annapurna bridge

Annapurna Circuit Trek: An In-Depth Guide

Have you ever dreamt of hiking through the world’s most majestic mountain ranges? If so, the Annapurna Circuit trek is certainly worth considering. This breathtaking hike winds its way around the Annapurna Massif in the heart of Nepal, providing trekkers with unparalleled views of some of the world’s most impressive peaks. With diverse landscapes and an abundance of cultural experiences along the way, the Annapurna Circuit is no doubt a trekker’s paradise.

This blog post will take a closer look at what the Annapurna Circuit offers. So if you’re looking for an unforgettable trekking experience, read on!

What is the Annapurna Circuit, and what makes it so special?

The Annapurna Circuit is a world-renowned trekking route that encircles the Annapurna Massif in Nepal. The trail reaches a maximum altitude of 5416m at Thorung La Pass, making it one of the highest treks in the world. This popular hike attracts trekkers from all over, drawn in by the promise of stunning mountain views, diverse landscapes, and rich Nepalese culture.


RegionAnnapurna Region
Duration12 days
Distance 160–260km
Max Altitude5,416m at Thorong La High Pass
Best SeasonMarch-May & October – November
Activity Per Day4-6 hrs walking

Major highlights of Annapurna Circuit Trek

  • Enjoy views of Mt. Annapurna I, II, III, IV, Dhaulagiri,  Machhapuchhre, and more.
  • Cross the Thorong La pass (5416 m) – one of the world’s highest passes.
  • Discover the oldest Buddhist monastery in the world at Manang.
  • Hike through a variety of landscapes, from subtropical forests to alpine meadows.
  • Visit the world-famous Hindu temple at Muktinath.
  • Experience the vibrant Nepalese culture firsthand.
  • Soak in the local natural hot springs.

Where is the Annapurna Circuit located?

The Annapurna Circuit is a trekking route in Nepal that circles the Annapurna Massif, located in the northwestern Himalayas of Nepal. The total length of the circuit is approximately 160–230 kilometers (99-143 mi), depending on where motor transportation is used and whether the side trip is included.

The trek begins at either Bagarchhap or Besisahar, both located in Lamjung District and follows the Marshyangdi River upstream to Manang. From there, the trail crosses the Thorung La pass (at an altitude of 5416m/17,765ft) and descends into the Kali Gandaki gorge before ending at Muktinath.

Annapurna Circuit trekking elevation

The trekkers pass through four regions: Lamjung, Manang, Mustang, and Myagdi. The highest point of the entire circuit is Thorung La Pass, which sits at an elevation of 5416m (17,765ft). However, most of the trekking is done below 4000m, making it a relatively accessible hike for those with limited high-altitude experience.

The graph below shows the elevation profile of the Annapurna Circuit Trek. As you can see, the trail gradually gains altitude until it reaches Thorung La pass, which descends sharply into the Kali Gandaki gorge.

Annapurna Circuit Trek elevation

Trekking Route to Annapurna Circuit

The majority of trekkers complete the Annapurna Circuit in a counterclockwise direction. This minimizes altitude gain and reduces the incidence of altitude sickness among visitors. The trek length can vary from 12-21 days, depending on side trips like poon hill. Trekkers are now shortening the trek and completing the trek within less than 2 weeks.

Most notably, jeep tracks now connect most of the villages on the circuit, allowing visitors to bypass sections of the trail. In addition, lodging and guesthouses have become more widespread and better developed in recent years.

Detailed Trekking Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Kathmandu

On the first day, you will arrive in Kathmandu. You will need to get a visa if you don’t have one already. You will also need to get your passport stamped. After that, you will take a taxi to your hotel.

Check into your hotel and get some rest. You will need it for the trek ahead. In the evening, you can explore the city if you like. There are plenty of restaurants and bars to choose from.

Day 2: Sightseeing in Kathmandu

Kathmandu is a vibrant and fascinating place with a rich culture that is well worth exploring. Be sure to visit some of the city’s many temples and shrines, and don’t miss Durbar Square – a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

If you need to buy any last-minute supplies for the trek, this is the time to do it. There are plenty of gear shops in Kathmandu, so you should have no trouble finding what you need.

Day 3: Drive from Kathmandu to Ngadi

The drive from Kathmandu to Ngadi takes about eight to nine hours. Ngadi village is 890 m above sea level and is the starting point for the trek.

On the way to Ngadi, you’ll pass through the towns of Besisahar and Bahundanda. Besisahar is the district headquarters of Lamjung, and is a popular starting point for the Annapurna Circuit Trek.

Bahundanda, on the other hand, is a small village located on a high ridge with sweeping views of the valley below.

Day 4: Drive to Bagarchhap, trek to Chame

After breakfast in Ngadi, you’ll drive to Bagarchhap, which is the starting point of the trek. The drive takes about two hours.

