Trekking in Nepal

Trekking in Nepal – Annapurna Circuit

THE ANNAPURNA CIRCUIT is one of the most beautiful trekking routes in the world .

This develops around the majestic Annapurna complex which offers breathtaking landscapes in any season of the year .

The period from mid-September to mid-December is the best to tackle this trek.
Normally the circuit is tackled in a clockwise direction , but for acclimatization reasons it is preferable to tackle it in an anti-clockwise direction so as to also be able to connect the ascent to the Sanctuary in the final part of the trek.

We go up the valley that starts from Besisahar up to the village of Manang and then tackle the Torungh La pass (5416 m), heading towards the Lower Mustang valley and then arrive at Ghorepani from where you can choose whether to end the circuit in Nayapul, then descend or head towards Chomrong to begin the ascent to the Sanctuary.

If you pass through Ghorepani, don’t forget the Poon Hill viewpoint , a route accessible to many thanks to the presence of many Tea Houses , the equivalent of local guesthouses, once at the service of Nepalese travellers, which offered food and accommodation during long journeys to reach the remote villages scattered throughout the valley. Over the years, Tea Houses have evolved into lodges, hotels or guesthouses offering more or less basic services.

Today the jeep road has taken the place of the Annapurna circuit for almost the entire itinerary, except for the Manang – Muktinath section .
Despite the doubts of many on the jeep road, the project is still going ahead, strongly supported by the most isolated villages. Only after its construction did the Nepalese realize that the tourism market began to suffer a decline.

However, thanks to some volunteers today we can relive the old magic of the Circuit . These have redesigned the route on secondary routes after the jeeps have no access.

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Annapurna Trek – Table of Contents

Il NATT – New Annapurna Trekking Trail

Thus was born the NATT , the New Annapurna Trekking Trail , a path marked with the European system of colored flags which, with a little more effort, allows you to almost completely avoid the road, leaving the feeling of having tackled a route that is still quite uncontaminated .

The main path is well traced , at every crossroads or bridge, with red and white signs, while the blue and white flags indicate alternative or secondary routes.
The second route is that of the ANNAPURNA SANCTUARY also known as ABC because following this trek you arrive at the Annapurna Base Camp . Departure and arrival can vary as you wish, depending on the time available.

This trek allows you to enter the heart of the circuit up to the Annapurna I base camp (4130 metres) and return back along the same route as the outward journey, or making some variations but only in the most downstream part, at the height of Chomrong .
Much shorter trek than the Circuit and also less physically demanding.

For this reason it is also more touristy.
The only positive side is that it has not been touched by road construction so that you can better enjoy the flavor of a real trek.
Obviously, I don’t feel like advising you against climbing the ABC during the monsoon season, given that it is quite dangerous, because the ground collapses quite easily and the secondary streams are full as never before, causing serious inconveniences to traffic.

One of the many landslides encountered during the Sanctuary.

He didn't fire Fran

The ideal season for trekking to Annapurna circuit

In reality there is no real period to organize this trek.
The route can be done all year round , although during the monsoon season you may find some difficulties on some sections. Usually the high seasons are spring and autumn.

From mid-October to mid-December the climate is generally dry and the mountains are as clear as ever, this is also the period in which the circuit is busiest.
Obviously, as we get closer to December, temperatures tend to drop more and more.

From mid-December to February it is very cold and temperatures can often drop below -20° in the high mountains. Furthermore there is a risk that the pass will be blocked by snow so you will have to wait a few days.

From March to June is the flowering period. The weather is generally clear in the morning, while it becomes cloudy and can rain in the afternoon.

From July to early October , during the monsoon season, it rains a lot and the mountains are practically always covered by clouds.

man standing on top of mountain beside cairn stones

Permits to undertake trekking to the circuit

To undertake this trek you need 2 permits:

    • ACAP , with which you pay the actual entrance to the park
    • TIMS , with which you pay the association of trekking agencies, in case you need to do searches for missing hikers

Both cost 2000 R or better yet 20 $ and must be purchased in advance at the Tourist Board in Kathmandu (in the centre, near Ratna Park) or in Pokhara (in Damside, not far from the tourist bus station). There is also the possibility of completing the procedures upon departure from Besisahar but at an increased price.

