The Annapurnas have some of the most popular and stunningly beautiful treks in Nepal. One of the most interesting is the Annapurna Circuit Trek. This trek can be done in a variety of ways to suit your budget and time. Here we are bringing you a 12-day itinerary with more budget options (bus rather than flights).
This 12-day trek takes you through Manang and Mustang areas of Nepal. The peoples in both areas are Buddhist so there are a lot of Buddhist prayer flags, Chortens (cairns) and mani (prayer) stones on the way.
The trek starts in Manang district, with its lush countryside of pastures, orchards, and farmlands. Then the climate and landscape get drier as you approach the highest point of the trek, the Thorong La pass at 5,416m/ 17,764ft.
Crossing the pass can be challenging depending on the weather conditions (perhaps snow and ice) so an acclimatization day is recommended in Manang village first. Once across the pass next stop is Muktinath.
This is a pilgrim spot for Hindus, who come from all over the country and beyond to bath in the 108 water spouts. From here, a half-day drive will bring you to Tatopani, famous for its hot water springs. Then another half days drive brings you to the lively town of Pokhara with its fabulous restaurants and buzzing nightlife.
But before that – the mountains! Some of the majestic mountains that can be seen on this trek are Annapurna III, Annapurna II, Chulu Peak, Gangapurna, Khangsahar, Nilgiri North and Dhaulagiri Massif. And many more.
- The scenic drive from Kathmandu to Besishahar along the Trishuli River.
- Changing scenery from farmsteads and forests to snow and ice.
- Get close to the mountains.
- Cross the Thorong La pass at 5,416m/ 17,764ft.
- See the eternal flame and 108 water spouts at Muktinath.
- Bath in natural hot springs at Tatopani.
Annapurna Circuit 12 Day Trek at a Glance
|Max Elevation||5,416m/ 17,764ft|
|Trek Start/ Finish||Kathmandu/ Pokhara|
|Difficulty||Moderate to Difficult|
Day 01: Drive Kathmandu to Besishahar, Trek to Ngadi (1,000m/ 3,280ft): 6-7 hours drive, 2-3 hours trek
There are really two options to reach Besishahar. Either take a local bus from Gongabu Bus Park (around 6.30am). Or hire your own transport. With the local bus, you should reach around 2 pm.
With your own transport, the time is roughly the same, assuming there are no hold-ups on the road, but it will be more comfortable. On the downside, it is much more expensive.
The journey is an interesting one as it travels along a winding road above the Trishuli River flowing far below. Some mountains can be seen also. When you reach Besishahar it’s a short hike through villages and farms and a landscape of rivers and of course mountains. Overnight at Ngadi.
Day 02: Trek Nadi to Jagat (1,100m/ 3,608ft): 5 hours trek
Today the trail takes you passed the Marshyandi River, with its cascading waterfalls and suspension bridges, through small villages and terraced farmland. The mountain peaks are on full display. Overnight at Jagat.
Day 03: Trek Jagat to Dharapani (1,960m/ 6,430ft): 7-8 hours trek
Today you enter the district of Manang by way of crossing a large bridge near Tal. Again your hike takes you through farmland with fields of rice, barley, and potatoes. Dharapani is one of the largest villages in the Manang Valley and here you overnight.
Day 04: Dharapani – Chame (2,670m/ 8,759ft): 5-6 hours trek
Today follow a steep forest ridge from where you can see Annapurna II, Annapurna IV and the Lamjung Himal range. Chame is the district headquarters of Manang and where you will overnight.
Day 05: Trek Chame to Pisang (3,200m/ 10,496ft): 5-6 hours trek
Walking through the left side of the Manang Valley and through apple orchards and dense forests, 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 06: Trek Upper Pisang to Manang (3,540m/ 11,283ft): 5-6 hours walk
By taking the higher route through Upper Pisang, the stunning mountains that are on view include Annapurna and Pisang Peak. It is possible to visit Barge Monastery on the way.
This is the largest monastery in the Manang district. As you trek further, the landscape changes to a more barren one and the air becomes colder and drier. Overnight in Manang.
Day 07: 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. You can also visit the Himalayan Rescue Association to learn more about altitude sickness. Overnight in Manang.
Day 08: Trek Manang to Yak Kharka (4,100m/ 13,451ft) 3-4 hours trek
Today the trail crosses a stream to Tenki village then climbs out of the Marshayandgi Valley along the Jarsang river. On the way you cross yak pastures and interesting settlements.
After crossing a small wooden bridge there is a mani wall (wall made of stones with prayers carved into them) which leads you up to the village of Yak Kharka. Overnight here.
Day 09: Trek Yak Kharka to Thorong Phedi (4,450m/ 14,596ft): 5-6 hours trek
Today you overnight at the base of the Thorong La pass in preparation for the long day tomorrow.
Day 10: Trek Thorong Phedi over the Thorong La pass to Muktinath (3,760m/ 12,335ft): 8 hours
In order to go over the pass before the afternoon winds, it is recommended you get up around 4am. If you can, take breakfast to give you fuel for the climb. 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. But take time to take in the Dhaulagiri Massif on the way. Muktinath is famous for its 108 water spouts, Hindu temple, and never dying flame. Perhaps it’s a good idea to visit in the morning when you are less tired. Overnight in Muktinath.
Day 11: 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 12: Drive Tatopani to Pokhara (827m/ 2,713ft): 4-5 hours drive.
Take a bus from Tatopani to Pokhara. Then celebrate your successful trek in Lakeside, the tourist hub of Pokhara on the lake. With its many restaurants and bars and vibrant nightlife it is a complete contrast to your trek! Overnight in Pokhara.