Essential things to know before Annapurna Circuit Trek
Are you planning to trek Annapurna Circuit in Nepal?
Before going for the Annapurna Circuit trek, few things that you need to know including trekking permits, going single or in a group, items required to pack, time to trek, and other financial matters. Hiking the Annapurna Circuit could be on the bucket list of your diary. The trek is amazingly beautiful as well as it gives you a life-changing experience. I am pretty sure that the trek would capture your attention from the very beginning of your trek.
Travelling through most of the world’s tallest mountains and in diverse climatic zones from tropical alpine to freezing alpine elevations is always challenging. Moreover, you need to vigorously walk on your foot, enjoying the natural beauty, and the hospitality of the Nepalese people, learning their culture and traditions. After spending 16 days on the trek going through the most challenging trails, the departure from such a place can make you overwhelming. And arrival at the Pokhara makes you feel rewarded.
Apart from that, it is super luring to book a flight, pull up your shock, lacing up your boots, and then heading into huge lushes. In brief, it would take transit you into a different world. Frankly, this is not the regular walk in the park. Nevertheless, before you even take a few steps, preparing for your permits and accommodation, high altitude sickness; there require vast knowledge and planning. Earlier, even you should go in a group or solo? What time of the year should we go for vivid visibility? Will there be snacks on the route?
From the people who successfully trekked Annapurna circuit may they share few tips before you jump into the trek without any knowledge? Here is significant knowledge before you tackle the epic, long-distance and amazing Annapurna circuit trek.
22 Things to Know Before Hiking The Annapurna Circuit
The Annapurna Circuit Fast fact
Before jumping into the nitty-gritty, the things you need to know about the Annapurna Circuit. And here are some fast facts about the trek.
The Annapurna circuit trek is situated in central Nepal, generally takes about 16 to 20 days for the complete round; the total Annapurna Circuit Trek distance is about 170-230 km. The height of Annapurna 1(highest Mountain in Annapurna Massif) is 8091m. Whereas, the highest point of the trek is Thorong La pass- 5416m (17,769ft)
Time to trek The Annapurna circuit
The Annapurna trekking isn’t the trek that you can hike up as per your interest. The change in weather has a significant impact on how what and where you can walk. The best time for trekking the Annapurna Circuit is in September, October, and November which is an Autumn season. Whereas March, April, May is also a suitable season as you can. More the weather is neither hot nor cold. Adding on, this is also the time for the expedition. June, July, August is the rainy season which benefits you can get to see the significant stream, more greenery, less crowd, in clear weather you can experience the stunning view. December, January and February is the winter season, you can also trek at this time too as there will be less traffic of people. More importantly, We provide you with a sleeping blanket that withstands negative 30-degree Celsius.
The Annapurna Circuit Trek is an Anti- Clockwise
Since 1997 most of the trekkers started following the anti-clockwise circuit that begins in Besisahar and over the Thorong La pass and down to Jomsom valley. The Annapurna Trek going clockwise is completely hazardous because of the steep mountains; it’s challenging to gain altitude.
Furthermore, the foremost reason for this is acclimatization. If you go clockwise, you only get two days to acclimatize more, 1700m+ incline would become challenging. Whereas, preferring anti-clockwise provides you with almost two whole weeks of acclimatization plus leg training!
As a result of going clockwise, you would encounter very few tea houses; speaking of which if you are low immune then altitude sickness will catch you. Which means you would struggle for help.
Trekking Annapurna Circuit with group
If you are a solo traveller and you have to trek in a group, then even the thought of going along with the group and your pre-planned list would be daunting. But, going alone means you can go according to your plans.
Whereas travelling in a group has more safety and security. There is always a cheerful squad, a local well-trained guide also shares up-to-date info and sometimes cracks jokes to make the trip fun. In brief, both have their benefits in their way.
The pros of trekking Annapurna Circuit with a group
- All the arrangements including permits, teahouse accommodations are well ordered by the trekking company. You can bring some snacks and chocolate bars and some money for tips/ meals.
- Travelling with a prestigious company also prefers that your guides and porters; are exceptionally highly experienced in local knowledge, first aid, quick reaction to the emergency.
- Your porter will carry your heavier luggage, so you have to keep you one step in front of others with your regular daypack.
- Having a local guide is always on hand to share expert and beneficial knowledge.
- A local is always helpful to gain expert knowledge
- There will be other people to support you, which can enhance your journey a long way when you are thoroughly tired and out of breath.
The cons of trekking Annapurna Circuit with a group
- If you are an independent traveler, then being with a group and going through their itineraries could be surprising to you.
- It could be a little bit more expensive than going alone; however, you will feel its worth in the very instance.