Alternatively you can contact an agency but the price will increase almost double. The permits are nominative and to obtain them you will need: 4 passport photos and the completion of some forms provided on site.

Queues aside, everything is released on the spot. They are valid for one year from the date of issue , but once entry has been stamped they cannot be used again. Along the route there are numerous mandatory check-posts where permits are checked and stamped. Remember to always have a photocopy of your passport
with you , in case you are asked for it.
 For the Circuit and the Sanctuary a single permit is sufficient provided that the two routes are followed consecutively, i.e. without ever leaving the area.

Where does the circuit begin and where does it end? 

The start of the route is usually set in the small and hospitable town of Besisahar .
However, thanks to the old Annapurna Circuit itinerary converted into a jeep road, it is also possible to start the trek in Manang .

Obviously the route has its own cost, for example Besisahar-Chame costs approximately R2000 ($20). Obviously I strongly advise against this, if you have time it is good to enjoy the entire Circuit and if you are tight on time consider shorter treks.

To reach Besisahar from Kathmandu or Pokhara , there are some direct buses, which there is absolutely no need to book in advance, given that the Kathmandu – Pokhara – Besisahar route is served regularly every day by buses, mini-vans and jeeps.

If you are an adventurer, just take a trip the day before to the Gongabu bus station to locate the ticket corner and that’s it.
The ticket from Kathmandu to Besisahar cost R360, plus a small baggage fee of R200.

The journey to the Annapurna Area, even if you leave early, can take all day and you often arrive at your destination exhausted by the long waits and an exhausting journey in dilapidated buses, so it will hardly be possible to start the trek on the same day.

man raising both hands on mountain cliff with snow covered mountain view

Where to stay during the Annapurna circuit trek 

Along the route you will be spoiled for choice, in each village you will find at least one accommodation facility that will be happy to welcome you.

Especially in the Circuit you will find more accommodation facilities than tourists, outside the seasonal peak which runs from mid-October/mid-November.
Most of the lodges are usually concentrated in the villages , but at almost every hour of walking there are accommodations for the night where you can stop.

Which makes it easier to deal with unforeseen events such as bad weather or tiredness.

The structures are rustic, made of wood or stone, and always have a common room that serves as a restaurant.
They usually provide a hot shower thanks to small solar systems, but in some cases, such as during the ascent to ABC you will have to pay up to 300 R for a hot shower. Electricity is never lacking, apart from a few exceptions.

The Nepalese have seen fit to exploit the many rivers that flow down from the mountains to build many small hydroelectric power plants for the use and consumption of mountain villages isolated from everything and everyone.

Obviously charging a cell phone or camera along the Sanctuary will cost you a few dollars. The rooms are basic, more or less clean and always without heating. If you are cold just ask for an extra blanket.
The price of the rooms practically ranges from zero to a few hundred Rupees.
Obviously the prices are indicative and vary according to the season and the village. Usually when you sleep in one place you have dinner and breakfast in the same hotel, to avoid a high room surcharge.

photo of white log house and floral garden

What to eat and what to drink 

During your trek you can taste everything and more from spaghetti to apple pie, you just have to pay. Obviously, the higher you go in altitude, the closer the food prices get to Europe, in fact very often, as in the case of beer, they even exceed them, given that at ABC a beer costs around 800 R ($8).

The menus all seem to be similar , indeed in some areas there are fixed prices and identical menus for all the restaurants. Obviously each village offers dishes with their own twists, giving you the opportunity to taste different dishes.

Nepalese are very slow when preparing, so especially at lunch I recommend dishes that are quick to prepare.
The most popular dish among Nepalese is Dal Bhat , it doesn’t cost much and is plentiful since a refresher is offered.

These consist of a set of several courses that each village improvises to their liking depending on what they have available to make it. It usually consists of a legume soup called Dal , vegetable curry , white rice , papadam (fried bread), pickels (fermented vegetables) and spicy sauce to taste. For breakfast you can find everything from eggs to pancakes, from muesli to chocolate cakes. While fruit is rare, except apples in harvest season.

Beers, soft drinks, tea and coffee are available in abundance and in some places you can try a juice based on sea buckthorn syrup, a local berry that vaguely resembles apricot.
 Tap water is not safe , but it can be purified with filters and tablets.

You can also find packaged bottles around, but they are not recommended, not only because of the exorbitant prices but above all to avoid producing waste, which in the lodges is generally disposed of by throwing it directly into the river.

