For a truly authentic experience in rural Nepal, this trek in the Himalayas takes you to the lesser visited villages close to Macchupichhre, Dhaulagiri and the magnificent Annapurnas – some of the highest mountains in the world. You trek through a pristine and unspoilt landscape where you are unlikely to meet many other trekkers. Instead, you’ll meet local farmers, yak herders and village people in the communities where you will be treated more as a guest than a tourist.
This trip starts with a tour around some of Kathmandu’s heritage sites. You have your first taste of village life by exploring Bungemati and Khokana in the Kathmandu Valley, before spending the night at a monastery where you can join the monks in their prayers. Breaking your journey to Pokhara at the old Newar town of Bandipur, you get a chance to stretch your legs with a day hike to the village of Ramkot where you get your first glimpse of the mighty Annapurna mountain range.
This is an easy 6-day trek that takes you up Mohare Hill, where you can admire the panorama of the Himalayas stretching in both directions as far as the eye can see. You stay in community lodges and Homestays where the benefits of tourism go straight back to the local communities.
|Day 1||Arrival in Kathmandu|
|Day 2||Kathmandu Sightseeing|
|Day 3||Bungamati and Kokana – Newar villages; Neydo Monastery|
|Day 4||Drive to Bandipur|
|Day 5||Bandipur – Hike to Ramkot|
|Day 6||Drive to Pokhara|
|Day 7||Trekking Day starting from Bas Kharka|
|Day 8||Danda Kaske and Nangi|
|Day 9||Mohare Hill (3300m, 5-6hrs)|
|Day 10||Danda Karka (2,800m; 2 hrs)|
|Day 11||Tikot (2300m; 5-6 hrs)|
|Day 12||Tipling and Pokhara (900m; 2 hrs trek and 3-4 hrs drive)|
|Day 13||Pokhara – free day|
|Day 14||Back to Kathmandu|
Some people have the idea that trekking is all sweat and hard work with no fun. This is far from the truth. Days are designed to be challenging, but not exhauMore...
Some people have the idea that trekking is all sweat and hard work with no fun. This is far from the truth. Days are designed to be challenging, but not exhausting. While you are on Throng La Pass trekking, days begin with breakfast at the tea house you stay, and you will need to pack up your baggage before breakfast, as porters will set off early. To cover the magnificent sun rays that strike on mountains, you will be on the trail by around 8 am. Stop for a leisurely lunch around noon. This is generally about 2 hours, allowing plenty of time to explore the village or relax. The afternoon walk is shorter and you usually arrive around 4 pm leaving time for excursions to nearby sites, nunneries, exploration of the village or simply relaxing with a book and catching up on your diary. Dinner is generally at 7 pm after which, you may relax to your heart’s content.
Your baggage is restricted to 15kgs. The baggage is carried by porters and is not available to you during the day. Your daypack should contain all that you need during the day. This generally consists of warm clothing, water bottle, camera gear, sunscreen, lip salve etc. Your guide will let you know each evening of any extra items you will need for the following day. If you have a comfortable day pack you load will only be a few kilograms and hardly noticeable.
No meals are included in the Annapurna Circuit Trekking. In Kathmandu and Pokhara, restaurants of every style and price-range abound. On the trekking, trail meals are available in tea houses, lodges and bhattis with limited menus. There are a lot of tea houses and lodges in Annapurna region while you are on the trekking. Meals are generally simple but filling, but you may wish to stock up on ‘trail munchies’ before leaving Kathmandu.
Accommodation in Kathmandu is on a twin share basis with private facilities. Whilst in the Annapurna Circuit Trekking, accommodation is in lodges and teahouses and is of a basic standard. Rooms may be twin or multi share, with basic shared toilet facilities. Hot Showers are available in some places for a small charge. The Tea houses in Jomsom are of higher standard than the others.
Transportation within Kathmandu valley is done with Cars or Jeeps, Van, Hiace, Coaster bus, Minibus, Coaches depending upon the group size. In Annapurna trekking region, transportation mean is hiking and in some cases, horses/mules/donkeys are used for baggage carriage. In this particular trekking route, your baggage will be carried by the porters. In Throng La Pass trekking route, hiking is the major mean of transportation while your baggage will be carried by porters and/or animals. Some part of the Annapurna region also avails jeep transfers these days.
