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[[Image:Annapurna Circuit.jpg|thumb|300px|A view from the Annapurna circuit]]
 
[[Image:Annapurna Circuit.jpg|thumb|300px|A view from the Annapurna circuit]]
 
The '''Annapurna Circuit''' is in [[Nepal]].  
 
The '''Annapurna Circuit''' is in [[Nepal]].  
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''For more information on preparing for this trek, including when to go, what to bring, what permits are required, and safety precautions including altitude sickness, and water contamination, see [[Trekking in Nepal]]''.
  
 
==Understand==  
 
==Understand==  
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From Dharapani to Kagbeni you will be walking the Annapurna section of [[The Great Himalaya Trail]], a long distance trekking route that connects Nepal from East to West.  
 
From Dharapani to Kagbeni you will be walking the Annapurna section of [[The Great Himalaya Trail]], a long distance trekking route that connects Nepal from East to West.  
  
The eastern portion of the trek follows the Marsyangdi River upstream, to its source near the village of Manang. To get there several days of up-hill hiking are required. Then the route goes over the pass, a grueling day of hiking, and back down the other side, where it meets up with the Kali Gandaki River. At the end of the trek, several options are available: following the river further to the road proper to Beni and catching a bus to Pokhara, or adding on a trek to the Annapurna Base Camp (ABC Trek), aka the Annapurna Sanctuary Trek.
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The eastern portion of the trek follows the Marsyangdi River upstream, to its source near the village of Manang. To get there several days of up-hill hiking are required. Then the route goes over the pass, a grueling day of hiking, and back down the other side, where it meets up with the Kali Gandaki River. After the pass, an alternative to walking is to rent a mountainbike (in Muktinath or Jomsom), and bike your way down, following the jeep road or alternative trails. Mustang is on its way to become one of the world's major mountain-biking destinations, thanks to its still beautiful sceneries and the fact that one descends from 4000m. to 1200m. altitude along this jeep road or single tracking it on alternative walking trails. The road construction is thus turned into a positive thing for tourism.
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At the end of the trek, several options are available: following the river further to the road proper to Beni and catching a bus to Pokhara, or adding on a trek to the Annapurna Base Camp (ABC Trek), aka the Annapurna Sanctuary Trek.
  
 
This is a "teahouse trek," meaning there are villages with lodges and restaurants to eat and stay in along the entire route. You are expected to eat breakfast and dinner in the same lodge where you are spending the night. Prices of rooms are seemingly inexpensive because of this (100-300Rs for a double) - lodge owners tend to make more money on the food and drinks they are selling you than on the room where you are sleeping.
 
This is a "teahouse trek," meaning there are villages with lodges and restaurants to eat and stay in along the entire route. You are expected to eat breakfast and dinner in the same lodge where you are spending the night. Prices of rooms are seemingly inexpensive because of this (100-300Rs for a double) - lodge owners tend to make more money on the food and drinks they are selling you than on the room where you are sleeping.
  
==Prepare==
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Before you go, check on the '''status of the road''' being built on the eastern portion of the trek from Besisahar to Chame. In the winter of 2009, construction of the road interfered with trekking, with some parts being dangerous to navigate. Locals tend to talk up the road and downplay its negative aspects. Be advised: road walks in Nepal are very unpleasant, and unhealthy, due to the large amounts of powdery dust that tend to be kicked up from passing jeeps and buses. The road on both sides of Thorung La does create excellent possibilities for mountainbiking though, and traffic is very, very little (20-30 vehicles per day on 'busy' stretches seems a realistic estimation).  
The main trekking season is October and November with crowds going crazy at this time.  It is possible to do the circuit most of the year. The shoulder seasons of September and December are a good choice because the weather is almost as good and the circuit is much less busy. Spring is also great, with fewer people and warmer temperatures, but some guide books warn of higher chance of foggy views compared to the peak-season in October. Summer is also possible but with lots of leeches.
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Many sources will heavily encourage you not to trek during the monsoon season. For the most part these are overblown. While trekking in non-monsoon season is preferable if you have the flexibility for the majority of people who only have vacations during the summer trekking is still a very enjoyable and remarkable in the monsoon months. If you begin further up and in Bhulbule or Syange, and bus/plane out of Jomsom you will spend most of your time partially covered in the Himalayan rain shadow, and in regions with few leaches.
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Be prepared for all manner of '''bathrooms'''. Sometimes you'll get a modern flush toilet with private access, other times you'll have to venture out in the cold to use a smelly squat toilet. Even so, all lodges have running water. However, it may not always be HOT water. Typically, a solar shower will give you a luke warm 'power shower' if it's been a sunny day, otherwise the thing to ask is if the water pipes run through the fire in the dining room or kitchen, as once the fire is going you'll be steaming with the best of them!
 
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While experienced trekkers may opt to do the trek without the support of a '''guide and a porter''' (it's done by the majority of backpackers), it should never be trekked alone. The path is quite easy to follow and every three hours (max.) you will arrive upon a small village with lodges and restaurants. As there are other trekkers around, you will often end up meeting people, and making friends and trekking partners along the way.
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Please note that many hotels in Kathmandu and Pokhara will try to tell you that you NEED a guide and they're just the person to help.  It is actually illegal if they do it without a Trekking agent who covers the legal needs for organizing a trek. Please be very wary, as stories of trekkers being scammed are all too frequent on the trail. If you do decide to go with a guide through a hotel, please ensure that the deal involves a Trekking Agent to avoid legal trouble later on.
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If choosing to make the '''trek independently''' you need to organize a few administrational things as well: While still in Kathmandu or Pokhara, don't forget to get your '''entrance permit''' for the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) as well as a so-called TIMS Card (Tourism Information Management System), both of which are required and available in either city. They will cost you 2,000 NPR for the Permit from the [http://www.ntnc.org.np/trekking-annapurna-and-manaslu-information-and-entry-permit-forms National Trust for Nature Conservation] and 1,660 NPR for the individual TIMS Cards from the [http://www.timsnepal.com/ Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal] (TAAN).  Make sure you bring everything they require (e.g. 4 passport photos, name and mobile number of an emergency contact in Nepal, policy number and hotline of your insurance, etc.), or it might take you the most part of a day to get everything sorted out.  In Kathmandu you can get both documents at the office of the Tourism Information Board, 20-30 minutes walk southeast of Thamel.
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<listing name="Tourism Information Board Office, Kathmandu" alt="" directions="One block south east of Ratna Park" address="Exhibition Road, Kathmandu Bagmati Zone, 00977, Nepal" phone="" email="" fax="" url="http://www.welcomenepal.com" hours="" lat="27.701683" long="85.317041" ></listing>
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Officials do check your permit at several places along the way, and the checkpoints are virtually impossible to avoid. You'll have to pay double, or 4,000 NPR, if you're caught without the permit.
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Be aware that with the individual TIMS card (obtainable at the Nepal Tourism Board in Kathmandu and Pokhara), you are not allowed to take yourself staff like a guide or porter, you sign this! No one except you can obtain an individual TIMS and anyone who offers you individual TIMS cards is doing so illegally; your TIMS might be fake. Do it yourself only!
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Also grab an Around Annapurna Trekking Profile which is a great free pocket guide that lists elevations and hiking times between every major stop.
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Spend some time and money to ensure that you have '''adequate clothing''' for low temperatures and rain. Temperatures vary from oppressive heat in the lowlands, to freezing cold, even snowstorms, closer to the pass.  For the cold, a pair of hiking pants, thermals, gloves, beanie, worn-in hiking shoes (it can be done in runners but it is dangerous), a warm inner jacket and a windproof outer jacket are essential.  A neck warmer is also great to keep out the cold. A hiking stick/staff or two, or trekking poles, are also great to have for hills and icy sections.
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The coldest periods tend to be when the sun goes down and you're at the lodge, rather than on the trail.  Don't worry about waterproof gear (apart from shoes) unless you've got it, or you're doing a difficult side trek, or are planning to hike when the weather is bad.
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Keep in mind that '''Pokhara and Kathmandu offer everything''' you could possibly need for the hike (apart from decent shoes) with surprisingly good quality for cheap pirated prices.  Be prepared to become a walking North Face billboard!
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Bring a '''sleeping bag''' rated for winter temperatures. Linens are not provided by the lodges and nights can get very cold. Warm blankets are provided so it is possible to use a basic two-season sleeping bag.
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'''Everyday supplies''', such as toilet paper, soap, chocolate bars, and even hiking supplies like headlamps and fleece jackets can be purchased along the way, though prices rise dramatically as you go higher in elevation. Try to stock up lower down and buy local.  Fruit, Coconut biscuits and Bon Bon biscuits are made in Nepal; they're a fraction of the price and taste great!
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'''Maps''' are easy to get -- and very inexpensive -- in either Kathmandu or Pokhara. While the path is easy to follow, be aware that these maps should not be used for critical navigation as they are not very accurate. However they are useful for pointing out the various mountains.
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Bring along a sufficient amount of '''money''' for the entire trek, though you can use cash, traveler's checks, or exchange US dollars in Jomsom or Chame. There are no ATMs on the trek after Beshisahar (except for an unreliable ATM in Jomsom). For food and accommodation only, a day in the lower villages of the trek can cost as little as 700 NRs. A day in the higher points of the trail can cost 1200 NRs. You can do the trek for about $13 USD a day if you go independently.
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==Buy==
 
