Do you like to trek? Try Annapurna Circuit Trekking in Nepal. It is one of the best long treks in the world. Typically, it is 3-4 weeks long and preparing for it can be overwhelming. Following are a few ‘where and how’ along with ‘why’ to help relieve some of that anxiety.
Do I need to train?
Stamina build up would be good but there is no specific skill required to complete this trek. It is non-technical. Long distance walking, going up and down stairs could prove beneficial. However, starting this only a week before may only tire you for the actual trekking.
What is Important?
Normal trekking gear is a given. Yet, I would like to stress on the following things.
- Shoes: Shoes that fit you like a glove and has hard soles is important for long hikes. Annapurna Circuit Trek is long. Therefore, bring good hiking shoes and break in before heading to the mountains. Bring an old pair from home, one that has already grown around your feet. That being said, you don’t need very expensive and technical shoes for this hike.
- Socks: Socks are like a second skin. It takes the rub that would, otherwise, have given you blisters. Fiction and moisture is the cause of blisters so make sure it is not cotton.
Anything cotton is bad for this trip, like clothes and undies. Cotton takes time to dry, stinks fast and absorbs moisture to stay annoyingly cold.
- Backpack: A hiking bag, nothing else. Again, one that fits you like a glove with sturdy straps. Ill-fitting bags will be a pain, literally.
- Trekking poles: You will be absolutely grateful that you brought trekking poles. Annapurna Circuit Treks has many ups and down. The descent after the pass is especially hard on your knees. Bring trekking poles, they are a great support.
You can buy most of the gears in Nepal. They are cheap knockoffs, not very reliable. Good for one time trekkers though. If you are an avid trekker and want real branded goods, you should buy from home. You can rent the more expensive things like a down jacket in Thamel.
What to bring besides the gear?
Other than trekking gear, you will be glad you knew to pack the following.
- Cover from Sun: Sun is intense and wind, harsh. A sunhat, sunscreen and moisturizer shouldn’t add much weight.
- Cash: Bring enough cash. People only take cash. There is no credit card system and the only ATM is in Jomsom.
- Water Purifier: Only a few purifiers. There are drinking water stations and you can fill you water bottles with boiled water in the lodge. This will not be enough as staying hydrated is very important when trekking. In the lodge, fill the bottle in night. It will have cooled down by the morning.
- Source of Entertainment: Things to pass time like cards, a reader or anything small that you will enjoy. There will be much time in the lodge to spend before you leave in the morning, especially when waiting for food.
- Snacks: Energy bars can power you up en route. It can curb your hunger as you wait for your food as well.
- A sleeping bag: You could ask for two blankets but it probably won’t be available during peak seasons. The blankets maybe a little unclean and dusty. Therefore, a sleeping bag can keep you warm and act as a layer between you and the blanket.
What permits are required?
Only two permits are required- the Annapurna Conservation Area Permit (ACAP) and Trekkers Information Management System (TIMS) card. These cards will be regularly checked and stamped on the trail. For these, you need 4 passport sized photos, travel insurance papers, a copy of Passport and $40 in total. You can make the photos anywhere in Kathmandu or Pokhara.
When to go?
October- November in autumn are the best time. This is also the most crowded time. Second best time is March- May in spring. Earlier in the winter is not too bad either. It will be cold though and extra warm clothes will be required. Monsoon is the worst time to trek anywhere unless it is a rain shadow area. The best parts of Annapurna Circuit like Jomsom is in rain shadow area. Still, I wouldn’t recommend any other seasons than autumn and spring.
How early do I need to book?
You do not need to book ahead. In fact, come to Nepal first. Then, from the number of agencies in Kathmandu or Pokhara, you can easily ready everything within two days. It is perfectly okay if you want to go on your own. The trails are pretty clear.
I hope you are now more relaxed. Do not worry. It will be nothing but amazing. Happy Journey.