Trekking to Nepal is a dream come true for many trekking enthusiasts around the world. Once you decide to go trekking in Nepal, there is another decision you have to make.
Where in Nepal are you going to trek.
Is it going to be the trek to Everest Base Camp, an up-close opportunity to see the world’s highest mountain in the world?
Or, is it going to be the trek to the Annapurna region, the all famous, all-rounder Annapurna Circuit Trek?
Or, something else altogether?
The decision is all on you. However, to make things easier and a bit more well-planned, here is some information about them to get you started.
Annapurna Circuit Trek vs Everest Base Camp Trek
How to get there?
Any treks to the Annapurna region including the Annapurna Circuit Trek starts in the beautiful, lake city of Pokhara. You can easily reach Pokhara by land via bus, vans, jeeps or by air via a short flight from Kathmandu.
Both the vehicular journeys offer great views. The land journey is longer and bumpier with great views of the surrounding hills, terrace farms, villages, forests.
The gateway to Everest Base Camp is Lukla. Again, you can reach Lukla by land via or by air via a short flight from Kathmandu.
The airway is one of the most adventurous short flights in the world. The bus journey is filled with views of the surrounding hills, forests, villages.
Terrain of the Trekking Trails
The Annapurna Circuit Trail is a well-marked trail. This classic trek takes you through various, distinct terrains from lower regions of Lamjung, Myagdi. This places are predominantly Hindu and have beautiful lush-green valleys, terrace farms, hills.
Manang, Mustang are on the higher elevated regions of this trek with rhododendron forests, dry landscapes, beautiful gorges, canyons, and caves.
The people of these places are predominantly Tibetan Buddhist with culture and lifestyle similar to Tibetans.
The highest point of this trek lies at an altitude of 5416m at Thorung La Pass.
The Everest Base Camp trek traces the adventurous route to the highest mountain in the world, Mt. Everest. Many trekkers around the world consider this trek as the best Himalayan walking holiday.
The trail takes you up and down the mountains through beautiful villages, suspension bridges, monasteries, mani walls. You go through the village of Namche “the highest trade center of the world”.
You get a close and personal look into the lifestyle and culture of the people of these regions- the world famous Sherpas.
The highest elevation on this trek is Kalapathar at an altitude of 5545m which is dotted by black rocks and a tea shop.
Trek Duration and Distance
The average duration and distance of the Annapurna Circuit Trek can vary depending on you. The length of the Annapurna circuit trek can vary between 160-230 km based on where you begin and end the trek and where you use motor transportation. This, in turn, affects the duration of your trek.
The average Annapurna Circuit Trek can last anywhere from 11 days to a month.
For Everest Base Camp, the actual trek usually starts from Lukla. The average Everest Base Camp can last anywhere from 13 to 21 days depending on the hours you trek per day as well as the number of acclimatization days.
For novice trekkers or trekkers traveling during the winter season, it is strongly recommended not to any acclimatization days.
In the lower regions of the Annapurna Circuit Trek, you can see the lush green hills, forests, terrace farms.
As you go higher, you will be greeted with splendid views of the mountain peaks of the Annapurna region like Annapurna I, II, III, Dhaulagiri, Machapuchare, Gangapurna, Manaslu, Tilicho and a range of other mountain peaks 6000 meters.
You will also get to see the diverse landscape of Nepal including the dry desert region of Mustang and Manang with beautiful, sandstone caves, cliffs, canyons, gorges.And, walk past the settlements of Gurung, Magar, Tamang, and other ethnic groups.
The short and adventurous flight to and from Lukla provides gorgeous views of the hills and mountains of Nepal.
Namche Bazaar gives you the opportunity to view the breathtakingly beautiful peaks of Everest, Kantega, Tawoche, Ama Dablam from this mysterious marketplace of the mountains.
The Everest Base Camp trek provides you with views of beautiful sunrises and sunsets in some of the highest mountains in the world including Mt. Everest.
