Annapurna Circuit Trek Difficulty

By Glorious Himalaya on May 8, 2023 in Trekking, Travel Tips

The Annapurna Circuit Trek is one of the well-known trekking routes in Nepal, but do you know how difficult is Annapurna Circuit Trek?

Well, compared to other treks in the Annapurna area, it is a moderate-level hike. Therefore, for novice trekkers, it may be a challenging journey without adequate prior training and preparation.

It was first opened to foreign trekkers in 1977 and has since become one of the most popular trekking routes in the world. The trekking route passes through the Annapurna Conservation Area, which is home to over 100,000 people of different ethnic groups including Gurung, Thakali, and Manangba. The trek is a 128-mile long journey that takes around 10 to 14 days to complete, depending on the itinerary. It offers spectacular views of some of the highest peaks in the world like Mt. Annapurna, Dhaulagiri, and Machhapuchhre. Glorious Himalaya will give you details regarding how difficult is the Annapurna Circuit Trek on this blog:

Altitude breakdown of the Annapurna Circuit Trek

It is a popular trekking route in the Himalayas, and altitude is a significant factor in this trek. Here’s a detailed overview of the altitude during the Annapurna Circuit Trek, including major places along the way:

The first major checkpoint on the trek is Chame at an altitude of around 2,700 meters. From Chame, you will continue to ascend to higher elevations and pass through several other villages, including Pisang (3,200 meters) and Manang (3,540 meters).

After Manang, the trek leads you to the Thorong La Pass, the highest point of the trek, which stands at an elevation of 5,416 meters. This is one of the most challenging parts of the trek due to the altitude and steep terrain. You will have to spend a day or two in Manang to acclimatize properly before attempting to cross the pass.

After crossing the pass, the trek descends to Muktinath (3,800 meters). From Muktinath, you will continue to descend to lower elevations, passing through Kagbeni (2,810 meters) and Jomsom (2,720 meters).

Altitude Sickness in Annapurna Circuit Trek

Altitude sickness, also known as acute mountain sickness (AMS), is a common concern on the Annapurna Circuit Trek. The trek involves significant altitude gains and can reach a maximum elevation of 5,416 meters at the Thorong La Pass. Altitude sickness occurs when your body is unable to adjust to the lower oxygen levels at high altitudes. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and can include headache, nausea, fatigue, dizziness, and difficulty sleeping.

Proper acclimatization is crucial for preventing altitude sickness during the Annapurna Circuit Trek. This involves giving your body enough time to adjust to the altitude before climbing higher. It’s recommended to spend at least two nights at an elevation of 3,500 meters or higher to help your body acclimatize before crossing the Thorong La Pass.

In addition to acclimatization, it’s important to take other preventive measures against altitude sickness. It includes staying well-hydrated, avoiding alcohol and smoking, and maintaining a healthy diet. You may also need to take medication, such as acetazolamide, to help prevent altitude sickness.

Furthermore, it’s essential to monitor your body’s response to the altitude and take any symptoms of altitude sickness seriously. If you experience symptoms such as headache, nausea, fatigue, dizziness, or difficulty sleeping, it’s crucial to descend to a lower altitude immediately.

Length of the Trek

The trek typically takes around 10-15 days to complete, depending on your pace and the length of your stops. Here is a outline breakdown of the length of the trek for the itinerary provided by Glorious Himalaya and what to expect:

Day 1: Drive from Kathmandu to Syange via Besisahar

After enjoying a few sightseeing days in Kathmandu, you’ll take about 8/9 hour drive to Syange.

Average Driving Time: 8/9 hrs

Day 2: Trek from Syange to Dharapani –

Average Walking Time: 6/7 hrs

Day 3: Trek from Dharapani to Chame

Average Walking Time: 7-8 hrs

Difficulty: Moderate

Day 4: Trek from Chame to Pisang

Average Walking Time: 6 hrs

Difficulty: Moderate

Day 5: Trek from Pisang to Manang

Average Walking Time: 6-7 hrs

Difficulty: Moderate

Day 6: Acclimatization Day at Manang

Day 7: Trek from Manang to Yak Kharka

Average Walking Time: 3-4 hrs

Difficulty: Easier than previous days.

Day 8: Trek from Yak Kharka to Thorong Phedi

Average Walking Time: 3-4 hrs

Difficulty: Easier than previous days.

