Complete Guide to Annapurna Circuit Trekking
Best season for trekking around Annapurna circuit
Annapurna circuit is can be a difficult trek if the trekkers fails to choose the right time of the year. The four seasons of Nepal defines the condition of trail, challenges , weathers and views. The trekker should be able to decide the proper season before trekking to Annapurna Circuit.
The best time to trek around Annapurna circuit would be in Autumn which starts from September and ends in late November. During these months the temperature is warm as the days are sunny, the sky are clear providing the best views of the mountains and surroundings. Crossing the high pass throung La would be much more easier as the trails would clear without the snow. While trekking in Autumn there is less risk attached than in Winter.
Spring Season is another most favorable season to trek around Annapurna circuit. This season starts from March and ends in May, during these season the days are long and nights are shorter which gives the trekker enough time to explore. The weather are clear but the nights get colder at high altitudes. Spring season is the season of the flowers, the forest chances its leaves and the rhododendron and junipers starts blooming providing the fresh aroma to the trekkers. The trekkers also have a good view of the Himalayas.
Generally trekking around Annapurna circuit in winter is not so popular. The difficulty, challenges and risks are very high during winter. Winter starts from December and ends in February. The weather during winter are unpredictable, The Thoung pass will be filled with thick snow and trails will get slippery with the ice. The temperature can get freezing, and getting a accommodation during winter can be very difficult as most of the people move to down valleys to avoid the cold. If the trekker is not experienced and well equipped then the trekking could turn into a nightmare.
The last season is the monsoon season and trekking in monsoon is not recommended, From June to September there will heavy rainfalls, the skies will be full of cloud blocking all the views, and the trails would be slippery full of leeches and insects and there is also high chances of rock falls.
Top attractions around Annapurna circuit
Since the first conquest of Annapurna by French mountaineers Maurice herzberz and louis lanchel Annapurna has been Famous All around the World. It hasn’t been much that Annapurna circuit has been developed into a proper trekking trail. Annapurna circuit is the Top Gem of Nepal. These 18 days trekking offers the trekker with mind blowing views of the Mountain ranges, ice lakes, beautiful valleys and villages, interaction with the ancient tribes, panoramic view of the landscapes and trekking in the high pass. Some of the top attraction of Annapurna circuit are
- Archery festival in chame
- Nei and ong festival
Annapurna circuit is rich in terms of flora and fauna it is the Heaven of Bird watchers.
- Different species of Shrew like: Asian house Shrew, Himalayan shrew, Elegant water Shrew etc.
- Species of wild cats like: Snow Leopard, Eurasian lynx, Leopard, Asian Golden cat, Marbled cat, Leopard cat, jungle cat, pallas cat.
- Variety of otter Such as : Eurasian otter, Smooth coated otter, Yellow-throated maten
- Bats like : Great Himalayan leaf nosed Bat, Andersens leaf nosed Bat, Steppe Whiskered Bat, Nepal myotis Bat, Himalayan Whiskered Bat.
- Squirrel like: Sotted giant Flying squirrel, Bhutan Giant Flying squirrel, Himalayan Marmot.
- Rabbits like: Wolly Hare, Indian Hare
- Rats like: Lesser bandicoot Rat, Soft flurred Rat, Short Tailed Field Mouse, Himalayan White Bellied Rat.
- Kiang/Tibetan Wild Ass
- Wild Yak
- Blue sheep
- Himalayan goral, Himalayan Thar,
- Tibetan Gazelle
- Tibetan Antelope
- Barking Deer
- Himalayan musk deer
- Kasmir musk deer
- Wild Boar/ Eurasian Wild pig
- Snow rhododendron
- Himalayan buckthrone
- Alpine shrubby horsetail
- Black juniper
- Junipers indicia
- Sikkim willow
- Alpine gentian
- Milk vetches
- Astragalus species
- Silver fir
- Himalayan birch
- Tree juniper
- Himalayan hemlock
Magnificent view of the mountain ranges like
- Annapurna II,
- Tilicho peak
- Kang guru
- Gjadzi kang
- Lamjung Himal
- Annapurna II
- Annapurna IV
- Kang guru I
- Pisang Peak
- And Himlung
Other attraction of the circuit are
- Gumbas and monasteries
- Mani walls
- Arts and artifacts
- Culture and people
- Throung Pass
- Gangapurna lake
- Manang valley
Difficulty of the Annapurna circuit trek
Annapurna circuit can be mild to challenging trek.