From Bagarchhap, it’s a relatively easy five to six-hour hike to Chame(2659m). This section of the trail is well-traveled and well-marked, so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding your way.

Chame is the capital of the Manang district and is a good place to stock up on supplies for the rest of the trek. There are several guesthouses and lodges in Chame, so you should have no trouble finding a place to stay for the night.

Day 5: Trek to Manang

The hike from Chame to Manang is a relatively easy six to seven hours.

The trek begins with a journey to the idyllic village of Upper Pisang. As you make your way along the carved, copper prayer wheels, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment. Then, make your way to the Upper Pisang Viewpoint(3,800m) for an incredible view of the surrounding mountains.

Day 6: Acclimatixation Hike to Kicho Tal and back (gangapurna)

gangapurna lake
GangaPurna Lake

After breakfast in Manang, you’ll hike to Kicho Tal(3950m), a beautiful lake just outside town. The hike takes about three hours and is a great opportunity to acclimate to the higher altitude.

In the afternoon, you can explore Manang village. Be sure to visit the Tibetan Buddhist Gompa, one of the oldest in Nepal.

Kicho Tal

Kicho Tal is a beautiful glacial lake located in Nepal’s Annapurna Circuit Trekking region. The word ‘tal’ translates to mean ‘lake’, while ‘kicho’ refers to meaning either ‘frozen’ or ice’.

The lake is situated at an altitude of approximately 4642 meters, making it one of the highest lakes in Nepal.

Day 7: Trek to Yak Kharka

After breakfast in Manang, you’ll trek to Yak Kharka(4018m). The trail leaves the village and follows the river bank northwards before turning west and climbing a small ridge. You’ll cross a stream before descending to another riverbank and continuing on towards Yak Kharka.

As you get higher, the air gets thinner, and the vegetation changes from forest to scrub.

You’ll pass through some of the most stunning scenery in Nepal. The mountains loom large on either side of you, and the river flows swiftly below. You may even see some yaks grazing on the hillside.

When you arrive at Yak Kharka, you’ll set up camp and relax for the rest of the day. Tomorrow you’ll trek to Thorung Phedi, where you’ll begin your ascent of Thorung La pass.

Day 8: Trek to Thorung Phedi

In the morning, you’ll trek to Thorung Phedi(4450m). The trail starts off easy enough, following the river upstream. But soon enough, you’ll begin the steep ascent towards Thorung Phedi.

The last few hours of the hike are particularly strenuous, as you gain over 1000 meters in elevation. When you finally arrive at Thorung Phedi, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the surrounding mountains.

Thorung Phedi is a small village located at the base of Thorung La Pass. There are several guesthouses and lodges, so you should have no trouble finding a place to stay for the night. Be sure to get an early start tomorrow, as the hike over Thorung La is a long and difficult one.

Day 9: Cross Thorung La pass (5416m) and drive to Muktinath

After an early breakfast, you’ll begin your ascent of Thorung La Pass (5416m).

The first part of the hike is relatively easy, as you follow a well-defined trail toward the base of the pass. But soon enough, the trail becomes steeper and more difficult. You’ll need to use your hands to scramble over rocks and pull yourself up steep inclines.

As you get higher, the air gets thinner, and it becomes more difficult to breathe. But eventually, you’ll reach the top of the pass.

From Thorung La, you’ll have incredible views of the surrounding mountains. You may even see some of the world’s highest peaks, such as Dhaulagiri and Annapurna.

After taking some time to enjoy the view, you’ll begin your descent toward Muktinath. The hike down is much easier than the hike up, and you should reach Muktinath in a few hours.

Muktinath is a holy town for both Hindus and Buddhists. There are several temples and shrines, as well as a beautiful waterfall.

Drive to Jomson

If you’re feeling a bit shaky after coming down from 1.5 kilometers, you can always take a jeep from Muktinath to Jomsom.

It’s about an hour’s drive, and the ride will give you time to rest your legs and enjoy the scenery. You’ll pass through some of Nepal’s most remote and beautiful landscapes.

Day 10: Fly back to Pokhara

In the morning, you’ll take a short flight back to Pokhara. The flight takes about 30 minutes, and it’s a great way to see the mountains from above.

Once you’re back in Pokhara, you can relax and enjoy all these beautiful city offers. There are plenty of restaurants, cafes, and bars to choose from. You can also go shopping or take a boat ride on Phewa Lake.

Day 11: Drive back to Kathmandu

In the morning, you’ll drive back to Kathmandu. The drive takes about six hours, and it’s a great opportunity to see more of the Nepali countryside.

You’ll arrive in Kathmandu in the afternoon and spend the rest of the day exploring the city. There are plenty of sights to see and things to do in Kathmandu. You can visit some of the city’s famous temples, go shopping, or simply wander through the streets and take in the sights and sounds of this vibrant city.

