picture of everest base camp vs annapurna circuit vs three pass trekking

Annapurna Circuit Trekking vs Three Pass Trek Vs Everest Base Camp Trek

Nepal is a beautiful landlocked country located in the Himalayas. It is nestled between China and India and has a diverse geography. Nepal has different kinds of treks which offer stunning views of the mountains and the rich culture of the Nepalese people. 

Trekking in Nepal is a great way to experience the fantastic mountain scenery, culture, and people. However, with so many options available, choosing the best trek for you can take time and effort. So, we’ve compiled a detailed comparison of the most popular treks in Nepal, The Annapurna Circuit Trek, the Three Pass Trek, and the Everest Base Camp trek. Each has its unique characteristics and benefits and we will give some pros and cons for each of them so you can choose the best one for you.

Annapurna Circuit Trek

Annapurna circuit trekking is one of the world’s most visited and famous treks. It is located in the Annapurna region of Nepal. The trek begins from Bhulbhule and ends in Nayapul, Pokhara. This trek takes you through the Annapurna Conservation Area, which is home to several endangered species. 

This trekking route offers you a chance to enjoy the beauty of nature, explore different cultures, and experience the rich flora and fauna. It offers you an opportunity to witness the magnificent views of the Himalayas. The trail takes you through some of the most beautiful villages in Nepal. Annapurna circuit trekking is a wonderful experience for both beginners and experts. The trek includes crossing Thorong La pass, the world’s deepest gorge, Kali Gandaki gorge, Muktinath temple, Tatopani, and a sunrise view from Poon Hill.

Annapurna mountain range

Three Pass Trek

The three passes trek is the ultimate Everest experience. You’ll see the stunning scenery at sunrise or sunset and visit monasteries and ancient Sherpa villages. Everest Base Camp Trek is an adventure for the adventurous traveler who wants to get off the beaten path.

It’s a unique opportunity to experience the Himalayan mountain landscape, meet Sherpa people, and hike through remote regions of Nepal, including the Khumbu region that is home to Mount Everest. This popular trek starts from Lukla, the gateway town to the Everest Region. It is called a three-pass trek because you must cross three challenging 5,000 m passes, Renjo La, Cho La, and Kongma La pass.

Three pass trek

3. Everest Base Camp Trek

The Everest Base Camp trek is the most popular trek in Nepal. You’ll go through the scenic villages and landscapes of Nepal to reach the foot of Mount Everest, the tallest mountain in the world. It’s a challenging trek with some rugged terrain. EBC is a 14-day trek starting from taking a flight to Lukla and ending in the Everest Base camp. 

The rewards of this trek are more than worth it. You’ll get to experience the view of Mount Everest, and you’ll also get the opportunity to feel the sense of accomplishment that comes with completing this trek.

Hiker looking at the everest

Annapurna Circuit Trek: Pros

The Annapurna circuit feels very different from the three high passes and Everest base Camp Trek. They’re in entirely different regions of Nepal. Three pass trail and EBC trek are in the Sagarmatha region, whereas the Annapurna circuit is in the Annapurna region. The main pro for this is that you get more culture along with the trekking. If you are trying to immerse yourself in the culture and see some gorgeous mountain scenery, I recommend the Annapurna circuit over the other two treks.

You will see a lot of monasteries, temples, and stupas along the way. It’s much more of a cultural experience than the other two. Most of the villages in the Annapurna circuit are authentic villages where people live, and farms are not just made for the tourist to stay in. 

Another pro of the Annapurna circuit is that the trekking cost is much cheaper than the other two. And one of the biggest reasons behind it is that for the EBC and Three pass trek, you will need to take a flight to Lukla, which costs around $300, whereas, for the Annapurna circuit, it’s just a long but inexpensive bus ride to where the trek starts on Besi Sahar. Also, the guesthouses and teahouses in the Annapurna region are much less expensive than in the Everest region. 

If you’re thinking about going independently, you will probably find it easier to connect with people there as there are a lot of independent hikers. In the Everest base camp and the three passes trek, almost everybody has a guide or a porter or combo, whereas it is not so common in the Annapurna circuit.

One of my favorite aspects of the Annapurna circuit is the diversity of the landscapes. Sure. In the Everest region, you see a lot of really high mountains, and that’s beautiful. But one of the cool things about the Annapurna circuit is that each day it feels like you’re in a different region. One day you’re hiking through the desert; another day, you’re hiking through forests. And then, on another day, you’re hiking past 8000-meter peaks just looming above you. So, the diversity in the terrain is just so incredible.

Another pro for the Annapurna circuit is that it is much more gradual going up than the Everest base camp and at three past treks and is less crowded than the EBC and three pass trek.

Annapurna Circuit Trek: Cons

So the biggest con of the Annapurna circuit is that during certain parts because they’ve to build out the roads, you’re going to be competing with vehicle traffic as well as there are some biking groups that go up and a circuit as well. There are ways to avoid excessive street or road walking with vehicles but still some parts of it you’re going to be walking on the main road and vehicles will be passing by and that will fly up dust and stuff like that and just kind of interrupt the serene mountain scenery.

If you plan your trip to Nepal you might really want to see Mt. Everest, which is one of the cons of doing the Annapurna circuit, is that you are not able to see it. You’ll get views of Annapurna and other gorgeous 8000-meter peaks on the Annapurna circuit. But you do not see the iconic highest mountain on earth, Mount Everest. So if that’s something that you have to absolutely see, consider those other two treks we will talk about. 

