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9 major attractions you shouldn’t miss during Annapurna Circuit trek

Annapurna circuit
Photo: Pexels/ Iqx Azmi

A tourist has diverse destinations and trek options to choose from in Nepal, and the Annapurna Circuit trek is considered one of the most stunning and satisfying ones. More than 25,000 tourists reach the trek route every year; at least 50 tourists visit the trek route in the winter, the least busy time of the year.

Annapurna region, conserved under the Annapurna Conservation Area Project, has major attractive destinations like Thorung La pass, Tilicho, Manang, Mustang, etc. Being a diverse trekking area of Nepal, a visitor can have varying experiences with this trek. And, the best time to embark on the trek is from October to early December and from late February to April. 

On the trek, one can get a clear view of Mt Annapurna (8,091m), the tenth highest peak in the world located in this region, and also Dhaulagiri (8,167 m), and Manaslu (8,163 m). Besides, one can also experience numerous waterfalls, beautiful and diverse landscapes, lush green forests, and diverse flora and fauna.

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As the circuit is popular with many landmarks, there are many routes one can take within the Annapurna Circuit. There are four major and popular routes, and depending on the route, some major attractions might change.

Nonetheless, here are the major destinations that you should not miss anyway:

1. Beshishahar

Trekkers start their trek from Besi Sahar and end at Jomsom.

To reach the Annapurna Circuit, one will have to first take a road trip to Beshishahar of Lamjung. From Kathmandu, it is a five to seven hours’ journey on a bus. The majority of trekkers start their trek from Beshishahar, the Lamjung district headquarters. But, to shorten the trek, some even choose Chame or Pisang of Manang as their starting point.

The trek from Beshishahar is best suited since you get to experience the trek with beautiful scenic beauty, ancient traditional fountains, and waterfalls. 

2. Upper Pisang

View from Upper Pisang is magical.

Located in the Marshyangdi river valley at an altitude of 3,250 m, Pisang village is a deserted village of Gurungs, Ghales, and Tibetan immigrants. There are various ancient-style hotels and lodges to stay in and have beautiful sightseeing having. Taking a tour of the village, you experience traditional beauty, mountains, and simply amazing environment around.

3. Manang

A person looking at Manang from and adjacent hill.

After crossing the Pisang and Braga villages and their amazing landscape and scenic beauty, you reach Manang (3,540 m). Manang is a traditional ancient town with wonderful traditional foundations and astonishing mountain views. 

Manang is the largest town on the Annapurna Circuit trek. With arid landscapes, Manang is a rain shadow area with prevailing winds and views comprising traditional villages, temples, monasteries, mountains and viewpoints that relax the trek stress and give soothing relaxation.

4. Gangapurna glacier lake

Gangapurna annapurna circuit trek
Gangapurna Lake and Manang seen from a hill opposite Manang.

The Gangapurna glacier lake is such a lake that gives portrayal of a freezing waterfall. In spring and autumn, it looks cyan; in the monsoon, white; and freezes completely in the winter. 

At an altitude of 4,620 m, the froze-up lake is very satisfying to watch on the trek. It is in fact the second most desired tourist attraction in the Annapurna circuit after Tilicho lake. Similarly, the largest and heaviest bird of the mountainous region, the Himalayan vulture, can also be seen roaming in the sky above the lake.

5. Alpine Homes

Alpine Homes manang annapurna circuit trek
Photo Courtesy: Alpine Home/ Facebook

Alpine Homes is a place with colourful cottages or hotels run by the families of locals in Upper Manang. The area with colourful homes below the Himalayas and surrounded by scenic beauty is an attractive destination during the trek to not miss out.

One can rest here comfortably with proper food and lodging as well as enjoy the mesmerising view, take photos, before heading on towards the Tilicho lake or the destinations ahead, along the Annapurna circuit.

6. Tilicho lake

Tilicho manang annapurna circuit trek
File Photo

Tilicho is the highest lake in the world located at 4,949 m from sea level. This blue lake has a beautiful landscape as it is surrounded by mountains, mesmerising people on their trek. This is the most desired destination to be along the Annapurna circuit trek.

In the mornings, as there is no wind, the water of the Tilicho lake gets very still so the clear still water reflects the mountains on it. Thus, the view becomes even more heavenly. Interestingly, this lake has no aquatic organism recorded to date.

7. Thorang/Thorung La (Pass)

Thorong Peak from Thorong Pass

Thorang/Thorung La (Pass), at an altitude of 5,416 m, is the highest point of the Annapurna Circuit trek. Located at such a height, the trek to this point is considered the most difficult and challenging one in the area. But once the trekkers reach the end, it journey will be worth it; one of your life’s biggest achievements. 

From the top, one can get a mesmerising view of the Annapurna Himalaya range and Great Barrier Ridge, and the scenic deserted landscape.

8. Muktinath

Muktinath Temple
File image: Muktinath Temple

At a distance of 1,600 m down from Thorang La, you enter the Mustang district of Nepal. On the trek, you see a clearer view of Mt Dhaulagiri and the deserted hills of Mustang. There lies Muktinath, a popular destination with many visitors and a holy site for both the Hindu and the Buddhist pilgrims. 

Going to the lower parts of Mustang, there are places like Kagbeni (2,840 m) and Jomsom (2,670 m) which are unique medieval cities. There is also Jomsom airport in Jomsom where you can take a direct flight to Pokhara and terminate the trek.

9. Poon Hill

The view from Poon Hill. Annapurna circuit trek destinations
The view from Poon Hill. Annapurna I (8,091m) and Annapurna South (7,219m) are on the left. Photo: Frank Jones/Wikimedia Commons

Many who wish to make the trek longer, pass through Poon Hill. At an altitude of 3,193 m, the Ghorepani-Poon Hill trek is a bonus destination place to travel even though, the trek from Jomsom to Poon Hill is a different trip and can be tiresome, there are some who go through the trek. The trek is one of the easiest routes separately, and very popular.

With a sight of pleasing and eye-catching sunrise and sunset and a clear view of the mountain ranges and mountains like Dhaulagiri, Manaslu, and Annapurna I, this place is a famous destination in the Annapurna circuit. On the trekking path from Jomsom to Poon Hill, one can see the blooming rhododendron forest along with places like Larjung, Ghasa and Tatopani and the entire experience will be mesmerising.

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