April 2018 ~ Annapurna Circuit North

Post from RICOH THETA. – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

The village of Jhong on the western side of the Thorong La Pass  ~  360 pic; click and drag to look all around, up and down

April 25 – May 11, 2018

~  trek Nepal’s classic circuit to Tilicho Lake and the Thorong La Pass  ~

Your Guides: Himalaya specialists, Jerry Lapp & Ang Dendi Sherpa
Tour Sketch: The Annapurna Circuit is the Himalaya’s oldest and wisest trekking route, but it’s still young enough to give even the best of us a diverse combination of culture, challenge, religion, and comfort.  Traditionally a 21-day hike, we’ll keep the epic but shave a few days off each end to highlight the villages around Manang and the high altitudes of the remote Tilicho Lake.  The Thorong La Pass winds its way upward to the high point of our journey, the summit of which also serves as your base camp for an optional climb over 20,000 ft!  From there we dive steeply down, down to the roiling, black waters of the Kali Gandaki Valley into a land whose people and terrain are much more Tibet than Nepal.
Adventure Rating: Medium/High ~ while our villages en route have been somewhat tamed by time to provide us with comfortable stopovers, our trails guide us into uncivilized terrain, especially as we approach Tilicho Lake.
Low Point: The village of Chame is the start and low point of our trek.  It’s stacked above the Marsyangdi River just past the turnoff to the hidden valley of NarPhu.  Arriving there in late afternoon, we’ll begin walking the next morning in the crisp, clean air of 8,900 ft above sea level, ie, 2,714m meters.
High Point: At 17,769 ft, the Thorong La has demanded excellence from generations of trekkers and local residents.  Wide and generous on its summit approach, its graceful trails pull us upward to views of yet another 8,000-meter peak, Dhaulagiri.
Highlight: The oversized views from Ice Lake?  Dodging sheep in the medieval village of Kagbeni?  Tropical R&R in our post-trek “resort” of Pokhara?
Room & Board: You’ll be treated to comfortable hotels in Kathmandu and Pokhara at the beginning and end of our adventure.  The Annapurna Circuit has been welcoming trekkers since the 1960s and is sometimes called the Apple Pie Circuit for, yes, its apple pie, and mountain lodge amenities.
Cost: Your tour is generally all-inclusive and covers almost all of your expenses over 17 days in Nepal, including guides; porters; domestic flights (2); Kathmandu & Pokhara hotels, all mountain lodges while hiking; meals throughout; trekking permits, private ground transport to trailhead, etc.  Double occupancy.  Add $300 for single occupancy.
Extras: International flight into Kathmandu. Bring cash for snacks along the trail; tips for local guides; alcohol; your Nepal visa; shopping; and other small miscellaneous expenses.
Optional Extension: Climb the 20,000 ft Thorong Peak, a summit that’s fully integrated into the regular trekking route, ie, climbers and trekkers start and finish together and are on the same schedule for all but two days of the trek.  Price TBD.

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A group of trekkers approaches the top of the expansive Thorong La . . . the summit on the left is Thorong Peak, which is on offer as an optional climb

Annapurna Circuit North is an 11-day fully supported trek through the heart of the Himalaya

You’ll carry only a small day pack while the real work is done by our team of precocious porters.  Beginning in Kathmandu, we’ll drive to our trailhead deep in the Marsyangdi Valley of the Annapurna Range.  From there we walk up to Ice Lake, Tilicho Lake and the Thorong La, staying in mountain lodges every night.  Your reward?  Go out in style with a mountain flight through the world’s deepest canyon to end up in the sub-tropical paradise of Pokhara.

