Now this is hard. With so much variety, coming up with a top ten things to see along the Annapurna Circuit is not only difficult but possibly meaningless too. Think about it, it will take at least 18 days to complete the entire circuit. Can you imagine the variety that you will be witnessing? It is mouthwatering, eye watering, basically all-your-senses-watering. Think about the changes in the landscapes and vegetation. From dense forests in the hills, the snowy Himalayas with absolutely no vegetation and then the trans-Himalayan region of Mustang, you will see how the terrain changes before your very eyes! The variety of people that you will meet along the way, their culture, food, lifestyle and their varied languages!! The views of the fabulous mountains that give you constant company. Woaahhh! No wonder Annapurna Circuit trek is deemed as the best trek in the world by many trekkers. As they say, Change is the only constant, and it is the very thing that will keep you entertained throughout the Annapurna Circuit. Anyways, to give you guys a brief overview of the best of Annapurna Circuit we have listed down the top 10 best of Annapurna circuit down below.
1. Homestay Route
This is perhaps the unsung hero of the Annapurna Circuit. The homestay route provides a pleasant experience as you walk past one homestay village after another. After all, we being the social animals we are, what makes the best experience is the people. And the homestay villages have the best people. They will provide you with an experience that you will cherish for the rest of your life. Not only the people and the villages but the trail itself that needs some climbing will better train you for the walk ahead. At the very start of the trek, you will be able to see the mountains sooner. For those who are the ‘Desperado’ and your Salma Hayek is the mountain, the homestay route will be your blessing. Basically, you will start your trek from Besisahar and walk/drive to Khudi, then after the beautiful village of Siurung, you will descent down to Mipra and ultimately to Syange where the homestay route finally meets the usual trekking trail. However, if you are planning this route, we would strongly recommend you call the head of homestay at Siurung in advance.
Bhraka is a quiet and a mystical little village. It is like the wild west with no wild. It is serene and beautiful and a possible alternative to Manang for a rest day before the Thorung pass. This lesser crowded neighbor of Manang is magical with a very old settlement and the stunning Bhraka gompa. Although some may argue that Kagbeni is perhaps a more beautiful village. It is true, Kagbeni is beautiful but the sidetrips you can do from Bhraka is simply priceless. All in all, Bhraka could very well be that unexpected right hook that could knock you out.
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3. Tilicho Lake
Tilicho lake is hands down the most exciting side trip you can do during the Annapurna Circuit. Anyways, Tilicho is just stunning. Even if Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt (take your pick) pose in their birthday suits in front of the Tilicho lake, your eyes would still be fixed on the lake! So stunning is the lake! During winter, the lake freezes and in the other seasons the lake is that impeccable blue and shouts with all the confidence in this world, “I am pretty!” When you reach Manang, check the side trips section there because it is from Manang that you do this side trip. And let nobody fool you saying that Tilicho lake is the highest altitude lake in the entire world because that is not true, but hey! It is a beautiful lake nonetheless and at an altitude of 4919 m, it is still pretty high. The view of the grand barrier from Tilicho lake is another sight to drool over. Out of all the things we could have chosen for the best of Annapurna circuit, this one was a no-brainer. We have got brains, we just didn’t use it. Get it?
4. Thorung-La pass
Notice how we mentioned Thorung-La pass? Well, that’s a wrong way to mention it because La in Tibetan means pass. So when you say Thorung-La pass, the ‘pass’ is redundant there. Anyways, so much for grammar corrections. Thorung-La is the ultimate prize of the Annapurna Circuit trek which every trekker has his/her eyes set on. It is the gateway to Mustang valley from Manang. Again, it is heavily advertised as the highest pass in the world which is false. But again, 5416m is higher than Bob Marley ever got and will earn you some serious bragging rights. Grab a beer or two once you get to Muktinath. With Thorung-La you will literally be touching the mountains. Make sure your camera batteries are full for once you get to the pass you will want to take that perfect thumbs up photo.
5. Snow Leopard
The Snow Leopard is the one thing on this list that you will most probably not see. But if you do, Oh boy! These are magical creatures with so much swag and charisma that you can consider yourself touched by the gods themselves if you ever see them. Just don’t let it roll you over and feast on you. There have been numerous news in the past that have reported sightings of snow leopard in Manang and in Mustang as well. Some sightings were reportedly very close to human settlements. Think about all the bragging rights you are going to have if you are lucky enough to see one.
We aren’t talking about the Muktinath temple but the whole Muktinath region. The Muktinath temple or the Vishnu temple is relatively new than the other more interesting gompas that you can see in this area. Muktinath was only built later to stamp the Hindu authority in this part of Nepal. What’s more interesting than the main Muktinath temple itself is Dholamebar gompa with its eternal flame. Now we know it is just natural gas as you will instantly be able to tell as you enter the gompa. In fact, this is where the true history of Muktinath region lies since it is much older than the main Vishnu temple. And then there is also tMarmelakhang gompa that is being renovated now. In Janai Purnima every year there is a big fair that takes place here. All in all, Muktinath is a pretty interesting place and the most famous temple in the entire circuit.
Check out the Jomsom Trek via Lubra.
Yartung is perhaps the most famous festival in the Mustang and Manang region and many trekkers try and coincide their trek so that they can witness this festival. It is basically 4 days of debauchery and daredevilry. The main attractions of this festival are archery contest, horse riding and not to forget, lots of drinking! It will definitely be a fun festival to witness. And if you want to impress the ladies ride one yourself and yeeehaw!
8. Guru Sangpo cave
Guru Sangpo cave is a cave that will ask all the right questions. It will ask you questions about life and if you look around carefully the answer will also be presented to you right before your eyes. Don’t you see it? That’s probably because your torchlight is turned off. Turn it on and you will see weird forms inside the cave that will mean so much more than just weird forms. The main cave is supposed to be a manifestation of Yab-Yum, or in other words, the merging of male and female. The cave somehow is a metaphor for the masculine and feminine forces in the world, the rocky walls of the cave are the male force while the water that flowed is the female force. And the weird lifeforms that grow there was the result of the meeting of this masculine and feminine force. Metaphorically speaking, the cave is an entire world inside a world. We are not kidding, it is truly a psychedelic cave Jimi Hendrix would love to visit. The cave is a side trip from the village of Larjung or Kobang.
Will Hunting: How do like them apples?
HoneyGuide: Apple cider, please!
Marpha is a neat little village which has got a charm of its own and not to forget, apples! This picturesque Thakali settlement is so pleasing that you will probably want to spend more than just one night here. The stoned pavements and white washed houses play a vital role in defining the character of this charming village. This village is so relaxing! You need to be there to really feel this beautiful village. The stars of this village are definitely apples. And the best of the lot is the homemade apple cider and delicious freshly baked apple pies. Hasn’t your mouth started to water yet? Well, out of all the villages in the Annapurna Circuit, Marpha is definitely right up there amongst the elites.
What best way to end your trek other than a refreshing dip in a natural hot water spring. The hot spring at Tatopani is truly amazing and does wonders to your aching limbs. Grab a beer, some snacks and hop in for the perfect ending to your circuit trek! To think of it, it’s kind of sad that your trek has come to an end. Don’t you worry, there are other wonderful treks in Nepal that you can do and HoneyGuide will always be there to help you.
These excited guards are definitely the best the Anna……Nah….Just kidding!
Read more at Everything about the Annapurna Circuit Region.