Half Annapurna Circuit

Thorong La pass
  • TRIP TYPE: Trekking
  • TRIP GRADE: Strenuous
  • TRIP STYLE: Tea House
  • TRIP LEADER: Local Leader
  • GROUP SIZE: 2 - 10 people
  • NEXT DEPARTURE: 02 Apr 2021

Details

Half Annapurna Circuit is the shorter version of the classic trek around the Annapurna massif including the crossing of the high pass called Thorong La at 5,400m

This is one of the classic treks of the world offering a cross section of Nepal from lowland terraced rice fields, pine forest to the arid terrain in the Himalayan rain shadow near Muktinath. The trail starts at Besisahar and follows the Marsyangdi river through Gurung settlements to the Tibetan region of Manang. We are now in Buddhist country where you will see colourful prayer flags, mani walls and monasteries along the way.  

The high point is the challenging day crossing the Thorung La pass at 5,416m followed by the trek down the deep Kali Gandaki gorge located between the Annapurna and Annapurna massifs. The mountain views throughout this trek encompass the highest and most beautiful in the world including Lamjung, Himalchuli, Manaslu, Annapurna, Annapurna and Machapuchare.

We follow Natural Annapurna Trekking Trails (NATT) where possible and have been involved in promoting these new trails through organising a recce trek for outdoor journalist, Terry Adby. To see Terry’s articles include "The Return of the Annapurnas" in online magazine Outdoor Enthusiast starting on Page 46 and BMC The New Way: Trekking Nepal’s Annapurnas.

  • We are Himalayan trekking specialists and we have been operating trips in Nepal for many years. Roland Hunter, owner and founder of The Mountain Company, has modified this itinerary based on his first-hand experience of the Annapurna region.
  • Read our AITO Traveller Reviews for Half Annapurna Circuit where our overall holiday rating is 100%. Our approach to organising trips in the Himalayas has helped The Mountain Company win awards such as 2018 Gold Award as AITO Tour Operator of the Year and 2015 Bronze Award as AITO Tour Operator of the Year.
  • The Mountain Company will receive bespoke weather forecasts for the Annapurna region from EverestWeather.com and from our in house forecasting throughout the duration of this trek.
  • We send a Thuraya satellite phone on all of our treks in Nepal. It is essential for your guide to have reliable communications with us for logistics, planning and group safety.
  • We provide all porters with windproof jacket & trousers, crampons and shelter as per International Porter Protection Group (“IPPG”) guidelines.
  • We bring a comprehensive first aid kit plus high altitude medicine, antibiotics and other medicines. 
  • Pre trip support will be given by our Operations team with first hand knowledge of Half Annapurna Circuit trek. During high season we have a TMC representative from our UK Operations team based in Kathmandu.

Route Map

Itinerary

Arrive in Kathmandu

No meals

Hotel Tibet in Kathmandu

Flying into Kathmandu along the northern border of Nepal on a clear day is in itself an unforgettable experience, with the entire Nepalese Himalaya sprawling out below you. After customs, you will pass out of the restricted area and into the passenger pick-up area outside the building. You will see a Mountain Company signboard and our representative will be waiting to welcome you to Nepal.

After transferring to your hotel, you will be given a chance to catch your breath and then be given a full briefing. The rest of the day will be yours to explore and to shop for any items that you require. Today you will hear the Nepalese word for hello ‘Namaste’, you will probably never forget that word after this trek.

Drive to Jagat (10 hours)

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Teahouse lodge

We leave Kathmandu early in the morning by private bus. It is a scenic drive with several picturesque gorges and occasional glimpses of mountain peaks. At Dumre we turn off the Pokhara highway and drive north following Marsyangdi River to Besisahar. We drive beyond this town passing a new hydro-plant being built at Bhulbule by the Chinese until we arrive at Ngadi. At this village we will change vehicles from our bus to local jeeps then continue the drive to Jagat where we camp in the garden of a lodge.

During the months of April, May and October it will very hot and humid with temperatures often more than 30 Degrees Celsius for the first few days of the trek. We have chosen the months of May and October as these months are likely to have optimal conditions for crossing the Teri La high pass. It is important to bring plenty of water, wear a sun hat and apply sun cream.