Your  Tour begins in Kathmandu’s peaceful Tibetan Buddhist enclave of Boudha and ends with a spectacular flight from Pokhara to Kathmandu

Your mountain guide, Ang Dendi Sherpa

                    FastFacts on ACNorth

  • 18 days door-to-door from North America
  • our Tour winds up in the deepest valley in the world
  • we’ll start with a visit to the Hindu temples & cremation ghats of Kathmandu
  • the trek is designed to accommodate a wide range of hiking speeds
  • Annapurna I is the most dangerous mountain in the world
  • Tilicho Lake lies below the Grand Barrier, a 22,000 ft high, 10-mile long wall of ice and rock
  • paragliding above the lake is a popular pastime in the village of Pokhara

  The Annapurna Range  

 Your Route Through the Heart of the Annapurnas  

Our trek through the Annapurnas starts in the village of Chame and takes a couple side trips to high alpine lakes before finishing in the town of Jomsom

Annapurna Circuit North Day-by-Day

  • 01     Fly from your North American or European hometown airport to your international layover destination
  • 02     Fly into Kathmandu from your layover city ~ your Tour package begins in Nepal
  • 03     Tour the chaos and culture of Kathmandu
  • 04     Private transfer from Kathmandu to our Annapurna trailhead
  • 05     Trek to Upper Pisang
  • 06     Trek to Braga
  • 07     Trek up to Ice Lake, then down to Manang
  • 08     Trek to Shri Kharka
  • 09     Trek to Tilicho Lake Base Camp
  • 10     Day hike to Tilicho Lake, return to Base Camp
  • 11      Trek to Yak Kharka
  • 12     Trek to Thorong Phedi
  • 13     Trekkers hike over Thorong La Pass, then down to Muktinath
  • 13a   Climbers trek to Thorong La summit, camp overnight
  • 14     Trekkers hike to Kagbeni
  • 14a   Climbers summit Thorong Peak, then hike down to Muktinath
  • 15     Trekkers hike to Jomosom from Kagbeni
  • 15a   Climbers hike to Jomosom from Muktinath
  • 16     Entire group flies to Pokhara
  • 17     R&R in and around Pokhara
  • 18     Domestic flight to Kathmandu, onward international flight to layover airport
  • 19     Fly from layover city to home airport

Transport yourself to the High Himalaya with this flyover tour

The Detailed Plan of Attack (subject to change)

Day 1
Fly from your hometown airport to your international layover airport  ~  April 24, 2018

Fly from North America to your layover city; most major U.S. airports have high-quality, one-stop flights to Kathmandu, Nepal.  Although it’s not included in the package cost, Skychasers will arrange a group flight from Philadelphia or New York for those who would like to travel together.  Expect ticket prices to be in the range of $900 – $1,300.

Day 2
Fly into Kathmandu from layover airport  ~  April 25

Upon arrival at Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport, those traveling on the group flight from the East Coast will be met by our driver who will take us directly to our hotel overlooking Tibetan Buddhism’s holiest site in Nepal, the Boudha Stupa.  If arriving in Kathmandu independently, you will be met at the airport by myself or a member of our staff.  Airport transfer, dinner, hotel included. 




Day 3
Tour the living museum that is Kathmandu  ~  April 26

Kathmandu is Nepal’s capital of culture and chaos!  We’re going to go as deep as possible today, but the diligent traveler could really use a few weeks to do justice to this incredible city.  With a million things to do, places to go and people to see, it’s hard to know where to start and end.  Going with a few highlights, we’ll walk from our hotel in a Tibetan Buddhist neighborhood to Hinduism’s holiest site, the cremation ghats of Pashupatinath Temple along the banks of the Bagmati River.  Pashupatinath is devoted to Lord Shiva and besides the cremation ghats, it accommodates a Hindu school and meditation center, ganja-smoking sadhus, a Hindus-only temple, and a forest complete with a deer sanctuary.  Oh yea, there are monkeys too.  We’ll take time in the afternoon and evening to go over our gear and pack for the start of our trek tomorrow morning.  B/L/D, Pashupatinath tour, hotel.

