Annapurna Circuit Trek Without A Guide
Annapurna Circuit Trek is on the bucket list of many trekkers from all around the world. Trekking in the region takes you up to the rainshadow region of Annapurna and Dhaulagiri mountain range. The breathtaking prospect the trek provides from the start of the trek to the end is can’t be described in words. This trek is a lifetime adventure. No wonder why Annapurna Circuit Trek is on the bucket list of most travel enthusiasts.
This is one of the longest and most challenging treks in Nepal. To embark on this demanding trek, you can either trek solo or you can hire a guide for the trek. Annapurna Circuit Trek without a guide is quite a challenge but it is not impossible. This trek provides the view of the different mountains in the Annapurna Range and takes you right into the Annapurna Sanctuary which is a high glacial basin located 40km north of Pokhara.
With proper preparation and planning, you can successfully conquer this Annapurna Trekking without a guide. Besides, there are many settlements in this area. And they will surely help you in case you get lost.
If you are experienced in hiking at high altitudes, then it won’t be much of a challenge and you can trek independently without a guide.
However, you are new to trekking and have not been to any high altitude treks or have any health issues then it is better to hire a registered trekking guide for a pleasant and safe experience.
How to Get the Trekking Permits For Annapurna Circuit Trek Without a Guide?
If you are planning to trek in Nepal, you will need to obtain various trekking permits. Depending upon the trekking regions, the trekking permits vary.
Trekking without a guide, you will be accountable for everything. You must know which permits you require and where to get them. Along with that, you need to manage all the necessary documents to get the permits.
Required permits to trek the Annapurna Circuit
Annapurna Conservation Area Permit (ACAP)
- SAARC personals: NPR 200, about $2
- ALL other personals: NPR 3,000, about $30
TIMS (Trekkers Information Management System) Card
- SAARC personals: NPR 600, about $6 for an individual trekker.
- All other personals: NPR 2,000, about $20 for an individual trekker.
Where to get the Annapurna Circuit Trek permits?
Kathmandu: If you are in Kathmandu then you can get the permits from Nepal Tourism Board Office on Pradarshani Marg, Kathmandu.
Pokhara: In Pokhara, you can purchase them from Nepal Tourism Board Service Center in Damside or the ACAP entry permit counter in Besisahar, Lamjung. Furthermore, you can also get the TIMS card from the TAAN Lakeside office in Santi Patan, Pokhara.
Required Documents to apply for the permits
- Copy of your Passport
- 4x Passport size Photographs
- Entry and exit point in this trek
- Emergency Contact info in Nepal
- Emergency Contact info from your Home Country
- Trekking Itinerary that shows the start and end dates
- Travel Insurance
- Fees for the form
P.S.: If you hire a guide, he will manage all the documents and get the Annapurna Circuit Trek permits for you.
When is the Best Time to Trek the Annapurna Circuit without a Guide?
While trekking without a guide, it is very important to know when to trek. The last thing you want is the weather not supporting you. Thus, the best time of the year for Annapurna Circuit trek without a guide is during the autumn and spring season.
In Nepal, autumn falls from September to November and spring from March to May.
During these times of the year, the weather and temperature of Annapurna Circuit are perfect for trekking. Autumn and Spring season offers bright and clear days along with warm temperatures giving you the best views of the mountain. The trails are dry. These conditions not only reduce the difficulty of the trek and keep you safe but allows you to have the best trekking experience without a guide.
Except for these months, the cold or the rain may cause many difficulties while trekking alone in this region. Hence if you are trekking the Annapurna Circuit without a guide, make sure you check the weather properly.
How long will be Annapurna Circuit Trek without a guide?
Follow our itinerary, Annapurna Circuit Trek takes around 15 days to complete. However, traveling without a guide, the Annapurna Circuit hike can range from 9-28 days to complete which also covers your arrival and departure days.
During the trek days, you will be walking for 5 to 6 hours per day on average. The walk will be shorter and longer on some of the trekking days.
The walking time may vary if you are trekking without a guide. Hence, you need to plan the itinerary every carefully. Also, don’t forget to have few acclimatization and rest days in between during the trek.
How to Get To and From the Start and End Points of The Annapurna Circuit Without a Guide?
Initially, you need to travel to Pokhara and then get to the actual starting point of the Trek.
