The Annapurna Mountains
Commonly regarded as the most beautiful mountain range in the Himalayas, the Annapurna massif consists of six major peaks, including the towering majesty of Annapurna I, one of the fourteen peaks in the world that is over eight thousand meters high.
The main Annapurna trekking routes are rated as some of the best in the world by veteran hikers – they showcase the best scenery the Himalayas have to offer, from high alpine passes to rolling grasslands and traditional Nepalese villages, and offer a range of challenges for new and experienced trekkers alike.
Highlights of the region
In the walking country surrounding the Annapurna mountains, there are numerous spectacular sights to be enjoyed from the lush terraced fields of the Marshyangdi Valley to the breathtaking views from the Thorong La Pass. There are also many Nepalese villages to be seen while trekking in the Annapurnas such as the colourful bazaar town of Bagarchhap or the pretty village of Marpha with its whitewashed buildings and narrow cobbled roads.
At the centre of the mountains themselves is the Annapurna Sanctuary, a glacial basin ringed by the major peaks which is reached through a narrow mountain pass.
The astonishing view of the south face of Annapurna I from inside the Sanctuary is one of the most striking mountain views in the region. A trek to the Annapurna Base Camp is often a highlight of visits to the Sanctuary, offering trekkers the chance to stand at the staging point for ascents to the world’s tenth highest mountain.
Annapurna I was the first of the so called “eight thousanders” to be successfully climbed, making the Base Camp itself a significant historical site for mountain climbers and trekkers.
The Best Routes
The classic route is the Annapurna Circuit, an epic trek around the Annapurna massif that begins and ends in Pokhara, taking in an astonishing variety of scenery along the way. It takes about two and a half weeks to walk, and is regarded as the best trekking route in Nepal, if not the world – if you go on one trek in the region, the Annapurna Circuit is the one to take.
The other popular Annapurna trekking route is a walk into the Annapurna Sanctuary at the heart of the mountain range, typically including a visit to the Annapurna Base Camp. It is shorter, less strenuous and at a lower altitude than the Annapurna Circuit, and is perfect for first time trekkers to the Himalaya who want to get a little closer to these mighty mountains without going dramatically high.
Aside from these two major Annapurna trekking routes, most tour operators and independent guides will have their own customized or tailor made itineraries – shorter circuits of the mountains, family treks and luxury hiking holidays are all available from a number of different tour operators.
However you choose to go trekking in the Annapurnas, the region promises an unforgettable experience. With spectacular mountain vistas and superb walking, it is no surprise that keen walkers and climbers travel from all over the world to explore the Annapurna mountains – and you should to!
About the Author. Jude Limburn Turner is the Marketing Manager for Mountain Kingdoms, an adventure tour company who have run a number of Annapurna trekking holidays, including the Annapurna Circuit for many years.