Walking 14km (7 hours)

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Teahouse lodge

Shortly after leaving Jagat, there are views of the impressive 200m Chamje waterfall before dropping to the river and crossing to return to the quieter east side of the valley. A new dirt track, which now runs all the way into the Annapurna Circuit, is on the west side of the valley; we avoid this, enjoying the wildlife, flora, terraces and small farms and an occasionally excellent path of large stone steps climbing and descending the spurs of the valley. 

The trail passes through huge boulders fallen from the mountains above. There is a steep but spectacular ascent on a good trail to the beautiful and colourful village of Tal, which lies in a wide flat valley. After about four hours walking we have lunch at Tal. After lunch there is a dramatic section of the trail along the base of a cliff next to the Marsyangdi River. Landslides on the east bank make the trail here impassable and we have to cross the river to the west bank where we join the dirt jeep track for a short section into Dharapani. There is a good selection of shops and a telephone point in the town. After about three hours walk in the afternoon we arrived to Dharapani at 1,940m.

Walking 14km (7 hours)

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Teahouse lodge

We climb to the village of Bagarchap, walk through a forest and then follow the river to Chame. Today, there are great views of Annapurna II (7,937m) and Lamjung Himal (6,932m) up the valley and if you look back you will be able to see the Manaslu (8,154m) and Peak 29 (7,833m).

Walking 14km (6 hours)

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Teahouse lodge

Leaving Chame you pass some mani walls and a little further there is a water-turned prayer wheel. After the suspension bridge the valley widens and Pisang Peak (6,091m) will become visible.

Walking 15km (7 hours)

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Teahouse lodge

We recommend taking the high level route to Manang (7 hours) today but there is also the option to take the low route (5 hours) along the valley floor. The high level route starts by crossing the river outside Pisang and follows a path which passes a lake and a long mani wall. There is a long climb along a switch back path to the village of Ghyaru. We will stop at one of the tea houses and enjoy the stunning view of Annapurna II and IV.

From Ghyaru we follow a high level trail to Ngawal the next village. Finally you descend back to the valley floor and rejoin the main trail to continue to Braga and Manang.

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Teahouse lodge

It is important to have an extra few days in Manang in order to help acclimatisation for the next few days as we start the climb towards the Thorong La. There are lots of options for day walks around Manang. One possibility is to walk to Khangsar village on the way to Tilicho Lake or a longer walk to Ice Lake above Braga.  It is well worth visiting the gompa above Braga as well as attending the Himalayan Rescure afternoon lecture on altitude and acclimatisation.

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Teahouse lodge

It is important to have an extra few days in Manang in order to help acclimatisation for the next few days as we start the climb towards the Thorong La. There are lots of options for day walks around Manang. One possibility is to walk to Khangsar village on the way to Tilicho Lake or a longer walk to Ice Lake above Braga.  It is well worth visiting the gompa above Braga as well as attending the Himalayan Rescure afternoon lecture on altitude and acclimatisation.

Walking 9km (4 to 5 hours)

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Teahouse lodge

It is a shorter day today, about 3 to 4 hours, in order to help everyone acclimatise to the altitude. It is a good idea to go for an afternoon walk which also helps with this process, you can either walk up the valley and back to the lodge or climb the ridge behind the village.

Walking 6km (4 hours walking)

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Teahouse lodge

It is another short day of about 3 to 4 hours walking again to help the acclimatisation process. Leaving Yak Kharka we pass through a few lodges at Letdar and after crossing the river there is a climb to Thorong Phedi. In the afternoon it is a good idea to go for a short walk.

Walking 12km (8 to 9 hours)

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Teahouse lodge

Today we will leave Phedi at first light for the challenging walk over the Thorong La. The trail is on undulating terrain and after about 4 to 5 hours we should reach the pass.

There are spectacular views of the Annapurna Range to the south and the Mukat Himal bordering Dolpo to the west, as we descend on the other side Annapurna (8,175m) and Tukuche Peak (6,920m). The descent to Muktinath is quite steep and will take between 3 to 4 hours. It is a good idea to have walking poles to help in case of a slippery path if there is still snow (depends on the time of year) and to take the strain off the knees.

