Annapurna Circuit Trek has become all the rage among trek enthusiasts. The beautiful scenery it provides along the way to the final destination is just blindingly mesmerizing. Everything contributes to Annapurna Circuit trek being one of the most popular treks today.
Annapurna circuit trek is considered as a challenging trek by all trekkers around the world.
Embarking on this challenging trek without a guide is truly a daring task. However, it is not impossible. All you need to successfully complete the Annapurna Circuit Trek without a guide is proper information and preparation. You should learn about the trail first and then carefully plan your itinerary.
Going without a guide is quite a challenge but you will find your way with proper research and preparation. Apart from that, there are many villages and communities on different routes. They will surely help you out in case you get lost. With your trusty Annapurna Circuit Trek Map, you can even venture new routes and new adventures.
Table of Contents
Best Time For Trekking Without A Guide
Annapurna circuit trek without a guide is a challenging task as it is. The last thing you need is the weather not supporting you. The best time for Annapurna Circuit Trek without a guide is autumn and spring. The months from September to November are the most temperate time and the best time for going on the Annapurna circuit trek without a guide. The roads are dry and the weather is clear with a clear view of the trails and the mountains. This not only helps you stay on track and safe but also allows you to have the best views on the way.
If you are trekking without a guide on the Annapurna Circuit trek, we advise you to make sure you check the weather properly. The monsoon season faces heavy rainfall causing the roads to be very slippery and the view to be blurred with rain clouds. There are chances of you getting unwanted troubles during this time without a guide. So stay clear of the monsoon season if you are a beginner.
Duration Of The Solo Trek
Annapurna Circuit trek takes around 16 days following our itinerary. But traveling without a guide, Annapurna circuit trek may take from 9-28 days. So carefully plan out the itinerary for your trek and try to follow it to a dot.
You should not try (at any cost) to reduce the duration of the trek by skipping rest days or acclimatization days. They are very important to you. You should take proper rest and acclimatization days at stops like Manang. Without proper acclimatization, there are chances of you getting altitude sickness. This requires a lot of research and planning on your side without a guide.
Anyway, try to plan out a proper itinerary and trek for 4-5 hours a day to reach your destination without draining yourself out. Also, remember to take proper acclimatization and rest days in between.
Different Routes To Choose From
Trekkers rarely ever venture the Annapurna Circuit Trek clockwise. This route has sudden extreme elevations resulting in altitude sickness. So people rarely use this route. Traveling without your guide, you should know about this as well.
This is the route suggested by most guides and expert trekkers. This way there is slow elevation throughout the way. With proper acclimatization routes, you can get through the rough terrain here.
Without a guide, you should carefully plan the routes to take beforehand. Deciding the route to take on the spot is very time consuming and risky. Proper research should be done regarding the safety conditions of the road and prepare a proper itinerary. With a guide, you would have all this sorted out by him/ her beforehand.
You should be careful as to choose the safest route to Annapurna Circuit Trek. The time you take to complete the Annapurna Circuit Trek without a guide depends completely on you and your choices. You can either have a 14-day trek without including the Tilicho lake hike or Poonhill. It is also possible to have the 15 days trek including Tilicho lake and the 18 days with Poonhill. However, the time you take may be longer than that of traveling with a guide.
The major routes to Annapurna circuit trek without a guide are listed below:
Bhulbhule to Naya pul
This is the complete route which covers a total of 260 km. This is the most challenging route of all as it involves no modern transportation means.
Jagat to Jomsom
This is the standard route for Annapurna Circuit trek which is 136 km long. This includes Muktinath and Thorong La pass but isn’t that long.
Jagat to Naya pul through Jomsom and Tatopani
This is the combined route provided by most companies. This includes a total of 174 km trekking with a bus ride from Jomsom to Tatopani included. This route provides you with the complete experience of all the wonders of the Annapurna circuit trek.
Required Documents And Permits For Solo Trek
Traveling without a guide, you will be responsible for everything. This includes the preparation of your required documents. You will have your passport and visa with you at all times. However, you will need some other important documents in order to venture for this exciting journey ahead.
National Park Permit
You will need a national park permit to enter the Annapurna circuit trek. The trails are all protected under the Annapurna Conservation Area. You will need the Annapurna Conservation Area Permit with you at all times to prove that you are not a hazard to anyone or anything in the area.
Usually, the guide prepares these documents but you will have to prepare it yourself without a guide. For the Annapurna Conservation Area Permit, you will have to go to the Tourism Board Office in Kathmandu or the Tourist Information Center in Pokhara. The Annapurna conservation area permit will cost you about NRS 3000 approximately $30.
