Annapurna circuit vs Everest Base Camp Trek

Nepal has a diverse and huge range of trekking routes. The Annapurna circuit trek and Everest Base Camp trek are among the most popular. Both these treks follow the northern Himalayan trails of Nepal. If you’re planning a trekking trip to Nepal, you might already know about them. But choosing the best among these two options is frustrating. Here, we will give a quick rundown of the Annapurna circuit vs Everest Base Camp.

The Annapurna circuit trek is a trekking journey around the Annapurna Massif. You cross two different river valleys on this trek. The Annapurna circuit trek has two variations. The long one and the shorter one. The longer one could last till 22 days. The shorter one might only take 12 days. The trek’s time and distance depend on the route and mode of transportation.

The Annapurna circuit trek will allow you to view ranges of mountains. The landscapes in the trek will include mountains like Dhaulagiri, Machhapuchhre, and Manaslu. You will also catch glimpses of Gangapurna, Tilicho, Pisang, and Paungda Danda. The trails will also take you through Manang. So, you will also get a chance to visit the Muktinath temple.

The Annapurna circuit trek usually starts from Pokhara and ends back in Pokhara. The trek includes passing through the Marsyangi river valley first. It concludes in the Kali Gandaki gorge. The highest and most rewarding experience of the trek will be crossing the Thorang la Pass. It is the trek’s highest point at an elevation of 5416 meters.

The Everest Base Camp trek is the trek towards the base camp site of Mount Everest. It is the starting point of the Mount Everest expedition. Trekking the base camp of Everest has a reputation of its own. The thrill and excitement of seeing the world’s peak up close are unreal.

The Everest Base camp trek is around 16 days long. It takes you to various Buddhist settlements. It allows you to pass through trails that show exceptional views of the mountains. You will also go to the Kala Patthar viewpoint to get the best views of Everest.

The Everest Base Camp trek usually begins in Lukla and ends back in Lukla. The trekking includes passing two suspension bridges to cross the Dudhkoshi river. You will get a chance to visit the Sagarmatha National Park. The trek takes you to the hospitable valley of Namche Bazaar. You will pass through various monasteries on the way.

Both these treks seem to have very enticing aspects. They are both the top trekking choices in Nepal. The decision to choose between them requires a thorough study of details. You ought to know a little more about various aspects of the trek. The cost, difficulties, accessibility of the routes, etc. must be understood.

Here, we will give you a detailed breakdown of all these factors. You will easily choose your trekking destination after going through it.

Accessibility of Annapurna circuit vs Everest Base Camp

The accessibility of the trek simply means how easy it is to start and end the trek. The trek that is easier to reach and find a way back is more accessible.

Annapurna circuit trek’s accessibility

The Annapurna circuit trek begins from Pokhara. Then you will drive to Besi Sahar and start the actual footwork. Reaching Pokhara is very convenient. You can take a road journey or a flight to Pokhara. Both are very convenient. Most vehicles going to Pokhara and air-conditioned with adequate space. The short flight from Kathmandu to Pokhara will only take you 30 minutes.

The return from the endpoint of the journey is also convenient. You will drive back to Pokhara at the end of your trekking journey. Vehicles will be easily available for you for your ride back. If you have to leave for Kathmandu, you will do the same as you did before. You can take a vehicle or a flight.

Everest Base Camp trek’s accessibility

The Everest Base Camp trek starts from Lukla. The flight to Lukla from Kathmandu is a short 25-minute trip. So, you won’t have much trouble reaching the starting point of the trek. The same route is taken to return from the trek. You will return on foot from Namche to Lukla and take a flight back to Kathmandu.

The flight seems reasonably comfortable and quite accessible. But Lukla airport has quite a reputation for its narrow runway. It usually delays a lot of flights due to weather conditions. You ought to keep that in mind.

Trekking days

Annapurna circuit trek

The Annapurna circuit trek takes around 12 days to complete. The number of days of the trek varies based on route as well. The longer route usually takes more than 3 weeks too. The cost of the trek depends on the number of days of the trek. This is because the more days you trek, the more cost for food and accommodation.

Everest Base Camp trek

The Everest base camp trek’s usual route takes around 16 days to complete. It can also have other variations. Some treks even finish in 12 days. Some packages even allow you to see EBC just through flight. Such flights are complete within a day.

