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Annapurna Circuit

Magical ten-day trekking adventure.

Story by Javi Lorbada November 6th, 2017

10 DAYS IN 100 PICTURES.

184 unforgettable kilometers
in 58 exhausting hours
with 3000 pictures.

Although you could follow this route in Polarsteps,

this simply amazing trek deserves a better story.

beauty of the Mountains

warmest PEOPLE on EARTH

breathtaking View

needs to be shared

Quick intro, and let the journey begin.

tough

This trek is moderately difficult, you need to be somehow fit and be comfortable to walk up between 6 to 8 km a day, for at least 5h every day. I was impressed when I met the youngest boy, French 7-year-old, and the oldest, a 65-year-old Korean woman.

Heavy

Whether you decide to hire a porter or not, I believe you'll be carrying between 5 to 15 kg on your back, that's kind of heavy for anyone who's not used to it.

Dangerous

Every trek has some danger, I would say, you need to be careful and listen to your body, especially if you feel any symptoms of Altitude Sickness.

10 days

Yes, it's possible to do in 10 days, actually 8 days trekking. Would I do it again in 8 days? No.

GUIDE / Porter

We didn't have nor a guide, nor a porter. I missed the guide in some situations, like booking overnights and maybe showing us some hidden places.

Transportation

We arranged the whole transportation thanks to Royal Mountain Travel, which I had collaborated with before, see more details in the previous story, Kathmandu.

Other Questions

Post a comment ☺️, I'll be happy to answer.

Or, if you are looking for photography tips, check what I wrote for Inside Himalayas.

Day 1

Kathmandu - Besisahar - Syange
10h of bus and jeep.

Woke up early for a bus to catch, 4:45 am to be precise. Seven uncomfortable hours in a full packed bus from Kathmandu to Besisahar.

From Besisahar you can, either start your trek or get a bit further by another automobile. We needed a Jeep, so here we go, another three unpleasant hours, to reach Syange, on one of the bumpiest roads, and somehow dangerous.

Unfortunately, we were a bit tight on our scheduled, we had planned 8 days of trek + 2 of transportation + 1 extra day in case we couldn't go climb up due to altitude sickness or anything else could happen.

Hey, we made it! All tiredness is gone with the surrounding nature, the greens, the waterfall, the river, the people, the magic view.


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DAy 2

Syange - Jagat - Tal - Karte - Dharapani
25km in 9h

First-day trekking, a day getting used to boots, backpack, heat, sweat, walking up.

Getting used to those things comes with muscle pain, my back hurt, and soon I realized I should have left some clothes and camera gear back in Kathmandu, but here I am, with a couple extra kilo for the next eight days.

This is amazing!

Being surrounded by waterfalls, green tones, powerful river, hanging bridges, cliffs, mountain peaks, silence, flowing waters sound, for the three of us, alone.

Unreal.

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day 3

Dharapani - Bagarchhap - Timang - Thanchowk - Koto - Chame
22km in 7h

Although we woke up with muscle pain, soon after a few hundreds of meters all physical suffering is gone.

The day seemed easier, and it certainly was on the long run, but halfway, where we took the trekking side instead of the dirt road used by the jeeps, those steep long steps drained my energy, and it wasn't until I had lunch that I felt recovered.

On the other hand, terrain greens are slowly disappearing in favor of sand and rocks, and since we are, nonstop, going up, we see higher peaks like Manaslu and Annapurna II.

Overwhelming to see how small, we, humans, are.
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DAY 4

Chame - Talekhu - Bhratang - Upper Pisang - Ghyaru
23km in 7h

Majestically magic night, full moon and surreal sunrise!

Seen mountain peaks glowing like a candle is something I've dreaming for a long time, so beautiful.

Couldn't. Have. Better. Day. Start.

I seem to be more comfortable with the backpack, which made my day even more enjoyable. Fairly easy until the end, long and steep slope up to Ghyaru, up to 3670m high.

Landscape and vegetation have changed, now we are walking on a much drier and very dusty.

And lucky myself I had the very first clear sunset.

Best. End. Of. The. Day

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DAY 5

Ghyaru - Ngawal - Bhraka - Manang
21km in 5h30min

Oh boy! That sunrise again! Moon setting on one side, the sun rising on the other, and mountain peaks glowing! Simply astonishing!

