The short Annapurna Circuit Trek 6-days will take us to the mountain ranges of north-central Nepal, taking us from the lowest altitude of Besisahar 823m to the highest point of Thorung La Pass 5416m, crossing two different popular snow-melted rives of Marshyandi and Kali Gandaki river.
This Annapurna Circuit Trek covers an area of 230km, and encircles the Annapurna massif, but can be extended or shortened depending upon the interest and time frame of trekkers. Apart from this, the Annapurna Circle treks will take us to the highest point at Thorung La Pass (5416m), touching the Tibetan Plateau for the magnificent views of Annapurna, Dhaulagiri, and Manaslu Himalayas.
The Annapurna Circuit Treks mainly begin from Besisahar or Bhulbule and end with Nayapul, Beni, Kade, Phedi, or Jomsom. Now with the means of transportation and availability of an airstrip on the trail, Annapurna Circuit Trek which used to be of 18-25 days has been shortened to 6-10 days and Short Annapurna Circuit Trek is just a 3-day hike into the highest Annapurna region, starting from Manang and ending in Jomsom.
Short Annapurna Circuit Trek will be through the same trail from Besisahar till Jomsom, but the main trek will be starting from Manang, trekkers can now drive all the way to Manang which makes the treks shorter instead of hiking all the way from Besisahar mainly with the driveable road adding 5-6 days extra to Manang.
Driving through the Marshyandi river with the magnificent views of hills, farmland, rivers, and Himalayas will be a memorable journey until we reach Manang on the same day at the altitude of 3540 meters for our overnight stay.
Further, on the very next day, we start our hike through the well-maintained trail to Yak Kharka and then to Thorung Phedi, and finally to Jomsom via Thorung La Pass and Muktinath.
This makes Short Annapurna Circuit Trek feasible for any age group and gender in a short span of time with the mountain scenery of Annapurna I, Annapurna II, Annapurna III, Annapurna IV, Gangapurna, Manaslu, Tilicho Peak, Pisang Peak, Machhapuchhre, Dhaulagiri, Paungda Danda and numerous other peaks ranging from 6000-8000 meters of Annapurna, Manaslu and Dhaulagiri ranges of Himalayas.
As we all know Annapurna Circuit Trek has always been voted as the best trekking trail in the world by trekkers, this is so because of the diversity of the trail and feasibility for the trekkers. Trekkers have multiple options when they are in the Annapurna region, they can trek all the way for 2-3 weeks or can drive to make it shorter, or can take a flight to Pokhara from Jomsom.
Apart from all this Annapurna Circuit trek will bless trekkers with the majestic view of three eight-thousand(ers) Himalayas, this includes Annapurna (8,091m), Manaslu (8,153m), and Dhaulagiri (8,167m). Along with the two popular and religious significant rivers i.e. Marshayandi and Kali Gandaki and also the deepest river gorge Kali Gandaki. This trail will take us to the holy pilgrimage site of Nepal which is Mukti Nath.
The Short Annapurna Circuit Trek covers a wide variety of climatic zone and cultures, from tropics to artic and from Hindu villages at the low foothill to Tibetan villages at the high foothills bordering the highest plateau of Tibet.
Highlights of the trek
Short Annapurna Circuit Trek will take us to the diverse and most desirable land in the Himalayas. This will be a short 6- days Annapurna Circuit Trek starting from the Marshyandi river through the hills, and valleys, into the Himalayas, will take us to the highest existing pass on earth i.e. Thorung La Pass (5416m) to descend into the holy pilgrimage site in Mukti Nath, a site for pilgrimage to attain ‘Moksha’ or ‘Liberation’ before taking a short flight from Jomsom to Pokhara.
This will be a lifetime memorable journey for adventure lovers, as the trail starts from the lowland tropic climate into the artic in Thorung La which is also the upper Manang region before descending into the lower Mustang region in Jomsom.
Apart from the trail and climate, Short Annapurna Circuit Trek is filled with a varied colorful settlement from Hindu dwellers to the Tibetans at the upper foothills. So, visiting temples, monasteries and gambas will add an extra flavor. The trail will be through the border of Tibet before ending the trek on the bank of the deepest river gorge which is Kali Gandaki famous for ammonite or fossils.