Permits required for Annapurna circuit vs Everest Base Camp

Annapurna circuit trek permits

TIMS permit (Trekker’s Information Management System)

The TIMS permit is a basic permit you must obtain before trekking anywhere in Nepal. The TIMS permits are available in two varieties: one for a solo trek and one for a group trek.

A TIMS permit for a solo trek (without a guide) costs around NRs 1000 or USD 9, whereas a TIMS permit for a group trek (with a guide) costs around NRs 2000 or USD 18.

ACAP permit (Annapurna Conservation Area Permit)

The Annapurna Conservation Area Permit is the permit implemented by the Annapurna Conservation Area for the protection and promotion of the protected region of Annapurna.

The permit for ACAP will cost you NRs 3000 or USD 25.

Everest Base Camp trek permits

You will require two permits to complete the Everest Base Camp trek: an entrance permit for Sagarmatha National Park and one for Khumbu Pasang Lhamu Rural Municipality( also known as a regional fee to enter the Solukhumbu area).

The total cost for the permits will be as follows:

Khumbu Pasang Lhamu Rural Municipality permit will cost USD 20 per individual/week (for the first 4 weeks)

A further permit exceeding 4 weeks will cost USD 25 per individual/week.

Sagarmatha National Park permit will cost you USD 30 per person

Trekking routes of Annapurna circuit vs Everest Base Camp

Annapurna circuit trek and Everest base camp trek allow variation of the journey. You will pass through various natural structures and cultural heritages on the trek. Here, we will show you the places you will observe through trekking routes.

Annapurna Circuit trek

The Annapurna circuit begins with a jeep ride from Pokhara to Chame via Besisahar. You’ll also see sights like the Marsyangdi River and the Kali Gandaki Gorge.

This trek will take an anticlockwise path starting in Chame.

The walking portion of the journey begins in Chame. Throughout your journey, you will encounter Tibetan culture. There are several tea houses with lodges in the area. As you travel through a subtropical forest towards Pisang-Manang-Yak Kharka, you will catch glimpses of Annapurna II.

The trail then climbs higher as you pass Yak Kharka. You’ll first arrive at the Thorung La High Camp. From Thorung La high camp, head downhill towards Thorung La Phedi on a safer trail. From the Phedi, you will hike towards the Thorung La Pass (5416 meters). This is the highest point of your journey.

The breathtaking mountain scenery captivates trekkers. Among these are the Annapurna Massif, Mt. Dhaulagiri, Mt. Machhapuchhre, Mt. Manaslu, Mt. Gangapurna, and Tilicho Peak.

After passing through Thorong La Pass, the trail will take you to Muktinath. Because it is a highway, the road to Muktinath is quite dusty. As a result, many people choose not to trek this section of the journey. A direct jeep ride to Muktinath will be a more enjoyable journey.

Following Muktinath, the route takes you to Jomsom and the Ghorepani-Poonhill viewpoint. You then descend to Tikhedhunga and drive to Nayapul. You will arrive in Nayappul. From Nyappul, you will take a road trip back to Pokhara, ending the trek.

Everest Base Camp trek

The trek route begins from Lukla. You’ll cross the Dudhkoshi River via two suspension bridges. This will be one of your first destinations. This will take you to Sagarmatha National Park, a world-renowned destination. There are many rare plants and animals in the area. You will observe various wild habitats and plants here.

Following your tour of the Sagarmatha National Park, you ascend a few steep steps to the fascinating Namche Bazaar. The locals will warmly welcome you. The Namche Bazaar provides breathtaking views of the Himalayas.

The following day, you’ll continue your journey to Everest Base Camp via Tengboche, Dingboche, and Lobuche. Buddhist monasteries can be visited in this area. You can also interact with the local Sherpa people. This will allow you to gain a better understanding of their culture.

The journey will take you to Gorakshep and, eventually, the Everest Base Camp. A long trek along these passages will lead you to the Everest Base Camp. Then retire to Gorakshep for a restful night’s sleep. You will ascend to the Kala Patthar viewpoint. You can see Mount Everest from here. In this region, Everest is said to look like a dream.

