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10 Reasons The Annapurna Circuit Needs To Be On Your International Hiking Bucket List

Explore everything the Himalayas have to offer.

By: Rachel Davidson + Save to a List

Searching the globe for your next outdoor adventure excursion? Don't overlook the Annapurna Circuit; considered to be one of the greatest treks worldwide for its stunning mountain landscape, dramatic weather and climate, and exposure to the rich Nepali culture. The communities of the Annapurna region are home to some of the warmest and most welcoming people, and they need support from international tourists now more than ever following last year's devastating earthquake.

Embarking on the 12-18 day Annapurna Circuit will strengthen you inside and out, give you an authentic mountain experience, and grant you the trip of a lifetime. Here are 10 reasons why you should add the Annapurna Circuit Trek to your next adventure travel itinerary.

1. See Nepali culture firsthand

The villages you'll be sleeping in and hiking through are some of the oldest and most untouched areas of the Nepal Himalaya. The families who live here, and the communities they've created, live a beautifully simplistic lifestyle that they are eager to share with visitors. You'll be living in homes, playing with children, and learning about the lifestyles and sustainable efforts from people who have lived in these mountains their entire lives. Is there anything more authentic than that?

Photo: Josiah Roe

2. Challenge yourself, both mentally and physically

You will hear from locals that your day's trail is "Nepali flat," but be warned. Nothing in Nepal is truly flat, especially on this trek, and those constant ascents, descents, and false summits are bound to hit your morale hard some days.

Your back may be screaming and your calf muscles may be burning, but nothing will feel as good as broaching a hill to see that your day's destination village is just up ahead. Still, you'll have days where the last thing you want to do is hike - and that's okay! Don't sweat the small stuff, because you'll be sweating enough already.

3. Experience mountain life with the comfort of a warm meal awaiting you

In few other places will you be able to experience the grandeur sights of 8,000 meter peaks raking the sky around you with solace that a cozy lodge awaits you at the end of the day. Villages on the Annapurna Circuit are spread between every hour and three hours, so rest assured you'll be satiated for your next snack, lunch, or evening break.

Photo: Josiah Roe

4. Make an impact by contributing to Nepal's economy post-earthquake

Tourism is the number one industry in Nepal, providing countless families along the Annapurna Circuit stable incomes to feed their households and educate their children. Unfortunately last year's devastating earthquake not only affected the houses and lives lost, but it greatly impacted the number of international visitors seen on treks like the Annapurna.

As of the time that this article was published, many lodges in larger villages were competing with each other over the low number of tourists, and forced to shut their doors for days or weeks at a time. The more foot traffic we see on the trail, the greater an impact it means for the families who rely on hungry and sleepy hikers.

5. Meet travelers from around the world with the same goals

Trekkers and travelers of all ages and skill levels (and yes, languages) join the Annapurna Circuit for a few common reasons: nature, culture, and for an exciting new challenge. Many people you'll meet on the trail are completely out of their comfort zones; others are right at home shouldering their backpacks. No matter what corner of the world they're from, you're bound to meet some of the most interesting, diverse people who are just as eager to share this experience with you.

6. It's the most affordable vacation you'll ever take

Independently trekking the Annapurna Circuit will run you between $10-20 a day, including lodging and all meals. Tack on extra if you're prone to breaking and replacing gear, hiring a guide, or splurging on delicacies like alcohol or mineral water. Otherwise, you can expect to get the best of both worlds: An unbeatable international trekking experience at a fraction of what you'd spend at home.

Photo: Josiah Roe

7. Eat like a king

Food on the Circuit seems to be served in gargantuan proportions - and you'll be thankful for that once your hiker hunger kicks in. Endless piles of potatoes, rice, vegetables, soup, and noodles are prepared for every meal of the day at your request. It's a trekker's dream, or their downfall, it is easier to gain weight on this 250 kilometer trail than you'd think!

8. Learn to cope with the effects of high altitude

If you've never been to high altitude before, the Annapurna Circuit is a great way to start. Folks spend up to 20 days completing the entire circuit, accounting for extra acclimatization and rest days leading up to the 17,769 ft. Thorong-La Pass, a challenging but manageable feat for most people. Test your body's limits, and learn how much rest, water, fuel, and stamina it will take you personally to succeed.

9. Trek for a cause

Dozens of organizations host "voluntourism" opportunities for travelers looking to do more with their trekking experience. Join a group whose proceeds support earthquake victims, extend your trek by building houses along the way, or installing solar panels and clean water systems in some of the smaller villages. There are endless ways to help along the trail, and at the very least, you know you're contributing to locals who rely on business from adventurers like yourself.

Photo: Josiah Roe

10. Unbeatable views

The scenery you see on the Annapurna Circuit will be unlike anything you've ever experienced before. Rolling valley hills, cliffside dining destinations, and picturesque mountain landscapes only begin to describe the beauty of the Nepali Himalaya. But like most things in life, you've got to see it for yourself. So grab a map, pack your camera, and make your way to Nepal for this prime trekking destination!

Cover photo: Josiah Roe

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