Moreover, trekkers can explore the exotic Himalayas of the Annapurna region hiking just 3 days from Manang to Jomsom. This will be an incredible trek for travelers who are on a tight schedule but want to explore the hidden treasure of the Annapurna massif.
Best Time of the year
Short Annapurna Circuit Trek can trek throughout the year but when it comes to talking about the view of the Himalayas, flora, and fauna of the Himalayas, and suitable weather condition in the Himalayas, Spring and Autumn is the best time of the year to trek into the high altitude, which also counts to Annapurna Circuit treks.
September To November
This month of the year is regarded as the best time for trekking into the Annapurna Circuit trek, it counts with a suitable climate, a magnificent trail after the monsoon, and a great and fair view of the Himalayas. The weather remains extremely good, with a clear blue sky and spotless clouds in the Himalayas. Even the Thorung La Pass (5416m) will have doable snow, so nothing to worry about on the trail.
December To February
This is the coldest month of the year, making the temperature decline to minus at the night and the day to are extremely cool. This makes the trail less crowded and it is regarded as the off-season for only high mountain treks, but trekking is possible at the lower altitude, only the question here comes is how easy is it to accomplish the Thorung La Pass (5416m). As the winter brings heavy snowfall, sometimes even blocking the trail at high altitude, teahouses and lodges remain open but a few of them.
March To May
This is another best time for Annapurna Circuit Trek, as we bid farewell to winter and the temperature goes on increasing, making the trail clear with less snow to block and above all, the sky remains crystal clear with the magnificent views of the Himalayas.
Moreover, there will be abundant flora and fauna on the trail, this time of the year brings beautiful Himalayan flowers to bloom and rhododendron is one of the favorites in the Annapurna Circuit trail.
June To August
This month of the year brings winter to Nepal, at the lower altitude we may encounter some rainfall but as we ascend to Manang from Basisahar, we will not experience rainfall. This is due to high altitude and also the reason is upper Manang and lower Mustang area are within a rain shadow. This means the Himalayas block the rain-falling cloud to enter these areas.
Trekkers can enjoy Short Annapurna Circuit Trek even during June-August, because the trekking point and the ending point of the trail come under rain shadow areas, keeping the monsoon away.
Short Annapurna Circuit Trek difficulty
The difficulty of the Annapurna Circuit Trek is mainly determined by the time duration and also the month of the year of the trek. It can be an easy-going to moderate to strenuous trek, all are determined by the number of days one is supposed to spend and also the season. Now, to talk about Short Annapurna Circuit Trek, it is a strenuous trek into the highest pass of Thorung La (5416m).
This is so because the starting point of the entire trek is Manang (3540m) which is itself a high altitude. This short Annapurna Circuit Trek is reducing the number of days required for the Annapurna circuit trek to a great extent for those trekkers who are physically fit into the high terrain but lack time to accomplish the Annapurna circuit in an allocated time frame of 2 weeks.
The trail to Annapurna Circuit trek will add a lot of rocky, steep, and slippery stairways along with high-altitude risk but it doesn’t mean trekking Annapurna Circuit in a short span of time is impossible. It is possible and a lot of trekkers do as well, but physically and mentally one has to be fit for this short Annapurna circuit trek.
Apart from the trail, trekkers will gain altitude in a short span of time starting from 3540 meters in Manang on the first day to Thorung La pass 5416 meters on the fourth day. This gain in altitude might create trouble for some trekkers who are physically not fit in gaining high altitude in a short span of time. So, better consult your doctor prior to the trek.
Food and Accommodation
Short Annapurna Circuit Trek or Annapurna Circuit Trek is to the same destination and trail; only the difference is time duration. Annapurna Circuit Trek is one of the globally popular trekking destinations.
Every year hundreds of trekkers accomplish Annapurna Circuit Trek, this made the locals operate numerous trekking lodges and tea houses along the trail. There are sufficient numbers of lodges and tea houses throughout the Annapurna Circuit Trail. This tea house or lodge has sufficient rooms to accommodate trekkers.
Normally, all the rooms are on twin sharing beds along with a small table, rooms will have two beds separately, with a thick mattress, bedsheet, pillow, and a blanket. Some rooms might have an attach-bathroom at the lower altitude but normally they will have a common toilet on every floor, this is the best way of accommodation on every trekking trail in Nepal.