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Teahouse lodge

We have included a spare day in case of bad weather or for any other eventuality.

Walking 9km (4 hours)

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Teahouse lodge

Today we have a short walk to Kagbeni, this will probably be welcome after the long day going over the pass yesterday. After breakfast it is well worth going to visit the temples above the village of Muktinath.

The trail passes through a beautiful arid landscape in the rain shadow of the Himalayas, this is starkly different to green and lush terrain at the start of our trek a week ago.

We descend steeply to the green oasis of Kagbeni. It is a fascinating place to explore with narrows streets and old buildings. One needs a special permit to follow the path north of Kagbeni along the Thak Khola to Upper Mustang.

Walking 10km (5 hours)

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Teahouse lodge

The trail follows the Kali Gandaki down to the town of Jomsom. In Jomsom we stay at one of the lodges located near the airport.

Fly to Pokhara & Kathmandu

Breakfast

Teahouse lodge

We take an early morning flight to Pokhara then connect onto another flight to Kathmandu.

Important note: there is a significant safety risk to consider when flying on airlines in Nepal, if you would like to avoid STOL flight from Jomsom to Pokhara there is an option to extend your trek by to walking to Beni in three days and then driving to Pokhara. It is also possible to drive from Jomsom to Pokhara in one long days if there are no landslides or other delays on the road. However there are also safety considerations with this option as driving in Nepal is risky too. For further information about the flight safety risk in Nepal please read our “Threat and Risk Assessment” plus “Jomsom STOL flight” sections of this Trip Dossier.

Sightseeing in Kathmandu

Breakfast

Hotel Tibet in Kathmandu

This is a one day guided sightseeing tour of the Kathmandu Valley visiting three out of the seven World Heritage Sites. You will start off by visiting Patan Durbar Square then drive to the Buddhist stupa at Boudhanath followed by the last stop of the day at the Hindu shrine of Pashupatinath. The tour is likely to finish around 4pm and the rest of the day is free to further explore Kathmandu.

Three major towns are located in the valley, Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur, each having a great artistic and architectural tradition. Kathmandu is the capital and the largest city in the country. Patan, the second largest is separated from Kathmandu by a river. Bhaktapur, the third largest, is towards the eastern end of the valley and its relative isolation is reflected in its slower pace and more distinctly mediaeval atmosphere.

In the Valley the landscape is dramatically sculpted by the contours of the paddy fields. The towns and villages are alive with the colours of farm produce, ranging from pyramids of golden grain to the vivid reds of chilli peppers laid out on mats to dry in the sun. In the streets and towns there is a constant bustle of activity, especially in the bazaars and markets where the farmers sell their vegetables and fruit.

Fly home

Breakfast

Transfer to Kathmandu airport for the flight back home. End of trip.

Dates & Prices

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2021

Dates Trip Leader Price Single Supplement: Room/Tent Availability
Dates 02 Apr 2021 to 18 Apr 2021 Trip Leader Local Leader Price US$2,115pp Single Supplement:
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US$200pp / NA
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Dates 30 Apr 2021 to 16 May 2021 Trip Leader Local Leader Price US$2,115pp Single Supplement:
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Dates 01 Oct 2021 to 17 Oct 2021 Trip Leader Local Leader Price US$2,115pp Single Supplement:
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Dates 15 Oct 2021 to 31 Oct 2020 Trip Leader Local Leader Price US$2,115pp Single Supplement:
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Dates 29 Oct 2021 to 14 Nov 2021 Trip Leader Local Leader Price US$2,115pp Single Supplement:
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Dates 19 Nov 2021 to 05 Dec 2021 Trip Leader Local Leader Price US$2,115pp Single Supplement:
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2022

Dates Trip Leader Price Single Supplement: Room/Tent Availability
Dates 01 Apr 2022 to 17 Apr 2022 Trip Leader Local Leader Price US$2,150pp Single Supplement:
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US$200pp / NA
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Dates 29 Apr 2022 to 15 May 2022 Trip Leader Local Leader Price US$2,150pp Single Supplement:
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US$200pp / NA
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Dates 07 Oct 2022 to 23 Oct 2022 Trip Leader Local Leader Price US$2,150pp Single Supplement:
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US$200pp / NA
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Dates 14 Oct 2022 to 30 Oct 2022 Trip Leader Local Leader Price US$2,150pp Single Supplement:
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US$200pp / NA
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Dates 28 Oct 2022 to 13 Nov 2022 Trip Leader Local Leader Price US$2,150pp Single Supplement:
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Dates 18 Nov 2022 to 04 Dec 2022 Trip Leader Local Leader Price US$2,150pp Single Supplement:
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For private and bespoke trip, please contact us

