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Guide to Hiking Annapurna: Preparation, Tips, & More!

January 11, 2024
8 Min Read
Men walk on a mountain slope in The Himalayas, Nepal
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Guide to Hiking Annapurna: Preparation, Tips, & More!
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January 11, 2024
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Planning on hiking the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal?

Here is an essential guide to everything you need to know to help you plan your trek. It includes details on how to prepare for your trek, tips to avoid altitude sickness, and answers to frequently asked questions about the hike.

We’ve also included some of the most helpful tips we’ve learned while trekking the Annapurna Circuit without a guide. We guarantee that these suggestions will contribute to your trekking experience!

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Annapurna Circuit Trek Overview

Length: 9 to 15 days

Difficulty: Challenging

Starting Elevation: 840m (2760ft) at Bhulbhule

Peak Elevation: 5416m (17,769ft) Thorong La Pass

Accommodations: Teahouses

Best Time to Trek: October to early December, March and April

Hikers walk through the layered Himalayan mountains in Nepal

Annapurna Circuit Trekking Itinerary

Day 1: Bhulbhule to Jagat

Day 2: Jagat to Dharapani 

Day 3: Dharapani to Chame

Day 4: Chame to Upper Pisang

Day 5: Upper Pisang to Manang 

Day 6: Manang: Rest Day

Day 7: Manang to Yak Kharka

Day 8: Yak Kharka to Thorung Phedi (Base Camp)

Day 9: Thorung Phedi to Muktinath

For a detailed day-by-day guide, read our 9-day Annapurna circuit trekking itinerary. Here we’ve outlined what you can expect, as well as our experience, to help you get a better picture of the hike.

Layered Himalayan mountains with colorful shrubs in the foregroundin Nepal

How to Prepare for Your Annapurna Trek

Here is a list of the most important things you need to do before you start hiking the Annapurna Circuit.

Prayer flags and layered Himalayan mountains in Nepal

Do Your Research

If you decide to trek Annapurna, research your route. There are various routes that you can take on this hike, including optional side treks, and there are multiple options from where you can start and end your trek.

The Annapurna trek can be completed in 9 days, but you can extend it for as long as you prefer. Plan your route including side treks and then choose the villages where you want to spend the night.

Tip: Download Maps.Me or buy an updated map in Kathmandu to help you navigate.

Layered Himalayan mountains in Nepal

What to Pack

To ensure your safety and comfort throughout your trek on the Annapurna Circuit, it is crucial that you pack properly and have all the necessary equipment. Additionally, consider the season in which you're hiking and the weather conditions when selecting your equipment.

Here’s a list of the most essential things that you should include in your backpack:

  • Sleeping bag and inner liner
  • Water bottle and purification tablets
  • Down Jacket
  • Rain Jacket
  • Thermal Clothes
  • Headlight
  • Waterproof Hiking Boots
  • Good Quality Socks
  • Gloves
  • Sunglasses
  • Microfiber Towel

We've also compiled a more detailed packing list of essentials you’ll be needing for your trek. Subscribe to our newsletter below to receive a link with the free packing list.

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Note: Thamel in Kathmandu has plenty of shops with reasonably priced gear that you can buy or rent. There are also places to rent high-quality sleeping bags and down jackets. We’ve rented both at Shona’s Alpine for about 2 USD per day. 

Layered Himalayan mountains with colorful shrubs in the foreground in Nepal

Get Your Hiking Permit

Head to the Nepal Tourism Office in Kathmandu or Pokhara and apply for two trekking permits, which cost less than 50 USD.

You’ll have to apply for the following permits:

  • Trekking Information Management System (TIMS) permit
  • Annapurna National Park Permit (Annapurna Conservation Area Permit)

Bring a copy of your passport and 4 passport-sized photos. You can also get your picture taken at the office. The whole process takes at least an hour and can take up to 2 hours, depending on how busy the office is.