The cremation ghats of Pashupatinath are a venerated passageway into the next life for devout Hindus



Day 4
Private vehicle transfer to our trailhead at Chame  ~  April 27
  • 150 miles ~ 243 km
  • 4,500 ft ~ 1,372m   Start in Kathmandu
  • 830 ft ~ 253m   Low point near Mugling
  • 8,900ft ~ 2,713m   High point and finish in Chame

No visit to Nepal is complete without a road trip!  We’ll get an efficient start this morning so that our drive may be leisurely and relaxed, characteristics that don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand with travel in this part of the world.  As we top the pass on the rim of the Kathmandu Valley, brace yourself for the awesome downhill headed your way.  A good part of the morning is spent winding along the Trisuli River and marveling at the colorful Indian trucks bringing goods in and out of Kathmandu.  A northward turnoff begins our foray into the Himalaya.  As we enter the Marsyangdi Valley, our terrain narrows and we find ourselves at the bottom of a very deep canyon and eventually, the tiny village of Chame.  Private transfer, B/L/D, mountain lodge, trekking permits.

Your approach to our trailhead snakes up through the incredibly steep and narrow Marsyangdi Valley
8,900ft  ~ 2,713m
Day 5
Begin your trek with a hike to Upper Pisang  ~  April 28
  • 9 miles ~ 14.5 km
  • 8,900 ft ~ 2,713m   Start and low point in Chame
  • 10,900 ft ~ 3,322m   Finish and high point in Upper Pisang

Our trek starts with a bang as we fight our way out of the very narrow canyons around Chame on trails above the roaring Marsyangdi River.  By lunchtime, our world and our views begin to open up as we round a right-hand bend in the river.  As the views widen, a smooth mile-high rock, that might inaccurately be said to resemble Half Dome in the shape of a satellite dish, rises straight out of the river.  It’s called the Paunga Danda and it stays with us for the rest of the day.  Lurking beyond the Paunga Danda is Pisang Peak, popular as a climbing peak, but infamous for a 1994 disaster.  As we continue up the valley, we pass through the lakeside village of Dikure Pokhari on undulating and ascending terrain.  Our final steps are gently upward to gain the heights of Upper Pisang, which also houses a Tibetan Buddhist monastery.  B/L/D, mountain lodge.

Elevation profile from Chame to Upper Pisang
10,900ft ~ 3,322m
Day 6
Trek to Braga ~ April 29
  • 11.25 miles ~ 18km
  • 10,900 ft ~ 3,322m   Start in Upper Pisang
  • 10,735 ft ~ 3,272m   Low point outside of Upper Pisang
  • 12,500 ft ~ 3,810m   High point at several spots
  • 11,600 ft ~ 3,536m   Finish in Braga

The monsters of the Annapurna Himalaya make their first big appearance today.  Traveling westward out of Upper Pisang, we lose a little altitude in the first hour or two, then take an abrupt right turn upward onto the lowest slopes of Pisang Peak.  We could walk on the valley floor, but we’re headed up to the old, traditional village of Ghyaru to take advantage of direct cross-valley visual access to Annapurna II.   OK, maybe not direct . . . Annapurna II is almost three miles higher than Ghyaru.  Check out the photo below, taken in the snowy winter of 1999 and complete with tons of firewood, hand-hewn log ladders, and a rather nicely preserved yak’s head.  From Ghyaru, we traverse far below the Kang La Pass, which leads to the forbidden kingdom of NarPhu and presently march through the plateau village of Ngawal.  A significant dip in the trail provides false hope as it’s immediately followed by an even more significant ascent before slowly meandering down to the village of Braga.  B/L/D, mountain lodge.

11,600ft ~ 3,536m
Day 7
 Trek up to Ice Lake, then down to Manang  ~  April 30
  • 6.5 miles ~ 10.5 km
  • 11,600 ft ~ 3,536m   Start in Braga
  • 11,500 ft ~ 3,505m   Low point near Manang
  • 15,340 ft ~ 4,376m   High point at Ice Lake
  • 11,600 ft ~ 3,536m   Finish in Manang

We’re now high enough to be in the land of Tibetan Buddhism and it’s just our luck that an exquisite ancient monastery is embedded into the upper slopes of Braga.  From here, the choice is yours . . . take the low and easy road or the high and challenging road to Manang.  The low road takes an hour or two.  The high road goes straight up and up and up the hill behind Braga, to the tune of 3,500 ft up.  Ice Lake is our goal and it’s nested into a mini hanging valley that feels impossibly high, but in reality is closer to the valley floor than its mountaintop.  This may seem like a lot of work to have a pond as a destination, but the real rewards on this day are the views across the valley to the highest peaks of the Annapurna Range.  And never fear, should you feel that you’ve not had enough of a challenge, there are several small summits to tackle above the lake.  Our day ends with a descent down the mountain into the biggest village in the area, Manang.  B/L/D, mountain lodge.

