The Annapurna Circuit Trek is the second-most popular trekking route in Nepal, the cultural experience, natural allurements, and adventurous prospects of this north-central part of the Himalayas are simply unparalleled. If you are interested in this iconic Himalayan expedition that circumnavigates Mt. Annapurna (8,091 meters), the 10th-highest peak in the world, and wondering about its difficulty.
Rest assured, the Annapurna Circuit Trek difficulty is just at a ‘moderate’ level, which means that you don’t need any prior high-altitude trekking experience or any kind of technical skills to do this adventure. However, as it is still a Himalayan adventure, so you shouldn’t underestimate the challenges you might have to face during your journey.
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Annapurna Circuit Trek Difficulty Factors
It is kind of difficult to easily assess the overall difficulty level of this beautiful Himalayan expedition, as the people have their own capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. For instance, it may not be that much of a big deal for an athlete to cover a trekking route of 6-7 hours every day on average, meanwhile, the people residing at the higher altitude may have it easy acclimatizing to the rising altitude.
So, let’s break out the major challenging factors of this adventure to assess its true difficulty level.
When it comes to the Himalayan expedition and other high-altitude adventures, altitude gain is a major difficulty factor. Although the people born and living in higher regions have a slight advantage here, the people born at average sea level find it hard to adapt to rising altitude after exceeding the elevation point of 2,500 meters.
After crossing the marked thresholds, the human body is at risk of altitude sickness like Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), and severe cases conditions like High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE) and High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE).
In general, you will start your adventure from Bhulbule (923 meters), you will trek on the gradually inclining route and overcome the high elevation points like Pisang (3,240 meters), Manang (3,540 meters), Yak Kharka (4,120 meters), Thourung Phedi (4,560 meters) and the highest elevation point of the adventure Thorung La Pass (5,416 meters).
Annapurna Circuit Trek is certainly one of the most exhilarating Himlayany adventures that circumnavigates one of the most magnificent and gigantic peaks in the range. But, at the same time, it also means that you will cover a quite lot of distance to explore the surrounding foothills of this massive peak.
In your trekking adventure that lasts from 12- 22 days, you will cover an approximate distance of 160 km to 230 km. So, you will trek for about 6- 7 hours during each day of your trekking adventure. It may not be a big deal for the athletes and people who are physically active, however, it can be physically draining for the people who haven’t trained and prepared enough for this physically demanding Himalayan adventure.
Remote and Isolated Region
Yes, the Annapurna Circuit Trek is the second most popular and mainstream trekking route just behind the trek to the highest base camp in the world, Everest Base Camp Trek. Despite, this trek being an exhilarating and grand adventure, what you need to understand is that it takes place in the remote and isolated part of the Himalayas.
Due to a lack of proper modes of transportation, the high Himalayan region hasn’t seen much technological or infrastructural development. So, if you expect the services and amenities of a star hotel at these teahouses run by the locals, you might be disappointed.
You will be able to enjoy a moderate level of food accommodation and other amenities throughout your trekking adventure. However, due to remoteness, modern facilities like electricity, internet, and other modes of telecommunication facilities are only adequately available in the lower region. The same goes for the health services along the trail, there are only a few facilities at a great distance, and for emergency evacuation, your only reliable option is helicopter rescue.
As there are different types of itinerary packages for the Annapurna circuit Trek which can be completed in a period of 12- 22 days, you might consider going for the shorter variant as they are cheaper. But, if you are familiar with any high-altitude adventure, then you understand the importance of the acclimatization days during your adventure.
The shorter the adventure, the longer hours you have to push yourself in your day-to-day trekking adventure, this not only exerts your body but puts you at risk of different health hazards. But, this way you also won’t be able to truly enjoy the beautiful Himalayan adventure.
With fewer acclimatization days, you also have a higher risk of catching altitude sickness, as you keep pushing for high altitude without letting your body rest properly and adapt to the rising altitude.
The high Himalayan climatic conditions are not always predictable, it doesn’t take much time for a clear sunny day to be covered by rain or storm clouds. Although the peak seasons like spring and autumn are considered to have the best climatic and stable weather conditions, the climatic conditions can also change all of a sudden.
The odds are even higher during the off seasons like winter and monsoon, it might be hard to find stable climatic conditions amidst the chaotic climatic conditions. The weather of the Annapurna region is coldest during the winter season, the trails at higher altitudes are usually covered in snow and high-altitude freezing winds and blizzards are pretty much regulars in your everyday adventure.
