Opened in 1977, Annapurna Circuit is the popular name for a trek circling world’s tenth highest mountain. Original circuit trails mark the trek starting point as Dumre and ending point as Beni. It used to take approximate twenty three days for the whole circuit. Starting from elevation 605 at Dumre, which eventually rises to an elevation 5416 m at Thorong, almost touching Tibetan Plateau. The trail also takes you to the Ghasa trail passes through the world’s deepest gorge. The circuit is doable both clockwise and counter clockwise, however many trekkers hike counterclockwise circuits for better acclimatization.
In the early eighties, road constructions started north of both Beni and Dumre. By now, the road has reached Chame in Manang and Phedi in Mustang. So, only five out of twenty three trekking days is without a motor road! Apparently road construction is threatening the reputation of the world’s most beautiful walk and many trekkers had switched into Manaslu Circuit. However, Manaslu saw very few trekkers after the recent April Earthquake, as the epicenter of the earthquake was in Barpak. Plate slip energy head east and damage east of epicenter. Here is a trip report by Akash, who did the Manaslu circuit trek after earthquake.
With the recently constructed road, is the Annapurna Circuit Trek Dead?
There are few other off the beaten trails opened for the trekkers, i.e. Nar Phu Valley, Manaslu Circuit, Tsum Valley and Upper Mustang. These trails might reimburse the damages on the beauty of Annapurna Circuit caused by road construction. But, until now these areas are under controlled tourism and subject to mandatory guide and expensive permit with certain limitations. If you are on a tight budget and looking for independent adventure, avoiding fancy packages, then Annapurna Circuit is the right choice for you!
This motor able road around Annapurna had blessed few mountain biking companies. It could be the best terrain in the world for bikers! Recently, I also did a road trip to Upper Mustang passing through Beni, Ghasa, Marpha, Jomsom, and Kagbeni and all the way up to the Lo Mountain in the north.
Day before yesterday 20th December 2015, I was invited by the Sophina, Digital Marketer of Honey Guide App to attend an event “Secrets of Annapurna” and I am glad I did attend the event. Ashish, co-founder of Honey Guide App had done a wonderful research on the Annapurna Circuit Trail to bring it back to life! There are still a many ways to enjoy and avoid the motor road. If you are planning for Annapurna Circuit, below are the lists of things suggested in the event. The app is available both in an android and ios.
Table of Content
- 21 WAYS TO ENJOY ANNAPURNA CIRCUIT TREK
- Sirung Homestay
- Tilicho Lake & Snow Leopard
- Yartung Festival
- Dates for Upcoming Yartung Festival
- Crane Migration
- Marpha & it’s Apple
- Syange Himalayan Cliff Honey Bee
- Syange Honey Hunting
- Odar Homestay
- Dhikur Pokhari Birch Forest & Musk Deer
- Gyaru and Blue Sheep
- Nawal Ne Guru Cave
- Himalayan Griffon & Lammergeier
- Muktinath to Kagbeni via Jhong
- Petroglyphs at Eaklebhatti
- Dhumba Lake
- Larjung Naurikot Side trip
- Larjung Gurusampo Caves & weird shapes
- Larjung Flora & Fauna
- Ghasa & Birds
- HOW TO AVOID ROAD DURING ANNAPURNA CIRCUI TREK
- New Annapurna Trekking Trail – NATT
21 WAYS TO ENJOY ANNAPURNA CIRCUIT TREK
Avoid the road and stay with the locals! Sirung Homestay, a place you should stay for hardcore Annapurna Circuit Trek. Depending on a group size, you should inform in advance about your arrival in Siurung. Get a local mobile number and call or leave message to Nanda Ghale at 9849661226 and 9746013149.
Tilicho Lake & Snow Leopard
It could be a perfect escape from the humming trail of around the Annapurna Circuit. This is one of the high alpine lakes and a place where snow leopard resides! Additional three days are required for the regular Annapurna Circuit Trek. Also, you can continue toward the Mesokanto La Pass from Tilicho and enter Mustang from Jomsom. There are no teahouses on this trail so camping and logistic support is needed.
This is a festival, which mostly happens in Kagbeni, Muktinath and high above in Upper Mustang. The horse race is the major attractions of this festival apart from gathering and drinking. Separate races took place in between the men and women. Mostly women are dressed in their traditional outfits.
Dates for Upcoming Yartung Festival
- 18th August 2016
- 6th September 2017
- 26th August 2018
- 15th August 2019
- 2nd September 2020
Every year migratory birds from Siberia come to Nepal to escape from the winter. And as the winter begins in Nepal they flew back. These flocks of migratory birds can be found in the Kali Gandaki Corridor. Especially it happens in the months of October and November.
Marpha & it’s Apple
Delightful apple capital of Nepal, Marpha is village of hard working people. You can find wide varieties of apple products, ranging from candy to brandy! Also, the housing in Marpha is identical with each other except few newly constructed buildings. This is the ending point of infamous Dhaulagiri Circuit Trek.
What could be another good way to end your Annapurna Circuit Trek, rather than soaking yourself in the pool of natural hot spring? Tato and Pani literally means hot and water. Just next to the Kaligandaki River, there is a cemented pool with shower, massage and restaurant. This is all natural hot spring.
