Why is Annapurna Circuit Trek so Popular?

If you are reading this blog, chances are you are thinking of Annapurna Circuit Trek, and that’s a great decision. 

One of Nepal’s finest trekking routes and one of the world’s classic treks, Annapurna Circuit Trek, welcomes more than 30,000 trekkers every year. 

Annapurna Circuit Trek in Nepal falls under the category of Best Treks in Nepal. This trek, taking more than 14 days (15 to 20 days) to complete, was opened in 1977. Surprisingly, the famous Annapurna Circuit’s trek route takes an anti-clockwise direction- for slow altitude gain and easy and safe crossing of Thorong La Pass.

While the incredible mountain scenery, classic trek route, quaint villages, great hospitality, great food, and diverse landscape are some of the highlights of the trek, some distinct features make Annapurna Circuit Trek popular and the best trek in Nepal.

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Here are the top 5 reasons why Annapurna Circuit Trek is so popular:

Thorong La Pass- one of the highest mountain passes in the world.

Image by Julia Mirvis from Pixabay

According to Lonely Planet, Thorong La Pass at 5,416 is one of Nepal’s most hair-raising passes. Crossing this pass is challenging but is equally rewarding. The reward is the stunning views of the Annapurna range and mesmerizing landscapes.

Thorong La Pass is the highest point on the Annapurna Circuit. It is a daunting task to cross this pass, not to underestimate. It is highly recommended to acclimatize for a day or two before heading to the pass. Another thing to consider is to check the weather. In 2014, the blizzard killed dozens of hikers.

However, with proper preparation and consideration, this can be done. Like I said earlier, Annapurna Circuit welcomes more than 30,000 trekkers. No climbing equipment is required to cross the pass. Make sure to start early to avoid strong wind, allowing ample time for you to descend. After the accomplishment of crossing the pass, most itinerary entails descent to Muktinath.

Muktinath- one of the world’s highest temples at 3,800 m

Photo by Samrat Khadka on Unsplash

Muktinath Temple at the foot of Thorong La Pass is one of the world’s highest temples. Legend has it that Guru Rinpoche, the founder of Tibetan Buddhism, meditated at Muktinath on his way to Tibet. This Vishnu temple is a sacred place for both Hindus and Buddhists.

There are 108 water sprouts in the outer courtyard where devotees take their sacred bath with a belief to have their sins washed away. Narsingh Cave, Gumbas, and the Jwalamai Temple are other highlights of the temple.

In Hinduism, it is known as Mukti Kshetra, which means ‘place of liberation.’ Whereas in Buddhism, it is also called Chumig Gyatsa, which means “Hundred Waters.”

 Tilicho Lake- the highest lake in the world

Photo by Arun Ghimire on Unsplash

Tilicho Lake at 4,919 meters is a popular destination for trekkers and travelers alike. It lies in the Manang district of Nepal and welcomes thousands of trekkers every season. The journey to Tilicho lake entails trekking for days through the classic trail that rewards mesmerizing views of the Annapurna range and other peaks like Dhaulagiri, Manaslu, and Machhapuchhre.

Tilicho lake trekking is undoubtedly a fine trek in the Himalayas of Nepal. The trek begins from Besisahar and continues through the trail stretching along the Marshyangdi River. The grandeur of Tilicho Lake is the emerald waters and mesmerizing mountainscape.

Kali Gandaki Gorge- the deepest gorge in the world

One of the highlights of Annapurna Circuit Trek is the Kali Gandaki Gorge. It is the deepest gorge in the world, and that’s a wrap! 

Kali Gandaki Gorge in Annapurna Conservation Area is surrounded by two giants- Annapurna to the east and Dhaulagiri to the west. It bridges the gap for the trade route between India and Tibet.

Incredible views of mountains

Image by Nepal Pyramids from Pixabay

One of the reasons why Annapurna Circuit Trek so popular is the incredible views of mountains. This trek bestows an opportunity to embrace the view of the 7th and 10th highest peaks in the world.

Trek through Annapurna Circuit trail and be awed by the towering peaks. Marvel at the views of Annapurna Massif, Dhaulagiri, Manaslu, and Tilicho Peak. The mighty Annapurna Circuit is definitely challenging, but the journey is worth it. 

Let’s look at the overview as well.

Annapurna Circuit Trek Overview

  • Duration– 15-20 days (you can customize your itinerary)
  • Location- Central Nepal, Annapurna Region
  • Permits– Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) Entry Permit and TIMS (Tourist Information Management System) card.
  • Permit Fees: Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) Entry Permit: NRS 3000 per person for foreigners, NRS 1000 for citizens of SAARC countries, and NRS 100 for Nepalese, TIMS Card: NRS 1000 with a guide and NRS 2000 for free individual trekker (FIT). 
  • Trip Difficulty– Moderate/ Difficult
  • Accommodation– lodge and tea houses
  • Maximum AltitudeThorong La Pass – 5416m
  • Walking Hour (per day)– 5-6 hours
  • Best Time– Spring and Autumn
  • Starting Point-Kathmandu / Pokhara
  • Ending Point– Kathmandu / Pokhara 

Annapurna Circuit Trek Itinerary

Day 1: Kathmandu to Besishahar to Khudi

Day 2: Khudi to Bahundanda

Day 3: Bahundanda to Jagat

Day 4: Jagat to Dharapani

Day 5:  Dharapani to Chame

Day 6: Chame to Pisang 

Day 7: Pisang to Manang

Day 8: Acclimatization day in Manang

Day 9: Manang to Khangsar Village

Day 10: Khangsar Village to Tilicho Base Camp

Day 11: Visit Tilicho Lake and return to Base Camp

Day 12: Tilicho Base Camp to Yak Kharka

Day 13: Yak Kharka to Thorung Phedi

Day 14: Thorung Phedi to Muktinath

Day 15: Muktinath to Jomsom

Day 16: Jomsom to Pokhara and Back to Kathmandu

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