Annapurna Round Trek also known famously as the Annapurna Circuit Trek is the most visited trekking trail of the world. This is probably the only long detour of the world which is diversified in terms of nature and culture as well. Trekkers will traverse through high altitude passes, temperate – alpine forests, waterfalls, rivers, villages, temples and monasteries with the gigantic mountain peaks on the backdrop. The route is famous for the walking adventure as well as cycling adventure. Either way the trail has the unique place among hikers and trekkers as being the most alluring trekking course of the world.
Annapurna Round Trek starts with the bus drive to Lamjung district headquarter Besisahar. Trekkers these days further take the bus drive to Chame in a graveled road before starting the walking adventure. The trail is long detour but the start of road network as far as Manang has curtailed the distance of this trekking route. For the safety issues we will only take the bus or private vehicle drive to Chame for the start of the walking journey. Trekkers will take the acclimatization break in Manang upon reaching the village via Pisang Village. The Manang village is only large village of human settlement on the trail before crossing the Thorong La Pass (5416 m). Watermills and small hamlets of Thakali and Tibetans as encountered on the way will act as motivational factor for every trekkers as it will provide chance for them to understand the strenuous Himalayan lifestyle of Nepalese people. The chance to witness amazing harmony between Buddhism and Hinduism in Nepal as depicted in nunnery and temple of Muktinath also might dazzle trekkers. Every trekker can elongate their journey further to Ghorepani Poon Hill via Tatopani or they can simply take flight back to Pokhara from Jomsom.
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After arriving in Kathmandu, a representative from Himalayan Aster will pick us up from the airport and take us to our hotel. In the afternoon, we may take a rest or visit Himalayan Aster’s office. In the evening, there will be a welcome dinner hosted by Himalayan Aster. For dinner, you will be served authentic Nepalese cuisine which will introduce you to the country’s food culture. Overnight in Kathmandu.
Today after breakfast we start a guided tour to several of the most historical and spiritual attractions in Kathmandu which are also listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites. We visit the historic Durbar Square, the sacred Hindu temple of Pashupatinath, the famous ‘Monkey Temple’ (Swayambhunath) and Buddhist shrine (Bouddhanath), which is also one of the largest stupas in the world. At noon, we get our equipment checked by our climbing leader, get introduced to fellow participants, and discuss our trip at Himalayan Aster’s office. Overnight in Kathmandu.
We start our journey into the hills on a winding road along the Trishuli River. On the way we admire terraced farms and beautiful huts. After reaching a juncture at Mugling, we move straight ahead towards Pokhara. At Dumre, we leave the previous trail and head north to Besisahar. A half-an-hour’s drive from Besisahar takes us to Khudi, the starting point of our trek. Alternatively, we can get off at Besisahar, and then trek for an hour to get to Khudi along the wide trail. Khudi offers us a first glimpse of the gorgeous Manaslu range.
Our first day’s walk involves crossing a few suspension bridges and waterfalls including several ascents and descents across rice paddies and a subtropical forest. Initially, the walk is gradual but is then followed by steeper trails. The mountains that we see from Khudi seem a lot closer now. Before reaching Sirung village we pass an ethnic Tamang settlement of Taranche. We admire close-up views of Nadi Chuli and Manaslu mountains from Sirung.
We leave Sirung for Jagat on a relatively easy trail. We leave behind the terraces of the village and hit forest, ferns and woodland. On the forest trail we spot a variety of birds. We also pass through several small villages and a few temples on the way. We cross a suspension bridge over Sangu Khola at Mipra then again at Syange over the Marshyangdi River. There is also a waterfall nearby the bridge. Now our trail moves alongside the mighty Marshyangdi River and we cross one more bridge before reaching Jagat.
After breakfast, we slowly begin our trek today. The trail from Jagat descends until it reaches the river and then continues through a lush forest. Further ascent leads to sharp-edged cliff facing the riverbank. En route, Chyamje comes into picture amidst the glorious backdrop of towering Annapurna mountain ranges. After crossing a suspension bridge, we climb steeply towards the slippery and physically challenging path to Sattale. On treading along a succession of rock-strewn trails, we descend to a grassy riverbank that leads to Tal. As we walk away from Tal, the path becomes rugged and winding. Then we approach steeply-forested village of Karte. Meandering along the waterfalls and cliffs, we finally reach Dharapani after crossing a suspension bridge. Overnight in Dharapani.
Today we walk through a few forested ridges on our way to Chame, which is the headquarters of the Manang District. Throughout the trek we can admire amazing views of the Himalayas including Lamjung Himal, Annapurna II, and Annapurna IV (7,525m/24,688ft). On today’s trek we also come across small hot springs where we can dip in and soothe our aching muscles. Overnight in Chame.
A steep and narrow path through a very dense forest will bring us to the dramatic curved rock face, rising 1500m from the river. This is probably the steepest part of the Marshyangdi Valley, so steep that the trail is carved into the vertical rock. After passing this last bit of rock, the valley opens up with majestic vistas. And right where the valley widens stands the Paungda Danda, a massive sloping rock face that rises over 5,000ft (1500m) above the trail. We trek for a while before reaching Lower Pisang where we spend the night.
here are two routes to Manang but we follow the trail that takes us to Upper Pisang via Geru. This trail guarantees excellent views of the beautiful landscape and the mighty mountains including Annapurna and Pisang. We begin to notice a contrast in the landscape and vegetation from today. The cold and dry climate also creates a much harsher environment. Our short visit to Barge monastery, the largest monastery in the entire district of Manang will be memorable. Overnight at Manang.
