12 Tips for walking the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal!

In this blog you will find 12 useful tips for the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal. These tips come from our own discoveries and experiences while doing the Annapurna Circuit. These are all tips that we would have liked to know before we started this cool hike in the Himalaya of Nepal!

Tips for the Annapurna Circuit!

For ten days we walked through the Himalaya mountains, along rivers, small villages and with a view of the most beautiful peaks and glaciers. We walked a large part of the Annapurna Circuit, a beautiful track through the Himalayas of Nepal. In the end, we even crossed one of the highest mountain passes in the world, the Thorong La Pass, 5416 meters high!Nepal mountain views Annapurna Circuit

What is the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal?

The Annapurna Circuit is a trek that cuts through the Himalayas. This trek owes its name to the seven impressive Annapurna mountains that you pass during the hike. The entire trek can be done in three weeks, but many people walk for 10-14 days. The (literal) highlight of this hike is the Thorong La Pass. During the hardest day of the hike, you climb over 900 meters to this 5416-meter high mountain pass. Then you descend another 1600 meters the same day to sleep in a lower valley.

Read about our personal experiences hiking the Annapurna Circuit Trek!

Is the Annapurna Circuit the same as the Annapurna Base Camp (ABC)?

No, the Annapurna Circuit is different from the Annapurna Base Camp trek (ABC trek). During the ABC trek you walk to an altitude of 4130 meters, along with the beautiful Poon Hill. Here you have a great view of Annapurna 1, 2 and 3.

The Annapurna Base Camp trek is less high and shorter than the Annapurna Circuit Trek. A comparison between the two is difficult to make. The ABC trek is not necessarily easier than the Annapurna Circuit. During the Annapurna Base Camp trek, there is a day when you have to climb 3,500 steps. And that is a real challenge!Temples of Nepal things to do

Annapurna Circuit vs Annapurna Base Camp trek

We walked the Annapurna Circuit and, therefore, have no experience with the Annapurna Base Camp trek. What we do know is that the ABC trek is a lot more popular and therefore busier than the Annapurna Circuit trek. The ABC trek is also more expensive because of its popularity. In general, you pay a little more for tea houses and food.

The tips below are written for the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal, but will in many cases also apply to the Annapurna Base Camp!Transport in Nepal Annapurna Circuit Donkey

12 things you need to know before starting the Annapurna Circuit!

If only we had known the things below before we started the Annapurna Circuit Trek in Nepal! Hopefully, you can learn something from this!

Annapurna Circuit tip 1. You can walk the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal without a guide [Note: since 2023 it is mandatory to walk the Annapurna Circuit with a guide.]

We were very surprised at how many other travellers we encountered who, like us, walked independently without a guide. Because the route for the Annapurna Circuit is clearly indicated, you can easily walk this hike without a guide. In addition, so many other walkers do the same trek that you often have someone in front or behind you who can ask for advice. [Note: since 2023 it is mandatory to walk the Annapurna Circuit with a guide.]

Please note: we used this book to map out the route! Just buy the latest version of this in Kathmandu. You can also buy a detailed map of the area here. In addition, Maps Me is handy to download on your phone!

Read this blog our detailed itinerary for the Annapurna Circuit Trek plus handy map!

Nepal Annapurna Circuit Experience Travel guide

Do you need a guide for the Annapurna Circuit to reserve tea houses?

No, a guide is not required to make tea house reservations. There are more than enough tea houses, with enough free places to sleep. However, there are two exceptions: Base camp and High camp, the last rest stop before crossing the highest pass of the Annapurna Circuit. The range of tea houses here is limited.

Our solution for booking a place to sleep in Basecamp was to leave for Basecamp extra early and arrive in time to occupy a room. There is also one tea house (this house) where you can reserve your place to sleep a few weeks in advance via Facebook.

Would you rather walk with a guide: then that is of course perfectly fine. An additional advantage of hiring a guide is the creation of local employment!Nepal group trekking Annapurna CIrcuit Himalaya

Annapurna Circuit tip 2. Tea houses are much more luxurious than we thought!

Such a big surprise: hot showers, working wifi and relatively clean rooms and beds! We had really imagined something different from the hotels/tea houses during the Annapurna Circuit. For example, we thought that we had to sleep in a dormitory every night, get dirty blankets and hardly ever shower, if only with cold water.

No, the tea houses on the Annapurna Circuit were really much more luxurious than we thought. Except for one night, we always had a private room. Furthermore, we were able to take a hot shower at most tea houses, without having to pay extra and there was working wifi everywhere. Manang colorful tea house, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal

Annapurna Circuit tip 3. Every kilo counts, pack as light as possible!

We walked without porters and so we carried our luggage on our back for two weeks. And that is tough! I had a little underestimated how heavy it would be, because believe me, every kilogram counts. So pack as light as possible (leave the rest of your luggage at your hotel in Pokhara).

Convenient: On the trek you will find water points where you can refill your water bottle or water bag for a small fee. So you don’t have to carry huge amounts of water with you and you don’t have to buy polluting plastic bottles along the way. We used this water bag that was in our backpack, very handy.