The trek grade depends upon the season and the level of the trekker. In the winter and monsoon season Annapurna circuit can be very difficult and the percentage of risk increases by 200 percent in those season because of the heavy snowfall, extreme cold and slippery trails and rock falls as well as less availability of accommodation and food. I
n the spring and autumn season Annapurna circuit ranges in moderate grade as the trails are dry and less chances of snowfall. The Tea houses are also fully opened in these season so the difficulty is lower in these season.
Trekking through Annapurna circuit can be challenging If the trekker has no previous experiences of trekking, the trekker needs to walk around 6 to 7 hours per day, the most difficult part of Annapurna circuit is the throung pass which is at the altitude of 5416m the trekker has to cross this pass in order to reach to next valley.
Throung pass is the maximum altitude that the trekker would reach throughout the trek crossing this pass requires trekking for long hours and hiking the uphill in high winds. After the trekker cross the pass the trekker again needs to hike to downhill for 2 to 4 hours which requires extreme legwork. But one can easily over come these challenges if they come prepared for this trek. With regular exercise or training 1month before the trek would make this trek so much easier.
The main challenge is the altitude but with proper acclimatization right food and rest we can easily complete this trek. The first and main thing one needs to have is the attitude of NO GIVE UP…. If the trekker is mentally prepared and the trekker loves to accept challenges and get out from his comfort zone then this trip can be completed effortlessly.
Preparing your body and Mind for Annapurna circuit trek.
Before trekking in Nepal first you need to understand the terrain of the trek and the altitude you are trekking, Trekking around Annapurna circuit the trekker needs to walk for 6 to 8 hours per day and cross the high pass of 5400 which requires strong legs, core and healthy lungs.
Before committing for Annapurna circuit trek you need to first understand your fitness level and your weakness. If you are experienced trekker and have no problem hiking in high altitude and walking for 6 to 7 hours then you are fine you can continue your regular exercises.
If you have no previous experiences of trekking and needs to do some workout and be in shape before the trek then you need to start at least 1 month before the trekking. You don not need to do heavy exercises and strenuous training.
Just focus your training on increasing Stamina endurance and strength. some of tips for training would be
- Start Running 5 to 10 km and slightly increase the pace and distance
- Hike as much as you can especially in hills
- Join a gym swimming or climbing gym
- Walking to your job and taking a stairs
- Make your gut your best friend focus on what you eat cut out Fast foods, and start eating healthy
- Limit the alcohol intake
- Try mindfulness and even five minutes of meditation calms the mind
Food Around the Annapurna circuit
While Trekking in Nepal Most of the trekker thinks trekking in Nepal Means trekking with Daal Bhaat While this was true during the 90s but it has changed. The tea houses around Annapurna circuit offers a diverse Menu of Typical Nepali food to western and Chinese foods all the food meets the standard portion and are prepared by trained cooks in clean and hygienic environment.
The cooks knows what the trekker needs they have made the menu by balancing the right amount of carbs, proteins and other essential nutrients. By the end of the trek the trekkers will be full of carbs because carbs are what you need while trekking around the circuit.
The typical food around Annapurna circuit
The Local food that the people consume on their daily life is Dhido with vegetables or Meats. Theres no exact name for dhido in English. Dhido is Traditional food which is prepared by the millet, Buckwheat, barley or maize flour.