These days involve more steep ascents, and the altitude starts to affect the trekker’s body. It’s important to take it slow and stay hydrated to prevent altitude sickness.

Day 9: Muktinath via Thorong La Pass

Walking Time: 8 hrs

Difficulty: Very Difficult

This is the most challenging day of the trek, as you’ll be crossing the highest point of the trek, the Thorong La Pass, at an elevation of 5,416 meters. The trail is steep and rocky, and the altitude makes it even more strenuous. However, the sense of accomplishment and the stunning views make it a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Day 10: Trek from Muktinath to Jomsom via Kagbeni

Walking Time: 6-7 hrs

Difficulty: Easy

These days involve descent from the high-altitude desert to the lush valleys and forests, offering a refreshing change of scenery. The trails are less steep, making walking easier.

Day 11: Fly or drive from Jomsom to Pokhara

Driving Time: 10 hrs

Fly time: 25 minutes

Day 12: Drive back from Pokhara to Kathmandu

Weather in Annapurna Region

The weather during the Annapurna Circuit Trek varies depending on the season. The best time to do the trek is from September to November and from March to May when the weather is dry, stable and the views are clear. During this time, the days are usually warm and sunny with cool nights.

However, during the winter months (December to February), it can get very cold, and there is a high chance of snowfall, making the trek challenging. The temperature can drop below freezing, and the trails can become slippery and hazardous.

During the monsoon season (June to August), it rains heavily, causing landslides and making the trails muddy and difficult to navigate. The views may be obstructed by clouds and mist, making the trek less enjoyable.

Therefore, the weather conditions can significantly affect the difficulty of the trek. It’s important to plan your trek according to the season and be prepared for all kinds of weather conditions. Additionally, it’s essential to check the weather forecast regularly and be flexible with your itinerary if necessary to ensure your safety.

Physical Demands of the Trek

Annapurna Circuit Trek is a physically demanding trek, and it requires a good level of fitness and endurance. The trek involves long and steep ascents and descents, crossing high-altitude mountain passes, and walking on rocky and uneven terrain. Some specific examples of physical demands of the trek are:

Uphill and downhill trekking: The trek involves steep uphill and downhill trekking, especially during the first few days of the trek and while crossing the Thorong La Pass. Trekking for long hours on steep inclines can be physically challenging, especially for those who are not used to it.

Long hours of walking: The trek involves walking for 6-8 hours a day, covering a distance of 10-20 km. Walking for such long hours can be tiring and can take a toll on your stamina.

Rocky and uneven terrain: The trails on the Annapurna Circuit Trek are often rocky and uneven, which requires extra effort to maintain balance and avoid injuries.

Weather conditions: The weather conditions during the trek can also add to the physical demands of the trek. Rain, snow, and extreme cold can make trekking more challenging.

It is essential to engage in regular physical activity and cardio exercises such as running, hiking, and cycling. Building strength in your legs and core muscles will also help you cope with the demands of the trek. Additionally, it’s important to acclimatize properly, stay hydrated, and take adequate rest to ensure that you complete the trek comfortably and safely.

Final say,

If you’re looking for a trek that will push you to your limits and leave you breathless, both figuratively and literally, then the Annapurna Circuit Trek is calling your name! This challenging trek offers jaw-dropping views of the majestic Himalayan peaks, stunning landscapes, and an immersive cultural experience that will leave you with memories to last a lifetime.

But let’s not sugarcoat things; the Annapurna Circuit Trek is not for the faint of heart. With steep uphill and downhill sections, rocky paths, and high-altitude passes, it demands a good level of fitness and endurance. The Thorong La Pass, at a dizzying altitude of 5,416 meters, is no walk in the park either, and altitude sickness can pose a real threat.

However, don’t let the challenges scare you away. The sense of accomplishment and fulfillment that comes with completing this trek makes every step worth it. With the right preparation, training, and guidance from experienced trekking guides, anyone with a good level of fitness can conquer the Annapurna Circuit Trek and experience its unforgettable rewards.

Are you planning to make it happen? Contact the Glorious Himalaya’s expert team for your pleasure and safe Annapurna Circuit Trek journey. Write us your requirements at info@glorioushimalaya.com or WhatsApp at +977-9813637616 for instant communications.

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