Along the route there are also some Safe Water Drinking Stations where you can refill your water bottle for a fee, but tablets remain the most practical and economical solution.

The rule of eating where you sleep always applies , unless you want to pay a surcharge on the room equal to ten times its value.

Approximate prices: 1 portion of Dal Bhat, between R350 and R790 ( $3.5 – $7.9 ) 1 Chiati bread w/ honey or jam, between R200 and R400 ( $2 – $4 ) 1 cup of Black tea, between 50 and 90 R (0.5 $ – 0.9 $).

How to organize your itinerary and which villages not to miss

I could tell you my itinerary but it would be misleading.
To close the Circuit and the Sanctuary you need about 1 month.
Each of you can organize the stages as you see fit, based on the time available but above all based on your training.
The physical condition aspect is not to be underestimated, especially above 3000 m, unless you are a mountaineer.
To give you an idea, here is the altitude profile with the respective distances and travel times of each route.

So if you are thinking of trying your hand at this adventure, I advise you to train in advance and plan your itinerary a few months in advance so that you have the time to prepare physically, if you aren’t already. Along my itinerary I encountered unique villages such as:

Bahundanda which offers a unique view of the entire valley.

So much so that it doesn’t really resemble a mountain village due to its particular location. You will be surprised as soon as it stands out before your eyes. Its two waterfalls and the small stream that flows north of the village make Tal a unique place. Not to mention the hospitality of the locals.

Chame which, with its 2670 m, begins to make you feel what the environment awaits you as you climb. Please, I hope you have your swimsuit in your backpack, because the Chame Hot Springs are waiting for you for a well-deserved post-walk recovery.

Ghyaru and Ngwal 3670 m and 3660 m respectively, whose location and typicality make them unique villages of their kind.

Trekking in Nepal

Manang and Braga , two villages just under 2 km apart.
Here a day’s rest is almost mandatory as it will help you acclimatise.
From here, you are spoiled for choice to embark on the adventure of one of the many secondary treks that the area offers.
I opted for a trip to the Ice Lake (4600 m), excellent for avoiding the risks of altitude sickness.

Gunsang, Yak Kharka, Letdar and Thorung Phedi : The rather arid panorama of the areas makes the itinerary quite unattractive, especially during the monsoon season.

If you plan to climb to Thorung Phedi from Manang in 2 days, I recommend a stop in the small village of Letdar (4200 m) a few kilometers after Yak Kharka.

Thorung La (5416 m).  I will remember this day for the rest of my life.
The road to the pass seemed to go on forever. After 5000 meters my backpack seemed increasingly heavier.

Once you reach the top, a long and steep descent awaits you down to Muktinath , which for the record is not a village, but a temple complex as well as a well-known Hindu pilgrimage site for over 3000 years.

The 4 fundamental elements, namely water, fire, air and earth, meet making this place of worship very special.

Not even 1 km further downstream you will find the small village of Ranipauwa , where you will almost certainly find accommodation for the night.

Trekking in Nepal

Once over the pass it will seem that the journey is almost at an end, but this is not the case at all. Far from it! We’re not even halfway there.

The time has come to enjoy the route from Muktinath to Ghorepani (at least for those who also tackle the Sanctuary), because very often it will offer glimpses of stupendous landscapes and unique villages. A clear example is that of Kagbeni , a sort of green oasis in a sea of ​​sand.

Very often along the itinerary you will have the opportunity to follow multiple itineraries, which in most cases all lead to the next destination.

Returning to our itinerary, after Kagbeni you will encounter the lively village of Jomson , where there is even an airport. Many trekkers, satisfied with having passed the Torungh pass, decide to end the trek in this village, missing out, in my opinion, on the magic of the circuit.

As I have already said, you will have the opportunity to choose between several itineraries along your journey, so I will avoid going into too much detail on the topic while leaving you with a small gift. A photo with all the various trekking itineraries present in this part of your trek and beyond.

A very nice village that you will almost certainly come across is Marpha , also known as the Nepalese apple capital. Here you can taste the famous Marpha Apple Brandy .

From Marpha to Tatopani it will be an alternation between trekking trail and jeep road, which will very often force you to jump from one bank of the Kali Gandak river to the other. Obviously along the itinerary you will encounter a myriad of suspension bridges.