'''Budget''' for 1000 NR per day if you are a very modest-spending trekker, though those on a budget can get by with less and people who want to live it up a little should allow for more.  Please note that despite the efforts of ACAP there are still some wild swings in pricing that will surprise.  For some reason, the region between Tal and Chame is more expensive than from Chame to Manang which is more difficult to access!  As the prices seem to be fairly set throughout each village though, do not concern yourself with hunting around a village looking for a cheaper place and try not to stop at the first lodge you see so that trekkers are spread through the village.  Quite often the nicest lodges are on the way out of town.
 
'''Budget''' for 1000 NR per day if you are a very modest-spending trekker, though those on a budget can get by with less and people who want to live it up a little should allow for more.  Please note that despite the efforts of ACAP there are still some wild swings in pricing that will surprise.  For some reason, the region between Tal and Chame is more expensive than from Chame to Manang which is more difficult to access!  As the prices seem to be fairly set throughout each village though, do not concern yourself with hunting around a village looking for a cheaper place and try not to stop at the first lodge you see so that trekkers are spread through the village.  Quite often the nicest lodges are on the way out of town.
  
Before you go, check on the '''status of the road''' being built on the eastern portion of the trek from Besisahar to Chame. In the winter of 2009, construction of the road interfered with trekking, with some parts being dangerous to navigate. Locals tend to talk up the road and downplay its negative aspects. Be advised: road walks in Nepal are very unpleasant, and unhealthy, due to the large amounts of powdery dust that tend to be kicked up from passing jeeps and buses.
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==Sleep==
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Often the tea houses along the trekking route are of very poor standard where the owners aim is to extract the most profit out of western travelers rather than provide any meaningful service.
  
Be prepared for all manner of '''bathrooms'''. Sometimes you'll get a modern flush toilet with private access, other times you'll have to venture out in the cold to use a smelly squat toilet. Even so, all lodges have running water. However, it may not always be HOT water. Typically, a solar shower will give you a luke warm 'power shower' if it's been a sunny day, otherwise the thing to ask is if the water pipes run through the fire in the dining room or kitchen, as once the fire is going you'll be steaming with the best of them!
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Things to watch out for are extra fee for charging your batteries, malfunctioning shower heater, unusably slow internet, poorly cooked food, insufficient blanket/quilt, leaking wall/windows, lack of wash basin in toilet and more.
  
'''Pokhara''' provides a great spot for meeting other trekkers who have finished the trek. Always feel free to start up a conversation in a bar or restaurant to source the latest information on what's happening on the trek.
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Hotel Utse in Lower Pisang will charge 400NPR for password to wifi internet access, despite its being practically unusable at 5kBps. Refusal to their demand will end up in verbal altercation. Their wifi password is "boogywoogy". Shower facility is also very poor with no functioning drainage so that you are standing in a puddle of dirty water.
  
==Get around==
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== Itinerary ==
Though not required, porters and/or guides can be easily hired in [[Pokhara]] or [[Kathmandu]] at many travel agencies. As a classic "tea-house trek," which goes from village to village and does not require trekkers to bring along food or camping equipment, porters and guides are far from necessary, though many trekkers still like to use them.
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Though not required, porters and/or guides can be easily hired in [[Pokhara]] or [[Kathmandu]] at many travel agencies. As a classic "tea-house trek," which goes from village to village and does not require trekkers to bring along food or camping equipment, porters and guides are not necessary, though many trekkers still like to use them.
  
If you do hire a porter or a guide, Nepali tourism officials ask that you make sure you pay a fair wage, limit the weight you require them to carry, and ensure they are properly clothed. Pay attention to their health when you get up in elevation, since some porters may not tell you if they feel ill. Altitude sickness is potentially fatal if ignored.
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There are guesthouses in all the villages scattered along the trail so set whatever pace you like and enjoy the views.
 
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The hike between Besisahar and Bhulbhule is pleasant enough. It is the jungly bit of the hike and provides a nice contrast to the various ecosystems you will be hiking through in the coming days.  Therefore I would recommend against taking a bus to Bhulbhule. It will likely take you the same amount of time either way as the road is a potholed mess and the buses are slow, uncomfortable and run infrequently.
Depending on where you end your trek, buses and taxis are available to take you to Pokhara, a great place on a lake to spend a few days unwinding and relaxing. Kathmandu is about a six hour bus ride from Pokhara, easily arranged once you're ready to leave the lakeside town.
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You can try and walk the lower stages at a faster pace maybe combining two of them into one so that more time can be spent on acclimatization on the higher stages. For example a couple of extra days can be spent at Manang and utilized by climbing to one of the many peaks around it and coming back down so as to increase the production of red blood cells. You can also see the origin of the Marsyandi river in Manang. Taking the high trail from Pisang via Ghyaru and Ngawal, and sleeping in either of those villages also helps acclimatization. As those villages are already higher in elevation than Manang, the extra acclimatization day in Manang can be skipped. The best part about this trek is the varied scenery it has to offer. You start from tropical forest in Besisahar, see terminal moraine near Manang and then move past the snow line across the Thorung La and then to the barren landscape of lower Mustang and Muktinath.
 
You can try and walk the lower stages at a faster pace maybe combining two of them into one so that more time can be spent on acclimatization on the higher stages. For example a couple of extra days can be spent at Manang and utilized by climbing to one of the many peaks around it and coming back down so as to increase the production of red blood cells. You can also see the origin of the Marsyandi river in Manang. Taking the high trail from Pisang via Ghyaru and Ngawal, and sleeping in either of those villages also helps acclimatization. As those villages are already higher in elevation than Manang, the extra acclimatization day in Manang can be skipped. The best part about this trek is the varied scenery it has to offer. You start from tropical forest in Besisahar, see terminal moraine near Manang and then move past the snow line across the Thorung La and then to the barren landscape of lower Mustang and Muktinath.
 
