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Annapurna Circuit trekking 20 Nights 21 Days

This circuit of Annapurna - rightly known as Nepal's classic trek - offers more variety than any other walks of equivalent length, and takes you through virtually every type of scenery that Nepal has to offer.

There are superb views of Annapurna and Dhaulagiri, and the constant variety of landscapes ranges from sub-tropical through alpine to an arid semi-desert akin to Tibet; at the climax of the trek there's a formidable 5416m pass, the Thorong La, to cross. Though it is certainly demanding enough for the seasoned trekker, the Annapurna Circuit is still an excellent introduction to walking in Nepal for those who are confident of their fitness.

This is a lodge-based trek, so you spend time in villages inhabited by many of Nepal's different tribes, both Buddhist and Hindu. Every day brings opportunities to gain an insight into the local culture and interact with the local communities whose land you are walking through, whether by bartering for souvenirs, talking to the inquisitive children or relaxing at a tea house during a well earned break.

Itinerary

Day 1:
Drive from Kathmandu to Besisahar (823m.) which takes about six hours. You drive along the Kathmandu-Pokhara Highway to Dumre and then follow the narrow and paved road by the Marsyangdi River to Besi Sahar. Beshishahar is the district headquarters of Lamjung district. All the local government offices are situated here. From here, you can see some of mountain peaks, 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 (1305m.) and it takes about six 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. After lunch, the trail goes steeply upwards to Bahundanda which takes about 2 hours. At this point, you can see the area surrounded by eye-catching scenarios with snow capped mountains.

Day 3:
Trek from Bahundanda to Chamje (1410m.) which takes about six hours. A steep trail descends for early half an hour and then follows flat path 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 Lali Gaon. Ahead, the Marsyangdi valley forms a steep V-shape, and you follow the winding mountain path down through Syange (1100m.) where there is a beautiful waterfall above it 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 (1330m.) situated on a shelf which juts into the precipitous Marsyangdi valley. Now the trail begins to observe small ups and down to Chamje through the forests.

Day 4:
Trek from Chamje (1410m.) to Dharapani (1960m.) and it takes about six hours. The first part of the trail descends to the river and after crossing a suspension bridge, you begin a climb to Sattale (1550m.) 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, we see the level, plain of Tal (1700m.) 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 which 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 (1900m.), 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 (1960m.), and our camp for the night.

Day 5:
Trek from Dharapani to Chame (2675m.) which takes about five and half 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 around Buddhist monastery. Continuing to climb through forests of pine and oak, you pass through Danaque (2210m.). There comes a small wooden bridge which takes you to follow steep ascent path upto Timang. It lies at the bottom of Lamajung Himal. The trail goes through flat level until you reach 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 (3100m.) which 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 Bhratang (2950m.).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 (6091m.) 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 (3440m.) and it takes about five and half hours. Beyond Pisang, the trail climbs a steep ridge which affords good views of the Manang valley and Tilicho peak (7145m.). Descending past Manang's airstrip at Hongde (3320m.), you come to a level area from where the north-east 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 chortens 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 (7145m.). 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, which adorn the houses.

Day 8:
Rest day at Manang and hang in and around town. 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. Moreover you can visit Ganagapurna Glacier Lake to make your rest day a memorable one.

Day 9:
Trek from Manang to Yak Kharka (4350m.) and it 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 (4420m.) which takes about 3 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 spree slope and then descend to Thorung Phedi.

Day 11:
Trek from Thorong Phedi to Muktinath (3850m.) via Thorong La (5416m.) Pass and it takes about seven hours. You start early today for your crossing of Thorung La [5416m]. The trail becomes steep immediately on leaving camp but as this trail has been used by local people for hundreds of years the path is well defined. The gradient then eases and after around 4 hours of steady climbing you reaches 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's 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 A rest day at Tatopani to enjoy the natural hot spring bath. It is believed that one who takes bath get rids of skin diseases. After several days trekking, it is a great idea to take bath at hot spring and relax.

Day 16:
Trek from Tatopani to Ghorepani (2853 m.) for 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 panormic view of Dhaulagiri and Annapurna ranges.

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) are a small pass and the village of Deurali. 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, Nilgir 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 17:
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.), Machhapuchhre (6993m.), Annapurna IV (7525m.), Annapurna II (7937m.), Lamjung Himal (6931m.) and other numerous snowcapped mountain peaks. After breakfast trek Ghorepani to Tadapani (2650 m.) 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 18:
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 19:
Trek from Ghandruk (1950m.) to Pothana (1990m.) which takes about six hours. First part of your trek is steeply down following stone staircase to Kimbu (Bee hive). Kimbu or Bee hive is located at the elevation of 1200 meters on the bank of Modi Khola. Now your trail steeply ascends following the stone staircase up to Landruk. The trail ascends gently for early two hours and again ascends steeply for an hour to Deurali (2150m.) passing through Tolkha village (1850m.). From this point you can see panoramic view of Dhaulagiri I (8167m.), Annapurna South (7219m.), Hiunchuli (6441m.), Fishtail (6997m.), Annapurna III (7755m.), Annapurna IV (7525m.), Annapurna II (7937m.) and Lamjung Himal (6930m.). Now the rest of the trail descends gently down to Dhampus passing through Pothana village (1900m.).

Day 20:
Trek from Pothana to Dhampus Phedi (1113m.) which takes about four hours. Your trail descends gradually for at least an hour and follows gravel road for two hours and then steeply descends to Phedi passing through Dhampus village, paddy fields and forest protected by local community. Upon your arrival at Dhampus Phedi, you could take a vehicle to reach Pokhara.

Day 21:
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. 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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