- Length of trail 250 km, 155 miles
- Length in days 18 days
- Start of trail Nayapul
- End of trail Besi Sahar
- Traildino grading SW, Strenuous walk, mountain trail
- Hut tour grading T2, Mountain walk
The classic trek, hiking around the Annapurna Circuit, “The Best Trek in the World”, may soon be a thing of the past. Even in 2007 some 70.000 hikers registered at Jomsom. This was coming close to the number of 76.000 reached in the year 2000, before the communist uprising.
But now, there is a road into the valley of the Kali Gandaki up to Muktinath, below Thorung La pass. In the Manang valley, on the other side of the Annapurna massif, a road is under construction. Although the road is not asphalted, walking is very dull and tiring along a wide dusty stretch with passing jeeps. Nevertheless it will cause the old pathways to fall into disuse eventually. Possibly, sufficient good alternatives will remain. Also the trek to Annapurna Sanctuary, the climb to Poon Hill, and for the toughest hikers the circuit between Thorung La and the 5000 m high Tilicho Lake, will continue to attract hikers.
Trekking the Annapurna Circuit takes about 18 days. Starting point is Pokhara, a peaceful hippie-town on the shores of pictur-esque Phewa Lake, with a view on the snow-capped Himalaya. From there most hikers catch a bus to the town of Besi Sahar, and start hiking up the deep valley of the Marsyandi. In a week's time you will gain over 5000 m in altitude, and pass through all kinds of biotopes, from rice growing villages of the Gunung to Tibetan barley fields. Along the way you will see lovely villages, pass countless mule caravans and forests of rhodondendron. As you enter deeper into the valley, you will get a better view of the Annapurna III and the Gangapurna. There are alternative trails higher up along the slopes: be sure to take these for superb views.
The valley ends in a wild alpine environment, and for many hikers the climb across Thorung La (5416 m) will be their metaphorical 'high'. Climbing across is exciting, but not without danger, and above all exhausting. In October 2014 dozens of people died when they got trapped in a blizzard while descending from Thorung La to Muktinath.
After reaching the western side of the massif, the trail leads through the Tibetan style towns of Muktinath and Kagbeni into the valley of the Kali Gandaki. It ends with yet another 3 day hike to Poon Hill, from where you can enjoy a final overview of a large portion of the Himalaya. Finally you will reach the main road near the village of Nayapul, at about an hour's drive by bus or taxi to Pokhara.
Some practicalities: the hike is technically easy, but requires a lot of stamina. Finding a place for the night is easy, as there is a wide choice of lodges. However, it does get busy in October, and also in November and April. During the monsoon in June, July and August hikers are few. The majority of hikers set out on the Annapurna Circuit in an anti-clockwise direction. The reason is, from the eastern side there are more lodges, enabling you to cut the climb up Thorung La pass into several short stretches. Starting from Muktinath on the west side is also possible, but implicates a single stretch climb of 1600 m, starting at an altitude of 3800 m.
- Helen November 2003
- Rate 8
- Positive Great variety in landscape and villages along the way. Crossing Thorung La was a huge achievement.
- Henk Nouws December 2008
- Rate 8
- Positive Colorful. Crossing the Thorung La pass is unforgettable. Wild mountain scenery. Kind people.
- Negative The road ...
- Traildino December 2008
- Rate 8
- Positive Incredible mountain scenery. The crossing of Thorung-la - 5.400+ - is spectacular. The people are very kind and interesting. At the end of December one is virtually alone.
- Negative The new road is great for the villagers, but not for walking. In places, one can still find the old path, but it's withering away. Thorung-has no road of course.
- Patrick Mahaffey February 2009
- I hiked for 4 weeks with my teenaged daughter along the classic 'Annapurna Circuit' trek. It was one of the best hikes in the world between huge Himalyan mountains and past charming medieval stone villages. Sadly, a road had been completed along...
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