== Itinerary ==
 
There are guesthouses in all the villages scattered along the trail so set whatever pace you like and enjoy the views.
 
The hike between Besisahar and Bhulbhule is pleasant enough.  It is the jungly bit of the hike and provides a nice contrast to the various ecosystems you will be hiking through in the coming days.  Therefore I would recommend against taking a bus to Bhulbhule.  It will likely take you the same amount of time either way as the road is a potholed mess and the buses are slow, uncomfortable and run infrequently.
 
  
 
'''Besisahar (820 m) to Khudi''': 7 km, 2.00 hrs
 
'''Besisahar (820 m) to Khudi''': 7 km, 2.00 hrs
Line 77: Line 50:
 
(note: It can typically be a long journey to get to Besisahar from Kathmandu. If you can arrive at a reasonable time it's worth considering walking directly on to Khudi and stopping there for the night. It'll be more basic but cheaper than the much larger Besisahar, and it will give you a good start the next morning. The first day, usually Besisahar to Bahundanda, can be brutally hot, and ends with a long climb. Knocking a couple of hours off of this and enabling you to spend more time out of the heat of the day isn't a bad thing.)
 
(note: It can typically be a long journey to get to Besisahar from Kathmandu. If you can arrive at a reasonable time it's worth considering walking directly on to Khudi and stopping there for the night. It'll be more basic but cheaper than the much larger Besisahar, and it will give you a good start the next morning. The first day, usually Besisahar to Bahundanda, can be brutally hot, and ends with a long climb. Knocking a couple of hours off of this and enabling you to spend more time out of the heat of the day isn't a bad thing.)
  
'''Khudi (790 m) to Bhulbhule''': 2 km, 1.00 hrs
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'''Khudi (790 m) to Bhulbhule''': 2 km, 0.30 hrs
  
 
'''Bhulbhule (840 m) to Ngadi''': 4 km, 1.15 hrs
 
'''Bhulbhule (840 m) to Ngadi''': 4 km, 1.15 hrs
Line 93: Line 66:
 
'''Jagat (1300 m) to Chamche''': 4 km, 1.00 hrs
 
'''Jagat (1300 m) to Chamche''': 4 km, 1.00 hrs
  
'''Chamche (1385 m) to Tal''': 5 km, 2.00 hrs
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'''Chamche (1385 m) to Tal''': 5 km, 2.30 hrs
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(Tal is a nice place to stay, sitting in an open valley on a naturally dammed section of the river)
  
 
'''Tal (1700 m) to Karte''': 4 km, 1.30 hrs
 
'''Tal (1700 m) to Karte''': 4 km, 1.30 hrs
Line 117: Line 92:
 
'''Koto (2640 m) to Chame''': 2 km, 0.45 hrs
 
'''Koto (2640 m) to Chame''': 2 km, 0.45 hrs
  
(note: Koto is small, clean and quiet as compared to the hustle and chaos of Chame.  In Koto there is also a nice Tibetan Buddhist Monastary and great mountain vistas.)
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(note: Koto is small, clean and quiet as compared to the hustle and chaos of Chame.  In Koto there is also a nice Tibetan Buddhist Monastery and great mountain vistas.)
  
 
'''Chame (2710 m) to Bhratang''': 7 km, 2.00 hrs
 
'''Chame (2710 m) to Bhratang''': 7 km, 2.00 hrs
Line 125: Line 100:
 
'''Dhukur Pokhari (3240 m) to Humde''':
 
'''Dhukur Pokhari (3240 m) to Humde''':
  
(note: there is a trail between Lower and Upper Pisang.  Upper Pisang has quaint old-school lodging and an active Tibetan Buddhist Monastery worth visiting for the Sunset and Sunrise chants.  Furthermore, the villages along the upper trail are full of character and the views along the trail are perhaps the best of the whole circuit.)
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(note: there is a trail between Lower and Upper Pisang.  Upper Pisang has quaint old-school lodging and an active Tibetan Buddhist Monastery worth visiting for the Sunset and Sunrise chants.  Furthermore, the villages along the upper trail are full of character and the views along the trail are perhaps the best of the whole circuit, guides may try to dissuade you from doing the Upper Trail - take no notice, it is the highlight of the trek.)
  
 
(upper trail) '''Dhukur Pokhari to Upper Pisang''': 1.5 km, 1.30 hrs
 
(upper trail) '''Dhukur Pokhari to Upper Pisang''': 1.5 km, 1.30 hrs
Line 134: Line 109:
  
 
(upper trail) '''Ngawal (3680 m) to Humde''': 2 km, 0.45 hrs
 
(upper trail) '''Ngawal (3680 m) to Humde''': 2 km, 0.45 hrs
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(Note: There are two trails leaving Ngawal - one (marked in blue and white) drops straight down to Humde, the other (marked in Red and White) stays high across a small plateau, then drops into a valley further on. The higher route is nicer but slighty longer.)
  
 
(lower trail) '''Dhukur Pokhari to Lower Pisang''': 6 km, 1.00 hrs
 
(lower trail) '''Dhukur Pokhari to Lower Pisang''': 6 km, 1.00 hrs
Line 146: Line 123:
  
 
'''Manang (3540 m) to Yak Kharka''': 9 km, 3.00 hrs
 
'''Manang (3540 m) to Yak Kharka''': 9 km, 3.00 hrs
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Yak Kharka is a small collection of 3 guesthouses and lacking in other amenities, although it is preferable to Letdar which has even less in the way of accommodation.
  
 
'''Yak Kharka (4050 m) to Letdar''': 1 km, 1.00 hrs
 
'''Yak Kharka (4050 m) to Letdar''': 1 km, 1.00 hrs
Line 151: Line 130:
 
'''Letdar (4200 m) to Thorang Phedi''': 5 km, 2.30 hrs
 
'''Letdar (4200 m) to Thorang Phedi''': 5 km, 2.30 hrs
  
'''Thorang Phedi (4450 m) to High Camp''': 1 km, 0.45 hrs
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'''Thorang Phedi (4450 m) to High Camp''': 1 km, 1.00 hrs (very steep up)
  
(note: High Camp has loads of beds and great views of the surrounding mountains.)
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(note: High Camp has loads of beds and great views of the surrounding mountains, doing the hike to High Camp at the end of a days hiking is far more agreeable than beginning the day from Thorang Phedi at 4am bearing in mind the length of the trek to Mukinath later in the day.)
  
 
'''High Camp (4850 m) to Thorung Pass''': 5 km, 2.15 hrs
 
'''High Camp (4850 m) to Thorung Pass''': 5 km, 2.15 hrs
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(note: A slow hike with lots of false peaks, briefly crossing a glacial channel.)
  
 
'''Thorung Pass (5416 m) to Charabu''': 6 km, 2.45 hrs
 
'''Thorung Pass (5416 m) to Charabu''': 6 km, 2.45 hrs
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A steep descent, often snow and ice covered that finishes into a small collection of teahouses.
  
 
'''Charabu (4230 m) to Muktinath''': 4 km, 1.15 hrs
 
'''Charabu (4230 m) to Muktinath''': 4 km, 1.15 hrs
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(note: When you hit Muktinath, take the right hand side of the huge monastic complex in front of you to avoid a lengthy detour to the left. Mukinath is a desolate place, with few redeeming features - if you have to stay here, The Bob Marley Guesthouse in the centre of town is head and shoulders above the competition. Good food, nice showers (on the second floor) and an open fire and pool table. If possible, push on to Kagbeni which is far more charming, in a medieval Tibetan fashion.)
  
