Annapurna & Mustang

Annapurna, attracts the largest number of trekkers in Nepal. Here you will find everything the Himalayas have to offer, accessible along a selection of well-maintained trails that snake in and around the 55-kilometre Annapurna massif, separated from the gargantuan Dhaulagiri (8167m) by the Kaligandaki, the deepest gorge in the world.

Most trekkers will have heard of the legendary Annapurna Circuit. But if the lung-busting slog over the 5416m Thorung pass doesn’t suit you, there are many other trails that offer superlative panoramas and the cultural traditions of a whole spectrum of ethnicities. And though roads are bringing change to the region, new trails are being blazed for the faithful. Up north at the border with China, the mystique of the walled city of Lo Manthang remains intact. Even in Nepal’s most trekked places, a trail less travelled is never far away.

Annapurna I (8091m) was the first eight-thousander to be summitted, in 1950, when Maurice Herzog and his team turned away from the daunting prospect of the Great White One, Dhaulagiri (8167m). Ever since, tourists have flocked to the lake city of Pokhara to admire the iconic vistas of Machapucchare (6993m) and the peak-studded Annapurna range. The region was designated a Conservation Area in 1992, paving the way for a pioneering model of sustainable tourism.

The verdant valleys around Pokhara receive high rainfall and snow, which make for relatively low-lying, visually stunning glaciers. This monsoonal lushness is in sharp contrast to the rainshadow created by the Annapurna massif to its north, resulting in the high-altitude desert and the eroded badlands of Mustang. It is as if all this immensity is meant to protect the mystical ‘Kingdom of Lo’, or Mustang, one of the last exemplars of living Tibetan culture.

To the east lies the Marsyangdi River and to the west lies the world’s deepest gorge, carved out by the wild waters of the Kaligandaki. The biodiversity of the region – entire hillsides swiped with pink and red rhododendron forests bursting with birdsong – is matched by its incredible cultural diversity. Cultural trails will take you right into the homes of Gurungs in the lowlands, and you can enjoy the hospitality of Thakalis around Jomsom, Manangis in the east and Loba and Tibetans in the arid north.
Annapurna has been enormously popular with trekkers over the years and the new roads have actually opened up previously inaccessible areas. Creative guides are taking the curious back in time to the mediaeval villages of Nar and Phu, over the high trail of Kang La with its breathtaking views, and up to Tilicho Lake at 5000m.

Top 3 Treks

Mustang Trek to Lo Manthang – 12 days

A world apart: visit the Tibetan ‘Kingdom of Lo’ and enter a mythical world frozen in time and hidden behind the mighty Himalayas in a Mars-like high altitude desert.

Annapurna Circuit – 23 days

Nepal’s most popular trek. See the landscape change as you traverse from low to high altitudes, crosing Thorung pass. The route via Naar and Phu makes for an unforgettable cultural experience. Trekking Style: Teahouse/Lodge

Annapurna Basecamp trek – 11 days

The Annapurna Base Camp trek is one of the most popular treks in the Annapurna region. The trail goes alongside terraced rice paddies, lush rhododendron forests, and high altitude landscapes, with the Annapurna Range in view most of the times. Trekking Style: Teahouse

Fast Facts

  • The highest mountain in this region is Dhaulagiri (8168 m) followed by Annapurna 1, at 8091 m
  • The trail passes through the Annapurna Area Conservation Project which covers 7629 square kilometres and visits Muktinath, the 3rd holiest Hindu pilgrimage siteThe stunning Machapuchhare (Fishtail Mountain), often used as the symbol of the region is unclimbed because it is sacred
  • The Kali Gandaki river valley is technically the deepest gorge in the world being straddled by two of the world’s highest mountains.
  • Annapurna is the Hindu Goddess of grain and prosperity.
  • South of the Annapurnas gets some of the highest rainfall in Nepal, hence you can see large glaciers at relatively low elevation

Trekking Permits

GHT SectionSpecific areaPermitsWhere to get the permitWhen
Annapurna & MustangAll trekking areas where no Trekking Permit is neededTIMS (Trekkers’ Information Management System):
Organized trekkers: blue TIMS cards;Nepali currency equivalent to US $10; can also be payed in US$
Individual trekkers: green TIMS cards;Nepali currency equivalent to US $20; Nepali currency only
TAAN or NTB office in Kathmandu or Pokhara (individual trekkers)
Through travel agency (organized trekkers)
Before the trek
Annapurna Conservation AreaAnnapurna Conservation Area
Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP)entrance fee: foreign nationals: NPR 2,000
SAARC nationals: NPR 200
ACAP booth at NTB office in Kathmandu or Pokhara
Can also be arranged through travel agency
Before the trek (double fee if bought at entrance of the park)
Manang District:Areas of Nar, Phu, and Northern area of Tilche Village of Thochhe Village Development CommitteeTrekking Permit: From September to November US$ 90 per week and December to August US$ 75 per week (or equivalent convertible foreign currency)Department of Immigration
Can be arranged through travel agency
Before the trek
Upper MustangTrekking Permit: for the first 10 days US$ 500 and after 10 days US$ 50 per day (or equivalent convertible foreign currency)Department of Immigration
Can be arranged through travel agency
Before the trek

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