One of the most humbling, out of this world experiences I’ve had to date is trekking the Annapurna Circuit for 16 days. There are many things to take note of before going off the grid and trekking your booty off for a couple weeks. Below is all the information I gathered along my trip through the Annapurnas.
- You do not need a guide as the trail is clearly marked with red and white paint along the way. However, if you would like a guide they range from $15-$30 a day.
- I carried my own pack, but a porter service is available as well. Price varies but people pay between $7-$15 a day.
- If you are on a time crunch you can take a jeep further down the trail to start in higher elevation. Should be $10 per person for a jeep, but price varies depending on how many people you gather into one car. We started in Tal where the scenery begins to change drastically from rainforest and rice fields to high white capped mountains.
- Don't be afraid to walk along the road. There are certain areas like from Jomson to Taitopani that people recommend taking a bus. The bus ride is a lot sketchier than walk, trust me on this one.
- Pick apples along the way for a perfect snack. Enjoy the apple crumbles and pies made in the bakeries and restaurants.
- Bring trekking poles. A little bird tells me it takes 30% of the weight off your legs when trekking!
- Sleeping bags and down jackets are necessary. Some tea houses do not have blankets and it gets really cold at night.
- Altitude sickness pills are a must! Take half of one in the morning and half of one at night. Start the day before you start trekking and you should be good to go. Tingly hands and feet are normal.
- Use water purification tablets in the tap water instead of buying water bottles. This helps to minimize waste and saves money. The bottles of water get a lot more expensive the higher you trek. The water purification tablets are fifty cents for ten tablets.
- Bring sunscreen, you will get burnt and quite sun kissed along the trek.
- Bring enough cash with you, a lot of the ATMs are out of money on the trek. I averaged $20 (2000 rupiah) a day.
- Enjoy meeting fellow trekkers. You’ll run into a lot of friendly faces on the trail and you may even create a trekking family like we did!
- You’ll notice the fields of marijuana along the way. The locals don’t understand why we pick it, but it’s mind boggling to see how much of it grows along the trail.
- Bring a hat, gloves and a face mask. You can buy these along the way, but you’ll want a hat to protect your face from the sun, the gloves to keep your hands warm and a shield for your mouth and nose for the dust.
- Less is more. Pack lightly to make it easier on yourself if you’re carrying your own bag. I wore practically the same thing everyday.
- Try the sea buck thorn juice. A local specialty filled with heaps of vitamin A and C!
- Don’t forget to stretch!
- Take breaks along the way. Every two to three hours have a snack or stop for thirty minutes. You will need the energy and the break.
- Take rest days if you need them especially if you are having problems climatizing. We saw people of all ages on the trail. You can do it, just take your time!
Tea house etiquette on the Annapurna Circuit
- Many places will offer free accommodation or accommodation for very cheap if you eat two meals at the tea house. Do not offend them by going to other restaurants in the villages.
- The food takes a long time. Order your dinner at least an hour before you want it and breakfast the night before with the time you want to be served.
- Always bring toilet paper as there is no tissue ever in any guesthouse. Bring your own or embrace the locals way of doing things with their hands.
- Sit and talk with the families. They have a lot of stories and some will even allow you to watch them cook. So many beautiful souls along the way.
Bus to Besisahar - 500 rupiah. Took three hours from Pokhara.
Jeep to Tal - to avoid the 1700 meter incline and the two to three sweltering days of trekking through the rice fields at lower elevation we paid $10 to take a jeep. It’s a very sketchy road but an experience nonetheless.
Sleep in Tal - Potala Guest House. Nicest guest house in the area.
Tal to Timang - 8 miles. Lots of incline, stop along the way in the villages for a tea or snack. Tibet Lhasa Guesthouse is where we slept.
Timang to Dhikur Pokari - 13.3 miles - stop in Chame and in Brahtang at the Farmhouse for a break. The Farmhouse has rooms to stay in on the largest apple orchard in the Annapurnas. Stop here and stay if you wish, but it is 500 rupiah per person for room even if you eat there. Gangapurna Hotel is a great guesthouse in Dhikur Pokari.