 
'''Muktinath (3800 m) to Kagbeni''':
 
'''Muktinath (3800 m) to Kagbeni''':
  
(note: When you arrive in Muktinath, you are back to civilization. The trail is hiking a dusty road until Gharkhola where the two separate. From this point forward expect to be stepping off the road frequently to allow trucks pass [and local assholes on their motorbikes that will honk at you and try and run you over if you don’t move aside when they could instead use the ample space on the other side of the road to pass.] For 200 npr you can catch a truck from Muktinath to Jomsom. Muktinath is expensive, a mess and not an endearing place to stay – though it is worth a brief stop at the tourist office to read up on the history and culture of the area. Either stay down the road in Jharkot or on the other side of the valley in the very inexpensive and charming hamlets of Purang and Jhong.)
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(note: When you arrive in Muktinath, you are back to civilization. The road starts at here and can be used to walk down. The road route is a wide, fairly level route that will get you a good distance quickly, however you will have to contend with the dust thrown up by the frequent 4x4s and less scenery. You can catch a truck from Muktinath to Jomsom for a flight, or jeep/bus all the way back to Pokhara if you want. Muktinath is also the perfect place to take a mountainbike (available for rent) and start one of the world's best downhill rides. Muktinath is not an endearing place to stay – though it is worth a brief stop at the tourist office to read up on the history and culture of the area and worth a look at the religious precint above town, holding pilgrimage sites for both Hindus (the 104 holy water spouts) and Buddhists (the eternal flames). If you have the energy after the pass you can stay down the road in Jharkot or on the other side of the valley in the very inexpensive and charming hamlets of Purang and Jhong.)
  
 
(high trail) '''Muktinath to Jhong''': 3 km, 1.5 hrs
 
(high trail) '''Muktinath to Jhong''': 3 km, 1.5 hrs
  
 
(high trail) '''Jhong (3540 m) to Kagbeni''': 6 km, 1.45 hrs
 
(high trail) '''Jhong (3540 m) to Kagbeni''': 6 km, 1.45 hrs
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(Note: The high trail to Kagbeni offers fantastic views of the surrounding mountains and a taste of the upper mustang region's lovely villages (Jhong and Purang) and it's barren landscape.
  
(low trail) '''Muktinath to Jharkot''': 1 km, 1 hrs (note: 1 hour is possibly longer than you would expect to take; the road is well worn and mainly on a firly gental down hill)
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(low trail) '''Muktinath to Jharkot''': 1 km, 1 hrs (note: 1 hour is possibly longer than you would expect to take; the road is well worn and mainly on a fairly gentle downhill)
  
 
(low trail) '''Jharkot (3550 m) to Khinga''': 3 km, 0.45 hrs
 
(low trail) '''Jharkot (3550 m) to Khinga''': 3 km, 0.45 hrs
Line 179: Line 165:
 
'''Kagbeni (2800 m) to Eklebhatti''': 2 km, 1.00 hrs
 
'''Kagbeni (2800 m) to Eklebhatti''': 2 km, 1.00 hrs
  
(note: The hike into gale like winds along the dusty road from Kagbeni to Jomsom with jeeps and motorbikes hurtling by at high speed is… not enjoyable.  Take a jeep instead.)  
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(note: The hike into gale like winds along the dusty road from Kagbeni to Jomsom with jeeps and motorbikes hurtling by at high speed is… not enjoyable.  Take a jeep instead.
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The winds and traffic in this valley (all the way to Kalopani) get worse as the day goes on - leave early to avoid the worst of it)  
  
 
'''Eklebhatti (2740 m) to [[Jomsom]]''': 7 km, 2.00 hrs (but seems longer)
 
'''Eklebhatti (2740 m) to [[Jomsom]]''': 7 km, 2.00 hrs (but seems longer)
  
(note: hiking into Jomsom feels like hiking into a ghost town and will leave you with an uneasy feeling that you won’t find a place to stay.  Keep walking.  All the guesthouses are on the other side of the town by the airport.  It will take about 15 minutes to get through town to where the guesthouses are.  
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(note: hiking into Jomsom feels like hiking into a ghost town and will leave you with an uneasy feeling that you won’t find a place to stay.  Keep walking.  All the guesthouses are on the other side of the town by the airport.  It will take about 15 minutes to get through town to where the guesthouses are. This area near the airport also has the only ATMs available on the hike. There are a number of banks, but only two with ATMs, they are unreliable and charge 400 rupees per withdrawal (with a maximum withdrawal of 10,000). There are also money changers here.
 
From Jomsom you can either take a 15 minute flight back to Pokhara for $80 or bus it for ~$20 on a multi-stage all-day affair that will get you back to Pokhara after dark.
 
From Jomsom you can either take a 15 minute flight back to Pokhara for $80 or bus it for ~$20 on a multi-stage all-day affair that will get you back to Pokhara after dark.
 
Bus:  Jomsom to Ghasa; change buses; Ghasa to Baglung (or get off at Gharkhola); change bus; Baglung to Pokhara.)
 
Bus:  Jomsom to Ghasa; change buses; Ghasa to Baglung (or get off at Gharkhola); change bus; Baglung to Pokhara.)
Line 189: Line 176:
  
 
'''Jomsom (2720 m) to Marpha''': 6 km, 1.30 hrs
 
'''Jomsom (2720 m) to Marpha''': 6 km, 1.30 hrs
 +
(Or three hours via the new NATT trails (marked in Red and White)
  
 
'''Marpha (2670 m) to Tukuche''': 6 km, 1.30 hrs
 
'''Marpha (2670 m) to Tukuche''': 6 km, 1.30 hrs
Line 200: Line 188:
 
'''Kokhethanti (2525 m) to Kalopani/Lete''': 3 km, 1.00 hrs
 
'''Kokhethanti (2525 m) to Kalopani/Lete''': 3 km, 1.00 hrs
  
'''Kalopani/Lete (2535 m) to Ghasa''': 7 km, 3.00 hrs
+
'''Kalopani/Lete (2535 m) to Ghasa''': 7 km, 2.30 hrs
  
 
'''Ghasa (2010 m) to Kopochepani''': 4 km, 1.30 hrs
 
'''Ghasa (2010 m) to Kopochepani''': 4 km, 1.30 hrs
(note: the road as of 2009 had made it up as far as Jomson, and this route can be used to walk down. The road route is a wide, fairly level route that will get you a good distance quickly, however, you will have to contend with the dust thrown up by the 4x4s and the lack of senery. A route off to the left takes you on a steep incline away from the road and back onto a proper path. This way is much harder, but much more fulfilling)
+
A route off to the left (marked with Red and White marks) takes you on a steep incline away from the road and back onto a proper path. This way is much harder, but much more fulfilling)
  
 
'''Kopochepani (1480 m) to Rupsechhahara''': 2 km, 0.45 hrs
 
'''Kopochepani (1480 m) to Rupsechhahara''': 2 km, 0.45 hrs
Line 217: Line 205:
 
'''Sikha (1935 m) to Chitre''': 1 km, 1.45 hrs
 
'''Sikha (1935 m) to Chitre''': 1 km, 1.45 hrs
  
'''Chitre (2350 m) to Poonhill''': 2 km, 1.15 hrs
+
'''Chitre (2350 m) to Ghorepani''': 2 km, 1.15 hrs
  
