Annapurna Circuit trekking advice

Danny Bell, from our leading Nepal trekking supplier Exodus, has this advice for those taking on the Annapurna Circuit:

Packing tips

“You will need layers to keep warm at higher altitudes, but you don’t need to bring clean clothes for every day. You can wash your underwear as you go plus as you get towards higher altitude it’s cooler so you’re not sweating as much. Basically, without being too grotty, I’d say you don’t need to change socks every day. When they can walk by themselves, then you might consider it!”

Fuelling your trek tip

“The region’s not known for its cuisine – that’s not what you come for! – and generally food options at the teahouses are quite limited. International dishes like chicken chow mein and pasta are served alongside the local rice and lentils – dal bhat. The food is safe, filling and really nice, though, and there’s enough variation to get by on.”

Fitness tips

“Crossing the Thorong La pass is a long day, but otherwise there’s nothing too challenging about this route, although the cumulative effect of trekking for three weeks can take its toll, so you do need a level of fitness and stamina. Everyone in my group coped. A lot had done a bit of cardiac fitness training before which was sensible.”

Insights on small group trekking

“During the first week you stick together as a group, with the guide controlling how far and fast you go so you acclimatise safely to the altitude. It’s a good way to get to know everyone, but it can become a bit of a mule train. Once the chief guide gets to know your fitness levels he may let you go ahead a bit at your own pace, but always with an assistant guide.”

Camping tips

Nicola Croom from another of our trekking experts World Expeditions, which offer camping expeditions in the Annapurna shares her advice: “Remember that trekking is not a race – so slow down, look up and really embrace the magnificent views. Change into warmer clothes as soon as you reach the camp and before the temperature drops, it’s easier to retain heat than to warm up! And keep in mind that it won’t be easy but in the end it will be all worth it.”

Tips from our travelers in the Annapurna Circuit

At Responsible Travel, we think the best people to advise our travelers are often... other travelers. They always return from our tours with packing tips, weather reports, ideas about what to do - and opinions about what not to.

We have selected some of the most useful Annapurna Circuit travel tips that our guests have provided over the years to help you make the very most of your vacation – and the space inside your suitcase.
The most memorable part was coming down the western side of Thorong La pass in the sunshine after starting the climb up to it by moonlight in sub-zero temperatures...
– Ian Pollitt
“The most memorable thing was meeting local people in the paradise that is Nepal. The whole trip was incredible, amazing, breathtaking. Simply spectacular. Totally worth it. Nepal is a paradise, and its people are a big part of the good feeling you get there.” – Laura Murillo

“This is a great walk and each day somehow managed to be better than the last. The most memorable part was coming down the western side of Thorong La pass in the sunshine after starting the climb up to it by moonlight in sub-zero temperatures. I’d recommend buying a walking pole for the steep descents if you don't have one. They are cheap everywhere en route.” – Ian Pollitt

“The trekking was absolutely amazing! The views each day were breathtaking and the scenery changed by day. We went from lush green paddy fields to rocky morane and isolation to desert – it was awesome. The local people really are the friendliest people in the whole of Asia. We thoroughly enjoyed every minute! If you're thinking about it - don't. Just do it!” – Lindsey Bunn

Our top Annapurna circuit Vacation

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Trek in the beautiful Annapurna massif region

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Health & safety

Many people hike the Annapurna Circuit independently, and while the trail is well established, it’s not a route to take lightly. It can vary from paved path to rough, dry terrain, and climbs to 5,416m at the Thorong La. At this height, there’s a strong risk of altitude sickness, so it’s essential to spend time acclimatising below the pass, as you ascend and typically by spending an extra day in Manang. An experienced guide will control your ascent progress and watch the weather, too. Snows can block the pass, or worse. In October 2014, Nepal’s worst ever trekking disaster occurred when a toxic mix of ill-equipped guides and porters and blizzard conditions lead to at least 43 people dying and 384 needing rescue. During the monsoon season, the greatest threat is mud slides as a result of the torrential rains, which have caused fatalities in the past. Again, experienced tour leaders and local guides will know the warning signs. Nepal is prone to earth tremors; however, major earthquakes like the one in April 2015 are rare and the Annapurna Circuit was not affected. For up-to-date advice, visit your government’s Nepal travel advice website (the FCO in the UK). While meat is available on the menu at most teahouses we recommend you avoid it on the trek. Often it has been carried up from lower altitudes for several days – without adequate refrigeration – before arriving on your plate primed for stomach upsets and illness.
Written by Joanna Simmons
Photo credits: [Page banner: Yongyut Kumsri] [Danny Bell advice: Stefanos Nikologianis] [Nicola Croom advice: JC Gellidon] [Ian Pollitt quote: Jeanne Menjoulet]
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