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This trek combines one of the best treks in the Annapurnas – the Annapurna Circuit – with a trip to the high altitude lake (5,200m) of Tilicho.

This is reputed to be the highest altitude lake in the world!  Along with the lake, the mountains on display during these 16 days include:  Mt. Dhaulagiri (8,167m), Mt. Annapurna I (8,091m) Mt. Manaslu (8163 m), Mt. Annapurna II (7,937 m.) , Mt. Annapurna III (7,555m), Mt. Annapurna IV (7525m), Mt. Annapurna south (7,219m), Mt. Nilgiri (7,041m), Mt. Fishtail also called Mt. Machhapuchhare (6,998m), Mt. Hiunchuli (6,441m), Mt. Lamjung Himal (6,986m), Tukuche peak (6,920m), and Tilicho Peak (7,134m).  Quite a spectacular number of giants!

The trek starts at Kathmandu and ends in the vibrant town of Pokhara.  On the way, you will pass through areas of lush vegetation, pastures, farmland, and forests.

At times the landscape will be arid and dry, and perhaps with snow and ice on the Thorong La pass.  This is also a unique way to see the different landscapes of Nepal in one trip.  Crossing the Thorong La is perhaps the hardest part of this trek but the feeling of achievement and the views on the way make it really worthwhile.

Further down the trail, you will climb up another peak, Poon Hill to watch the sunrise over the Annapurnas.  A fitting end to a wonderful trek.

Highlights

  • The scenic drive from Kathmandu to Besishahar along the Trishuli River.
  • Changing scenery from farmsteads and forests to snow and ice, and back again.
  • Get close to the mountains.
  • Cross the Thorong La pass at 5,416m/ 17,764ft.
  • Visit the highest lake in the world, Tilicho Lake.
  • Visit ancient monasteries and see Buddhist ways of life.
  • Bath in the hot springs at Tatopani.
  • Watch the sunrise over the Annapurnas at Poon Hill.
  • Relax in the lakeside town of Pokhara.

Annapurna Circuit with Tilicho Lake and Poon Hill 16 Day Itinerary at a Glance

Duration: 16 days

Max Elevation  :  5,416m/ 17,764ft

Trek Start/Finish: Kathmandu/ Pokhara

Difficulty :  Moderate to Difficult

Accommodation  :   Teahouses

Itinerary of Annapurna Circuit with Tilicho Lake

Day 01: Drive to Besishahar (760m/ 2,493ft): 7 hours drive

Local bus kathmandu to Besisahar
Local bus Kathmandu to Besisahar

This morning head out to the bus station at Gongabu in Kathmandu to catch an early morning (around 6.30am) bus to Besishahar.  You should reach there around 2 pm, assuming there are no hold-ups on the road. Alternatively, hire a private jeep. The travelling time will be around the same but it might be a little more comfortable.

On the way stop for lunch and take in the mountains that are following you on the other side of the river! The journey is an interesting one as it travels along a winding road above the Trishuli River flowing far below.  Overnight in Besishahar.

Day 02: Drive Besishahar to Chame (2,670m/ 8,759ft): 5 hours drive

chame annapurna circuit trek

Today is another day on the road.  But this time not as smooth as yesterday!  Five hours of a bumpy ride over a rough road is tough, even if the vehicle is a four-wheel drive.  Overnight in Chame.

Day 03: Trek Chame to Pisang (3,200m/ 10,496ft): 5-6 hours trek

Pisang Nepal

Time for the trek to begin.  After breakfast hike from Chame, Manang District Headquarters to Pisang.   Walking through the left of the valley and through apple orchards, the trail crosses a suspension bridge and uphill to Dhikurpokhari village.  From here Annapurna II, Annapurna IV, and Pisang Peak are on view.  Overnight in Pisang.

Day 04: Trek Pisang to Manang (3,540m/ 11,283ft): 5-6 hours trek

manang annapurna circuit trek

There are two ways the trail goes today, so you can choose whether to go high above the valley on the right. Or take the trail on the left.  The scenery is of villages and a monastery.

Once you reach Humde, the landscape becomes more dry.  On both trails the mountains are stunning: Annapurna III, Chulu Peak, Gangapurna, and Khangsahar can be clearly seen. Near Manang, there is a Chorten (Buddhist shrine) and a long mani wall (wall with Buddhist payers carved into the stone).  Overnight in Manang village.

Day 05: Acclimatization Day

Today it is recommended you take a day to acclimatize to the high altitude.  And the best way to do that is not to rest, but to remain active.  There is a 5-6 hour hike to Ice Lake (4,600m/ 15,088ft).  On the way, you can see the Marsyangdi Valley as well as the mountains.  Overnight in Manang.

