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Trekking Annapurna, Nepal: Top 3 Circuits Guide

trekking Annapurna Base Camp

Expedition camp on Annapurna Base Camp by MarijaGrujovska, Wiki Commons

Reality check: trekking Annapurna is a humbling experience. When compared to other popular treks in Nepal, this region cannot compete concerning quality accommodation or food.

Why is it still considered one of the best treks the country has to offer, then?

While Annapurna boasts several peaks soaring over 7,000 meters, it still offers treks of various difficulty levels. From leisurely walks through beautiful terraces and foothills to challenging high-altitude circuits–there's an Annapurna trek for everyone.

This is, quite possibly, the top Annapurna appeal when compared to well-trodden paths of the Everest region.

Better yet? The Annapurna region is relatively easy to reach and highlights fascinating centuries-old traditions.

The town of Pokhara, for example, serves as a fantastic base due to its access to many of the region's stunning trails. It is the perfect place to recharge and drift away–all while observing the exotic life in the Himalayas.

It can be overwhelming to plan your first trip after taking a look at the Annapurna trekking map, though. For this reason, we have featured the top three treks, including duration, difficulty, the cost of travel, and other useful planning tips.

Nepal trekking, Annapurna Pokhara view

View of Annapurna region from Pokhara

Trekking Annapurna: Top 3 Circuits

The Annapurna Circuit

Duration: 15 to 20 Days
Remote? No
Pricing: Cheap
Difficulty: Medium
Permits required? No
Maximum elevation: Thorong La Pass (5,416 m)
Accommodation available: Tea houses, lodges
Best time to visit: October to November; March to May

• Stunning views throughout the journey
• Visit the world’s highest mountain pass – Thorung La
• Well-maintained trails; excellent accommodation options

• A road is being built close to certain sections of the trail

It comes as a surprise to many, but the Annapurna Circuit won’t put a smile on your face from the get-go. It takes time, demanding that you pull through some climbing before its real beauty unfolds in front of you.

The journey starts with a banana tree jungle that is full of monkeys. Next, you'll be greeted by soaring pine trees and beautiful rice fields, carved into the mountainside.

And that's it for day one.

The majestic Himalayas won't start to come into view after day two or three. Finally, then, the alluring vistas that have made the region so famous will brighten your eyes.

The Annapurna Circuit encircles the entire Massif and takes between 15 to 20 days to cover. Most visitors explore the trek in a counterclockwise fashion, as the terrain is more forgiving in this direction, including the crossing of Thorung La Pass.

Most importantly, trekking the Annapurna Circuit counterclockwise allows you to better acclimatize to the altitude.

It also helps to know that this circuit boasts some of the very best scenery Nepal has to offer. Its views of some of the highest mountains in the world will sweep you off your feet.

Notable peaks you'll see while trekking the Annapurna Circuit include the Tilicho, Manaslu, Dhaulagiri, Machhapuchhre, Gangapurna, and Annapurna Massif.

Furthermore, the higher regions of the trek are home to Tibetan cultures still leading their ancient way of life. Time and technology pause here, transporting you to eras when life was simple, yet beautiful.

Worried about services? You'll encounter many basic tea houses, as well as a few luxury lodges scattered in between.

Local food is also plentiful and delicious throughout the famous Circuit, with many travelers calling it a highlight in itself.

While it is possible to explore the Annapurna Circuit throughout the year, the Thorung La Pass is best avoided during the months of January and February. During those months, the uncomfortably snowy conditions may adversely affect your trekking trip.

Annapurna trekking, Nepal

A river running through the region

Annapurna Base Camp

Duration: 10 to 12 days
Remote? No
Pricing: Cheap
Difficulty: Moderate
Permits required? No
Maximum elevation: Annapurna Base Camp (4,320 m)
Accommodation available: Basic tea houses, lodges
Best time to visit: September to December; February to May

• More authentic trekking experience

• Physically tolling, as the trail requires you to climb many stairs

This trek is certainly not for the faint-hearted: it is challenging. The journey entails trekking up Modi River's steep canyon for a few days, leading toward the Annapurna Base Camp and stunning views of Poon Hill.

This Annapurna Camp is popular due to its exotic views of Annapurna I, the 10th highest peak on the planet, as well as the Machhapuchhre, often called the Matterhorn of Asia.

The trek doesn’t take as much time as the Annapurna Circuit, making it more popular among backpackers with limited time. In just 10 to 12 days, you get to see many peaks soaring over 7,000 meters.

Have a few more days, but not enough to trek the Annapurna Circuit? Add the Poon Hill trek to your itinerary. As you will see below, the sunrise views are worth it!

Sunrise on Poon Hill

Sunrise on Poon Hill (photo: Matt Zimmerman)

Poon Hill Trek

Duration: 5 to 7 Days
Remote? No
Pricing: Cheap
Difficulty: Easy
Permits required? No
Maximum elevation: Poon Hill (3,210 m)
Accommodation available: Tea houses, lodges
Best time to visit: October to November; March to May

• Fantastic sunrise views from Poon Hill
• Visit many culturally rich villages
• Easy, short trek boasting some of the highest peaks on the planet

• Physically tolling, as the trail requires you to climb many stairs

The Poon Hill Trek is unique, as it doesn’t take you into the mountains right away. Instead, you will be graced by stunning views of the lush countryside, passing by remote villages.

Keep in mind that even though altitude is usually not an issue here, it still calls for warm clothing.

In addition to varied topography, this trek offers a number of wide, well-maintained trails and luxury lodges. These make Poon Hill perfect for those seeking to splurge a bit or surprise a special someone.

As far as logistics go, most visitors decide to start at Birethanti and cover Poon Hill as a loop from Pokhara. This journey takes you through stunning rhododendron forests and by beautiful Ulleri village.

As you gain elevation, the magnificent Himalayas start to peek out, preparing you for the magnificence that lies ahead.

The actual highlight of Poon Hill, though? The sunrise views!

You may grumble as you wake up at 5 a.m. and start the trek to the peak in darkness. It will be easy to see why thousands of visitors do it each year once you make it to the top:

The vast sight of grandiose mountains unfolding their beauty, basking under the first rays of the morning sun.


This story is brought to you in partnership with Bookmundi. 

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