The Guide is in overall charge of the trek and looking after you. This is the person you should go to with all problems, concerns and questions. All our guides are highly trained in all aspects of trekking, conservation, high altitude medicine, and first-aid and emergency procedures. They are professionals selected for their knowledge and passion for Nepal and its peoples, remember they are local guides and their English may be basic and limited to trek related topics.
Porters transport your baggage – one porter for every two trekkers.
It is impossible to have a ‘foolproof’ grading system as everyone has different expectations and perceptions of their own fitness level. Remember that no trek in the Himalaya is a stroll as all involve going up and down at altitude and that altitude affects everyone differently. Regardless of age or fitness, preparation, before you arrive, is essential. Aerobic activity, swimming, cycling or brisk walking is recommended or, at the very least, walk up and down stairs in your trekking boots.
Annapurna Circuit Trek is a Grade 4 Trek involving maximum altitudes around 5545m and involves days of around 5-6 hours walking.
It is best to bring a mixture of cash and traveler’s checks in major currencies – In Nepal, some of the currencies are banned for conversion and you must find the convertible currencies in Nepal. USD, CAD, EUR, and AUD are generally convertible. Ensure you have a mixture of large and small denominations.
Everyone’s spending is different, but as a guide we suggest USD 8 – 10 per meal in Kathmandu / Pokhara and USD 20 – 25 per day whilst trekking in Annapurna region (if you drink or smoke this could be higher). Shopping is difficult to predict, but most people buy more than they intended.
You should exchange enough money into Nepalese Rupees to last the entire time of your trek before leaving Kathmandu. You can find the money exchange counters near your hotel in Kathmandu and Pokhara and there are no exchange facilities in villages along the way.
Tipping is a personal and voluntary matter and tips are not included in the trip price. If you wish to reward the efforts of those who have worked to make your trek the best they can, we suggest the following: USD 4 per day for groups of 8+, USD 5 per day for smaller groups – this will be shared amongst the whole staff, including porters.
Travel insurance is not included in the trip price. It is essential that you take out comprehensive travel insurance prior to your trek. Your travel insurance must provide cover against personal accident, medical expenses, emergency evacuation and repatriation (including helicopter evacuation) and personal liability. We also recommend that it cover cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.
There are no specific health requirements for entry into Nepal. However, as Throng LA Pass trek includes maximum altitude up to 5400m, your health condition must be sound. You should consult your doctor for up-to-date information regarding vaccinations, high altitude medication and medications for any reasonably foreseeable illnesses whilst travel in Nepal. In Jomsom, there are small health posts for emergency treatment with limited equipment, limited health workers and medication.
Be aware that some drugs, including antimalarial, have side effects at altitude. Please discuss this carefully with your doctor.
Please be aware that you will be in remote areas and away from medical facilities for some time during this trip. We strongly recommend that you carry a personal First Aid kit as well as sufficient quantities of any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses).
AMS (acute mountain sickness) is a serious issue. It is the result of the failure of the body to adapt to high altitude and can affect anyone, regardless of age or fitness. It usually occurs above 1,800 meters and the likelihood of being affected increases as you ascend. The way to reduce the effects of altitude is to ascend slowly, 300 meters per day above 3,000 meters until you have acclimatized. Poor acclimatization results in a headache, nausea, sleeplessness, difficulty breathing and swelling of fingers and glands. The only cure for AMS is to descend to a lower altitude and your guide’s decision on this matter is final. The probability of AMS in this particular trekking is high, as this trail passes through altitudes above 3800 meters.
Although our routes are carefully planned to allow for proper acclimatization you may feel some effects of altitude for the first few days or at higher altitudes. An Acclimatization day in Manang is kept here in this itinerary. Breathlessness, lethargy and mild headaches are not uncommon and generally decrease as your body adjusts. Maintaining adequate fluid intake is essential. Please advise your guide if you feel more severe symptoms and do not medicate yourself without discussing it with them first.