You will descend back and retrace your steps to Namche. From Namche, you will trek to fly to Lukla.

Vistas of Annapurna circuit vs Everest Base Camp

Annapurna circuit trek and Everest Base Camp have unique travel routes. They give you a glimpse of unique landscapes and cultures. Here is the list of unique experiences in these treks.

Annapurna circuit trek

  • Views of the Annapurna, Machhapuchhre, and Dhaulagiri mountains are breathtaking.
  • Beautiful trail through a variety of landscapes and terrains.
  • The breathtaking views of the entire Annapurna Massif and the stunning Marsyandgi river.
  • Visiting the picturesque Jomsom valley and the Muktinath pilgrimage.
  • A hike through the Kaligandaki Valley that includes a waterfall and one of the valley’s deepest gorges.
  • Thorang La’s highest pass is crossed.
  • Seeing the Kaligandaki River’s deepest gorge.
  • There is an abundance of plant and animal life, as well as endangered species such as the snow leopard.
  • Observing Magar, Thakali, Gurung, and various other caste settlements and experiencing a Tibetan-based way of life

Everest Base Camp trek

  • Exploring the diverse landforms of Nepal’s Himalayan trails, including waterfalls, glaciers, mountains, and other natural wonders.
  • Namche Bazaar’s hospitality and beauty.
  • Exploring the rarity of the Sagarmatha National Park.
  • Views of glacier streams, rivers, hills, waterfalls, and glacier lakes, including Imja Khola, Dudh Koshi, and Nagarjun hills.
  • View of the sunrise from the Nagarjun Hills.
  • Through Kala Patthar, you can see the top of the world.
  • Take note of the local heritages, cultures, and monasteries.
  • The Buddhist villages of Phakding, Namche, Tengoche, Dingboche, Lobuche, and the Gorakshep.

People and Culture found in Annapurna circuit vs Everest Base Camp

Annapurna circuit trek

The cultural diversity of the Annapurna region is as diverse as its natural diversity. The people and culture of the Annapurna region are wide-ranging. The dominant groups in the region are Gurung and Magar in the south. They also have a Thakali population, and Loba is dominant in the north.

Each of these groups has its language, culture, and traditions. There are also a few Brahmin, Chhetri, and other occupational castes. Hindu, Buddhist, and pre-Buddhist religions are practiced. Throughout the region, a religious mix of all of these is prevalent.

Everest Base Camp trek

The mountain trails of the Everest region are not the only attractions. The people and culture of Everest are equally fascinating. Sherpas make up the vast majority of the people who live in the Everest region. The Sherpas of Everest is one-of-a-kind. They are mountaineering pioneers and a Tibetan ethnic group native to Nepal’s highest mountains.

Crowds in Annapurna circuit vs Everest Base Camp

Both these trekking destinations are very famous. It has swarms of trekkers during peak season. Let us now compare the number of trekkers and which is more crowded amongst the two.

Annapurna circuit trek crowds

Annapurna circuit trek has been gaining the number of treks every succeeding year. The recent data shows that 28,534 people trekked the Annapurna circuit. It increased its trekkers by more than a thousand compared to 2017. The year 2017 received 27,068 trekkers. The trail had the highest number of 7,163 trekkers in its peak season of October.

The crowds in the Annapurna trails depend upon the seasons. The autumn seasons of September to November receive a lot of crowds. The spring season also brings a lot of trekkers after autumn. The winter and monsoons receive as few as 50 trekkers throughout the season.

Everest Base camp trek crowds

The Everest Base camp receives many visitors due to Mount Everest’s reputation. The trekkers of this region are quite high in number. Statistics based on Sagarmatha National Park (2016-2017) show several around 45000 trekkers.

The Everest Base camp, like any other mountain trail, receives more trekkers in peak season. The Everest Base Camp receives around 42% of its annual trekkers in autumn. The spring season also receives a substantial number of trekkers. However, the 31% trekking crowd of the spring does not compare to autumn’s crowd.

The monsoon and winter barely have any crowds due to harsh weather conditions.

Annapurna circuit vs Everest Base Camp difficulty

The Annapurna Circuit and Everest Base Camp trek have similar difficulties. Since they are both Himalayan trails, the difficulties are not very unique. However, the altitude and trail structure might cause a unique problem on each trek. Here are some of those difficulties compared.

