Annapurna region is the heavenly region of Nepal. Along with the 10th highest mountain in the world, Annapurna I, this region boasts 13 mountains above 7000m and 16 over 6000m.
Not only the massive mountains, the culture, and indescribable wilderness are more to look for! These make the spectacular environment around the region. That is why it has been on the top list of every adventure lover.
And one thing to mention, the person wishing to visit this region have a common question:
Annapurna Base Camp Vs Annapurna Circuit
For many both seems like a same destined journey but it is not wholly true!
As the adventure begins within yourself if you are having the same trouble, this is the article for you. The following distinction on various aspects between Annapurna Base Camp and Annapurna Circuit Trek will surely help you out:
Overview of Annapurna Circuit Trek
Annapurna Circuit is one of the fondest choices of every adventure lover. It is a perfect long trek with gorgeous surroundings, good accommodation, and no roads, just foot trails. Due to these features, it has been the world’s best trek for decades.
The circuit trails go through rice paddy valleys, roaring rivers, and ethnic Tibetan and Buddhist villages. You even get to interact with religious groups like Brahmin, Magar, and Gurung.
Here, you get a glimpse of mixed and diverse natural beauty. The variation through a sub-tropical region to the alpine landscape similar to the Tibetan plateau.
The Circuit offers picturesque of Manang and Mustang valley. A glimpse of Kali Gandaki river, the world’s deepest gorge. Along with polaroid of the Annapurna ranges like Mt. Annapurna, Mt. Dhaulagiri, and Fishtail (Mt. Machhapuchhre).
More info on Annapurna Circuit Trek
Distance hiked: 113 miles
There is one ATM on the trail in Jomsom. Thus, make sure you carry enough money for the trek.
They are mostly squat. But in some places, you may find western toilets.
Solar and gas showers are available in some teahouses. But there are no showers in Manang up to Muktinath. The pricing of hot showers is USD 2-3 depending on the level of trail.
Overview of Annapurna Base Camp (Annapurna Sanctuary Trek)
Annapurna Base Camp, also known as Annapurna Sanctuary Trek, is one of the finest places to trek in Nepal.
Annapurna region features Annapurna I (8091m) and several ranges including Dhaulagiri range, Annapurna South, Mt. Himchuli, Machhapuchhre Himal (Fishtail), and so on. And in this trek, you get the whole panoramic views of this mid-western Himalayan ranges.
Along with the view of mountains, there are delightful Gurung settlements, lush-green plantations, and flora & faunas. This is the most popular and striking trail with around 5 to 7 hours walks per day.
More info on Annapurna Sanctuary Trek (Annapurna Base Camp Trek)
Distance trekked: 41 miles with millions of stairs
As there is no ATM service on the trail, you should bring enough cash for the entire trek.
Toilets are mostly western except at Annapurna Base Camp where there is squat.
Hot showers may be available at Chhomrong but they may or may not be available higher in the trail. They will cost you a little more there i.e about USD 3-5.
Ultimate Destination and Maximum Elevation:
The major highlights of Annapurna Circuit Trek are crossing the world’s widest pass; the Thorong La Pass at the enticing altitude of 5,4126 meters.
The trekking terrain is so diverse that varies from 760 meters to 5,416 meters. It is a sophisticated trekking that gives you a high degree of comfort.
Annapurna Base Camp
The major highlights of Annapurna Base Camp trek is the base camp itself along with MBC. Thus, the maximum elevation of this trek is 4,320 meters.
This trek gives the authentic and real experience of trekking in rather a short duration. Plus, the trails and landscape is truly great. Also, as this trek is close to the ‘dream city’ Pokhara, it would be worth exploring the place after the trek.
How to Get There?
Annapurna Circuit is a longer and harder trek that takes around 18 days to complete. On this trip you have 8 days of trekking with 2 days of acclimatization. But as usual, if you are physically capable, you can shorten the trek days.
The best direction to trek the Annapurna Circuit trek is counter-clockwise. The normal trek starting point is Jagat at the altitude of 1,100 meters. From Jagat, the first-day hike is to Dharapani. From Dharapani to Chame then to Pisang. And from Pisang to Manang.
