Hike to Kicho Tal (Ice Lakes)

6.2 miles 3600 ft gain  - Out-and-Back Trail

Added by Rachel Davidson

Take a detour on your way around the Annapurna Circuit Trek to reach one of Nepal’s highest frozen lakes, Kicho Tal (4620 m / 15,157 ft). 

The Annapurna Circuit Trek is one of the most famous high-altitude trekking routes in the world, and rightfully so. During this adventure you’ll pass through alpine apple orchards, colorful prayer flags and religious stupas, and of course – alongside a stunning backdrop of the Himalayas. Along your way, you’ll have ample opportunities to kick back and enjoy a rest/acclimatization day. But what better way to acclimatize than to embark on this all-day high-altitude hiking adventure?

You’ll start this hike in either Braga or Manang.

  • Braga has a wide, obvious path marked with a large sign pointing towards “Ice Lakes.” Even if you sleep in Manang, the simplest way to begin is to descend eastwards to Braga and start here.
  • From Manang, there is a faint zig-zagging trail that can shortcut you up and over to the main trail. Climb in a northeastern direction and aim for the small, white, unadorned stupa on top of the ridge.

Whichever route you choose, you are going to be gaining around 1,080 m / 3,600 ft. of elevation. At this altitude you are above the treeline so the path should be easy to follow and also to spot from a distance. Even in bad weather, as long as you descend south, you will run into the Circuit perpendicularly.

Once the trail breaches the top of this ridgeline, you’ll have unbeatable views of the Annapurna Range to your south. Kicho Tal lies to your north, just under the towering Chulu East / Far East peak. Continue along the trail to find the first of the two; Lower Ice Lake. Continue on up for another 10 minutes to reach the second; Upper Ice Lake. This second lake is marked by a large stupa decorated with prayer flags. Soak in the views, and as much air as you can, before turning around and heading back the way you came from.

You will want to spend an extra day at this portion of the trek regardless of whether you choose to hike up to Kicho Tal or not. By this time into the Annapurna Circuit, you are mentally and physically preparing for the safe crossing of Thorong-La Pass (5416 m / 17,769 ft), the highest point you will reach on the entire trek. Be wary of AMS and descend at first signs of symptoms.

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Overall rating: 

Ice Lakes

This hike is HARD. You’ll likely be just starting to get used to the elevation and spending time in Manang. This is difficult hike with a lot of uphill and you will end up at 4,600 meters. The views along the way and at the lakes are amazing and it is worth the push. It also helps you acclimate and makes the following days not as grueling along the circuit. Definitely recommend.


over 1 year ago

Well worth it if you are doing the Annapurna Circuit

Most people spend a few days to get used to the altitude in Manang on the Annapurna Circuit. If you do, and I highly recommend it, follow the signs and do the grueling and rewarding climb to Ice Lake. This sacred beauty is well worth the effort and gets you over 15000 feet which makes sleeping much easier when you come down!

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