Although we had an incredible night sky, and terrific early morning, sleeping wasn't great, first overnight above 3500m, and the first symptoms of altitude sickness were there, waking up constantly and a slight headache in the morning. Fortunately, they went away soon.

The trek to Manang was the easiest of all, most of the time going down, and not a long distance. Dusty, but fascinating view, Annapurna III on the right-hand side, and Chulu East and Pisang peaks on the left.

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Day 6

Manang - Khangsar - Siri Kharka - Tilicho Base Camp
20km in 6h

Sunrises keep rocking, the moon sets at the right time, exactly when the sun hits those mountain peak candles.

And straight after, the hardest day so far. Very warm, very dusty and reaching 4000m, sounds difficult.

The path was also the most dangerous of the whole trek, very slippery, constantly up and down on the thin sand, landslides and high cliffs.

Arriving at Tilicho Base Camp was hard, and soon after we reached it, we see there's no accommodation possible but a room with more than 20 people, a tent or a dining room with other 50 people.

We need to rest, so we go with the tent.

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Gangapurna Glacier.
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Yellow, our tent for a night, four people don't fit there.
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Our fresh shower, glacier fresh cold.
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day 7

Tilicho B.C. - Tilicho Lake - Siri Kharka - Khangsar
27km in 9h

The tent wasn't cold, but I couldn't sleep, altitude, small space and much noise of people starting to go up.

We woke up 3:45 am and started climbing towards Tilicho Lake, soon I feel very fatigued, we didn't have breakfast, so we stop. Eat a snack bar and continue. I'm not feeling better, exhausted, out of breath.

My body warned me, altitude sickness is dangerous, dizziness, intense fatigue and bewilderment. But I keep slowly going, stupid of me, until I summit the lake, above 5000m. The hardest physical moment to me, and sure one of the most difficult mental states, I was very close to give up.

Then, after the best coffee in my life, and recovered... just wonder and wonder in silence, is this place real?

Giant white peaks, pristine waters, simply divine.
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day 8

Khangsar - Yak Kharka - Ledar - Thorong Phedi Base Camp
20km in 6h

First and the only day I didn't wake up for sunrise, but I needed sleep, the day after we had the last challenge, and even though I wanted to take more pictures, I choose to sleep well, no alarm.

Thankfully, it was an easier day, with ups and downs and more than +1000m from the beginning. My muscles were in pain, especially going down, but the view kept the pain away, Annapurna III on our back, and Thorung La Pass all the way in the front.

Reached Thorong Phedi Base Camp soon enough to have lunch and relax before the last and highest day.

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Day 9

Thorong Phedi - High Camp - Thorong La Pass - Muktinath - Kagbeni - Jomsom
26km in 8h

Waking up early, as everyone else, four hours up and...

...we summit Thorong La!

Unimaginable, exhausted, unforgettable, fatigued, extraordinary, restless, emotional, drained and fresh at the same time. Suffering feels great here.

And, at 5416m, we hugged!

On my way down to Muktinath, altitude sickness is hitting again, but I don't care, I'm going down... until it beat me, I was out of control, very dizzy and not seeing the danger anymore. 30 min nap, and continue until the end, afterward a bus to Jomsom and a hot shower!

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Day 10

Jomsom - Tatopani - Beni - Kushma - Pokhara
Deadly bus in 12h

No, we didn't walk a single kilometer. Instead, we stayed inside a bus, very uncomfortable, since 8 am until 8 pm.

12h driving gave us enough entertainment, such as, a delay because other bus had to be repaired, had to stop because the rain was getting our backpacks wet, and the last, a stone in between wheels, that didn't let the bus move on.

This is all, part of the adventure.

Safely, all safe you can be on those bumpy roads and, in my opinion, dangerous roads, we made it to Pokhara.

Very much touristic than anything else seen before in Nepal, we headed to our hotel, have a quick shower and deserved dinner.

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END OF THE TRAIL, END OF THE STORY.

Once again, thank you for reading!
This story is special to me, and I hope I can make you feel part of it, as if it was you who were there.
Feel free to post a comment if you like the story, and of course if you have any question!

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Footnote: Fuji X-T2 + 16mm F1.4 + 18-55mm F2.8-4 + 55-200mm F3,5-4,8
Annapurna Conservation Area, Jomsom, Mid-Western Development Region, Nepal