In Manang, at the altitude of 3,500 meters, you have to spend an extra day for acclimatization. However, there is a road facility from Jagat to Manang. Hereafter, through Yak Kharki at the altitude of 4,110 meters, you will cross the Thorong La Pass. This is the famous vantage point of Annapurna Circuit Trek.
Thereafter, after crossing Muktinath, at Jomsom, the trek technically ends. The trail first follows the Marsyangdi river valley and then changes to the Kali Gandaki river valley.
Annapurna Base Camp
At an affordable cost, you can complete Annapurna Base Camp trek in 12 days. But if you are fit and the weather is good, you can complete the trek in 8 days as well. It is quite easy and shorter trek. Thus, if you are short on time, ABC trek is the right away choice!
There are various routes to reach Annapurna Base Camp. The best route is through Chhomrong, 2170m. You may or may not include Poon Hill trek within it. After Chhomrong, the next feasible spot is Himalayan Hotel at the altitude of 2920m that requires 7-8 hours of continuous walking. Then, you can reach the ultimate destination, Annapurna Base Camp directly next day.
Scenery – Flora and Fauna on the Trek
The grade of Annapurna Circuit is difficult/strenuous. Still, due to the significant numbers of trekkers in the trail, Annapurna Circuit is not that remote.
Annapurna Circuit has diverse scenic places compared to Annapurna Base Camp trek. The views of high Himalayas is closer from the vantage point of Annapurna Circuit; Thorong La. Annapurna Circuit is a good trekking terrain with the great Himalayan scenery.
At low altitude, you have the view of paddy fields i.e the sub-tropical field. It includes pastures, dense forests, grain fields above the treeline. Basically, you witness the changing landscapes along with geographic regions and cultures. Also, this trek takes you the deepest valley and gorge of the world i.e Kali Gandaki.
Annapurna Circuit if joined with Tilicho Lake trek, the views are even more elegant and astonishing. The whole combination of the Annapurna Himal and the Tilicho lake will be truly amazing.
As the trail passes through greener pastures, you witness grazing yaks and deer. Also, the trail showcases a variety of flora like the local rhododendron, orchids. Plus, the high cascading waterfalls.
Annapurna Base Camp
The grade of Annapurna Base Camp trek is of moderate level. The trails are really popular and not remote. However, as some trails have ascending stairs, you may have to struggle a bit more.
Mount Annapurna I (8,091m) is popularly recognized as the world’s most dangerous mountain to climb. And the interesting thing is Annapurna Base Camp (ABC) will allow you to stand face to face with this breathtaking peak.
Along the trekking trails, you witness the full-grown rhododendron trees and Azalea flowers line. Whereas along the terrace-farm you can see the rice and mustard plantations. This sacred region has many endangered animals like Red Panda, Himalayan Thars, and Langur Monkeys.
Permits Required for These Treks
Both of the trekking regions is not a restricted area. So, you do not need restricted area permit. But, as they lie in Annapurna region, you will require ACAP permit and TIMS card.
Acclimatization is the process of adjustment of the body along with the changing environment. This is a significant process while trekking as its negligence may cause AMS (Altitude Mountain Sickness).
AMS is basically characterized by a severe headache, nose bleeding, rapid heartbeat, instant respiration, nausea, vomiting, coughing. This severely affects your lungs and brain. Sometimes it depends on the surrounding and on your diet as well.
For Annapurna Circuit, you need to have at least one day for acclimatization. Mostly, it is when you reach Manang. As the trek takes you to varying altitudes, this is necessary to reduce the risk of AMS.
But for Annapurna Base Camp trek, the acclimatization days are not required. There is a gradual variation in the altitude. Also, as the ABC is a lower altitude trek, there is less risk of AMS.
But you have to take care in both cases that after you reach a certain altitude, you need to cover 300m of elevation per day.
Cost of Food and Accommodation
Annapurna Circuit Costs
Annapurna Circuit trek is a comfortable trek with lots of tea houses. However, the road building in some parts of trek may negatively affect the accommodations at times.
The mode of accommodation is guesthouses and lodges. Thus, the guesthouses and lodges will be the source of food and accommodation. And the pricing or the total cost for Annapurna Circuit is cheap.
