Nepal is home of The Great Himalayan Trails throughout the world. The routes spreading from the west to the east are the most diverse trekking route compared to any across the world. Two of the most popular treks in Nepal are the Everest Base Camp Trek and Annapurna Circuit Trek.
People are often confused as to which of these treks is better. In other words, if you had to choose one of the Annapurna Circuit or Everest Base Camp trek, which one would you go for?
One thing is for sure that you will get to witness breathtaking scenario and stunning mountain ranges in both of these treks. Both of these trekking destinations have been developing since the 1960s. They have become two of the most fascinating trekking destinations throughout the world.
Thanks to the unparalleled beauty of the Annapurna and Everest region, Nepal is the Number 1 destination for outdoor adventurers. Trekkers have several options from which they could choose from depending on the activities and time they have. Both of these regions are easily accessible.
So, I am here to guide you about what things you need to consider before deciding which of these treks is the most suitable one for you. After you are done reading this article, you will have a clearer view of which of these treks is perfect for you.
Getting There – Annapurna Circuit vs Everest Base Camp Trek
To get to the Annapurna region is quite easy. The gateway to the Annapurna region is the Pokhara region. Pokhara beautiful lake city. You can reach Pokhara by bus or via a short flight from Kathmandu.
Annapurna Circuit Trek starts in Syange or Besisahar. You can take a flight or drive to Pokhara and then head out to the starting point of the trek. Or you can directly take a bus/ private land transport to Besisahar or Syange.
On the other hand, the entrance to Everest Base Camp is Lukla. During the first attempt by Hillary and Tenzing in the ‘50s, they completed their whole Everest journey by foot. But today, you can take the short flight from Kathmandu to Lukla. Either you can enjoy a walk from Jiri to Lukla. The views on the way are worth the journey.
You can also start the Everest Base Camp trek from the classic Jiri route. You can take a bus to Jiri and then start your trek from there. That will save you the expenses of your flight. It is also a great way of acclimatizing to the altitude of the Everest region.
Trekking Terrain – Annapurna Circuit vs Everest Base Camp Trek
Annapurna Circuit Trek is one of the most popular and best treks in the Annapurna region. This spectacular trek passes through various terrain from lowland villages to glaciers offers outstanding views of high mountains.
Throughout the trail, there are all good paths. You can easily trek for 4 to 6 hours each day by taking rest and acclimatizing. This will ensure that you will be fit and healthy at a high altitude.
Along the trail, there are fewer steep climbs and the descents are gentler, which can help the knees in the long run.
The highest elevation of this route is Annapurna Circuit Trek is at 5416 meters at Thorong La pass. At this highest point, snow-capped mountains will surround you.
Everest Base Camp trek is famous worldwide for its breathtaking views of the master peaks and legendary trail. On this trek, you’ll hike through deep river gorges and forests, ascend high ridges.
The highest point along the Everest Base Camp trek is 5545 meters at Kala Patthar. Due to the high altitude of the Everest Base Camp trek, you will spend a couple of days acclimatizing in Namche Bazaar and Dingboche.
Difficulty Level – Annapurna Circuit vs Everest Base Camp Trek
Altitude sickness can be a major deal breaker for any treks. It also makes the travel more challenging as you might have to abandon the trip if you suffer from altitude sickness while trekking.
Everest Base Camp trek is more harsh and difficult in terms of the altitude sickness. You should take Acute Mountain sickness seriously while trekking in the Everest Region. You will reach 3,420 m above sea level on the 2 days on your way to the Everest Base Camp.
In contrast, you reach this altitude on day 6 on the Annapurna Circuit trek. Annapurna region provides you an option for a short-cut which does not exceed 200m altitude.
The Annapurna region offers a wide variety of trekking routes. You can choose a short, easy trek that doesn’t exceed 2000 m altitude. Narrow ridges and thick snow might cause difficulties while crossing the Thorong La pass during the trek. Getting to Thorong La pass is quite tricky and travelers might find it a hassle.
But, for both these treks, you need to be physically fit. So, you should be well prepared for what’s ahead and should engage in the basic training like jogging, running, or any other cardio exercise. This’ll help you to build stamina while trekking and you can trek easily in the short period of time.
As both of these treks last around 2 weeks in length, we advise you to have some form of physical preparation for a couple of months before embarking upon the trek.
Price/Cost – Annapurna Circuit vs Everest Base Camp Trek
Comparatively Everest Base Camp is more expensive than Annapurna. This is due to the fact that the elevation of the Everest Base Camp trek is high and the region is luxurious. Annapurna area is more affordable and cheaper from the get-go of the trek.
The transportation cost to the Annapurna Circuit trek is also very low as it is quite easy to access. However, you will need to be well-prepared and carry all the money you will need for the journey.
Tea houses are cheap at the start of the trek. Dal Bhat is likely to cost you around 200 rupees but this can grow to around 800 when you get above 3,500m. The flight tickets are also extra expenses. Taking a bus ride is comparatively cheaper than booking flight tickets. For a budget traveler, Annapurna Base Camp might be a great option.
