monsoon warnings and rainfall.|
How Long Will the Annapurna Circuit Trek Take?
The Annapurna Circuit can take 12 to 21 days, depending on your route. The entire trail spans no less than 232km and begins in the village of Besisahar. (1860 meters above sea level).
- From Besisahar, the Trek party will proceed to Dharapani; then, they will trek for 6 hours to Chame, where they will find rest in a mountain lodge. (2725 meters above Sea level).
- The party will trek from Chame to Pisang. Time duration of approximately 5 hours, 20 minutes before meeting the next mountain lodge. (3190 meters above sea level).
- The trekking will resume from Pisang to Manang and will last 5 hours before the next mountain lodge.
- There will be a trek-free day in Manang where the trekkers can rest and acclimatize.
- The party will leave Manang and head for Yak Kharka.
- The journey will take approximately 6 hours before eventually getting to a mountain lodge. (4090 meters above sea level)
- From Yak Kharka, the party will proceed to Thorong Phedi for another 6 hours. And then rest in another mountain lodge. (4441 meters above sea level)
- At this point, the trek party would supposedly be on its 10th day. The party will trek from Thorong Phedi to Muktinath using the Thorong La pass.
- This point is the mountain’s peak and the trek’s height. (5416 meters above sea level)
- From Muktinath, the party descends to Jomson. Walking for over 6 hours until the nearest mountain lodge. (2743 meters above sea level)
- Finally, the trek ends at Pokhara on its 12th day. (823 meters above sea level). Here, trekkers are free to take buses back to their hotels.
Is the Annapurna Circuit Still Safe?
Yes, the Circuit is still safe for trekking. However, there are hazard zones where you should be careful. An example is when crossing the Thorong La pass.
Crossing Thorong La would prove to be the longest day of the trek. The weather will be windy, and trekkers will be prone to altitude sickness.
Hiring an English-speaking Porter or a trekking guide from a recognized company will ensure your safety and make the trip more fun.
The guide will act as a companion while regaling you with stories of the culture and customs of the fascinating villages, landscapes, and local people you meet on the trek.
Is the Annapurna Circuit Same As the Annapurna Base Camp?
No, the Annapurna Circuit trek differs from the Annapurna Base Camp trek. Each trek has its separate route that features different landscapes as you go along.
The Annapurna Base Camp trek has a lower elevation than the Annapurna Circuit trek.
The Annapurna Circuit trek takes you as high as 5416 meters, while the Annapurna Base Camp trek hovers at 4200 meters.
If you prefer warmer weather on the trek, then the Annapurna Base Camp trek is for you. Each trek also features different attractions peculiar to its trail.
Annapurna Circuit trek is a great experience that proves to be very rewarding time and time again. The best months for hiking the trail are from September to November.
Although these are the busiest months, they remain the safest. Ensure you are physically and mentally fit for the trek, and note to carry only necessary items on the journey.
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