This is a classic Himalayan trek compulsory for all trekking lovers consistently ranking as one of top 10 treks in the world.
Come and be amazed by views of Annapurna ranges, Dhaulagiri mountain, and Manaslu massif. Admire diverse and unique cultures you get to see along the way.
You can expect vast valleys, gorges, diverse fauna and flora and picturesque villages with charming teahouses and lodges. The highlight of the route is the mighty Thorong La pass in the hight of 5516 m with fantastic views of Annapurna, Gangapurna, Dhaulagiri, Nilgiri and several other peaks. Annapurna Region is incredibly culturally rich.
Along the way, you can see the villages of Braves Gurkhas, old monastery full of beautiful thangkas, old forts, mountain trades in Manang or a mystique nation of Tibetan people in inner Mustang.
In this region you can also find religious holy places sacred by many people from far beyond the country’s boundaries – Hindu holy “supermarket” in Muktinath, Tibetan Buddhist gompas and meditation ancient cave -The Milarepa’s cave. This trek truly has it all and it is our pick!
Day 1: Kathmandu (1310 m) via Besisahar (800 m) and trek Bhulbhule (850 m) half day drive / 3 hours trek
A private car or a local regular bus service takes you from Kathmandu to Besisahar (830 m). This is where beautiful hills and mountain start making appearances setting the right atmosphere (there is the option to drive up to further up to Bhulbhule, however, we suggest to take the short trek as the views are truly wonderful.) We slightly gain 50 m high up to Bhulbhule through another beautiful Gurung town of Khudi. From here will be able to see the snow capped Lamjung Himal (6441 m).
Day 2: Bhulbhule (850 m) to Ghermu (1140 m) 6/7 hours
Now let’s start with some serious trekking. Firstly you will be greeted by the majestic mountain of Lamjung-Kailash (6000 m). At this stage we are still in the subtropical belt, and the trail leads us through terraced farmland, a 50 MW hydropower dam, roller-coaster-like hills giving magnificent views of mountains and cascades.
The beautiful Bahundanda (Brahmin’s hill-1270 m) is a village of mixed ethnics boasting outstanding panoramic view. We will carry on for further 3 of pleasant downhill walking towards Ghermu, a Gurung community village nestled on the left bank of the Marshyangdi River.
Day 3: Ghermu (1140 m) to Taal village (1590 m) 6/7 hours
Today we will be able to see spectacular views of picturesque deep valleys, Chamche waterfalls, hanging wild beehives on the cliffs all of which making this trail one of the most scenic trekking routes in the world. Walking through the bamboo groves takes us to the charming village of Taal – a perfect place to chill around the river sand bank.
Day 4: Taal Village (1590 m) to Danaque (2210 m) 6/7 hours
Kani, a walled gate marks our exit point of the village. Today we walk gradually up to the village of Dharapani crossing numerous bridges and a check points. The first glimpse of Annapurna II (7937 m) is truly rewarding once you reach the beautiful village of Bagarchhap.
Day 5: Danaque (2210 m) to Chame (2710 m) 6/7 hours
It does not happen often that you can start your day with a pray at local Buddhist Gompa. Luckily, this place offers you just that. Later on, a short climb takes us to beautiful walled Timang village surrounded by maple forest. Here the view of Himchuli sitting at the back and the Manaslu range in the front is nothing less than splendid. Step off the main trek route and visit Thanchanok likely the first medieval village with their excellent primary school and a monastery. Picture perfect buckwheat farms with surrounding green pine forests add even more charm to it.
A few tourist filters from Koto check-post, going Nar-Phu – another Hidden Himalayan valley. Rush for Chame charm. Natural hot spring awaits you there. First come, first serve!
Day 6: Chame (2710 m) to Upper Pisang (3310 m) 7 hours
We leave Chame through the impressive Kane gate. Walking along the blue pine shaded trail will lead us to the old Manang village called Teleku. Baratang, once a Tibetan guerillas shelter now famous for apple orchards gives you the chance to pick your own fruit snack. Later on after a short ascend to Dhukur Pokhari (Dove Pond) a magnificent view of sweeping slopes of Paunda Danda, Pisang peak (6091 m), Annapurna II (7937 m) will appear in front of you setting the perfect spot for a tea break.
