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Trek in the Annapurnas
with the high altitude experts Hiking the Annapurnas

Trekking in the Annapurna region

 Annapurna Massif Aerial ViewThe Annapurna Massif is huge and includes many of Nepal's highest peaks including one over 8000m (Annapurna 1), thirteen over 7000m and a further sixteen over 6000m. This entire mountain range and all the surrounding area  have been protected within the 7,629 square kilometres (2,946 sq mi) Annapurna Conservation Area, which was the first conservation area in Nepal.

The popularity of the treks we offer in the Annapurna region is more than justified by the incredible range of scenery, the cultural diversity and the fact that this is the easiest region to access from Kathmandu. Of course, the disaster in 2014 at the Thorung La pass  when 43 trekkers died in a snowstorm on the Annapurna Circuit  raised a question mark over the safety of these routes but if you book your Annapurna trek with Kandoo you are in safe hands.

All the Annapurna treks we offer can be accessed by road if you do not want to fly and they all allow for extra days to be added to relax on the shores of Lake Pokhara. With great views being reached at relatively lower altitudes we also offer a number of shorter treks in the Annapurnas as well as the full classic circuit with treks ranging in length from just 6 days up to 21 days.

The most famous trek in the Annapurna region is the Annapurna circuit itself and in earlier years this rightly held the title of the world's greatest circuit hike. But while it is still a great trek its claim to be a "circuit" now looks a little threadbare as roads have been pushed further into the mountains on both the east and west sides of the massif. This is great for locals who want access to markets for their produce but not so good for trekkers. We try to avoid trekking alongside other traffic where-ever possible so you can see from the map below that our standard trek now starts at Besisahar and ends at Jomsom with a flight taking trekkers back to Pokhara. Longer versions which continue to Poon Hill are available but only as private treks.

View from Poon HillIf the full Annapurna circuit does not appeal, one of the things we particularly like about the Annapurna region is that there is a lot of easily accessible trekking in the area south of the massif which is not particularly high but still offers some spectacular views. The most famous view point of all in the Annapurnas is at Poon Hill above Ghorepani and this is the highlight of the two shorter treks we operate in the Annapurnas. 

The first trek we call the Annapurna Panorama : as the name suggests it provides fabulous panoramic views of the whole of the Annapurna region. Just seeing the sunrise over Machhapuchhre is  worth all the effort on this 8 day trip. 

Our second shorter trek also visits Poon Hill but then takes you to Annapurna Sanctuary.  This is actually the base camp for the Annapurna climbs but earned the name "Sanctuary" as after trekking a very narrow gorge into the heart of the massif the area opens out into a plateau walled in on all sides by the highest Annapurna peaks creating a feeling of being in a cathedral.

Map of Annapurna trekking routes

Annapurna trekking routes

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  Annapurna Thorung La

Annapurna Circuit Trek - Nepal's Classic Adventure

The full Annapurna Circuit is rightly considered one of the World’s greatest treks and even in Nepal it stands out for the incredible variety of scenery it offers. Starting in sub-tropical meadows near Besi Sahar it rises through ever more impressive alpine peaks before reaching the famous Thorung La pass. From there the descent into the Mustang region takes you through an arid semi-desert before you finally arrive in Jomsom for a spectacular mountain flight back to Pokhara.

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14 days

  17 private trip everest trek

Annapurna Sanctuary

One of the best shorter treks we operate, this trail starts by taking in one of the best view points in the Himalaya, Poon Hill above Ghorepani. From here the dawn view across the Annapurnas is breathtaking.

From there the trek takes you into the heart of the Annapurna range with huge mountains towering above you on all sides forming the amphitheatre of the Sanctuary.

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12 days

  PH298 8th Nov 13 Nagartsang viewing point with Private Expeditions

Annapurna Panorama

The Annapurna Panorama is the perfect choice if you are a novice trekker or if you are really short on time. After a short flight into Pokhara you trek up to Ghorepani and from there onto the view point at Poon Hill from where there are breathtaking views of Dhaulagiri, Annapurnas and Machhapuchchre (Fishtail). You return to Pokhara by a circular route avoiding the need to backtrack.

