Trek booking opened for 2024/25 !  A notice for Lukla flight diversion through Manthali Airport from March, April and October and November 2024 !

Is Annapurna Circuit Dangerous? As one of the popular trekking destinations in Nepal, is the trek worth taking? If you embark on this trek or consider taking it, you must read this article. 

The Annapurna Circuit Trek covers the entire Annapurna massif. The trails go from subtropical verdant to conifer forests, highland meadows, and glacial valleys. The breathtaking scenery has captured trekkers’ attention worldwide. One can witness 360-degree views of the Annapurna ranges, Machhapuchhre (Fishtail), Dhaulagiri, and several other peaks in the Annapurna region during the trek. 

The circuit’s routes lie inside the Annapurna Conservation Area so that trekkers can witness the region’s rich and diverse flora and fauna during the trek. Trekkers will traverse charming settlements, picturesque terrace farms on the hills, ancient monasteries, and gompas. En route, they will also pass by valleys, rivers, waterfalls, and glaciers. However, the Annapurna Circuit has a few dangers we must address. 

The high altitude already exposes trekkers to the risk of altitude sickness. However, several other factors make the trek risky and sometimes dangerous. After all, trekking around the world’s 10th highest and one of the most dangerous mountains is not a leisurely walk in the park. However, it does not mean you should avoid going on the trek. So, let us explore Annapurna Circuit Trek more!

Facts of Annapurna Circuit Trek

Take a look at the facts about the Annapurna Circuit Trek:  

Trek NameAnnapurna Circuit
Trek RegionAnnapurna region
Difficulty LevelStrenuous
Trek Duration11 – 15 days
Trek Starting PointBesi Sahar, Lamjung
Trek Ending PointMarpha, Mustang
Trek’s Highest PointThorong La Pass (5,416 meters)
AccommodationTeahouses, lodges, and guesthouses
Best season for the trekSpring (March to May) & Autumn (September to November) 
Permits for trekTIMS CardACAP

Is Annapurna Circuit Dangerous?

Annapurna Circuit is a high-altitude and strenuous trek but is not entirely dangerous. Due to its rough terrain and challenging climbs, it is physically and mentally demanding. However, the trek is worth taking the challenges. 

The Annapurna Circuit takes 11 to 22 days to complete, depending on the route. Its route encircles the entire Annapurna massif. The trek is dangerous because it goes through the Annapurna range. The Annapurna is the world’s tenth-highest mountain and one of the deadliest mountains, with a fatality rate of 32%. Some mountaineers consider it to be more challenging to climb than Mount Everest, Manaslu, and K2

Annapurna circuit Trek
Is Annapurna Circuit Dangerous? 4

The highest point of the Annapurna Circuit Trek is Thorong La Pass, at 5,416 meters. Due to the low oxygen in the atmosphere, many trekkers fall prey to altitude sickness. Altitude sickness can be fatal if one does not take proper precautions. Another factor that makes Annapurna Circuit Trek dangerous is unpredictable weather. The weather in the Himalayas can be harsh. These extreme conditions can cause accidents and fatalities. There is also the risk of avalanches.  

Annapurna Circuit Trek has its risks and challenges. However, one can complete this adventurous journey with proper preparation and reasonable fitness. It has a 98% to 100% success rate. There are records of trekkers at the tender age of 16 and some at the ripe age of 70 conquering the Annapurna Circuit. 

Annapurna Circuit Trek Difficulty

Weather Conditions

The weather in the mountains is unpredictable. In a few hours, sunny weather can become undesirable. The inclement weather can especially be harsh at Thorong La Pass, which sits at a height of 5,416 meters. Sometimes, sudden weather changes can cause a drop in temperature or cover the trails to the mountain pass with snow. Trekkers can suffer from problems like snow blindness, hypothermia, and frostbite. 

