An unbeatable walking adventure, Annapurna Circuit and Base Camp Trek -18 days takes you past the three major trekking destinations in the Annapurna Region. Walk the Annapurna Circuit, Ghorepani Poon Hill trail, and enter the Annapurna Base Camp.
The trek across the classic Annapurna Circuit trail involves crossing one of the world's highest mountain passes, Thorung La Pass (5416m). Tread past the world's deepest gorge, the Kali Gandaki River gorge before heading down to Ghorepani. A hike up to Poon Hill lets you experience an incredible Himalayan sunrise. Visit the sanctuary of the gods at Annapurna Base Camp. Annapurna Sanctuary enclosed by Annapurna I (10th highest mountain in the world), Annapurna South, Hiunchuli, and Gangapurna is said to be the abode of the local gods.
Experience diverse ethnic cultures and landscapes. The high and arid mountain villages of Chame, Pisang, Braga, and Manang are inhabited by Manages who practice Tibetan Buddhism. The Thakkalis populate the Kali Gandaki river valley, while the hardy Gurungs and Magars live in the middle hills. From alpine forests to arid and deep canyons, from dusty valleys to lush green forests and terraced fields; you will walk through it all.
|Day 1||Drive from Kathmandu (1,400m/4,592ft) to Chame (2,660m/8,725ft)|
|Day 2||Trek to Upper Pisang (3,300m/10,824ft)|
|Day 3||Trek to Manang (3,540m/ 11,612ft) via Ngawal|
|Day 4||Manang: Acclimatization Day, Hike to Ice Lake (4,600m/15,088ft)|
|Day 5||Trek to Yak Kharka (4,050m/13,284ft)|
|Day 6||Trek to Thorong Phedi (4,525m/14,842ft)|
|Day 7||Trek to Muktinath (3,800m/12,464ft) via Thorong La Pass (5,416m/17,765ft)|
|Day 8||Trek to Marpha (2,670m/8,758ft)|
|Day 9||Trek to Kalopani (2,530m/8,299ft)|
|Day 10||Trek to Tatopani (1,190m/3,904ft)|
|Day 11||Trek to Ghorepani (2,874m/9,429ft)|
|Day 12||Hike to Poon Hill (3,210m/10,529ft) – Trek to Tadapani (2,600m/8,530ft)|
|Day 13||Trek to Chhomrong (2,170m/7,119ft)|
|Day 14||Trek to Himalaya (2,310m/7,579ft)|
|Day 15||Trek to Annapurna Base Camp (4,130m/13,550ft) via Machhapuchhre Base Camp|
|Day 16||Trek to Bamboo (2,310m/7,579ft)|
|Day 17||Trek from Bamboo to Matque (1,070m/3,510ft) – Drive to Pokhara (800m/2,625ft)|
|Day 18||Drive from Pokhara (800m/2,625ft) to Kathmandu (1,400m/4,592ft)|
Annapurna Circuit and Base Camp Trek -18 Days offers the ultimate trekking experience in the Himalayas. The trail weaves past the ancient Annapurna Circuit route and goes down to the popular Ghorepani Poon Hill trail covered with lush rhododendron forests. The stunning Annapurna Base Camp is the last destination of this epic trekking adventure. En route you cross Thorung La Pass, a mountain pass higher than the tallest peaks of Europe, and Kali Gandaki River, the deepest river gorge in the world.
You kick start your adventure with a long drive from Kathmandu to Chame via Besisahar. From Chame, you start trekking and walk past an alpine scenery filled with conifer trees, rivers, and wooden bridges. The villages en route are decorated with Buddhist shrines and prayer flags. You cross Upper Pisang, Ngawal, Braga and Manang. Known as Mananges, the inhabitants of these villagers follow Tibetan Buddhism and culture. They have their own dialect which is very different from Nepali. You spend an extra day in the village of Manang acclimatizing. An arduous hike to the frozen Ice Lake serves as the perfect acclimatization hike.
A pre-dawn hike to Thorung La ensures that you cross the beautiful but treacherous pass well before the afternoon clouds come in. After spending precious moments celebrating your achievement, you descend to the pilgrimage site of Muktinath. Known as the place to attain salvation or 'moksha' Hindus as well as Buddhists flock to this sacred spot from all over the globe.
An arid landscape filled with high canyons and barren hills covers the next part of your trail. You walk on the Kali Gandaki River's dry and dusty river bed as you make your way to the medieval Thakkali town of Marpha from Jomsom. Trekkers call Marpha 'Apple Pie Country' because of its apple orchards and delicious apple pies. Kalopani is the last Thakkali settlement on your itinerary.
Next, you move down to the hot spring of Tatopani before proceeding to Ghorepani. From Ghorepani, you hike up to Poon Hill, another highlight of your trek. The Himalayan sunrise from Poon Hill is the stuff good memories are made of. The glowing sun lighting up the snowcapped Annapurna Massif, Dhaulagiri, and other mountains will remain in your heart and mind forever.
The trail weaves past one of the largest rhododendron forests in the world. In spring, the trail is filled with white, pink, and red rhododendron blooms. Bright feathered birds and butterflies flit along the trees and bushes making your journey a pleasant one.
