The Annapurna Circuit is the popular name for a 300 kilometer trek in Nepal around the Annapurna mountain range in the Himalayas. The trek reaches an altitude of 5,300 metres on the Thorung La pass, touching the edge of the fabled Tibetan plateau. The magnificent mountain scenery, seen at close quarters includes Annapurna 8,091 metres which was the first 8,000 metre peak to be climbed, the magnificent ice pyramid Dhauligiri 8,167 metres, once the home of the legendary Buddhist guru Padmasamba, and Machhupuchhare 6,993 metres, considered by many to be the most beautiful mountain in the world.
The unusually wide range of climatic zones in such a small area as the Annapurna Circuit path ascends from 900 metres to 5,300 metres provides a chance to see many different plants and animals, and the different ways of life of the many peoples who live there.
The trek also goes through Buddhist villages and Hindu holy sites, most notably the village of Muktinath, a holy site for both Buddhists and Hindus, and Braga, one of the oldest monasteries in the region.
The eastern portion of the trek follows the Marsyangdi River upstream, to its source near the village of Manang. To get there several days of up-hill hiking are required. Then the route goes over the pass, a grueling day of hiking, and back down the other side, where it meets up with the Kali Gandaki River. At the end of the trek, several options are available: following the river further to the road proper to Beni and catching a bus to Pokhara, or adding on a trek to the Annapurna Base Camp (ABC Trek), aka the Annapurna Sanctuary Trek.
This circuit was once considered one of the best treks in the world though road construction is threatening its reputation and its future as a classic trek. Yet no one disputes that the scenery is outstanding: 17 to 21 days long, this trek takes you through distinct regional scenery of rivers, flora, fauna and above all - mountains.