After some refreshment we can enjoy a pleasant walk in the broad green valley soon reach upper Pisang (3310 m). This interesting medieval village has two Gompas and ancient fort with far reaching view of the Manang valley.
Day 7: Upper Pisang (3310 m) to Manang (3540 m) 7/8hours
Trekking through the villages of Ghyaru and Nawal will give us some of the best viewing spots from the entire trek. The panoramas of Hiunchuli (6,441 m), Annapurna II (7937 m), Annapurna IV (7525 m), Gangapurna (7454 m), Tilicho peak (7134 m) along with the Chulu Ranges and Pisang Peak (6091 m) are truly breathtaking.
Later on we pass Braga (3500 m) which is one of the most hidden picturesque medieval villages in Annapurna Circuit. This settlement has a true Tibetan feel with closely compacted, staged houses and about 500 years long old monastery with Tibetan thangkas and manuscripts. Braga has la ong-dated history from the early 9th Century; once the great Tibetan buddhist poet Rinpoche Milarepa visited this place and meditated in a nearby cave.
Day 8: Acclimatization in Manang
Today being an acclimatization today you will have two choices on how you wish to spend your time in the area
1. We can either visit Chonkar viewpoint for much more close-up views of Gangapurna ice lake and falls as well as the spectacular outlook of the entire Manang valley with its towering mountains.
2. Or we go on a short hike to Praken gompa where, if you are lucky a lama will bless you for a successful pass for a small sum of donation. From here you get to experience one of the nicest views of the entire Annapurna range.
So the choice is yours! The first option of visiting the GanagournaIce lake or Milarepa’s Cave are slightly more challenging so please take your fitness level into consideration. We would also recommend to add an extra day if you wish to take this option. On the other hand exploring Manang and Braga villages takes you closer to the area’s Tibetan Buddhist social and cultural life and gives you enough rest for the rest of the trek.
Day 9: Manang (3540 m) to Ledar (4230 m) 4/ 5 hours
Today, you will experience nature at its finest form. We will be trekking through dry vegetation well marked by juniper bushes and meadows. As this region is the prime habitat for Blue sheep (Bharal) and the famous snow leopards you may have the luck on your side and spot one along the way.
Besides these, you can also see Himalayan Griffon vulture, the largest Himalayan bird, Tibetan Snow Cock, Golden Eagle roaming freely over the blue sky and herds of Yak grazing through the Khakas all of which adds another grandeur. The magnificence appearance of Annapurnas in the backgrop will never leave you along the trek.
Add a challenging side trip to TILICHO(3 extra days)
This is a fantastic opportunity to add more charm and a whole new experience to your trek. If you chose this side trek you get to see the one of highest Tibetan-influenced settlements – Khangsar and the pristine& Lake Tilicho (4920 m).
Day 1: Manang to Khangsar
Day 2: Khangsar to Tilicho base camp
Day 3: Round trip to Tilicho lake and trek Yak Kharka. We rejoin ACT trail in Yak Kharka.
Day 10: Ledar (4230 m) to High Camp (4850 m) 5/ 6 hours
This will be the last camp before the pass. After a long walk over high meadows we will prepare for final ascend. Staying at High Camp (4850 m) will provide you with some of the most memorable mountain views. The benefits of staying at High Camp are a better acclimatisation and an easier start the next day compared to staying at Phedi (4540 m) – the village at the bottom of Thorong La, however it is possible to remain at Phedi if you prefer.
Day 11: Pass Thorong La (5416 m) and reach Muktinath (3710 m) 7/ 8 hours
Beating the famous Thorong La might be challenging however it will give you a great sense of achievement. We will go slow and steady, enjoying each step and making sure its not too hard or rushed. Finding yourself elevated amid the mountains will give you a wonderful feeling of excitement that you will not experience anywhere else. A good thing to remember on the way up to the Pass: “The harder the battle, the sweeter the victory.”
Finally once the Pass is conquered we reach the holy place of Muktinath where you will be greeted by an enormous golden statue of Buddha. In this sacred village hugely popular with Nepali and India visitors you will find plenty of quality restaurants to celebrate the final step of your journey.