It kind of looks like mashed flour or porridge and best served with fresh vegetables like potatoes, radish, green beans, cabbage or meat items. The Tea house also serves Dhido with chicken and pickels as side dishes and in some places they may serve Dhido with Yak Meat. Dhido is a high energy food and takes a special skill to eat.
Sukuti is a Smoke dried meat which is common around Annapurna Sancutury, We highly recommend the trekkers to try sukuti. The trekkers can have sukuti either fried or cooked with side vegetables, And it can be taken as both snack as well as appetizer. However the locals commonly eat sukuti with alcohol. You can get variety of sukutis through out the trek Yak or buffalo Sukuti is the most common that the tea house offers the trekkers.
Yak Meat is juicy, lean and primal red meat, which has twice the protein and half the fat of chicken breast. The Himalayan yaks are 100 percent grass fed and Himalayan herbs. The local people believes that yak meat gives them strength and cures some diseases also.
The Tea house offers Yak Steak and Yak sukuti. The yak Steak is a dish that every trekker should once taste on their trek because it is one of the rare dishes in the world though people can get it in some places but Himalayan yak meat is only available in high Himalayas and Tibet.
Niuro is the young shoot of edible ferns consumed by the Gurung people. They are rich in nutrition’s like omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids and potassium. Niuro is a vegetables which is cooked same like other spinach and taste best with rice but it has become rare these days, But if you see it on the menu just go for it.
Pickles also known as achhar is common all over Nepal and is almost free in all the tea houses. The Tea houses rarely charge for pickles. There are variety of pickles which is prepared from different vegetables. Pickles should be consumed in small amount and most if the pickles found in the tea houses are spicy and sour so be careful while taking the pickles. Pickels almost taste great with everything.
Bhartang (The Apple Heaven)
One of the best thing about Annapurna circuit is the Apple farm in bhartang, which is just few kilometers from Chame. Bhartang is the heaven of apple and there is more than 70,000 apple tress with different species of apple. Bhartang apple farm produces more than 400 tons of apple per year.
The trekker who visit the Farm can handpick the fresh apple directly from the tree and have it. You can have variety of apple dishes like apple pie, apple cake, apple juice, apple cider, apple pancakes fruit apple fruit cake and apple flavor alcohol also. This farm mainly grows three types of apple: Gala apple, Golden apple and Fuji apple. Bhartang Apple farm is not only limited to apples only but only serves fresh coffee. Well an apple a day keeps the doctor away.
The tea houses have limited Menu of Nepali dishes but large variety of western and Chinese food. For breakfast the Tea house offers
- Tibetan Bread with jam/butter/honey or curry
- Chapati with jam/butter/honey or curry chapati with cheese
- Pancakes with jam/butter/honey
- Toast with jam/butter/honey
- Porridge : plain porridge, Champa porridge, apple porridge etc
- Eggs: Boiled, scrambled, omlette: cheese omlette, onion omlette, fried eggs
For lunch and dinner the trekkers can have
- Pizza: plain pizza, onion garlic pizza egg pizza, tuna pizza, Mushroom pizza, mixed pizza
- Momo: veg Momo, Fried Momo, Buff momo, chicken momo
- Chowmein: Veg chowmein, Chicken chowmein, plain chowmein
- Verities of rice: Plain rice, Rice with Tuna, fried rice with cheese,etc
- Potato : Boiled potato, fried potato, finger chips, mashed potato, Cheese Balls, Swiss rosti.
- Spring rolls
The nights are always chilling around Annapurna region so the tea house welcomes the Guest with variety of soups like: Tomato soup, Chicken soup, Mushroom soup, onion soup, pumpkin soup, chicken noodle soup and it goes on and on.
We highly recommend the trekkers to drink the magical Garlic soup which is believed to be an ancient cure of altitude sickness though there has not been a research on garlic soup and altitude but the locals believe garlic helps with the altitude.