Grandiose views from Ice Lake also reveal the path up to our next remote layover, Tilicho Lake, upper right
11,600ft ~ 3,536m
Day 8
Trek to Shri Kharka  ~  May 1
  • 5.75 miles ~ 9.25 km
  • 11,600 ft ~ 3,536m   Start and low point in Manang
  • 13,360 ft ~ 4,072m   Finish and high point in Shri Kharka

Most trekkers spend a second overnight in Manang to aid acclimatization, but we’ve already done the equivalent with one night in Braga followed by one night in Manang, both at an altitude of 11,600 ft.  So, we’re free to fly the coop today and we’re going off the main Annapurna Circuit track and headed for the high, remote Tilicho Lake.  It takes a few days to walk there . . . our first destination is the small collection of mountain lodges known as Shri Kharka.  “Kharka” is a Nepali word for yak hut or shelter and it wasn’t long ago that Shri Kharka was just that – a couple yak huts for summer herds.  To this day, there’s not much here . . . the yak huts now have real roofs and they’ve been added on to and divided into bedrooms and dining rooms so we can sleep and eat in relative comfort.  Our trek today departs Manang with the main trail going to the right while we stay to the left and pass by the glacial Gangapurna Lake, below.  In a few hours, we’ll stop for lunch in the village of Khangsar before finishing our day with an upward traverse into Shri Kharka.  B/L/D, mountain lodge.

Gangapurna Lake will be on your left as we depart Manang ~ photo credit Andrey Vorobey
13,360ft ~ 4,072m
Day 9
Trek to Tilicho Lake Base Camp  ~  May 2
  • 4 miles ~ 6.5 km
  • 13,360 ft ~ 4,072m   Start in Shri Kharka
  • 13,286 ft ~ 4,050m   Low point near Shri Kharka
  • 14,050 ft ~ 4,282m   High point around mid-morning
  • 13,600 ft ~ 4,145m   Finish at Tilicho Base Camp

The stats above reveal this to be a relatively easy and beautiful day, by Annapurna Circuit standards, as we hike across the mountainside linking our breakfast in Shri Kharka with our dinner at Tilicho Base Camp.  As we gradually make our through the day, vegetation becomes more sparse and our terrain becomes steeper as the river on the valley floor rises up to meet us.  Depending on the condition of the trail, footing may become a little sketchy in the afternoon as we walk across old landslides, through ravines, and under rock faces.  Oh yeah, it’s a short day because of where our villages are placed, but call it a nice rest before the stiff climb to Tilicho Lake tomorrow.  And as always, if you’re really itching for a challenge, there’s a very rough, almost obsolete side trail that will take you up 2,000 ft and over an old landslide.  B/L/D, mountain lodge.

Today’s elevation profile shows lots of small undulations confined to a narrow altitude range
13,600ft ~ 4,145m
Day 10
Hike to Tilicho Lake, Return to Base Camp  ~  May 3
  • 6.75 miles ~ 11 km
  • 13,600 ft ~ 4,145m   Start and low point at Tilicho Base Camp
  • 16,450 ft ~ 5,014m   High Point above Tilicho Lake
  • 13,600 ft ~ 4,145m    Return to Tilicho Base Camp

Tilicho Lake is renowned for occupying a grand situation at the base of the Grand Barrier, a 22,000 ft. wall of rock and ice that stretches for miles and miles high above the lake.  Its water takes on the sky color, deep and blue.  And it’s big too, to the tune of 2½ miles long and ¾ miles wide and growing thanks to the glaciers above it melting at record pace.  Our hike today begins with a pleasant walk out of Base Camp going up a gradual hill with a stream flowing nearby.  This easy start ends after 100 meters as our trail makes its way onto a small balcony and with it, a couple switchbacks.  Then, like yesterday, the trail becomes exposed at times, generally traversing upwards towards the lake, but sometimes switchbacking straight up the mountainside.  Arriving above Tilicho Lake by lunchtime, we’ll spend at least an hour on top enjoying the vista, eating lunch, and maybe exploring a few high points above the lake.  In time, we’ll descend back down using the same route we came up on and will be safely ensconced back at Base Camp in time for dinner.  B/L/D, mountain lodge.

