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Is the Annapurna Circuit Trek Difficult?

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How Hard Is The Annapurna Circuit Trek?

If you’ve got Nepal on your Bucket List and you’re wondering just how hard the Annapurna Circuit trek is going to be, you’re in the right place. On this page we’ll take you through all the different things that make the Annapurna Circuit trek difficult and give you all the tips you need to get this amazing challenge right from the get-go.

The Annapurna Circuit trek lies in a remote region of the Himalayas and while, yes, it’s a challenging trek – it’s TOTALLY achievable and absolutely worth it. 

Naturally you’ll want to know whether the Annapurna Circuit trek is difficult before putting your time and money into the long trip to Nepal, it’s rather a long way away after all. The good news is that this is enough of a challenge that you won’t regret not trying something harder, but it won’t take too much of your time to prepare. Here’s why…

Annapurna Circuit trek

How fit do you need to be to complete the Annapurna Circuit trek?

So what’s the answer? Is the Annapurna Circuit trek difficult? 

In our experience, anyone with a respectable level of fitness can tackle and conquer the trek, so long as you know what you’re letting yourself in for. It’s a long hike, our itinerary features 11 days of continuous trekking (well ten, with one set aside for acclimatisation). 

So first off you need to have a decent enough level of fitness to endure five or six hours of trekking every day. Even if you aren’t quite at that level right now, that doesn’t mean you can’t be…

Training properly and mindfully is one of the most important things you can do to get ready for the Annapurna Circuit walk.

Get outdoors and do some proper hikes

Walking on various surfaces has varied effects on your body. For example, a treadmill gives some degree of shock absorption, putting less stress on your ankles, knees, and hips. So if you want to strengthen your ankles Annapurna-style, you need to get outside onto some unlevel ground. 

Break in your boots and your bag

Testing the socks, boots, and bag you’ll be using on the actual trek will really add to your training. It’s absolutely crucial to break in your shoes and socks to make sure you won’t be getting any blisters. Nobody wants bleeding feet half-way up a mountain on the other side of the world! The same holds true for your bag. Carrying your pack during practice treks will let you know if it’s the right one and help to build up your shoulder strength before the expedition. 

Cardio and strength training for the Annapurna Circuit trek

Long treks are excellent preparation for the Annapurna trek, but they shouldn’t make up your entire physical regimen. Try to incorporate both aerobic and weight training each week too. Fitter people require less oxygen to work their muscles, which is beneficial in the low-oxygen environment higher up in the Himalayas.

Hopefully you’re starting to get the picture now… The Annapurna Circuit trek is difficult not just because of a few steep ascents and lengthy, relentless distances. There’s the altitude too.

Views while trekking the Annapurna Circuit

How does altitude make the Annapurna Circuit Trek difficult?

Trekking at altitude takes care and consideration if you want to do it without getting really sick. While you’ll start of the Annapurna Circuit trek at around 1,000m above sea level, you’ll reach as high as 5,416m at Thorung La mountain pass. That’s pretty high. 

Aerobic exercise becomes 10% harder every 1000 metres above sea level, so trekking is 30% harder than usual at 3,000 metres. And you can double your difficulty rating for Thorung La mountain pass!

As you climb higher, the oxygen level gets lower and the atmospheric pressure becomes thinner, and your body will need to adjust. Tolerance for altitude is different from person to person and it can affect even the strongest, fittest of trekkers. To stop altitude sickness making your Annapurna Circuit trek more difficult, make sure you train at altitude ahead of time and always pick an itinerary that includes an acclimatisation day.

A high-altitude workout

The altitude is one of the most challenging elements that makes the Annapurna Circuit trek difficult. Since your body is working harder to deal with the reduced oxygen supply, you’ll naturally walk more slowly as you ascend in altitude, especially on flat terrain. Training at a higher altitude is advised if possible to get your body ready for the thin air of the Himalayas. Consider heading to the Peak or Lake Districts for some training hikes! 

Click HERE to read more about what altitude sickness is and how to prevent it

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How to make the Annapurna Circuit trek less difficult

Keeping one eye on the weather is essential for trekking safely, and going at the choicest times of year always helps too! Autumn and spring are the best times to go as you’ll get the best and calmest weather and incredibly clear views to boot. 

But more importantly, doing the Annapurna Circuit trek becomes a lot less difficult when you have a highly skilled local trekking guide and an English-speaking specialist by your side. All our Bucket List Company treks have the benefit of both, meaning you’ll see all the very best bits and the hidden gems of the Annapurna Circuit as you complete the challenge. 

There are SO many reasons why the Annapurna Circuit trek deserves a spot on your Bucket List – click HERE to read our run-down of the very best. You’ll find lots of different trekking packages online for the Annapurna Circuit, but we love ours in particular because it doesn’t try to pack too much trekking into too few days. 

It’s doable, there’s a HUGE amount of variety, and you’ll have enough time each day to soak up the scenery and get to know the locals, without feeling totally exhausted as you go. 

We run our Annapurna Circuit treks at various times of year to make the most of the best trekking conditions – click HERE to check out the itinerary and look at your date options.

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