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Trekking and Climbing On the Annapurna Massif

Chulu west, Chulu East, Pisang Peak, Kangaru Himal, Runam


annapurna 2, pisang peak, manaslu
Annapurna 2, Pisang Peak, and Manaslu from Upper Khangsar

Most people are familiar with the great Mount Everest located in the Himalayas, but what many do not know is that this mighty mountain range is housed by a landlocked country in South Asia called Nepal. Nepal is home to a rich heritage and culture, as well as eight out of the ten tallest peaks in the world, including the Annapurna Massif in the north-central region.

The Annapurna Massif (or Annapurna Mountain) derives its name, “Annapurna,” from the words anna (meaning “food”) and purna (meaning “filled”) in the Sanskrit language. In other words, Annapurna can be translated directly to mean “filled with food” or “everlasting food.” Annapurna is the Hindu goddess of food and nourishment, and it is believed that she resides within the mountain range.

The Annapurna Mountain also has the reputation of being one of the world’s deadliest to those who try to summit it. Because of its 32% fatality rate since 1990, few people attempt to summit. The Annapurna death rate is one of the highest of the eight-thousanders, with only Mount Kangchenjunga having a higher fatality rate.

That notwithstanding, the Annapurna Massif is still one of the favorite climbing and trekking destinations in the whole world, and thousands of people show up every year to climb the peaks and undertake the Annapurna Massif trek through different trekking routes, and it’s always an unforgettable experience. As a matter of fact, the first set of people to climb the Annapurna Massif in an expedition in 1950, led by Maurice Herzog, succeeded the very first time they tried!

This said, before you take that leap of faith and come over to the wonderful, fast-developing nation of Nepal to enjoy the rich culture and, of course, to trek and climb the Annapurna Massif, it’s important that you learn a little about the climbable peaks and trekking routes.



Annapurnan 3
Annapurna 3

Aside Annapurna I (the main eight-thousander Annapurna Mountain peak), there are other climbable peaks where the “Annapurna death rate” is much lower. In total, the Annapurna Massif has 13 peaks over 7000 meters high and 16 peaks over 6000 meters. But the most prominent climbable peaks are:

  • Annapurna I (Main) – 8,091m (26,545ft), first summited by Maurice Herzog, Louis Lachenal, Lionel Terray, Gaston Rebuffat, Marcel, Ichac, Jean Couzy, Marcel, Shatz, Jacques Oudot and Francis de Noyelle (1950)
  • Annapurna II – 7,937m (26,040ft), first summited by J. O. M. Roberts, Richard Grant, Chris Bonington and Sherpa Ang Nyima (1960)
  • Annapurna III – 7,555m (24,787ft), first summited by Mohan Singh Kohli, Sonam Gyatso and Sonam Girmi (1961)
  • Annapurna IV – 7,525m (24,688ft), first summited by Heinz Steinmetz, Herald Biller, Jurgen Wellenkamp (1955)
  • Gangapurna – 7,455m (24,457ft), first summited by Gunther Hauser and 10 others (1964)
  • Annapurna South – 7,219m (23,684ft), first summited by a 6-person team from Kyoto University Alpine Club (1964)



Here are some of the most popular Annapurna Massif trekking routes, so that you can set your mind at ease and prepare yourself for the Annapurna Massif trek and other exciting adventures that await you on this journey. Are you ready?

  1. Annapurna Base Camp Trek

The route taken during the Annapurna Base Camp Trek is one of the most common treks in the Annapurna region. It is also called the Annapurna Sanctuary Trek and it combines a lot of great Himalayan views, as well as a vista of Nepalese culture as you traverse the highs and lows of various well-known peaks and mountains on the Himalayas.

When you undertake the Annapurna Base Camp Trek, you go through the rhododendron forests, and pass by terraced farms in the middle hills. This way, you get to experience the beautiful scenery of the local villages and get a sneak-peek of their lifestyle.

The Annapurna Base Camp itself is a high glacial basin lying at 40 km north of Pokhara (a metropolitan city in Nepal and the capital of the Gandaki Pradesh province) is located at an elevation of 4,130 meters (or 13,550 feet).

Some of the climbable peaks and mountains you’ll come across on your journey to the Annapurna Base Camp include: Dhaulagiri, Himchuli, Machhapuchhre, and of course, the Annapurna Mountain itself.

The Annapurna Base Camp Trek takes a period of approximately 14 days to complete.

  1. Annapurna Circuit Trek
Thorang La Pass
Thorang La Pass sign

The Annapurna Circuit Trek distance varies depending on the route you take and whether or not you choose to entertain yourself with side treks, but on average, it is about 170 km to 230 km. This trip could take between 16 to 20 days to complete, depending on your speed.

Taking this trip means you must go through Thorong La Pass, which is the highest point of the trek and one of the most amazing sights you could ever see.