Three Pass Trek: Pros 

So the biggest pros of the Three pass trek is that this one has the most spectacular and vast amount of mountain scenery than the other two treks. It’s just gorgeous, giant Himalayas surrounding you. You will get beautiful mountain scenery with both the Everest base camp trek and the Annapurna circuit especially if you go on a side trip such as Tilicho lake and Kagbeni . But for just the sheer quantity and just gorgeousness, the three passes take the cake for the most spectacular mountain scenery. 

It is also the most physically challenging Of the three hikes, you go up the highest and stay up there for the longest amount of time. Yeah, So if you’re really looking for a big physical challenge, this would be kind of considered a pro to you. But I guess if you’re not looking for something as challenging, this could be under the con category. 

Three Pass Trek: Cons

So the biggest cons of the three high passes track are that it is just so exhausting. You may have done a bunch of different mountains and treks and backpacking trips all over the world but this will still probably be one of the hardest physical things you will probably ever do. One of the biggest cons I would say is that the three high passes trek is very crowded, at least for the first week or so when it follows the Everest base camp trek. Once you get off of the Everest base camp portions, then you see a lot fewer crowds. But for those portions where you’re following the Everest base camp, it is very, very crowded.

If you’re going to do the three-pass trek and you’re very averse to crowds, consider going during a time when it’s a little bit more of the shoulder and not during the peak time. One of the other cons for the three passes Trek and for the Everest Base Camp Trek is that it seems like you’re trekking through villages that are built for tourists compared to the Annapurna circuit, where it feels like you’re trekking through villages that are there regardless of the trekking.

So overall, choose the three-pass trek if you’re looking for a very accomplished trek. If you’re able to do this full trek, trust me, it is an accomplishment. It’s not physically easy. Also, if you’re looking for just the most insane mountain scenery you can ever possibly imagine, definitely choose the three high passes Trek. 

Everest Base Camp Trek: Pros

Obviously, the biggest pro of the Everest base Camp Trek is that you can go to the Everest base camp. It’s a very famous destination. And you get to say that you’ve been to the Everest base camp. It’s very easy to follow the trail as well because you just follow the crowds. There’s no real concern about getting lost here.

The second pro is that you not only get to see Everest but also get to see some gorgeous mountain scenery on the way to Everest base camp. Another pro is that if you are short on time, the EBC trek will probably take you the least amount of time. The accommodation and food are the best in the Everest Base Camp trek compared to three pass trek and Annapurna circuit trekking. 

Everest Base Camp Trek: Cons

And now onto the cons. The biggest con of the Everest base camp trek is the crowds. It is incredibly crowded. You won’t have a single day of trekking where you’re trekking alone. There will always be swarms of crowds and donkeys and yaks that will be on the trail with you. Definitely, if you’re seeking solitude. Everest Base camp is a trek we would least recommend for you.

If you really want to do Everest base camp and you want to be able to say, I went to Everest base camp and maybe you’re short on time, this can be a good trek for you. Just maybe go during the shoulder season.

Another con of the Everest base camp Trek is that you miss some insanely gorgeous mountain scenery that’s just a little short trek away. So I recommend that you always add on some side treks, trek away from one of the parts of the Everest base camp is just probably the most gorgeous scenery you will see in your life. If you’re going to do the Everest base camp trek and you want to have a little bit of solitude or get some really insane views, it would only add on a day or two. If you go over to Gokyo and trek back to Lukla from there.

And lastly, if you are afraid of flights, remember that you will have to take a flight to Lukla, considered one of the most dangerous airports in the world. You may not take the flight, but reaching out to Lukla from Kathmandu will add an extra week. So, if you are afraid of flight, then the Annapurna circuit is for you.

So overall, choose the Everest base camp. If you want to say, Hey, I went to Everest base camp, I went to this iconic destination that so many people have dreamt about. So if this is you and it is on your bucket list. And let’s say you’re short on time. Definitely consider it. You are going to be dealing with more crowds. But if you choose a shoulder season, that can work out. Also, if you’re a little hesitant about going to areas that are just so remote, you won’t be alone on the Everest base Camp Trek.

Again we would recommend adding some side treks, though. Just because you’re already out there, you might as well go see some gorgeous scenery. Just a day’s trek away.


7. Conclusion

So overall, if you want that cultural experience combined with hiking, we would recommend the Annapurna Circuit. If you want the most gorgeous mountain views, you could ever possibly imagine. Do the three high passes Trek if you’re a little nervous about trekking independently and have never trekked before. Choose the EBC trek. More people go on guided tours, which are clear and easy to follow.

If you have never experienced a high elevation, the Annapurna circuit is probably your safer bet because there are ways to get down if needed. On the three high trails and Everest base Camp Trek, you are out there, so you aren’t going to be able to get down very easily if you struggle with the altitude, you can take a Helicopter which is going to be expensive.

If you want something more affordable, we’d recommend the Annapurna circuit as the cost of food, the tea houses, and getting there is much cheaper than the other two treks. However, if you want to see Mt. Everest, choose either the three high passes or the Everest base camp trek.

Additionally, if you want to be able to say, Hey, I did Everest base camp, do the Everest base Camp Trek. Still, you could also do that with the three high passes trek or add an extra day or two by going over and going back in a different direction than where you came. So you can get some of the most insane mountain views you’ve ever seen.

If you want to challenge yourself physically and you’re just kind of like, Yeah, I want to see what I can do. Three high pass trek is the trek for you. You go over three passes that are above 17,000 feet, one that’s 18,000-something feet. And if you add Everest base camp, you get another one there. So that’s four. And if you’re able to do that, that’s just amazing.

If you’re short on time and want to see Mt. Everest, do the Everest base camp trek. If you want to feel like you’re out there and there are not many crowds, consider doing parts of the three-pass trek. 

manish magar
manish magar
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