Similarly, the monsoon season is known as the most unfavorable season for the Annapurna Circuit Trek, the continuous heavy rainfall not only complicates your day-to-day adventure but also invites natural calamities like landslides and flooding.
Is Annapurna Circuit Trek Suitable for Me?
If you are wondering whether the Annapurna Circuit Trek is right for you or not after considering the overall difficulty level, fret not, with the right enough determination and adequate preparation you will be able to easily complete this expedition.
You don’t have to overcome any kind of technical segments in your Annapurna Circuit Trek or require any kind of skillset. With a basic level of fitness and good health condition, you will be able to easily complete this iconic Himalayan adventure.
In case you have any kind of medical conditions, you should consult your physician and trekking guide before the adventure. The general success rate of the Annapurna Circuit trek is 97%, and in the past, even children and elderly trekkers above the age of 70 have successfully completed this circumnavigating expedition.
How to Prepare for Annapurna Circuit Trek Difficulty?
Although the Annapurna Circuit Trek’s difficulty is at a moderate level, it doesn’t mean that its difficulty level is totally invincible. There are several ways to significantly reduce the overall trekking experience to make it a comfortable and more enjoyable experience. You can consider the following factors to reduce the overall Annapurna Circuit Trek difficulty.
Training and Preparation
It is no secret that with the right amount of physical preparation, you will have a more comfortable and enjoyable experience during your Annapurna Circuit Trek. As you will be covering long trekking hours during each day of your adventure it can be pretty harsh on the untrained body.
On top of that, you will be carrying a backpack with significant weight in the rising altitude where even simple walking can be tiresome. So, you will need to schedule a proper training program in a way that your body gets accustomed to draining physical activities. That way you won’t feel like you have put much physical effort during your actual trekking adventure.
It is recommended that you should start your preparation at least 4- 6 weeks prior to your trekking expedition. But, if you are an athlete or you work out regularly, you can adjust the training period according to your needs. In order to determine your training period, you can first assess your physical capabilities and determine the areas you have to improve and set the training programs without putting a lot of strain on your body.
Here are some exercises that you can include in your training program.
Strength and Endurance Training
These exercises help you enhance your physical abilities, as you will use your leg muscles a lot, you can also emphasize your exercises on that.
- Push up
- Pull up
- Bicep curl
- Hammer curl
- Bench press
- Cable press
- Leg raise
- Side lunge
- Leg extension
- Step up
Cardiovascular exercises increase your overall stamina and improve your fitness. These exercises also improve your body’s capabilities to deliver oxygen to your muscles, so if you include these helpful exercises in your training program it will make it easy for you to acclimatize to the rising altitude. Plus, with the stamina at the reserve, you won’t feel that tired and will be able to truly relish this iconic Himalayan expedition.
- Power walking
- Rope jumping
- Jumping jack
**Note: If you include practice hikes in your training program on a natural steep landscape, you will have a proper idea of what you can expect during your actual adventure. Furthermore, carrying a backpack or rucksack with significant weight will prepare you to carry your luggage during the Annapurna Circuit Trek. P.S. Wearing your trekking boots will help you check their comfort level, you don’t want to end up with sore and swollen feet after long hours of trekking**
Although most trekkers emphasize the physical training during high-altitude trek preparation, the mental preparation shouldn’t be overlooked either. Mental exercises will prepare you for the inconveniences, discomforts, and challenges that you might have to face.
It is natural that when setting out on an adventure, things might not always turn out the way you expect, some might have it hard time coping with the quality, and comfort meanwhile others might struggle to stay motivated or positive. With mental preparation, you will learn to stay calm, composed, and positive throughout the hardship and inconveniences you may have to face during your adventure.
Here are some mental exercises you can include in your training program:
- Controlled breathing practice
- Stay focused and determined
- Practice healthy self-talking
- Stay positive
- Surround yourself with positive people
- Visualize every step of your journey
- Practice leaving your comfort zone
- Lower your expectations
- Identify your fears and work on them
- Pay attention to your body language
Choose the Best Season
For the most remarkable and enjoyable experience of the Annapurna Circuit Trek, you should do it during the peak seasons like autumn (September- November) and spring (March- May). Not only the climatic challenges of the expedition are reduced by a greater margin, but you will also be able to relish the unique specialties of each of these seasons.
The spring season in the Himalayas is known as the blooming season where every corner of this magnificent region is brimming with life. The dotted rhododendron and wildflowers cover the entire lower trekking route and the lush greenery is abundant and masks the whole surrounding.
