The Annapurna Circuit is one of the most popular treks in Nepal, highly praised as a spectacular trekking route since it opened to foreign trekkers in 1977.
This magnificent trek leads you through villages inhabited by a wide diversity of ethnic groups including Gurung, Manangi and Thakali. offering spectacular and majestic views of the Himalayas. As it continues to the north of the main Himalayan range on to the high and dry Tibetan Plateau, the scenery is equally breathtaking.
Drive From Kathmandu to Besishar. Local jeep drive to Chamje.
Besisahar is the traditional starting point for one of the most famous multi-day treks in Nepal, the Annapurna Circuit. Besi Sahar is a busy, concrete town set at the base of a hill and is the district headquarters of Lamjung district. We only stop here briefly to transfer to a local jeep for the drive to Chamje. The countryside becomes more attractive as you pass small villages and the beautiful Chamje waterfall.
Trek from Chamje to Bagarchhap.
Leaving beautiful Chamje Village behind, you will begin today with an ascent through beautiful, terraced fields. Climbing higher, enter an amazing forest of Rhododendron. On the way you will cross a suspension bridge over the Marsyangdi River as well as crossing a number of smaller streams and bridges before reaching Bagarchhap.
Trek from Bagarchhap to Chame.
Start your day walking upwards along trails through dense forests of pines and oaks. Pass Danakyu before arriving at a beautiful village inhabited by the Tamang community, situated at the base of Lamjung Himal. From here you will walk through flat land alongside the Marsyangdi River passing through small villages to Chame. You stay in one of the tea houses for the night.
Trek from Chame to Pisang.
Leaving Chame trek up to Telekhu (2840m) to then continue a pleasant and mostly level walk through a forest to Brathang (2950m). After the trail turns a corner here, you see your first dramatic view of the Paungda Danda rock face. This is an enormous, curved slab of rock that rises over 1500m from the river. Cross back again to the south bank of the Marsyangdi on a suspension bridge at 3080 meters and then start up the long gentle climb over a ridge covered by blue pine forest. The trek from here is fairly level as it heads to the upper part of Manang valley to Pisang. This town is at the beginning of the region known as Nyesyang, the upper portion of the Manang district.
Trek from Pisang To Manang.
Trekking up to the Tibetan-style village of Bryaga (3500m). Here you see houses stacked one on top of the other, each with an open veranda that forms the neighbour’s rooftop. The gompa, perched on a high crag overlooking the village, is the largest in the district and has an outstanding display of statues.
Continue through a very arid landscape that is dominated by curious cliffs of yellow rock that have been eroded into dramatic pillars alongside the trail. The afternoon will present increasingly imposing views of Annapurna II, III and IV. The village of Manang has several shops, lodges and restaurants
Today is a day to acclimatize to the thinner air. There are plenty of things to do in this fascinating village. Don’t miss the small cultural museum in the centre of the village, with its collection of artefacts from the villagers, it is a treasure trove of a traditional way of life that has hardly changed over the generations. There are plenty of walks that you can do, exploring the glacial lake, walking down to visit a monastery, or exploring the old part of the village. You might like to hike slightly higher to Khangsar, a 200 meter ascent. However, it is important to have a relatively restful day to allow your body to acclimatize to the higher altitudes and thinning air. It is a good opportunity to do a bit of laundry!
Trek from Manang to Yak Kharka.
Today you are headed for Yak Kharka. As you ascend you will be amazed by the everchanging subtleties of the unique landscapes, quaint villages, diverse topography, beautiful hills, mani walls, alpine yak pastures, taking you to Yak Kharka.
Trek from Yak Kharka to Thorong Phedi.
Today starts out hiking through relatively flat fields with the most amazing mountain views, taking you to Churi Ledar. Leaving Chauri Ledar you will cross a large suspension bridge before climbing a steep path which meets back up with the trail on the other side of the valley. On the way the trail crosses a landslide, a section where you need to be careful and stick with your guide. After that you’ll reach Thorang Phedi.
