A 12-day Annapurna Circuit Trek is an ideal duration- it is neither too short nor too long. It is doable for both solo or group trekkers.
The trek takes you through lush green valleys and traditional rural settlements. You also get to enjoy amazing views of Mt. Annapurna.
This trek is a great introduction to treks to Nepal. It also gives you a glimpse of the rich and diverse nature and culture of Nepal.
Everything you need to know about the 12-day Annapurna Circuit Trek is given below:
- 12 Days Annapurna Circuit Trek Facts
- Highlights of 12 Days Annapurna Circuit Trek
- Detailed Annapurna Circuit Trek 12 Days Itinerary:
- Additional information on Annapurna Circuit Trek 12 Days Itinerary
- Customizing your 12-day Annapurna Circuit Trek
- In Summary,
12 Days Annapurna Circuit Trek Facts
Duration: 12 Days
Best Time to do this Trek: Sep-Dec & Mar-June
Highest Elevation: Thorong La Pass- 5,416m
Cost: US$ 600 -1,100
Type: Tea House Trek
Average Trekking Hour per day: 6 hours
Permits: ANCAP (Annapurna Conservation Area entry Permit) and TIMS (Trekker’s Information Management System)
Highlights of 12 Days Annapurna Circuit Trek
- The crossing of Thorong La Pass: Along with the fabulous views, you will get a sense of accomplishment for having done this. The Thorong La Pass is after all the World’s highest pass
- Astonishing view of Himalayas: Annapurna range, Dhaulagiri, Nilgiri and many other 6,000- 7,000m+ peaks
- A chance to experience the Gurung and Magar Community of Nepal. You will pass and stay at several villages where these ethnicities reside
- Muktinath Temple: One of the most sacred temples of the devout Hindus
- A chance to explore the incredible diversity of Nepal’s geography. You will pass through sub-tropical, alpine and snowy barren landscapes in this 12-days period
- A chance to unwind in the natural hot spring in Tatopani
- A chance to witness the world’s deepest gorge Kali-Gandaki Gorge
- Witness the turbulent rivers, lakes, gorges, and delightful waterfalls
Detailed Annapurna Circuit Trek 12 Days Itinerary:
Day 1: Kathmandu – Besisahar – Ngadi (1,000m)
Kathmandu-Besisahar: 6-7 hours drive
Besishahar-Ngadi: 2-3 hours trek
You begin your trip with a drive to Besishahar- the starting point of your actual trek on foot.
You drive along the Prithvi Highway from Kathmandu. On the way, you pass beautiful villages, farms, rivers and mountainous landscape.
If you have not gotten your permits yet, this is the place to get them (ACAP).
From here, you start your trek and make your way to Ngadi. Stay overnight at a lodge in Ngadi.
Day 2: Ngadi – Jagat (1,100m)
Duration: 5 hours trek
On the second day, you will pass through the beautiful Marshyangdi river and different waterfalls. You will also walk through small villages, terraced farmland, and a suspension bridge. You can enjoy views of Mt. Manaslu and many other mountain peaks along the way.
Day 3: Jagat – Dharapani (1,960m)
Duration: 7-8 hours trek
From Jagat, you make your way to Tal (1,675m). You will cross a large bridge on your way. You will also cross the Marsyangdi River and reach Tal after several ascends and descends. You will pass through forests of rhododendron and bamboos, and also a big waterfall.
Now you enter Manang district of Nepal.
You will walk across fields of barley, rice, and potato, and Kodo village to reach Dharapani. It is one of the larger villages in the Manang valley.
On the way, you also come across waterfalls, small streams, and suspension bridges.
You will stay overnight at Dharapani.
Day 4: Dharapani – Chame (2,710m)
Duration: 5-6 hours trek
From Dharapani, you make your way to Bagarchhap (2,160m). Here, you can see the typical flat-roofed stone houses. You also pass apple orchards and corn fields.
You also get rewarding views of Lamjung Himal, Annapurna II, and Annapurna IV. The trail also passes through the forest to Danakya, Lata Marang (2,400m) and Kothe.
You will also pass some small hot springs along the way. You can soak in to relax your muscles.
From here, you reach your destination of the day- Chame, which is the headquarter of Manang District. Overnight at Chame.
