The Annapurna Circuit is considered by many to be the best trekking route in Nepal. In fact, since it was opened to the international community in 1977, it has many times been voted the best trek in the world! But how much does the Annapurna Circuit cost?
There are plenty of reasons for its immense popularity. One of the key reasons for its huge fanbase is its scale, magnificence and beauty. The Annapurna Circuit snakes through a massif that has one peak (Annapurna I) that reaches over 8,000 m, 13 peaks over 7,000 m, and 16 peaks over 6,000 m! Another reason for the Annapurna Circuit’s popularity is its astonishing diversity. Along the Annapurna Circuit route you experience great changes in terms of culture, religion, architecture, landscape, plants and animals.
“Vibrant, intense and all-consuming best describe Nepal, and this trip in general. It was a proper adventure, the type where you pinch yourself afterwards and think: wow, I did that!” Travis Holland
Given that you’re reading this blog post you’ve likely already decided that you’re keen to take on the trek. You want an answer to the important question: how much does the Annapurna Circuit cost?
How much does the Annapurna Circuit cost?
Your two main financial outlays when considering the Annapurna Circuit cost are your international flights and the Follow Alice trip fee. This is because the Follow Alice fee covers the costs of virtually everything once you step foot in Nepal. We do it this way to make your life simple: you let us handle all the admin so that all you need to focus on is putting together the finances, getting yourself into shape, and gathering together the necessary equipment. Making the trip with an experienced travel operator like us makes your life heaps easier.
Further, by having just two primary expenses – your flights and the Follow Alice trip fee – you can work out a pretty accurate budget for your total Annapurna Circuit cost. In fact, this blog post aims to give you all the information you need to work out your total Annapurna Circuit cost. If so you can decide if you’re in, or how much you first need to save. So read on, and we feel confident you’ll soon know the Annapurna Circuit cost.
What’s included in the Follow Alice fee?
The Follow Alice trip fee includes all your big expenses within Nepal, as well as most of the middling and little expenses. Specifically, your trip fee includes all of the following:
- An English-speaking Follow Alice guide
- All transport from the moment you step foot in Nepal
- All accommodation while in Nepal, based on double occupancy
- Almost all meals, as described below
- Nepali trek guide
- Annapurna Conservation Area Permit
- Trekker’s Information Management System Permit
- Group medical supplies
- A Follow Alice certificate of achievement
We elaborate on the items listed above to explain their scope and importance for understanding the Annapurna Circuit cost…
Follow Alice guide
Every Follow Alice adventure trip comes with a Follow Alice guide. Our guides all speak English, as well as sometimes an additional language or two. Your Follow Alice guide will be at Kathmandu International Airport (KIA) to greet you. They will be with you for the entire trip. Any questions, concerns or difficulties you have during the trip can be tossed to him or her.
From the moment you step outside the airport, we have all your air and ground transport covered. You can expect taxis, buses and a small airplane. (There are no trains on our route, in case you were wondering about that.) We’ve even organised porters to carry your bags on the trek. In fact, the only transport we can’t offer is piggybacks. When it comes to trekking days you’ll have to transport your body yourself.
Flight from Jomsom to Pokhara
You can anticipate a truly fantastic flight from Jomsom to Pokhara. We fly out of Jomsom Airport, which has a single runway suitable only for short takeoff and landing aircraft. Planes leaving Jomsom fly only to Pokhara. The runway in Jomsom lies adjacent to the Kali Gandaki River, which eventually feeds into the Ganges.
Given that we fly during the day, and the plane winds through the Kali Gandaki River gorge, you have awesome views of the peaks above you and the valley below. And since the plane is small, you’re never more than one seat from a window. The descent to Pokhara Airport over the city is also very special.
Note that when we say all your transport in Nepal is covered, we really do mean it. We’ll fetch you from the airport on arrival day and drop you off at the airport on departure day.
“This trip definitely exceeded expectations; hiking 200 km around the Annapurna ranges was an experience I’ll never forget. The guides, porters, food and accommodation were all amazing.” Rex Bennett
All of your accommodation while in Nepal is covered by your Follow Alice trip fee. Every type of accommodation is based on double occupancy. You will be sharing a room with a fellow Follow Alice trekker, all the better to bond over the day’s experiences and ensure nobody oversleeps.
