Annapurna Circuit Trek in Nepal- Solo or Do you need a Guide?

  • Last Updated on May 23, 2022

Annapurna Circuit has often been listed as one of the best long-distance treks in the world by Lonely Planet (Travel magazine). From lower valleys with traditional villages to snow-laden high mountain regions, the Annapurna circuit is a trek offers the absolute best of the Himalaya. It is also one of the most explored trekking routes in Nepal. But, that doesn’t make it any less interesting. Myriads of huge waterfalls, mighty mountains, hills, traditional villages and tea houses, apple farms, chortens, warm and hospitable people and a procession of yaks and donkeys among other glorious things make this trek a real gem.

‘’Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life—and travel—leaves marks on you."-Anthony Bourdain Annapurna Circuit is a travel experience that leaves a mark on you! And, if you’d ever wondered how to trek the Annapurna Circuit, we have a complete guide for you!

Table of Contents

Trekking the Annapurna Circuit-How to get started?

You have two options here. You can either contact a local trekking agency in Nepal or choose to do a solo trek.

Case 1

How to plan the Annapurna Circuit trek through a Nepalese Trekking agency?

1.The first step would be to find a reliable trekking agency that works locally in Nepal. There are many trekking agencies based in Thamel, Kathmandu mostly.

2. A quick Google search can help you find many. The most important things to remember when choosing a trekking agency in Nepal are 1. Reliability 2. Convenient itinerary and 3. Affordability.

Adventure Club Trek has been organizing treks for over two decades at affordable prices. You can check out our Annapurna Circuit itineraries Here (link here). If you are planning your Annapurna Circuit trek through an agency in Nepal, your agency will organize the complete trek, including the permits, accommodation, and food. So, all you’d have to do is prepare for the trek physically, pack the necessities and get to Nepal.

What are the advantages of planning Annapurna Circuit through a trekking agency in Nepal?

Trekking for over two weeks in a foreign country without any knowledge of the language and culture can leave you feeling isolated. It is one of the major reasons why even avid trekkers hire trekking guides. Trekking with local guides brings you closer to the culture, and you leave with a better understanding of the Himalaya. 

Here are some other advantages

1. No hassle: I cannot stress this point more. Organizing your trek through a reliable trekking agency in Nepal is the most hassle-free way to trek in Nepal.

Your trekking agency should handle everything from getting your permits, airport pickups, organizing your accommodation, sightseeing around Kathmandu to checkpoint entries and more.

2. A better understanding of the culture: While it may seem like venturing out on your own helps you with understanding the local culture better (and that might be true if you understand the language or are a very well-versed traveler), but most likely you’d end up baffled.

With a local trekking guide, you can solve your queries instantly, get to interact with other locals and have more opportunity to get closer to the daily lives of people.

3. Save money: The general understanding is that trekking solo is cheaper. That is not always the case. Buying a reasonably priced trekking package that includes accommodation, food, sightseeing and airport pickups can end up becoming cheaper than doing it all by yourself.

First, you will be spending much money going around in Kathmandu for the papers and planning which could easily be taken care by your trek organizer instead. Also, you would be spending more time which directly converts to money.

Then, there is the risk of your self-planned trip going wrong which could end up costing you a lot more than planned.

Case 2

How to plan a solo Annapurna Circuit trek?

Annapurna Circuit trek is a fairly safe trip and well routed. And, because the road goes till lower Manang these days, many trekkers go solo in the region.

However, planning a solo trek on your own is quite hectic.

1.First, you’d have to make your itinerary which depending on whether you are planning to take a jeep from Besisahar ( starting point of the trek, 7 hours away from Kathmandu) or not, can be over or under two weeks.

2. You’d have to go to the Nepal Tourism Board in Kathmandu for your permits (ACAP permit, TIMs Card), look for and negotiate prices of local vehicles and keep track of the route by yourself.

3. If you are planning to buy gears in Nepal, you’d have to do it all by yourself which can come out to be quite expensive.

