How to Prepare for Annapurna Circuit Trek?
Nepal is the Himalayan country that offers diverse varieties of the trekking route to the trekkers around the world. Trekking in Nepal rewards the trekkers with enticing views of the Himalayas, diverse landscapes, rich biodiversity and gives insights on the diverse culture and traditions of the locals. Amongst many treks in Nepal, Annapurna Circuit Trek is one of the most popular treks in Nepal.
Hiking around the Annapurna Circuit is a lifetime experience in the breathtaking landscapes of the Annapurna region. Considered as the best long-distance trek in the world, Annapurna Circuit is a moderate level trek that fits well for trekkers with any skill levels.
However, preparing for the trek is a very crucial part of any trekking journey. Most of my clients bombard me with many inquiries about “what if”s and “but what about”s regarding the Annapurna Circuit Trek. So, in this article, I’ll try to answer all the questions as well as describe how to prepare and plan for the Annapurna Circuit Trek.
Read the detailed description below on how to prepare for Annapurna Circuit Trek for a lifetime trekking adventure!
Major Highlights of Annapurna Circuit Trek
- One of the famous trek in the world that covers a large number of Himalayan Ranges.
- Explore the varieties of communities, vegetation, landscapes, rivers, food, culture, etc of Annapurna Region.
- Crossing Thorong La Pass (5416m), one of the highest pass of the world, which is an achievement in itself.
- Opportunity to socialize and share experiences with travelers from all over the world as it is a very famous trekking package.
- Experience a remote life of people living in the Annapurna Region from a close distance.
- Relax your body at the hot spring in Tatopani.
- Witness the breathtaking sunrise view over the Annapurna Massif from Poonhill.
How long does it take to hike the Annapurna Circuit?
The Annapurna Circuit Trek usually takes from 18 to 20 days to complete. But the duration of the trek depends on the physical ability of the trekker along with the trekking experience. If you are a new hiker or of average fitness, 18 to 20 days sounds about right. For experienced trekkers, they tend to complete the trek much quicker.
Furthermore, the duration also depends on the acclimatization days you take during the trek. If you are short in time and want to complete the trek quicker then it is also possible. Due to the recent road construction, jeep roads are passing through many of the villages along the trekking trail. So, you can directly take the jeep up as far as Manang Village. After crossing the legendary Thorong La Pass, you can get the jeep as soon as you reach Muktinath or even hike down to Jomson to catch a bus. Although you can complete the trek in a shorter time, you will miss a lot of good stuff and not acclimatize well.
Brief Itinerary of Annapurna Circuit Trek
Day 01: Arrival in Kathmandu Tribhuvan International Airport
Day 02: Drive to Chamje
Day 03: Trek from Chamje to Dharapani
Day 04: Trek to Chame
Day 05: Trek to Pisang
Day 06: Trek to Mangng via Ghyaru
Day 07: Acclimatization day in Manang
Day 08: Trek to Yak Kharka
Day 09: Trek to Thorong Phedi (4650m) or High Camp (4800)
Day 10: High camp to Muktinath via Thorang pass (5416m)
Day 11: Jeep driving to Tatopani (1100 m)
Day 12: Trek all the way to Ghorepani (2800m)
Day 13: Early morning hike to Poon hill, descend to Tikhedhunga and drive to Pokhara
Day 14: Drive from Pokhara to Kathmandu
Day 15: Departure
For detailed Itinerary, please read our blog on “15 Days Annapurna Circuit Trek”
Annapurna Circuit Trek Route Map
When is the Best Time for the Annapurna Circuit Trek?
Hiking through the Annapurna Circuit is doable throughout the year. However, to get the best of the Annapurna Circuit, autumn (September to November) and spring (March to May) are the best time to trek.
Annapurna Circuit Trek in Spring season (March-May)
Spring season is the best time to hike the Annapurna Circuit. Due to its stable weather and temperature condition, most of the trekkers prefer to hike in this season.
Spring offers clear blue skies that rewards the trekkers with unobstructed views of the mountain peak. Vegetations are at full blossom during the spring season. Thus, the hills are covered with colorful wildflowers blossoms including the rhododendron flower, which is the national flower of Nepal.
The temperature is moderate which are perfect for trekking in the daytime but the nighttime temperature drops pretty low but it is bearable. There are no heavy rainfalls during spring and the sky remains mostly clear.
Annapurna Circuit Trek in Autumn (September to December)
The months of September to December are the autumn months in Nepal. The Annapurna region looks beautiful in the autumn season. Moreover, the post-monsoon period means that the clouds are clear and you can observe unobstructed views of the mountains.