Another important requirement is the Trekkers’ Information Management Systems card. You will need the TIMS permit to venture into the Annapurna Circuit Trek without a guide or with a guide. The guide would usually manage this card for you along with the conservation area permit.
The TIMS card would cost you around NRS 2000 which is approximately $20. You can get this from the Tourism Board Office in Kathmandu or the Tourism Information Center in Pokhara.
Without a doubt, you will have to carry your passport safely with you along the way.
Preparation Required For Trekking Without A Guide
Traveling without a guide through the twists and turns of the rocky and rough terrain is no joke. Relying on yourself and embarking on such an adventurous journey requires a lot of mental preparation. You should be able to handle difficult situations on your own. Learning how to handle yourself and the situation rationally without panicking requires mental stability and preparation. So, if you are traveling without a guide be prepared mentally before leaving for the journey.
Apart from being mentally prepared to handle any situation on the way, you should also be physically fit to go through tough situations. You should be able to walk more than 4-5 hours a day on average. Also, you should be physically fit to carry your own luggage if you are traveling without a porter.
Walking 4-5 hours a day doesn’t just come naturally one day. You have to prepare yourself accordingly and increase your stamina by working out almost 6 months prior to the trek. Cardio training like jumping, swimming, skipping, etc. help you increase your stamina and prepare you for the journey ahead.
Since you are going without a guide to Annapurna Circuit Trek, you will be responsible for carrying all the trekking gear and equipment with you. You will have to take care of your equipment by yourself.
Packing Essentials For Solo Travel
Traveling without a guide requires you to carry your own luggage so carry light. Depending on the weather, you will need different clothing, but since Annapurna Circuit Trek without a guide is not recommended in winter and monsoon, here are clothes you will need during your trek in autumn and spring:
- Quick-dry Tee
- Trekking Pants
- Rainproof Windbreaker
- Down Jacket
- Trekking Shoes
- Additional pairs of socks
- Basic First Aid (Band-aids, Alcohol Swipes, Charcoal pills)
- Altitude sickness medicines
- Dettol Wipes
- Baby Powder
- Trekking poles
- GoPro and Camera
- Universal Adapters
- Extra Memory Card
- Power Banks and extra battery
- Water Bottle
- Toilet Roll
Food And Accommodations Arrangement
Enduring the Annapurna Circuit trek is easier with a guide or a company taking care of each and every problem that may arise in your way. The guide is usually responsible for managing your accommodation and food. Traveling without a guide is a hassle as you will have to manage all these on your own.
Annapurna circuit trek without a guide is actually very challenging for food and accommodation management. Luckily for you, there are a number of teahouses and lodges on the trail. During the peak season of autumn, many tea houses and lodges are open for business. You will, however, have to rush your way through to find rooms.
The rooms will be nice and warm. Room sharing is a major thing about these rooms in the teahouses and lodges but you can get a single room by paying a little more. Private rooms are expensive but better for when you are traveling alone.
You will have to find the rooms for yourself and the lodges provide you breakfast and meals so you won’t have to worry about that.
Difficulties During the Annapurna Circuit Trek Without A Guide
Knowledge About Acclimatization
The number one problem with traveling without a guide is the lack of knowledge about the acclimatization point. This is one of the major causes of altitude sickness. Acclimatization is very important during any high altitude trek. Especially, the Annapurna circuit trek requires proper acclimatization. Annapurna circuit trek without a guide means not knowing when to stop and rest for acclimatization.
Food and Accommodation Preparation
One of the major difficulties you will face for traveling Annapurna Circuit trek without a guide is the management of food and accommodation. In normal cases, a guide would help you pre-book your accommodation and food services. However, if you are traveling alone without a guide you will have to manage your accommodations and food on your own. With this said, you may even have to compromise a little.
Knowing The Routes
Having a map with you is handy at all times. But especially when you are traveling without a guide, a map is a must. Even with a map walking through the twists and turns is a very challenging task. The guides that help you find your way are actually experienced personnel with years on end of exposure to the trails. So it may be hard for you to find the best road. But you can always ask around to other people around the place. The people in the tea houses are very hospitable and nice. They will help you out with most things.
Carrying Your Own Luggage
Going with a package deal or guide usually means you get a porter to carry your luggage. Finding the right way and arranging the food and accommodation is a challenging task but you also have to carry your luggage. So it is advisable that you carry light. Sometimes you may get easily worn out carrying your luggage more than walking. This requires proper mental and physical preparation.