Day 5: Chame – Pisang (3,300m)
Duration: 5-6 hours trek
From Chame, you pass through a very dense forest while walking on a steep and narrow path. You continue walking till you reach the dramatic curved rockface, rising 1,500m from the river.
This is one of the steepest sections of the Marshyangdi Valley.
As you cross the rock, you reach the U-shaped valley of Manang that lies between 2 giant snow peaks.
While enjoying the stunning views of Mt. Annapurna II, Mt. Pisang (6,091 m), Mt. Himalchuli (7,863 m), and Ngadi Chuli (7,871 m), you make your way towards Pisang. In Pisang, you can enjoy the beautiful views of buckwheat fields and Mani walls.
Overnight at Pisang.
Day 6: Upper Pisang – Manang (3,500m)
Duration: 6-7 hours trek
On leaving Upper Pisang, you can enjoy the fabulous panoramic views of the mountain peaks such as Annapurna, Pisang Peak and more.
You can also see the harsher and barren regions of Manang due to the cold and dry climate.
On the way, you will encounter many mani walls, prayer flags, monasteries, and local villages.
In Barga village, you can find the houses stacked upon each other. This forms verandas with each other’s rooftops.
Once here, you can visit Barga monastery- the largest monastery in the entire Manang district. The monastery has a vast array of statues on display. It also offers a beautiful view of the entire village.
You can also visit the Himalayan Rescue Association. The Association offers talks and discussions on mountain sickness. Along with this, it also covers topics of other high altitudes related sickness.
Overnight stay at Manang.
Day 7: Acclimatization Day at Manang
This point of the trek is perfect for acclimatization. Always remember to not stay still during an acclimatization day.
In Manang, you have 2 options for your day hikes- Ice Lake Trail and Chong Kar Viewpoint.
- Ice Lake Trail (4-6 hours. Full Round)
After leaving Braga, you reach Mugje village. From here, the trail winds itself up to the lower north slopes of Chulu East / Far East and ends at the beautiful lakes.
The Ice Lake (4,650 m) is also known as Kicho Tal.
You can see and climb some of the surrounding unnamed peaks of 4,900-5,500m around the lakes.
- Chong Kar Viewpoint (2-4 hours. Full Round)
For this, you begin with a walk to Gangapurna Lake. Formed by the melting glacier, this lake appears grayish to green in color on the surface.
From here, you walk from the side of the lake, along the narrow ridge to the tree-lined hilltop. Once at the View Point, you will see gorgeous views of the mountains.
Overnight at Manang.
Day 8: Manang – Yak Kharka(4,110m)
Duration: 3-4 hours trek
Above Manang, you cross a stream to reach Tenki village. From here, you climb out of the Marshyangdi Valley along the valley of Jars Ang Khola. On the way, you pass through green pastures and beautiful juniper trees.
You will walk through the small village of Ghunsa with its cluster of flat mud roof houses. Here, you can find meadows with grazing horses and yaks.
Then you cross a small river on a wooden bridge, the ancient Mani wall to reach Yak Kharka.
On the trails, you will see the views of Mt. Gangapurna, Khangsar, Chulu west, Chulu central, Chulu east, Glacier dome, Khangsar Kang, and many other small peaks.
Overnight at Yak Kharka.
Day 9: Yak Kharka – Thorong Phedi(4,600m)
Duration: 3-4 hours trek
On this day, you make your way to the foot of the highest Pass- Thorong Phedi.
This small and busy settlement is also used as a base camp by trekkers and climbers.
To reach Phedi, you will have to climb uphill, cross a suspension bridge and ascend down a towering cliff.
You will also get wonderful views of Mt. Gundang, Thorung Peak & Mt. Khatungkang.
If lucky, you can spot wildlife like blue sheep, snow leopards and lammergeiers.
Overnight at Thorong Phedi.
Day 10: Thorong Phedi – Thorong La – Muktinath(3,800m)
Duration: 7-8 hours trek
The trek begins early in the morning.
You will cross the famous and highest Pass of your trek- Thorong La Pass (5,416m) on this day.
To do this, you walk through the icy high altitude trail. From Thorong La Pass, you can witness Annapurna, Gangapurna and Dhaulagiri mountains. Along with these, you can see other high mountain peaks.
