The Annapurna Circuit trek is one of the most popular treks to do in Nepal. It has long been known as the go to trek for great mountain views, welcoming villages and an experience like you won’t forget.
However, in recent years, a road has been become a point of contention as it is being built along part of the route. However, with this, you can now easily do the trek in 2 weeks which used to take over 3 weeks to complete. So through this post, I hope to show you my itinerary that I took to complete this trek and give some tips and advice along the way about doing this trip yourself.
Annapurna Circuit Trek Itinerary
Annapurna Circuit Day 1 – Pokhara to Besisahar then Jeep to Jagat
The first day of your trek will not involve much trekking at all. If you are in Pokhara, you will first want to get a bus to Besisahar. These buses can be found in numerous places in Pokhara so it’s best to consult with a tour guide or travel agency in the town first.
It takes about 4 hours to get to the town of Besisahar. For us we took a lunch break in Besisahar and had a delicious plate of Dhal Bhat. Following that, my guide arranged a jeep to take us to the town of Jagat. It took a few more hours to get to this town at 1290m.
Jagat is a good stopping point for the day and there are enough nice lodges in the town to find a good place to rest your head.
So even though there wasn’t much trekking this day, I was exhausted from the travel and was nice to have a few hours in the evening to relax and prepare myself for the rest of the trip.
Annapurna Circuit Day 2 – Jagat to Dharapani
Roughly 5 hours of trekking
The 2nd day after a delicious and filling breakfast, we started off on our first day of trekking. This day would see us go from Jagat to Dharapani. Dharapani is at around 1900m, so not a whole lot of altitude gain this day, but as with all Nepal treks, nothing is really flat and so there is always a lot of ups and downs on the trek.
The day started off with a beautiful waterfall just outside of Jagat. After that, you will go through some other villages like Chyamje.
Also, as with almost all other treks in Nepal, you will cross numerous metal bridges like the ones in the picture below.
Onward still, you will go through the beautiful riverside town of Tal. Right by the river and deep in the valley, this is a great stopping point for a lunch of noodles to stock up on more energy for the rest of the trek.
Towards the end of the trekking day, you will finally reach Dharapani at 1900m deep in the valley with nice mountain and river views around.
We stayed at a great lodge that had amazing views from the room.
Annapurna Circuit Day 3 – Dharapani to Chame
Roughtly 5hrs 45min trekking
After another early start after a filling breakfast, we started out way to Chame. Just outside of Dharapani, you will get your first views of some snowcapped mountains of the far off Manaslu range.
After trekking and starting to gain in elevation, around lunch time you will reach the stunning village of Timang at around 2600m.
The views of the Manaslu range would be some of the best we got the whole trip and was so nice to be able to rest here while eating lunch. Timang was definitely one of my favorite places this day and would recommend that if you weren’t in a hury to even change your schedule and maybe spend a night here.
After lunch, we had to continue on so we hiked past and through Thanchowk. Another nice town with great views of the surrounding hills and mountains.
Later in the afternoon after more trekking we reached the village of Koto where we could get our first glimpses of the Annapurna Range and Annapurna IV.
Finally after what seemed like a really long day of trekking, we reached Chame at 2710m. We stayed at a great lodge with views of Annapurna IV.
Annapurna Circuit Day 4 – Chame to Upper Pisang
Roughly 5 hours of trekking
Another day with more great scenery. This day took us from Chame to Upper Pisang. In total about 5 hours worth of trekking.
It was not the easiest morning to start though as I had gotten sick the night before. Thankfully for dinner, I had some ginger garlic soup and that helped calm my stomach so that by morning I was feeling a bit better.
The morning also started off rather foggy, so not much for views.
Eventually though, the fog cleared off and we were in store for a really clear day with amazing views of the mountains.
As you reach nearer to Upper Pisang, you come upon a monolith of a rock called Paunga Danda. It dominates the horizon and is hard to miss.
We made it to our lunch spot at Dhukur Phedi and had a nice rest and meal to get more energy for the afternoon climb up to Upper Pisang.
From our lunch stop to Upper Pisang it was mostly trekking up a hill towards the village.
The town of Upper Pisang is located at 3310m and has great views of the Annapurna range. It is also an amazing village because it is olden style with wooden homes and has a great traditional feel.
The views of Annapurna II from our hotel in Upper Pisang were spectacular.
Annapurna Circuit Day 5 – Upper Pisang to Ngawal
Roughly 3.5 hours of trekking
This day would be from Upper Pisang to Ngawal. Not a super long day of trekking, but one with stunning views all along. Also, now that we were above 3000m, we wanted to take things a little more slowly to acclimatize to the altitude.
So from Upper Pisang as you started to hike towards Ngawal, you got great views looking back towards Upper Pisang.
