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Annapurna Massif

The Annapurna Massif is as epic as you imagine it - with one peak reaching over 8,000m, thirteen peaks over 7,000m and sixteen more over 6,000m, all within a 55 kilometer stretch. This compact mountain range is confined by the Marshyangdi River to the north and east, the deepest gorge in the world, the Kali Gandaki to the west, and Pokhara valley to the south - this is natural geography on a titanic scale, and it has to be seen to be believed.

The Massif sits in the Annapurna Conservation Area in the central north of Nepal and it is here that you’ll find Annapurna I. This was the first mountain over 8,000m to be climbed, Maurice Herzog and Louis Lachenal reached the summit in 1950 and it is still considered one of the most dangerous mountains in the world.

Trekking is extremely popular in the region with lots of options available, here we’ll give you a place to start with some popular trekking routes, the climate around the Massif and some history of the area.

Skip to: Popular treks | Climate | History | Our trip

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Sunrise over the annapurna massif

Popular Treks

If you’re visiting the Annapurna Massif, your length of stay and level of fitness may be a deciding factor in which trek you decide to do. We’ve pulled together three of our favourites with varying time frames and views that pack a punch.

The Annapurna Circuit

The Annapurna Circuit circumvents the Annapurna Massif and can take anywhere from 14-21 days to complete depending on fitness level, starting points and optional side hikes. During this trek you’ll walk between 160 and 230 kilometres (99-143 miles) in total and the altitude will reach as high as 5,416m, so it's a challenging undertaking.

The highest point on the trek is Throng La Pass (5,416m). In 2014 the Pass was hit by a wild storm which took 43 lives; so whilst the circuit is much safer than the climb to the summit, this is a reminder that Mother Nature is always in charge, and preparation is key.

This truly is a once in a life time trip and considered as one of the best trekking experiences in the world.

Poon Hill Trek

If you'd like a taste of trekking in the Annapurna region but you don’t have time to explore the entire circuit, consider the the Poon Hill trek. This route will take you between 3 and 5 days and it is often described as one of the most beautiful in the region.

There are plenty of tea houses for you to stay at along the way and fitness is less of a concern than many other hikes in the Annapurna Massif region, partly due to the manageable terrain which can be easily broken into shorter distances, and also because altitude isn't really in play here - you won’t be hiking any higher than 3,210 meters.

Once you reach the top of Poon Hill you will be rewarded with magnificent views of Annapurna I and Dhaulagiri, both of which are over 8,000m high (as well as countless other peaks) - it is one of the greatest viewpoints in the world.

The Annapurna Sanctuary Trek

The Annapurna Circuit is a lengthy undertaking and a big time commitment, whilst Poon Hill, for many, is a bit too short to class as a true Himalayas adventure. Luckily, there's one more gem in this region, and it's the one you can experience on our 'AST' adventure.

Just like the Annapurna Circuit and Poon Hill, this trek gets you away from civilisation, and into the true Himalayan wilderness, and at only 9 days, we think it's the perfect length to allow you experience the other bits of Nepal you shouldn't miss - like Kathmandu.

Our guests and guides love this trek, from soaking in the natural hot springs of Jhinudanda, watching the sunrise over Machapuchare, to visiting Gurung settlements and taking in the 360-degree views from Annapurna Base Camp.

To see our detailed itinerary head to the 'Annapurna Sanctuary Trek' page or get in touch with one of our travel gurus today. You can give us a call, or an email or chat with us live right here on the page by clicking the chat icon in the bottom corner.


Climate

As with most of the regions in Nepal, the best time to visit the Annapurna Massif is in Spring (March-May) or Autumn (October – November) with moderate temperatures, low amounts of rainfall and clear views of the mountains.

Autumn is directly after monsoon season, making it a popular time to head over with bright green hillsides, blossoming rhododendrons and a fresh, excited feeling on the trails. It also means that it’s busy, so be prepared to share your experience with other like-minded people and pre-book your accommodation - or leave that to the experts by choosing an all-inclusive guided trip.

The Annapurna circuit is best avoided in the winter months, parts of the track will often close due to heavy snowfall meaning your trip might be cut short. Likewise, monsoon season is best avoided on the trails, the downpour brings mud slides and leeches!

For a much more detailed look at the climates of Nepal and when is best for a visit, check out our Best TIme to Visit Nepal page.


The History of the Annapurna Massif

Annapurna means ‘Goddess of the Harvests’ or ‘The Provider’ and is home to many of the world’s tallest mountains. The region was inhabited by the Gurung people in the 6th century who travelled from Tibet and you'll still find the Gurung people there today.

