Arrive at Kathmandu airport and transfer to a 3* hotel by private car. Relax in hotel or OPTIONAL walk around Thamel and Garden of Dreams near the Royal Palace. Trek briefing.
Sightseeing in Kathmandu – Monkey Temple, Bodhnath Stupa, Ghats at Pashupatinath, Kathmandu Durbar Square and any last-minute shopping before the trek starts. Pashupatinath – holy Hindu temple dedicated to one of the Hindu trinity Gods and God of Destruction – Shiva and the cremation site, Bodhnath – Buddhist pilgrimage site, supposedly one of the biggest ‘stupas’ in the world influenced by Tibetan form of Buddhism, Kathmandu Durbar Square – the oldest and the most authentic part of Kathmandu with centuries old temples, palace, residence of ‘Living Goddess’ and vibrant bazaar, and finally Swoyambhunath (a.k.a. Monkey temple) – perched on a pedestal high on the hilltop, Swoyambhunath is acclaimed as the oldest stupa in the world and is influenced by both the Nepalese and Tibetan forms of Buddhism, which attracts constant stream of pilgrims from all around Nepal.
Drive to Syange (Overnight altitude 1095m/ 8 hrs approx) – Transfer by chartered vehicle to Besisahar, the gateway to Annapurna region (6hrs approx). Change-over to chartered local jeeps for an off-road drive to Syange (2hrs approx). Please note: local transport syndicate does not allow private vehicles beyond Besisahar.
To Dharapani (O/N Altitude 1910m/ 7 hrs approx) – Start of the trek. Today’s walk is through a deep wooded canyon; fewer villages, no view of snowy peaks and some steep sections until the village of Tal. The trek continues through the deep wooded canyon with spectacular waterfalls.
To Chame (O/N Altitude 2670m/ 5 hrs approx) – The trail continues along the right bank of Marsyangdi river climbing gently through pine and oak forest leading to Bagarchap. From here snowy mountains can be sighted again. Shortly, you will reach the village of Danagyu. A very steep climb to Timang, then gentler slopes as you trek through a changing pattern of vegetation from dense pine forests to drier slopes.
To Pisang (O/N Altitude 3300m/ 6 hrs approx) – Leave Chame, passing the military and police base, helicopter landing area and hospital before crossing river and walking up steps through woodland. Stop at Bhratang for drinks (2850m) and then on a narrow path high above the river, through a deep gorge. Hope to see the curved rock face of Paungda Danda before walking up through woodland to Dhukure Pokhari (3185m) for lunch. A short, gentle walk alongside the river takes you to your overnight stay at Pisang (3300m). Take a short walk around the village to help acclimatise.
To Manang (O/N Altitude 3540m/ 7 hrs approx) – Leave Pisang after breakfast – today’s trek is fairly gentle, winding through several old villages and no real long steep uphills or you can take the longer, but much more enjoyable walk with better views to Manang. Walk through woodland to the Green Lake and see Annapurna II before passing a long mani wall and making the steep, 350m ascent to Ghyaru (3673m) for a tea stop and great views. Follow the contouring path, high above the river and valley to the lunch stop at Ngawal (3650m). Hopefully have great views of Annapurna II, III and IV. Drop down to Chulu and through woodland and on to Braga passing lots of gompas, kanis and prayer wheels before getting to Manang (3540m) for a 2-night stay
Acclimatisation day – optional hike to Bodzo Gompa (approx 6hrs) or Gangapurna Lake (approx 4hrs max) or Chongkar view point (approx 5hrs)
To Srikharka (O/N Altitude 4000m/ 4 hrs approx) – Leaving Manang, veer off the main trail inclining gradually upwards to a trail bridge spanning 20m over Khangsar Khola river (25mins approx). Trail now climbs gently to an archaic Tibetan village of Khangsar (1.15hr approx). It is another 2hrs uphill walk to Srikharka.
Please note: From now on the accommodation and facilities are more basic than the tea-houses that have been stayed in so far. Squat toilets and bucket hot shower available
To Tilicho base camp (O/N Altitude 4150m/ 3.5 hrs approx) – The narrow trail that climbs gradually and breaks into level-stretched sections takes you above the tree-line and into the dry, barren landscape.