At 16,200 ft, Tilicho Lake is one of the highest large lakes in the world ~ photo credit Milan Gurung
16,450ft ~ 5,014m
Day 11
Trek to Yak Kharka  ~  May 4
  • 10 miles ~ 16 km
  • 13,600 ft ~ 4,145m    Start at Tilicho Base Camp
  • 12,600 ft ~ 3,840m   Low point at bridge below Yak Kharka
  • 14,050 ft ~ 4,282m   High point around mid-morning
  • 13,250 ft ~ 4,039m   Finish in Yak Kharka

This is a mileage day as we make our way back to the main route of the Annapurna Circuit.  We’ll go from a remote lodge in the morning to a lodge buzzing pleasantly with plenty of trekkers and stories over dinner.  Shri Kharka would be a reasonable guess for our lunch break, then we’ll make more time in the afternoon as we pass high above the village of Khangsar then gain the shoulder of the ridge overlooking the main trail.  From there, it’s 1,000 not-too-steep feet down to our river crossing and we’ll join the main trail as we scramble up the opposite bank.  We’re still above tree-line and the terrain becomes gnarly and rocky as we’re once again near the floor of a narrow valley.  One hour later we find ourselves at our destination of the day, Yak Kharka.  B/L/D, mountain lodge.

Another classic photo from the winter of 1999
13,250ft ~ 4,039m
Day 12
Trek to Thorong Phedi  ~  May 5
  • 4.5 miles ~ 6.25 km
  • 13,250 ft ~ 4,039m   Start and low point at Yak Kharka
  • 15,075 ft ~ 4,595m   High point above Thorong Phedi
  • 14,862 ft ~ 4,530m   Finish in Thorong Phedi

Take it easy and relax today.  Yes, we’ll end up at our highest sleeping altitude of the trek,  which is significant, but you’ve been this high just a few days before on the hike to Tilicho Lake.  The land around the trail is still rugged, but our walking route is in good shape with thousands and thousands of people having walked it over the past 40 years.  Thorong Phedi is a great place to hang out – that is until the sun goes down.  In an instant, as the sun drops below the Thorong La Pass 3,000 feet above us, the temperature drops 30 degrees.  Enjoy the potent energy mixture of excitement and nerves as you and every other trekker in the place anticipates an early wake-up followed by a major league climb up and over the Thorong La.  After dinner, it’s off to bed early to prep for an early start up the pass.  B/L/D, mountain lodge.

Enjoying a hearty picnic at Thorong Phedi, before the sun goes down
14,862ft ~ 4,530m
Day 13 
Up, up and over the Thorong La, then down to Muktinath ~  May 6
  • 9.25 miles ~ 15km
  • 14,862 ft ~ 4,530m   Start in Thorong Phedi
  • 17,769 ft ~ 5,417m   High point on the Thorong La
  • 12,000 ft ~ 3,658m   Finish and low point at Muktinath