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What's Included

  • All internal transport and transfers including airport collections.
  • Internal flight at the end of the trek from Jomsom to Pokhara & Kathmandu.
  • One day sightseeing in Kathmandu with Nepalese cultural guide and private vehicle.
  • Twin share room in Kathmandu at Hotel Tibet or Hotel Ambassador.
  • Twin share room with common bathroom while on trek.
  • Breakfast only in Kathmandu, all meals included while on trek. Trek meals include breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and biscuits plus two course dinner (soup and main meal) plus up to two cups of hot drinks per meal.
  • All trekking arrangements including permits and fees, trekking guide(s) and porter(s). We provide one trekking guide for group size of two people and two guides for a group size of three people and three guides for group size of six people plus.
  • Bespoke weather forecasts for Annapurna region from EverestWeather.com throughout the duration of this trek.
  • Thuraya satellite phone to ensure our guides have reliable communications with us for logistics, planning and group safety.
  • Annapurna trekking map given to you on arrival to Kathmandu.
  • Rubberised luggage tags posted to you before departure.
  • Full financial protection for all monies paid to us through our membership of Association of Bonded Travel Operators Trust (our ABTOT membership number is 5365) and having an Air Travel Organiser’s Licence (our ATOL number is 10921).
  • Pre departure support and advice from The Mountain Company by email, phone or face to face meetings in London. After booking with us we will send our comprehensive “Nepal Pre Trip Information” notes.

What's Not Included

  • International flight to/from Kathmandu.
  • Travel & trekking insurance.
  • Nepal visa for 30 days.
  • Lunch and evening meals in Kathmandu.
  • Personal clothing & equipment, please see Appendix for suggested kit list.
  • Tips (guidance on amounts included in our “Nepal Pre Trip Information” notes).
  • Other items not listed in “What is included”.

Accommodation

Hotel Tibet in Kathmandu

Hotel Tibet is located in Lazimpat next to the Radisson and is our usual hotel for our standard trips in Nepal.

We have used Hotel Tibet for over 15 years and our previous clients enjoy staying at this property due to its good location, comfortable rooms and high level of service. There is a garden terrace next to the restaurant on the ground floor and the roof terrace with the Yeti Bar overlooking the city.


Teahouse lodge in Nepal

While on trek at a teahouse lodge in Nepal there are twin share rooms with common bathroom and a heated communal dining room. 

We will provide all meals at the lodges and include breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and biscuits plus two course dinner (soup and main meal) plus up to two cups of hot drinks per meal. We regularly inspect and select the best lodges in each location.


Mount Kailash Resort in Pokhara

Mount Kailash Resort is situated in a good location along a quieter section of Pokhara Lakeside and has fine views of the lake and the mountains.

This property has been recently built in modern style and the rooms are spacious with amenities including en-suit bathroom, television, air-condition and free Wi Fi. There is a well kept garden to relax in and also a swimming pool.


Practical Information

Communications

We bring a Thuraya satellite phone for logistical, safety and personal use. Personal calls charged at £4 (US$5 or €4.50) per minute and £2 (US$3 €4.50) to send and receive SMS text.

Clothing and Equipment List for Annapurna Circuit

For the safety of everyone in the group and to help ensure a successful trek, you are required to have the following items in our clothing and equipment list tailored for Annapurna Circuit trek.

As a reminder, the weather on this trek will vary season to season and day to day as you ascend to higher elevations. During the first couple of days on Annapurna Circuit trek you are likely to experience hot conditions with temperatures around 25˚C. You will experience the coldest temperatures at Thorung Phedi at an altitude of 4,490m where overnight lows will be down to around -15˚C.

