Annapurna circuit and Annapurna Scantuary ABC Trek 25 days

Annapurna Circuit trek is one of the classic and most rewarding treks in Nepal. The Southern slopes of Manaslu and, Annapurna ranges are heavily settled and farmed except the higher regions which support thick forests of Rhododendron and fir. Most of the tribes inhabiting this area are Gurungs, Magars, Chehettris and Newars. Thakali and Mustang tribes control the busy trading and pilgrimage trail along the Kali Gandaki. One of the most striking significance of this trek is that we have a spectacular view of most mountains range every day.

On the other hand, Annapurna Base Camp is a natural amphitheater ringed by Annapurna South and Annapurna I, Varahashikhar, Gangapurna and the holy mountain Macchapucchre (Fish Tail). The first few days are spent traveling through quaint villages and lush forests before reaching more barren and rugged terrain.

The trail to Annapurna Base Camp threads up the valley into the sanctuary where it gradually gives way to a grey screed and scrub before reaching snow fields, there are no villages to speak of for five days. Annapurna Base Camp trek is a wonderful trek with some tremendous views, from base camp a labyrinth of mountains tower almost vertically above with Annapurna I in dominance. An hour or two is spent here taking in the high mountains before commencing the return journey. Five further days are taken returning to Pokhara. Annapurna Base Camp trek is a good introduction to higher altitude without being too strenuous.

Day 1:
Drive from Kathmandu to Beshishahar (823m.) by bus and it takes approximately seven hours. You drive along the Kathmandu-Pokhara Highway to Dumre and then follow the narrow and paved road by the Marsyangdi Khola to Besi Sahar (823m.). It takes almost 6 hours. Beshishahar is the district headquarters of Lamjung district. All the local government offices are situated here. From here, you can see some of mountain peak, natural sceneries surrounding the valley and the daily activities of local people. This headquarter is the centre from where the daily usable commodities are supplied to the different villages and numerous towns.

Day 2:
Trek from Beshishahar to Bahundanda (1200m.) which takes about four and half hours. The first part of the trail passes thorough flat level along the bank of the Marshyangdi river. You can enjoy the sceneries and the local culture of Gurung community. Here you walk through the rice terrace fields with the good views of various mountains.

Day 3:
Trek from Bahundanda to Jagat (1800m.) and it takes about six hours. A steep trail ascends from Nagdi, through rice terraces, before crossing a stream at the bottom of a small waterfall. It then climbs again and traverses the hillside high above the river before reaching the village of Lili Gaon. Ahead, the Marsyangdi valley forms a steep V-shape, and you follow the winding mountain path down through Syange and along the river for some distance. The trail then climbs steeply and the path is cut into the sheer cliff-face some 200-300m above the riverbed. Eventually you descend to the stone village of Jagat, situated on a shelf, which juts into the precipitous Marsyangdi valley. You stay overnight at tea house (lodge).

Day 4:
Trek from Jagat to Dharapani (1943m.) which takes about six hours. The trail from Jagat descends until it almost reaches the river and then begins to climb again through a forest. The sheer cliff on the opposite bank plunges downward but this side is also steep. When the climb ends, you follow a level track to Chyamje, which is marked by a magnificent waterfall on the opposite bank. After descending to the river and crossing a suspension bridge, you begin a climb to Sattale on a path so steep that it seems one slip would send you hurtling down into the valley. You continue on an undulating path above the river, and at one point, where a tributary flows in from the opposite bank, the main river becomes covered with huge boulders that hide the water. Climbing the zigzag path to the top of the hill, you see the level, plain of Tal before us. Though it is enclosed by cliffs, the level area looks reassuring after the harrowing mountain paths just traveled on. You descend to a grassy riverbank that leads to Tal with its hotels and teahouses. Here you can enjoy the exhilarating water fall. Beyond Tal, the valley narrows and the path becomes high and winding, and in several areas hewn from the rock itself. Beyond the small village of Karte, there is a bit more cliff-walking before the path drops again to the river. You cross a suspension bridge, and climb the short distance to the stone kani marking the entrance to Dharapani, and your camp for the night.