Throughout the trail, you will get glimpses of stunning glaciers, mani walls, suspension bridges, rivers, ancient monasteries, lifestyle and culture of the Sherpa people.
The Annapurna Circuit trek takes you through a number of villages with people of different culture, lifestyles.
At the lower regions of this trek in Myadi, Lamjung, you will encounter Brahmins, Chhetri, Gurung, Thakali, Magars. On the higher regions, you will get to see lifestyles, culture with influences from Tibet in the villages of Mustang, Manang.
You get to explore villages, lifestyles of both culturally rich Buddhism and Hinduism on this trek.
The Everest/ Khumbu region is the home of the local Sherpa people.
They are known throughout the world for their strength, stamina in the higher altitudes.
At the Everest Base Camp Trek, you get a first-hand look into their lives, culture, tradition.
Everything from dorm rooms to your average good hotels is available on both these trails. Heaters or communal fireplaces, extra blankets, hot water are available in most tea houses during cold weather.
You also get options of attached bathrooms on most of the tea houses in the Annapurna circuit trail.
However, this is not the case for the tea houses on the trails of Everest Base Camp.
The tea houses here have a communal, indoor bathroom, especially in the lower regions.
Getting used to squad toilets also may be helpful.
Not all tea houses in both these trails have western style toilets.
Food and Drinks
Typical Nepalese trekking food is available on both these trails. You will get almost anything to eat for a price on these trails.
You should try the local Dal, Bhat, tarkari( rice, pulses and curries) at least once during the trek. This local trekking staple food is not only filling but also healthy and filled with good calories which is a must on any treks.
You can enjoy the cuisine of Nepali, Tibetan, Continental, Indian on most of the tea houses on these trails.
You will be burning a lot of calories on this treks, so remember to drink more water.
Bottled water, hot water, soda, tea, coffee is available almost throughout the trails.
However, the cost of these goes higher with the increased elevation and remoteness.
You don’t require any mountain climbing experience for both these treks. Both these treks fall on the moderate level of trekking.
As you reach altitudes of above 3000m above sea level within 2 days of your trek on the Everest Base Camp Trek, there is a high chance of altitude sickness.
The same altitude is reached only on the 5/6th day of the Annapurna Circuit Trek.
Both these treks take you through rough, rocky trails. You will be walking uphill and downhill for 5/6 hours on a daily basis on these treks.
Hence, a certain level of physical fitness is required to complete this trek. Anyone who is comfortable walking 7/8 hours on a daily basis can successfully do this trek.
Treks within the Annapurna region are more affordable than treks within the Everest region.
Because of the higher elevation and the bigger brand name, Everest Base Camp trek costs more than Annapurna Circuit trek.
The costs of everything including food, accommodation, water are more affordable in the Annapurna region than the Everest region.
Along with this, the flight tickets in and out of Lukla adds to the overall cost of the EBC trek.
Any trek within the Annapurna region is a great option for a trekker on a budget.
Both of these treks can be done with or without a guide. But, a guide is recommended for both the treks.
Both these treks take you through several local villages of different culture, lifestyle, tradition. The trail also takes you across various landscapes with sights of many different mountain peaks, rivers, gorges, canyons, caves.
A guide can help you to explore and make this trekking experience more fulfilling. A guide can answer any queries you may have of the landscape, flora, fauna, animal life, monasteries, mani walls and so on.
A guide can also help you understand the local culture, lifestyle of the people on the trails as they can communicate with the locals on your behalf. Most guides have knowledge of the local languages spoken on these trails.
Both these treks are long duration treks to some of the highest places in the world, hence having porters to take your luggage is highly recommended.
This way, you are free to explore the trails, landscapes, flora and fauna without having the added burden of your whole luggage.
This makes the trek more comfortable for you and the locals get a source of income at the same time.