Okay, so everything aside, the main question while traveling solo is “What do I do in case of any emergency?” Without proper guidance, if you enter dangerous roads and the weather does not favor you as well, there are chances of mishaps happening. So I recommend you to take better preventive measures.
It is not recommended to travel solo to Annapurna circuit trek because of the difficulties you may face. Always travel in a group if you are not traveling with a guide in the challenging parts like the Thorong La pass. Take proper care of the altitude sickness you may face and the weather conditions.
As you would not have access to communication devices on the higher elevations of the trek, it might be a problem in emergency cases. If you are about to do Annapurna Circuit Trek without a guide, you might be helpless in case of any natural hazards or health hazards. Therefore, you should prepare yourself mentally beforehand, to risk it all and dare to do Annapurna Circuit Trek without a guide.
Cost Comparison Between Traveling With A Guide And Without One
Comparing the cost of Annapurna Circuit Trek without a guide to that of the trek with a guide it comparatively cheaper. However, the trip is not as comfortable. You cannot guarantee you find a proper room to sleep in or the food is served on time.
With around $1000, you will be provided with a proper guide who will take care of all your accommodations and food arrangements. The guide will make sure you have the best time on your trip without having to worry about where to sleep or what to eat. You will be able to fully enjoy the trip. You won’t have to rush to the lodges or teahouses for food or rooms as the guide will have it arranged beforehand.
Without a guide, your trek will be lengthened for sure. You will have to find your accommodation and food charges along with the cost of all the trekking gears and the permits.
With all the permit fees, accommodation, food, and drinking water fees combined, Annapurna circuit trek without the guide will cost you more than $600.
Food: USD 540
Drinking-Water: USD 5
Without a guide, you will be spending around $600 for food, accommodation and drinking water. The costs of the permits required along with other trekking gears are yet to be added. It may be comparatively cheaper but it would be easier and convenient for you with a tourist guide instead.
Traveling with a trusty guide
Traveling with a trusty guide isn’t just extra cost but a cost you want to pay for your safety and well being. Annapurna Circuit Trek without a guide is an adrenaline rush but is it safe? As daring as it sounds it is that difficult and risky. This doesn’t mean you cannot travel without a guide but you need to travel with a group in dangerous places and be properly prepared.
Traveling with a guide is comparatively expensive but it is a safer option. Taking the Annapurna Circuit Trek with a guide provides you the following advantages:
- Safer routes and knowledge of routes with a better view of the mountains and biodiversity.
- Proper knowledge and guidance about the acclimatization points.
- With a guide, you will have someone to help you in case of emergencies like altitude sickness or other emergencies. s/he will know what to do in emergency cases.
- Proper and detailed itinerary
- Arrangement of food and accommodation for you as per your convenience
Detailed Itinerary when traveling with a guide
Day 1: Pick Up from The Airport and Drop to The Hotel
Day 2: Preparation Day and Kathmandu Tour
Day 3: Drive to Besisahar and trek to Bulbule
Day 4: 5-6 hours Trek from Bulbule to Chyamje
Day 5: Trek from Chyamje to Bagarchhap
Day 6: Walk Through The Rocky Roads from Bagarchhap to Chame (2630m).
Day 7: 5-6 hours Trek from Chame to Pisang (3300m).
Day 8: 6-8 hours Trek from Pisang to Manang (Visit to The 900-year-old Monastery) (3500m).
Day 9: Acclimatization/Rest Day in Manang.
Day 10: Manang to Ledar(4250m) following the Trail to Thorong La Pass
Day 11: Crossing The River from Ledar to Pedi or High Camp (4,600m).
Day 12: 7-8 hours Hike from Phedi to Mukti Nath through Thorong La Pass (5416 Meters).
Day 13: 4-5 hours Descend from Mukti Nath to Jomsom (2750m) Via Kagbeni.
Day 14: Drive from Jomsom to Natural Hot Springs of Tatopani(1190 Meters)
Day 15: 7-8 hours Downhill Trek to Ghorepani (2850m).
Day 16: Sunrise View at Poon Hill and Trek Down to Ghorepani and Nayapul then Drive Back to Pokhara.
To sum it up, you can embark on the Annapurna Circuit Trek without a guide. The only difficulty is that you will have to be responsible for all the arrangements yourself. The difficult trails of Thorong La Pass are considered dangerous for solo trekking, so we recommend you free yourself of all your worries and trust us with managing your travel. So rest easy and travel safely with our Annapurna Circuit Trek package and conveniently enjoy the view and the beauty.
Please contact us for more travel-related information and queries.