When planning to undertake the Annapurna Circuit Trek, bear in mind that the best times of the year to go about this expedition are October to early December, or late February to April. Attempting this trek outside this period would mean risking getting snowed in – or worse.

Some of the climbable peaks and mountains you’ll encounter as you traverse the Annapurna circuit include: the Gangapurna, Pisang Peak, Paungda Danda, Dhaulagiri, Machhapuchhre, Tilicho Peak, Manaslu and the Annapurna Massif (Annapurna I – IV).

  1. Khopra Ridge Trek

The Khopra Ridge Trek is one of the easiest treks to undergo if you’re a beginner. The average time taken to complete this trek is 6 to 9 days, and the highest elevation is the sacred Khayar Barahi Lake (4500 meters or 14,760 feet). The beautiful landscape will keep you awestruck throughout your journey, as you experience the lifestyle of the ethnic villages and the wildlife of the region.

The trek is made more picture perfect during the spring, when the light of the sun appears to beautify the mountains. Some of the peaks you’ll come across on this journey include: the Annapurna, Nilgiri and Dhaulagiri.

  1. Annapurna Panorama Trek/ Poon Hill Trek
Annapurna Mountain Range from Poon Hill
Daulagiri, Annapurna South, Annapurna I, Gangapurna Annapurna III, Machhapuchhre

The Annapurna Panorama Trek, just like the Khopra Ridge Trek, is also easy to complete for beginners. It takes a short 6 days to go through the entire process, but they are guaranteed to be the best 6 days you’ll ever have. October is the best time to go to view the mountains, but April is the best time to go to see the Rhododendron flowers.

You can enjoy the warmth from both the sun and kind villagers while you take your time to complete this trek.

  1. Mardi Himal Trek

The Mardi Himal Trek takes about 11 days to complete, making it a moderate level trek. Undertaking this trek, you’ll see sights like the Annapurna peaks, Dhaulagiri, Machhapuchhre and Manaslu.

The Mardi Himal Trek is also best undertaken during the spring, so that you can get the best of the spring’s sun and warmth on the mountain ranges in addition to the Rhododendron blooms.

Panchase HIll Trek
Th Annapurna Massif from Panchase Hill

Every mountain range in Nepal and the Himalayas was divinely designed for you to visit, climb, trek and experience. Sitting in your couch year in, year out, is tantamount to wasting all these beauties the universe has provided us with, especially when you have that burning desire to experience the wonders of the world. Getting up and out of your comfort zone and making the move to the Annapurna Massif so that you can experience these gifts should be among your major plans.

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Annapurna Circuit Trek Day 5 Tilicho Base Camp

Annapurna Circuit Trek Day 5 Tilicho Base Camp

Thorang La Pass
Thorang La Pass sign


If you missed the previous day, you can read about that here.

The trail to Tilicho Base Camp is dangerous.  It is dangerous because of land slides.  You have to cross 3 very sketchy areas to reach Tilicho Lake base camp.  Fortunately, there is a second way to reach Tilicho Lake but it is a lot longer.  Despite the danger, I sallied forth.  I met a rather unusual British group, and saw a couple more herds of blue sheep.  Please join me on this daring escapade.  Kick back, relax, and enjoy the entertaining adventure of how I risked my life trekking from Khangsar to Tilicho Base Camp.

Tea house talks and landscape

I woke up at 7:00 and packed my gear.  I was excited to visit Tilicho Lake.  however, despite my excitement, I lumbered from my room to the dining hall.  It is good to move slowly in the morning.    I sat down at a booth next to a window.  I pictured myself drinking tea and reading a book.  Instead, I just looked out the window.  After a few minutes I ordered a bowl of porridge.  Porridge is one of the foods most Nepali chefs can cook well.  A couple of other guests came into the dining hall and joined me.

We talked while their food was being made.  We mostly talked about trekking and the things we missed from our countries.  I finished eating and joined my guide.  Most of the people I talked to couldn’t believe I hired a guide.  They understood after I explained that it was for safety and insurance.  Finally my guide and I started trekking.  We trekked through the small village then came to an open landscape.  Dried grasses and small shrubs populated the hilly landscape.  We passed a small heard of blue sheep, which I was overjoyed to see.

It was shaping up to be an auspicious day.  You could see forever because the skies were so clear.  We continued walking and came to a group of British girls acting weird.  I thought to myself, “maybe this is how they normally act.”  I decided to investigate and walked closer.

Rams rutting in Nepal
Rams rutting

The conversation

Me: Hello

Girls 1 and 2: Hi, Hello

Me: Why are you guys acting strange?

Girl 1: What are those things up there?  They’re so weird looking.

Me: I turn around and saw a second heard of blue sheep and say “oh cool, blue sheep.”

Girl 1: That’s weird, they look like goats! and why are they called blue?

Me: They are goats, and they are sad they don’t have wool.