Make sure you pack only the bare essentials: don’t bring all those extra t-shirts and pants. On the way you can still have your laundry done in Manang, so you really do not need much!Annapurna (dag 4)

What to pack for the Annapurna Circuit? In this blog, you will find a Himalaya packing list!

Annapurna Circuit tip 4. You can arrange a porter until the last moment

Do you have a weak back or do you find it physically difficult to lift your luggage? Then a porter/carrier is the solution. A porter lifts all your luggage during the circuit for you. Porters have the lowest rates when you hire them for the entire circuit (15-25 euros per day).

But you can also hire a porter during the route. Even for the toughest parts of the circuit, it is possible to have your luggage carried by a porter. You pay a lot more for this (for a two-day porter who helps you pass the pass you pay 150 euros), but it is nice security for when you do not know whether you are able to cross the Thorong La Pass with that (too) heavy bag.

Note: You are responsible for the well-being of your porter. So make sure you don’t let him carry too much weight and that he has enough warm clothes and the right shoes.Annapurna (dag 2)

Annapurna Circuit tip 5. The higher you go, the more expensive everything becomes.

Actually very logical, the further you walk and the more you go up, the more expensive food, drinks and accommodation are. Products are more expensive because it costs more money to bring them up the mountain. Accommodation is scarcer and therefore more expensive.

As a joke, we created a Dahl Bhat (the curry dish you will eat anyway) and Mars index. In villages up to 4000 meters high, Mars was still €3.50, while at the highest point it cost €5.Annapurna (dag 3)

Annapurna Circuit tip 6. It gets really cold at night!

Yes, we knew it would get cold. But that it could be so cold, we didn’t think that. During the day it is often still warm due to the sun, but as soon as the sun is behind the mountains (often around 4 p.m.) it gets really cold. The rooms of the tea houses where you sleep are not heated and often not properly insulated. So make sure you have a really warm sleeping bag with you! We used these and these sleeping bags from NOMAD. They kept us so warm that we slept very well every night!Best places to stay in Nepal

Annapurna Circuit tip 7. Until Manang you can still buy supplies and extra gear

Forget something? Or are you unsure about buying a walking stick, extra sweater, medicines or heat packs? Almost everything is still for sale on the way. In villages like Manang and Chame you can really find everything. From tiger balm for your stiff muscles to heat packs, shoes (and laces, mine almost broke) and hats. So don’t worry if you’ve forgotten something! You can still buy anything until Manang.Annapurna (dag 3)

Annapurna Circuit tip 8. This is a big physical challenge: chances are you will lose weight.

After our trip through East Africa, I had gained some extra pounds. But those vanished after 10 days of hiking the Annapurna Circuit! Even though I ate a lot to keep my energy up. Because you walk 3-8 hours every day, you lose some weight anyway. In addition, your physical endurance is also increased after this hike! Because of the height you have a lot of extra red blood cells, which makes it easier for your body to absorb oxygen.

Annapurna Circuit tip 9. How do you get from Jomsom to Pokhara?

Our endpoint (and with us that of many others) of the Annapurna Circuit was Jomsom. This is a relatively large village at an altitude of 2743 meters. To get to our starting point we simply took a bus and then a Jeep. Unfortunately, it was a lot less easy to go back to Pokhara from our endpoint Jomsom.

There are three ways to get from Jomsom to Pokhara:

Flying: from Jomsom to Pokhara

Several flights go directly from Jomsom to Pokhara every morning. Unfortunately, many flights are cancelled because there is too much wind. In addition, booking a flight in advance is not convenient because you do not know when you will finish the hike. Flying is not cheap.Nepal Airport in the Himalaya mountain range

By bus: from Jomsom to Pokhara

Dozens of buses go from Jomsom to Pokhara every day. There is more than enough choice. It takes about 12 hours by bus. Twelve very miserable hours, as we heard from many other travellers. Because the road is extremely narrow and in very bad conditions, you will be shaken for hours. In addition, and that was the reason that I did not necessarily want to take the bus, this bus ride is known as unsafe. Every year, there are several fatal bus accidents where buses crash into the ravine.bus to Pokhara

By jeep: from Jomsom to Pokhara

This was the travel method we ultimately chose. You will be in Pokhara from Jomsom in eight hours by jeep. In addition, the jeeps are slightly more resistant to the shaking over the bad roads. Most importantly, the jeeps are narrower and have far fewer accidents on this route. We paid 40 euros per person for a seat in a jeep. We could accidentally arrange this on the day of departure, but generally, you have to reserve a jeep a day in advance. It is possible to negotiate (a little) over the seat price.

So keep in mind that travelling from Jomsom to Pokhara is not that easy. It is expensive and chances are that you have to stay overnight in Jomsom before you can leave.Jeep to Besi sahar

Annapurna Circuit tip 10. Bring enough money: there are no ATMs!

You will not find an ATM throughout the Annapurna Circuit, even in “big” villages like Jomsom. Almost no tea house or shop offers the possibility to pay with credit or debit card. And if it is possible, take into account a very high surcharge (think 10%) on such payments.