The table below shows what you can expect in terms of accommodation each night during your Annapurna trip. Note that “teahouses” are guesthouses. What’s fun about teahouses in Nepal is that each is unique, and so varies in terms of architecture, size, amenities and food. This makes it easy to remember each one specifically when recollecting your time on the trek.
|1||Kathmandu||B&B||The B&B is in Thamel, a busy area of Kathmandu with lots of shops, cafés, restaurants and narrow alleys.|
|2||Jagat||Teahouse||Jagat is a small village nestled next to the Marshyangdi River on the main Annapurna trekking trail.|
|3||Lower Pisang||Teahouse||Lower Pisang also hugs the river, but the valley floor is a wider here, allowing for smallholding farming. You’re going to fall in love with Pisang|
|4||Manang||Teahouse||Manang is a relatively large village that offers fantastic views of the mountains Annapurna III and Gangapurna.|
|5||Manang||Teahouse||This is an acclimatisation day, so we stay at the same teahouse in Manang. But a day hike to some beautiful ice lakes is in order.|
|6||Manang||Teahouse||We have another acclimatisation day in Manang, and we’ve arranged to visit the Himalyayan Rescue Association Clinic.|
|7||Yak Kharka||Teahouse||You can expect to feel the altitude in Yak Kharka, a small village on the trail.|
|8||Thorung Phedi||Teahouse||Thorung Phedi is our last pit stop before summiting the mountain pass of Thorung La. You can expect it to be very cold!|
|9||Runipauwa||Teahouse||Today we reach our highest altitude on the trek as we cross the mountain pass Thorung La! We then descend to Muktinath, a holy site for both Buddhists and Hindus, and the village of Runipauwa.|
|10||Komsom||Teahouse||We drive from Runipauwa to Jomsom.|
|11||Pokhara||Resort||We fly from Jomson to Pokhara, where we stay at Mount Kailash Resort.|
|12||Kathmandu||Hotel||We drive from Pokhara to Kathmandu, where we stay at the Yatri Suites and Spa.|
The night of your arrival you’ll be staying at a B&B in Thamel. This is the main tourist area pretty central in Kathmandu. It is very visitor friendly and has a vibrant nightlife scene. Many trekkers acquire various types of equipment in Thamel on their way to the Himalayas. There are plenty of shops stocking high-altitude trekking gear for purchase or rental. We discuss the equipment you’ll need for the trek further on in this blog post, but just know that this is the moment you’d pick it up if you decide to go this route.
When we leave Kathmandu, all accommodation for the next nine nights is teahouses. The good news is that all the teahouses along the Annapurna Circuit have electricity. Though not all offer electrical outlets in the bedrooms. When this is the case, you’ll have to charge appliances in the common rooms. Some teahouses along the Annapurna Circuit offer Western-style ablutions, while others provide squat toilets. Some even offer ensuite bathrooms, which is quite the luxury when trekking! Ever done the Everest Base Camp trek? The teahouses along the Annapurna Circuit will actually feel a bit Ritz-y, as they tend to have larger rooms and more and better amenities. That said, don’t expect water jugs with mint sprigs and slices of apple and lemon. Teahouses are modest, independent affairs and this is part of their appeal.
At Mount Kailash Resort in Pokhara you’ll feel like you landed on a cloud after your arduous trek. After the dirt trails and barren mountain slopes you might in fact be blinded by the shine of the floor tiles, the blueness of the swimming pool, or the whiteness of the napkins. And not just because of where you’ve come from. Mount Kailash Resort is a plush landing spot no matter where you were before. An award-winning 3-star establishment, it offers all the modern amenities you’ll be craving by this point, like a bathtub, laundry service and bar.
At Yatri Suites and Spa, the hotel in Thamel, you can spend another evening languishing in suds (whatever other luxury activity you discovered you missed the most on the trek.) Yatri is an upscale hotel in a fantastic location, so we think you’ll be very happy with your lot when you arrive.
During the trek itself we eat dinner and breakfast at the teahouses. This is actually expected of you. The accommodation itself costs almost nothing, but is done with the understanding that you’ll purchase your dinner and breakfast at the teahouse.