Apart from accommodation, all lodges will have a menu card to select different food items, ranging from breakfast to lunch to dinner. Foods are hygienic and well-cooked, as these lodges and tea houses are mainly operated by local people, they are professional cooks as well. Every year Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) and the local government provide special hospitality and cooking training to locals to maintain the standard of the food and lodges.
Foods vary from Nepali to Indian to Chinese to Italian to Continental cuisine all from the menu card of the lodges and teahouses.
Communications and electricity accessibility
Annapurna region which is blessed with diverse trekking trails and destinations had no access to the internet, electricity, and telecommunication in the past. As, Annapurna Circuit Trek is a Multi-district trekking trail starting from Lamjung and entering Mustang, and further goes to the Myagdi and Kaski districts of Nepal.
All these areas now have access to electricity and the internet. In some areas of the upper Manang region, electricity is used through solar panels but the internet can have access through mobile data while trekking and Wi-Fi in the tea houses and lodges.
Trekkers will be able to charge their electronic gadgets and use Wi-Fi internet upon paying a certain sum of money or if you want to use the internet in a cheap way, it is better to use the local Sim card mobile and buy a data pack which is feasible everywhere.
Permits Required for Annapurna Circuit Trek
Normally, every region of the Himalayas is a protected area, with the popular name of the Himalayas and Annapurna Circuit Treks comes under Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP). Trekkers need two different permits to enter Annapurna Circuit Trek:
Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) Permit: USD 30 or Rs. 3000 per person
Trekkers’ Information Management System (TIMS) Permit: USD 10 or Rs. 1000 for trekkers trekking through a government-registered agency and USD 20 or Rs. 2000 for Solo/Individual trekkers.
Alternative Itinerary of Short Annapurna Circuit Trek
This itinerary is for those who are fit enough to cope with the high altitude and are ready to drive all the way to Manang (3540M) from Kathmandu (850M).
Day 01: Kathmandu to Beshisahar (823m/2700ft/7-hours)
The first day of our Annapurna Circuit Trek will be a long drive from the main city of Kathmandu to Besisahar, the headquarter of the Lamjung district. Passing by hills, river views, villages, and terrace farmland we will reach Besisahar late afternoon.
Overnight at Besisahar.
Day 02: Beshisahar to Manang (3540m/11614ft/5-hours)
This will be another exciting jeep drive journey all through the off-road. The drive to Manang will start from the bank of the river Marshyandi river, passing by villages, terrain, hills, and mountains to reach Manang.
This will be roughly 70 km, taking a time of around 5 hours all the way. This will be us to spend some time exploring the town of business hub Manang for acclimatization.
But makes sure this is totally off-road drive in a jeep on sharing basis.
Overnight at Manang
Day 03: Manang to Yak Kharka (4018m/13182ft/ 5-6 hours)
This will be our first hiking day on the Annapurna Circuit trail into the Himalayas. The last road to the Manang will be over and we will head through a hiking trail to reach Yak Kharka.
As we ascend uphill to the upper Manang area, we will encounter different Himalayan flora and fauna. These areas are mostly inhabited by Tibetan origins, so passing villages like Tangki and Ginseng will give us a picture of Tibet.
Finally, we will be in Yak Kharka, a famous pastoral area but now popular for an overnight camp in Annapurna Circuit.
Overnight at Yak Kharka
Day 04: Yak Kharka to Thorung Phedi (4925m/16158ft/5-6 hours)
Hiking to Thorung Phedi will be a bit difficult due to altitude gain but with the nominal pace, we will accomplish this. As we ascend higher, we will be into a bare Himalayan region with almost lost vegetation, this will provide us a far-sighted view of the Himalayas along with Tilicho Peak.
Passing by some villages in the mountains which are small temporary seasonal villages because during winter they moved towards the lower altitude.
We climb uphill through the steep and rocky trails to reach a broad pastoral area in Thorung Phedi, as the vegetation gets lesser, we will be able to view the Himalayan blue sheep, Thar, etc.
