Guide to Trekking the Annapurna Circuit

Buddhist prayer flag on the Annapurna Circuit trek.
Buddhist prayer flag on the Annapurna Circuit trek. | Source

If you're looking to go trekking in one of the most beautiful places in the world, the Annapurna region is it! This region is very popular among hikers and mountain climbers alike as it is really "the ceiling of the world" complete with some totally unmatched views!

If you're going to be hiking Annapurna's famous trails, chances are you'll start out in Pokhara, a beautiful city nestled in the foothills of these great mountains.

Pokhara itself is considered to be one of the top three most beautiful places in the world. Home to nearly 2.5 million inhabitants, the city is located in the Pokhara Valley on Phewa Lake. The lake itself offers a gorgeous reflection of the sacred (and famous) fishtail mountain, Machapuchare.

So where in the world is this beautiful place? The Annapurna region is due west (and slightly north) of the Everest region. Despite Everest's fame, the Annapurna region is actually considerably more popular among trekkers. This is perhaps due to the region's ease of access as compared to the Everest region.

The rocky, green terrain at Annapurna's base camp
The rocky, green terrain at Annapurna's base camp | Source

Popular Annapurna Treks

There are a number of popular trails for trekkers who come to see the beautiful views that these mountains offer. One trek, called the Kali Gandaki River Valley trek, offers trekkers the chance to hike part of the ancient trade route between India and China.

What's awesome about the Gandaki River is that it is older than the Himalayas themselves! As the land around the river was pushed up by tectonic forces, the river cut through the rock thus forming the Kali Gandaki Gorge. This gorge, also known as Andha Galchi, is actually the deepest gorge in the world.

Another popular trail is the Annapurna Sanctuary trek. Those hiking this trail generally meet up in Pokhara, although technically the trail doesn't start up until hikers reach the village of Dhampus. This two-week long trek offers beautiful views of the peaks of the Annapurna. The term "sanctuary" relates to the presence of the Hindu goddesses, Annapurna and Gangapurna, for whom the mountains were named.

One of the most popular treks in this mountainous region is the Annapurna Circuit trek. Depending on the pathways travelers take on this trek, it can last from two weeks up to three weeks (and in some cases, a month.) This trek is often considered one of the best treks in the world, but road construction in this region is encroaching on this beautiful hike.

Mountain
Height
Annapurna I
26,545 feet (8091 m)
Annapurna II
26,040 feet (7937 m)
Annapurna III
24,786 feet (7555 m)
Annapurna IV
24,688 feet (7525 m)
Annapurna South
23,684 feet (7219 m)
Tilicho Peak
23,406 feet (7134 m)
Gangapurna
24,457 feet (7455 m)
Machapuchare
22,943 feet (6993 m)

Mountains in the Circuit

There are a number of different paths that cut through the Annapurna region. Because of this, trekkers see different mountains on their trip depending on the path taken. There is no shortage of peaks in the area, so, regardless of the route, trekkers are in for a treat.

The highly popular Annapurna circuit trek is not only famous for beautiful views of some of the highest peaks in the world, but also the stunning surrounding landscape and the mystical feel of the local culture. To the right is a chart outlining some of the mountains on this trek.

A view of Annapurna (left) and Machapuchare (right) and their reflection in  Phewa Lake from Pokhara.
A view of Annapurna (left) and Machapuchare (right) and their reflection in Phewa Lake from Pokhara. | Source

Quick Facts: Trek Routes

Route
Time
Grade
Panchase
12-13 Days
Easy
Ghorepani Poon Hill
9-10 Days
Easy
Annapurna Sanctuary
14-15 Days
Moderate
Annapurna Circuit
15-21 Days
Moderate - Difficult
Mustang
15 Days
Difficult

Cultural Experiences in the Himalayas

The Annapurna region will offer you up four sub-regions (called districts): Lamjung, Mustang, Manang, and Myagdi. Trekkers will be immersed in the varied culture of this region. An example of these cultural differences can be seen in the lowlands of Lamjung and Myagdi where the people are predominantly Hindu. In Manang (where the Gurung people live) and Mustang, you will meet Tibetan Buddhists.

The Annapurna Circuit takes visitors through a number of tiny villages, many of which are considered sacred. One village, Ranipauwa, is near the holy site of Muktinath. This place is sacred to both Buddhists and Hindus. The meaning of Muktinath to the Hindus is "place of salvation."

Along the path, trekkers will see a number of Buddhist prayer flags and even prayer wheels. Those interested in Buddhist culture are in luck as a large percentage of the people in the high mountain areas of Nepal celebrate Buddhism.

The people in the Annapurna region are very friendly. Many offer rooms for travelers to stay overnight at tea houses. These rooms are very inexpensive, but they also offer meals. The money made from meals is where the local people make a bulk of their money. Because rooms come at such a low rate, it is customary for guests to eat both breakfast and dinner in the where they are staying.

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Comments 4 comments

onlooker 4 years ago

Insightful! I couldn't help read your article the moment i noticed "Nepal" kudos!!


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tammyswallow 4 years ago from North Carolina

This is a fabulous hub with stunning photos! You make me want to travel the world with your hubs. Well done!


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Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

What magnificent views! I haven't learned much about this area; I'm so glad I came across your hub. Voted across, and SHARED. Thanks for the interesting read.


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Simone Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

Oh wow melbel - I'm ready to pack my bags this second! Excellent Hub - I hope I may have the chance to hike the Annapurna circuit someday!

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