Day 06: Trek Manang to Siri Kharka  (4,060m/13,320ft): 4-5 hours trek

Today’s trek takes you on a relatively easy path through pine forests to the Tibetan village of Khangsar. The mountains accompanying you today are mainly Gungang Himal and Mt Chulu.  A short walk further on and you reach Siri Kharka where you overnight.

Day 07: Trek Siri Kharka to Tilicho Base Camp (4,150m/13,583ft): 5-6 hours trek

Tilicho Base Camp

From Tilicho Base Camp the views of Tilicho Peak and other mountains are amazing! Today the trail takes you through areas prone to landslides so extra care must be taken. Overnight at Tilicho Base Camp.

Day 08: Visit Tilicho Lake (4,920m/ 16,138 ft) then back to Siri Kharka: 5-6 hours trek

This morning get up early to avoid the afternoon wind.  The first part of the trail is a steady climb up to Tilicho Lake.  This icy cold lake sparkling in the sun lies below the North Face of Tilicho Peak.  Relax and enjoy a picnic lunch around the lake before hiking back to Siri Kharka where you overnight.

Day 09: Trek Siri Kharka to Yak Kharka (4,060m/13,020ft): 4-5 hours trek

yak kharka annapurna circuit trek

Today walk passed the old Khangsar village, which is now empty of inhabitants.  Also pass Tare Gumpa, which is said to be 1,000 years old.  Descending in the Thorong Khola Valley, cross the river then hike up to a plateau.  On the way, the Annapurna range is stunning against the blue sky.

Blue is also the color of the sheep you may see also.  Well, they are called Blue Sheep, although perhaps they are not really blue in color!  Overnight at Yak Kharka.

Day 11: Trek Yak Kharka to Thorang Phedi  (4,525m/14501 ft): 3-4 hours trek

Thorang Phedi is a busy settlement where people set off over the high pass.  Get a good night’s sleep as you will also set off early in the morning to cross the Thorong La.

Day 12: Trek Thorong Phedi over the Thorong La pass to Muktinath (3,760m/ 12,335ft): 8 hours trek

annapurna circuit trek on the thorangla pass

In order to go over the pass before the afternoon winds, it is recommended you get up around 4 am.  If you can, eat breakfast to give you fuel for the climb or take snacks with you.

Today the walking can be hard; there can be snow on the pass and the altitude is high (5,416m/ 17,764ft).  Once over the pass descend to Muktinath.  Remember to take a breath to enjoy the scenery, particularly the  Dhaulagiri Massif. Muktinath is famous for its 108 water spouts, Hindu temple, and never dying flame.

You can explore Muktinath this afternoon or simply relax and do that tomorrow. Overnight in Muktinath.

Day 13: Drive Muktinath to Tatopani (2,135m/ 7,004ft): 4 hours drive

Spend the morning exploring the sights and sounds of Muktinath if you did not do so yesterday.  Then take a bus or jeep to drive along the rough road above the Kali Gandaki Gorge to Tatopani.  There are famous hot springs at Tatopani where you can relax before dinner.  Overnight in Tatopani.

Day 15: Trek Tatopani to Ghorepani (2,610m/ 8,563ft ): 4-5 hours trek

After the arid landscapes of Mustang, the scenery is more lush with forests and wildflowers (in the spring) on this lower part of the Annapurna trekking routes. When reaching Ghorepani, get a good night’s rest as tomorrow is an early start to climb up to Poon Hill for sunrise. Overnight in Ghorepani.

Day 15: Trek Ghorepani to Poon Hill (3,210m/ 10,531ft).

Sunrise Views. Trek to Tikhendunga (1,540m/ 5,052ft): 2 hours return trek to Poon Hill.  Trek 4-5 hours to Tikhendunga. Total time: 8-9 hours

This morning get up before dawn (sunrise is around 4-5 am depending on the season) to climb for around an hour to reach the top of Poon Hill. After the Thorong La, this should be easy!

From the top of Poon Hill, there are spectacular and stunning views of Annapurna South, Annapurna I, Dhaulagiri, and Hiunchuli. Watching the sunrise over these mountains is truly one of the highlights of your time in Nepal.

After watching nature at her best, trek down to Ghorepani again for breakfast and collect your bags before setting out to Tikhendunga.  Overnight at Tikhendunga.

Day 16: Trek Tikhedhunga to Nayapul (2,070m/ 6,791ft) .  Drive Nayapul to Pokhara: 3-4 hours trek.1.5 hours drive.

Today is a short but beautiful hike from Tikhendunga to Nayapul through lush vegetation and alongside fast-running rivers.  When you reach Nayapul take a jeep or bus to Pokhara.  Overnight night in Lakeside of Pokhara where you can relax in many of its vibrant bars, restaurants, and clubs.

About Author

Pradeep is the co-founder of Magical Nepal. He has trekked to almost all the trekking places in Nepal. He has been to Everest base camp more than eight times. He is the one who mostly answers your queries by giving the personal touch and experience.