A special day awaits those of you who somehow haven’t gotten enough adventure along the way!  After an early morning breakfast, we start on an upbeat, or at least uphill, note as our first goal of the day is High Camp at about  16,000 ft.  The first 30 minutes are steep and it’s possible you may think you’re going to die, but fear not, not only will you survive, you’ll make it over the pass.  Today.  Promise.  Just in time, the gradient eases and soon you’ll find yourself at High Camp, a collection of a few desperate lodges where intrepid trekkers overnight to get a jump on the Pass.  Take a minute to regroup here, adjust your layers, have a snack, whatever you need.  Soon after, the pass opens up into a wide, beautiful dirt meadow between two very high mountains.  We’re aiming to go between the two high mountains, but as we wind around, up and down, but mostly up, it’s not always immediately obvious where our trail shall lead us.  The last hour before the summit, we’re at some serious altitude and the going gets very slow, maybe even slower than the first steep section, although it’s not nearly as steep up top.  Call it relentless though as you put in some work to ease up to the summit at 17,769 ft ~ 5,416m.  Congratulations on making it to the top of the Thorong La, something you can hang your hat on for the rest of your life!  It’s all downhill from here and hopefully you saved something for the descent, especially your brakes since Muktinath is exactly 5,769 vert feet down from the Thorong La.  B/L/D, mountain lodge.

Bzzz, Mary Ellen and Jerry (me) with prayer flags on the Thorong La a few years ago
 17,769ft ~ 5,416m
ALT Day 13
Climbers Only:  Trek to the top of Thorong La  ~  May 6

Believe it or not, you have an easier day than the trekkers today.  You’ll climb with them to the top of Thorong La, stop there, set up camp, do some training with climbing equipment, and stay the night.  B/L/D, tent camp.

Climbers hike with trekkers to the top of Thorong La Pass, then climb Thorong Peak the next morning
17,769ft ~ 5,416m
Day 14
Trekkers:  Trek to Kagbeni  ~  May 7
  • 8 miles ~ 13 km
  • 12,000 ft ~ 3,658m   Start in Muktinath
  • 12,130 ft ~ 3,697m   High point near Muktinath
  • 9,314 ft ~ 2,839m   Low point and finish in Kagbeni

Trekkers, you’ll be putting in a few miles today, but most of them will be downhill and not that steep.  After a leisurely breakfast, we’ll take some time to take in the sacred Hindu sites in and around Muktinath.  Our day begins with a walk across the valley to the old, old village of Jhong, with its monastery perched on a hilltop overlooking everything.   From there we’ll pass through several other green villages before entering the “countryside” with its big, big terrain and massive landscapes.  The 8,000m behemoth of a mountain known as Dhaulagiri will be with us throughout the day along with many of its friends and neighbors.  As we descend towards Kagbeni, there are no more villages and our world becomes truly Tibet-like.  Kagbeni is a charming, ancient trading post with swarms of sheep and goats charging through its narrow passageways.  It’s also an oasis of greenery in an otherwise arid landscape with large apple orchards and wheat fields.  No trip to Kagbeni is complete without a visit to YakDonalds!  B/L/D, mountain lodge.

Kagbeni is a gem of a town, set along the banks of the Kali Gandaki River
9,314 ft ~ 2,839m
ALT Day 14
Climbers Only:  Summit Thorong Peak, walk down, down to Muktinath  ~  May 7
  • 17,769 ft ~ 5,417m   Start on Thorong La
  • 20,050 ft ~ 6,112m   Summit and high point on Thorong Peak!
  • 12,000 ft ~ 3,658m   Finish and low point in Muktinath

This one’s going to need an early start . . . your Sherpa alarm, breakfast, and departure all happen well before daybreak.  On the bright side, you’re in for the best sunrise of your life!  A large part of the climb is on glacier, so get ready with your crampons, ice axes, and can-do attitude and climb into a high-altitude world of ice and snow.  After summiting, we’ll descend to our base camp on Thorong La, break camp, have a bite to eat, and hike the rest of the way down to Muktinath.  It’s a big day.  B/L/D, mountain lodge.

Our climbing target, Thorong Peak, is a sub-peak of Katung Kang floating high above the clouds on the right . . . Thorong La pass is in the clouds near the center of the picture
Our French friends make it look easy . . .

