About the circuit
I trekked around the Annapurna circuit last October and it was an amazing experience, so I thought I would share some of my experiences and provide an overview of the trek for those that are interested in giving it a go.
The circuit lies in central Nepal among the Annapurna mountain range in the Himalayas, the circuit passes through thorung la pass which is the highest mountain pass in the world.
Guides and Porters
There are a few different options to doing the circuit, whether that be part of a group, hire your own guide and porter or to do it completely solo. The choice is largely based on your confidence in trekking in high altitude and your fitness levels.
I personally did it solo, and would highly advise you to do that also. The feeling from completing it solo is highly satisfying and you can go at your own pace and explore things as you wish.
Along the circuit there are various small villages in which you can find accommodation, it is all quite basic with a simple bed and sometimes a hot shower. To be honest the quality of the accommodation wasn’t that high on my priorities at the end of a long days trekking, as long as the bed is comfortable enough I was happy.
You food is also provided at your accommodation, there is a large variety from local dishes, such as dal bhat which is a rice and vegetable dish to pizza and pasta is some places. There is even a German Bakery near the highest point in the circuit which was full on high calorie goodness.
When you first arrive in Nepal chances are you will be staying in Kathmandu for the first few nights. Here you can get your mountain pass for the circuit and any gear you will need during your trek.
You can get most clothes, bags, accessories and snacks that you need for your trek in Kathmandu, and for a much cheaper price than at home, after some haggling of course. Be sure to prepare for hot and cold weather as the first few days are nice and warm, but as you ascend it does get cold quite and frosty quickly.
Be sure to stop by a pharmacy for some stomach bug tablets, altitude sickness tablets and water purification tablets, those are the main 3 to pick up. You may also want to take some vitamin supplements as well just to keep yourself in top shape.
Your fitness levels need to be decent to complete the circuit, I mean you don’t need to be in the gym every day but you should be able to walk at least 6 hours daily without any trouble.
On average I trekked about 5 or 6 hours a day, I would recommend setting out quite early every morning as to avoid the midday sun. The track itself is a mixture of dirt roads and small winding paths, it’s fairly easy going and nothing too dangerous or extreme in general.
You should be aware of the changing environment though, twice on my trek the path had completely vanished because of a landslide.
The first time it happened was within 2 hours of starting the circuit, I had just passed through a small village and the dirt road I was walking along suddenly changed into a steep slope of loose rocks with water running down it. There were 2 other trekkers and their guide here as well, just trying to figure out what to do next.
I looked up to the peak of the landslide and large rocks were still bouncing down the 100 meter slope right past where we were standing. A few of the locals appeared from the direction I just came from and quickly ran across the sloped gap, and the guide that was with the other trekkers instructed them to do the same. So I then quickly followed suit, looking up as I did for any dangerous rocks crashing down at high speed.
After I got across to the other side I took a small breather and looked back to the landslide getting progressively worse. I didn’t want to hang around too long so I continued on for the day.
The second time I encountered a landslide was maybe around day 6, and this one was much larger. It was about 4 hours into the day’s trekking, where I was quite tired and looking forward to stop for lunch somewhere.
The road was high up on a cliff edge, and as I came around the corner to see the road ahead I got a wide panoramic view of the landslide. It was about 300 meters across and must have happened a day or two previously as there had been a small path created amongst the slope so that people could still access the villages beyond.
The vehicles would stop just before the landslide and the passengers would get out with any luggage and navigate across the dodgy path, sometimes carrying absurdly large objects like one man had a mattress on his back.
Get out there
Over the past year I have traveled to over 8 countries, and the Annapurna circuit still sticks in my mind as one of the best experiences. It wasn’t easy as I was carrying a lot of gear, probably too much but it made it that much more satisfying to complete it.
I made so many great friends along the way, both trekkers and locals. There is a camaraderie as everyone has the same goal to reach the mountain pass and continue on to complete the circuit.
The views you are presented with along the way are breathtaking, sometimes quite literally because of the altitude. But really because of the sheer size of some of the mountains you will see.
I remember on day 3 when I was beginning to reach a decent altitude and started to see the snow topped mountains, I turned around a corner in the path and had to just stop for half a minute just to take in the awe of the peaks in front of me. It took a few extra seconds to realise that the white on top of the peak wasn’t clouds, but more of the mountain just covered in snow.
I know Nepal has suffered recently because of the earthquake but I would highly recommend you visit this wonderful country and do some trekking, it will be one of the experiences I will remember for the rest of my life, I know you will too.