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8 days

When to trek in the Annapurnas

February to May
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As with the Everest region, Spring in the Annapurnas is a fantastic time to trek. Longer dry days become the norm and daytime temperatures rise to the low 20s. Dry and sunny
June to August
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In the Annapurnas, the monsoon is nowwhere near as severe as in the Everest region and trekking here can still be enjoyable. Particularly on the East of the Annapurnas the strong rain shadow means the routes are dry all year round. Min monsoon season
September to November
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The real peak season for trekking in the Annapurnas. As the monsoon recedes, the days become a little cooler, less humid and most of the time it will be sunny and warm. Dry, warm and sunny
December to January
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With the onset of winter in the Annapurnas, temperatures fall rapidly and when there is precipitation it falls as snow. The Thorung La pass on the Annapurna Circuit is closed for these months but for the hardy trekker our other treks continue to operate. Cold with frequent snow

Manaslu: the new world's greatest circuit trek

Manaslu circuit TrekJust to the east of the Annapurna massif sits Manaslu, one of the huge 8000m peaks and the 8th highest mountain in the world. And circumnavigating around  most of the base of the mountain is the Manaslu Circuit. This circuit is like a 20 year journey back in time to the Annapurna circuit. There is very little road penetration at either end, the trails are extremely quiet and the villages are largely unchanged from the way they were aeons ago. 

View on Manaslu circuit trek

The views on the trek are equal to those on the Annapurna circuit and its only shortcoming when compared to its famous next door neighbour is that the choice of accommodation and the food available is more limited. If you can tolerate a little roughing it though, this is more than compensated for by its advantages.

Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) there are not enough trekkers alert to this trek yet to justify running open group treks so we only offer this trek on a private trip. It is though likely to become more popular as the years go by so go now!

About the Annapurna Conservation Area

The Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) was the first Conservation Area in Nepal. It covers an area of 7,629 sq. km and is still the largest protected area in Nepal. The challenge of managing this area is that, far from being a wilderness, it is home to over 100,000 people. The need to preserve it though is clear when you learn that  it has well over 1,000 species of plants, over 100 mammal species, nearly 500 birds and a good collection of toads, reptiles and other creepy crawlies.

Besides this fantastic bio-diversity the area also claims the world’s deepest river gorge - Kali Gandaki Gorge, the  world’s largest rhododendron forest at Ghorepani and the world’s highest altitude fresh water lake at Tilicho.

The biological diversity around the Annapurnas  is equally matched  by its cultural diversity with different tribes dominating every different valley. Each tribal group speaks their own distinct dialect and have unique cultures and traditions. In the North of the region the people are clearly more oriental in look and disposition and are mainly Buddhists while in the South they are far more typically Indian and tend to be Hindu. Happily, the two religions seem to co-exist very comfortably, perhaps because everybody gets to celebrate both the Buddhist and Hindu festivals.

The combination of stunning mountains and the great biological and cultural diversity has led to the Annapurna treks becoming some of the most popular in Nepal. There are now reckoned to be over 1,000 lodges servicing thousands of trekkers and pilgrims. Visitors now number more than double the local people and this has placed enormous pressure on resources and litter and waste is a huge problem. Plastic bottles are a huge contributor to this problem which is why we filter all the water for our trekkers. 

To try to manage all these pressures ACAP collects fees from visiting trekkers and all of this money is invested back into community based projects. When you visit this fragile area please treat it with the respect it deserves.

Annapurna trek FAQs

Q1How safe is the Annapurna Circuit?

In normal years the number of trekkers experiencing severe difficulties on the Annapurna Circuit is limited to those who suffer from altitude sickness. The tragedy in 2014 was weather related with a big snow storm causing chaos on the Thorung La pass. The storm itself was forecast many days in advance and groups with experienced guides stayed in their lodges and just sat the storm out. Unfortunately, the people who died were trekking without an experienced guide and foolishly chose to venture out in the severe storm. All of our guides are trained and qualified in high altitude trekking and you can be sure you are in safe hands.

Q2How fit do I need to be for these treks?

The longest Annapurna trek, the full circuit is still suitable for average walkers who are moderately fit. No previous experience is required just a lot of determination. To prepare for trek you should start training at least two months before your departure. Training should include getting out hiking as often as possible for 6-7 hour stretches to harden your legs and aerobic exercise of 30 minutes plus 2/3 times a week.

Q3How do I travel from Kathmandu to the Annapurnas?

Wherever possible we avoid the 8 hour road journey from Kathmandu by flying you into and out of Pokhara on the 30 minute flight. For the full circuit you have to use road transport to get to Besi Sahar and for this we use private jeeps. Please note that cheap operators use cramped public buses for these transfers.

Q4What is the accommodation like in the Annpurna region?

The standard of lodges in the Annapurna region is now relatively high. This does not mean that they compare with even hotels in Kathmandu but it does mean they are clean, comfortable with indoor facilites and good food. You can see more about the lodges we use in "On your trek".

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