For Annapurna Circuit Trek, there are various stops on the trekking route where you can choose the starting and end point of the trek.
Here is the list of starting and end points of the trek that you can choose:
You will have different ways to get to these points. If you hire a trekking guide, s/he would recommend the starting and highest point of the trek and take you to those places.
But without a guide, you need to collect as much information about the places and the transportation. The most common ways to travel are as follows:
Jeep: If you decide to travel via land then traveling in a jeep is the convenient way. It is much comfortable than other road transportation. It has a seat of 6 to 8 people. You can easily get a jeep to drive you from Kathmandu to Pokhara to your start and end point. If you are in Kathmandu, you can find them in Thamel or at New Bus Park in Kalanki. You can travel by jeep from Muktinath to Jomsom.
Flights: There are domestic flights from and to Jomsom-Pokhara, Pokhara-Kathmandu. A domestic flight takes you to Pokhara in a half an hour from Kathmandu.
Local Buses: This is the cheapest way to travel in Nepal. Local Buses run regularly on the different places in the Annapurna Circuit Trail. Due to ongoing road construction, the places are accessible by road. You can also plan side trips using local buses.
How hard is it to find accommodation in Annapurna Circuit Without a Guide?
Annapurna Circuit Trek is much easier to complete with a guide or a trekking agency as they will deal with every problem that may arise during the trekking. Thus, the guide will be liable to manage the accommodation and food for you. But when you are trekking solo, you need to hassle up and manage everything by yourself.
But luckily, Annapurna Circuit Trek is a famous teahouse trek in Nepal, meaning there are several teahouses and lodges for accommodation and fooding. However, during the peak season, since there are lots of trekkers on the trail, you will have to rush to find the rooms.
The teahouses are quite basic with a basic room with an attached bathroom. The rooms in the teahouses are on a twin-sharing basis. Thus, you will have to pay a little more to get a room for yourself.
Once you find a room, you don’t have to worry about the food as the all the teahouse provides food.
Packing Essentials For Solo Travel
Trekking without a guide in Annapurna Circuit Trek means you will be carrying your luggage. So you must carry light and leave unwanted things back in the hotel you stayed in Kathmandu or Pokhara. Depending upon the time of year, the packing of the clothes varies. Since Annapurna Circuit Trek without a guide is not favorable as well as not recommended during the winter and monsoon seasons, here is a list of clothes you will need to pack while trekking in autumn and spring:
- Quick-dry T-shirts (Short and long sleeves)
- Trekking trousers
- Breathable underwears
- Cap, hat
- Rainproof Windbreaker
- Down Jacket
- Hiking boots
- Additional pairs of socks
- Basic First Aid (Band-aids, Alcohol Swipes, Charcoal pills)
- Altitude sickness medicines
- Dettol Wipes
- Baby Powder
- Trekking poles
- Map (Most Important while trekking solo)
- GoPro and Camera
- Universal Adapters
- Extra Memory Card
- Power Banks and extra battery
- Water Bottle
- Toilet Roll
For more detail info about the packing list, please read our blog on “Packing List for Annapurna Circuit Trek”
Difficulties During the Annapurna Circuit Trek Without A Guide
One of the major problems with trekking without a guide is the lack of knowledge of where and when to acclimatize. This is the major reason for Altitude Sickness. Since you are trekking at high altitude, acclimatization is very important. Bring one of the high altitude treks, Annapurna circuit requires proper acclimatization. Hence, you need to prepare a proper itinerary with proper acclimatization days.
Food and Accommodation
While trekking Annapurna Circuit without a guide you will face difficulties regarding the management of food and accommodation. Having a guide would help you manage the food and accommodation beforehand. However, trekking solo without a guide means you will have to rush to manage your accommodations and food on your own.
Knowing The Routes
While trekking, maps come in handy every time. But when you are traveling alone, having a map is a must. Finding the right route through the twist and turn is challenging even when you have a map. Thus, it can be very hard to find the best trail.
Carrying Your Luggage
Finding the food and accommodation can be a challenging task but along with that, you will also have to carry your luggage. Hence, you must carry light.
Apart from other difficulties regarding the trek, the main question that comes to mind while trekking without a guide is “What to do in case of emergency?”. Anything can happen while trekking alone. Thus, you must take all the preventive measures.