Altitude Sickness

Due to the high altitude, trekkers can experience altitude sickness during the Annapurna Circuit Trek. The severity of the illness can vary between trekkers. Acclimatization can help reduce the risk. However, if trekkers experience severe symptoms, they must seek immediate attention. Without proper precaution, it can be life-threatening. There are three types of altitude sickness which are:

AMS: The most common and mild form of altitude sickness is Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). Its symptoms include:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Insomnia
  • Swelling
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty breathing. 

HAPE: High-altitude pulmonary Edema (HAPE) occurs when fluid accumulates in the lungs. Its symptoms include: 

  • Fatigue
  • Persistent dry cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Blue or gray lips and fingertips

HACE: High-Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE) occurs when a lack of oxygen in the body causes fluid to accumulate in the brain. Its symptoms include: 

 Nausea

  • Vomiting
  • Severe headache
  • Disorientation
  • Lack of coordination
  • Change in behavior 

Health Issues

Trekkers’ health issues can also create difficulty during the Annapurna Circuit Trek. The challenges can cause problems or even worsen current health issues. Hence, those with weak health or health problems should avoid the trek. The circuit is a strenuous trek that is physically demanding, climbing higher elevations. Moreover, there are no proper medical facilities along the route. It is dangerous to trek with health issues, which can even be fatal.   

Trekking Difficulties

The trekking trails of the Annapurna Circuit go from lower to high-altitude regions. Along the way, trekkers have to cross steep and narrow paths, cross several suspension bridges, and overcome glacial moraines. Due to weather changes, the trail conditions may also create difficulties for trekkers. The trail may be more accessible for experienced trekkers but can be arduous for beginners. It can be more challenging to trek in certain areas, like landslide-prone sections. The trails can be slippery, and trekkers can get into accidents.  

Problems that arise due to insufficient Gear

Aside from physical and mental preparation, proper and adequate gear is also crucial for Annapurna Circuit Trek. It plays a significant role in easing the trek’s difficulty and making it convinent. It is essential to have adequate gear during the trek all year round. But during winter and summer, the weather conditions can be extreme. It is essential to have the right gear.  However, carrying too much unnecessary can weigh you down. Carry only what you need.  

Getting Lost

Trekking on the unfamiliar territory can be daunting and expose you to several dangers. Although there are well-designated trails, trekkers can lose their way. Poor visibility, snow-covered trails, and other factors can cause this. Deviating from the designated trails can expose trekkers to dangers. They may suffer injuries, get into accidents, or encounter wild animals. Therefore, it is strongly advised that trekkers must not stray away from the main trail. 

Accident and Fatalities History of Annapurna Circuit Trek

Annapurna Circuit is a beautiful and adventurous journey. However, there have been records of accidents and fatalities during the trek. Take a look at incidents and the causes at Annapurna Circuit. 

Deaths and Incidents

Mount Annapurna has one of the highest fatality rates, i.e., 32%. A study showed that there are around 32 dead bodies for every hundred mountaineers that climb Annapurna. There are frequent cases of avalanches and ice falling on the southern part of the mountain. 

On October 14, 2014, a sudden change in weather caused seven deaths near Thorong La Pass. There was also the case of 43 deaths during the Annapurna Circuit Trek due to sudden weather changes and failure of communication. These incidents are a reminder of how dangerous the trek can get. The changes can happen at any time and can be fatal. 

Causes of Accidents

The many causes of such incidents were sudden changes in weather conditions and effective emergency response. Avalanches, icefalls, and altitude sickness were other culprits behind the accidents. With past accidents, the mountaineers, trekking communities, and trekkers were taught valuable lessons. There has been an upgrade in safety measures for Annapurna Circuit in recent years. Similarly, awareness campaigns educate trekkers and climbers about the dangers of the trek and how to overcome them. 