Day 12:Deparature

After a wonderful trip, it’s time to say goodbye to Nepal. You’ll be transferred to the airport for your flight home.

When is the best time to go on an Annapurna Circuit trek?

The best time to go on an Annapurna Circuit trek is from March to May, and from October to November. These are the months when the weather is most stable and the temperatures are mild. June to September is the monsoon season so the trails can be slippery and dangerous. December to February is winter, and while the views can be stunning, the cold can be extreme. So if you’re planning on trekking the Annapurna Circuit, make sure to do it during the best months!

How difficult is the Annapurna Circuit trek?

The Annapurna Circuit is considered to be one of the most difficult treks in Nepal. It takes anywhere from 12 days to 3 weeks to complete, and the highest elevation reached is 5416 meters. There are many steep climbs and descents, and the trail can be very slippery in places.

The first few days of the trek are relatively easy. You will be trekking through forested areas and will have plenty of opportunities to take breaks. As you get higher into the mountains, the trek becomes more challenging.

You will be dealing with altitude, cold temperatures, and potentially dangerous weather conditions.

Despite the challenges, the Annapurna Circuit is an amazing trek that should not be missed. The views are breathtaking, and the sense of accomplishment you will feel at the end is priceless.

How to prepare for the Annapurna Circuit trek?

If you’re planning on trekking the Annapurna Circuit, there are a few things you should do to prepare.

First, make sure you have the proper gear. This includes good hiking boots, warm clothing, rain jackets, and headlamps.

Second, start exercising and build up your stamina. The Annapurna Circuit is a long and difficult trek, so you need to make sure you’re physically prepared.

Third, familiarize yourself with the route. You can take many different routes on the Annapurna Circuit, so it’s important to know which one you’re taking and what to expect.

Fourth, get travel insurance. This is a must for any trek in Nepal.

Finally, make sure you have all the necessary permits. You will need a TIMS card, and an Annapurna Conservation Area Project permits to trek the Annapurna Circuit.

What to expect on the trek?

Trekkers on the Annapurna Circuit can expect to see some of the most stunning scenery in Nepal, including snow-capped mountains, green valleys, and terraced rice fields. The trek is relatively challenging, but the rewards are more than worth it. Trekkers will need to be prepared for long days of walking, as well as cold nights at high altitudes. But the effort is sure to pay off, with memories that will last a lifetime. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your Annapurna Circuit trek today!

The first few days of the trek are relatively easy, as you make your way through lush green valleys and terraced rice fields. The scenery is simply stunning, and you’ll have plenty of time to stop and take photos. As you get higher, the landscape changes to one of snow-capped mountains and glaciers. The going gets tougher at this point, but the views are even more incredible. Finally, you’ll reach Thorung La pass, the highest point on the trek. From here, it’s all downhill to the finish line.

How much does it cost to do the trek?

The cost of the Annapurna Circuit trek will vary depending on a number of factors, such as the length of the trek, the time of year, and whether you hire a guide or go it alone.

In general, you can expect to pay anywhere from $1000 to $2000 for the entire trek. This includes the cost of permits, gear, food, and lodging.

Hiring a guide will add to the cost, but it is generally worth it. A good guide will be familiar with the route and can help you navigate the difficult parts.

What are the risks associated with the trek?

The Annapurna Circuit trek is considered a relatively safe trek, but any adventure has always associated risks.

The biggest risk is altitude sickness, which can occur when you are hiking at high altitudes. Symptoms include headache, nausea, and fatigue. If you start to experience these symptoms, it’s important to descend to a lower altitude as soon as possible.

Another risk is the weather. The Annapurna region is known for its volatile weather, and trekkers can face snowstorms, high winds, and even avalanches. It’s important to be prepared for these conditions and to listen to your guide’s advice on when to turn back.

Despite the risks, the Annapurna Circuit trek is an incredible adventure that should not be missed.

What gear do I need for the trek?

The first thing you need to do is get the appropriate gear for the trek. This includes clothing, footwear, and equipment. Make sure you have everything you need before setting out on the trek. The last thing you want is to be unprepared and have to turn back because you didn’t bring the right gear.Here are some of the essential items you’ll need:-

Hiking boots: A good pair of hiking boots is a must. They should be comfortable and provide good support.

Trekking poles: Trekking poles are a great help when trekking through mountainous terrain. They take some of the strain off your legs and help you keep your balance.

A backpack: A backpack is essential for carrying all your gear. Make sure it’s comfortable and has enough space for everything you need. -Clothing: Pack clothes that are appropriate for the weather conditions you’ll be trekking in. Layering is a good idea so you can add or remove layers as needed.