For beverages the trekkers can have
- Tea: Milk Tea, plain Tea, Masala Tea and flavored Tea
- Coffee: espresso, Mocha, Americano, Latte But the coffee menu is limited in higher altitudes.
- Caffeinated drinks : Red bull
Well the trekkers can have something new everyday, Even if you eat the same thing you will get different taste in different Tea house. All the food comes in standard portion which is designed for trekkers to give the best energy.
For Vegan and vegetarian also there is variety of menu without Meat or Milk products. If you have some kind of allergies to some food you need to tell us in advance so that we avoid giving such foods.
The Accommodations around Annapurna sanctuary are basic Tea houses and lodges. Which are well facilitated. There are modern rooms in the lodges which offers twin rooms, where they have thick mattress and big beds with warm blankets. Well changing the bed sheets everyday is not possible but they are clean and hygienic and the mattress are regularly aired out.
The pillows can be hard for some trekkers but you can always make it comfy with your down jackets. The Tea houses provides well cooked and hygienic food and they do not compromise with the health of their client.
All the lodges have trained staff and cooks who have got decades of experiences.
The Bathroom Facilities are excellent in Annapurna sanctuary most of the Tea houses have sit in toilet like squat toilet., you may think that you would be completely disconnected with the world when trekking in the Himalayas but don’t worry all the lodges provide WiFi facilities and high speed internet. You can share your stories every day on the social Media.
The Tea houses also offer hot shower Which may be surprise to most of the trekkers. The Trekkers can charge their phones, Cameras, and batteries in every tea houses and lodges.
However when we move to higher altitudes like, Thorungh phedi , High /camp the facilities slightly decreases There is no hot shower and the Wifi is pretty slow up there and the trekkers have to pay few extra bucks for wifi and charging.
And its quite reasonable also because transferring good at such high altitudes is very difficult and the only means of transportation are Yaks, Donkeys or helicopter and the cost of these transportation are very high. Well everyone can survive with no shower and wifi for 2 3 days its not such a biG Deal.
Water on the Route
The trekkers can fill their water bottles in the villages where they have water purification station or the trekkers can buy water at the Tea house but buying water is going to be expensive as you will be drinking tons of water through out the trek so we recommend you to bring your own life straw or purification tablets. We do not recommend you to drink direct source water without purification. You should drink at least 4 liters of water in high altitude because higher altitudes makes the body dehydrate fast loosing huge amount of oxygen the more you drink the faster your body will acclimatize avoiding the AMS.
Electricity and Internet
Its surprising that All the tea houses in the lower zones have electricity facility the trekkers can charge up their phone, Cameras and extra batteries. Some of the Tea houses have Cables and plus in the rooms where the trekker can charge their batteries. But in most of the tea house the trekker have to charge in the common dining area. There is facility of wifi in every tea houses even in high pass but the speed of the internet is not as good as city. The trekker can enjoy the trek as well as be updated in social media and share their stories. But you may have to pay few extra bucks for charging up your devices and using the Wifi but it would not be more than 2 dollars.
Permits and other documents
Annapurna circuit lies inside the Annapurna conservation Area so the trekker need to have ACAP permit. Getting ACAP permit is quite easy the trekker can visit Nepal tourism board in kathmandu. Things needed for ACAP Permit
- Copy of your passport
- Passport Photos *4
- ACAP fee : ACAP for Foreigners: NRS 3000 (Approx. USD 25) ACAP For SAARC Nationals: NRS 200
If the trekker forget to get the permit at Kathmandu then they can get it at beshisahar. The trekker are also needed to get the TIMS card which would cost around USD18 or NRS 2000. All the permits are managed by our company to your trek comfortable.
Essential kits for Annapurna circuit
- Trekking pants
- T-shirt or vests
- Undergarments and socks
- Rain jacket
- Down or syenthic jacket
- Pair of thermal
- Buff and cap
- Woolen hat
- Trekking poles
- Personal medication and first Aid kit
- Water bottle and thermos