Day 5:
Trek from Dharapani to Chame (2713m) which takes about four hours. As you cut through a narrow field from the village, the Dudh Khola, which originates from the south face of Manaslu, enters on the opposite bank. The Marsyangdi then veers to the left, and as Annapurna II becomes visible ahead, you arrive at Bagarchhap, a Bhote village with prayer flags fluttering in the breeze. Continuing to climb through forests of pine and oak, you pass through Dhanakyu before coming to a thundering waterfall. Further, the Marsyangdi Khola enters a gorge and the path consists of steep stone steps. Pausing for breath, you can look back for views of Manaslu. When the steep incline ends, you follow a path amid magnificent rhododendrons to Ratamron and then continue on a gently rising path, crossing a stream before entering a pine forest. You then cut across a loose hillside to the hamlet of Kotho from where you can look straight up at nearby Annapurna II - a sight convincing us that you are deep in the Himalayan Mountains! From here the trail climbs through a fir and pine forest to Chame where there are government offices, shops, and hotels. Chame is the administrative headquarters for the Manang district.

Day 6:
Trek from Chame to Pisang (3155m.) and it takes about five hours. With Lamjung Himal (6893m) sparkling in the morning sun, you set off for Pisang. The mountain disappears as you climb the path up the valley, passing a huge apple orchard. You continue through a fir and pine forest, climbing to a high, rocky area as the opposite bank becomes an impassable cliff. From this point, the valley becomes extremely steep-sided as you follow the path to Bratang. In the past this was the military station for troops who fought against the Khampa tribal revolution, but the dilapidated buildings are all that remain of that era. A short climb from the village brings you to a rock-strewn area where you cross a wooden bridge and follow a high, winding path, before crossing back to the right bank again. You now walk through a pine forest and as the forest ends, the valley changes from a V-shape to a gentle U-shape, opening up a wonderful vista before us. You can see the east peak of Annapurna II as well as Pisang Peak to the north-east. Continuing on, you come to a long Mani wall by a bridge and the lower village of Pisang.

Day 7:
Trek from Pisang to Manang (3351m.) which takes about five hours. Beyond Pisang, the trail climbs a steep ridge, which affords good views of the Manang valley and Tilicho peak. Descending past Manang's airstrip at Hongde, you come to a level area from where the northeast face of Annapurna III rises majestically above you. From the wide plains of the Sabje Khola Valley, Annapurna IV (7525m.) also becomes visible. Just beyond this point you cross the considerably reduced flow of the Marsyangdi Khola via a wooden bridge to the tiny village of Mungji. Cultivated fields appear on both sides of the path and off to the right, below a craggy mountain, you can see the village of Bryaga with its splendid monastery. Large chorten and mani walls abound and the tall peaks of the Himalaya spread out before us - Annapurna II, Annapurna III, Annapurna IV, Gangapurna (7455m.) and, to the rear, Tilicho Peak (7134m.). After a short steep climb you reach Manang which is a surprisingly large village for this remote mountain region. You camp here for the night, amidst the fluttering prayer flags that adorn the houses.

Day 8:
Rest day at Manang for acclimatization. This is an important rest and acclimatization day today before crossing the Thorung La. There are optional day walks such as crossing the river to see the tremendous icefall coming down from the Annapurnas, or climbing high above the village for a full panorama of the Annapurna range and the Manang Valley. There is also a Himalayan Rescue Association (HRA) aid post in the village which makes an interesting and educational visit.

Day 9:
Trek from Manang to Yak Kharka (4018m.) which takes about three and half hours. Now the trail ascends gently all the way to Yak Kharka passing through the Gunsang (3960m) village. En route, you can see panoramic views all the day.