Leaving the Upper Pisang Area, it was then a roughly 400m climb up to the village of Ghyaru.
A hard climb, but one that was rewarded with incredible views! In Ghyaru, this is a really nice stupa that overlooks the valley and the beautiful Annapurna Range.
So we stopped there for a drink break.
Ghyaru is another great village to go through as it gives you that real traditional feel with the stone construction.
As the day draws on and you get nearer to Ngawal, you start to get some really wide views of the Annapurna Range.
Then finally, you will reach Ngawal at 3680m. Another stunner of a village and a great place to spend the night. We got here early enough too that we had lunch and took the afternoon to rest.
The night views in particular were some of my favorite as you could see millions of stars from the lodge.
Annapurna Circuit Day 6 – Ngawal to Yak Kharka
Roughly 6.5 hours of trekking
It was a good thing we had a short day the day before, because this day became much harder than we anticipated. Originally, we were only going to a place called Gunsang. However, the lodges there were closed because of the low season. So we had to continue a further 2.5 hours to Yak Kharka. A bit further and higher than we originally wanted to go, but it worked out in the end.
So after breakfast, we started towards Manang. The views just outside of Ngawal though were spectacular that morning.
As we climbed down from Ngawal and entered the valley, we reached the Marsyangi river again and got closer to Manang.
Just before Manang though, there is a beautiful village called Braka almost built into the rocks.
Just a short trek from Braka is the town of Manang. It is quite a large village for this area and a popular stop off for a lot of trekkers. For us, we were just here for lunch. So we ordered lunch and then took a quick 30 minute hike to Gangapurna Tal, a stunning glacial lake nearby.
After lunch, we started the climb up towards Gunsang and had amazing views down towards Manang.
Realizing that the lodges were closed in Gunsang, we continued on towards Yak Kharka. Along the way were close views of Chulu West Peak.
We finally arrive in Yak Kharka (4000m) rather late in the afternoon, but still had good views of the mountains.
Annapurna Circuit Day 7 – Yak Kharka to Letdar
A short day, but another day to acclimatize before attempting the pass. So this day, we only trekked for a few hours from Yak Kharka to Letdar. An altitude gain of only about 200m. But when you are already above 4000m, this is the best way to go. It was also Christmas day, so was nice to have the day to rest and call family.
We started later in the morning than normal as it was an easier day for us. The views were nice leaving Yak Kharka.
And before we knew it, we had reached Letdar at 4200m.
The day/afternoon in Letdar was extremely windy and had us worried about whether the weather patern was changing. Sure enough, that evening, a bit of snow began to fall. Thankfully, that morning when I woke up, it hadn’t snowed too much and it made everything very very beautiful.
The lodge in letdar was one of the most memorable as well, as it was quite nice.
Annapurna Circuit Day 8 – Letdar to Thorong La High Camp
Roughly 5.5 hours of trekking
This day would see us go from Letdar at 4200m all the way to Thorong La High Camp at 4900m. Quite an increase, but this was because we wanted to start our pass crossing from the higher altitude at 4900m vs starting at Thorong Phedi at 4500m. As we had acclimatized the few days before, we felt like this was a safe option for us and I’m glad we did as the pass crossing was hard enough going from Thorong La High Camp.
Also, the views from the high camp are out of this world and worth it to stay the night there. It was a really cold night though and didn’t sleep the best as it was December and winter season. However, it would be cold everywhere that time of year.
So the day started in Letdar and we started trekking, we also started to climb more and meet more people as there are less and less lodges up in this area.
After a while we reached an area called the landslide area. I’d imagine during certain times of the year, this can be a rather dangerous area, however we carefully walked through without incident.
Eventually, after quite a bit of climbing, we got our first view of the high camp area. The high camp is located at around 4900m.
After getting into our rooms, I decided to check out a hill behind the lodge. From this hill, you get the most incredible mountain views for the whole trip. At least that’s what I thought.
So after a delicious dinner at High Camp, it was off to an early sleep as the next morning we would be waking up early to cross the Thorong La Pass.
Annapurna Circuit Day 9 – Thorong La High Camp to Muktinath
Roughly 7 to 9 hours of trekking
This was the epic day over the pass. The pinnacle of the trek for a lot of people and also the highest point of the trek while crossing the Thorong La Pass at 5416m.
The morning started early before sunrise with a quick breakfast. Then it was time to bundle and layer up and start the way up to Thorong La Pass. It was a clear morning and for the first part of the trek, it was a line of head torches heading up the pass.
After a while, the sun started to rise and so we could turn off the torches. As the sun was starting to rise, it started to light up the landscape nicely.
Just before reaching the pass, looking back and the sun just about to rise above the horizon.
And success, we reached the Thorong La Pass at 5400m. However, this was just the start really as we now had to go down roughly 1700m to Muktinath. Not an easy feat.