Trekking the Annapurna circuit solo
It’s not infrequent to see people self-navigating the Annapurna Circuit. Given that the trek is one of the notable routes, where you will encounter many trekkers following the same path. So, you can walk with them or go solo again but get together at the same teahouses for the cards later that night.
The pros of Trekking the Annapurna circuit solo
- Get the privilege to do what you want, when you want and go wherever you want.
- It is less expensive than booking a company.
- You will find the better of the two-dimension; solo trekking at day and group atmosphere at night in the teahouse.
The Cons of Trekking the Annapurna circuit solo
- Solely responsible for your gear, finding accommodations, carrying your heavy bags on you back, organizing your permits, itinerary and etcetera.
- Moreover, when you arrive at the tea house, you have to arrange everything by yourself, and for the worse, you need to have backup plans in the busy days.
- In the absence of a trained guide to help and protect you from the hazardous areas, symptoms of altitude sickness or to monitor your speed becomes difficult.
- It’s worth bearing in mind that safety comes first, whereas trekking alone can seriously put you in huge trouble.
- Lastly, for the female trekkers, we would recommend trusting the culture and tradition of Nepal, where women are hugely respected.
For more details, please check our blog on “Solo Annapurna Circuit Trek without a guide”
You have to have fitness but not super fitness for trekking
You don’t have to gain the fitness level of the runner to complete the Annapurna Circuit trekking. However, it’s still notable going to the gym, giving you a hard time. Even a small hike is worth it before you go trekking.
The few days of the trek are adjustable like 5 to 6 hours of walking and covering 10 to 15 km of distance walking with enough rest, elongated lunch breaks and fewer rest days.
Whereas, you have to walk for 16 hours at high elevations for some days. Sometimes over 20 km too but that’s normal as you have already digested the high altitude after walking for many days. Finally, there comes the day from Muktinath to Jomsom, which upholds the magnificent beauty for the trekkers.
For further information, we recommend you to have general cardio which is best for your cardiovascular activities — also, a few successive days of walking for long distances.
Adding on, get used to wearing boots every day and walking for long hours. If you wish to try altitude training before leaving. In any case, you will thank yourself fifth day in a row when the time comes to lace up those boots again.
The Annapurna Circuit Trek requires a permit.
You need to organize the permit from both Trekking Information Management System (TIMS), and an Annapurna National Permit, also known as Annapurna conservation area entry permit, if you are trekking the Annapurna Circuit.
According to the law of 2019, the TIMS permit is $20 (NPR 2000) per person, whereas the APC permit is $30 (NPR 3000) per person. And this permit is checked at different checkpoints. As we have talked earlier; if you are travelling in a group, a guide is likely to manage it all for you. While if you are trekking solo, then you have to manage it all by yourself, at Nepal tourism office based in Kathmandu or Pokhara, which is a little discomfort. Note: bring a minimum of 4 passport size photo for trekking permit as well.
For detailed information, please check our blog on “Annapurna Circuit Trek Permits and Cost”
The trial is long, tough and challenging
“It is always further than it looks. It is always taller than it looks. And it is always harder than it looks.”
Above quote is “the three rules of mountaineering”. We don’t know who came up with this quote, but they were exact, but it is entirely worth it.
The Annapurna trek is long, tiring and challenging for which you need to have both physical and mental condition in good health. Depending on the route of the trek, it takes more than 13 days to arrive back to the capital. The days on the trek would become exciting and fun, while some days are physically tiresome and energy draining. As you have taken things with you is very limited soon you will be out of stock.
Now there are safe drinking water stations on various checkpoints and villages. These days there is internet access everywhere, but after Manang, until you cross Thorong la pass, there is no wifi accessible. It sounds daunting but believes in yourself, standing in the peaks which you have never imagined, grouping with your friends for a cup of tea and lunch at teahouses is a different story. Moreover, when you celebrate after crossing the challenging Thorong La pass you wonder how you were even able to do it at first place and on the second hand, you wonder why you left that place and came down.
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The incredible scenario of The Annapurna trek.
You understand this feeling when you see a beautiful girl at the party for the first time, right? Your hair stands up from the back of your neck, your heart starts pumping like a piston, and you start feeling a crisis of your existential being small in this universe. How even in this world this amazingness can exist.
Well, these magical moments happen every single day in the Annapurna region. With every footstep, the scenarios of the region changes and the mountains always have something new for you to offer. The breathtaking terrain, the rolling clouds, the wooden suspension bridge, the towering mountains or the simple smile of the local people everything is magnificent up there.
