Poon Hill, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal (Dreamstime)

Annapurna Circuit


Annapurna Circuit travel guide, including map of Nepal, top Annapurna Circuit experiences, tips for the Annapurna Circuit, when to trek the Annapurna Circuit an

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.

Further Reading

Annapurna Circuit Top 5

  1. Climb Poon Hill before dawn for a sunrise view over the Annapurna range – this early morning alarm call is well worth it; join the stream of other headtorch-wearing trekkers to ascend to the 3,200m summit, from where you'll see Dhaulagiri (the world's seventh-highest peak) and many others glow pink.
  2. Cross the Thorong La pass, which at 5,416m is the high point of the Annapurna Circuit. It's a stiff challenge, but you should be better acclimatised to the altitude after several days trekking.
  3. Leave plenty of time to relax in lovely lakeside Pokhara after your trek. Nepal's third-largest city offers fabulous views of the surrounding mountains from the cake-serving cafes by Phewa Lake. The best viewpoint of Pokhara is 1,600m Sarangkot.
  4. Poach yourself in the hot springs at Tatopani, near the end of the Annapurna Circuit – perfect for soothing tired muscles. The village is also home to wonderful poinsettias and delicious bakeries serving great cakes (spotting a theme...?).
  5. Try the ‘alternative’ Annapurna Circuit. South from Jomsom, the classic Circuit follows the road, but an 'alternative' diverts off the main thoroughfare, staying in the same villages by night but heading up the valley sides by day to avoid the jeeps and other trekkers. It's a more challenging route, but the rewards are well worth the effort.

Follow Team Wanderlust