In order to keep fit on the trails that follow, we keep ourselves busy today with a short hike to either Bhojo Gumba or Gangapurna Lake. If we have the energy, we can even hike to Vraga Village where we can visit the Himalayan Rescue Association which will give us some idea about Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). Overnight in Manang.
From Manang village, the trail crosses a stream, climbs to a village of Tenki and continues to climb out of the Marshyangdi Valley turning northwest up the valley of Jarsang Khola. The trail follows this valley northward, passing a few pastures and a scrub of juniper trees, as it steadily gains elevation. The trail further passes near the small village of Ghunsa, a cluster of flat mud roofs just below the trailhead. Now the trail goes through meadows where horses and yaks graze. After crossing a small river on a wooden bridge, the trail passes an ancient old Mani wall in a pleasant meadow and then reaches another small village of Yak Kharka. Overnight at Yak Karka.
It is an uphill walk to Thorang Phedi. After walking for some time we cross a suspension bridge and reach Ledar village. We ascend furthermore and pass through towering cliffs before reaching Thorang Phedi, the last village before Thorong La pass. On this trip we are rewarded with one of the best views of Mt. Gundang, Mt. Syagang, Thorung Peak and Mt. Khatungkan. The word Phedi in Nepalese is referred to as the foot of a mountain. Overnight in Thorong Phedi. Overnight in Thorang Phedi.
Crossing Thorong La pass, one of the highest passes in the world, will be our ultimate objective today. We will be crossing the pass from east to west (Manang to Muktinath) which is the easiest and safest direction. We get up around three in the morning and walk up the mountain. When we finally make it to the top, we realize that our journey was worth it. We can take a few photos before heading to Muktinath Valley at the foot of the Thorong La pass. Overnight in Muktinath.
Muktinath is an important pilgrimage for both Hindus and Buddhists alike. In the morning, we pay our visit to a Vishnu Temple and a Gompa. Descending from Ranipauwa village down the steep and barren hillside, we tumble down toward Kagbeni and then to Jomsom finally arriving at Marpha. The trail today is quite surreal as we trek along a plateau above Kali Gandaki River, the world’s deepest gorge. The barren landscape of this area resembles Tibet. Marpha is also famous as the apple capital of Nepal where one can enjoy different items made from apple. The local apple brandy of Marpha is famous all over Nepal. Overnight at Marpha.
From Marpha, we take a new route toward Kalopani via Chokhopani village. Today, we come across traditional villages of the ethnic Thakali people. Also, we get to see beautiful apple gardens. From here we get panoramic views of Dhaulagari, Tukuche, Nilgiri, Fang and Annapurna I mountains. From Chokhopani, we continue to Kokhethanti. We cross a river and come across the newly constructed road site before reaching Kalopani. Overnight at Kalopani.
Our journey today is mostly downhill. During the early part of today’s trek, we cross the bridge at Ghasa. As we drop to lower elevations, we emerge back into subtropical forests, lush with vegetation. Our trail continues along Rupse Chahara (waterfall). We continue down the east bank from Kopchepani via Garpar to a bridge at Dana. At Narchyang Besi, we get to see a powerhouse that supplies electricity in the area. There are bigger villages in this area where we can observe the everyday lives of the local people. Upon reaching Tatopani, we relax and have a bath in the hot spring.
We leave the Kali Gandaki and head up the Ghar Khola valley. The trail leads us through a terraced farmland with mountains all around. We pass through the villages of Shikha and Chitre before reaching a beautiful rhododendron forest. When in bloom the rhododendron trees with its average height of up to 100″ will be covered with pink or red flowers. Walking further we reach Ghorepani, a beautiful village located at a ridge top. Overnight in Ghorepani.
To catch the sunrise over the Himalayas, we make an early morning climb along the steep trail to the viewpoint of Poon Hill (3,210m/10,529ft), the most popular trekking destination of the Annapurna region. It is also a great viewpoint to enjoy the amazing views of Mustang, Pokhara and more than 20 of the highest mountains including the close-up views of the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri ranges. The snowy peaks of the high mountains loom above and around us glowing in the morning light. After taking photographs, we return back to Gorepani. After breakfast, we head east and climb a nearby ridge. We descend through rhododendron forests, pass by spectacular waterfalls and reach Tadapani to spend the night.
From Tadapani, we make a steep descent through the dense and dark forest. This part of the trek will be through a thick forest of old rhododendron trees. When the rhododendron trees are in bloom, these forests actually turn into amazing gardens. By afternoon, depending upon the season of travel, we also get to enjoy cherry blossoms in bloom on the slopes on the other side of the ravine. After trekking a few more minutes, we enter the village of Ghandruk, a slope settlement with stone houses mostly inhabited by the Gurung people. Here, we enjoy the stunningly close-up towering views of Fishtail, Annapurna South, and Hiunchuli mountains. We continue our trek to Nayapul from where we drive to Pokhara. Overnight in Pokhara.
After breakfast, we say goodbye to the beautiful lake city of Pokhara and drive towards Kathmandu. After reaching Kathmandu, we have the rest of the day off to rest or do some souvenir shopping. To celebrate the successful completion of our journey, we will have a farewell dinner in the evening. Overnight in Kathmandu.
Our adventure in Nepal comes to an end today! A Himalayan Aster representative will escort us to the airport approximately 3 hours before our scheduled flight. On our way home, we have plenty of time to plan our next adventure in the wonderful country of Nepal.