The Annapurna Trek
Below is all you need to know about the Annapurna Region and the Trek. Skip to the bottom of the page to find out more information about the treks we offer or view a selection of our Nepal tours here. For any further questions, check out our dossiers on the region or give a member of our reservations team a call.
About the Annapurna Region
The Annapurna region is one of the finest in the Himalayas, about two-thirds of the trekkers in Nepal visit the Annapurna region. The sheer diversity of the mountain escape, the exhilaration of crossing a high mountain pass and the unsurpassed view of the Annapurna, Dhaulagiri and Manasalu range are the essentials of this outstanding trek. This area is rich in flora and fauna such as evergreen oaks, rhododendron forests and Himalayan griffon. The ethnic Gurung, Thakalis and Magar villages are scattered throughout the region. Annapurna lies east of the great gorge cut through the Himalaya by the Kali Gandaki River, which separates it from the other large massif, the Dhaulagiri. There are altogether five mountains on the Annapurna range of the central Nepal Himalayas - Annapurna I 8091m, Annapurna II 7937m, Annapurna III 7555m, Annapurna IV 7525m & Annapurna South 7273m. Besides the Annapurnas, there are other important mountains which you will be enjoying on the Annapurna trek such as Dhaulagiri 8167m, Machhapuchare (Fish Tail mountain) 6997m, Nilgiri, Tukche and others.
Hike the Annapurna Trek with usOur 14 day Annapurna Trek package can be booked on its own or added on to one of our tours in Nepal.
What you need to know
Hiking the Annapurna Trek
Nothing can possibly prepare you for the incredible scenery that awaits you in Nepal. In order to fully enjoy your trek, it is important that you come fully prepared for the potentially extreme weather and harshness of the terrain to maximise your time in this beautiful part of the world. Be aware that you need to take your time to adjust and acclimatise yourself slowly.
The Annapurna trek is a moderate trek whereby you will be walking for 5-7 hours per day. There will be some steep and sloping sections for you to scale but if you have a general degree of fitness and have completed some training before hand this should not pose a serious problem to you. If you are susceptible to heart problems then it is advisable to see a doctor prior to booking. One of the hardest and most defeating aspects of trekking in this area is the altitude. There is no real way to avoid this, but there are ways to limit the effect it has on you. Firstly, arriving a day earlier and drinking lots of water will help you acclimatize faster. Also, walking at a slower pace to begin with and taking your time helps your body adjust. Generally the performance of most is affected at 3,000m and above. This trek does start off slower to allow people that extra time for bodies to become accustomed to altitude.
Teahouse trekking means you will sleep in the local teahouses lodges along the way. Rooms are generally twin share (though this is not always guaranteed) and are simple but clean with two single beds. Most have electricity (generally at lower altitude). There is a communal toilet and shower and if you're lucky enough you may even get a warm shower.
The trail itself involves approximately 9 days of walking. It is led by a Tucan leader and a local guide. One of whom will stay at the front and another at the back with the last person. You may have more guides if your group is large (more than 12 people). Therefore faster people do not have to wait and slower people do not feel they are holding anyone up. Groups tend to spread out naturally along the track and there are no prizes for being first and no shame in being the last.
Unlike climbing to the summit of a mountain, this trek is undulating and there are even (a few) flat sections. What this does mean is that on some it can be a hard-going uphill slog. Naturally the uphills are countered by some prolonged downhill sections and this can be even tougher on the legs.
It is important to remember that the trail is not 9 solid days of challenging trekking, rather it is varied and the difficulty level can change two or three times within the same day. The most imperative factor in tackling the trail is to take it slowly, walk at your own pace (this is vital) and remember that it is not a race! Drink plenty of water and take short pauses often, leaning on your walking stick rather than sitting down. Those who charge into every uphill section and want to be the first at every pass will find the trail the toughest.
The trail is certainly not easy but you DO NOT need to be an athlete or a trekking expert to complete it. Fitness is naturally important but it is the kind of trek that anyone with a positive attitude and determination can do. However the more fit you are the more you will enjoy the trail and the more chance you will have to take in the scenery and appreciate the Inca ruins dotted along the way. If you do not exercise regularly, it is advisable to do some extra walking or some kind of aerobic activity in the months leading up to your trip.
Many people worry whether they will be able to cope physically but complete failure is rare and would usually only result from severe altitude sickness or a person lacking even a basic level of fitness. People of all ages (from teenager to pensioner) complete the trek and age itself is no barrier if you are positive- minded and live an active lifestyle.
Altitude can affect anyone at moderate to high altitude (generally anything over 3,000 metres). Altitude sickness is caused by the lack of oxygen which can be up to a third less than at sea level. No one understands why some people are affected and others not and age, level of fitness and strength is no indication of how well you will fare. Be aware that altitude sickness can be serious, so if your guide advises you to rest or descend, please do as instructed. The Annapurna Trek is a mixture of ascents and descents, and the highest point is 3802 m (at Muktinath) on second day of the trek. Altitude sickness is often short term and suffering from it does not necessarily mean you will be unable to complete the trek. Drugs are available to combat the effects of altitude sickness, for more information please contact your doctor.
Staff & Support
The trek will be led by an experienced guide with extensive local historical and archaeological knowledge. A team of porters will carry all equipment leaving you with just a small daypack to carry. The cook will prepare three meals a day (while camping) plus provide hot drinks and snacks.