After enjoying the mesmerizing Himalayan scenery, you begin your slow descend to Muktinath.
This pilgrimage site for both Hindus and Buddhists is famous for its 108 stone spouts and an eternal flame. From Muktinath, you entering into the stunning Kali Gandaki Valley.
Overnight at Muktinath.
Day 11: Muktinath – Tatopani(2,135 m)
Duration: 4-5 hours drive
From Muktinath, you make your way to Tatopani via Jomsom.
You can take a bus or jeep to drive along the plateau above the Kali Gandaki Gorge. You will also pass some beautiful waterfalls and forests along the way.
Once in Tatopani, you can relax and unwind in the natural hot spring.
Overnight at Tatopani.
Day 12: Tatopani – Pokhara (2800m)
Duration: 4-5 hours drive
From Tatopani, you once again take a bus or jeep to Pokhara.
Once in Pokhara, you can relax in your hotel. This is the final day of your 12-day Annapurna Circuit Trek journey.
Additional information on Annapurna Circuit Trek 12 Days Itinerary
The total cost of the 12-day Annapurna Circuit Trek can vary according to the travel route, means of transport and a few other factors. This is the same for almost all treks and tours in Nepal.
The inclusion or exclusion of the following factors can alter your cost.
- English speaking guide and porter
- Annapurna Conservation Area Permit and TIMS
- Mode of Transport to and from the start and end points of your trek
- Standard of accommodation during the trip
- Meals (Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner)
- Personal insurance and equipment
- International flight and Nepal visa
- Airport pick-up and drop in private vehicle
- Government taxes & office service charge
- First aid kit pack for the trekking
The price can also vary according to the season you travel in.
During the peak trekking season of Nepal (Autumn and Spring), the cost can be more.
During the off-season(Summer and Winter), you may get more discounts and better deals.
It also depends on whether you are traveling alone or in groups. Trekking solo can be more expensive than trekking in groups.
Trekking Equipment and Packing List
You need to pack all your regular trekking essentials for a high altitude trek for the 12-day Annapurna Circuit Trek.
You may also need to make a few changes depending on the season you trek. This trek doesn’t need professional mountain climbing equipment and gear.
Make sure to go through your trekking supplies with your local guide. This way, you can make changes if needed before embarking on your trek.
Having all your trekking essentials can make your trekking experience a more convenient and safe.
Best Season for Annapurna Circuit 12-Days Trek
This trek is possible throughout the year. However, during the summer/monsoon months of Nepal, the lower regions of this trek can get muddy and slippery. There will also be chances of rock and mudslides as well as heavy to light rainfall, and thunderstorms.
During winter, the temperatures can drop to minus zero in the higher altitudes. Also, the Thorong La Pass may close due to extreme weather conditions.
The safest and most favorable seasons for this trek is the local spring and autumn season.
The local spring lasts from mid-February to mid-May. This is when you can see the flower blossoms and enjoy the natural floral fragrance on the trails.
Mid-September to November is the autumn season in Nepal. With more stable weather conditions and amazing visibility throughout the trails, this is the best time to do this trek.
Type of Trek
The 12-days Annapurna Circuit Trek is a teahouse trek. Teahouses are local lodges where you get to eat and sleep during your trek. Throughout the trails, you have good to great accommodation options in the teahouses.
Teahouses are locally-run lodges and offer very basic services when compared to upscale lodges, hotels, and inns. Yet, a teahouse trek is a popular option for trekkers in Nepal. Each day of the trek, you spend the night at a cozy teahouse with a homely atmosphere.
Most of these teahouses offer rooms on a twin-sharing basis. Most rooms are quite basic with 2 single beds, mattress, blanket, pillow, and sheets. You can ask for extra blankets if you are cold.
Solo or Group Trek
You can complete the 12-days Annapurna Circuit Trek as a solo or group trek. There are no restrictions on this trail. Yet, group treks are more recommended than solo treks for safety and security reasons.
Although a popular trek, not all parts of the trail are maintained. There are parts where the trails are just dirt tracks or you walk over small streams and rivulets. There are also very few places with signs and information about directions.
