Astonishing view of the Tilicho Lake, Annapurna circuit trek

16 things to know before Annapurna Circuit Trekking [in 2020]

Annapurna Circuit Trek is one of the most popular trekking routes in Nepal. The Annapurna circuit trek is in the list of top 10 best trekking routes in the world. This trek is about a 12 to the 20 day-long journey that lies in the two districts –Manang and Mustang where you can experience the Tibetian Culture and lifestyle. The length of the trek span from 150 kilometers to about 220 kilometers.

North Nepal Trekking guide on way to Ghyaru village from Upper Pisang, Mt. Annapurna IV and Lower Pisang village on background.
North Nepal Trekking guide on way to Ghyaru village from Upper Pisang, Mt. Annapurna IV and Lower Pisang village on the background.

You can experience Natural Hot spring (at Chame and Tatopani), magnificent view of Tilicho Lake, mountains (Annapurna, Pisang, Gangapurna, Lamjung, Nilgiri), diverse culture, ancient monuments, sculptures, stupas and many more incredible naturally different scenarios on your way Circuit Trek.

The highest mountain in the Annapurna Massif is the Mt. Annapurna I which is 8,091 m/ 26,538 ft in height.

Here below are the 16 things you need to know before Annapurna Circuit Trekking.

Annapurna Circuit Trekking route
Annapurna Circuit Trekking route

1. Route Options

Before the Trek, you must be familiar with the trekking route options of Annapurna Circuit Trek. You can choose the route options as per the length of your vacation and convenience.

Some of the most popular and preferred route options for Annapurna Circuit Trekking are.

Option 1

Starts from: Bhulbhule

Ends at: Nayapul

The total distance for this route is 260 kilometers. It is the longest route.

Option 2

Starts from: Jagat

Ends at: Jomsom

The total distance for this route is 136 kilometers.

Option 3 

Starts from: Manang

Ends at: Muktinath

The total distance for this route is 34 kilometers. It is the shortest route.

Option 4 

Starts from: Jagat

Travel by Bus: from Jomsom to Tatopani

Ends at: Nayapul

It is the combined route.

The most popular Starting points of the Annapurna Circuit are:

  • Besisahar
  • Bhulbhule
  • Jagat
  • Syange
  • Chame ( Manang’s headquarters from where trekkers usually start their Trek. It is at the altitude of 2700 meters)
  • Manang

The popular Finish point of the Annapurna Circuit after (Thorong La pass)

  • Muktinath
  • Jomsom
  • Tatopani
  • Nayapul

2. It would be best if you prepared for the long road walks and Bumpy Jeep rides.

If you are planning to trek the Annapurna Circuit, then you should keep in mind that this Trek involves road walks. So, you can take a jeep ride during the trek if you wish. If you plan your trek with Trekking agencies you can get to have a Bumpy Jeep Ride from Besisahar to Chame along Margsyangdi river from where most of the trekkers start their circuit trek.


Annapurna Circuit Trek in a video.

3. You will need a permit and TIMS card for Annapurna Circuit. Coming up with an Insurance for the Trek is always recommended.

You will need to get a permit called ACAP (Annapurna Conservation Area Permit) and a TIMS (Trekkers Information Management System) card. One can get the Permits and TIMS Card from the trekking agency or ACAP office in Pokhara/Kathmandu.

What are the required documents to get the Permits and TIMS card for Annapurna Circuit Trekking:

  • Passport
  • Insurance
  • Four Photos

Also, a contact person in Nepal is needed.

If you are planning your trip via a Travel agency in Pokhara, their Annapurna Circuit Trek Package will handle the creation process of those permits, TIMS card, and all other required documents.

4. What is the Best time to trek Annapurna Circuit?

The best months in a year for Annapurna Circuit Trekking are March-April-May and September-October-November. The month of October is the busiest, so you can find many trekkers on all the trekking routes.

You can also face a shortage of quality homestays, accommodation during the busy months for trekking. But if you are with a guide, they will manage all the quality accommodation and food as per the package deal.

Diverse landscapes seen along the way to Tilicho Lake trek.
Diverse landscapes as seen along the way to Tilicho Lake trek.

5. The circuit trek can be cost-effective and affordable if appropriately planned.

The Annapurna Circuit Trekking can be affordable if you plan it wiselyThe stay at the cities like Pokhara and Kathmandu can cost a lot if you do not have any idea searching and booking hotels, lodges online.

So, consulting travel agencies is always recommended if you do not know anyone in Nepal who is familiar with the travel and trekking. There are many travel agencies in Pokhara and Kathmandu, so we recommend choosing the best one among them as per their experience, their travel guides, and their travel package structure.

[Trekking packages on Annapurna Region Annapurna Base Camp trek and Pokhara to Annapurna Base Camp Helicopter Tour]

6. Pack as less as possible for the Trek

During the Trek, you should take only the things that you need. You can hire a porter from Pokhara to carry your heavy backpack. But they are also humans and have their carrying limit.

Nepalese porter will carry up to 10 kilograms of your backpack. You can help them from your side by only taking what is required.

7. Trekking with a Travel agency or Trekking Independent

This is one of the most searched and discusses topics while planning a trek to Annapurna Circuit. Both are applicable but Traveling with a group or with guides is always recommended.