You walk past and stay at Gurung and Magar villages. The teahouses at these villages are an extension of large local homes. It is a tough walk to Annapurna Base Camp, the last highlight of your trip. The trek via Machhapuchhre Base Camp is filled with incredible views of the Annapurna Mountains.
The area around ABC, known as Annapurna Sanctuary is sacred ground. Locals believe their gods reside in the glacial basin. Surrounded by the towering summits of Annapurna I, Annapurna South, Gangapurna, and Hiunchuli, Annapurna Sanctuary looks splendid in the first glow of the morning light. The sunrise from Annapurna Sanctuary is a fitting finale for this unforgettable adventure. You end your trek with a hike down a scenic trail filled with terraced fields and traditional farms. Your Annapurna adventure finally ends with a drive from Pokhara to Kathmandu.
You will get to enjoy views of 8000, 7000, and 6000 meter Himalayan peaks throughout your journey. Though no technical climbing is required, you need to have a high level of physical fitness to complete this adventure. The trek involves walking in altitudes above 5000 meters. The highest point you will reach is Thorung la Pass at 5416m.
You begin your adventure by leaving Kathmandu in the morning and driving towards Besisahar. The highway is smooth and you have a pleasant ride driving past hills, forests, and rural settlements. It is an off road drive from Besisahar to Chame. As the road is not pitched the journey is rough and bumpy.
Set amongst green hills, Chame is a charming little settlement filled with stone houses. You spend a night here at a teahouse run by a local family.
Overnight at a teahouse in Chame.
After breakfast, you pack your stuff and start trekking making your way to Upper Pisang. You are deep in the mountains and the views are wonderful. The trail goes past rivers, bridges, and forests. There are mule trains with tinkling bells sharing the trail.
The village of Upper Pisang is filled with prayer wheels, prayer flags, and traditional houses. The villagers are Buddhists and one can find old men and women with small prayer wheels or meditation beads on their hands. The Himalayan mountains seem close enough. Once you reach Upper Pisang, you head to a local teahouse and take a well-deserved rest.
Overnight at a teahouse in Upper Pisang.
The views of Annapurna II and III are incredible as you make your way to Manang. The air gets thinner and colder as you ascend higher. The trail goes through hills covered with conifers, icy rivers, and snow-covered mountains. You stop briefly at the picturesque village of Ngawal before continuing to Manang. Chortens, Buddhist shrines, and prayer flags dot the trail. After a rough hike, you feel glad to reach Manang your stop for the night.
Overnight at a teahouse in Manang.
Manang, flanked by the Annapurna and Gangapurna mountains seems like a village straight out of a storybook. You spend a day in this quaint settlement acclimatizing and preparing for the tough Thorung La crossing. Manang is one of the oldest villages on the Annapurna Circuit trail. The bustling village was an important stop for traders trading along the Tibet salt route in the bygone days.
You take a side trip to Ice Lake which lies about 16 kilometers from the village. To reach the lake you have to walk past the settlement of Braga and take an upward trail. Ice lake lies at an elevation of 4600m and elevation gain will leave you out of breath. But the views are stunning and worth every ragged breath. After taking pictures and soaking in the views you return to your teahouse.
Overnight at a teahouse in Manang.
More amazing sights of the snow-covered Gangapurna and Annapurna await you on the trail to Yak Kharka. Herds of blue sheep, yaks, and Himalayan Tahr graze on the stubby shrubs and mountain grass. Riders on horseback gallop on the dusty trails. Horses are still a common means of transport in these parts. Yak Kharka which was a camp for yak herders has a couple of stone and wooden teahouses. You make your way to one of them where rooms have been booked for you and check-in.
Overnight at a teahouse in Yak Kharka.
You are getting closer to Thorung La, the pass you have been dreaming to cross since starting out. The section of the trail leading to Thorong Phedi is one of the most dangerous. Prone to landslides, the gravel trail is narrow and hugs the side of a barren hill. It is windy and dusty up here, high above the tree line. Thorong Phedi, your stop for the night, lies surrounded by vertical cliffs. At 4525m, this would be the highest overnight stop.
Overnight at a teahouse in Thorong Phedi.
You wake up before dawn and head up to High Camp. You need to have an early start as the weather starts deteriorating as the day progresses. You will have to cross the Thorung La Pass before it gets too windy and foggy.
Using a headlamp you make your way up in the dark. At High Camp, you stop for refreshments and warm yourself before plodding on. The hike is tough because of thin air which makes breathing difficult. Once you reach the pass, take selfies and pictures of the incredible views of the mountains. You can view the Tibetan peaks rearing in the distant horizon. After spending ample time at the snow-covered pass decorated with vibrant prayer flags, you head down to Muktinath.
Overnight at a guesthouse in Muktinath.
Muktinath, lying on the great Kali Gandaki River banks, is a sacred Hindu and Buddhist pilgrimage spot. Muktinath Temple and a Buddhist Gompa that lies close to the temple are the highlights of this place.