'''Poonhill (3200 m) to Ghorepani''': 3 km, 3.00 hrs
+
'''Ghorepani to Poonhill''': 3km, 1.30 hrs  
(note. The walk up Poon Hill in the morning can get very crowded. Rather than head up there, head up th hill the other side (as if heading to Chomrong), you'll have a better view and you'll have it to yourself.)
+
 
 +
(note. The walk up Poon Hill in the morning can get very crowded. Rather than head up there, head up the hill on the other side (as if heading to Chomrong), you'll have a better view and you'll have it to yourself.) This alternative viewpoint has a large stone marker and a small shop selling snacks and drinks
  
 
(note. Continuing on the path mentioned in the note above, will take you along a ridge, and across a valley to the village of Chomrong, 2 days into the Annapurna Base Camp trek )
 
(note. Continuing on the path mentioned in the note above, will take you along a ridge, and across a valley to the village of Chomrong, 2 days into the Annapurna Base Camp trek )
Line 231: Line 220:
  
 
'''Birethanti (1025 m) to Nayapul (1070 m)''': 1 km, 0.30 hrs
 
'''Birethanti (1025 m) to Nayapul (1070 m)''': 1 km, 0.30 hrs
 +
Once in Naya Pul you can catch a bus or taxi back to Pokhara
  
 
==Side trips==
 
==Side trips==
 +
 +
===Gaunshahar===
 +
A small, traditional village located on a beautiful mountainside around 8km away from Besisahar (either a short 2 hour hike or there is also a local bus that makes the trip once a day, leaving from outside Hotel Tukuche at 2pm).  The Heaven Hill Homestay in the village provides an excellent opportunity to experience Nepali village life, with accomodation including a traditional Roundhouse. Its position on top of the mountain provides excellent views of the Annapurna circuit, and could make an excellent side trip before starting the circuit.
  
 
===Naar-Pho Valley===
 
===Naar-Pho Valley===
Line 238: Line 231:
  
 
===Tilicho Lake===
 
===Tilicho Lake===
This is one of the highest lakes in the world at 4920 m. and requires 2-3 days from Manang. Walk through Khangasar. One to two hours after Khangasar you will find Tilicho Peak Hotel where you can have lunch or spend the night. Tilicho Base Camp Hotel is a further three hour walk from there. The lower route is the safest but has many landslide areas. The lake is reached by walking three hours up from the Tilciho Base Camp Hotel at approximately 4100 m. Snow leopards are around in this area but you are more likely to see blue sheep and yaks. Being at the lake can be cold as it can be very windy. Going back, it is possible to walk from Tilicho Peak Hotel directly to Yak Kharka via Old Khangasar so you do not have to backtrack all the way to Manang.
+
This is one of the highest lakes in the world at 4920 m. and requires 2-3 days from Manang. Walk 3hrs to Khangsar, some maps will show a path along the south side of the valley, but this path is old, unused and wrecked by landslides, stick to the northern side.  
  
==Stay safe==
+
You may be confused by people referring to the upper and lower path... there are actually three different paths. Two paths leave Khangsar, the lower one is (more) landslide prone and has no teahouses, use the upper one. About 45min after Shree Kharka the path splits - the path upwards involves a lot more climbing and descending and is unsafe (the signpost to it is crossed out and has "Danger" scratched on it) - take the path downwards. Some people refer to this downwards path as the "lower path", causing confusion with the "even lower" path. Be aware that the path recommended above is marked as only a minor trail on some maps.
  
For health, please read up extensively on '''Altitude Sickness''' and have some '''diamox''' on you just in case (this can be bought in pharmacies in Nepal). In summary from Wikipedia; ''the drug forces the kidneys to excrete bicarbonate in the urine, therefore making the blood more acidic. Acidifying the blood stimulates breathing, which increases the amount of oxygen in the blood.''
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Out of Khangsar take the upper path 40 minutes to a monastery and a further 20 minutes to Shree Kharka, with two tea houses where you can have lunch or spend the night. There is another teahouse about 20 minutes after Shree Kharka.
  
''Note that diamox is not an immediate fix for acute mountain sickness; it speeds up part of the acclimatization process which in turn helps to relieve symptoms. This may take up to a day or two, and requires waiting without any further rapid ascent. It is often advisable to descend if even mild acute mountain sickness is experienced. If serious sickness is encountered or symptoms of HAPE or HACE occur, descent with another trekker is A MUST.''[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acetazolamide#Acute_mountain_sickness]
+
Three hours on from Shree Kharka you will reach Tilicho Base Camp, with three teahouses and another under construction.
  
Please consult the pharmacist when purchasing regarding Diamox use and do your own research, there is also a free talk in Manang given on Altitude Sickness every day during season which is great for knowledge before doing the pass. One thing that is often overlooked is that your body requires large amounts of water at altitude to counteract sickness, therefore keep a bottle on you at all times! The Round Annapurna Trekking Profile also has a good summary of symptoms on one of the pages.
+
The lake is reached by walking three hours up from the Tilicho Base Camp at approximately 4100m. It's a tough, steep, consistent climb and will be by far the highest you've been at this point in your trek. Snow leopards are around in this area but you are more likely to see blue sheep and yaks. It's possible to reach base camp and climb to the lake in one day from Shree Kharka but it's best to stay overnight at base camp, then head up very early in the morning to get the best weather - it gets very windy after 11am and the clouds can start forming as early as 8. Being at the lake can be very cold - be sure to bring warm clothes. There is a teahouse there where you can get food and tea, but no accommodation except in an emergency. The teahouse may not open in low season, the staff come up from base camp each day, so check there before heading up.
  
Also pick up some '''antibiotics''' for stomach infections while at the pharmacy, getting a script for bacterial and a script for amoebic infections is recommended. Luckily pharmaceuticals are so cheap in Nepal!
+
It takes 1.5 hours to get back to base camp. Once down you could stay the night, or continue 3hrs back to Shree Kharka (or 2.45hrs back to just before Shree Kharka). The next day it is possible to walk directly to Yak Kharka via Old Khangasar so you do not have to backtrack all the way to Manang, there is a clear signpost at a split in the path just after Shree Karka. It takes approximately 4hrs to get from Shree Kharka to Yak Kharka.
  
For '''drinking water''', please do not drink the water from the tap on the trek due to foreigners being unable to handle the local bacteria and amoeba. The main two options for trekkers is to use the '''Safe Drinking Water Stations''' along the trek for a fee or bring your own '''water purifiers'''. KTM and Pokhara sell chlorine, with a small blue bottle made in Nepal (name unknown) being the best and only costing 50-70Rs. There is also tablets from India which people will tell you is Iodine and is better but is actually also chlorine but goes for 300Rs per bottle. For the trip, 2 bottles of Nepal-made chlorine will get you through the trek and surprisingly doesn't taste too bad.
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==Get out==
 
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Depending on where you end your trek, buses and taxis are available to take you to Pokhara, a great place on a lake to spend a few days unwinding and relaxing. Kathmandu is about a six hour bus ride from Pokhara, easily arranged once you're ready to leave the lakeside town.
Please '''do not buy bottled water''' on the trek as there is no rubbish disposal systems on the trek.  This will also keep your costs down as the pricing can get crazy.
+
 
+
For '''safety''', at all trekking times INCLUDING side treks carry a head torch, water, some food and a mobile phone with helicopter evac number (on Trekking Profile) in case of emergencies. People do get lost and have died on this trek, especially if feeling the effects of altitude sickness. On all side treks make sure you trek with other people as the path and facilities are not up to the same level as the main circuit.
+
 
+
Treks in the popular trails of Nepal are usually safe, but it is always advisable to trek with at least one friend with Local guide & porter. Some trails are known for encounters with desperate bandits although this is fairly rare.
+
 
+
Learn about altitude sickness before you set out on this trek. Also see your doctor before leaving home to make sure you have all the proper vaccinations, and that you bring with you all of the medications you will need. (Antibiotics and altitude medicine are good things to have.)
+
 
+
==Leave No Trace==
+
 
+
Even though the trek goes through villages with electricity and flushing toilets, Leave No Trace principles still apply, since most of the trek is still in the "backcountry." There are no ways to deal with trash away from the roads, meaning trash is either packed out on foot, or ends up a heap somewhere on the outskirts of the village.
+
  
 
== See also ==
 
== See also ==
*[[Nepal Trekking]]
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*[[Trekking in Nepal]]
  
 
{{usableitinerary}}
 
{{usableitinerary}}
 
{{related|Annapurna}}
 
{{related|Annapurna}}
 
[[de:Annapurna Circuit]]
 
[[de:Annapurna Circuit]]

Latest revision as of 18:49, 13 December 2014

This article is an itinerary.
A view from the Annapurna circuit

The Annapurna Circuit is in Nepal.