20,050ft  ~ 6,112m
Day 15
Trekkers:  hike from Kagbeni to Jomsom  ~  May 8
  • 8.5 miles ~ 13.75km
  • 9,314 ft ~ 2,839m   Start in Kagbeni
  • 11,350 ft ~ 3,459m   High point at Dagarjong Pass
  • 9,030 ft ~ 2,752m   Low point and finish in Jomsom

This isn’t a particularly long day, but we’ll try for an efficient start so we have plenty of time to enjoy a few ancient villages along the way.  We’re also taking the road less traveled, the high road, that is, far above the true right bank of the Kali Gandaki River.  Crossing the river on a long extension bridge, we ascend into the green and gold fields of Phallyak.  Even if it’s not quite lunchtime, we’ll likely partake here because marching straight on through this town is to deny its beauty, history, and hospitality.  After lunch, we cross a ravine to the next town and continue gently upwards towards Dagarjong Pass.  From there, it’s all downhill into Jomsom and the conclusion of our trek, but certainly not the end of our adventure.  Congratulations on finishing your journey through some of the most exotic terrain on earth!  And bonus, we’ll meet up with the climbers in our group tonight as they’ll be walking into Jomsom from Muktinath.  B/L/D, mountain lodge.

The Spiritual Bachelors enjoying a harvest trek near Phallyak
9,030 ft ~ 2,752m
ALT Day 15
Climbers Only:  Trek from Muktinath to Jomsom  ~  May 8
  • 11 miles ~  17.75 km
  • 12,000 ft ~ 3,658m   Start in Muktinath
  • 12,600 ft ~ 3,841m   High point on Lubra Pass
  • 9,030 ft ~ 2,752m   Low point and finish in Jomsom

Trails have been leading residents of the Kali Gandaki Valley through the mystical town of Lubra for hundreds of years, but rarely do trekkers take the route.  Yesterday was a big day, so we’ll take our time over breakfast before we head out of Muktinath.  The previous day, our trekking group stuck to the north side of the Muktinath Valley, but we’ll go towards the south rim, and sooner than later, up and over via a gentle pass that leads us to oversized views of Dhaulagiri, the 8,000 meter peak that rises a whopping 19,000 feet straight up out of the Kali Gandaki Valley.  Descending into Lubra over a long, swinging bridge, we enter the only village in the area that still observes the Bon religion.  It’s a good spot for a long lunch before we brave the winds of the main valley just below.  From Lubra, the breezes start over lunch and by the time we walk down to the Kali Gandaki River, winds may be positively roaring.  An hour or two later, we’re a few miles downriver and taking our last steps of the trek into Jomsom.  If you have friends or family who weren’t on the climb, you’ll be reunited with them at our Jomsom lodge.  B/L/D, mountain lodge.

The massive, moody Dhaulagiri dominates the Kali Gandaki Valley and Lubra Pass
9,030 ft ~ 2,752m
Day 16
Entire Group:  Fly together from Jomsom to Pokhara  ~  May 9
  • 9,030 ft ~ 2,752m   High point and start in Jomsom
  • 2,713 ft ~ 827m   Low point and finish in Pokhara

Yes, the trek is finished, but not the adventure.  Our lodge will be close to the Jomsom Airport, so shortly after breakfast, we’ll show up there to try to beat the afternoon winds out of the Valley.  Our flight path takes us between Dhaulagiri and Annapurna I, both of which will be many thousands of feet above us while we’re at cruising altitude.  Eventually, we make our way into the lower valley and burst out over the green hills above Pokhara.  In Pokhara, we’ll eat, shower, rinse, repeat with very little planned beyond that.  B/L/D, mountain flight, airport transfer, hotel.

The Kali Gandaki air corridor transports you from the High Himalaya to the sub-tropical greenery of Pokhara in a matter of minutes
2,713 ft



Day 17
Free day of R&R in Pokhara  ~  May 10

Pokhara is both the adventure and relaxation capital of Nepal, so pick your poison today or mix them up.  The mountain biking is excellent, but you might prefer a massage.  Paragliding beside the Himalaya and above Pokhara’s lake is cool, but maybe you’re into an afternoon drink overlooking the lake.  Yes, there’s a zip line above Pokhara that claims to be the longest and fastest in the world, gulp, but sitting on the rooftop of our hotel watching the mountains go by is a terrific pastime.  Shopping in Pokhara could be considered both an adventure and relaxing.  Whatever you do, we’ll intersperse it with a couple delicious meals, one of the great pleasures of post-trek life in Pokhara.  B/L/D, hotel.