Due to these Annapurna Circuit Trek difficulties, it is not recommended to trek solo in this trail. Furthermore, always find a group while trekking in some challenging part of the trail such as crossing Thorong La Pass.
As mobile phones and other communication devices may not be accessible at a higher altitude, it might be a problem in emergency cases. Thus, you may be helpless in case of any natural hazards or health hazards. Hence, you must be mentally prepared to do this Trek without a guide.
Preparation Required For Trekking Without A Guide
Traveling without a guide in the Annapurna Circuit is not a simple task. It requires a lot of mental preparation. You need to prepare yourself mentally to handle any situation on your own without panicking. Therefore, be prepared mentally before leaving for the trip.
Along with mental preparation, you need to be physically fit to complete the Annapurna Circuit Trek Distance. You need to walk for 5 to 6 hours per day on average. In addition to that, you will be carrying your luggage if you are trekking the circuit without a guide or a porter.
As mentioned earlier, you will be walking for 5 to 6 hours a day with your backpack which is not a joke. Thus, you must have good stamina for this. So, before you hit the trail, prepare yourself on increasing the stamina by working out. You can do cardio training such as jumping, swimming, skipping, etc. which will greatly help you increase your stamina and prepare yourself for the trek.
Lastly, since you will be trekking the Annapurna Circuit without a trekking guide, you will be carrying all the trekking gear and equipment with you. Hence, you must have all the necessary trekking gear and avoid the unwanted things behind.
For more detailed info: How to prepare for Annapurna Circuit Trek?
- Annapurna Circuit Trek FAQs
- Annapurna Circuit Trek Cost
- Major Highlights of Annapurna Circuit Trekking
Tips for Annapurna Circuit Trek Without a Guide
- Make sure you have a well-planned trail map or guide of the Annapurna Circuit trek with you. This will help you to not get lost.
- Always ask the locals if you are not sure about the trail.
- Don’t ask the locals about the distance and duration of the next destination as the timing will be different for what you will take.
- Have proper acclimatization days.
- Always purify the water during the trail.
- Carry some extra cash that will last throughout the treks. Since there are no ATM services in the mountains, it is better to prepare beforehand.
- If you are a beginner then I recommend you to hire a porter or a guide.
- Have fun.
Traveling with a trusty guide
Although traveling with a trekking guide can cost you more, but you will have a much relaxed and comfortable trek. We know that Annapurna Circuit Trekking is an adrenaline rush but it is also difficult and risky.
Trekking with a guide is relatively costly but it is a safer choice. Here are some of the advantages if you do the Annapurna Circuit Trek with a guide:
- You will be trekking through safer routes with mesmerizing views of the Himalayas.
- You will have proper acclimatization.
- Having a guide will help you during emergency cases.
- Proper and detailed itinerary
- Your guide will pre-book the accommodation and food for you.
Itinerary of Annapurna Circuit Trek with a Guide
Day 01: Arrival at Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu (1300m)
Day 02: Drive to Chamje (1430m) via Besisahar (830m), 7-8hours drive.
Day 03: Trek from Chamje to Dharapani (1960), 6 hours of trek.
Day 04: Trek to Chame (2630m), 5-6 hours of trek.
Day 05: Trek to Pisang (3300m), 5-6 hours of trek.
Day 06: Trek to Manang (3570) via Ghyaru, 5 hours of trek.
Day 07: Acclimatization day in Manang
Day 08: Trek to Yak Kharka(4,110m), 3-4 hours of trek.
Day 09: Trek to Thorong Phedi (4650m), 3-4 hours of trek.
Day 10: Thorong Phedi to Muktinath(3800) via Thorang pass (5416m), 7-8 hours of trek.
Day 11: Jeep drive to Tatopani (1100 m), 7-8 hours drive.
Day 12: Trek to Ghorepani (2800m), 6 hours of trek.
Day 13: Early morning hike to Poon hill (3210m), descend to Tikhedhunga, and drive to Pokhara, 8 hours.
Day 14: Drive from Pokhara to Kathmandu, 5-6 hours drive.
Day 15: Departure
If you have proper planning and preparation for the trek, then Annapurna Circuit Trek without a guide can be a lifetime experience.
Feel free to contact us for this or any further questions or queries about this Annapurna Circuit Trek or any other treks in Nepal.