So after taking photos at the pass and feeling jubilation, it was time to head down the pass.
Slow and steady is the best way to head down Thorong La Pass. It winds quite a bit, is steep in sections, has loose gravel in others, and some places were quite icy yet. So best to go slow and steady.
Finally, we got a view of Muktinath in the distance. It would still take a while to reach there though.
That evening in the lodge, I was able to take some awesome star trail photos from the rooftop.
Annapurna Circuit Day 10 – Muktinath to Kagbeni
Roughly 5 hours of trekking
After another delicious breakfast, we were on our way to Kagbeni. On the way to Kagbeni, you go through Jharkot. A beautiful village and monastery on a hill.
Leaving Jharkot, we followed a road along side some frozen lakes.
From the way to Kagbeni, you get a great view back behind you of the Thorong La Pass area.
Eventually after a few hours of trekking, we reached views of Kagbeni down in a valley beside a beautiful river.
Kagbeni is a stunning village that needs to be explored to be fully appreciated. Along the river and with really old buildings, you can spend hours just wandering the narrow alleys.
After exploring the town in the afternoon, the evening was a stunner again with a beautiful starry sky!
Annapurna Circuit Day 11 – Kagbeni to Jomsom
Roughly 3 to 4 hours of trekking
The final day of the trek is from Kagbeni to Jomsom. A rather short day and not too difficult.
The first part of the trek takes you through the dry river valley surrounded by the soaring hills.
Later on, views open up and you are able to see Dhaulagiri.
Finally, we reached Jomsom in about 3 hours. So a very easy day, but one to celebrate the finish of our Annapurna Circuit Trek.
Annapurna Circuit Day 12 – Jomsom to Pokhara
This wasn’t a trek day, but a travel day like the 1st day of the trek. Flights from Jomsom are almost exclusively in the morning before 11am because otherwise the winds get too strong for flights to go off.
Thankfully for us, our flight was on time and we had an amazing flight back to Pokhara.
The flight time is less than 1 hour, however, the views make you want to stay up in the airplane for much longer. The whole way you are flanked by the beautiful Himalayas and Annapurna Range that you just trekked around.
For those who have extra time, I’d recommend continuing the trek onward from Jomsom for a few more days. You can experience hot springs, more awesome mountain views and the great hospitality of those running the tea houses.
So there you have it. The Annapurna Circuit trek in 2 weeks (if you include the 2 days getting from Kathmandu to Pokhara). Read on for trek tips and hotels.
Tips for The Annapurna Circuit Trek
- Dont’ be afraid to go on the Annapurna Circuit trek during the early winter time. I’ve been to Nepal over 5 times during December/January and only once did a snowstorm stop our trek and we had to turn around.
- If you do go in winter, just make sure you pack enough warm clothes and you have a sleeping bag rated for cold weather. Good boots are helpful as well to stay warm enough. Although, honestly during the day, trekking in short sleeves was normal with plenty of sunshine.
- Teahouses along the Annapurna circuit are quite nice and many have extensive menus of things to eat. These aren’t luxury hotels though, so just keep that in mind when staying there. I personally recommend eating Dhal Bhat as it fills you up, most places let you have extra for free and it’s nutrient rich for trekking.
- When taking and choosing a guide, meet them first before going on the trip and settling the money. You will be with this guide for many days, so make sure you can communicate. If you want to choose your own lodges, let the guide know that in advance. Otherwise, the guide may have lodges that they personally know and will recommend.
Where to stay in Pokhara/Kathmandu
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If you are doing the Annapurna Circuit Trek, you will need to spend some nights in Kathmandu as that is where the international airport is, and you will also spend a night or two in Pokhara.
Both cities have their own personalities. For nature, you can’t beat Pokhara and Phewa Lake. Best hotels are near the lake and I’ll list a few below. For Kathmandu, the main tourist hub is Thamel and Kathmandu is great for historical places and citylife.
Hotel Landmark Pokhara – A beautiful hotel with lakeside views. Beautifully decorated rooms and a restaurant at the hotel. Travel desk as well for information or tours.
Hotel Snowland – Friendly staff, only 100 meters from Phewa Lake and well priced rooms.
Pokhara Choice Inn – 500 meters from the lake with great views from the rooms. Bike hire available and well decorated with tv’s in each room.
Ambassador Garden Home – Beautiful Boutique hotel located in the heart of Thamel. Wonderful rooms and service!
The Milestone Hotel – Great spacious rooms in Thamel. 24 hour front desk and currency exchange. Flat screen tv’s and aircon.
Hotel Travellers Home – Nice budget hotel with rooftop terrace, wifi, and great service.
So if you have any comments or questions about the Annapurna Circuit Trek, please let us know in the comment section below!