Meals at teahouses are usually served in a heated common room where you have the chance to meet other trekkers working their way along the Annapurna Circuit. It’s fascinating to chat with people from far-flung countries and all walks of life who have at least one common interest with you: trekking. While your primary bonds will doubtless be forged with your fellow Follow Alice trekkers, you can expect many other wonderful meetings if you’re open to them. Often other trekkers will be following a similar itinerary. So you sometimes meet up in the same villages and teahouses and wind up sharing news of noteworthy blisters, prickly plants and close encounters with yaks.
You can expect a good deal of dal bhat along the trek. Dal bhat is a traditional Nepalese meal consisting of steamed rice, lentil soup, and a side of vegetables. It’s very tasty and filling.
You can expect a good deal of dal bhat along the trek
When we reach Mount Kailash Resort in Pokhara, it’ll be dinner and breakfast at the poolside restaurant. This will possibly be followed by amplified stories of the trek at the bar. At Yatri Suites and Spa in Kathmandu, on our final night together, you’ll enjoy a complimentary breakfast buffet, which offers local as well as Western dishes.
Rough meal costs
Note that for the meals that aren’t covered by your Follow Alice Annapurna Circuit fee, you’ll have plenty of choice as to where to eat in both Kathmandu and Pokhara. A meal in Thamel, Kathmandu, will set you back by about Rs 250 (€2). A cappuccino costs Rs 200 (€1.60), an imported beer costs Rs 500 (€4), and a 330 ml Coke costs Rs 58 (50 c). Eating local cuisine is far more affordable than eating at an international franchise like McDonalds; a combo meal at McDonalds is about Rs 750 (€6). However, if you’re too tired to venture out, our Thamel hotel has an Indian restaurant and a pizzeria, so dinner in slippers is an option too.
Nepal trekking guide
At Follow Alice we do our homework in finding great local guides to partner with us. We can therefore offer the best in safety and insight during our adventure trips. While many trek the Annapurna Circuit without a guide, and do so safely, there are many very real pluses to trekking with a guide.
Firstly, guides are locals who know the landscape, wildlife, plants, people, religions and customs intimately. They point out animals and birds you might’ve missed, knowing their names and details about them. You will discuss the dishes that incorporate the wild herb at your feet, and learn facts about the glacier in front of you. A guide tells you why local farmers farm that vegetable in that way. And a guide explains the significance of the stupas you see, the prayer wheels you turn, the flags you admire.
A guide also helps you with practical matters, like knowing the spots to stand in to obtain the best cell reception. And if you’re a suspicious eater, your guide can tell you what’s in your food (though we can already answer that one for you: it’s lentils). Guides can also alter the trek route when necessary based on things like a recent landslide or a crowded trail.
Safety is of upmost importance
Most importantly, however, a guide is an expert trekker who makes your safety his or her primary concern. While it’s uncommon, people have died trekking the Annapurna Circuit. This is a harsh landscape with extreme temperatures and dangerous altitudes. Guides understand the weather patterns of the area, know the hazardous spots in the trail, and are the first to spot the warning signs of acute mountain sickness (AMS). AMS is the mildest form of altitude sickness, and yet it’s still deadly. The only remedy for AMS is to descend in altitude, and if your guide says you need to descend, then we’re afraid you need to do as told. Safety always comes first.
For the Annapurna Circuit trek we’ll be guided by Sonam Sherpa. Sonam speaks English well, and so will serve as our translator when the need arises. If you’d like to know more about Sonam, you can read his bio here.
Annapurna Conservation Area Permit
Everyone undertaking the Annapurna Circuit has to purchase an Annapurna Conservation Area Permit, and so we take care of this for you. The Annapurna Conservation Area (ACA), established in 1985, is actually Nepal’s largest protected area. It covers an area almost the size of New Jersey.
We enter the ACA on Day 2 of the trip when we drive to Jagat, which is on the border of the ACA. We only exit it on Day 11 when we fly from Jomsom to Pokhara. The Annapurna trail you’ll trek with Follow Alice curves through the heart of the ACA.
“As I have always dreamed to be in the area surrounded with beautiful scenery, this was fulfilled when I achieved the Annapurna Circuit” Helen Taylor
As already mentioned, the ACA boasts many different climates and vegetation, and this is because elevations range from 790 m to 8,091 m. Really think about that: that’s a difference of over 7 vertical kilometres! In the centre of the ACA not only do you have Annapurna I, the mountain that reaches 8,091 m, but you also have numerous other enormous mountains gathered with it. Together they create a grouping of some of the world’s tallest peaks, as though several mountain gods settled themselves down in a sociable ring. We trek to the centre of these mountains on the Annapurna Circuit, so when you turn in a revolution you’ll have an uninterrupted view of these steep snowy mountain gods.