Solutions to Reduce the Risks

Take a look at some solutions to reduce the risk during Annapurna Circuit Trek: 

  • Hire a licensed and experienced guide with adequate first-aid training. 
  • Assess your physical fitness level and train 2 to 3 months before the trek. 
  • Choose the right season and check the local weather before embarking on the journey. 
  • Ascend to higher elevations gradually and acclimatize properly. 
  • Eat a healthy diet and stay well-hydrated.
  • Pack light but carry all the adequate and right gear for the trek. 
  • Avoid excessive intake of caffeine, chocolate, and alcoholic beverages. 
  • If you begin experiencing altitude sickness, let your guide know. If the symptoms are severe and persistent, descend to lower elevations immediately. 
  • Carry all the necessary medications and first-aid kit for the trek. 

Best Season to visit the Annapurna Circuit Trek

The season plays a crucial role in a safe trekking experience. Nepal has four distinct seasons: spring, summer, autumn, and winter. The season significantly influences the weather conditions. Thus, choosing the right season for the Annapurna Circuit Trek will enhance your safety and trekking experience. Spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November) are the best times for trekking. It is best to avoid summer and winter due to extreme weather conditions.  

Spring season: The spring weather is pleasant and favorable. The days are sunny and long, and the temperature is moderate. At higher altitudes, it can get a little chilly at night, but it is warm during the day. The season is dry with very little rainfall. Moreover, spring colors the mountains as rhododendron forests and wildflowers bloom everywhere.    

Summer season: The summer season coincides with the monsoon, which brings heavy rainfall to the lower regions of the country. The trails become wet and slippery, increasing the risk of trekking. Additionally, there is the risk of landslides and mudslides. Leeches also infest the trails during the monsoon. Hence, it is best to avoid the summer season for the Annapurna Circuit Trek.  

Autumn season: One of the best and peak times for the Annapurna Circuit Trek. The weather is stable, and the temperatures are warm. The vegetation and landscapes look vibrant and fresh. Likewise, the autumn foliage also makes it a great time for trekking. The excellent visibility of autumn offers crystal-clear views of the mountain vistas. 

Winter season: Winter is a great time to witness the snow landscapes of the Annapurna region. However, visibility is relatively poor, and higher areas receive heavy snowfalls and blizzards. The temperature of higher altitudes plunges during winter. There is a risk of avalanches and icefall. Similarly, snow can block high mountain passes. Annapurna Circuit Trek is suitable only for seasoned trekkers in winter due to its extreme weather conditions.          

How Far is Annapurna Circuit?

Annapurna Circuit Trek is among the longest trekking destinations in Nepal and is also one of the best long-distance treks in the world. Depending on the route, it can take 11 to 22 days to complete the trek, which covers 160 km to 230 km. The Circuit’s trek route covers the entire Annapurna massif and two river valleys. Trekkers can take several detours for a more adventurous experience.  

Annapurna Circuit
Is Annapurna Circuit Dangerous? 5

To begin your trek, you must travel from Kathmandu to Pokhara. You can either take a roadway or fly to Pokhara from Kathmandu. It takes 6 to 7 hours of driving or 30 minutes flight to Pokhara. Then, you will take a 5 to 6-hour jeep drive to Besi Sahar, the starting point of the trek. 

Training for Annapurna Circuit

Annapurna Circuit requires good fitness and proper physical preparation. Depending on the destination, the trek involves an average of 5 to 6 hours of walking. Trekkers must also climb steeply uphill and downhill trails, which is physically demanding. Hence, the trek requires good physical stamina, strength, and endurance. 

Trekkers should engage in exercises and training that help increase their stamina and endurance. Some of the best exercises for the Annapurna Circuit Trek include cardiovascular exercises, strength training, and aerobics. 

Cardiovascular exercises include running, cycling, and swimming. These exercises help to increase stamina. Strength training builds muscle endurance and conditions your legs. You can do strength exercises like lunges, squats, toe-ups, and leg presses. Similarly, aerobic workouts like stair running, jumping jacks, jumping squats, box jumps, etc., help increase endurance.

The Annapurna Circuit Trek requires mental training in addition to physical training. Research the trek routes and familiarize yourself with the terrain and challenges beforehand. This helps you set realistic expectations and build mental resilience. For best results, start training at least two to three months before the trek.      

