Trekking in Nepal

Annapurna Circuit

The Annapurna Circuit is a three-week trek starting near Kathmandu's second largest city, Pokhara. Although you can walk in a complete circle, most trekkers coming from Kathmandu skip some of the low country near Pokhara and start in Dumre. From there, the trek heads up the Marsyangdi river valley, where you'll see your first 8,000-meter peak, Manaslu.

Walking from village to village, you continue to gain elevation until you reach the high altitude desert-like country near Manang, which is rainshadowed by the Annapurna massif. At Manang, stop to acclimate to the altitude; make certain you visit the Himalayan Rescue Association, which offers free clinics on altitude sickness for trekkers. You need to know about this because of what lies ahead: the crossing of Thorong La, a 17,761-foot pass. It's a good idea to form a group to go over Thorong La, which can challenge even the fittest hikers with snow and altitude sickness. Warning: trekkers have died here from both exposure and acute mountain sickness, so approach the pass with a respect for the conditions and knowledge of your own limitations.

From Thorong La, the path descends to the Kali Gandaki river valley, the deepest river-cut valley in the world. Here, if you're lucky, you might stumble across kaligrams, fossils made when the Himalayas were still beneath the sea. The trek along the Kali Gandaki Valley descends to 3,880 feet at the town of Tatopani. Towering over you is the sheer-walled bulk of 26,810-foot Dhaulagiri; its summit almost 4 1/2 vertical miles above the valley floor.

The end of the trek winds through the lower hill country, where temperatures can feel almost subtropical. Note: The entire Annapurna Circuit takes about 21 days. But a shorter option exists. Many trekkers take a bush plane to the Jomson Air Strip, then walk down the Kali Gandaki Valley back to Pokhara. This takes about a week.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 28 Sep 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication



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