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Annapurna Circuit

Annapurna Circuit travel guide

Nepal's Annapurna Circuit offers trekkers the ultimate insight into the Himalaya, from its snow-capped peaks to its hardy inhabitants

The Annapurna Circuit is, quite simply, one of the most spectacular treks in the world. Starting just east of the town of Pokhara, looping from Besisahar to Naya Pul, the Annapurna Circuit is a hike through central Nepal’s towering Himalaya that will literally and figuratively take your breath away.

It takes around 24 days to hike the entire 300km of the Annapurna Circuit. But the rewards are great. For a start, the scenery en route is constantly changing: from the lush-green rice paddies of the lower elevations, to the arid and lunar terrain further north, to the classic snow-capped peaks.

The Annapurna Circuit is also culturally fascinating. Although you’ll be passing through wild places, this is not a wilderness trek in the uninhabited sense. Miraculously many people survive in this hostile environment, and you’ll meet many different ethnic groups, as well as trekking past their precipitously perched monasteries and fluttering prayer flags.

These settlements will also provide your food and shelter. Often called the ‘teahouse trek’, the Annapurna Circuit utilises the simple guesthouses run by these remote communities, so you can be assured of a proper bed and warm cooked meal at the end of each day.

You will welcome the wholesome food after your daily trek. Daal bhat (lentil curry) is the most commonly served meal, though teahouses serve up a range of dishes these days, including seriously good cakes and the odd beer. Whatever is on offer, you’ll likely gobble it up: a day’s walk can be up to eight hours (though more often between three and five), leaving you rather peckish.

The trekking difficulty varies. Some days are tough and require over 1,000m of ascent; others are far gentler, perhaps wending slowly downhill along the banks of the Kali Gandaki river. Everything will feel more strenuous at altitude, so make sure you leave plenty of time to acclimatise and don’t underestimate what might sound like a short distance.

Of course you don’t have to walk the whole Annapurna Circuit if you don’t have three weeks to spare: many trekkers walk half of it – generally Besisahar to Jomsom or Jomsom to Naya Pul, as Jomsom has an airport. Or there are other offshoot treks in the region, such as the Annapurna Sanctuary. But whichever way you do it, the experience won’t disappoint.

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