The natural beauty and diversity in the Annapurna Circuit is captivating and hence why it is widely regarded as one of the best long-distance trekking routes in the world. The milestone of this trekking route is ‘Thorang La pass’ sitting at 5416m and providing a gateway to cross from the district of Manang to Mustang.
The Annapurna Circuit trek ranges from 180km-230km and it takes around 9-15 days to complete the whole journey. However, the trek could be shortened or the travel plan could be adjusted to extract the maximum output from this trek in case only a limited time is available. Here we recommend you a route which could be completed in 9-21 days. This trek offers one with the opportunity of viewing the Annapurna range up close from different directions as well as witnessing several other peaks along the way.
The starting point for this trek has been chosen as Kathmandu and a 5-6 hours ride from there will get you to Besisahar (760m), also known as the ‘gateway for Annapurna Circuit Trek’. Several people start their journey from Besisahar itself but we recommend you to take another ride from here to either Chamje (1430m) or Chame. Besisahar to Chame can be reached in around 4-5 hours and is quite an ideal place to start the trek.
The journey from Chame to Pisang passes through incredible forests. Apple garden, and waterfalls, while providing beautiful glimpses of the Annapurna range. This journey can be completed in 5-6 hours and is relatively easy. You can choose your stay in either Lower Pisang (3200m) or upper Pisang (3300m), with both the places providing exquisite views.
The journey from Lower Pisang to Manang can be said to be the easiest in the entire route. It takes around 5 hours to complete this journey and it passes through the Humde Airport (3280m) and Braga village (3300m). This route provides some breathtaking views of the mountains and offers snippets of what’s next to come. Manang is one of the most facilitated areas in this entire route and you could choose to spend the next day here for acclimatization.
Acclimatization is an important part for completing long treks as it is important to ensure that the body remains in the perfect physical condition and is not pushed beyond its limit. There are several attraction points in and around Manang and you could choose to spend the day here exploring several lakes and villages.
The journey from Manang to Yak Kharka can be completed in 4-5 hours and a number of different hotels and tea houses offer accommodation. Climbing from the village of Tenki, the route passes through juniper trees and crosses the village of Ghunsang (3900m) en route to the destination.
After walking from Yak Kharka, you can choose your next destination at either Thorang Phedi or you can climb up to High Camp. It takes around 5 hours to reach Thorong Phedi but it is advisable to stay in High Camp if you do not want to put too much pressure on yourself in a single day. However, there is only one hotel at High Camp and you should try to pre-book your stay in case you are traveling in the peak season.
The journey from High Camp to Thorang La usually takes up to 4 hours but you should not push yourself too much. Although you could choose to cross the pass from the other direction, crossing from Manang to Muktinath ultimately remains the safest and easiest route. You should start as early as possible in the morning, preferably 3am-4am to avoid the heavy wind. The descent to Muktinath takes another 3-4 hours.
The main objective is achieved as soon as you reach the Thorang La pass and the next part of your journey from Muktinath is completely dependent on your choice. You can trek in Mustang and visit places such as Jomsom(2720m), Kagbeni (2800m), Tato Paani (hot water spring), etc. or you could also choose to leave from Muktinath or Jomsom to Pokhara. If you wish to visit Tilicho Lake (4920m), you will have to take a different route from Manang via Khangsar (3734m). After visiting the lake, one could re-join the journey near Yak Kharka. Overall, this trip provides you with the chance to experience enthralling beauty of nature and diverse cultures along the way and it leaves you with memories that could be cherished for the rest of your life.