For more information on preparing for this trek, including when to go, what to bring, what permits are required, and safety precautions including altitude sickness, and water contamination, see Trekking in Nepal.

Contents

Understand[edit]

This circuit is considered one of the best treks in the world though road construction is threatening its reputation and its future as a classic trek. Yet no one disputes that the scenery is outstanding: 17 to 21 days long, this trek takes you through distinct regional scenery of rivers, flora, fauna and above all - mountains.

There are four regions that are passed through on the trek; Lamjung, Manang, Mustang and Myagdi. Lamjung and Myagdi of the lower elevations are both predominantly Hindu and with lush green subtropical valleys with villages and terraced farming.

Manang and Mustang are of the higher elevations and are predominantly Tibetan Buddhist. The Manang people are Gurung (not Tibetan descent) and are very proud of their unique cultural heritage and merging of lower land Gurung and Tibetan cultural influences. People of Mustang identify themselves a lot closer with Tibet and the Mustang region has actually been part of Tibet in history. Mustang also is one of the last places in the world to view the ancient Bonpo Religion in action. Villages to note for Bonpo are Thini and Lupra near Jomsom, and Nargon near Kobang.

The trek goes counter-clockwise from Besisahar to Nayapul and reaches its summit in Thorung La (pass) at the height of 5416m, or 17,769 feet. The route goes past the following mountains: Manaslu (an 8,000-plus meter peak), Langtang Himal, Annapurna II and IV, Annapurna III and Gangapurna, and, of course, Annapurna I and Dhaulagiri -- passing through the world's deepest gorge in between those two 8,000-plus meter peaks. Poon Hill, at the end of the trek, affords views of those two mountains, as well as South Annapurna and Macchupucchre, the "Fishtail Mountain."

The trek also goes through Buddhist villages and Hindu holy sites, most notably the village of Muktinath, a holy site for both Buddhists and Hindus, and Braga, one of the oldest monasteries in the region.

From Dharapani to Kagbeni you will be walking the Annapurna section of The Great Himalaya Trail, a long distance trekking route that connects Nepal from East to West.

The eastern portion of the trek follows the Marsyangdi River upstream, to its source near the village of Manang. To get there several days of up-hill hiking are required. Then the route goes over the pass, a grueling day of hiking, and back down the other side, where it meets up with the Kali Gandaki River. After the pass, an alternative to walking is to rent a mountainbike (in Muktinath or Jomsom), and bike your way down, following the jeep road or alternative trails. Mustang is on its way to become one of the world's major mountain-biking destinations, thanks to its still beautiful sceneries and the fact that one descends from 4000m. to 1200m. altitude along this jeep road or single tracking it on alternative walking trails. The road construction is thus turned into a positive thing for tourism. At the end of the trek, several options are available: following the river further to the road proper to Beni and catching a bus to Pokhara, or adding on a trek to the Annapurna Base Camp (ABC Trek), aka the Annapurna Sanctuary Trek.

This is a "teahouse trek," meaning there are villages with lodges and restaurants to eat and stay in along the entire route. You are expected to eat breakfast and dinner in the same lodge where you are spending the night. Prices of rooms are seemingly inexpensive because of this (100-300Rs for a double) - lodge owners tend to make more money on the food and drinks they are selling you than on the room where you are sleeping.

Before you go, check on the status of the road being built on the eastern portion of the trek from Besisahar to Chame. In the winter of 2009, construction of the road interfered with trekking, with some parts being dangerous to navigate. Locals tend to talk up the road and downplay its negative aspects. Be advised: road walks in Nepal are very unpleasant, and unhealthy, due to the large amounts of powdery dust that tend to be kicked up from passing jeeps and buses. The road on both sides of Thorung La does create excellent possibilities for mountainbiking though, and traffic is very, very little (20-30 vehicles per day on 'busy' stretches seems a realistic estimation).

Be prepared for all manner of bathrooms. Sometimes you'll get a modern flush toilet with private access, other times you'll have to venture out in the cold to use a smelly squat toilet. Even so, all lodges have running water. However, it may not always be HOT water. Typically, a solar shower will give you a luke warm 'power shower' if it's been a sunny day, otherwise the thing to ask is if the water pipes run through the fire in the dining room or kitchen, as once the fire is going you'll be steaming with the best of them!

Buy[edit][add listing]

Budget for 1000 NR per day if you are a very modest-spending trekker, though those on a budget can get by with less and people who want to live it up a little should allow for more. Please note that despite the efforts of ACAP there are still some wild swings in pricing that will surprise. For some reason, the region between Tal and Chame is more expensive than from Chame to Manang which is more difficult to access! As the prices seem to be fairly set throughout each village though, do not concern yourself with hunting around a village looking for a cheaper place and try not to stop at the first lodge you see so that trekkers are spread through the village. Quite often the nicest lodges are on the way out of town.

Sleep[edit][add listing]

Often the tea houses along the trekking route are of very poor standard where the owners aim is to extract the most profit out of western travelers rather than provide any meaningful service.

Things to watch out for are extra fee for charging your batteries, malfunctioning shower heater, unusably slow internet, poorly cooked food, insufficient blanket/quilt, leaking wall/windows, lack of wash basin in toilet and more.

Hotel Utse in Lower Pisang will charge 400NPR for password to wifi internet access, despite its being practically unusable at 5kBps. Refusal to their demand will end up in verbal altercation. Their wifi password is "boogywoogy". Shower facility is also very poor with no functioning drainage so that you are standing in a puddle of dirty water.

Itinerary[edit]

Though not required, porters and/or guides can be easily hired in Pokhara or Kathmandu at many travel agencies. As a classic "tea-house trek," which goes from village to village and does not require trekkers to bring along food or camping equipment, porters and guides are not necessary, though many trekkers still like to use them.

There are guesthouses in all the villages scattered along the trail so set whatever pace you like and enjoy the views. The hike between Besisahar and Bhulbhule is pleasant enough. It is the jungly bit of the hike and provides a nice contrast to the various ecosystems you will be hiking through in the coming days. Therefore I would recommend against taking a bus to Bhulbhule. It will likely take you the same amount of time either way as the road is a potholed mess and the buses are slow, uncomfortable and run infrequently.