Guide/Porter

The Nepal Tourism Board has made hiring a licensed guide for the Annapurna Circuit Trek mandatory. This rule ensures the safety of the trekkers. Since most trekking destinations in Nepal lie in remote areas with limited infrastructure, trained guides are crucial for trekkers’ safety. 

Guides help navigate the trails and provide immediate help during emergencies. Porters, on the other hand, reduce physical strain by carrying trekkers’ heavy luggage. It helps reduce the risk of injury and lets you enjoy the trek luggage-free.  

You can hire a licensed guide and porter through a registered trekking agency. The average cost of hiring a guide ranges between USD 30 and USD 35 per day. If you hire an experienced guide, they offer better services but will cost more. Meanwhile, the porters usually charge between USD 25 to USD 30 for their services. The luggage limit for a porter is 18 kg to 20 kg.  

Conclusion

So, is Annapurna Circuit Dangerous? As you might come to know by now, Annapurna Circuit Trek has its risks and dangers. There are several factors trekkers must consider before they decide whether the trek is suitable for them or not. While it is great to be adventurous, pushing yourself too hard can be fatal while trekking in the Himalayas. 

If you are considering taking the trek, follow proper precautions and follow a safety guide. Also, prepare yourself and adequate gear to tackle the unexpected changes during the trek. It will help make your trek safe and memorable. 

FAQs

Is Annapurna Circuit safe?

The Annapurna Circuit has well-designated trails that are safe for trekking. However, its trails go through the Annapurna Range, infamous for being one of the world’s most dangerous mountain ranges. It is also a high-altitude trek where one must climb steeply up and downhill. Trekkers must take proper precautions and follow the safety guidelines.

How difficult is the Annapurna Circuit Trek?

The Annapurna Circuit is a strenuous trek that is physically and mentally demanding. Trekkers must have good stamina and fitness. During the trek, they walk for an average of 5 to 6 hours. Likewise, they have to make steep ascends and descends on varied terrains. High-altitude trekkers may succumb to altitude sickness.  

What is the age restriction for Annapurna Circuit Trek?

Despite being a strenuous journey, the Annapurna Circuit Trek has no age restriction. Anyone with reasonable fitness, strength, and endurance can join the trek. However, they must make proper physical and mental preparations. Note that trekking agencies can have their age recommendation for safety purposes.

What makes the Annapurna Circuit Trek risky?

Weather, high altitude, rough terrain, and unexpected events make the Annapurna Circuit Trek risky. Due to the high altitude, there is also a high risk of trekkers experiencing altitude-related sickness, which needs immediate attention. Similarly, the rough and steep trails can cause the risk of injuries.  Trekkers can lose their footing while trekking on varied terrains and face accidents. 

Do I have to hire a guide for the Annapurna Circuit Trek?

Hiring a licensed guide for the Annapurna Circuit Trek is mandatory but also crucial for the trekker’s safety. They help navigate the difficult sections of the trek. It helps to avoid the risk of getting injured. Guides are trained professionals who provide immediate support in emergencies. 

Tej Bahadur Gurung

With an experience of almost two decades, founder Mr. Tej Bahadur Gurung has established Nepal Alternative Treks as a widely recognized and reliable tourism operator. His degree in Tourism Studies and devotion to the sector has given him in-depth knowledge about trekking, climbing, cultural, and geological aspects of the country. He is a pioneer in introducing the concept of ‘off-beaten tracks’ and ‘alternative routes’ as well as treks and tour packages surrounding it.

Similar Posts

Read More
Annapurna base Camp Trek in November

6 Best Tips for Annapurna Base Camp Trek in November

Read More
Best Time for Mera Peak Climbing

Best Time for Mera Peak Climbing

Read More
Best Treks in Nepal

Best Treks In Nepal

Sign up to our newsletter

Stay up to date with the latest news,
announcements, and articles.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Write us a Review

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Click To Chat