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The Annapurna Circuit is one of Nepal’s most iconic and popular treks. Indeed, it is one of the world’s premier treks, traversing one of the highest trekking passes. The circuit circumscribes the Annapurna mountain range, taking in some of the most spectacular mountain views available in Nepal, including the world’s 7th and 10th highest mountains, Annapurna I (8,091 m) and Dhaulagiri (8,167 m).
Throughout the trek, the mighty peaks of Annapurna I, Annapurna II, Annapurna III, Annapurna IV are on display. You will also see other incredible peaks, including the iconic picture perfect Machhapuchhre, Dhaulagiri, Manaslu, Gangapurna and Tilicho Peak.
The Annapurna Circuit official begins in Lamjung, climbing up to Manang, crossing the trek’s highest point is at the Thorong La Pass (5,416 m) before descending back down to the Pokhara valley.
The Annapurna Circuit is a complete cultural emersion. You will walk through Manang and many other Tibetan-like Buddhist villages and pass by many monasteries. You will also visit Muktinath, one of the holiest sites in Hinduism.
While in recent years the construction of roads has put off some trekkers from trekking in the region, there are many alternatives and variations that avoid roads. These include, the ‘New Annapurna Trekking Trails’, which take in new villages that are much less touched by the historical trekking industry.
You can take many different variations on the circuit. Depending on your budget and timeframe you can take as little as 5 days to complete the circuit or as many as 17—it’s completely up to you!
The trek is perfect for people who are in good health with average physical fitness. You do not need to have previous trekking experience.
On average you will be walking for 7 hours per day, which allows for steady altitude gain proper acclimatization.
The circuit begins in the district of Lamjung, which is reached by road from Kathmandu. There are a number of different starting points, depending on how long you wish your itinerary to be, and whether you want to avoid walking on a jeep track.
Bold Adventures recommends commencing the trek from Danaque, which is around 10 to 11 hour drive from Kathmandu.
The trek finishes in Jomsom from where it is a short 30-minute flight to Pokhara. Alternatively, you may choose to take a jeep to Pokhara, which is around 8 to 9-hour drive.
It is also possible to link the Annapurna Circuit Trek with other treks in the Annapurna Conservation Area, such as the Annapurna Basecamp Trek.
It is possible to trek the circuit all year round. However, passes may be closed during the winter months. Spring and autumn will generally have the most favourable weather for trekking.
The post-monsoon period of October, November, and early-December is Nepal’s peak trekking season and best time to do the Annapurna Circuit.
While the February, March, and April, coming at the end of the dry season is also a fantastic time to go trekking.
In mid-December, January, and February, the skies are crystal clear, however, it gets cold. Moreover, as the winter progresses, there is a geater likelihood that the Thorong La Pass will be closed due to snowfall.
The pre-monsoon months of May and June can be very warm. At this time trees start to blossom and the flowers start to bloom.
The monsoon in June, July, August, September is the least popular months to trek in Nepal. However, it is still possible to trek the circuit. The trail will be lush, full of greenery and many flowers will be in bloom. As it is off-season, there will be fewer tourists on the trail. However, haze will cover the mountains from view.
I completed the Annapurna Circuit in January 2012. This Trek was life changing and the best challenge I have ever accomplished. Sonam was our guide/leader – he is Nepalese and has a great relationship with his porters and the local communities. Sonam made my trek so much more enjoyable; the stories, culture and history he shared along the way allowed us to appreciate Nepal and all it had to offer. Nepal will always hold a place in my heart, such a beautiful part of the world!