Each trekker should bring one backpack for gear required during the day. Your day backpack will contain items such as warm clothes, jacket, camera, water bottles, personal first aid kit and snacks. The maximum weight allowance for back pack is 5kg. The rest of your personal equipment packed in a duffel or kit bag will be carried by a porter. The maximum weight allowance for your duffel bag  is 15kg. Please ensure that your bag is marked clearly on the outside for easy identification.

We suggest you print the kit list and tick items off as you pack them then weigh your kit bag before you come on trek.

Footwear:

  • Walking boots. A pair of water repellent boots with ankle support.
  • Walking socks.
  • Trainers or trail shoes. Can be used in lodge in the evenings.

Trekking gear for crossing the passes:

  • Trekking poles (Black Diamond with “Flick Lock” are best). Having two poles is mandatory as required for your safety on steep and loose sections of the trail and for walking through deep snow higher up.
  • Kahtoola Microspokes or YakTrax XTRs. These are for your safety and security when descending passes if snowy or icy conditions, for more information please take a look at: https://kahtoola.com/product/microspikes/ and https://www.yaktrax.com/product/xtr
  • A pair of knee high gaiters used to keep boots dry if walking through deep snow or on wet ground.

Clothing:

  • Waterproof jacket and trousers (goretex or similar). For use if it rains or snows during the trek.
  • Trekking trousers. Minimum two pairs of trousers.
  • Long sleeve shirts (not cotton). Minimum two shirts.
  • Micro fleece.
  • Mid to heavyweight fleece.
  • Sleeveless/ gilet or body warmer type fleece. This will help keep your core warm while not bulking when layering up. Gilet fleece can be used in combination with base layers, other fleeces and down jacket to provide maximum warmth and insulation.
  • Thermals or base layer for top & bottom (merino wool or synthetic).
  • Fleece pants. To be worn around camp or added as an additional layer when the temperatures start to drop higher up.
  • Medium weight down jacket (eg Nuptse jacket by The North Face)

Handwear:

  • Fleece gloves.
  • Warms mittens and/or gloves.

Headwear:

  • Wool or fleece hat.
  • Sun hat.
  • Bandana or scarf. (eg. Buff Headwear check out http://www.buffwear.com)
  • Bring extra batteries.
  • Sunglasses.

Personal Equipment:

  • Sleeping bag. Maximum overnight lows at Thorung Phedi will be around -15 Celsius. Note: it is possible to rent a bag in Kathmandu from Shonas Rental.
  • Fleece or silk liner for your sleeping bag. A liner protects your sleeping bag from getting dirty and helps by adding extra insulation to keep you warm at night.
  • Recommended size is 30 to 40 litres as you need to have enough space to carry water bottles, camera, snacks and extra clothing such as down jacket etc. It is also a good idea to bring a rain cover to keep the contents dry.
  • Stuff sacks for keeping your gear dry and organised. Or even better are fold- drybags such as from Exped.
  • Two water bottles (Nalgene wide mouth bottles are the best).
  • Sunscreen and lipsalve with a high SPF.
  • Insect repellent.
  • Water purification tablets (Pristine, Biox Acqua or Acqa Mira).
  • Favourite snack food.
  • Books, ipod and cards etc.
  • Camera with spare batteries and memory cards.
  • Insurance certificate.
  • Earplugs (optional).
  • Baby wipes (optional).
  • Hand sanitizer (optional).

Travelling:

  • Duffle bag or large backpack for your personal gear on the trek (carried by a porter). Bring a small combination padlock to secure the bag.
  • Travel clothes. You will need casual clothing for air travel days and time spent in Kathmandu.
  • Toiletry bag include toilet paper, soap, towel, toothbrush, etc.

Personal first aid kit:

Note: we provide a comprehensive group first aid kit but please bring personal medications and other items you might use regularly such as:

  • Any personal medications.
  • Blister treatment (Compeed patches are the best).
  • Rehydration powder eg Dioralyte.
  • Analgesics (paracetamol, ibuprofen and aspirin).
  • Plasters and zinc oxide tape.
  • Throat lozenges.
  • Diamox (helps with acclimatisation).

Threat and risk assessment for Annapurna Circuit

Participants should be aware trekking, mountaineering and travelling in a developing country are activities that involve a risk of personal injury or death. As a condition of booking you must accept these risks and be responsible for your own actions and involvement.

