The Annapurna Circuit offers challenging hikes in the Himalayas among high mountain scenery and exhilarating experiences. The name is a nod to the goddess of fertility and agriculture, who has the same name. More than half of the people who include trekking on their Nepal vacations spend time on the circuit. This region in Western Nepal is home to some of the highest peaks in the world and a culture that's been thriving for centuries.
While hiking the Annapurna Circuit, you'll have the chance to visit one of Nepal's preserved outdoor spaces. Since 1986, the King Mahendra Trust for Nature Conservation has been watching over the Annapurna Conservation Area. Stretching out for nearly 5,000 square miles, the conservation area works towards sustainability for the people who live on the land and those who visit on Nepal holidays. When you spend time here, you'll experience diversity of culture and nature. The trust also maintains the Nepal Conservation Research and Training Center at Royal Chitwan National Park and Royal Bardia National Park, west of the Kathmandu Valley. They also manage Nepal's only zoo, located in Jawalakhel.
Whether you're planning on facing the challenge of mountain climbing, hiking the Annapurna Circuit, or something tamer, the Annapurna Conservation Area will provide a memorable setting for your vacation adventures. For most vacationers, Annapurna circuit trekking follows established routes through the mountains and lowland villages. The city of Pokhara serves as a starting point for most of the Annapurna circuit trekking excursions.
Pokhara is the third largest city in Nepal, after Kathmandu and Biratnagar. Before or after spending time on the Annapurna Circuit, you should explore the place nicknamed the jewel of the mid-west. With the mountains in the background and crisp fresh air, you can explore a city once a major trade route between India and Tibet. Even today, you'll find traders and their mules who set up camps on the edge of town, ready to share their wares and fresh produce. Excellent shopping is also available at the Old Bazaar.
Pokhara is a place where Buddhism and Hinduism co-exist in harmony, as evidenced by the many Hindu temples and the World Peace Pagoda, with four images of Buddha overlooking the mountains. You'll also find luxury hotels throughout town, as well as restaurants and other modern amenities such as the International Mountain Museum.
After you've experienced the charm of the city, you can experience what nature has to offer with Annapurna circuit trekking. Throughout the year, the region enjoys some of the best of Nepal weather, with pleasant conditions between October and December. Of course, everything is different on the peaks of the mountains, which soar past 26,000 square feet. Many of the tea houses and lodges along the routes are open all year.
In addition to hiking the Annapurna Circuit, the region offers a wide array of outdoor adventure, ranging from mild to exhilarating. Even if you're not ready to climb to the top of the the great peak of Annapurna, you still can spend time having fun. Some visitors explore by motorbike or mountain bike, while gilding on an ultralight plane provides another interesting vantage point for watching the mountain scenery. You also could go for a whirl on a boat tour of Phewa Lake, also a favorite place for swimming, or head to one of the rivers for some rafting.
No matter what you're planning to do when you arrive along the Annapurna Circuit, it's easy to make the trip from Kathmandu; bus service and flights are readily available. On clear days, views of the mountains will take your breath away.