Annapurna Circuit Trek is internationally renowned as one of the best treks in the world. Trekking in Annapurna Circuit is an adventure that takes you through some of the world’s most spectacular and varied scenery. The journey begins in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, and winds its way up into the mountains, crossing high passes and glaciers before descending to lush green valleys. Along the way, you will see towering snow-capped peaks, pristine lakes, rushing rivers, and traditional villages inhabited by friendly people. There are endless possibilities for side trips and excursions, making each trek a unique experience.
If you are planning a trek in this area, there are some things you should know first to ensure a safe and enjoyable journey.
Here are fourteen things you need to know before trekking in Annapurna Circuit:
1. Trekking routes
Depending on time, fitness level, and side excursions you wish to complete, trekking routes may be made shorter or longer. Some parts which are now accessible by jeeps can be skipped altogether, while others may require an extra day or two to complete.
2. You will need a permits
Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) permit and Trekkers’ Information Management System (TIMS) card are required for all trekkers in the Annapurna region. The cost of the ACAP permit is NPR 3000 (approx. USD 25) and the TIMS card costs NPR 2000(approx 17). These can be obtained from the Nepal Tourism Board office in Kathmandu or from any registered trekking agency.
3. Be physically fit.
This is a demanding trek and you need to be physically fit to complete it. You should be able to walk for long periods of time (up to six hours per day) carrying a backpack weighing up to 15 kg.
You should also have some experience in hiking at high altitudes as the Annapurna Circuit Trek takes you as high as 5416 m at the Thorung La pass.
If you are not used to walking for long periods of time or carrying a heavy backpack, it is recommended that you do some training before embarking on your trek. For example, you could start by going for long walks in hilly terrain with a light backpack, gradually increasing the distance and weight of your backpack as you get fitter.
4. Mentally prepare yourself
Trekking in the mountains can be tough, both mentally and physically. Sometimes you will feel tired, cold, hungry, and perhaps even a little scared. It is important to be prepared for these challenges and to have the determination to push on through tough times.
If you are not used to being in remote areas with few people around, it is a good idea to start with shorter treks close to home before undertaking a longer expedition.
This will help you get used to being away from civilization and build your confidence.
Another way to prepare mentally is to read about other people’s experiences and talk to someone who has completed the circuit.
5. You need to have the proper gear.
To be safe and comfortable on your trek, you will need to have the proper gear. This includes items such as a good pair of hiking boots, warm clothing, a raincoat, a sleeping bag, and a first-aid kit.
If you are planning to rent equipment in Nepal, it is important to make sure that it is of good quality and in good condition.
Don’t be afraid to ask the shopkeeper to show you how to use something if you are not sure.
It is also a good idea to bring some items from homes, such as a headlamp, sunscreen, and insect repellent. These items can be difficult to find in Nepal and may not be of the same quality as you are used to.
6. You need to acclimatize yourself.
The Annapurna Circuit is located at a high altitude, so it’s important to acclimatize yourself before starting the trek. This means spending some time at a lower altitude, such as Pokhara or Kathmandu, before climbing up into the mountains.
It is also important to take your time on the trek and to listen to your body. If you feel unwell, it is best to descend to a lower altitude rather than continue climbing.
Accommodation is basic but plentiful. Along the trail, there are many small villages where you can stay in guesthouses or teahouses (basically small hotels). These places are very basic – oftentimes there is no running water or electricity – but they are clean and comfortable enough for a good night’s sleep.
The price of a room is usually around $15 per night, although this can vary depending on the season and the location.
It is also possible to camp along the trail, but this is not recommended as it can be cold at night and there are often no facilities for camping.
8. Make sure you have proper insurance.
Make sure you have proper travel insurance that covers emergency evacuation and medical expenses before you start your trek. This is especially important if you are trekking alone.
It is also a good idea to bring a copy of your insurance policy with you, as well as any other important documents such as your passport and visa.
9. Hire a reputable guide or porter.
Hiring a local guide or porter is a great way to support the local economy and ensure a safe and enjoyable trekking experience. Make sure you only hire reputable guides and porters who have been recommended by friends or other travelers.
Check to see if they have the proper licenses and insurance.
It is also a good idea to get a general idea of what you should be paying for their services before you negotiate a price.
10. Bring cash with you.
ATMs are available in Kathmandu and some of the larger towns along the circuit, but they can be unreliable and often run out of cash quickly. It’s always best to bring enough cash with you to cover your entire trip, just in case.
11. Prepared for altitude sickness.
Altitude sickness is a real concern. Since the trail goes above 12,000 feet at points, it’s important to know the signs and symptoms of altitude sickness. For e.g., headache, nausea, shortness of breath). If you start to feel any of these symptoms, it’s important to descend immediately as altitude sickness can be fatal if left untreated.
12. Yaks and donkeys are the main modes of transportation.
Yaks and donkeys are the main mode of transportation on the circuit. These animals are sure-footed and can carry heavy loads, making them ideal for carrying gear and supplies.
You will see many of these animals along the trail, often with large loads of supplies strapped to their backs.
13 . Mani walls and prayer flags are a common sight.
Mani walls and prayer flags are a common sight along the Annapurna Circuit.
They are made of stone or wood and usually have Buddhist prayers carved into them. Prayer flags are often hung near these walls and flutter in the wind, spreading the prayers across the mountains.
14 Be positive and have fun!
The most important thing is to enjoy yourself and have a positive attitude. The Annapurna Circuit is an amazing experience, but it can sometimes be challenging. So, take your time, be prepared, and savor every moment.