You can try and walk the lower stages at a faster pace maybe combining two of them into one so that more time can be spent on acclimatization on the higher stages. For example a couple of extra days can be spent at Manang and utilized by climbing to one of the many peaks around it and coming back down so as to increase the production of red blood cells. You can also see the origin of the Marsyandi river in Manang. Taking the high trail from Pisang via Ghyaru and Ngawal, and sleeping in either of those villages also helps acclimatization. As those villages are already higher in elevation than Manang, the extra acclimatization day in Manang can be skipped. The best part about this trek is the varied scenery it has to offer. You start from tropical forest in Besisahar, see terminal moraine near Manang and then move past the snow line across the Thorung La and then to the barren landscape of lower Mustang and Muktinath.

Besisahar (820 m) to Khudi: 7 km, 2.00 hrs

(note: It can typically be a long journey to get to Besisahar from Kathmandu. If you can arrive at a reasonable time it's worth considering walking directly on to Khudi and stopping there for the night. It'll be more basic but cheaper than the much larger Besisahar, and it will give you a good start the next morning. The first day, usually Besisahar to Bahundanda, can be brutally hot, and ends with a long climb. Knocking a couple of hours off of this and enabling you to spend more time out of the heat of the day isn't a bad thing.)

Khudi (790 m) to Bhulbhule: 2 km, 0.30 hrs

Bhulbhule (840 m) to Ngadi: 4 km, 1.15 hrs

(note: Ngadi has good views of the snow-capped mountains in the early morning)

Ngadi (890 m) to Bahundanda: 4 km, 1.45 hrs

Bahundanda (1310 m) to Ghermu: 5 km, 1.30 hrs

Ghermu (1130 m) to Jagat: 3 km, 1.30 hrs

(note: Ghermu sits in an open valley and is therefore a more pleasant place to spend the night than Jagat. Jagat is a dirty, congested village that sits in a narrow chasm.)

Jagat (1300 m) to Chamche: 4 km, 1.00 hrs

Chamche (1385 m) to Tal: 5 km, 2.30 hrs

(Tal is a nice place to stay, sitting in an open valley on a naturally dammed section of the river)

Tal (1700 m) to Karte: 4 km, 1.30 hrs

Karte (1870 m) to Dharapani: 2 km, 1.00 hrs

(note: Dharapani is a good place to stay with good views up both canyons)

Dharapani (1900 m) to Bagarchap: 2 km, 1.00 hrs

Bagarchap (2160 m) to Danaqyu: 2 km, 0.45 hrs

Danaqyu (2200 m) to Koto:

(upper trail) Danaqyu to Thanchowk: 6 km, 2.15 hrs

(upper trail) Thanchowk (2570 m) to Koto: 4 km, 1.00 hrs

(lower trail) Danaqyu to Latamarang: 1.5 km, 1.00 hrs

(lower trail) Latamarang (2400 m) to Koto: 5.5 km, 2.00 hrs

Koto (2640 m) to Chame: 2 km, 0.45 hrs

(note: Koto is small, clean and quiet as compared to the hustle and chaos of Chame. In Koto there is also a nice Tibetan Buddhist Monastery and great mountain vistas.)

Chame (2710 m) to Bhratang: 7 km, 2.00 hrs

Bhratang (2850 m) to Dhukur Pokhari: 6 km, 1.30 hrs

Dhukur Pokhari (3240 m) to Humde:

(note: there is a trail between Lower and Upper Pisang. Upper Pisang has quaint old-school lodging and an active Tibetan Buddhist Monastery worth visiting for the Sunset and Sunrise chants. Furthermore, the villages along the upper trail are full of character and the views along the trail are perhaps the best of the whole circuit, guides may try to dissuade you from doing the Upper Trail - take no notice, it is the highlight of the trek.)

(upper trail) Dhukur Pokhari to Upper Pisang: 1.5 km, 1.30 hrs

(upper trail) Upper Pisang (3310 m) to Ghyaru: 4.5 km, 1.45 hrs

(upper trail) Ghyaru (3730 m) to Ngawal: 5 km, 1.45 hrs

(upper trail) Ngawal (3680 m) to Humde: 2 km, 0.45 hrs

(Note: There are two trails leaving Ngawal - one (marked in blue and white) drops straight down to Humde, the other (marked in Red and White) stays high across a small plateau, then drops into a valley further on. The higher route is nicer but slighty longer.)

(lower trail) Dhukur Pokhari to Lower Pisang: 6 km, 1.00 hrs

(lower trail) Lower Pisang (3250 m) to Humde: 7 km, 2.00 hrs

Humde (3330 m) to Bhraga: 6 km, 1.45 hrs

Bhraga (3450 m) to Manang: 2 km, 0.30 hrs

(note: Manang is a pleasant enough place to spend a rest day. It is clean and has a couple of “movie houses” with good DVD collections. There are many day trips one can take here. A map of times, distances, and locations is next to the central stupa.)

Manang (3540 m) to Yak Kharka: 9 km, 3.00 hrs

Yak Kharka is a small collection of 3 guesthouses and lacking in other amenities, although it is preferable to Letdar which has even less in the way of accommodation.

Yak Kharka (4050 m) to Letdar: 1 km, 1.00 hrs

Letdar (4200 m) to Thorang Phedi: 5 km, 2.30 hrs

Thorang Phedi (4450 m) to High Camp: 1 km, 1.00 hrs (very steep up)

(note: High Camp has loads of beds and great views of the surrounding mountains, doing the hike to High Camp at the end of a days hiking is far more agreeable than beginning the day from Thorang Phedi at 4am bearing in mind the length of the trek to Mukinath later in the day.)

High Camp (4850 m) to Thorung Pass: 5 km, 2.15 hrs

(note: A slow hike with lots of false peaks, briefly crossing a glacial channel.)

Thorung Pass (5416 m) to Charabu: 6 km, 2.45 hrs

A steep descent, often snow and ice covered that finishes into a small collection of teahouses.

Charabu (4230 m) to Muktinath: 4 km, 1.15 hrs

(note: When you hit Muktinath, take the right hand side of the huge monastic complex in front of you to avoid a lengthy detour to the left. Mukinath is a desolate place, with few redeeming features - if you have to stay here, The Bob Marley Guesthouse in the centre of town is head and shoulders above the competition. Good food, nice showers (on the second floor) and an open fire and pool table. If possible, push on to Kagbeni which is far more charming, in a medieval Tibetan fashion.)

Muktinath (3800 m) to Kagbeni:

(note: When you arrive in Muktinath, you are back to civilization. The road starts at here and can be used to walk down. The road route is a wide, fairly level route that will get you a good distance quickly, however you will have to contend with the dust thrown up by the frequent 4x4s and less scenery. You can catch a truck from Muktinath to Jomsom for a flight, or jeep/bus all the way back to Pokhara if you want. Muktinath is also the perfect place to take a mountainbike (available for rent) and start one of the world's best downhill rides. Muktinath is not an endearing place to stay – though it is worth a brief stop at the tourist office to read up on the history and culture of the area and worth a look at the religious precint above town, holding pilgrimage sites for both Hindus (the 104 holy water spouts) and Buddhists (the eternal flames). If you have the energy after the pass you can stay down the road in Jharkot or on the other side of the valley in the very inexpensive and charming hamlets of Purang and Jhong.)

(high trail) Muktinath to Jhong: 3 km, 1.5 hrs

(high trail) Jhong (3540 m) to Kagbeni: 6 km, 1.45 hrs (Note: The high trail to Kagbeni offers fantastic views of the surrounding mountains and a taste of the upper mustang region's lovely villages (Jhong and Purang) and it's barren landscape.