Trek from Thorong Phedi to Muktinath Via Thorong La pass.
This is the longest and most challenging day, but also one of the trek’s highlights as you cross the Thorong-La Pass (5416m). Starting early before it is light, it is a long, tough ascent via a number of small hills. You need to cross the pass by about 9 or 10 am ideally as the wind gets up later. Locals have used this trail for hundreds of years bringing their sheep and yaks in and out of Manang so the route is very clear. When you reach the prayer flags marking the top, you are rewarded with a spectacular panorama of some of the highest mountains in the world. You can see over to the Kali Gandaki Valley and across the entire Annapurna range, with Mukut and Mustang Himal to the west.
As you make the long descent (about 1600m) you are accompanied by outstanding views of Dhaulagiri in the distance. Eventually, the trail becomes less steep, and you enter pastures and cross meadows to Muktinath, which means place of Nirvana.
Muktinath is home to a temple and several monasteries. It is said that all your sorrows are relieved when you visit this temple, a sacred pilgrimage site for both Hindus and Buddhists. The temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and from here spring water flows from a rock face from 108 spouts (108 is a sacred number to Buddhists). Below Vishnu’s statue runs a trickle of water with pale flames caused by natural gas. There are shrines to Shiva, his consort and Padmasambhava as well as numerous chortens and the surrounding poplar grove that supposedly sprang from the staffs of the 84 Siddhas. The main pilgrimage normally takes place in September.
Local bus to Narchyang / Reserved Jeep.
This morning take a local bus from Muktinath to Narchyang. The bus will follow one of the ancient trade routes between Tibet and India. Narchyang Community Homestay is known for its breathtaking views and beautiful trails, yet there are many more hidden treasures in this area. Here most of the people are Magar. A network of Magar kingdoms once controlled this area; today they marry only within their ethnic group and retain their own languages ensuring the continuity of their culture.
Trek from Narchyang to Sikha.
Today you are back on foot. Leaving Narchyang behind, start with a steep climb to Ghara where magnolia, citrus and banana trees grow in the subtropical environment. Along the way you get to view the mesmerizing mountain peaks such as Machhapuchhre and Annapurna south. The inhabitants leave corn and peppers drying on the roofs of their houses, the children are taught in the open air and the slopes in the valley are largely quarried for the construction of terraces.
Trek from Sikha to Ghorepani.
Leave Sikha Village with an uphill climb via stone steps through forests of Rhododendron and enjoying the scenic views as far as Ghorepani, One of the largest villages in the area, the views of the Himalayas from here are amazing. On a clear day there are 360° views of the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri Himalayas. Dhaulagiri I, II, III, IV, V, Tukuche, Dhampus, Nilgiri, Annapurna South, Barah Sikhar, Machhapuchhre (aka Fishtail) are some of the major peaks seen from here.
Hike to Poonhill, Trek from Ghorepani to Ramghai.
From Ghorepani, it takes just an hour to walk up to the top of Poon Hill, the major attraction of this area. Visiting Poon Hill early in the morning for the sunrise over the Dhaulagiri and Annapurna ranges is a memorable experience.
Return for breakfast before setting out for Ramghai. The trail today is a mixture of flat paths, uphills, and downhills. It is quite an interesting route in terms of the landscape you see, the majestic mountains and the people you meet on the trail. Just after leaving Ghorepani, you navigate steep stairs amidst a dense forest filled with rhododendrons. There is a resting place perfectly placed right after the end of the stairs. Here the ridgeline is decorated with prayer flags on a stone slab. The path becomes narrow, with wooden logs serving as stairs and your views of the hills recede as you descend.
Trek to Nayapul. Drive to Pokhara.
Trekking through forests of oaks and rhododendron, following stone steps you descend down the path until you reach Nayapul. At Nayapul your driver will be waiting to take you back to Pokhara where the trek ends.
Our guide Santos and both porters (Sujan & Susan) brought our journey to another level. The Anna Purna Circuit itself is breathtaking, their company heartwarming.