Trekker’s Information Management System Permit
To trek the Annapurna Circuit you must have a Trekker’s Information Management System (TIMS) Permit from the government. We’re happy to save you this hassle by doing it for you.
Group medical supplies
Your Follow Alice fee also covers basic medical supplies for the group. Your Follow Alice guide will carry with him or her. That said, we still advise taking your own little first aid kit that’s stocked with your personal medical supplies as well as other essentials.
Certificate of achievment
It’s no mean feat to trek the Annapurna Circuit, especially given the cold conditions and extreme altitude. To mark your achievement, we’ll be handing out Follow Alice certificates at the end of the trip. We recommend placing it in a frame in your dining room so others ask you about it and you have an excuse to relive your adventure with an audience.
There’s a fair amount of equipment required to safely and successfully complete the Annapurna Circuit route. From a sturdy backpack and trekking poles to thermal socks and sweat-wicking inner garments.
There’s a fair amount of equipment required to safely and successfully complete the Annapurna Circuit
When it comes to getting a tourist visa to Nepal, you have two choices: acquire one from a Nepalese diplomatic mission in your country prior to flying to Nepal, or purchase one upon arrival at KIA in Kathmandu. The visa you want is a single-entry tourist visa for 30 days. As of 2019, the Nepalese Department of Immigration website lists a single-entry, 15-day tourist visa when arriving through KIA as $30 (€27).
Many opt to obtain a visa when they arrive at KIA, as the process is fairly simple. Though sometimes, like during peak tourist time, the queues can be quite long. That said, nationals of certain countries are required to obtain a visa before flying to Nepal. You’ll need to check up on this online. If you obtain a visa before entering Nepal, note that your day count starts from the day you enter the country. Find all the details you need about obtaining a tourist visa for Nepal.
Traveller’s insurance is a must for anyone doing this trek, and should be factored into your overall Annapurna Circuit cost. In fact, travel insurance is a requirement if you wish to undertake a trip with Follow Alice. This is because you’re embarking on an adventure trip, so the risks are higher than when sipping mai tais on a sandy beach. Further, the Nepalese Government doesn’t grant trekking permits without travel insurance!
When taking out travel insurance, we advise choosing one that offers cover for all of the following:
- delayed, cancelled or interrupted travel
- medical insurance
- lost or damaged luggage
Delayed, cancelled or interrupted travel
This covers things outside of your control like a traffic accident preventing you from reaching the airport on time, a mechanical issue with your plane, or severe weather preventing the plane from reaching its destination. Delayed travel also covers missed connections that are out of your control.
Trip cancellation covers having to abort your trip beforehand for reasons such as injury, illness, severe weather, or a natural disaster or terrorist attack at your destination.
Trip interruption covers the costs involved when you have to abort your trip post departure, for any of the same reasons listed for trip cancellation. Both trip cancellation and trip interruption should also cover having to cancel or abort a trip as a consequence of illness or injury in terms of a travel buddy or close family member.
Regular medical aids don’t cover medical expenses incurred outside of your own country, which is why medical insurance is a critical component of any decent traveller’s insurance. Note too that proper medical insurance covers medical emergency as well as medical evacuation (repatriation). This means that should you fall ill or be injured, your insurance will pay for all hospitalisation and doctor fees, as well as all transport to and from the hospital, including an ambulance service if necessary. The insurer will also pay to get you back home by whatever mode is required.
“Nepal and the Annapurna Circuit in particular are like no other place in the world. This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience that is not to be missed.” Dora Bishop
Lost or damaged luggage
The cover for lost or damaged luggage is important, as you can’t trek to Everest Base Camp without the proper gear! Both Kathmandu and Lukla have plenty of stores offering all the varied equipment you might need for purchase or hire, so should your luggage go missing you could use the insurance money to gather together what’s needed and still continue on with your trip.
We recommend that you cover yourself to the tune of at least $200,000 for each of the above categories of insurance (except luggage) when taking out a policy. We at Follow Alice always take out travel insurance with our partner World Nomads, as they offer comprehensive yet affordable insurance. Whichever travel insurance you choose, we’ll require you to send us the details of your policy well before your arrival in Kathmandu so that we can get to work on obtaining TIMS and ACA permits.