Adventure travel requires an open and flexible attitude. You may experience extreme conditions, unpredictable weather and last minute changes to the itinerary beyond our control. The ability to work in team is an important aspect of all of our trips.

As a part of our planning process we have performed a detailed threat and risk assessment for our Half Annapurna Circuit trek. It is worth pointing out all of our trips have a certain degree of risk, this is of course part of the attraction of adventure travel and why so many people choose to join this type of holiday. However by identifying the potential hazards on Half Annapurna Circuit we can assess the level of risk and implement control measures to reduce this happening.

Our full threat and risk assessment for Half Annapurna Circuit is available to clients on request. For your information we have listed below a summary of the significant risks and hazards identified by us:

  • Falls and trips resulting in physical injury eg. slipping on ice or falling off the path.
  • Altitude illness including but not limited to AMS, HACE and HAPE.
  • Getting lost or becoming separated from group eg. crossing Thorong La pass in whiteout.
  • Climatic injuries (dehydration, sun burn, heat exhaustion, hypothermia or heat stroke). Please note during the months of April, May and October it will very hot and humid with temperatures often more than 30 Degrees Celsius for the first three days of the trek.
  • Rock fall and landslides.
  • Snow and ice avalanches eg crossing Thorong La pass.
  • Lightning strike.
  • Wildlife, pack animals (eg. donkeys or horses) or stray dogs. Pack animals have been known to knock people off the path. Dogs can attack and bite, we advise you discuss rabies vaccination with your doctor.
  • Earthquake.
  • Risk of fire in the hotel or lodge.
  • Endemic local diseases. We advise you discuss vaccinations with your doctor before departure.
  • Physiological injury such as heart attack, appendicitis, hernia, toothache etc. in a remote area.
  • Road traffic accident. We use a private bus or jeep from Kathmandu to Ngadi however due to local rules we cannot take drive our bus to Srichaur so we have to use local jeeps for this section of road.
  • Flight accident [see paragraph “Internal flights in Nepal” for further information].
  • Contaminated food and/ or water.

This trip visits a remote area where you are away from normal emergency services and medical facilities. In case of a serious injury requiring hospitalisation evacuation could take up to several days and may impede your ensuing recovery. Helicopters are the most usual means of evacuation, however they are not always available or they may be hindered by poor weather and flying conditions.

Internal Flights

British Foreign & Commonwealth Office (“FCO”) travel advice to Nepal states that “STOL airstrips in Nepal are among the most remote and difficult to land on in the world and are a challenge for even the most technically proficient pilots and well-maintained aircraft.” For their latest advice please take a look at their Safety & Security section under Air Travel.

There have been a number of recent air accidents in Nepal and in December 2013 The European Union banned all airlines based in Nepal from flying in the 28-nation bloc under the latest changes to a list of unsafe carriers.  For more information on Nepal’s air safety profile take a look at Aviation Safety Network.

Weather and climate for Annapurna Circuit

Annapurna Circuit trek will have a wide range of temperatures depending on the altitude and the time of day. In the mountains between 1,000m and 3,500m the nights will be cool, normally around 5˚C, and during the day temperatures sometimes rise to 25˚C.  At higher altitudes temperatures range from about 15˚C to -15˚C.

The traditional trekking season in Nepal is late September to May, with October and November generally recognised as having the best weather. Spring is also a popular time of year with warmer weather and the advantage of seeing spring flowers and rhododendrons in bloom.

Suggested reading and maps for Annapurna region

Maps

Nepal Trekking Map Himalayan Maphouse Scale: 1:900,000 This map will be included in your welcome pack when you arrive in Nepal.

National Geographic Annapurna Trekking 1:135,000

Books

Annapurna south face by Chris Bonnington

Himalayan Pilgrimmage by David Snellgrove

Annapurna by Maurice Herzog

True Summit: What Really Happened on the Legendary Ascent on Annapurna by David Roberts

The Ascent of Rum Doodle by WE Bowman

A Nepalese Journey: The Essence of the Annapurna Circuit (Mountain Photography) by Andrew Stevenson

Nepali Phrasebook by Lonely Planet

 

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