Girl 1: Oh. I’m from England.

Me: Good luck with that. Safe travels

I started laughing because it was too funny.   I was all smiles the rest of the day as a result of the conversation.  We saw a lot of animals, which made me smile too.  The animals were not scared away by the trekkers, which was curious.

Tilicho Lake Base Camp

As we continued trekking, Ganga Purna mountain faded away while Tilicho Peak grew in dominance.  I could see Om Myurpa, Tare Kang (Glacier Dome), and Khangsar Kang (Roc Noir).  They were beautifuly aligned and stacked gracefully like dominoes waiting to be knocked over.  I kind of wanted them to be knocked over because they block the view of Annapurna 1.  But, I was still glad to see them.  We also caught a glimpse of Chulu Far East.  We descended down into the first landslide zone.  I could hardly walk because the trail narrowed.  In addition, it was completely covered by debris in a few areas too.  Even so, I made it to the other side of the landslide zone.

We walked around a bend and came to a second landslide zone.   A small stone hit me as I was trying to pass.  Coupled with my extreme fear of dying in an avalanche, and the stone hitting me, I ran.  I was looking up the gravely slope from then on.  We crossed another landslide zone before reaching Tilicho Base Camp.  Just after the third avalanche area, a small boy called me ‘little sisters little daughter’, which was not the worst insult somebody has ever called me.  My guide overheard and told the kid to shut up and apologize, which he did.

We reached Tilicho Base Camp (13,665 ft) at 12:00.  I chose Hotel Khangsar Kang and Restaurant for its friendly staff and free room.  I ate lunch with my guide and afterward we hiked around the area.  You can get some pretty great views of the mountains from the hill above base camp.  You can see Om Myurpa and Khangsar Kang very well.

You can continue and read about day 6 here.

YouTube video


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Annapurna Circuit Trek Day 1

Annapurna Circuit Trek Day 1 Chame

Thorang La Pass
Thorang La Pass sign

Welcome to day 1 of trekking on the Annapurna Circuit trail.  We travel to Chame in this post.  But, we will not start trekking today.  You will learn about the cost of day 1, the route to get to Chame, how long the drive takes, and other information.  You can also learn how to prepare for the Annapurna Circuit trek by reading this article.  My blog post “Everything you want to know about the Annapurna Circuit” has a lot of the gritty details and facts about the circuit trek.  Kick back relax and and enjoy the trek.

You can skip ahead to day 2 Annapurna Circuit Trek Chame to Upper Pisang.

Leaving Pokhara 6:45 am for Annapurna Circuit trail

Map of the Annapurna Circuit
Annapurna Circuit Trek Map

The Annapurna Circuit can be accessed from Pokhara and Kathmandu on the Prithvi Highway.  You will want to get off the bus at the Bandipur Bus Stop in Dumre.  It takes about 2 hours to get from Pokhara to Dumre.  From Kathmandu, it takes 4 hours.  From here I caught a bus north to Besisahar for $3.  Besisahar is small city where you can stock up on supplies, and spend the night.  From here, I took a jeep to Chame for $20.

On the way to Chame you will pass over a few rivers, and have some phenomenal views of the mountains.  You can also see some incredible waterfalls, and a few beautiful rhododendron groves.  You will have a really amazing view of Manaslu and Lamjung Himal.  When I went, it was cloudy and I couldn’t see them.

Annapurna Circuit Trail waterfall
Waterfall on the Annapurna Circuit Trail

I arrived in Chame at 7 pm.  I do have one regret about taking the jeep.  It went by too fast.  I would have liked going a little slower and living in the moment a little longer.  But I didn’t have the time, or the capital.  I am really happy I did take the jeep, because I didn’t have to walk behind motorists kicking up clouds of dust, or get honked at.

As you may have calculated, the length of time it takes to get from Pokhara to Chame is about 12 hours.  This does include food stops, pit breaks, and checking in at tourist check points.  My total cost for transportation was just under $50.  And my total cost of food was about $11.  And finially, from Pokhara to Chame, we gained about 4,000 ft in elevation to rest at 8,694 ft.


There are a lot of great inns, and tea houses in Chame.  I, unfortunately did not stay in one of them.  When you stay in a village, try to get there early, so you can walk around, and talk to the managers for a great deal on a room.  Also, make sure to check your bill at the end of your stay.  Some hotel managers will add items to the bill you didn’t order or ask for.  If you are going with a guide, your guide can work out a great deal for you.


Most of the food items listed on the menus are not what you expect.  Read my blog post on what to expect before coming to Nepal to see what I mean.  My advice is to stick to the Nepali dishes, which are dal and bhat.  When they are combined you get the national dish of Nepal.  The things I like the most about dal bhat are it is filling, and you get extras.  Most of the time, I was too full to eat a second plate of dal bhat. But, it is nice to know its there, if you want it.

YouTube video