Credit card insurance
Note that many credit cards offer free, automatic travel insurance when you book your flights with them, so do look into this. The cover usually isn’t enough on its own, but it’s a useful extra. Also, pay special attention to exactly what is and isn’t covered by your credit card to ensure your independent traveller’s insurance covers all gaps and shortfalls.
Local SIM card and data
While not everywhere along the Annapurna Circuit has mobile coverage, a surprising percentage does. You can therefore expect connection for most of the trek except for the highest and most remote portions. When we’re on the trek, Sonam as well as our porters will be able to inform you as to when and where to find the best reception. Many teahouses and cafés along the circuit also offer free wi-fi.
In Nepal it’s cheaper to buy a local SIM card than use international roaming. We recommend purchasing a SIM card from one of the two main operators: Nepal Telecom or Ncell. A SIM card is usually in the area of Rs 300 (€2.50) and data packages are extremely cheap.
Your Follow Alice guide will of course have a phone with him or her throughout the trip should an emergency arise, so you don’t actually need a phone in terms of emergencies. Many trekkers embrace the circuit as a time to intentionally disconnect from the outside world. (We doubt anyone has ever spotted a yeti while texting.)
While we will pay our trek guide’s salary, it’s common practice in Nepal to also tip guides when you’re happy with the service. Suggestions as to amounts can vary, but we recommend somewhere in the area of €5 per day per person for guides. This fee will be for your discretion.
Follow Alice also covers the fees for the porters, but again it’s customary to tip porters a fee of around €3 a day if you’re happy with the service. This fee will also be for your discretion.
Did you know that etiquette in Nepal requires you to give money to someone with your right hand? Obviously locals still accept money proffered with the left hand, as they know foreigners don’t mean disrespect by the act, but it’s respectful to follow this custom if you can remember it. And arguably even abiding by small customs like this help you to experience the local culture more fully.
The currency in Nepal is the Nepalese rupee, which is abbreviated as NPR or Rs. Note, however, the Indian rupee is also abbreviated as Rs, so if you google currencies don’t get caught out by this. The Nepalese rupee currently has an exchange rate of about Rs 123 to €1, and Rs 113 to $1.
TIA Airport offers a money exchange service, so many people simply get the rupees they need when they arrive. Do note, however, that if you’re wanting to exchange cash for Nepalese rupees then your notes must be in perfect condition to be accepted. Even a fold crease has been known to make them unacceptable. The foreign exchange desk also won’t accept all currencies, though major and strong currencies like euros, pounds, dollars and yen aren’t a problem.
ATM fees can be very high and ATM skimming is a problem in Nepal. Given that you don’t require much cash on the trek as Follow Alice deals with most payments on your behalf, we recommend acquiring the maximum amount you might need for your trip once off at your local foreign exchange or bank or at the foreign exchange desk in TIA.
Note that Nepal doesn’t accept traveller cheques, and most shops and vendors won’t accept credit or debit cards, so it’s definitely a good idea to have some Nepalese rupees floating in your pocket. As already mentioned, all food and drinks are covered by your Follow Alice trip fee, except for alcohol, soft drinks and of course any snacks you wish to purchase. As you already know from our earlier discussion on meals, food and drink in Nepal is incredibly cheap.
Other possible reasons for having cash are to buy and send postcards and purchase the odd souvenir. Even just €5 or $5 in cash per trek day should be more than enough to cover any bits and bobs along the trail or at the teahouse. And don’t forget that our last night in Nepal is at Yatri Suites and Spa. Is it even legal to stay at a spa and not get a massage?
If you decide to tip the guide and porter, as discussed above, then you’ll want extra cash for that too.
Total Annapurna Circuit cost
Wisdom tells us that experiences are more important than things, and it’s better to have stories to tell than stuff to show. Investing money in the Annapurna Circuit trek is about investing in the story of your life. It’s about experiencing more of the world – its beauty, diversity and surprises – as well as building friendships and getting to know yourself better. We hope you’ll join us in this epic adventure.
“The Annapurna Circuit was a physically challenging but incredibly rewarding and wonderful experience. Jaw-dropping scenery of the Himalayas, delicious dal bhat, the kindness and openness of the people and culture, incredible staff and a fun group of people made this a trip I’ll never forget.” Susan Rhodes