Overnight at Thorung Phedi
Day 05: Thorung Phedi to Jomsom (2720m/8924ft) via Thorung La Pass (5416m/17769ft) and Mukti Nath (3800m/ 12467ft)-9 hours
Today will be our early morning day as we will be starting our hike towards Mukti Nath via Thorung La Pass in the twinkling star and moonlit, this will be an extra fabulous hike under the star where the white Himalayas shines under the moonlit.
We hike uphill to reach Thorung Phedi our final and most desired point of the entire Annapurna Circuit. This will be a magnificent point to explore the wide range of Annapurna, Manaslu, and Dhaulagiri Himalayas, with three eight-thousand(ers), to the other side lies the Tibet.
We descend downhill all the way to reach Mukti Nath (3800m), a holy pilgrimage site for Hindus and Buddhists. We will explore this popular temple and visit a Buddhist monastery and enjoy our lunch in Mukti Nath and finally take a bus/jeep ride to Jomson through a well-paved road.
Jomson lies on the bank of the river Kali Gandaki and is the only airport in the entire Mustang district. Upon reaching Jomsom we can visit the Himalayan Museum and hike down to the bank of the Kali Gandaki river to find some ammonite/fossils. This Kali Gandaki river lies between the giant Himalayas and is also the deepest river gorge.
Overnight at Jomsom.
Day 06: Jomsom to Kathmandu via Pokhara (840m/2756ft)- 6 hours
this will be the last day of our Annapurna Circuit Trek, after breakfast, we will take an early flight to Pokhara. This will be around a 20-minute flight between the Himalayas, over the Kali Gandaki river.
On our arrival in Pokhara, we can spend some time exploring the lake city of Nepal and will take a domestic flight to Kathmandu which will be of 25-minute.
List of gears for Short Annapurna Circuit Trek
Daypack bag to carry frequently needed stuff
Short sleeve synthetic t-shirts (while trekking you sweat a lot so, synthetic t-shirts are best to bring as they are light and dry fast)
Long sleeve Merino wool t-shirts
Synthetic insulated jacket (you can use it for climbing as well)
Buff (trail gets very dusty with trekkers and animals passing by you so, you can use it as a mask)
Rain gear or poncho.
Trekking shoes (prober boots with grip is recommended as trail are rough so you might twist your ankle)
Slipper or lightweight shoes (it is handy to wear in the guest house when you did day trekking)
Cotton hiking shocks
Items for drinking water treatments such as Steripen, iodine tablets, chlorine liquids, or water filters. (if you using liquids or tablets it might bring a different taste in water so you can bring some juice-powder to bring a nice taste)
Fast drying-camp towel (most guesthouses don't provide a towel for a shower so it's good to have one)
body wipes (it comes in handy if you don't take shower, especially in higher altitudes where there are no showers)
sunscreens (minimum of SPF 40 plus as in higher altitude sunlight are direct and more penetrating.
Earplugs (it is handy stuff as most of the guest house rooms are separated by plywood. So, sometimes your next room trekkers might be noisy talkers or snores.
Mobile phone (you can use it as an alarm or there are internet services in most of the guesthouses so, you can use it if you want to communicate)
Diary (to keep note of everyday events)
Chargers with adapter (you can charge your gadgets along the trail by hydro-powered electricity in the lower region and sun-powered in the higher region)
Medical kit (Diamox, Imodium, ibuprofen, throat lozenges, tape, scissor,
Zip-lock plastic bag (Although you put your all stuff in a duffel bag, however, Zip-lock bag can come in handy when you want to separate your items like toiletries, socks, underwear, and smelly clothes)
Headlamp or torchlight
Trekking sticks (most people use them and it is very helpful while walking rocky trails and especially for knees going downhill.
Pee bottle (it's handy if you don't want to go out of the room during the night)
Kumar is one of the Co-founders and Managing directors of Discover Altitude holding 18 years of experience in the tourism sector of Nepal. He has trekked to almost all the popular regions of Nepal and is an authorized trekking and tour guide.
Started his career as a porter to support his study, now holds MPhil and LLB degree, and is doing his Ph.D. in religious studies. He loves traveling to the Himalayas and has deep knowledge about religion, culture, and history.
Kumar is also involved in the teaching sector as a part-timer to deliver his research related to the cultural and religious diversity of Nepal and is the one who mostly answers your queries giving them his personal touch through his decade-long experience.