Equipment: Don’t forget to pack any essential equipment such as a map, compass, and first-aid kit.

This are just some of the things you’ll need for the trek. For comeplete list, check out our website or ask one of our experts.

Tips for making the most out of your experience

The key to making the most out of your Annapurna Circuit trekking experience is to be prepared. Here are a few tips to help you make the most of your time on the trail:

  • Start by getting in shape. The better shape you’re in, the more enjoyable the trek will be. Trekking through Nepal can be challenging, so it’s important to be physically prepared.
  • Pack light, but smart. You’ll want to bring all the essentials, but don’t overdo it. Remember, you’ll be carrying everything on your back, so make sure you pack accordingly.
  • Make sure you have the proper gear. This includes things like proper footwear, clothing and rain gear.
  • Be prepared for the elements. Nepal can be unpredictable, so it’s important to be prepared for anything. Make sure you have a good map and know your route before setting out.
  • Hire a guide. A guide can be incredibly helpful, especially if you’re not familiar with the area. They can help you find the best routes and ensure you don’t miss anything.
  • Plan your route before you go. This will help you avoid getting lost and make the most efficient use of your time.
  • Be flexible. Things will inevitably go wrong, so it’s important to be flexible and roll with the punches.
  • Have fun! This is supposed to be an enjoyable experience, so make sure you take time to enjoy it.

By following these tips, you’ll be sure to have an amazing trekking experience on the Annapurna Circuit

Annapurna Circuit trekking solo or with a group?

Note: The Nepal Tourism Board has passed a law, effective as of April 1st, 2023, prohibiting all solo foreign trekkers from trekking in the Annapurna Region of Nepal. All solo trekkers must hire a registered guide in order to trek in the Annapurna Region.

When it comes to trekking the Annapurna Circuit, you have two options: go solo or join a group. There are pros and cons to both, so it’s important to weigh your options before making a decision.

If you’re thinking about going solo, you should keep a few things in mind. First, it’s important to be experienced and comfortable with backpacking and trekking. The Annapurna Circuit is not for beginners. Second, you’ll need to be prepared to deal with everything on your own. This includes things like navigation, planning and finding accommodation. Finally, solo trekking can be more expensive since you’ll have to pay for all your own gear and supplies.

If you decide to join a group, you’ll need to find one that’s reputable and experienced. A good guide can make all the difference on the trail. You’ll also be able to share costs, which can save you money in the long run. The downside of group trekking is that you’ll need to be comfortable with other people, as you’ll be spending a lot of time together.

No matter which option you choose, make sure you’re prepared and have realistic expectations.


Is the Annapurna Circuit safe?

The Annapurna Circuit is generally safe, but there are always risks when trekking in remote areas. Make sure you’re familiar with the route and have a good map before setting out. It’s also important to be aware of the current conditions, as the weather can change quickly in Nepal.

How long does it take to trek the Annapurna Circuit?

The length of time it takes to complete the Annapurna Circuit depends on your fitness level and how many breaks you take along the way. Most people take between two and three weeks to complete the trek.

What is the best time of year to trek the Annapurna Circuit?

The best time to trek the Annapurna Circuit is between October and November. This is when the weather is typically stable and there’s less risk of rain or snow.

Is it possible to do the Annapurna Circuit without a guide?

No, it is not possible to do the Annapurna Circuit without a guide from April 1st 2023. According to the law passed by Nepal Tourism Board, all solo foreign trekkers must hire a registered guide to trek in the Annapurna region.

What insurance do I need?

When trekking the Annapurna Circuit, it’s important to have comprehensive travel insurance that covers medical expenses and evacuation. Make sure you read the fine print and understand what your policy covers before you buy it.

Do I need a permit to trek the Annapurna Circuit?

Trekkers need Annapurna Conservation Area Entry Permit (ACAP) to trek in the area, costing NPR 3000 (approx. USD 30). The permit can be obtained from Nepal Tourism Board office in Kathmandu or Pokhara or from the entry point of the trekking trail.


The Annapurna Circuit is an unforgettable trek that offers something for everyone. From the challenging hike up to Thorung La Pass to the stunning views of the Annapurnas and Dhaulagiri, this route has something for every level of hiker. Experiencing the culture and hospitality of the Nepali people along the way makes this a trip you will never forget.

Trekking the Annapurna Circuit is an amazing experience, but there are always risks involved so it’s important to stay informed and take precautions.

Have you done the Annapurna Circuit? What was your favorite part?


Being a travel and trekking guide for over a decade, I decided to expand my passion for a travel to be a tour organizer and build my team of travel experts. What's best about my passion is that I get to spend a considerable amount of time every single day with the legendary climbers and mountain lovers from all around the worlds. There's no greater achievement for me than having a set of regular friends around who always have stories of their great feat or their special encounters with the locals in the mountains to share.

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