Once you arrive in the small village of Tatopani (1190 m), it will be time to take out your swimsuit again to make a trip to the Hot Springs, which require a fee and the cost fluctuates around 150 R.

The ascent to the small village of Ghorepani (2750m) will be quite difficult if tackled in a single day like I did.

The stage measures 16 km, with a difference in altitude of over 1500 m. I took advantage of the village of Sikha for my lunch break , from where you will enjoy a fabulous view. Another wonderful village is Ghasa which is located a few kilometers downstream from Sikha.

The weather in the Ghorepani areas during the monsoons is mostly rainy unlike the Upper Mustang or Manang areas where the sun often shines even if the peaks are often covered.

From Ghorepani, as well as being able to continue the Circuit up to Naya Pul or starting the ascent to the Sanctuary , you could consider a quick trip to Poon Hill if obviously time allows it.

Poon Hill is nothing more than a viewpoint from which on cloud-free days you have a frightening view of the entire Annapurna massif and beyond.

After Ghorepani, if your destination is Chomrong, another challenging route awaits you and if you plan to do it in one day, get up early, because it took me over 7 hours.

About halfway you will find the small village of Tadapani , from where you will launch into a steep descent that will take you 700 meters below where you were a few hours earlier. On sunny days it will give you a magnificent view of the valley leading to Chomrong. From Chomrong you will begin to truly savor the pleasure of an uncontaminated trek.

Although shorter and less intense than the Circuit, the Sanctuary is able to give you strong emotions. Emotions that I myself have felt and that I had never felt until now.

Trekking in Nepal

Once I reached Annapurna Base Camp I didn’t want to leave, it felt like someone was holding my hand.

Before leaving I stayed for hours staring at those peaks that sporadically revealed themselves. Absolute calm reigned and it seemed as if time wanted to stop.

Every village you come across in the Sanctuary has something characteristic that makes it unique . You will always find accommodation for the night and the lodge managers will certainly be able to satisfy your every culinary request.

With this I close my short summary of my Annapurna leaving you very little information about the Sanctuary. Being much more touristy, it is also much easier to find information.

Small purchases

Toilet paper, soap, spare batteries, chocolate, cigarettes.
Along the way you will find everything you need. Of course, buying in small villages away from the road involves a surcharge.
In villages like Manang, Muktinath, Jomson you can also buy trekking equipment.

How much does it cost to tackle this trekking circuit

It is essential to have with you all the money necessary for the duration of the trek, strictly in cash , because there are no ATMs along the route, except one in Jomson.

You pay for everything strictly in Nepalese Rupees, so before leaving Kathmandu or Pokhara head to a money changer.

Remember to always have small denomination banknotes with you as very often in small villages walking around with 1000 R or 500 R banknotes is a problem for change.

Since it is not the first time I have traveled to Asia, on a daily basis I oriented myself on spending ranging from 1500 R to 2000 R in the most remote areas of the Circuit or the Sanctuary where a shower can cost 150 R or where charging a mobile phone costs 100 R .

However, approximately the expense ranged from 15-20$ per day (if done completely independently) given that the exchange rate is approximately 100 R = 1$.

What will have the least impact on your expenses will be sleeping, strange but true on some days it happened to me not to pay for the room obviously as long as you eat where you sleep, otherwise the cost of the room will increase dramatically by up to 10 times the amount asked for ‘start.

Trekking in Nepal

Altitude, acclimatization and altitude sickness

The Annapurna trek reaches physically demanding heights, as you reach altitudes of over 5000 metres.

Generally the human body requires an adaptation period which takes a few days. So if you go up too quickly , you place the human body in a rather uncomfortable situation, due to the lower concentration of oxygen in the air.

Normally starting from 3500 m, you can start to experience symptoms such as headache, nausea, lack of sleep, rapid heartbeat, etc.

These are symptoms that should not be underestimated, as they constitute a warning sign of imminent altitude sickness.