If you love wildlife and birdlife exploration then spring is the ideal period to do Annapurna Circuit Trek. The temperature of the Annapurna region is around 16°C to 23°C during the daytime in spring and can drop to -8°C during the night and early morning.
Similarly, the autumn season which is the most popular season for trekking and Himalayan expeditions in Nepal is known for its moderate temperature, dry trekking trails, fresh landscapes, and spectacular views of the Himalayan vistas. Autumn is also known for its cultural prospects and celebrates some of the grandest festivals in the country like Dashain, Tihar, and Chhath.
The temperature of the Annapurna region during autumn averages around 14°C to 19°C during the daytime. You can expect the temperature to be in minus degrees at an altitude above 4,000 meters. If you are trekking during the latter part of the autumn, the higher regions also see occasional light snowfall as the winter closes in, so make sure to pack accordingly.
Stay Hydrated and Eat a Balanced Diet
One of the most crucial factors to keep your physical abilities consistent during the long trekking period is to stay hydrated and eat a balanced diet. During a high-altitude adventure, you are recommended to drink at least 3-4 liters of water as you lose significant water levels during long tiring trekking hours. If you drink the recommended limit of water you will have it easy to move your body during long trekking hours and it will also help you to acclimatize properly to the rising altitude.
The same goes for eating a balanced diet, you will have to overcome long trekking hours during each day of your adventure. If you don’t eat a balanced diet, you won’t be able to replenish the lost energy which can result in sickness and you may have to withdraw from your epic quest.
It is common that after gaining a significant altitude, you might show symptoms of loss of appetite. However, instead of skipping meals, you are recommended to force-feed yourself the first few bites, after which your body will slowly start to accept food.
Find the Right Package
When it comes to reducing the overall Annapurna Circuit Trek difficulty level, selecting the right package is a core factor. Instead of going for cheaper packages with short days of trek go for slightly longer packages with enough acclimatization day.
If you go for the shorter packages just because they are cheaper, the quick-paced adventure won’t be that enjoyable and in the worst-case scenario, you might put yourself at risk of altitude sickness and other health hazards as the short quick adventure without enough rest days puts too much strain on your body.
Plus, in the cheap trekking packages you may have to compromise the quality of services and amenities during your adventure.
For the best value experience in your Himalayan expedition, you can choose our 15 Day Annapurna Circuit Trek package. Our exciting trekking package is specially designed to enjoy the ambiance of the magnificent Annapurna region at a slow pace. We will take care of every minor detail from entrance fees, permits to transport, food, and accommodation so you can truly relish this epic quest at the foothills of the Himalayas without worrying about anything.
Annapurna Circuit Trek is a Himalayan expedition, you will traverse across diverse climatic regions during your adventure. So for a comfortable and cozy exploration, it is absolutely necessary to pack right for this adventure.
It is recommended that you should pack light for the trek as the trekker-to-porter ratio is 2:1. So, you will have to carry the remaining luggage that exceeds the weight limit, but you also don’t want to miss out on the essentials.
Here are some of the packing recommendations for your Annapurna Circuit Trek that you might want to run by your packing list.
Headwear and Clothes
- Sun hat, brim hat for sun protection
- Bandana or headscarf for the cold and dusty region
- Knit hat or woolen hat
- Neck gaiter or buff
- Long polypropylene sleeve t-shirt
- Half t-shirt
- Light thermal topwear
- Fleece windproof jacket
- Heavy down jacket
- Waterproof breathable hood jacket
- Insulated, synthetic, fur jacket
- Several pairs of undergarments
- Gloves (light, wool and waterproof)
- Waterproof hiking pants
- Fleece pant
- Half shorts
- Light thermal trousers
- Heavy woolen or fleece pants
- Socks (several pairs thin to thick)
- Hiking boots (ankle support)
- Trainers or running shoes for campsite and short hikes
- Waterproof gaiters
- Slippers or crocks for resting destinations
- Toothpaste, toothbrush
- Nail clippers and a small mirror
- Sun protection cream
- Lip balm and body lotion
- Shampoo and hair products
- Quick dry towel, handkerchief
- Tissues, wet wipes
- Hygiene products
- Prescribed medications
- Small first aid kit
- Bug and insect repellents
- Sunglasses or goggles
- Headlamp with extra pair of batteries
- Duffle bag
- Sleep bag (four seasonal)
- Water and thermos bottles
- Garbage bag
- Hiking poles
- Universal charging cords
- Power bank, solar charger
- Entertainment set
- Book, journals, and pen
- Card and board games
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