The 12 Days Annapurna Circuit Trek, also known as Mini Annapurna Circuit, is a shorter version of the standard AC Trek that takes 20 days to complete. This 12-day trekking itinerary around the Annapurna Circuit is designed to favor the time-bound trekkers who are unable to manage an extended vacation and still want to experience the thrill of circling the Annapurna range on foot.
Despite a short itinerary, you won't miss much by taking the 12 Days Annapurna Circuit Trek, as we follow the usual route passing by Manang, Thorong La, and Muktinath to end the trek at Jomsom. We take a direct flight from Jomsom to Pokhara, skipping almost a week-long hike back to Pokhara.
Gaining popularity after Manang opened its doors to trekkers in the 1980s, the Annapurna Circuit Trek has become one of Nepal's most traversed trekking routes. The mountain vistas you'll see while hiking around the Annapurna range look like something out of a dream. That is also the reason why the Annapurna Circuit Trek is a dream of trekking enthusiasts all over the globe.
In addition to the fascinating natural beauty, the Annapurna region is equally blessed with gorgeous vegetation serving as a home to unique flora and fauna. Furthermore, the friendly encounter with local villagers from different ethnic backgrounds living in harmony will fill your heart with joy. You can learn about the rich Hindu and Buddhist culture preserved by these communities for generations.
Let's go ahead and take a look at the special features of the 12 Days Annapurna Circuit Trek. Read along to go through the virtual journey of the Annapurna Circuit before even reaching Nepal.
Best Features of the 12 Days Annapurna Circuit Trek
- Scenic drive from Kathmandu to Dharapani
- Trekking through the Marshyangdi river valley
- Visiting Manang village and looking over the charismatic Gangapurna Glacier and Lake
- Crossing the rugged Thorong La Pass at 5416 meters
- Seeking blessings from the holy Muktinath temple
- Observing village life of different ethnic groups
- Hiking through the alluring forests of Rhododendron and Oak
- Exploring beautiful lakes, viewpoints, and relaxing lakeside cafés in Pokhara
Mesmerizing vistas of the Annapurna range and surrounding mountains
It is given that you'll witness the mountains of the Annapurna range during the 12 Days Annapurna Circuit trek. This 55-kilometer-long massif houses several peaks like Annapurna (8091 m), Machhapuchchhre (6993 m), Gangapurna (7455 m), Nilgiri Himal (7061 m), Tilicho Peak (7135 m) and others. In addition to these mountain peaks, you'll also get to enjoy the view of Dhaulagiri (8167m), Mt. Manaslu (8163 m), Mt. Lamjung Himal (6986m), and more. You're, in fact, surrounded by snow-capped mountains in all directions.
Enchanting Himalayan landscape with diverse vegetation
The 12 days Annapurna Circuit Trek begins in a lush subtropical region where you can hear the river rushing down somewhere. Enjoying the nice and warm weather, you hike past countless terraced paddies and farms. After that, you ascend the Marsyangdi River valley while traveling through cooler deciduous woodlands.
You can now clearly see the Annapurna ranges, including Annapurna I (8,091 m), the highest peak in the area and the tenth-highest in the world. Then you climb above the tree line to see desolate ravines and barren hills encircled by snow-capped summits. Overall, you'll traverse through the uniquely diverse vegetation of the Annapurna region.
Hospitable locals of culturally rich villages
Along with a stunning perspective of the tallest mountain peaks, the trek offers an intriguing peek at the region's customs, traditions, and rituals. You will experience the authentic culture practiced by Gurungs, Brahmins, Manangis, Thakalis, and Magars while on the 12 days Annapurna Circuit Trek. This excursion will allow you to learn about the region's customs, values, and age-old traditions from the friendly locals. Numerous stupas, gumbas, and chortens are examples of the area's cultural diversity.
Rest day at beautiful Manang village
Manang itself is renowned for its magnificent splendor. Trekkers tend to spend a few days in this lovely village tucked away by the Marsyangdi River, hearing the soulful sound of the river as it flows. Manang offers various activities for your acclimatization day here, from exhilarating mountain biking to quick hikes to adjacent charming villages. You can as well visit the significant locations of Braga Bhojo Gompa and Milarepa's Cave on your leisure day in Manang.
Thorong La Pass (highest point in Annapurna Circuit Trek)
The trek's highest point, Thorong La Pass, is tucked between Khatung Kang and Yakwa peaks at an elevation of 5416 meters. It is acknowledged as the region's most challenging hike, as you have to walk along a rugged, steep trail to get to the top of the pass. Once you reach the top, the compelling view of the surrounding mountains will make you feel as though your perseverance and effort were fairly rewarded. The accomplishment you feel after seeing the breathtaking view from the pass cannot be described in words. You should see it for yourself.
Holy Muktinath Temple in all its glory
Muktinath Temple is one of the most revered Hindu pilgrimage destinations, located at the base of Thorong La Pass. This highest temple in the world (3,800 m) is regarded as Mukti Kshetra (place of liberation). According to mythology, going to the Muktinath Temple will cleanse you of all your sins and grant you good fortune. Thousands of pilgrims visit the temple from various parts of India and Nepal to take a bath in the pond and the taps present at the site. The 12 days Annapurna Circuit Trek is a great chance for you to pay a visit and seek blessings yourself.
Exciting flight from Jomsom to Pokhara
Since Jomsom is the last hiking location as per our 12 days Annapurna Circuit Trek, we take a direct flight from Jomsom to Pokhara. The flight is an adventure in itself. You get to fly above the great Himalayas and land in a beautiful city of lakes, Pokhara. The aerial view of the places you fly by is delightful to watch from a window seat of your mountain flight.
A Brief Summary of 12 Days Annapurna Circuit Trek
The 12 Days Annapurna Circuit Trek starts with a drive to Dharapani, after which you begin your trek following the Marshyangdi River valley. The hike continues to Manang village, stopping for the nights in Chame and Pisang. You have a rest day in Manang to get used to the high altitude before continuing your walk to the Thorong La pass. After spending 2 nights at Yak Kharka and Thorung Phedi, you reach Thorong La Pass, the highest point of the 12 Days Annapurna Circuit Trek.
Thorong La pass has become a significant tourist attraction as it is the highest trekking pass in Nepal. You trek ahead to reach Muktinath, where you visit the holy Muktinath temple, also known as "the God of Salvation" in Hinduism. You then trek to Jomsom via Kagbeni and take a morning flight from Jomsom to Pokhara the next day. You can relax at Lakeside, Pokhara, for the rest of the day. Your trip ends with a 6-8 hours bus ride from Pokhara to Kathmandu the following day.
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