The Annapurna Circuit, a 15 to 20 day trek within the Annapurna mountain range of central Nepal, is prized as one of the best treks in the world. The route encompasses a rich mix of terrain from jungle to paddy fields, waterfalls to canyons, as well as a cultural variety from Hindu villages at the low foothills to the Tibetan culture of the higher levels. Above all the mountain scenery is spectacular, offering close-up vistas of the Annapurna Massif, Dhaulagiri, Machhapuchhre, the “Fishtail Mountain”, Manaslu, Gangapurna and Tilicho Peak.
Most trekkers circle the Annapurna massif in a counter clockwise route as this aids acclimatisation with its slower gain in altitude. This is essential in order to tackle the highest pass on the trek, Thorung La, at a mighty 5,416 metres.
The trek begins at Besisahar, a seven-hour drive from Kathmandu, and ends at Nayapul. While moderate at the beginning, the route becomes challenging on the higher reaches with numerous river and suspension bridge crossings as well as passing through a canyon so narrow and deep that sunshine only penetrates at noon. The trek also goes through Buddhist villages and Hindu holy sites, including Muktinath, sacred to both Buddhists and Hindus, and Braga, one of the oldest monasteries in the region. Accommodation is in tea houses and lodges along the way where an evening meal and breakfast will be provided. The standard of accommodation is comfortable but basic - expect electricity and hot running water, even wifi, except during power cuts. Buses and taxis are available at the end of the trek for transport to Pokhara, a pleasant lakeside town for a few days of relaxation, or to transit back to Kathmandu.
When to go
October to November, just after the monsoon rains, is the most popular hiking season in Nepal with generally clear views and warm temperatures during the day. The trail is far less busy between December and March, but this is the coldest period with night time temperatures well below freezing and Thorung La Pass can be snow-blocked for days on end. June to September is the monsoon period but much of the Annapurna circuit sits within a rain shadow so the northern part is less effected by downpours.
The importance of Annapurna Circuit Insurance
Travel insurance is essential for any journey, but is particularly important when undertaking potentially hazardous activities such as trekking in remote regions where medical facilities or assistance may not be close at hand. You’ll enjoy your adventure better with the peace of mind that comes from knowing you have the right insurance cover in place should a mishap occur. This can be anything from lost or stolen luggage to a full helicopter rescue off a mountain.
For trekking you need to ensure that your travel insurance covers you for altitude. Most standard policies provide cover for walking up to a maximum of 2,500 metres.
Big Cat Travel Insurance’s Extreme Activity Pack add-on extends cover to include any altitude above 4,500 metres and is suited to challenging mountain treks such as Aconcagua, Mt Kilimanjaro and Mont Blanc.
Please note for trekking in Nepal the Nepal Trekking Pack add-on will need to be included. A 7,000m altitude limit is applied to this.