We did come across a bank twice. In an emergency, you could exchange money (dollars or euros) here, or withdraw money here. Here too, high transaction costs are involved. So make it easy for yourself and bring enough cash with you! If you are with two people, take into account about 40-45 euros per day, and you will have more than enough! If you travel alone, start from 25 euros.Nepal Couple goals hiking the Annapurna Circuit

Is travelling in Nepal expensive? Read our Nepal budget blog to read all about prices and money in Nepal!

Annapurna Circuit tip 11. Expectation management for the Annapurna Circuit: don’t underestimate it, but don’t make it too big either.

“The Annapurna Circuit Trek will be easy and very double!” was what Ries thought. “Oh my god, it will all go wrong, we will fall, get sick or end up in a snow blizzard” was what I thought. Yes, sometimes Ries and I are quite different. I often see things that can go wrong, while Ries is sometimes a bit overconfident.

When I asked Ries what he did not expect from the Annapurna Circuit, he immediately replied “That I it would be so hard sometimes!”. Funny because I experienced the exact opposite, I found it much easier than I had expected. What many hikers overestimate are sleeping conditions. These are not so bad. But what is often underestimated is altitude sickness and that can be a life-threatening underestimation!Annapurna Circuit Walk high sleep low

Altitude sickness during the Annapurna Circuit

Many people underestimate altitude sickness during the Annapurna Circuit. No matter how healthy you are, even if you are in perfect shape and never sick, altitude sickness cannot be predicted. You cannot cure altitude sickness except by going to a lower altitude. With altitude sickness medicines you suppress symptoms * so that you are less affected.

If you go on with severe symptoms for too long, altitude sickness can become really dangerous. You can then get HAPE or HACE, altitude sicknesses in which your brain swells or you get fluid in your lungs. These forms of altitude sickness are life-threatening and very acute. If you do get this, you must immediately go to lower ground!Best viewpoint of Annapurna Circuit Nepal

How do you prevent altitude sickness?

Prevention is better than cure and that is especially true with altitude sickness. There are several things you can do to prevent altitude sickness:

  • Ascend very slowly: take enough rest days, do not sleep more than 500 meters higher than the day before and do not rise more than 1000 meters in two days.
  • Walk high, sleep low: try to take a hike to a few hundred meters higher on rest days. Stay at that height for half an hour, but then get back to the lower area.
  • Drink enough: from 2500 meters, every 1000 meters ascent means drinking a litre of water more
  • Walk slowly: a real challenge, but make sure your pace is slower than usual
  • Don’t drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes: perfectly logical right?

Tip: the medicine Diamox suppresses symptoms so that you are less affected. You can take this as a preventive measure (which Ries did), or at the time when you experience problems. Unfortunately, I was too bothered by the side effects (tingling fingers) and did not take it preventively.What is in your bag Nepal

You cannot estimate whether you will get altitude sickness …

We had read a lot about altitude sickness in advance, but we could not estimate how heavy this illness could be. Fortunately, I did not suffer from altitude sickness at all and Ries only had minor symptoms on the day we passed the highest pass. But we wouldn’t have thought to see so many people stop the hike because of their symptoms. And especially hard to witness were the many helicopters we saw flying to pick up seriously ill people.

Tip: There is a medicine that can temporarily relieve acute altitude sickness (the very very dangerous type of altitude sickness). This is the drug Dexamethasone. We did not have this with us and found that teahouses in  Basecamp did not have this either. If you really want to be sure, ask a doctor for advice about brining this medicine or other medication along on the road.Nepal Himalayas ice lakes and gletsers

Listen to your body!

So make sure you follow the rules above and very important: always listen to your body. Do not underestimate this hike. However, do not worry too much either. The Annapurna Circuit is a great experience that is successfully completed by 5000 hikers every year. I am sure you will belong to these 5000 people too!

Annapurna circuit tip 12. Sometimes you sleep in a tea house for free

The original concept of tea houses is that when you eat here (breakfast and dinner), you can stay overnight for free. Today tea houses have become real hotels. However, the old principle is still used in some tea houses. We slept six of the twelve nights for free, but we did eat at our accommodation. Afraid that the food will be extra expensive? Don’t worry, agreements are made in the villages about the prices of food and the menus. Because of this you won’t pay too much in the tea house you are planning to stay at and you will have the same choice in terms of food.

The higher you go, the fewer teahouses there are. Here you can no longer sleep for free.

In our Nepal itinerary blog you will find 3 itineraries for a trip through Nepal varying from 2 till 4 weeks!

* Please note that we are no medical specialists or doctors. Therefore, always consult a doctor before using/purchasing medicines.

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  1. by Pradip Karki on 14 August 2020  07:30 Reply

    It is a very Good Piece of the article to check before going to this trek. Yes, definitely As we go more into remote areas the costs of everything is goes increasing due to a lack of proper transportation tracks in such places. Yes, definitely we should carry less and every kg counts, it would be wiser you carry power banks and few energy-saving products will save you a lot at the top.

  2. by ama on 1 March 2024  02:06 Reply

    Really excellent information. Thanks so much. Very detailed and accurate, which is rare to find in a traveler's blog.

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