The tallest of the mountains in the massif is Annapurna I (8,091m), first climbed on June 3rd, 1950 by Maurice Herzog and Louis Lachenal. It was the first of the ‘over 8000m’ peaks to be summited - it is still widely acknowledged as one of the most dangerous mountains in the world for climbers.

Roughly 33% of climbers attempting to reach the summit of Annapurna I will perish in the attempt - an unenviable stat which makes it more dangerous than Everest or K2. It is generally agreed that the mountain is more avalanche prone than many of the other giants in the area, along with the fact that it is less commercialised than most and therefore more difficult on less established routes, making it unpredictable and deadly.

The summit of the mountain is made of limestone, which likely means that it was formed at the bottom of a warm ocean millions of years ago. This also means that over time the mountain is shrinking!


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Trip Reviews

  •   4.75 out of 5 (from 20 reviews)

  •   4.74 out of 5 (from 226 reviews)

    Have to Experience it to Believe it

    Don't know where to start and don't want to write a book but want anyone who is considering this trek to do it with Active Adventures. Why? I'm 62, still in good health and shape. Have experienced two other treks over the past ten years with other outfitters. Machu Picchu in Peru and Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. There was a huge difference in personal care and attention to expedition details. What impressed me the most was the attention to every detail required to make this trek to Base Camp not only successful but an enjoyable one too. There was not one negative experience that Active Adventure was in control over (lodging, food, permits etc). My mind was put to ease every day when our daily heart rate and oxygen levels were tested and medication was made available to you should you experience the effects of altitude sickness. Our guide’s knowledge of the history and culture of the Nepalese people added to the enjoyment of our journey.
    Steven Edwards Review Image
    – Ontario, Canada
    EBC, January 2018
  •   4.74 out of 5 (from 226 reviews)

    Couldn't be more pleased

    Pleased especially that I made it to EBC! Out of the 10 of us 5 made it all the way. Can't believe this old man (63) was one of them. I know the only reason I did make it was due to the excellent leaders and sherpas. They were incredibly attentive and professional. We all feel how lucky we were to have the trek leaders that we had, and to have such a fun group. It far exceeded my expectations; the incredible mountains, accommodations, ample food, and exceptional leadership. The acclimation days and the slow steady pace are all that attributed to my personal success. Thank you especially Elder and Argen. I hope to take another of your treks next year, looking at Peru. Thank you to the entire Active Adventures team!
    Mark Steiner Review Image
    – California, United States
    EBC, December 2017
  •   4.74 out of 5 (from 226 reviews)

    EBC 2017 Trip

    What an amazing experience! There was so much more to the trek than was advertised. The immersion into the Nepali culture was unexpected and a delight. DK and his crew are professionals! They kept us safe and got us across across the finish line. We had a blast while we were doing it. I can not say enough about our porter team too! What a terrific group of men. Whom ever does your hiring should get a raise. Keep up the awesome adventures.
    Jim Lauer Review Image
    – Ohio, United States
    EBC, May 2017
  •   4.74 out of 5 (from 226 reviews)

    Everest Base Camp, Sept - Oct 2017

    Great trip. Elder and Arjun are so great. They make an awesome team and really care about the people on the trip and the people working with them. The Himalayas are too hard to describe and pictures do not do them justice. There is no scale to compare them to when talking about them. You simply have to see it. Oh, Ama Dablam is magnificent. There were times when the scenery literally brought tears to my eyes. In a good way. Kathmandu is an experience for sure, but have mixed emotions about the city itself.
    – Indiana, United States
    EBC, October 2017

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Why travel with Active Adventures?

Above all, we aim to be amazing hosts. We're proud of our kiwi roots, and our professional, warm and relaxed style of running trips around the world is unforgettable.

We're VERY picky about who we select to work in our team, and we have people from all over the world lining up to guide our trips. So we get to hire the absolute BEST in the business.

As soon as you get off the plane, we've got all the details of your vacation covered – top notch meals, comfortable transport & accommodation, amazing guides and INCREDIBLE service.

Whether you’re new to adventure travel, or you’ve never travelled in a group before, you’ll find yourself arriving home positively different from when you left.

With our small groups (no more than 14), you'll get to know our team, your fellow travellers, and have the flexibility and freedom to do as much (or as little!) as you like.

It's all about getting there under your own steam – on foot, in a sea kayak, or by bike. What better way is there to experience mind blowing scenery? If it's your first time, no worries – our expert guides have got you covered.

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