For 14-15 days trekking tour of the Annapurna Circuit, the cost breakdown of the various expenses:
Annapurna Conservation Area permit- USD 20
TIMS card – USD 10-20
Food and accommodation per day – USD 15-25
Trekking guide charge per day – USD 20-25
Porter charge per day – USD 15-20
The cost of teahouse varies with the change in altitude. Moreover, on the average, the cost is USD 3-4 for a double room at a time. The price is cheaper for a single. The average cost of energy bar is around USD 1-1.5.
Annapurna Base Camp Costs
The net pricing for Annapurna Base Camp is not that costly either. But the Annapurna region has a more basic type of accommodation that ranges from ultra-budget to comfortable. The trails are full of classic Nepali ‘teahouses’ and at some places ‘lodges’ too. They are capable of providing good food with accommodation for a nominal cost.
And here, the major attraction is the network of home-stays along some routes. Thus, you can stay in a home with a guest room. This will let you taste the real flavor of rural life in the Annapurna’s.
To trek to the Annapurna Base Camp, the cost breakdown of the various expenses:
Annapurna Conservation Area permit – USD 20
TIMS card – USD 10-20
Food and accommodation per day – USD 20-25
Trekking guide charge per day – USD 20-25
Porter charge per day – USD 15-20
The cost of food and accommodation varies depending on the altitude and temperature. As ABC is more crowded, the prices may vary as per season.
The average cost of energy bar is around USD 2-2.5.
When to Trek?
The best trekking time for both treks lies in the same season. The most popular trekking seasons in Nepal are Autumn that falls between September-November and Spring between March-May. The favorable weather is a primary factor here. The temperature is neither too hot nor it is too cool. The skies are clear with the mesmerizing view of the snow-capped mountains and serene landscapes.
You can trek Annapurna Base Camp also in February as the weather is clear and calm. Though it is safe to trek in lower altitudes during the winter, in mid-February it is better to go trek to Annapurna Base Camp. The trials are silents and the total cost becomes less.
And regarding the Annapurna Circuit, March-May season is the best. The environment is clear and cool with great views. Also, the major routes of Annapurna Circuit lies on rain shadow area. Thus, the monsoon months of Nepal (June-August) are appropriate for trekking in AC.
Difficulty Along the Trek
The main disadvantage here is the trekking trails are harshly affected by road construction.
The trail on the new road is dusty. And sometimes bad weather may cause the dangerous condition and you may have to turn around.
Also, for AC you have to be more mentally and physically fit due to its strenuous grade. But as here, there is sophisticated road accessibility to trailheads, there are other alternatives. As there is also good service, you can fly out from Jomsom if you wish.
Also, the altitude variation of AC cannot be neglected. Thorong La Pass, the ultimate vantage point is at the altitude of 5,416 meters. Thus, the significant change in the elevation can be the greatest challenge here.
For Annapurna Base Camp trek, you don’t have to be an advanced leveled trekker. Trekker with basic skills of walking a minimum of 3-4 hours per day can tackle ups and downs on the way.
However, there are too many steep stairs to face in the trail at Annapurna Base Camp. You have to face this while ascending as well as descending. This may seriously hurt your knees and ankles at times.
Moreover, there are few villages and none above Chhomrong. You may have a problem for food and accommodation in these regions.
Another thing is, the menus are pricier than Annapurna Circuit. The teahouses tend to charge extra for WiFi, power outlets, showers, and others.
And this trek is accessible during winter. But there is a risk of excessive snowfall and avalanches.
Pricing and Package
It is obvious that the cost for Annapurna Circuit trek is higher than Annapurna Base Camp trek. The reason is the days required to complete the trek. And the higher the altitude higher will be the cost of every product.
Here at Great Adventure Trek, you have the options of both packages i.e Annapurna Circuit Trek – 20 Days and Poonhill and Annapurna Base Camp Trekking – 15 Days.
Go through the links and get your suitable dates for these amazing paradises today!
As both treks have their own merits, it is difficult to say exactly ‘which one is better’. Both of the treks are awesome and the view directly hits your heart. Also, they both will fully satisfy your hunger for adventure.
Both are world class adventure with an astonishing and worth value. Just encounter and get lost into the breathtaking scenery and rich culture within these amazing journeys.
It is sure that you will have a great time in whichever trek you choose.
If you have any queries on any of the treks or any other treks in Nepal, you can contact us. Feel free to share anything.