Optional EXTRA DAY IN MUKTINATH – rest day
Muktinath marks the beginning of the famous Upper Mustang area. Take an extra day in in this village provides and you will be able to experience a unique spiritual feeling as this place is the central point for both Hindus and Buddhist pilgrims all heading to merge themselves in sacred springs.You will notice caravans of pilgrims from all over Nepal and India and as well as Tibetan traders showcasing their handmade crafts. Within the temple compound you will find a Vishnu temple (original Muktinath) surrounded by 108 waterspouts, a Buddhist monastery and Buddha statue and Jwala Mai (goddess of flame).
Besides the religious importance of this place, this town will impress you with surrounding picture perfect landscapes, mixed Tibetan-Thakali culture and their famous cuisine making this place well worth visiting.
Day 12: Muktinath (3700 m) to Jomsom (2830 m) 7/ 8 hours
From here onwards you will notice the change of scenery making you feel like you have entered inner Tibet. You can explore Tibetan-Buddhist influenced culture similar to Upper Mustang without additional permit charges. On this broad Kaligandaki valley you can collect the sacred Jurassic era’s ammonite fossils called Shaligram. Walking inside the river banks with majestic mountains on each side is truly a fantastic experience, just brace yourself for the winds – they can be rather strong making this flat walk rather challenging. Once we reach Jomsom, a home of the Thakali Tribe, you get to taste their famous Nepali dish – Thakali Thali set.
Optional detour through Inner Tibet
Trek through Kagbeni – Inner Tibet ( Mustang)
Wondering through this unbeaten inner Tibetan plateau gives you lots of understanding and appreciation for this area. You will find the 14-century muddy fortof John tantric Bonpo monastery and several medieval towns with a superb backdrop view Dhaulagiri and dry valley remarkably breathtaking. Down the valley there lies Kagbeni- the last entry gateway to Upper Mustang. Muddy medieval houses blended with modern amenities making this a traveler’s hub for all visitors.
Day 13: Jomsom to Pokhara – 35 min flight OR 10+ hours drive
Fly or drive, the choice is yours. Before boarding your flight or hopping on a tourist bus don’t forget to do some souvenir shopping for your loved ones at home – only here you can find a locally brewed apple brandy from a nearby village called Marpha, packets of dried fruit or ancient fossil stones called Shalingram. Jomson also offers numerous international restaurants and bakeries making this a great spot for a hearty meal and refreshments.
*Optional addition of Poon Hill trek to the Annapurna circuit
This trek can be extended further starting at Tatopani from where you can head up to the famous Poon Hill. This extended trek ending in Nayapul will take another 4 – 7 extra days. Trekking in the lower ranges will lead you through magnificent rhododendron forests, terrain fields and encounters you with numerous Gurkhas villages. It’s a wonderful, less challenging way on how to experience local cultures and see the most beautiful sunrise once we reach the top of the peak.
Once in Pokhara, nicknamed the “Lake city”, you will be in a resort type of town with all the amenities you may need after finishing a long trek – massages, good international restaurants, bars and shops. For the more active ones there are options of biking, paragliding or zip-flying. You can also take an ultralight flight to see Fishtail or go boating around the picturesque Phewa Lake.
There are numerous things to do around the town such as visiting the famous deep gorge Devils fall, climbing up to the Peace Pagoda overlooking the town or learning more about the Himalays in the Mountaineering Museum just on the outskirts of town.
To finish off your stay on a more calming note in this fun and vibrant city you can go and light a butter lamp in an old Malepatan monastery or be blessed in Taal Barahi and Bindabasini Temple where it is believed that dreams and wishes all come true.
If you are not short of time we would also recommend to do an overnight stay in Sarangkot and see the dramatic Pokhara Valley during a wonderful sunrise.
Day 14: Back to Kathmandu
Today we will get back to the capital city of Nepal bursting with temples, shops and lively markets. You may like to visit the old Durbar Square, Hindu shrine Pashupatinath or climb few sets of steps to see the Buddhist stupa Swayambhunath for 360-degree view of the city.
Prices start from $970 per person
(calculated on the basis of 2 people sharing a room)
compulsory permits (TIMS Card, ACAP permit)
guide for the duration of your stay
porter for the duration of the stay
accommodation (private room with communal bathroom/toilet facilities, en-suite rooms available for higher charge)
food (breakfast, lunch & dinner)
transportation (ground transport in tourist buses/shared jeeps)
international flights to/from Kathmandu
When to go?
Spring (April – June) is slightly less touristy, however the weather is less predictable.
Autumn (September – October) months also offer a pleasant weather for the hike.