Furthermore, the higher elevation zone is colder whereas the lower elevation zone remains warmer in Autumn. The festive atmosphere around the region is also the major attraction of the trek as major festivals like Dashain, Tihar, and Holi fall in the autumn season. The lively culture exploration during the trek will make you fall in love with the place.
Besides these, the offseason treks are also possible in the Annapurna region. In these seasons, the risk of landslides and avalanches in the monsoon season and the freezing conditions in the winters also pose a threat. However, with proper preparation, the Annapurna Circuit Trek is doable all round the year.
How Much Does Annapurna Circuit Trek Cost?
While planning for the trek, you must find estimate the budget that you will be spending during the Annapurna Circuit Trek. There are lots of factors that determines the Annapurna Circuit Trek Cost such as duration of the trek, means of transportation you take, trekking permits which we will discuss below, whether you are hiring a guide or porters, and many other factors. Depending up these factors, you can get a rough idea about the budget you will require for the trek.
Usually, if you hire a local trekking agency then, it can cost you around USD 1000 to USD 1500 for 15 days trekking in Annapurna Circuit. However, if you book the trek from international travel agencies then, it will be much expensive. Generally, it can cost you form USD 1500 to USD 4500. Thus, it is better to choose local agency in compared to international agencies, as it will be much cheaper and also helps to grow the local economy.
However, if you don’t want to hire any trekking agencies then here is the general cost of each services and facilities that you will be spending during the trek. This will help you plan the Annapurna Circuit Trek as per your budget.
- Visa Cost: USD 30 for 15 days, USD 50 for 30 days and USD125 for 90 days
- Transportation Cost: USD 6 to 7 via local bus (one way), USD 120 to 150 if you hire private jeep (One way)
- Food Cost: USD 5 to 10 per meal depending up on the altitude
- Accommodation Cost: USD 1 to 3 per night
- Travel Insurance: USD 150, on average (based on 30 days cover)
- Cost of Guides and Porters: USD 30 to 35 per day for guide and for a porter USD 18 to 20 per day
- Cost of Trekking gears: Depends on you. If you are low on money then, you can easily hire them from thamel or Pokhara for USD 1 to 5 for each item per day.
- Trekking Permits: we will discuss in the following topic.
Required Permits for Annapurna Circuit Trek
You will require two permits to trek in the Annapurna region. You will have to show these permit at a various checkpoint along the trail. The Annapurna Circuit Trek permits and its costs are as follows:
Trekkers Information Management System Card (TIMS)
- SAARC personals: NPR 600, about $6 for individual trekker and NPR 300, about $3 for groups.
- All other personals: NPR 2,000, about $20 for individual trekker and NPR 1000, about $10 for groups.
Annapurna Conservation Area or ACAP
- SAARC personals: NPR 200, about $2
- ALL other personals: NPR 3,000, about $30
Note: You can get these permits at the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) in Kathmandu. Take your passport along with you.
The cheapest way to travel to the starting point of this trek i.e. Besi Sahar is to take a local bus from either Kathmandu or Pokhara. You can also ride further till Bahundanda. It will take around 7 to 8 hours to reach the trailhead which will cost you around $10.
You should get the bus ticket a day before you will leave as the bus will leave very early in the morning. This will also give you the time to know from where the bus leaves and at what time.
If you are in Kathmandu, then you can get the ticket from Gongabu Bus Station, also known as New Bus Park. And if you are in Pokhara, ask for the local bus station because the tourist buses leave from a different location.
During trekking in Nepal, you will be trekking in the remote areas of Nepal where there won’t be any ATM facilities. Thus, you won’t find any ATMs in the Annapurna Circuit Trail except in Jomsom. However, the ATM in Jomsom is not reliable so, don’t get fully depended on it.
The last reliable ATM you will find while going for the Annapurna Circuit Trek is at Pokhara. So, take out all the money you will need for the entire hike. Since ATMs are not dependable in Nepal and VISA cards are also not accepted during the remote trek, you must have all your money in cash. You will require about $25 to $30 per day. So, take the money according to the duration of your trek.
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What To Pack For The Annapurna Circuit Trek?
Some of the essential items that you need to pack for the Annapurna Circuit Trek are as follows:
- Trekking boots
- Short-sleeved Trekking shirts
- Trekking pants and jackets
- Thermals underwear
- Long-sleeved Trekking shirts
- Insulating down jackets
- Woolen cap
- Trekking Gloves
- Diamox tablets
- Sanitary pads / Tampons
- Anti-nausea Medicines
- Mosquito and insect repellents
- Toilet Paper
- Hand sanitizer
- Sleeping bag
- Water Bottle
- Solar Chargers
- Hot water Thermos
- Travel Permits
For more details, please read our blog on “Annapurna Circuit Trek Packing List”
Do I need to hire Guides and Porters for Annapurna Circuit Trek?