Accommodation on trek
All the accommodation will be on local tea houses/ guest houses.
Toilets & Showers
We use the toilet facilities of the local guest houses / tea houses enroute Generally, these facilities are used at the same hotel/lodge during the morning time and evening time. We use the 'common toilet facilities' on the trail. For the daytime, we stop at the local tea house/restaurant where we would be using their facilities. Beside this the only choice is to go 'behind a bush'! Taking your own toilet roll is essential as the local lodges/guest houses may not it. Showers are available in the entire route and normal shower are free, however "hot showers" are payable at some places and the cost would be US$ 1.50 for each shower.
Trekkers can expect a breakfast of: (Tea/Coffee/Hot chocolate, (1 item) Egg/Omelets/ Porridge/ Muesli/ Corn flakes/ toast/Local bread with Jam, honey or Butter. (1 item)
Lunch: Tea/Coffee and one course meal
Dinner: Tea/coffee, one course meal with soup/dessert
Your local trek guide and porters have amazing strength, stamina and skill and generally make your trek a thoroughly enjoyable and hassle-free experience. Most people would almost certainly not be able to complete the trek without them. It is therefore commonly accepted that the standard combined tip for local guides & porters on the Annapurna Trek is US$ 40 per trekker.
You will need a good warm sleeping bag for the Annapurna Trek. Where possible we recommend you bring your own sleeping bag, however adequate ones can be hired locally (for approx US$ 2 per day, payable for 11 days) but we can take no responsibility for the standard. If you are planning to hire a bag it is a good idea to bring a silk sleeping bag liner to use inside for added warmth and comfort.
A four season* (or -10) bag is recommended. At other times you will probably be fine in a 3 season (or -4/-5) bag although this depends on how much you feel the cold and is given as a guideline only.
*Please note: if you are traveling in winter and you do not wish to invest in a 4 season bag you may want to consider purchasing a 3 season bag plus a sleeping bag liner and bringing additional clothing.
The weather in the Annapurna region can be very unpredictable and you should be equipped for bad weather. Nepal is located in the northern hemisphere meaning the winter extends Mid November to End February. In the summer months daytime temperatures will be around 10 to 27 degree centigrade, but the nights can be very cold. During winter it can be cold during the day and particularly cold at night. It is usual to encounter some rain on the trail all year round so a poncho is ideal along with thermal underwear if you really feel the cold. (Cheap disposable ponchos which fit over everything including your day pack can be bought in Kathmandu for approx US$8.
Please find the temperature range in Jomsom
Good quality, comfortable footwear is essential. Whatever you wear on your feet the most important thing is comfort. It is vital to ensure your boots are well worn in and lightweight. Solid ankle support and waterproofing is recommended.
Luggage Storage & Load Limits
During the Annapurna Trek your main luggage will be stored at the hotel in Kathmandu and you will bring a small duffle bag to your pre-trek briefing (which will be held the evening before you start the trek) to pack clothes for 10 days (including 2 nights in Pokhara). Your team of porters will carry these bags for you. Please note that you will not have access to these items until the end of each day as the porters will always be ahead of the group. You should therefore bring a day pack in which you can carry personal belongings such as your camera, water and sun screen and your other essential items. We respect IPPG rules (International Porters Protection Group rules) as such the duffle bag must not weigh more than 15kg which is to include your sleeping bag - this limit is set to protect the health of porters and animals. Normally the porters carry 25 – 30 kg on this trek including their luggage. A porter normally has 3 - 5 kg of his luggage Which means your bag should not weigh more than 12 kg. If you require more than 12kg, it will then be your responsibility to carry the extra amount together with your day pack.
Please note: It is most important that you break in your shoes/boots prior to arrival, as the amount of walking you will do may take its toll on your feet.
- Duffel or rucksack bag with good zipper. You can have this on hire/buy at local shop in Kathmandu.
- Your personal daypack (to keep your valuables, money, water bottle, rain gear, camera, sun cream and toilet paper etc)
- Down filled jacket
- 4 seasons sleeping bag. Bringing your own sleeping bag is recommended. You can also hire/buy at local shop in Kathmandu)
- Silk sleeping bag liner. This is especially recommended if you plan to hire a sleeping bag but can also give a 3-season bag added warmth.
- Hiking pants
- Waterproof jacket
- Full-sleeved shirt
- Trekking boots (waterproof, strong ankle support, good tread, well broken in)
- Walking poles are recommended if you are unsure of your feet
- Camp shoes or sandals
- Polypropylene/wool socks
- Light cotton socks for under wool socks
- Woollen socks to wear with boots
- Woollen hat/beanie
- Sun hat
- Sun block for lips
- Sun lotion
- Goggles or sunglasses
- Thermal long underwear
- Insulated pants
- Nylon windbreaker
- Nylon wind pants
- Water bottle
- Sewing kit
- Medical & first aid kit and a blister kit is a good idea
- Flash light
- Batteries and bulbs
- Swiss army knife (optional)
- Personal towel
- Personal toiletries and medication which should be labelled
This Annapurna Trek Information Sheet is designed to be read in conjunction with our Nepal trip notes which you can download from our website or obtain from your travel consultant. The country dossiers contain essential information about visas, arrival transfers, spending money and costs, taxes and tips, climate, local food etc.