The Annapurna circuit is a well known trekking route that takes you through the Annapurna mountain range in Nepal. The complete circuit can take between 15 – 21 days and covers a vast array of landscapes and terrain, from the jungle like environment at lower altitudes to icy desert like vistas at the top of the mountain pass.
During your time trekking you will have all kinds of great experiences and see some of the most amazing mountain landscapes in the world, which offer the perfect opportunities to photograph some beautiful scenes and local culture. So I have written this guide that will hopefully give you an idea what to expect and how to prepare your camera gear for the varied environments you will encounter on your trek.Fitness
First of all you if you are not used to walking up to 6 hours a day I recommend you start walking regularly before you venture over to Nepal. This also gives you a chance to break in your walking boots if you haven’t already.
Depending on how much camera gear you are carrying may add quite a bit of weight aswell so try walking wearing all of the gear you plan on taking to get used to it. Take a look at my post Top 8 Camera Bags for Travel if you want to see some of the best options are available to carry your camera gear. Another option is to hire a porter to carry your backpack and you can just carry your camera gear which will also make it easier to maneuver without having to carry your big bag.Weather
The weather can be unpredictable and you should be prepared for hot days and cold days as well as rain and snow. So make sure you are carrying your gear in a waterproof bag or have a rain cover to protect your equipment, you will be at an advantage if your camera and lenses are weather sealed as you will be able to capture the scenery in all weather!
Another aspect to be aware of is the temperature as the higher you climb the colder it gets and this tends to have a detrimental effect on your batteries, as they dont last as long in the cold. So once you start getting into colder heights keep your batteries on your person, preferably inside your jacket so that your body heat will keep them warm. Bring plenty of batteries as well as they will run out of juice pretty quickly even if you’re keeping them relatively warm.
The circuit offers some of the most breathtaking landscapes in the world so I would definitly recommend you take at least one lens just for the landscapes, wide angle lens would be good for this to capture as much of the vast mountains as possible. Another aspect on the trek are the local people who live high up in the mountains with their interesting weathered faces and unique garments and culture. So if you are interested in capturing the people I would recommend a good portrait kind of lens such as a Canon EF 50mm f/1.8
Depending on the type of photography you are most interested in you may want to take a macro lens, a tilt shift or wildlife lens as well. Overall I would only recommend taking 2 lenses or pushing it to 3 if you have a light pancake lens. Any more than that will be a considerable weight to carry for a lens you may only use once or twice during your entire time trekking. Just be sure that whatever lenses you decide to bring make absolute sure that you will actually use them a lot.
One other option is to take a “do everything” lens such as a Canon EF-S 18-135mm which offers a great range from landscape through to portrait and wildlife in a single piece of glass. Depending on your experience with these type of lenses they may not be as sharp as you want but they offer a big advantage of only having to carry a single lens.
Another aspect to think about is keeping a backup of your photos as you trek because there is little to no internet during the exbidition so you will not be able to backup to the cloud. A local solution is the preffered option, if you are bringing a laptop then you can backup to that or an external hard drive. Another option that will also keep your weight down is using a external hdd with a built in card reader like the WD My Passport Wireless 1 TB Wi-Fi Mobile Storage which offers a built in card reader and can be connected wirelessly to your phone or tablet to browse your images too.
Guide and Porter
You can venture the circuit on your own and it is relatively safe if you have some previous trekking experience, but there is the option to hire a guide and/or porter to accompany you around the circuit. The guide can give offer some inside local knowledge to the various areas you explore and will ensure you are properly prepared in terms of provisions and equipment. A porter is there to carry your backpack and often only knows a little English.
It can be valuable to learn some extra information from the guide that you may not learn on your own and a porter can be a huge relief on your body as you wont need to carry as much weight, which is especially noticeable once you reach heights and the altitude can affect your endurance.
However it can be highly rewarding to accomplish the trek on your own, being against the elements and nature. But if one of your main objectives is to focus on your photography I would at least recommend a porter just so you can concentrate on capturing the wondrous scenery and new people that you encounter everyday without being too tired and cumbersome from carrying all your bags.