(low trail) Muktinath to Jharkot: 1 km, 1 hrs (note: 1 hour is possibly longer than you would expect to take; the road is well worn and mainly on a fairly gentle downhill)

(low trail) Jharkot (3550 m) to Khinga: 3 km, 0.45 hrs

(low trail) Khinga (3355 m) to Kagbeni: 6 km, 1.45 hrs

(note: Kagbeni is an amazing little town with hidden alleyways and European like charm. It is easily a place to spend a couple of nights.)

Kagbeni (2800 m) to Eklebhatti: 2 km, 1.00 hrs

(note: The hike into gale like winds along the dusty road from Kagbeni to Jomsom with jeeps and motorbikes hurtling by at high speed is… not enjoyable. Take a jeep instead. The winds and traffic in this valley (all the way to Kalopani) get worse as the day goes on - leave early to avoid the worst of it)

Eklebhatti (2740 m) to Jomsom: 7 km, 2.00 hrs (but seems longer)

(note: hiking into Jomsom feels like hiking into a ghost town and will leave you with an uneasy feeling that you won’t find a place to stay. Keep walking. All the guesthouses are on the other side of the town by the airport. It will take about 15 minutes to get through town to where the guesthouses are. This area near the airport also has the only ATMs available on the hike. There are a number of banks, but only two with ATMs, they are unreliable and charge 400 rupees per withdrawal (with a maximum withdrawal of 10,000). There are also money changers here. From Jomsom you can either take a 15 minute flight back to Pokhara for $80 or bus it for ~$20 on a multi-stage all-day affair that will get you back to Pokhara after dark. Bus: Jomsom to Ghasa; change buses; Ghasa to Baglung (or get off at Gharkhola); change bus; Baglung to Pokhara.) )

Jomsom (2720 m) to Marpha: 6 km, 1.30 hrs (Or three hours via the new NATT trails (marked in Red and White)

Marpha (2670 m) to Tukuche: 6 km, 1.30 hrs

Tukuche (2590 m) to Kobang: 4 km, 1.00 hrs

Kobang (2640 m) to Larjung: 1 km, 1.00 hrs

Larjung (2550 m) to Kokhethanti: 3 km, 1.00 hrs

Kokhethanti (2525 m) to Kalopani/Lete: 3 km, 1.00 hrs

Kalopani/Lete (2535 m) to Ghasa: 7 km, 2.30 hrs

Ghasa (2010 m) to Kopochepani: 4 km, 1.30 hrs A route off to the left (marked with Red and White marks) takes you on a steep incline away from the road and back onto a proper path. This way is much harder, but much more fulfilling)

Kopochepani (1480 m) to Rupsechhahara: 2 km, 0.45 hrs

Rupsechhahara (1500 m) to Dana: 3 km, 1.00 hrs

Dana (1400 m) to Tatopani: 4 km, 1.30 hrs

Tatopani (1200 m) to Ghara: 5 km, 2.15 hrs

Ghara (1700 m) to Sikha: 6 km, 1.00 hrs

Sikha (1935 m) to Chitre: 1 km, 1.45 hrs

Chitre (2350 m) to Ghorepani: 2 km, 1.15 hrs

Ghorepani to Poonhill: 3km, 1.30 hrs

(note. The walk up Poon Hill in the morning can get very crowded. Rather than head up there, head up the hill on the other side (as if heading to Chomrong), you'll have a better view and you'll have it to yourself.) This alternative viewpoint has a large stone marker and a small shop selling snacks and drinks

(note. Continuing on the path mentioned in the note above, will take you along a ridge, and across a valley to the village of Chomrong, 2 days into the Annapurna Base Camp trek )

Ghorepani (2870 m) to Ulleri: 2 km, 1.00 hrs

Ulleri (2010 m) to Tikhedhunga: 2 km, 1.00 hrs

Tikhedhunga (1500 m) to Birethanti: 6 km, 2.00 hrs

Birethanti (1025 m) to Nayapul (1070 m): 1 km, 0.30 hrs Once in Naya Pul you can catch a bus or taxi back to Pokhara

Side trips[edit]

Gaunshahar[edit]

A small, traditional village located on a beautiful mountainside around 8km away from Besisahar (either a short 2 hour hike or there is also a local bus that makes the trip once a day, leaving from outside Hotel Tukuche at 2pm). The Heaven Hill Homestay in the village provides an excellent opportunity to experience Nepali village life, with accomodation including a traditional Roundhouse. Its position on top of the mountain provides excellent views of the Annapurna circuit, and could make an excellent side trip before starting the circuit.

Naar-Pho Valley[edit]

Naar-Pho Valley was opened to foreigners only in 2002 and only a comparatively few tourists have visited the area so far. The area has a totally Tibetan character and the two main villages Phugaon and Naar are both located at over 4000m altitude. A trekking permit is needed for this restricted area, and it must be arranged through a trekking agency. It is also compulsory to have a guide, and as there is not much tourism infrastructure to speak of, most groups visiting the area choose an old style camping trek with porters, cooks etc. Entrance to Naar-Pho is from Koto (before Chame) and exit is via Kang La pass 5300m to Ngawal. A side trip to Naar-Pho requires a total of 9 days if two nights are spent in both Phugaon and Naar. As hiking from Koto to Ngawal takes normally 2 days along the AC, a side trip to Naar-Pho adds about 7 days to the total trekking time.

Tilicho Lake[edit]

This is one of the highest lakes in the world at 4920 m. and requires 2-3 days from Manang. Walk 3hrs to Khangsar, some maps will show a path along the south side of the valley, but this path is old, unused and wrecked by landslides, stick to the northern side.

You may be confused by people referring to the upper and lower path... there are actually three different paths. Two paths leave Khangsar, the lower one is (more) landslide prone and has no teahouses, use the upper one. About 45min after Shree Kharka the path splits - the path upwards involves a lot more climbing and descending and is unsafe (the signpost to it is crossed out and has "Danger" scratched on it) - take the path downwards. Some people refer to this downwards path as the "lower path", causing confusion with the "even lower" path. Be aware that the path recommended above is marked as only a minor trail on some maps.

Out of Khangsar take the upper path 40 minutes to a monastery and a further 20 minutes to Shree Kharka, with two tea houses where you can have lunch or spend the night. There is another teahouse about 20 minutes after Shree Kharka.

Three hours on from Shree Kharka you will reach Tilicho Base Camp, with three teahouses and another under construction.

The lake is reached by walking three hours up from the Tilicho Base Camp at approximately 4100m. It's a tough, steep, consistent climb and will be by far the highest you've been at this point in your trek. Snow leopards are around in this area but you are more likely to see blue sheep and yaks. It's possible to reach base camp and climb to the lake in one day from Shree Kharka but it's best to stay overnight at base camp, then head up very early in the morning to get the best weather - it gets very windy after 11am and the clouds can start forming as early as 8. Being at the lake can be very cold - be sure to bring warm clothes. There is a teahouse there where you can get food and tea, but no accommodation except in an emergency. The teahouse may not open in low season, the staff come up from base camp each day, so check there before heading up.

It takes 1.5 hours to get back to base camp. Once down you could stay the night, or continue 3hrs back to Shree Kharka (or 2.45hrs back to just before Shree Kharka). The next day it is possible to walk directly to Yak Kharka via Old Khangasar so you do not have to backtrack all the way to Manang, there is a clear signpost at a split in the path just after Shree Karka. It takes approximately 4hrs to get from Shree Kharka to Yak Kharka.

Get out[edit]

Depending on where you end your trek, buses and taxis are available to take you to Pokhara, a great place on a lake to spend a few days unwinding and relaxing. Kathmandu is about a six hour bus ride from Pokhara, easily arranged once you're ready to leave the lakeside town.

See also[edit]

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