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Everest may be the world’s most famous trekking destination, but more trekkers pit might and muscle against the rugged trails that climb through the Annapurna Conservation Area. The famous Annapurna Circuit trek — a two-week odyssey that strains over the 5,416 meter (17,769 ft) Thorung La — soars into the mountains north of Pokhara, offering breathtaking views of the Annapurna massif, which peaks at 8,091 meters (26,545). Preserved as a de facto national park since 1986, the Annapurna Conservation Area was Nepal’s first official nature reserve, and the high valleys of the Himalaya are home to snow leopards, musk deer and other endangered ...

Everest may be the world’s most famous trekking destination, but more trekkers pit might and muscle against the rugged trails that climb through the Annapurna Conservation Area. The famous Annapurna Circuit trek — a two-week odyssey that strains over the 5,416 meter (17,769 ft) Thorung La — soars into the mountains north of Pokhara, offering breathtaking views of the Annapurna massif, which peaks at 8,091 meters (26,545). Preserved as a de facto national park since 1986, the Annapurna Conservation Area was Nepal’s first official nature reserve, and the high valleys of the Himalaya are home to snow leopards, musk deer and other endangered wildlife. A maze-like network of trails climbs from Pokhara through lush green valleys to glacier-scarred deserts, ringed by some of the tallest mountains on earth. Most people arrange treks in Kathmandu, but Pokhara has dozens of agencies, and many trekkers go it alone, staying in simple tea-houses along the main trekking routes. From Jomsom — site of the highest airstrip in the conservation area, and the end of the dirt road from Pokhara — you can continue to remote Mustang, an ancient Buddhist kingdom that has only changed superficially since the time of Guru Rinpoche.

Joe Bindloss
About the Expert

Joe Bindloss has written more than 30 guidebooks for Lonely Planet, Time Out and other publishers, with a focus on Southeast Asia, the Indian Subcontinent and island nations.

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Joe Bindloss for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    February to May and October to November. Avoid the monsoon months from June to September, when the views vanish behind the rainclouds.