Annapurna Circuit – the trek that encircles the 8,091m Annapurna Massif – is the most popular trek in the Western Nepal. This journey from the lowland Nepal to the Trans-Himalayan plateau can certainly be hailed as one of the world’s greatest treks. Annually, over 50,000 ambitious trekkers travel to the Annapurna region to embark on this diverse and stimulating trek. The lodges are quite and comfortable, earthquake damage was negligible, and the route is packed with variety. Here we have listed five reasons why Annapurna Circuit Trek is the ultimate trek in the Western Nepal.
It gets better by the day
Like all the great journeys in the world, Annapurna circuit trek reveals itself slowly. It climbs through dense tropical jungles before reaching a wide Tibetan-style valley through a narrow canyon. From there, it once again climbs through the high Thorung La Pass to reach Kali Gandaki Valley, a stunning desert-like Trans-Himalayan region that was once a pivotal trade corridor to Tibet. Starting from modest rice paddies and reaching the deep gorges of Marshyangdi and alpine villages of Manang is truly one of the most enriching experience you will have in your life, undoubtedly! On top of that, since you won’t be hiking down the same path, this trek is the epitome of diversity and assortment.
The best of Manang and Mustang
Manang and Mustang are two of the most beautiful and frequented trekking destinations in Nepal. And Annapurna Circuit trek will take you to the heart of these places. The Thorung-La Pass (5,416m), highest in Nepalese Himalayans, connects these two ancient Himalayan settlements. Manang is beautiful on its own terms – with picturesque villages, ancient monasteries, and the speactacular views of the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri massif. On the other hand, in addition to the alpine beauty, Mustang is famous for its historical palaces and walled kingdoms. This trek offers you the chance to visit these both places at once, saving you the trouble of making two journeys. Awesome, right?
Finest tea-house style trek to undertake
Like Solu Khumbu, the Annapurna region boasts of exceptionally well-maintained trails and homely lodges. If you are looking for a succulent, intercontinental cuisine and high-speed internet, sorry, but you are keeping unrealistic expectations. However, we can assure you that you will easily have access to hot showers, comfy beds, and decent internet along with unrivalled views of the Himalayan. You can be crossing unimaginable passes at noon and still reach the designated by evening for a cup of tea and a slice of apple pie. The entire trail is dotted with ample lodges and teahouses with owners more than happy to welcome you. The 2015 earthquake caused little to no damage, and all the lodges are running admirably.
Enriching cultural experiences
Gurungs are to the Annapurna what the Sherpas are to the Everest. However, you should know that the native inhabitants of the Annapurna region, the Gurungs, can be broadly placed in two categories: lowlanders and highlanders. Thus, you will be able to experience two type of distinct cultures. Initially, you will witness the typical Nepali-style rural lifestyle and traditions, but as you go high, you will realize that the lifestyle here is vastly influenced by Tibetan culture. Especially, in the villages of Mustang and Manang, you will see stone houses decorated with sting of colorful prayer flags, intricate monasteries, and people dressed in traditional Tibetan attires. Irrespective of the difference in elevation and way of life, the Gurungs are one of the friendliest ethnic groups in Nepal. Thus, you will have the chance to experience their warm hospitality and generosity.
Amazing side trips
At this point, you might already feel overwhelmed with everything that Annapurna Circuit trek offers. But what if I tell you that there’s more to it? Yes, you read it right. The route is so assorted that you can take on several side trips to explore more regions and collect some more experiences. For instance, Milarepa’s Cave is one worthwhile side trip that you can undertake from Bragha. It is famous pilgrimage site that celebrates the life of Tibetan poet, Milarepa. Next, Dhaulagiri Icefall is an adventurous side trip to undertake for adrenaline-lovers. This strenuous, two-day-long trip will take you to the foot of Dhaulagiri icefall and also offer surreal views of the mountain. However, it is only for recommended for seasoned trekkers.