But if you are up for it, solo treks are a possibility. Just make sure to stick to the best season for this trek if you’re going solo. This time will have better weather conditions, and you will have more helping hands on the trails if something goes wrong.
With or Without Guide
You can trek along with a local guide or a porter.
It is not mandatory to hire them for your 12-days Annapurna Circuit Trek. It is feasible with or without them.
Nevertheless, there are always more advantages of hiring them than there are disadvantages.
The only disadvantage is the cost of hiring them.
Reasons to do this trek with a guide:
- A guide can recommend the best places to stay, eat and rest at. A guide can also recommend the best routes to take or to avoid.
- A guide can also help you know the names of the surrounding mountain peaks you see during your trek.
- A guide can also help you identify the local flora and fauna.
- A guide can also help you interact with the locals if you desire.
- A guide can help you understand the social etiquette of the local region or place.
Reasons to do this trek with a porter
It is a 12-days high altitude trek. You will walk for 4-5 hours every day. Doing so with a 15-18 kg backpack throughout the trek is not an easy feat. Hiring a porter to do it for you is much easier.
A porter also leaves you free to explore the region and trails in comfort and ease. You can also focus more on your walk and balance on the trails.
Physical Fitness and Training
For any high altitude trek including this one, the fitter you are, the more comfortable your trekking experience will be.
This trek doesn’t need you to be a professional athlete or a mountaineer or a trekker. Yet, as it is a 12-day high altitude trek, you need some level of fitness. You have to be physically and mentally fit to be able to walk 5-6 hours for the duration of the trek.
To be physically and mentally prepared, you can take physical fitness training. For beginners and novice, you should start training at least 6-8 months before your actual trek. For the fitter individuals, starting your training 2-3 months before your trek should be enough.
For high-altitude treks to Nepal, make sure you include cardiovascular training. You can do this through cycling, running, swimming and going on shorter hikes.
You can also do Trek-specific training. The physical training also gives you the motivation to push yourself further. This helps to build your strength and confidence to be able to complete this trek.
The difficulty of this trek depends on a few factors like the time/season of the trek and method of the trek.
The timing of your trek determines the weather and trail conditions you face on your adventure. These conditions can make the trek easier or more difficult.
The method of the trek determines how comfortable you are during the trek. The more relaxed your itinerary, the easier you may find to do your trek. Luxury trek options are ideal for comfortable treks in Nepal.
Physical and mental fitness also determines the difficulty of the trek. You may have more trouble doing the trek if you are not mentally and physically prepared for the trek.
Most trek and tour operators in Nepal do not accept clients without travel insurance.
You need to make sure your travel insurance covers high altitude trek like this one in Nepal. Your insurance must also cover emergency rescue and evacuation.
Having travel insurance is a great safety precaution. It will guarantee you peace of mind. You must get your travel insurance from your home or host country.
Customizing your 12-day Annapurna Circuit Trek
The above itinerary is a guide and the standard followed by most. But, you can modify this trek to suit your needs and preferences.
There are always certain things that are unforeseeable and beyond control. This includes local politics, landslides, cancellation of local flights, weather, and other factors. Hence, you may have to face these. These can affect your itinerary and travel plans.
Some of the easiest ways to change your itinerary are:
- Modes of Transport: The inclusion of flights and drives to and from the start and end points can shorten or lengthen your trip.
You can also choose to drive within your actual trek days. The Annapurna Region is growing increasingly accessible through roads.
- Start and End Points: There are different points on the trails of the Annapurna Circuit where you can choose to start or end your trek. This can affect the number of days it takes to complete the trek.
- Adding or skipping places or regions on your trek:
The Annapurna Circuit lies close to many trekking destinations of the Annapurna Region. Choosing to add these can lengthen your trek. Dropping some of the places on the given itinerary can shorten your trek.
The 12-day Annapurna Circuit Trek is an incredible adventure and one of the most diverse treks in Nepal.
It offers splendid panoramas of the surrounding mountains. It also offers a peek into the rugged scenery and isolated mountain communities of Nepal.
For further queries or questions related to this trek or any other trek and tour in Nepal, feel free to contact us.
You can also customize your Annapurna Circuit Trek or any other trek or tour to Nepal to suit your needs and preferences.