A small boy in a wooden teahouse in Nepal

Top Tips for Hiking the Annapurna Circuit

  1. Aim to reach villages before 3pm to secure accommodation before the large groups arrive.
  2. Shower immediately upon arrival at your accommodation to ensure access to hot water.
  3. Order your breakfast the night before to save time in the morning and start hiking earlier.
  4. Pack slippers so you can wear something else than trekking boots after a long day.
  5. Carry a small roll of duct tape in case any equipment breaks.
  6. Bring safety pins to attach your laundry to your bag, allowing it to dry as you hike during the day.
  7. Stock up on chocolate and snacks before you start your trek. Snacks are like gold, the higher you hike, the more expensive it gets.
  8. Be mindful of porters and avoid blocking their way.
  9. Ensure you have sufficient cash on hand before starting the trek.
  10. Get travel insurance for emergencies. It's a smart precaution to have coverage in case of unexpected situations during your trek.

Get your travel insurance today at Heymondo and receive 5% off for being our reader!

A porter carrying a pink backpack takes a rest in the Himalayan mountains

How to Avoid Altitude Sickness

Take all necessary precautions after reaching an altitude of 3000m: 

  1. Plan your trek with gradual daily altitude gains to allow your body to acclimatize naturally.
  2. Stay hydrated, eat well, and ensure you get adequate rest.
  3. If you start to feel sick, stop ascending! Descend to the last place you felt fine and rest for a day. Get your body acclimatized and continue the hike if possible.
  4. Don’t consume alcohol or tobacco at high altitudes. They make you more dehydrated and can worsen altitude sickness.
  5. If you start to get a headache, try the onion soup. The locals swear by it!
  6. Take rest days to acclimatize.
  7. Attend the free seminar at the Himalayan Rescue Association in Manang to find out more about altitude sickness and to buy medicines if needed.

People enjoy the view of the Himalayan mountains and rows of prayer flags

Frequently Asked Questions

To give you a better view of what to expect on Nepal’s Annapurna Circuit hike, here is a list of the frequently asked questions (FAQs) along with answers based on our experience.

A path winds through the Himalays

How long does it take to complete the Annapurna Circuit?

The duration varies, but most trekkers take around 9-14 days to hike the Annapurna circuit. It depends on your pace, side trips, and acclimatization stops.

What is the difficulty level of the Annapurna Circuit?

The trek is considered moderate to challenging. Altitude, terrain, and weather conditions can add to the difficulty, so adequate preparation is essential.

Can I hike Annapurna Circuit alone without a guide?

Absolutely! It’s possible to hike on your own. You'll be surprised at how many solo hikers you’ll meet along the way and sometimes you just end up hiking together.

Snow-capped mountains with red bushes in the foreground

Do I need a porter?

You don’t need a porter if you only pack the essentials for the hike. If you decide to hire one, make sure to compensate them properly.

What is the accommodation like on the Annapurna Circuit?

The circuit is dotted with mountain villages with teahouses offering basic yet comfortable accommodations. Most of the time, you can just show up and walk into one of the teahouses that has an available room. The majority of the teahouses have limited electricity, no heating, and shared facilities.

What type of food is available on the Annapurna Circuit?

You can find a variety of Nepali food, but keep in mind that the availability of items will be limited the higher you go. A dish you'll often see is Dhal Bat, which consists of lentil soup, rice, and a mix of vegetables. You’ll also find Momos, dumplings filled with meat or vegetables, noodles and various soups.

Prayer flags with snow-capped mountains in the background

Will I get lost on the trek?

The trails are clearly marked, making it very difficult to get lost on the trek. We do recommend downloading Maps.Me or buying an updated map in Kathmandu just in case. It is a popular route and you will find plenty of fellow hikers along the way. Guides and porters are also very helpful in guiding solo hikers.

How much cash should I bring?

On average, you’ll spend around 25 to 50 USD per day on food, drinks, and accommodation. Cash is king in the mountains as there are no atms around. So take out plenty of cash, either in Kathmandu or Pokhara, before you start your trek.

Will there be phone service throughout the circuit?

You can buy a local sim card in Kathmandu which will work reasonably well throughout the hike. Even at basecamp, you’ll be able to make short video calls, and there are only a few areas of the hike where signal is nonexistent.

A stone building with snow-capped mountains in the background

And that’s the guide to everything you need to know before hiking the Annapurna Circuit!

We hope we’ve answered all of your questions and inspired you to hike the beautiful Annapurna Circuit either on your own or with a guide.

Read our detailed Annapurna Circuit trekking itinerary to find more information on what you can expect on the trek.

Let us know if we’ve missed anything or if you have any questions at the comments down below.

Happy trekking!

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