Nepal, home to eight of the world’s ten tallest peaks is a dream come true for many who dare to call the mountains their second home. No matter whether you’re just passing through Nepal and have some time to spare or you’re planning a complete adrenaline-filled vacation, join the growing number of people who’ve trekked the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal.
While you could be easily tricked into thinking that the larger percent of the visitors go to see Mount Everest, actually 60% of all the trekking enthusiasts visiting Nepal head over to the Annapurna region . Located in Central Nepal and easily reachable no matter what side of the country you’re at, this place has been growing in popularity ever since Maurice Herzog and Louis Lachenal conquered the summit all the way back in 1950.
A place with mesmerizing sights and more-than-welcoming hosts, the Annapurna region is worth every minute of your time and then some more! If you’re still not quite convinced or just want to learn more about it, here are five great reasons (out of the many!) on why you should trek Annapurna.
It may sound like the biggest cliché to put the scenery on number one since it’s obvious that most of the places people would think about visiting are more than amazing. However, trekking Annapurna means discovering every spot along the horseshoe shape of the trek – and that is one beautiful horseshoe!
Thorung La is one of the most majestic mountain passes in the Himalayas Photo by Doug
You won’t be bored in the slightest since the best part about it is the ever-changing scenery you’ll be passing through. Some expecting to see only mountains covered with snow and a few rocks here and there might be in for a big surprise; while this trek actually feels more like a rollercoaster ride where something new is waiting for you around each corner.
The Annapurna trek itself is so exciting that one minute you’ll be passing through valley hills or dark, steep canyons where it may look like no human has ever gone before. Then, after passing a few more miles, you’ll be working your way through a thick pine forest, before finally having the Himalayas greet you.
Next thing you know, Thorung La spreads out in front of you, one of the most majestic mountain passes you’ll ever get the privilege to pass through. Fun fact: while you’re only trekking it for fun, locals still use Thorung La as it connects different villages! But don’t think this is where the fun stops; actually, working your way down wouldn’t be any less exciting.
The only thing you should look out for is to make sure you’re bringing enough batteries for your camera – you’ll definitely be snapping a lot of pictures along the way!
Teahouses offer basic amenities and a whole lot of local hospitality. Photo by Matt
Hikers trekking Annapurna have a somewhat rare privilege – you’ll get a chance to combine comfort and mountains in one! In the case this sounds just too good to be true, some of you will be more than happy to know that you won’t have to haul a sleeping bag nor sleep under the stars if that’s not your thing.
Instead, you’ll get to spend the night in the teahouses or if you’re willing to treat yourself a bit more, in some of the luxury lodges along the way. The teahouses offer the most basic amenities but there aren’t many more things you’ll be needing up there on your trek anyway.
Another great aspect of this trek is the food you’ll get to eat along the way. Forget about dry protein bars and salty dehydrated meats in your bag – you won’t need those here. The trek swirls through a lot of villages and each of those villages is never more than a few hours away than the other. That means your next meal will never be more than a couple of hours away.
A typical meal served during the Annapurna trek. Photo Credit
In fact, the food up there is so delicious (or that mountain air kick-starts your caveman appetite) that some hikers reported they’ve actually managed to gain weight despite all the hiking. If you’re watching your carbs, you may want to pay attention to the more-than-generous servings of your dal bhat! Talking about dal bhat, that’s one of the most traditional (and tastiest!) Nepali meals served up there so make sure to try it.
If you’re set on exploring Nepal, then you’re probably keen on diving deeper into their unique culture. While reading books about Nepal will definitely help you build your knowledge and is actually, strongly recommended before you get on the plane, trekking the Annapurna trek will allow you to see and experience everything firsthand.
Apart from diving deeper into a predominantly Buddhist area, you’ll also get the opportunity to see what everyday life of people living up in the mountains really looks like. Most of those living in the foothills are farmers due to the fertility of the land but tourism is still the biggest source of income for Nepali people – some travelers need to be reminded of this.
No matter the places you decide to stop at, you’ll be meeting different ethnic groups, each with their own tradition and background. One thing common to them all is the simple and happy way of life they practice. Nothing will make you more appreciative of the things you have rather than seeing how happy they are with what little they have. On top of that, you’ll get another instant life lesson on gratitude when you see for yourself how locals are more than willing to share everything they own with strangers.
Good thing that the Annapurna trek is miles long – you’ll have just enough time to double count your blessings!
If you’re reading this blog, then travel is probably your thing. However, costs can sometimes be one of the biggest downsides regarding travel and something that will make you double think your next destination.
Beginning the descent in the Annapurna region in the fresh snow Photo by Greg
However, lower costs are exactly what makes Annapurna great and attractive to travelers. Tours operated by agencies are also pretty much affordable most of the time but depend largely on the season.
Considering the prices of the places along the trek (which again, sometimes rise or fall depending on season) then you might be able to easily manage with as little as $20 per day – and that’s with accommodation and food covered!
Some of you out there might worry about the quality of service they’ll be getting for that price: biggest dilemmas are usually the size of the portions you’ll be getting for a few dollars or the cleanliness of the place. Despite the low prices, you’ll be getting more than the fair worth of your money. Portions are pretty large and include both carbs and proteins, while teahouses are pretty decent no matter the price range they belong in.
Of course, hiring a guide and a porter will cost you extra and you’ll have to count in the tips for them, as well as plan more money for things like alcohol or anything else you might want to buy up there. But keep in mind that Nepal thrives on tourism and hosts will be more than happy to accommodate you, no matter how much you’ll be paying to them. It’s just the way they are! Or as the famous saying for Nepal goes: Come for the mountains, stay for the people!
Being dubbed as the Holy Grail for hikers, the Annapurna trek is a real melting pot for people of all around the world. Hundreds join in daily for their share of adventure and mountain beauty. Actually, it’s been estimated that around 40,000 to 50,000 people hike the Annapurna trek each year, which means, it won’t take you long before you find someone to talk over a beer in the evenings.
Meet like minded people on your trek in Nepal Photo by Isen
No matter your background or origin, you’ll be making new friends in no time: people from the States, Germany, Argentina, Sweden, Canada – you name it, and you’ll probably meet someone from there by the end of the day! Your hiking group might even expand and accept a new hiking fellow with each passing day or enjoy a friendly race here and there with another group.
One thing is for sure: the people you meet along the way are definitely going to make your trip much more enjoyable. Even if you embark solo on your adventure, you’d be happy to know that there will be others like you but you’ll all be united in one common goal – making your way around the horseshoe!
With all of that being said, it’s obvious that your trek to Annapurna will be more than memorable. Nothing beats a good trip through the mountains and this one will not leave you disappointed. Do you think there’s another great reason that we’ve missed? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.