Variation of climate is directly proportional to the altitude. For this trekking, the trekking route passes through altitudes between 700m up to 5400m. Between 2,700m and 3,000m a cool temperate climate prevails, and between 3,500m and 4,100m summers are cool and winters are very cold. Above 4,100m a cold, alpine climate prevails. There is a variation of altitude in this trekking region. You should expect cool summer and very cold winter in this trekking region. Changing global weather patterns have had their effect on the Himalayan climate and mountain weather is notoriously changeable. Always be prepared for a change in conditions and note that if severe or dangerous weather conditions occur your guide’s decision on any course of action is final.
You will need to bring a comfortable medium sized daypack to carry the things you will need during the day. This should have a waist strap or (better) a padded waist belt.
Arrival in Kathmandu
Arriving at Tribhuwan International Airport is an experience in itself. Don’t let it put you off, as our airport representative will be waiting to welcome you with your name written on a placard. Depending on traffic, the drive to your hotel takes about 20-30 minutes. (Traditional Comfort Hotel or equivalent)
Visiting three of the major UNESCO World Heritage Sites, you start in Kathmandu’s Durbar Square Built between the 12th and 18th centuries, the ancient temples, palaces and courtyards and streets is a social, religious and urban focal point of the city. Visiting the Kumari’s house, home to the living goddess, if you are very lucky you might even see her peek out of her window at you. You also see the surrounding temples and the Itumbahal courtyard. This old Newari community that is set in its large courtyard is famous for its traders in herbal spices and medicines. From Durbar Square you then walk to through Asan to the bustling Indrachowk, one of Kathmandu’s most colourful local markets. Continuing to Asan Chowk you visit the Annapurna temple, dedicated to the goddess of Grains.
You then are taken to Swayambunath, otherwise nicknamed the ‘Monkey Temple’. This is one of the oldest and most revered shrines in the country. Perched on the top of a small hill, it is a not only a major landmark of the valley but a symbol of Nepal. The stupa has been an important Buddhist pilgrimage site since the 5th century. Buddha Jayanti (Buddha’s Birthday), Gunla (a month-long festival) and Lhosar (Tibetan New Year) are all celebrated with gusto here. You can reach the shrine by climbing 365 steps up the hill or by a less steep but not so scenic route that winds around the back of the temple complex. You see many chaityas and temples but look out for the mysterious Shantipur Temple. This is where the 8th century Tantric Shantikar Acharya lived. His meditation supposedly kept him alive for centuries.
Pashupatinath Temple, considered one of the sacred temples of Hindu faith sits on the banks of the Bagmati River in Kathmandu. The seat of the national deity, Lord Pashupatinath, the temple complex has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1979. A collection of temples, ashrams, images and inscriptions, it is lies along the banks of the holy Bagmati. A major festival celebrated here is Maha Shivaratri when over 800,000 devotees visit here. Hindus believe in cremation within a day of death. You may see funeral pyres smoking as this believed to be one of the most auspicious places to be cremated.
Bungamati and Kokana – Newar villages; Neydo Monastery
Bungamati and Kokana are typical Newari villages with traditional architecture and narrow, unpaved streets where the rituals of daily life are always in full swing. They offer a fascinating glimpse of rural life in the Kathmandu Valley. In both villages, day to day life takes place more outside on the streets than indoor, with villagers spinning, caring for their young children, gossiping, and drying their crops in the sun. Wood carving is still a living tradition and you can see beautiful pieces of woodwork being produced like doors and window frames. Bungamati is one of the two homes of the rain god, Raato Machhendranath. Kokana is particularly renowned as for its mustard oil.
Neydo Monastery in Pharping, about 22 kilometres from Kathmandu, is a world apart in its little corner of the southern part of the Kathmandu Valley. A Tibetan monastery, there are up to 140 monks living in the monastery who come from Nepal and India. The present Karma Charmé is the seventh reincarnate lama of in the unique Neydo Kagyu tradition, which also follows the Nyingma lineage Tibetan Buddhism.