Altitude sickness

Both high-elevation trekking destinations have dangers of altitude sickness. The risk varies based on acclimatization and the routes of the trek.

Annapurna circuit trek

The Thorong La high pass is the most difficult section of the Annapurna Circuit. The Thorung La, the highest altitude pass in the area, can be reached by hiking up to a height of 5416 meters. Such a high elevation will certainly bring a lot of risks of altitude sickness.

Everest Base Camp trek

The trek to Everest Base Camp passes through a high elevation point. This trek begins at a relatively low elevation of 2860 meters in Lukla. Then you’ll have to climb to a maximum elevation of 5545 meters at Kala Patthar. As a result, many hikers suffer from altitude sickness while ascending the Khumbu region’s trails.

Dangers in the route

Annapurna circuit trek

The Thorong La pass is the most dangerous road on the Annapurna circuit trek.

You travel through some of the most difficult terrains, usually rocky, arid, and steep. If the weather is icy, the slope is fairly steep in some places, making the descent from the pass difficult. This makes the Annapurna trek more difficult.

Avalanche dangers are always likely to occur in the Himalayan region. On the other hand, Avalanche dangers in the Annapurna region stem from the Thorong La high pass region. If there has been recent heavy snowfall, there is an avalanche risk on the slopes near Thorong La.

Everest Base Camp trek

The trek to the highest altitude destination is very difficult. Especially ascending to Kala Patthar is very tiresome. Moreover, during certain seasons, the Everest region tour is notorious for its dangerous roads. The possibility of crevasses opening, avalanches, snowstorms, and other hazards make the trekking route difficult.

Seasonal weather and climate-based difficulties

Himalayan trail treks generally have a trekking season. This is also true for the Annapurna Circuit and Everest Base Camp trek. Treks scheduled during the peak trekking season will be more convenient for you.

Annapurna circuit trek

The best seasons for trekking the Annapurna trails are often spring and autumn. Treks planned during this ideal season will be more comfortable, rewarding, and enjoyable.

However, severe weather problems occur during the winter and monsoon seasons. These seasons bring rain and snowfall. They make the terrain more difficult and add new challenges to the walk. They might also increase the risk of avalanches. Harsher weather and temperatures heighten the risk of health problems. It will make it difficult for travelers to transport large amounts of luggage. This increases the likelihood of accidents and injuries.

Everest Base Camp trek

In winter, the Everest region experiences unbearable cold. The monsoon brings very heavy rain. It will bring several road hazards along the trails caused by the rain. As a result, the weather won’t be in your favor if you go hiking this season. You will need heavy luggage with bulky clothing or rain gear.

The weather of the spring and autumn season has a contrast. They both have very suitable weather. The roads will be very dry. There will be very few chances of snowfall or rain. You will not have to freeze or carry heavy luggage.

Summary and conclusion

A detailed breakdown of the differences and similarities of Everest Base Camp vs Annapurna circuit trek is already discussed. Both these trekking destinations are unique yet quite similar. Both treks seem to be easily accessible. The route of the treks seems to have a huge contrast. But they both require certain travel permits. The days of the treks seem to be somewhat similar based on the chosen itinerary.

Although both are located in northern Nepal, they seem to have unique features of their own. The northern part of Nepal has a diverse culture. The variation of ethnicity living in these two trekking routes shows it.

The Everest Base Camp trek takes you to a higher destination than the Annapurna circuit trek. The reputation of Everest Base Camp seemingly brings a lot of trekkers. The Annapurna circuit has a comparatively less crowd but is still huge.

The difficulties of both the treks are very similar. Although routes might make the challenges unique, they still have the same aspects.

The choice for your trek must be based on your wish. You need to find a destination that is comfortable for you and choose it. Do not choose EBC because of its reputation for housing Everest. Do not choose Annapurna just due to the name of the Larkya La pass. Do it based on your comfort and choose the trek which has the best potential outcome.

The answer to questions like- “ which is better, Annapurna circuit or Everest Base camp trek?” is not set in stone. It varies based on what you are looking for. If you do the Annapurna circuit, you achieve something remarkable. Similarly, you achieve a milestone if you complete the Everest Base Camp trek.

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