Day 10:
Trek from Yak Kharka to Thorong Phedi (4450m.) which takes about three and half hours. Leaving Yak Kharka, you climb gradually to a ridge before descending to the headwaters of the Marsyangdi and crossing via a covered wooden bridge. After a short ascent up the mountain path on the right bank, you follow a narrow trail across an unstable screed slope and then descend to Thorong Phedi.

Day 11:
Trek from Thorong Phedi to Muktinath (3795m.) which takes about eight hours. It demands an early start today for your crossing of Thorung La (5416m.). The trail becomes steep immediately on leaving camp but as local people have used this trail for hundreds of years, the path is well defined. The gradient then eases and after around 4 hours of steady climbing, you reach the chorten and prayer flags of the pass. The views are dramatic to say the least, from the snow-covered mountains above, to the head of the Kali Gandaki valley below and the brown and purple hills of Mustang which are spread out before us. The descent to Muktinath is a knee pounding 1600m but it is compensated for with excellent views of Dhaulagiri. Eventually the moraines give way to grassy slopes before a pleasant walk along the Jhong Khola Valley to Muktinath and its shrines and temple.

Day 12:
Trek Muktinath to Marpha (2667m.) and it takes about approximately six hours. You now begin the descent down the dramatic Kali Gandaki Gorge, initially through arid country in the same geographical and climatic zone as Tibet. After passing through Jharkot and Khingar, villages with typical Tibetan architecture, you follow the valley floor most of the way to Jomsom. Jomsom is sprawled along both banks of the Kali Gandaki and from here there are fine views of the Nilgiri peaks. You continue down to Marpha, a delightful Thakali village, complete with a drainage system beneath the flagstone streets. Its narrow alleys and passageways provide welcome shelter from the strong winds of the Kali Gandaki Gorge and Marpha is particularly well known for its apples, apple cider and apple, apricot and peach rakshi.

Day 13:
Trek from Marpha to Ghasa (2013m.) which takes about six hours. Your trail descends steeply through forests to Ghasa, the last Thakali village and the southern-most limit of Tibetan Buddhism. The beginning part of the trail is stretched at almost flat level up to Kalopani and then your trail begins descending steeply to Ghasa. The first part of the trek passes through the windy area covered with pine forests, rhododendron forests and birches are seen. The surrounding area of Ghasa is famous destination for bird watching and wild Marijuana. Here you are quite amazed at the panoramic view of Mount Nilgiri North (7061m.), Nilgiri Central (6940m.), and Nilgiri South (6839m.), Annapurna I (8091m.), Dhaulagiri I (8167m.) and Tukuche peak (6920m.)

Day 14:
Trek from Ghasa to Tatopani (1189 m.) which takes about five hours. The trail descends steeply up to Rukse Chhahara (Rukse Waterfall) which is amazing to look at. There is situated the deepest gorge of the world between two mountains Annapurna I (8091m.) and Dhaulagiri I (8167m.) facing each other near Rukse Waterfall. Now the trail ascends slightly to Tatopani through different human settlements. You can enjoy the hot spring at Tatopani as the word Tatopani is termed after the natural hot spring situated at the bank of the Kali Gandaki River. It is popularly believed that taking bath in Hot Spring helps you to get rid of skin diseases. Along this, it gives you physical and mental refreshment as well.

Day 15:
Trek from Tatopani to Ghorepani (2853m.) and it takes about seven hours. Your trail passes through flat level of the land at some distance. Then the trail begins ascending steeply for at least one hour. Now path goes up through different villages inhabited by the people of different caste and agricultural land. The majority of the people here serve Gorkha Regiment and Indian Regiment as well. While trekking you cross through the Kali Gandaki river with panoramic view of Dhaulagiri and Annapurna ranges. Now the trail ascends gently all the way to Ghorepani passing through small villages like Phalate, Chitre and so on. While trekking you pass through rhododendron forests and come across the wild life such as monkeys and birds of various species. You are accompanied by more panoramic views of different mountains. Ghorepani (Watering to Horse) is a small pass and the village of Deorali. Although there is time enough to continue, it is better to stay here overnight so that we can make the morning trip to Poon Hill (3180m.) for an outstanding panorama of Dhaulagiri I, II, III, IV, Tukuche peak, Dhampus peak, Nilgiri ranges, Annapurna I, Bahra Sikhar (Twelve peaks or renowned as French Fang),Annapurna South, Himchuli, Fishtail and Mardi Himal. The view you can see from here is probably the best view in the world. Not only this, Poon Hill is crowded by different visitors to enjoy the sunrise and sunset over the snow-capped mountain.