You stay in the monastery’s adjoining guest house. Originally built to accommodate monastic visitors, it was under-used so it was decided to open it for guests to stay, using the profits to contribute to the day-to-day expenses of the monastery. The rooms are all very comfortable with ensuite bathrooms, a kettle to make tea and coffee, and a private balcony.
The monks are very happy for you to join them for their early morning and evening ceremonies in the main hall. Watched over by a towering image of the Amitabha Buddha, many people chose this peaceful setting for personal retreats, meditation, and courses that are given on Tibetan literature, Buddhist philosophy and ethics. (Neydo Monastery Guest House)
Drive to Bandipur
You are driven to Bandipur Described at a ‘living museum of Newari culture’ by Lonely Planet, Bandipur lies on a ridge about 700m above the river. An important stop for traders along the India-Tibet route in the eighteenth century, the Newars brought their cultural heritage and architecture which has remained unchanged. In the nineteenth century, Bandipur was a prosperous trading centre, with its buildings that have ornate elegant neoclassical façades and wood-carved shuttered windows.
Although the town suffered a decline in the 1970s after the building of the Prithvi Highway from Kathmandu to Pokhara, a lot of work has gone into helping restore Bandipur to its former glory. Bandipur Eco-Cultural Tourism Project (BECT-Project) that is funded by EuropeAid supports Bandipur as a unique tourist destination. Now with its glorious 18th-century architecture, pedestrianized bazaar and cafes, it is a very relaxing place to chill out.
Visit the Silkworm Farm to see the fascinating process of how silk is produced. The farm grows mulberry plants which are fed to the silkworms that are reared indoors. There are temples all around the main bazaar with the ornate Bindebasini Temple, at the northeast end, a two-tiered temple dedicated to Durga with walls covered carvings; Mahalaxmi Temple to the southeast, dating from the medieval period, in the style of a pagoda; Chandithan to the west; and Narayan Temple to the east of the main bazaar area. Here there are statues of the god Harihar and the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu inside. Khadga Devi Temple is one of the most revered even if it looks more like an ordinary house. The shrine contains a Khadga, a sacred sword wrapped in layers of cloth and legend has it that it was a present from Lord Shiva to Mukunda Sen, king of Palpa (1518-1553 A.D.) The Khadga is worshipped as a symbol of the female power, hence the name Khadga Devi, which means goddess of the sword.
Bandipur – Hike to Ramkot
Today you hike to the Magar village of Ramkot, two-three hours’ walk from Bandipur. Here you see wooden balconied houses and a few, now rare thatched roundhouses. You first come to Purano Kot, formerly an old fort twenty-minute walk west from the bazaar. A small temple nearby contains old statutes. Beside this, a newer temple has been built, where local people come to pray for rain to the god Mahadev during times of drought. Ramkot is an easy couple of hours hike. It is a typical Magar village with traditional round houses and is untouched by modern development, offering an opportunity to see the lifestyle of people in rural Nepal.
Not only are there spectacular views from your hotel, but a short walk to Tundikhel gives an excellent vantage point to the north of Bandipur’s main bazaar where you can see the sun setting over the Himalayan Range including Dhaulagiri, Machhapuchhre, Langtang, Manaslu and Ganesh Himal, among others. You should be able to see the legendary Gorkha Palace and Manakamana Peak and look down to the Marsyangdi Valley, Bimalnagar and Dumre. Tundikhel was where traders gathered to bargain over goods from India and Tibet before starting the long trek to Lhasa or India. It was also a former parade ground for Gurkhas serving with the British Army.
Drive to Pokhara
From Bandipur, it is about three hours (but just 78 kilometres) on the Prithvi Highway to Pokhara. Continuing westwards across the Madi River, you climb again with views of deep rocky gorges crossed by suspension bridges before descending to the broad Seti Valley.
Pokhara lays on a once vibrant trade route between India and Tibet. Even to this day, mule trains can be seen sometimes camped on the outskirts of the town, bringing goods to trade from remote regions of the Himalaya. This is the land of Magars and Gurungs, hardworking farmers and valiant warriors who have earned worldwide fame as Gurkha soldiers. The Thakalis, another important ethnic group here, are known for their entrepreneurial skill.