Best Time to Go – Annapurna Circuit vs Everest Base Camp Trek
November to February are the months when the skies are the clearest but there is a risk of blocked passes due to snow. The valley starts to bloom with flowers during the pre-monsoon season.
October to December is the best time to go trekking to any place in Nepal. So you can enjoy the Everest Base Camp trek the best in the autumn season. The weather conditions are favorable, neither too hot nor too cold around this time.
You may like to read: Best time for Everest Base Camp Trek
The best time to trek Annapurna Circuit is also the season of autumn when all the dust and pollution settles and you could truly enjoy the spectacular scenery. The views of the Himalayas are also delightful.
Spring can also be an option for travelers when most of the flowers bloom. Spring is the second most popular time for trekking in Nepal.
You can trek to Everest Base Camp and Annapurna Circuit in the winter and the summer season as well. However, the temperature can get freezing cold in the winter season with chances of snowfall.
There are chances of frequent interruptions of your trek in the summer season due to rainfall. So, you need to pack extremely well in the summer and winter season for your trek.
The Scenery – Annapurna vs Everest Base Camp Trek
Gurung and Thakali are the prominent groups in the Annapurna Circuit region. While completing the Annapurna Circuit, you will pass through different permanently settled villages with lowland farming communities.
During the initial part of your trek, you’ll encounter lowland farming communities of the Brahmin and Chhetri people. You will also have the fantastic opportunity of interacting with the Gurung people, especially in the Ghandruk village. Ghandruk is the largest Gurung village in the Annapurna region. Villages are also inhabited by Magars, especially at the lower altitudes.
You will get to see the magnificent Annapurna massif during the Annapurna Circuit Trek. Other peaks that you can catch fantastic glimpses will be Dhaulagiri range, Manaslu, and other massive mountains of this region.
The Everest Base Camp lies in the northeast part of Nepal. Fantastic glaciers and mountains add to the grandeur of the Everest region. You will come across a significant amount of Sherpa people during their trek.
This popular trek takes you to the popular village of Namche, which is often called the “gateway to the Khumbu”. From here, you’ll walk through different ancient monasteries. You will also interact with well-known Sherpa people who inhabit this region. They practice the religion of Tibetan Buddhism. Their culture is worth noting.
On the EBC trail, you will see some stunning Buddhist monasteries as well as countless prayer flags. You’ll also visit Sagarmatha National Park, home to some rare flora and fauna.
You will get close up views of the tallest mountain in the world i.e. Mt. Everest from various places along the trek. Kala Patthar is the best place to view the beauty of Mt. Everest. You will also get to see other mountains like Cho Oyu, Nuptse, Changtse, Ama Dablam, Lhotse etc in the Everest Base Camp trek.
Accommodation – Annapurna Circuit vs Everest Base Camp Trek
The biggest difference when it comes to accommodation considering both of the trails is the bathrooms. Since Annapurna Circuit is quite remote, the accommodation facility is basic compared to the likes of Everest Base Camp.
You might find shared indoor bathrooms in the tea house on the Everest route at the lower elevation and a shared bathroom in the interior bathroom is common. Western toilets have become quite common in the Annapurna Trail as well as the Everest route.
Many people call the Everest Base Camp a teahouse trek. This means that there are plenty of teahouses to choose from for accommodation for trekkers and travelers. As you ascend to higher altitudes, accommodation starts to become more basic compared to the last one.
Warm sleeping bags are a must since there are no heater facility in a room and the rare chance of hot showers in any of the lodges. Since the rooms are not heated, you will need a quality sleeping bag to keep you warm at night.
Food and Drinks – Annapurna Circuit vs Everest Base Camp Trek
The food and hospitality are of top quality at Annapurna Circuit. You will get to experience the warmth and delight of fire at the end of each trek. You will also have a traditional Nepalese meal “Dal Bhaat”. This food is filling and prepares your body for the next day. The food and drinks are pretty equal in terms of quality in both regions.
Garlic soups can act as a remedy for altitude sickness but drinking adequate amount of water is always safe as it prevents you from altitude sickness during the trek. You can have porridge, Tibetan bread, oatmeal, and boiled eggs during both of these treks. But you can also enjoy noodle soup, steaks, momo, pizza, and the sandwich from the menu.
You will generally eat dinner in the teahouses where you’ll stay overnight at the Everest Base Camp. Tea houses at the Annapurna trail serve varieties of food at a lower and affordable price compared to Everest Base Camp. Almost all the teahouse serves the same food. The food served is delectable.
Choosing a trek just because it seems easy is not even an option. Hiking to any place needs a healthy amount of preparation and execution.
Before you decide whether you want to go for the Annapurna Circuit Trek or Everest Base Camp, weigh in all the factors above. These hiking trails offer more than just opportunities to explore the high mountains and roaring rivers. You could find yourself searching for your wanderlust deep in the forest.
Anyway, both of the trips could be life-changing and would be forever embodied in your mind. It will also help you discover your passion for traveling as you cherish the experience throughout your life.