Day 16:
Trek from Ghorepani to Poon Hill (3180m.) to Tadapani (2675m.) which takes about five and half hours. Early morning trip to Poon Hill (3232m.) to enjoy the sunrise view over Mt. Dhaulagiri (8167m.), Tukuche Peak (6920m.), Nilgiri (6940m.), Varaha Shikhar (7847m.), Mt. Annapurna I (8091m.), Annapurna South (7219m.), Annapurna III (7855m.), Machhapuchhare (6993m.), Annapurna IV (7525m.), Annapurna II (7937m.), Lamjung Himal (6931m.) and other numerous snowcapped mountain peaks. After breakfast trek Ghorepani to Tadapani (2650 m.). After walking for almost one and half hour you reach Gurung Hill which has the splendid mountain views as Poon Hill. From here you follow small forests with rhododendron, bamboos until you reach Deurali. The trail goes steeply down through deep forests all the way to Banthati. It takes one hour from here to reach Tadapanil After breakfast trek from Ghorepani to Tadapani (2731m.) through the deep forests of rhododendrons, bamboos and oaks. En route, you frequently see waterfalls, rocks, wild animals, local birds and green scenarios. Tadapani is a small village surrounded by beautiful forests which grants you a magnificent view of Annapurna South, Hiunchuli, Fishtail, and Annapurna II and so on.

Day 17:
Trek from Tadapani (2675m.) to Ghandruk (1950m.) and it takes about three hours. It is very easy trek by descending gently all the way through rhododendron, oak and other kinds of dense forests. You could hear different kinds of birds chirping on the way. This is one of the popular destinations for the birds' lovers. Ghandruk is a big Gurung village. There is a handicraft centre and Gurung museum. From this village you could see good views of Annapurna South, Hiunchuli, Gangapurna (7455m.), Annapurna III (7755m.) and Fishtail.

Day 18:
Trek from Ghandruk to Chhomrong (2040 m.) which takes approximately four and half hours. At the beginning of the day, you could ascend gently for an hour up to Ghandruk kot (2100m.) and descend steeply to the Kimron Khola (1700m.). Immediately, ascend steeply and walk at a level for an hour and still ascend gently to the final camp. Chhomrong is a gateway to Annapurna Sanctuary trek and inhabited by Gurung, one of the major Ethnic group of Nepal.

Day 19:
Trek from Chhomrong to Dovan (2030m.) and it takes about five hours. Leaving Chhomrong, the trail descends on a stone staircase and crosses the Chhomrong Khola on a swaying suspension bridge, then climbs out of the side valley. High above the Modi Khola on its west bank, the trail passes through the tiny settlement of Tilicho in forests of bamboo, rhododendron and oak. Climbing further on a rocky trail (beware of the stinging nettles) you reach three hotels at Sinuwa, at 2350m. Climb in rhododendron forests to Kuldi, at 2520m. This was once a British sheep breeding project; now the stone houses are an ACAP visitor centre and check post. In winter, it's common to find snow anywhere from this point on. Descend a long, steep stone staircase into deep bamboo and rhododendron forests. It is then a short distance on a muddy trail to Bamboo Lodge (2340m.).