If you are trekking individually in a small group, you can find other trekkers on the way, but you cannot rely on strangers as their trekking route and destination can be different. You will need to carry your stuff on your own.

If you are not in the supervision of a trained professional guide, you can get in serious trouble if you suffer from altitude sickness or other injuries.

So planning your trekking with a professional travel and trekking agency in Pokhara is always recommended. Traveling with a reputed travel company will offer you professional guides and porters. A guide organizing your food, accommodation, and teach you  about the significance of sites and traditions of the local community

8. Altitude sickness

Altitude Sickness is common in the higher altitudes while trekking the Annapurna Circuit, which occurs when your body cannot adapt appropriately with the cold environment. So always move at your own pace. Take rest and do not exhaust all your stamina at a time. The Trek will be long, rough and hard, so you need to be fit as this Trek involves a long road walks on foot.

If you are with a travel company, they can handle any unfortunate situations or while you are in trouble. The professional guides and local porters are trained to provide the rescue and aid in case of any injuries and altitude sickness.

Eat good food and take care of your health yourself.

9. Be prepared for changing weather

The weather in the mountainous region is unpredictable. It can become worse all of a sudden. The weather will be pretty decent during the trekking season. During the off-seasons, the higher part of the Trek will be covered by the snow and the Trek will be slippery and dangerous for trekkers.

So it is necessary to prepare for all the possible scenarios no matter when you are deciding to start the Trek. The snow, rain, and storms can be unpredictable.

10. Learn some cultural respect

The Annapurna Circuit trek is also famous for its cultural diversities and significant cultural and traditions. Nepalese people have a strong faith and belief in their culture so they can get offended if you do something which is against their culture.

So as a visitor, it is expected from you that you respect the culture of locals and show some regards for the various trekking sites along the way. You can always have a chat with the locals and try to learn about their living ways and beliefs.

Learning some more about the Nepalese culture and Himalayas before the Trek is always recommended.

11. Prepared yourself for the Thorong La Pass

Thorong La Pass is the highest point of this Trek, which is at a height of 5416 meters. It is one of the hardest and most delicate parts of the Annapurna Circuit. Due to high altitude and low oxygen levels, it can be hard for someone to adapt to the surrounding.

But with enough preparation and guidance, it is possible to hike through it. It is the climax part and the most preferred destination of the Annapurna Circuit Trekking.

12. Do not throw the garbage here and there while you trek

Due to the remoteness and higher altitudes, there is a lack of proper waste management systems. For proper disposal, locals have to carry the wastage off the mountains themselves, which is not good for them too.

So think twice before throwing your unwanted garbage in the environment. Instead make use of reusable water bottles, naturally decomposable bags or bring back the trash with you and dispose of them when you find a suitable place.

Be a responsible Trekker and leave behind no traces of your Trek.

13. What are the things that you should carry with yourself for Annapurna Circuit Trekking?

Some recommended things that you should have in your backpack are:

  • Smartphone: Smartphones can be really handy for the purpose of navigation using navigation apps, or you can also carry a trekking map. [Note: There will be a lack of communication network in higher altitudes]
  • Water filters or some water purifying tablets: It can save some money for your travel.
  • Sleeping Bag: You should definitely carry a small sleeping bag for you as the temperature at higher altitudes will be very cold.
  • Hiking shoes, socks, towel and stick
  • Warm and Light Jackets, yoga pants
  • Sunglasses, sunscreen, lip balm, and lotion, Cap, tissues, Sanitizer, and so on.

14. Food and Accommodation during the Annapurna Circuit Trek

You can find basic guesthouses and Home Stays on different checkpoints. Most of them will have the facility of electricity, wi-fi, hot water shower. But these facilities can be compromised in more higher altitudes.

The food on the stay will include Nepalese, Chinese, Indian and western food. You don’t have to rely on the same food for days, and you can try different food during your Trek. If you are looking for the best value for cost, Nepali “Dal Bhat” is the best choice for you.

15. Hiring  a guide or porter 

You can hire a guide and porter in Pokhara. You will have to bargain with the porters and guide if you want it to be cost-effective. If you are with a reputed trekking company like North Nepal Travel and Trek, you don’t need to worry about hiring professional guides and porters. The travel agency in Pokhara will also manage the insurance for guides and porters, with trekking equipment, food, and accommodation.

16. Accommodation in expensive cities like Pokhara and Kathmandu

The most popular tourist area in Pokhara is Lakeside. There are many hotels, restaurants, bars, and lodge, guest houses and travel agencies there.

The prices of the hotels for accommodation can vary from cheap to high as per the quality and the services they provide. You can simply google “Hotels near me” and choose the best one as per your needs.

This is a similar case with Kathmandu. Staying in Kathmandu can be disadvantageous. It is one of the most polluted cities in Nepal, but Pokhara Lakeside is free from pollution(compared to Kathmandu), and you can enjoy the view of Phewa lake anytime.

If you don’t want the hassle to manage and book hotels for your stay, you can contact a travel agency before the trekking, and they will handle everything for you.

[Note: Some travel agencies can charge extra bucks for this. It’s up to you to choose the right travel and trekking agency.

So, these are the 16 things you might want to know before trekking the Annapurna Circuit.

Related High Altitude Travel Packages:

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