4. You’d have to book accommodation in Kathmandu. Annapurna Circuit sees a good number of trekkers except for peak monsoon season (July and August), so you’d have to book your accommodation beforehand otherwise you might end up with no proper place to sleep after a long day of trekking. Booking accommodation in the trekking route online is not possible as the teahouses don’t manage their business online.

5. You’d have to be prepared for unfavorable weather conditions and cases of Altitude Mountain sickness (AMS) which is common above 3,000m.

What are the positives of trekking Annapurna Circuit on your own/solo?

Annapurna Circuit is a well-routed trek with abundant teahouses and hospitable people. So, there is no risk as such when trekking the circuit solo. It can, however, feel overwhelmingly foreign when trekking without a local guide.

Trekking Annapurna Circuit Solo-the positives

1. A new survival experience: If you are willing to test yourself and your survival skills in a foreign country, solo trekking the Annapurna Circuit is a good start.

You’d learn to navigate the narrow streets of Kathmandu and deal with government formalities (it’s not much of experience though). Trekking solo will make you more skillful and responsible as well.

2. Make your mistakes, be your own person: When trekking with a guide, you are cared for and protected while trekking solo will teach you to make your mistakes and deal with them. In short, you make your own rules, play by them and face the consequences by yourself.

3. Take your time: You can take your time and stop whenever you want even if you are trekking with a local guide, but taking too much time and tampering with the itinerary when on a pre-planned trek isn’t the professional way to go. Trekking solo does give you that option.

Final Thoughts

Trekking the Annapurna Circuit Solo or with a Trekking guide/leader-Which is the best option?

The answer depends on your physical fitness level. Now, if you are physically fit and can carry your own pack, survive in the mountains and are good at planning and organizing a trip, then a solo trek around the Annapurna circuit is a solid option.

However, what I did was I trekked with a trekking leader/guide without a porter carrying my own pack because I was physically fit to do so. An experienced trekking guide is very helpful; they know the best places to eat, everything is booked in advance, they know the shortcuts and can explain to you cultural things throughout the trek. Now, if you aren’t sure about your physical fitness then take a complete Annapurna Circuit trip package, one that includes porter services as well, from a reliable trekking agency. 

Since you will be scaling up to 5416 m (17,770 ft) in altitude having a trekking guide who is proficient in Altitude sickness treatment and a porter carrying your heavy bag is a great way to minimize risk. And, when you hire a porter, it makes your trekking easier and provides much-needed money to a local family.

Annapurna Circuit Trek in Monsoon-June, July, and August- What’s it like?

Monsoon season brings heavy rainfall throughout Nepal. June, July, and August receive the most rainfall. So, these months are considered ‘’off-season’’ months. However, the Himalayan rain shadow does allow some trekking regions to remain relatively dry even during monsoon. And, the Annapurna region falls under the Himalayan rain shadow.

The lower regions of Annapurna (up till lower Pisang) do receive a significant amount of rainfall during monsoon. However, the upper regions (which is most of the trek) remains relatively dry with only a little rainfall.Trekking in monsoon is a little trickier than trekking in dry months, but it has some positives as well. The route is way less crowded, the prices are better, and you get the Himalaya to yourself.

Considering a monsoon trek in Annapurna? Talk to a local trekking guide/expert, contact here.

Birendra Chudal

Birendra Chudal

Welcome to Nepal, known as the Kingdom of the Himalayas and home to Mount Everest, the highest peak in the world. Nepal is often called Heaven on Earth and is a stunning place in the Himalayan region. It's like Shangri-La, a living cultural museum, the birthplace of Lord Buddha, and where the living Goddess Kumari resides.

I'm Birendra Pd Chudal, a trekking tour operator and mountain guide specializing in trekking, tours, and travel in Nepal. I also organize hikes in the Himalayas and other outdoor activities such as peak climbing, expeditions, adventure trekking, and rafting. I completed my bachelor's degree in sociology at Tribhuvan University in Kathmandu in 2005. I've been using my experience in tourism to promote sustainable eco-tourism in remote areas, aiming to empower local communities. I enjoy sharing my travel experiences in the Himalayas through my blog, providing accurate information and assistance to travelers exploring Nepal.

If you have any questions or need more information, feel free to leave a message below.