Dhikur Pokari via Upper Pisang to Ngawal- 8.2 miles - 1 mile straight uphill zig zag climbing over 2700 feet in elevation to Ghyaru. Be sure to take Upper Pisang for the spectacular views. Eat at Luv Kush Restaurant once you reach Ghyaru. There are a couple viewpoints on the way to Ngawal that you shouldn’t miss. Stay at Hotel Peaceful in Ngawal. Our favorite guesthouse along the trek. The family was amazing and the views were stunning.
Ngawal to Braka (Bhraga) - 5 miles - An easier walk. Stop in Mungii for food at Sholhukumbu Sherpa Restaurant. Hotel New Yak is superb in Braka.
Day trip in Braka to Ice Lake - 6 hours round trip. Climbed to 4650 meters. 3.7 miles up and then 3.7 miles back down.
Climbed over 1000 feet to climatize - 7.1 miles total.
Stunning views along the way! Challenging day, but worth it! Leave early in the morning as it gets windy at the top after midday.
Braka to Manang- 1.3 miles - Himalayan Singi Hotel. Rest day for laundry and exploring the surrounding Gangapurna Lake and Monestary. Great coffee across the street at Sanna Bakery. Best egg curry at the Dal Bhat Local Restaurant. Manang is a perfect place to load up on cheap snacks and knick knacks if you need them.
Manang to Tilicho Base Camp - 10.7 miles - Leave early to secure a room at Tilicho Base Camp. There are only two hotels to choose from and if you don’t make it in time to secure a room do not panic, they allow you to sleep in the dining room for free. Stop in Shreekharka for a break as the trail to Tilicho Base Camp is quite challenging. There are many landslide areas so you must be on high alert as you pass through them. This is the sketchiest trail we came across.
Tilicho Base Camp to Tilicho Lake then back to Khangsar - 14.4 miles - Leave at 3:30am to reach the lake by sunrise. My favorite part of the entire trek was Tilicho Lake. It feels as though you are on a different planet. This is a must see!
Bring all your warm gear though because it’s extremely cold up there.
Maya Hotel in Khangsar is where we stayed. Take a shower here because you will only find bucket showers until you reach the village after the pass.
Khangsar to Manang to Yak Kharka - 11.6 miles - we went back through Manang because we left some stuff there but you can climb straight the Yak Kharka. Thorong Peak Hotel has a delicious yak cheese veggie burger!
Yak Kharka to High Camp - 5 miles - 1 mile steep zig zag incline from Thorung Phedi to High Camp - Leave early to secure accommodation at High Camp. There is only one hotel, first come first serve. Check out the viewpoint at High Camp it is incredible!
High Camp to Thorung La Pass to Muktinath - 8 miles - Leave at 4am to get to the pass by sunrise. Wear your warm gear and enjoy a black tea when you reach the top. Bring snacks with you. You will decline 2000 meters in elevation. Take your time getting to Muktinath. It’s very hard on the knees if you go fast. Bob Marley Hotel is the best in Muktinath.
Muktinath - Jhong - Putak - Kagbeni - 8 miles - more beautiful views and less traffic along the road if you take this path. Leave early as the winds get intense getting into Kagbeni. Visit Applebee’s and Yakdonalds. We stayed at Hotel Yeti because everywhere else was full or too pricey.
Kagbeni to Jomson - 6 miles - We messed up and walked along the river farther than we should have. We had to climb up a landslide and through the river. Take the toad halfway to avoid having to do this. Trekkers Inn in Jomson has great Dal Bhat.
Jomson to Taitopani - 800 rupiah for a bus. Sketchy bus ride, but worth it in the end. Himalayan Hotel was another one of our favorites. Great food and amazing hosts. I recommend the special veg dal bhat. Visit the hot springs for 150 rupiah. Hang out with the locals by the river and rest your sore muscles.
* Taitopani to Ghorepani - Poon Hill - take the two extra days to do this part of the trek if you have time! Poon Hill is a bit crowded but offers 360 degree views of the Annapurnas.
Taitopani to Beni - 15 miles - Long hot journey through the rainforest, but I wanted to finish the trail and so we went for it!
Bus to Pokhara - 200 rupiah. Five hours later and your back in civilization!
191.7 kilometers/127.8 miles in 16 days
Enjoy the most beautiful scenery, wonderful locals and challenging days of trekking. The Himalayas are a very healing place. I cannot wait to go back!