There are lots of things to see and do in Pokhara. There are a few museums, the most notable being the International Mountain Museum (IMM). In addition, there is an ethnographical museum, Pokhara Regional Museum and Annapurna Natural History Museum with collections of flora and fauna, and butterflies. There is also the Gurkha Museum featuring the history of the Gurkha soldiers. Gurkha soldiers are still recruited here in Pokhara. You might like to go boating or take the opportunity to try out paragliding. For the fearless, you might want to have a go at Nepal’s second bungee jumping site: Water Touch Bungee Jumping. Or if you are interested in Tibetan culture, you can take a tour of the Tibetan settlements with a Tibetan guide.
Trekking Day starting from Bas Kharka
You are driven to Galeshwor to start your trek. As you head up to Bas Kharka, climb through forest and then orange groves, passing scattered farmhouses on the way to this attractive village. You have time to explore this Magar village, maybe visit the school and health post, and in season, enjoy the sweet oranges that grow on the hillsides here. (Community Homestay)
Danda Kaske and Nangi
Heading up through the forest to Danda Kaske, this is where you stop for lunch. Overlooking the valleys, as well as admiring the lovely views, you get a good chance to meet some of the local people. and admire the views. After lunch, it is a leisurely walk on to Nangi, the main village where you spend the night. Here you can visit the school, see how the villagers make paper from the locally grown plants, visit a medicinal plant nursery, and see a number of other income-generating projects. (Community Lodge)
Mohare Hill (3300m, 5-6hrs)
Today you climb through forest, accompanied by stunning views of the mountains. On the top of Mohare Hill, you can see the Himalayas stretching as far as the eye can see, with close-up views of Macchupucchre (Fish Tail Mountain) and Dhaulagiri. Surrounded by forest, don’t be surprised to meet yaks grazing nearby. There is no village here, but there is the highest wireless internet relay station in Nepal, providing internet to the remote villages for schools and health posts that use telemedicine, linking up with hospitals in Kathmandu to provide better healthcare in the villages. (Community Lodge)
Danda Karka (2,800m; 2 hrs)
After a fantastic ridge walk with marvellous views in every direction, you descend through forest to the secluded lodge at Danda Karka. The mountains here seem so close, you feel could reach out and touch them. (Community Lodge)
Tikot (2300m; 5-6 hrs)
Continuing down, you pass through changing scenery as you go down to Tikot, a village of narrow lanes and beautiful houses. Here you visit the school and experience the fascinating Mayar dance tradition (the men dress as women, while the women sing traditional songs). Staying with families in their home, you get a close-up glimpse of village life in this fascinating and bustling village. Sit and watch the women carrying huge mountains of grass to feed their buffalo; see the children clutching their books on their way to school; see the villagers working in their fields. (Community homestay)
Tipling and Pokhara (900m; 2 hrs trek and 3-4 hrs drive)
Too quickly the trek is close to the end. From Tikot you descend a steep path down to Tipling, with amazing sheer views down to the Kali Gandaki river below. After about two hours of descent, at Tipling you are met and transported back to Pokhara.
Pokhara – free day
There are lots of things to see and do in Pokhara. The most notable museum is the International Mountain Museum (IMM). In addition, there is an ethnographical museum, Pokhara Regional Museum and Annapurna Natural History Museum with collections of flora and fauna, and butterflies. There is also the Gurkha Museum featuring the history of the Gurkha soldiers. Gurkha soldiers are still recruited here in Pokhara. You might like to go boating or take the opportunity to try out paragliding. For the fearless, you might want to have a go at Nepal’s second bungee jumping site: Water Touch Bungee Jumping. Or if you are interested in Tibetan culture, you can take a tour of the Tibetan settlements with a Tibetan guide.
Back to Kathmandu
Fly back to Kathmandu takes only about 35 minutes. You have the rest of the day free. You might like to try out one of the many cooking classes or workshops on offer, go for some more sightseeing or do some last minute shopping.
You transfer to Tribhuvan Airport to connect with your onward flight. Please note that you should check in three hours prior to your flight time.