To complete the Annapurna Circuit trek, you require the following permits:
- TIMS (Trekker’s Information Management System) card
- ACAP (Annapurna Conservation Area Entry Permit)
- Restricted Region Entry Permits (if you plan to trek to Upper Mustang or Tsum valley)
You also require certain permits to do the Everest Base Camp trek. They are as follows:
- Local Entry Permit (Issued in Lukla)
- Sagarmatha National Park Entry Permit (Sagarmatha is the local name for Everest)
- If you have the restricted region entry permit, you do not need to purchase TIMS.
- Any trekker below the age of 10 do not require the ACAP or ECAP or restricted region permit.
- The cost of the permits is cheaper for group trekkers.
The year is divided into 4 distinct seasons in Nepal. All these seasons offer their own unique features; hence it is up to you to decide which is your ideal time for trekking.
The lower regions of the Annapurna Circuit Trek will be filled with flower blooms of rhododendrons. You will also get to see many interesting wildlife on the trails. The temperature is cool with clear skies offering great views of the mountains and surrounding landscapes.
The region of Mustang celebrates its’ biggest, annual festival- Tiji during the month of May. You can celebrate and enjoy the local culture to its full glory with traditional dances, songs, and merrymaking.
The Everest Base Camp is filled with an adventurous aura and energy as mountaineers from around the world flock to the Everest region to try and summit Mt. Everest.
This is the ideal summiting season of Everest. Hence, on the trek to Everest Base Camp, you can meet some of the greatest names, future names of the mountaineering history.
June- August are the summer (monsoon) months. The EBC trail is slightly affected by the monsoon making it a bit muddy. You will also want to carry insect repellants as these are the months of leech, mosquitoes and other pests.
Most of trail in the Annapurna Circuit Trek falls in the rain shadow area of the Annapurna region. It gets almost no rain and is not affected by it. The trails will be in good condition and will be less crowded.
You can enjoy the views from your pick of local tea houses at your own pace.
This is the ideal season for trekking anywhere in Nepal including both Everest Base Camp and Annapurna Circuit Trek.
The perfect weather conditions are more stable with high visibility of the mountains and perfect temperature.
It is neither too hot nor too cold and hence this season attracts the most number of trekkers in Nepal.
The temperatures in the months of December, January and February range from 5 degrees Celsius on a warm day to -25 degrees Celsius on cold nights.
The chilly weather, heavy snowfall during this season makes trekking during this season difficult and more adventurous.
The lower regions of Annapurna Circuit trek see cool weather and hence treks to the lower regions up to Lower Mustang is comfortable. You can enjoy views of snow-capped mountains, beautiful sunrises. This season also sees less trekker meaning you get your pick of tea houses, rooms and you don’t have to queue for your meals.
The number of trekkers on these trials depends on the local season you trek.
During the autumn, both these trails are quite busy and crowded with trekkers from all over the world due to its ideal weather conditions and visibility.
The Everest trek is more crowded during the spring than the Annapurna Circuit Trek. People wishing to summit Mt. Everest find that the ideal weather to do so is the local spring season.
Hence, you will meet famous and new mountaineers from all over the world on their way to Everest on the trails with their addictive energy and aura.
Winter and monsoon sees the least number of trekkers in these trails.
Due to the weather conditions of winter like heavy snowfall, chilly temperatures, avalanches, the trails are slightly more challenging. Hence, only experienced and adventure seekers come to trek during this season.
During monsoon or summer season, the trails become slippery and muddy making the trek more difficult. However, most trails within the Annapurna Circuit Trail lies on the rain-shadow area. This means these regions do not see much rainfall making the trails the perfect destination for trekking during this season.
Both the treks are among the most popular treks in the world.
Each of the treks have their own unique flavor to the world of remote mountain lifestyle, culture and natural beauty.
It is strongly recommended you choose the best and ideal season to trek if you are a novice or solo trekker.
Choose your destination and then prepare your schedule, budget, trekking options accordingly.
Nepal is a great place for trekking and these are only two from the numerous treks available. If these are not what you are looking for, feel free to surf through the best treks in Nepal, best short treks in Nepal and many other available options.
If you have any queries regarding these two treks or any treks or travel within Nepal, be sure to contact us.