With every footstep, the scenario in front of you changes and the mountains reveal something; passing clouds, the breathtaking landscape, the tall mountains or the smiling face locals. Those mountains are the definition of beauty with the awe-inspiring moment.
The altitude sickness is not a joke
You may have gained a super fitness level. Gymnasium, a Marathon runner, won the triathlon but it’s of no use when it comes to altitude sickness. It can affect anyone which includes the fittest athletes. Therefore, equip yourself with all the necessary precautions after 3000m. This means, taking Diamox, staying hydrated, taking adequate rest and don’t miss your meals. If you sense the symptoms, then inform your guide and take immediate action.
Tea houses and lodges on the Annapurna circuit more than a decade
There is a complete guide to accommodation in Nepal so if you are expecting to stay at a 5-star hotel then you are going to disappoint yourself as you can imagine it for yourself that it’s a remote place away from the touch of the roads. You will be satisfied with the necessary accommodations provided with at that altitude.
Generally, the tea houses and guest houses are spotted everywhere along the trek from Besisahar to Jomsom valley. And these houses are made up of stone and wood which provides you with relief in the long trekking days. Most of the tea houses are generally twin share, enough space to open out.
Furthermore, as the elevation increases, the accommodation turns up into more basic. Soon you will be ok with any form of bedding as you start gaining altitude. All the tea houses are inbuilt with the furnace in the dining hall. Moreover, it is where you spend most of your time, and you can also meet other fellow travelers talking, eating and sharing their experience.
The tea houses make their living by selling food and snacks. It is likely to be a little more expensive than the capital. You can buy snacks, food and drinks at a tea house to support them. Doing this firstly you will lighten your bag packs, and second, it offers a required flow of money which helps to sustain their livelihood.
As the flow of dollars supports their livelihood, you spend up there, which means your bargain can disturb their financial situation. However, anyone travelling up there we request to pay fairly for both food and accommodation as people on the trail entirely rely on the dollar you spent for the survival.
Most of the tea houses have the necessary facilities. Until you reach Manang you will find a hot shower; you don’t have to pay for it. You can also charge your electronic devices for a small cost. For the alternatives, you can carry a solar charger to keep your device active all the time.
Take a few mandatory things
There are legendary people in Nepal who are super active and go up and down the mountains carrying your heavy luggage on their back, and we call them Porters. They do this so that you can focus on your journey without any discomfort. While they possess superhuman strength, they are quiet and shy in nature with real muscles.
By the way, you can help them out by bringing what is needed around 10 to 15 kg. Avoid all you make up kits, extra pair of jeans and other auxiliary things which leads to an increase in the weight of your bags.
For detailed information, please read our blog on “Packing List for Annapurna Circuit Trek”
Having a well equipped medical equipment for an unanticipated situation
Imagine this, you are enjoying your meal sitting near the fire, and you also played a few rounds of cards with your friend that night before going back to your bed. Suddenly, at midnight you suffer from diarrhea, and need to fetch a toilet every 2 minutes. So, if you haven’t carried Pepto-Bismol with you, then the possibility of continuing with your trek would become rare.
Likewise, you may suffer from cold, fever, headache, stomachache, and so on. If only you didn’t have a medical kit, then you have to discontinue your trekking. At higher elevation, the chances for getting altitude sickness are very high, so you need to carry Acetazolamide with you.
Walking with those boots for long hours may cause blisters that you need to carry band-aids, blister plasters. You may also need water purification tablets as well. Antibacterial cream is also essential for scratches and cuts. Antihistamine tablets for allergic reactions. Anti-nausea tablets for motion sickness, Paracetamol or ibuprofen for fever and pain relief. Finally, taking some toilet paper with you will come in handy, which later you thank yourself for carrying it along. So, for precaution, you need to carry a fully equipped medical kit which has everything that supports to give first aid during an emergency.
Four seasons in one trek
Going through the pleasant weather in the first early days, you probably doubt using those warm clothes. As the altitude increases, then you would realize why you pack those clothes above 3000m. You will face various kinds of weather as the Annapurna circuit trek covers all the climatic zones from alpine to tropical. For some days you will trek in shorts and t-shirt whereas other days you will cover your whole body as it is mercilessly cold at a higher level.
At Annapurna, the range of climatic zones is terrific, which surely gives you some grand view. That is why be ready then ask your guide; what kind of picture to expect, and what type of temperature to face.
Best quality and approachable price
While lumbering through the snow on the way to Thorong La pass, you might wonder how the food would be. But, your thoughts end when you get to see the food menu. You would still be confused after seeing the food you ordered on your table. All kinds of food including Italian, Chinese, Continental, Indian cuisine and of course famous Nepali dal bhat is available everywhere you stay.