To limit the probability of the onset of altitude sickness it is important to respect some simple precautions such as:

  • Climb regularly with a pace slightly slower than your legs allow. Those who are very trained very often underestimate this by climbing too quickly without realizing it.
  • Problems can arise at any time , so if you have never suffered from altitude sickness in the past it doesn’t mean that it won’t arise now.
  • If you feel unwell, avoid acting like a hero. If you ever feel symptoms, take a Paracetamol tablet . If the problem persists, avoid climbing but lower your altitude until you feel improvements. With little you will be able to recover and continue climbing. Never, ever go up if you feel sick.
  • Diamox can prevent the onset of symptoms of altitude sickness, but it does not cure it . I personally tried it for a few days but I didn’t feel this big difference when I stopped using it. One tablet in the morning is usually recommended for no more than 5 days. You can roughly start taking it a few days before reaching 3500 m. I remember that Diamox promotes diuresis, so if you normally hydrate often during the day, when you take this drug you will have to do it more frequently in order to avoid any kidney problems.
  • To avoid running into problems, after 3000m I am advised to never sleep more than 500m above the previous night’s altitude to give your body time to adapt to the lack of oxygen.
  • In the case of the Annapurna Circuit, to avoid the danger of this disease we recommend a stop for a couple of days near Manang . You can use this stop to embark on an adventure on one of the many secondary treks that you will find in this village.
  • During the ascent to the ABC you will certainly be less subject to acclimatization problems, given that your body is already well tested by the Circuit.

Trekking in Nepal

The equipment (obviously valid especially during the monsoon period)

I would advise you to find all the material you need in Italy , instead of purchasing poorly made material in the Thamel neighborhood in Kathmandu.

The most important expense that in my opinion you have to make is that of shoes.

You have to invest a lot in the shoe and in this case I recommend a light Goretex boot that wraps up to the ankle in order to avoid any nasty sprains along the way.

I do not recommend mountaineering boots , which are stiff and heavy, or approach shoes which are useless for what you are going to do.

The brands you could consult are Salewa, La Sportiva, Montura, Salomon and many others but in my opinion these are the best on the market.


Normally I face all my adventures with my trusty 100 liter backpack, although I must tell you for this adventure it was too excessive.

Inside I put:

  • Sleeping bag -10 (I feel like opening a parenthesis. I have never used a sleeping bag except on one occasion. The temperatures are not as low as I expected during the monsoon period and very often the blanket you find in the room is more than enough to sleep warm. Obviously if you go in periods like December a good sleeping bag for low temperatures is recommended. However, if you don’t want to equip yourself with a technical sleeping bag you can find some extra blankets in the tea houses where you sleep)
  • The North Face goretex jacket with double goose down padding (the latter never used)
  • Pile The North Face in polartec
  • 2 quick-drying long-sleeved technical shirts
  • 2 quick-drying short-sleeved technical shirts
  • 1 Heavy trekking trousers
  • 1 Lightweight trekking trousers
  • 1 Short trekking trousers
  • 6 pairs of technical underwear
  • 6 pairs of technical socks
  • Goretex trousers (I recommend using them only in case of heavy storms as goretex is a double-edged sword)
  • Replacement goretex shoe
  • Neck guard, gloves and glove cover in Goretex (Never used)
  • Wool hat (useful after shower)
  • Gaiters (depending on the season they can always be useful)
  • Ciabatte or Infradito
  • Head torch
  • Kit utility
  • Personal hygiene kit
  • Multipurpose pliers
  • Tablet
  • Power bank
  • Camera
  • Canteen
  • Camelback
  • Notebook and pen to jot down your thoughts
  • Sunglasses
  • Rainproof backpack cover (essential)
  • Jungle
  • Medical kit
  • Trekking poles
  • Inflatable pillow (never used)
  • Poncho towel (essential)
  • Snowshoes or crampons (in winter)


  • Broad-spectrum antibiotic such as AMOXICILLIN OR AZITHROMYCIN
  • Probiotics
  • Paracetamol
  • Rifaximin useful for the treatment of intestinal infections
  • Ranitidine useful as a gastroprotector
  • Ibuprofen which is endowed with pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties
  • OK task
  • Daiamox
  • Voltaren cream
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Cicatrene
  • Foille indicated in the treatment and dressing of skin lesions and irritative conditions of the skin such as irritation, burns, erythema and insect bites
  • Micropur Forte
  • Betadine
  • Gauze, Band-Aids, Tape
  • Scissors
  • Sunscreen
  • Sterile gloves
  • Thermal blanket
  • Steri strips
  • Single-dose disinfectant
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