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Annapurna Circuit Trek or Annapurna Base Camp? And What’s The Difference?

Updated: Jun 2, 2020

Annapurna is a majestic mountain found in Nepal among the Himalayan mountain range. Both the Annapurna Circuit Trek (ACT) and the Annapurna Base Camp Trek (ABC) route travel around the Annapurna region and take about 2 weeks to complete. Both routes move from a subtropical zone moving through deciduous Himalayan woods and up into the alpine regions where there is little to no vegetation.

So, What’s The Difference Between The Two Routes?

Annapurna Circuit Trek (ACT)

Let’s start with the altitude, as this is one of the biggest differences between the two routes. The ACT reaches a maximum altitude of 5,400m. Along the ACT you’ll see varying sights, including about 100 different waterfalls and beautiful pine forests! You’ll also reach a place called Manang where you can take an acclimitization trek to Lake Gangapurna (3,500m). It is a stunning lake that you can climb to on the 5th day of your ACT. One of the many highlights on this route is Thorong La. It is one of the highest mountain passes in Nepal. On the ACT you will have a chance to visit the small pagoda-style temple, which is considered sacred by the Buddhists and the Hindus. You can also bath in the natural springs that surround the peaceful temple. With shallow pools and snow-covered mountains in the background, you’ll find yourself completely overwhelmed with gratitude for the experience.

Annapurna Base Camp Trek (ABC)

Starting again with altitude, the ABC is lower than the ACT and reaches a maximum altitude of 4,200m.The ABC is similar to the ACT in that you pass several waterfalls, although not quite so many as the ACT. Along the ACT route you will find yourself climbing a very sharp ascent up to Poon Hill with views of Savannah like grasslands at the top – similar to what you’d find in Southern Africa. It is beautiful and unexpected. From Poon Hill you can also see Manaslu. One of the best points of the ABC is a little village called Ghorepani on the high pass above Kali Gandaki River gorge. From here you have a clear view of Annapurna and Dhaulagiri, both of which are over 8,000m.

Which Trek Should You Choose?

If your adventure is defined by length of time then both are an option as the duration is the same. The deciding factor really should be your fitness levels and the experience you want physically. ACT is classified as the harder trek between the two, simply because of the altitude difference and the harsher weather conditions that you can expect to experience with the 1,200m difference in altitude.

If you are looking for a more physically challenging route then definitely go for the ACT, but if you’d prefer a less challenging route then ABC is yours. Regardless which trek you choose, you will need to train specifically for mountaineering and trekking. For more help with your training and preparation, I’d recommend you read “A Step-By-Step Manual To Mountaineering & Trekking Around The World”

Which ever route you choose, just choose. Book your trip and go for it. I have never met anyone who has regretted doing either of the Annapurna routes!

If you feel stuck with your training then make sure you checkout my worldwide Mountaineering & Trekking Coaching Program here.



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