You don’t need to fret about your taste buds as the cuisine found in the Annapurna region is amazingly superb. As the altitude increases the pricing of the food increases, so the price of the food is around 35 to 40 dollar per day. Conversely, the cost of the food decreases with a decrease in elevation. At the height of 3000m in Manang, you can treat yourself with the famous Yak Burger as well. In Nepal, the Dhal bhat is more popular than any other meal as the saying goes by “Dal Bhat power 24 hours”.
The Annapurna circuit trekking is cost-effective.
You may break your leg while trekking, it surely shouldn’t break your bank balance. As we have talked earlier, all your expenses including breakfast, meal dinner and permits are included in the amount which you paid more first. If you are trekking solo, then think of paying around 1300 USD which will cover your permits, food and lodgings.
On the matter of food, the expenditure around $40 per person in a day is sufficient to experience everything which includes your breakfast, lunch and dinner. We suggest you stock up on huge snacks, drinks and chocolate on your haversack for long walking days.
Furthermore, you won’t find any ATMs on the trail until you reach Jomsom. Therefore, stock up on Nepalese currency before you start the trekking. To keep the money safely, hide it in your kit bag and keep it with you all the time.
Giving tips is not compulsory but highly expected
All over in Nepal, tipping is not mandatory, but when it comes to porters and guides, it’s reasonable to expect tips. Most of the trekking agencies here are set up depending upon the tips they gain from carrying our heavy luggage and leading groups. Generally for your leader, you should separate $10-15 per person in a day accordingly, for your porters $7 per traveler in a day.
Add about USD$200 in cash to your cost, and make sure to put it separately from the rest of your amount. In the case, if you spend everything in flow and forget about the tips.
Unambiguously require 100% travel insurance
After reading this blog for a while, you might have noticed already that we do nothing without travel insurance when you are trekking at a high altitude in the Annapurna Circuit. Likewise, either it is altitude sickness, sprained ankle or a natural disaster (2015 Nepal earthquake) the unanticipated can occur at any time. Thus, it is always better to prepare yourself.
Esteem the local culture
For most people, trekking is all about finding yourself, acknowledging yourself and breaking through your limit. But, the Annapurna circuit is not only filled with natural beauties as well as enriched with culture and tradition. The trail is upheld with the magnificent culture and sacred path by the Nepalese. Therefore, as a visitor, it is important to act accordingly and show respect to their learning along the way. In which, proper dressing, not littering and no criticizing are essential. Further, take some time to talk with locals and try to understand their beliefs and way of their life. In conclusion, the foremost part of travelling is to engulf you into another culture.
Dare not to pollute the Annapurna Circuit region
As we all know, the Annapurna region is remote, and due to its altitude reason, most of the villagers don’t have enough method for getting rid of waste materials. Alternatively, they have to carry it off the mountain region themselves, which is not absolute. And burning waste materials is not the best possible thought.
In the busy season, more than a thousand trekkers cross over the routes of the Annapurna Circuit. However, if you pause for a while to think about the effect that many people across the world come to visit the Annapurna region unmistakably bring waste products with them. And the waste (plastic bottles, sunscreen bottles, food wrappers etcetera.) materials left behind are for sure to burn or stay there on the other side.
You must be a responsible traveler on the Annapurna Circuit. Thus, you can reduce the trail from pollution using reusable products. And not littering plus taking all the trash out of the National parks along with you.
There will be enough spare time in the evening
After you arrive at your teahouse, there is plenty of free time in which you can do things which satisfy you. Moreover, you can prepare yourself for the coming day. The evening becomes dearest as you get to catch with your group, spend good time with them. There is WiFi connection as well; you can talk at your home and share them with your whole day experience. For the most part, you can chat with the locals who know about their livelihood. If you are a book lover then reading books which introduce you about the places you are travelling; night is the perfect time to explore in your fantasy about the travel.
Celebratory summit chocolate means a lot
Day to day, our group has always talked about the experience of the celebratory summit chocolate. So, when we reach the top Thorong La Pass (5416m), it seems mandatory to have a jollification of your success.
The celebration is the ultimate because reaching the highest point of your trek in good condition is not less than winning a war. It seems like kid stuff but enjoying a victory at the top is incomparable.
Annapurna Circuit is one of the best trek to witness the nature and culture of Nepal. Considered as the best long distance trek of the world by many, Annapurna Circuit is a bucket-list trek in the Himalayas of Nepal for most of adrenaline junkies. Before going to the trek, you must know about the ins and outs of the trek. Thus, I hope this blog on “Essential Things to know before Annapurna Circuit Trek” will help you plan your trek better and make your trip a successful one.