Leaving Muktinath you trek down to the medieval town of Marpha. The route along the Kali Gandaki River is filled with astonishing sights of grand canyons and arid landscape. You follow a trail that is mostly flat and sometimes downhill. Walk past the bustling Thakkali town of Jomsom and head to Marpha. The desert-like landscape is dusty and desolate.
Marpha, a medieval Thakkali town filled with apple orchards, stone alleyways, and traditional houses used to be an important trading town in the olden days. Trekkers call this 'Apple Pie Country' because of the delicious apple pies sold here. Check into a local teahouse and later check out the baked apple goodies at one of the local bakeries.
Overnight at a teahouse in Marpha.
Leave Marpha and head down the Kali Gandaki river valley. The Kali Gandaki river gorge is the deepest gorge in the world and it feels surreal to walk on the dry river bed. Surrounded by brown hills bereft of vegetation, the walk on the stony and sandy river bed with the wind howling on the canyon feels out of this world.
The landscape changes as you cross the village Larjung. Green trees and shrubs seem soothing to your senses. Kalopani, surrounded by old traditional houses looks ancient and charming. Untouched by modern civilization, the sleepy village seems like a place from a distant past.
Overnight at a teahouse in Kalopani.
A pleasant walk past an alpine landscape, the trail to Tatopani is a scenic one. The route follows a lush coniferous forest and green pastures. This is a welcome change from the dry and arid landscape of the past few days. As you descend lower you can feel the humidity and the change in the temperature. Cross the checkpoint and Ghasa before finally arriving in Tatopani, your stop for the night.
Tatopani which means 'hot water' in Nepali is famous for its hot springs. Locals come from far and wide to bathe in the therapeutic water of the hot springs. You can enjoy a dip in the steamy pool and relax your sore muscles.
Overnight at a teahouse in Tatopani.
The trail to Ghorepani is well laid out and paved in stones. There are signs at interactions indicating the way to Ghorepani. It is a long walk past lush forests of oak and rhododendron. Follow and up and down route till you reach Ghorepani. The settlement was named Ghorepani or Horse Water as it was a popular rest stop for traders journeying to Tibet on horses. There are several lodges and teahouses with modern amenities and you choose one where you can spend a restful night.
Overnight in Ghorepani.
Wake up before sunrise and head to the hilltop vantage point of Poon Hill. The most popular Himalayan sunrise viewpoint in the Annapurna Region, Poon Hill offers amazing 360-degree views of the Annapurna Massif, Dhaulagiri, Gangapurna, and Hiunchuli. The sun rising over the snow-covered mountains is a sight to remember. After taking in the views and clicking pictures head down to Ghorepani, collect your stuff, and proceed towards Tadapani.
Follow an up and down trail past a thick rhododendron forest. The forest along this route is one of the world's biggest rhododendron forests. During spring the path is filled with blooming trees. Cross Deurali and Birethanti before finally arriving in Tadapani, your overnight stop.
Overnight at a teahouse in Tadapani.
Continue on an up and down trail to Chhomrong, a picturesque Gurung village. The village has cute cottages that have been converted into lodges or teahouses. Stay at one of the beautiful local teahouses with an open porch and awesome view of Annapurna South.
Overnight at a teahouse in Chhomrong.
Take a downward trail and cross a suspension bridge. From there climb up and cross Sinuwa. The river and the waterfalls look pristine and beautiful. Walk past the settlements of Doban and Bamboo. Thickets of Bamboo and gnarly roots of oak trees cover the trail.
It is a tough walk and you are relieved when you finally reach Himalaya, a popular stop for trekkers on the Annapurna Base Camp route. Rest your tired feet and enjoy some hot brew at the teahouse.
Overnight at a teahouse in Himalaya.
You make an early start and head to Annapurna Base Camp, another major highlight of your trip. You walk past the Machhapuchhre Base Camp located at the foot of the Fishtail Peak. This is one of the few mountains in Nepal which hasn't been climbed. This is a sacred mountain worshipped by locals and stepping on it is prohibited.
As your body has gotten used to high altitude, you won't feel the discomfort attached to walking at such a high altitude. Savor close up views of the Annapurna Massif from the Annapurna Base Camp.
Overnight at a teahouse in Annapurna Base Camp.
Wake up before dawn and head to Annapurna Sanctuary. The sanctuary is a glacial bowl ringed by Annapurna South, Annapurna I (the 10th highest mountain in the world), Hiunchuli, and Gangapurna. Enjoy standing close to 8000 and 7000-meter peaks. Take pictures and head down to your teahouse. Have breakfast, pack up, and walk down to Bamboo.
Overnight at a teahouse in Bamboo.
From Bamboo head down to Matque. En route crosses the villages of Sinuwa, Chhomrong, and Jhinu Danda. The final walk of your trek takes you past a typical Nepalese countryside with terraced fields, traditional mud houses, and farms.
On reaching Matque walk to the highway and catch a vehicle bound for Pokhara.
Overnight at a hotel in Pokhara.
Bid goodbye to Pokhara and head to Kathmandu. You can either take a private or public vehicle or fly out of Pokhara. It takes around 25 to 30 minutes to reach Kathmandu by flight.