The Annapurna Range from the Pokhara Valley ~ photo credit Ashes Sitoula
2,713 ft



Day 18
Fly to Kathmandu, then onward international flight to your Layover City  ~  May 11

Today is getaway day, but Nepal still finds a way to captivate its guests until the bitter end.  We’ll catch a taxi to the Pokhara Airport, then hang onto your hats because our flight to Kathmandu serves up a front row seat to endless views of the spine of the Himalaya from your left-side window seat.  With a bit of luck, there’s an outside chance to spot Mt. Everest before we land in Kathmandu.  If there’s time before your flight home, we can do some last-minute shopping, grab a bite to eat, or whatever before we head back to the airport to catch our flight home.  B/L/D, domestic flight, airport transfers.

Welcome back to colorful Kathmandu



Day 19
Fly from Layover City to North America  ~  May 12

Fly from your layover and arrive at your home airport today.  Qatar Airways, Emirates, Etihad, Cathay Pacific, China Southern amongst a number of others, all provide excellent one-stop service between many North American gateways and Kathmandu.

Qatar Airways hub in Doha, Qatar

Logistics, Registration, Etc . . .

Registration & trip deposit

Total trip cost is projected to be $3,600 – $4,000 (optional climb additional, TBD)

Reserve your spot on the trip by clicking the button below, entering your information, and making a $399 trip deposit, either by credit card or check

Register Now

Registration closes April 15, 2018

New for 2018 . . . interest-free installments!

Follow up your trip deposit with monthly payments on Dec 1, 2017  •  Jan 1, 2018  •  Feb 1, 2018  •  Mar 1, 2018  •  Apr 1, 2018


Choose a traditional plan and follow up your trip deposit with one final balance payment by  February 1, 2018

Mountain Lodges

 Lodges along the Trek are comfortable but basic and offer fantastic, powerful meals to fuel trekkers.  Meals are made-to-order and served up in a warm dining room around a stove.  Menus are often extensive enough to accommodate a variety of food sensitivities.  The Circuit is famous for placing boxes of hot charcoal underneath dining tables with oversized tablecloths sealing in the heat and warming the lower extremities.  Sleeping arrangements come in a variety of offerings, but are almost always private, and sometimes come with an en suite bath as well.  Showers are available throughout the tour, although hot water seems to become more scarce the higher we travel.

So, you’re not a professional hiker?  No problem!

 Annapurna Circuit North is a nice challenge for most hikers, but a number of things make it particularly accessible to those who don’t trek on a regular basis.

There’s no camping . . . the mountain lodges provide a great amount of rejuvenation every day with help from hot meals, showers, comfortable beds, and friendly staff
You carry only a small daypack . . . our precocious porters do the heavy lifting, transporting your  big backpack or duffel bag to the next mountain lodge
You don’t have to hike every day . . . a couple of the days on the way to Tilicho Lake can be used as rest days if you don’t have Tilicho Lake summit fever.
Show up with a mediocre amount of fitness, suffer a bit the first few days, then watch in amazement as your body rises to the challenge and you end up in the best shape of your life!

Contact Your Tour Organizer

Skychasers, LLC and Jerry Lapp are honored to organize and lead your Circuit . . . we specialize in mountain treks, particularly in the High Himalaya, but in other locales as well.  Get in touch with me, Jerry, on any questions or comments:


USA phone     +1  717 . 682 . 5265


628 Oxford Drive  ~  Lancaster, PA  17601  ~  USA

” Did this trip push me outside of my comfort zone?  Absolutely, sure did!  As I get older I find myself craving trips that not only educate me but physically challenge me.  I would go back, again, in a heartbeat.  Jerry did everything he possibly could to prepare us physically for the trip.  Well, we had to do all the work, but he did not sugar coat any detail related to trek.  Even when I was at my breaking point (the first day of trekking) Jerry stayed back with me to help me to realize the journey was my own and it was ok for me to take one step at a time. “
~ Beth B., Kali Gandaki Trek, 2017

Register Now

Registration closes April 15, 2018

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