Hiring guides and porters for the trek entirely depends on you. The Annapurna Circuit trail is quite busy in most time of the year so, you will find many fellow trekkers along the trail. Since the Annapurna region is filled with friendly local, there won’t be any problems even if you are trekking Annapurna Circuit solo.
However, hiring guides and porters is pretty common for Annapurna Circuit Trek, especially for the beginners. Hiring a guide will help in many ways such as finding accommodation, navigating through the trail during the trek, especially in emergencies. Whereas, a porter will help you carry your luggage so that you can have a comfortable walk.
If you have money then you should definitely hire the guides and porter as it helps in the local economy. But if you don’t, it really doesn’t matter as the local are very friendly and you won’t have a problem to find people who speak English.
How Fit do I Need to be for the Annapurna Circuit Trek?
You will require an average level of physical as well as mental fitness for the Annapurna Circuit Trek. During the trek, you will be walking for around 6 – 8 hours a day on average, gaining around 600m of altitude. Moreover, you will be covering the walking distance of 15 to 20 KM per day and you will also have to carry your backpack.
This may seem pretty challenging task which it is but with right determination and training you can complete the trek. One thing you have to understand is that this is not a race. So, you should not push yourself too hard. Also, since Annapurna Circuit is a high altitude trek, you need to take proper acclimatization during the trek to avoid the risk of altitude sickness. Along with that, you need to keep your body hydrated.
So, start a training routine at least two weeks before the trek. The training should include cardiovascular activities like hiking, swimming, cycling, etc. Besides that, eat a balanced and nutritious diet with high carbohydrate and protein intake.
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Preparation and Training for the Annapurna Circuit Trek
You can start the physical training process by physically evaluating yourself or visiting the family specialist for a professional evaluation. You can then set up a training routine and activity schedule for the preparation of this Annapurna Circuit Trek. You must start this process around three to four months before the trek if not earlier.
The Annapurna Circuit Trek is a 266 km journey with a maximum elevation of 17,000 feet. This taxing journey in the foothills of the Himalayas is not a walk in the park. Your leg muscles including calves, quads, and hamstrings are under extensive pressure over three weeks.
The exercises you need to concentrate on are squats, deadlifts, thrusts, back exercises, and crunches. These strength training exercises can get scheduled on every alternate day or at least three times a week.
The Annapurna Circuit Trail is full of ups and downs. Thus, aerobics or cardiovascular activities like strolling, hiking, cycling, swimming, etc should get included in your training routine. These aerobic exercises are essential at least 5 times each week for an hour.
You should also perform some climbing exercises with your climbing boots and a backpack. The backpack must have similar weights to the one you plan on carrying to the Annapurna Circuit Trek.
However, you can start with minimal weight and gradually increase the weight over time. This way your body gets used to the trek. Also, these climbing boots will get enough time to break in for the actual trekking adventure.
Accommodations And Meals In The Annapurna Circuit Trek
Annapurna Circuit Trek is one of the most popular teahouse treks in Nepal. Thus, you will find many teahouses along the trail. The cost of the accommodation ranges from $1 to $3 depending upon the altitude. If you are trekking in offseason then, you can get free accommodation if you have the food from the same teahouse.
The teahouses are pretty basic that provide basic rooms on twin sharing basic. You will have a bed with a pillow, a mattress and a blanket. There won’t be an electric socket in the rooms as the major source of electricity is from solar power. Thus, if you want to charge your phones, then you have to charge them in the common area at a certain cost. Hot showers generally cost around $1 in the teahouses. WiFi is available at lower elevation but you do not expect these facilities as you move up the trails.
Furthermore, the foods offered by the teahouse are pretty basic as well and you will get served the Nepalese meal of “Dal Bhat” on most teahouses. Besides that, they also offer other varieties of food such as pizza, pasta, spaghetti, and so on. You need to book these accommodations early especially in the offseason to be safe from any hassle.
The Final Say
Annapurna Circuit Trek offers an incredible trekking experience with its magnificent natural and cultural beauty. That is why this trek is famous among the trekkers from all around the world. Anyone with a basic level of fitness can complete this exciting trek.
Many trekkers are not sure about how to prepare for Annapurna Circuit Trek. I hope this blog will help you prepare and plan the trek in advance. Furthermore, if you have any more questions or queries please feel free to contact us.