Day 20:
Trek from Dovan to Annapurna Base Camp (4170 m.) via Machhapuchhare Base Camp (3820m.) which takes about seven hours. You trek gently ascend through bamboo forests with varieties of rhododendron and oak trees. The first town you reach is Dovan (2630m.) where there are few lodges and camp sites. Now you pass through muddy trail which traverses high above the river. There is debris of avalanches except during winter season. After short trek, you reach at Himalayan Hotel (2900m.), the town named after the Himalayan Hotel. Beyond it, the trail is steeply ascent up to Hinko Cave (3160m.), this named as a huge overhanging rock provides some protection against rain and avalanches. It takes approximately twenty minutes through normally ascent path to reach Deorali (3230m.). From here, the valley widens and becomes less steep and you can see the gates to the sanctuary. The trail is less steep. As the trail continues into the sanctuary, it crosses two avalanche tracks on a narrow trail that hurdles up against the cliffs. After short trek you will be at Bagar (3310m.), a meadow and some abandoned hotels. The normal trail follows the left side of the valley. Now the trail appears gently ascent until you reach Machhapuchhare Base Camp (3820m.). Here you find almost 6 to 7 lodges. This is one of the places, where you can enjoy the view of Mount Hiunchuli (6441m.), Annapurna South (7229m.), Annapurna I (8091m.), Annapurna III (7555m.), Gangapurna (7454m.) and Machhapuchhare or Fish Tail (6997m.). The path follows through alpine meadow and after some distance your trails go gently up. After a short trek, you begin to approach Annapurna Base Camp (4170m.). From here, you can see the views of several peaks at 360 degree.

Day 21:
Trek from Annapurna Base Camp to Dovan (2630m.) which takes about five hours. It's much easier going down. You should have no problem reaching Sinuwa in a single day from Annapurna Base Camp. Now you trek through Himalayan Hotel to Dovan.

Day 22:
Trek from Dovan to Jhinudanda (1750m.) and it takes about six hours. The path is descent up to Bamboo passing through forests with varieties of rhododendron, oaks and bamboo plants. After Bamboo, the trail goes steeply up to the Kuldi Ghar and now the trail is quite flat until you reach Sinuwa. You trek gradually descend to the Chhumrong Khola and you have to follow stone staircase for almost an hour to reach Chhumrong. The last part of the trail is steeply down to Jhinudanda. From the town you should walk down for 20 minutes to reach Hot Spring at the bank of the Modi Khola. You can relax at Hot Spring.

Day 23:
Trek from Jhinudanda to Pothana (1600m) which takes about five hours. The first part of the trek is descent and then appears through flat land until you reach Himal Pani. Here you find beautiful waterfall. Beyond this town, the trail ascends gently crossing numerous streams and terraces. After short trek, you will be at Landruk (1640m.), a pretty big village inhabited by mixed community of Gurung, Magar and Brahmin as well. Now the trail gently ascends to Tolka (1850m.) and then ascent and level path to Bherikharka. From here, the trail goes steeply up to Deorali (2100m.) with a view of different mountain peaks in panorama. Now the trail gradually descends to Pothana passing through different oak forests. Pothana is a small town resided by Gurung, a ethnic community of Nepal. From here too, you can enjoy the splendid views of various mountain peaks.

Day 24:
Trek from Pothana to Dhampus Phedi and it takes approximately three hours and drive from Dhampus Phedi to Pokhara by car. The trail is gently descent up to Dhampus, a village mainly inhabited by Gurung. Now you trek through flat land for some distance and steeply descend to Dhampus Phedi. Now you take vehicle to drive from Dhampus Phedi to Pokhara.

Day 25:
Drive from Pokhara to Kathmandu by tourist mini bus that takes about seven hours. While driving from Pokhara to Kathmandu, you head up to Damauli,, Dumre, Muglin and Kurintar where the Nepal's first Cable car is operated to reach to Manakamana Temple. En route, you could enjoy the mountain views, green sceneries, rice terrace fields, vegetable fields and people being engaged in their daily life activities. From Naubishe you climb up to Thankot, the gateway to capital city. You can also fly from Pokhara to Kathmandu which takes about 25 minutes.

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