Travel: Tips, Route & Packing List for Trekking the Annapurna Circuit, Nepal

*Stories from the trail (including little gems!) can be found here
*Photo series in the travel gallery here

OUR ROUTE:
We went from Pokhara to Besi Sahar by bus (we got our permits from an agency in Pokhara). You can also get the bus from Kathmandu. One night in Besi Sahar. We had then planned to walk from here but were recommended to get a little further up to Ngadi... Our route differed a little in terms of where we made stops to many I've seen online but I enjoyed every one and we often found little gems, quieter places, and avoided tourist traps like Jomsom. All these people advertise staying in Jomsom... it was my least favourite place of the trip and we legged it out of there to stay in Marpha (one of the best places on the trip!)

So, from the start of walking (we liked to walk a few hours in the morning before having breakfast):

Day1: Ngadi-Shrichaur (Boomerang Guesthouse)
Day 2: 21KMs to Dharapani (Crystal Guesthouse) 
Day 3: 16KMs to Chame (New Tibet Hotel), 2670m, breakfast in Danakyu
Day 4: Rest Day in Chame
Day 5: 19KMs to Ghyaru (Yak Ru Guesthouse), 3670m, breakfast at the Bhratang apple farm
Day 6: 14KMs to Manang, 3540m
Day 7: Acclimitisation day Manang
Day 8: Rest day Manang
Day 9: 9.5KMs to Yak Kharka (at this point it is more about your sleeping altitude not ascending more than 500m, rather than how far you can go in a day), 4050m
Day 10: 7KMs to Thorong Phedi/Base Camp, 4525m
Day 11: 15KMs to Muktinath. Ascending 900m to Thorong La Pass (a total of 5416m), then descending down 1700m to Mukintath
Day 12: 25KMs to Marpha, having made a swift escape from Jomson despite the exhaustion we were all feeling at this point!
Day 13: 11KMs to Kubang, having found limited accomodation in Tukuche
Day 14: 7KMs (a little before) Dana to Tatopani (having got on and off the bus for the first 25KM from Kubang) 
Day 15: 15KMs to Ghorepani, over a hot and steep ascention of 1700m
Day 16: Sunrise at Poon Hill, 300m up, down 1860m over 16kms to Birethanti where we haggled for a half price taxi back to Pokhara

TIPS
Altitude: Have some Diamox in your bag and go to the altitude talk which takes place every day in Manang. Being aware and informed about altitude sickness is vital to survival. I thought I was informed but the talk was really helpful. We took the precautionary dose of diamox in Yak Kharka and Thorong Phedi and I genuinely believe it was beneficial to my breath over the pass. (Each to their own though!)

MONEY: Have enough for the whole circuit. People said there was ATMs in Jomson but we didn't have any luck. Guesthouses should do a deal where it's free accomodation in exchange for having dinner and breakfast there. Sometimes we would spend 50-100 between 2 at a guesthouse as we liked to walk a few hours before having breakfast each day. We spent just over 1000NPR a day I think. Chocolate and luxuries are more expensive up high, although we'd occassionally luck out. Bakeries in Manang and apple products in Marpha.

Off Season (MAY): We hiked the Annapurna in "Off Season". It got hot some days but as for the rain... it appeared for ONE DAY as a light drizzle. Off Season left us a beautiful trek where we didn't have to pack too much warm gear - just a little for the very op where we hiked through some snow - a lot fewer other Westerners, and the luxury of choice/better deals at some guesthouses. 

Luggage: Some people take daysacks but as we wanted to do the trek at a leisurely pace and I had camera equipment I took my actual backpack. It's only 46KG and I didn't pack it full. You definitely don't need a huge bag or a lot of luggage on the trek - sounds obvious but remember you have to carry it up to 5420M and for up to 8+ hours a day. Mine was the perfect inbetween of too little daypack and too large backpacker bag. PACK LIGHT! It gets heavier the higher the altitude and you wilk trek for 8hours a day. Wash things as you go.

Sleeping Bag: Unless you go in absolute peak season, I really don't think you need it. We didn't take any which helped a lot with our luggage amount. All the guesthouses - even the most rural ones - had blankets to give us. Just ensure you ask as soon as you get there, particularly if your guesthouse seems busier, as we found one (in the whole 15 nights!) that could only give us one between two people. 

Water: Take water purification tablets and/or a filter. The water is PRICEY as you head up, and of course you want to minimise plastic use anyway...! You can also luck out at some refill stations. 

BASIC PACKING LIST
Annapurna map - pick up in Pokhara for 200NRP. Also download Maps.me ! But I liked using the map for minimal phone use.
**Enough money to get you through the WHOLE circuit. People said there was ATMs in Jomson but we didn't have any luck.
Hat & Sunglasses - outside all day every day and with a risk of snow blindness at the top it's vital to protect your scalp, eyes, and face.
Basic toiletries - you won't be having luxurious long hot showers and braids/hats are your friend.
First Aid Kit - lots of blister supplies, antibiotics etc for stomach issues/diahorrea, diamox.  

Clothes -
Well-worn in hiking boots
3 x hiking socks
3 x breathable, lightweight tops
1 x hiking trousers unzippable to shorts (shorts which cover your knees) 
Thermal top and bottoms
Waterproof top and bottoms
Undies/Sports Bra - wash as you go, I took 3 of each
Scarf - wind, dust, and cold protection
Depending on season - gloves (I survived without) 

Entertainment etc. - playing cards, journal, pens, I took my camera and spare lens, some people had their kindle 

You can email me at camillasampson@live.co.uk for more trekking tips. Find stories and gems from the circuit on my other blog post, and a photo series in the travel gallery!