Please note: Basic tea-house accommodation. Squat toilets and hot shower available (bucket). Approx 15mins walk from Srikharkha, cross the trail bridge, the route for the next 45mins is on a very narrow path (1ft wide) and clings on to a cliff with sheer drop of around 300-400m. Not advisable when the route is covered with snow.
To Tilicho Lake & Return to Srikharka (O/N Altitude 4000m/ 8.5 hrs approx) – A long day for sure but equally rewarding. An early start is the order of the day to make it to the stunning Tilicho Lake, one of the highest lakes in the word at 4949m. Taking a steep uphill trail for about 3.5hrs. After enjoying the sight of the vast turquoise water with the reflections of the snowy peaks all around, back track to Tilicho base camp (2hrs approx) to stop for lunch. Further retracing to be done to Thare Gompa to end the day (3hrs approx).
Please note: Past the base camp, after approx 45mins walk, the route again, intermittently, for about 30mins or so turns into a risky section with very narrow trail (1ft wide) and with sheer drops of 300-400m
To Yak Kharka (O/N Altitude 4018m/ 6 hrs approx) – Rejoin the Annapurna Circuit trail taking a gently inclining trail firstly to Changyo (1hr approx). From here the trail flattens out crossing a wooden bridge over Thorung Khola to emerge on to the Circuit trail at Ghyanchyang (3hrs approx). Another 2 hours gentle walk gets you to Yak Kharka.
To Thorung Phedi (O/N Altitude 4450m/ 4 hrs approx) – A slow pace today due to the large elevation gain. Owing to the harsh local conditions, it is imperative to take at least two days to do this section of the walk. Once at Phedi, there will be plenty of time to rest and acclimatise to the higher elevations you will encounter while crossing Thorung La Pass, which is located at the highest altitude of the Annapurna Circuit. Optional: Walk up a further 4-500m to the tea houses and have a drink and acclimatise before walking back down to the overnight stay at Thorong Phedi.
To Muktinath via Thorung La pass (O/N Altitude 3800m/ 8-9 hrs approx) – The set off time is exceptionally early in the morning to go across Thorung La Pass at 5416m, the highest roadless pass in the world – about 3am. Walk up the steep zig-zagging slope, continue upwards passing the tea houses, contouring the slopes and continue to climb as the sun rises, seeing many false summits. Stop at a shelter for a drink before continuing to the Thorong La pass at 5416m, about a 1000m ascent from the tea house, which is adorned with prayer flags, a chorten and stone cairn built by travellers. Make the descent of 1700m to the village of Muktinath, down a steep scree slope and stop at a tea house at Chabarbu (4290m) on the way and arrive in Muktinath (3800m) a pilgrimage site held in great reverence by both the Hindus and Buddhists, early afternoon. Free time to relax, sleep or take a walk around the village.
To Jomsom (O/N Altitude 2800m/ 6 hrs approx) – After a tough previous day, it is a relaxed day’s walk. Visit to the highly revered Muktinath temple in the morning. Refreshed, purified and blessed, you descend out of Ranipauwa to Jharkot (3550m) through farmlands and clusters of poplar trees. Beyond Jharkot, the trail descends gradually to Khingar (3200m). Further ahead of Khingar, in a short while, you get your first glimpse of the Kali Gandaki river as it is met by the Jhong Khola. As you continue along the trail, the path splits and the left-hand trail leads to Eklaibhatti and one on the right leads to Kagbeni. We take the trail to Eklaibhatti to get on the windy riverbed, which takes us to the administrative headquarters of Mustang region – Jomsom and the end of the trek.
Early morning flight back to Pokhara (20mins approx) weather permitting – a popular lakeside tourist town with an array of cafés, restaurants and souvenir shops. A perfect place to unwind after a challenging trek. Free time to explore the area or relax. Phewa Lake offers the chance of serene boat trips, whilst a climb up to the nearby World Peace Pagoda gives a great view of the lake and the town below and the Himalayas dominating the northern skyline.
Morning flight back to Kathmandu (25mins approx). Day at leisure for additional sightseeing (optional), shopping or relaxing.
Tour ends – transfer to airport – return home or onward travel.