Syange Himalayan Cliff Honey Bee
Honey from Himalayan bee, raw honey! There are many such beehives hanging on the cliffs nearby Syange. Bring your binoculars and watch it.
Syange Honey Hunting
Are you interested to see how locals collect honey from these high cliffs? Visit there during the months of May and June. Usually honey hunting took place in these months. For the exact event date, contact Nar Bahadur Gurung on 9856045309.
Dharapani to Kagbeni is part of Annapurna Circuit – Great Himalaya Trail. As people enter Annapurna from Dharapani after Larke La Pass in Manaslu. Then continue further west to Dolpo from Kagbeni. Look for Odar Waypoint, you can bypass through this colorful village. The view is amazing!
Dhikur Pokhari Birch Forest & Musk Deer
Musk Deer are the jewels of the Himalayas, they can be found in the birch forest. This type of forest starts in circuit trail from Dhikur Pokhari. Keep your eye wide and concentrate, you will definitely spot these musk deer along the way.
Gyaru and Blue Sheep
This is the higher trail toward Manang, avoiding the road and traffic. Gyaru and Nawal can be the best alternatives way apart from the road. Blue sheep are very rare actually, but with some luck you might spot it in the area of Gyaru.
Nawal Ne Guru Cave
If you take the high route toward Manang, you will pass through the beautiful village of Nawal. It is considered one of the oldest villages in Manang. About an hour walk from the village is a Ne Guru Cave. Local believes that this cave is connected with Gurusampo Cave in Mustang. Have you got the willpowers to explore this cave?
Himalayan Griffon & Lammergeier
You will encounter with two different types of vulture, Himalayan Griffon and Lammergeier. Here Lammergeier is considered to be nourishing itself on bone marrow. It will drop a bone on a rock to get bone marrow. Another Himalayan Griffon is used for sky burial.
Muktinath is a sacred place for both Hindu and Buddhist. There is a Hindu Temple, Buddhist Gompa and Jwala Mai in the premises of Muktinath. Many devotees pay a visit to Muktinath and take holy bath in 108 taps. These 108 taps are located just behind the temple.
Muktinath to Kagbeni via Jhong
What many people do upon reaching in Muktinath? They descend to Kagbeni via jeep or follow the roadway down passing through Jharkot. If you want to avoid this road and traffic, you can pass through the village of Jhong. Jhong is northeast of Kagbeni. You will approach Kagbeni via old route. Just simply avoid Jharkot. Kagbeni is really a beautiful medieval village.
Petroglyphs at Eaklebhatti
Petroglyph is a rock engraving where pattern and images are created by removing the rock surface. Eaklebhatti, a place in between Kagbeni and Jomsom is considered as old Kagbeni. Here is a masterpiece of petroglyphs left forsaken. Figure it out where exactly it is?
Jomsom, the district headquarter of the Mustang is nothing more than bus station and airport for trekkers. Many trekkers take a jeep down to Beni or flew out from the Jomsom. It could be a perfect side trip from Jomsom, before you hike down to Marpha. It is just to the east of Jomsom.
Larjung Naurikot Side trip
On the north of motor road from Larjung, there is a beautiful village of Naurikot. This place is getting popular among the Nepalese Youth after the successful movie Kabaddi filmed in Naurikot.
Larjung Gurusampo Caves & weird shapes
Mustang is also known as cave city. There are many caves in Mustang. Some of them are centuries old and entire village locals used to reside there in the past. One out of these, Gurusampo is holiest cave in lower mustang. This cave is right below Dhaulagiri Icefall. There are bizarre shapes formed inside the cave.
Larjung Flora & Fauna
Mustang, especially the belt above Marpha is considered as mountain desert. Because of Dhaulagiri and Annapurna on the south, this area receives rare rainfall. There is no vegetation. However, you can find wide varieties of flowers in Larjung.
Ghasa & Birds
Because of the syndicate, road journey in between Beni and Jomsom was not pleasant. You were supposed to switch different jeeps, at least three times in the past. Ghasa is one out these spots where you need to switch the jeep. Even now Ghasa is considered as the bus station. There is something more to do in Ghasa rather than just changing the vehicles. You can find all six types of pheasant.
For local guidance, you can contact the owner of Eagle Lodge, 9857650101, 9746702209 and 984767048.
HOW TO AVOID ROAD DURING ANNAPURNA CIRCUI TREK
Red & White Main Trail Markers
In order to help tourist to avoid the road, new flag are painted in red and white color as shown in the picture. There is an arrow to follow and you can avoid the motor road. Follow the direction shown.
Blue & White Secondary Trail Markers
Very similar to red and white trail markers, you will find blue and white. This is a secondary trail marker after red and white to avoid the road.
New Annapurna Trekking Trail – NATT
Andreas and Prem, marked these white & red and white & blue flags along the Annapurna circuit trek after road construction and named New Annapurna Trekking Trail. For this Andreas went for the exploration trip with Prem and figure out a noticeable portion of motor road could be avoided. This was in 2010. Then they convince Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) and start the project with eleven kilograms of paint. This process continued until 2012 and they had almost finished marking the trail. It was a Prem idea New Annapurna Trekking Trail, however Andreas love to address NATT as Natural Annapurna Trekking Trail.