In this blog (we try to) answer all your questions about the Annapurna Circuit. So you will feel comfortable about the hike and will just enjoy this amazing trip around the Annapurna mountains.
You will find more information about the Annapurna Circuit in our blog about our Annapurna hiking experience. Including reasons what makes this hike a must for every hike lover.
We also wrote The Annapurna Circuit Trek extra packinglist for you. This blog reveals our best packing tips for the Annapurna Circuit Trek.
And in case you didn’t find what you were looking for; let us know in the comments and we reply quickly.
Frequently asked questions about the Annapurna Circuit
#1 – I am afraid of heights; can I walk the Annapurna Circuit anyway?
I am afraid of heights too, so I was a little bit insecure at the beginning. But I can ease you, I didn’t have problems at all. Just don’t leave the hiking trail. The most thrilling hikes from an anxiety of heights perspective are the day trips to for example the Ice Lake and Tilicho lake. Moreover, the suspension bridges above the rivers might be a little bit tensive to tackle. Just walk, they are perfectly safe, you will get used to it. Don’t let it withhold you from gaining this experience of a lifetime!
#2 – How well trained should I be to hike the Annapurna Circuit?
We did the hike without training. But we had some experience with hiking in New Zealand. Older people do the hike, slightly overweight people do the hike. What you need is a strong mind, time and good hiking gear (especially good shoes!). If you have time, you can take it easy and decide to walk less hours on the tougher days. You don’t have to be in perfect shape. But of course, there is a lower limit. The height and the climbing will make you pant for sure. The best advice is to climb slow and gradually. It is not a race against yourself or against others. In the end the one who hikes slowly but stable will reach the top in the most comfortable way, and probably even quicker!
#3 – How difficult is it to tackle the Thorung La pass; the highest point in the Annapurna Circuit?
You can either decide to stay the night at the lower base camp or in the higher base camp. Sleeping higher will save you 1,5 hours of climbing in the dark in the early morning. When you decide to sleep in the higher basecamp it might be wise to take one extra day to acclimatize before tackling the pass.
It will take your around 8 hours from the lowest basecamp to Muktinath – the first village after the pass with sleeping facilities. The track over the pass is a well marked path and you will see a lot of other hikers in the high season. It is physically challenging, but do-able, and nowhere too scary or unclear. But be aware that bad weather can come in and can change everything. Make sure to be informed about the weather forecast the evening before crossing.
Bring enough water and food, dress warm, and most importantly; enjoy crossing the highest pass on earth because it is incredibly beautiful!
#4 – What are the best side tracks of the Annapurna Circuit?
The side tracks to the Ice Lake and Tilicho Lake – both starting in Menang – are highly recommended. The Ice Lake is a day hike, so that makes it a perfect activity to do while you are acclimatizing in Menang. The hike to Tilicho requires you to have one or two overnight stays on the way. You will be rewarded with beautiful views on the mountains and a snow capped lake.
# 5 – Where should I start the Annapurna Circuit?
We started hiking in Besishahar where the buses from Kathmandu and Pokhara will drop you. You can also decide to take another local bus or shared jeep and start the circuit in Bhulbhule. Don’t go any further by jeep because you came here to hike isn’t it?
#6 – Where should I quit the Annapurna Circuit?
Until Jomsom the circuit is spectacular. Marpha is a very cute little village. After Jomsom the circuit is less peaceful and beautiful than before this city. It depends on the time you have where you stop hiking. If you have to prioritize: focus on the part before the pass and the day trips there, and the first two or three days after the pass. You could also take the bus from Jomsom till Poon Hill and continue hiking there. We traveled from Ghasa back to Pokhara in one day.
#7 – In what direction should I walk the Annapurna Circuit?
Almost everyone does the Annapurna Circuit counter clockwise because that is the easiest direction to cross the pass. This way you only have to gain around 800 meter at the day of crossing the pass. When you are not an extremely well trained hiker, don’t be so stubborn to reach the pass from the other side.
#8 – Is it safe to walk the Annapurna Circuit?
Hiking the Annapurna Circuit is safe. With the side note that of course not everything can be predicted and it also depends on your own behaviour. To make it a more safe experience it is recommended not to walk in the dark, to stay at the main tracks and to avoid isolated paths or leaving the track. Bring good gear. Like everywhere – and Nepal is a poor country – petty theft happens. So don’t leave your valuables unwatched.
#9 – There was an earthquake in Nepal in 2016. What are the effects of the earthquake for the Annapurna Circuit and won’t it happen again?
The earthquake didn’t really harm the Annapurna Circuit. The earthquake of 2016 is not a reason not to hike the Annapurna Circuit.
#10 – Can I hike the Annapurna Circuit on my own?
Yes you can for sure. That is one of the nice things about the Annapurna Circuit. You can hike the Annapurna Circuit without hiking buddies and without a guide. The track is well sign posted and your map about the area will help you with all your other questions. When we did the circuit in the high season in October, we met other hikers on the path. We found it nice for company and information. But it was never too crowded.
#11 – Where should I buy my hiking gear? In Kathmandu / Pokhara or should I bring the stuff from back home?
We recommend bringing good gear from back home or to buy the stuff you need in a country where there are plenty of good quality stores. There is a North Face store in Kathmandu with the real thing, but mostly you can buy very cheap very fake brand stuff in Nepal. It looks nice, but the functionalities you like for your hike are of very poor quality. Poles can break, jackets are not water or wind resistant and so on. Better be safe than sorry, bring your gear with you in the plane.
#12 – How many days do I need for the Annapurna Circuit?
You will need at least 12 days for the Annapurna Circuit. You can start in Besi Sahar (by hiking or a bus to Bhulbule) and will finish in Jomsom. But we highly recommend to take more time for this absolutely gorgeous hike! The side trips from Manang and Muktinath will be among your best hiking days. The scenery is just stunning. How bad is it to take a resting day, and to sit the whole day at the roof of your guesthouse, watching the icy and snowy peaks and reading a book? So, if you have time, we recommend to reserve around 19 / 20 days for the Annapurna Circuit.
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We hope this FAQ list provides you with most of the information you need to know and are looking for concerning the Annapurna Circuit. Do you miss something? Let us know in the comments below and we reply asap!
And don’t forget to read our other blog about the Annapurna Circuit! You will learn more about how to prepare, what to pack, accommodation, food and costs.