Annapurna Circuit Trek Vs Everest Base Camp Trek – Nepal is best known for its mountains and the famous Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world. As an adventurer, you’ve probably dreamed of hiking up to Everest Base Camp once in your life. There is also a second trek in Nepal, which promises an adventure that is at least as memorable: the Annapurna Circuit Trek!
To save you from sleepless nights of weighing which trek is better for you, I grabbed my friend Tobias and talked about these two tours. In this interview we compare the Annapurna Circuit with the Mount Everest Base Camp Trek, list the differences and inform you about the respective highlights.
Tobias is a big trekking fan at the age of 23, loves the mountains and feels at home in nature. In Nepal, he has covered both trekking routes within two months, so he knows exactly what makes these adventures so special and how they are different!
Annapurna Circuit Trek vs Everest Base Camp Trek
A multi-week trekking tour is an experience that every backpacker and adventurer should not miss in his travel life. There is no better way to get to know yourself better while spending an unforgettable time in nature! You’ll have to come to your limits again and again while trekking, forcing you to keep running. The feelings of happiness that come over you as soon as you have reached your goal, you can compare with no other feeling – it is sheer madness and addictive!
Trekking paradise Nepal
In Nepal, there are several routes to choose from, waiting to be discovered and more diverse. The Nepalese landscape is varied and varied. Even with many adventurers, the indecision over which route should be run, for sleepless nights. I felt the same way!
In the days before I flew to Nepal, I could not decide between the Annapurna Circuit and Mount Everest Base Camp Trek. One day I was sure that I wanted to run the Annapurna Circuit before tending to trek to Mount Everest Base Camp the next morning – it was maddening! In the end, I decided to go round the Annapurna circuit.
Battle of the Giants: Annapurna Circuit Trek Vs Mount Everest Base Camp Trek
There is no other trekking route where you can better appreciate the versatility of Nepal than on the Annapurna Circuit. The Annapurna Circuit is considered the most varied trekking route in the world and guides you through all imaginable climatic zones. The highlight is the crossing of Thorong La Passes at 5,416 meters. On your way to the pass, you’ll wander around the Annapurna massif and have a view of several mountains over 7,000 meters, while above all the Annapurna itself sits at 8,091 meters.
During the hike to Mount Everest Base Camp, Mount Everest itself is in the foreground. Seeing the highest mountain in the world with your own eyes once in a lifetime is the dream of many adventurers and has a certain attraction! The Mount Everest Base Camp at 5,380 meters is the destination of the tour, but not the highest point that can be reached. The Mount Everest is not visible from the camp and therefore worth the ascent of the 5,500 -meter-high Kala Patthar, from which the mountain of the mountains again in the field of vision.
The highest mountain in the world against the most beautiful and varied hiking trail on earth! You can now understand why many adventurers find this decision so difficult if they choose one of the two routes.
Trekking duration and travel time are the same
For the Annapurna circumnavigation, the months of October and November are suitable, but the months of April and May are also suitable. However, the view is then not so clear and it can already be quite hot in the lower regions. For the circuit, you should plan between 18 and 21 days. If you are under time pressure, it is also possible to shorten some sections and complete the trek in a few days.
Also in October or November, you can make your way to Mount Everest Base Camp. The monsoon season is over and it is not too cold yet. In spring, the trek is possible in March and April. When it comes to trekking, Mount Everest Base Camp Trek does not differ much from the Annapurna Circuit. You also have to expect between 18 and 21 days for the route and an additional week if you do not want to fly from Kathmandu to Lukla – more on that later.
In order for your tour to be a complete success, you should pay attention to the recommended trekking duration and take the travel time into consideration. As you have already noticed, there are no major differences at these points, and there are many similar things in the preparation of your trekking adventure.
The preparation is similar
Such a big project must be well planned and thought out so that everything goes as you imagine. The preparation is not difficult, but it has to be done carefully because you have to think of many points! Detailed information on how to plan your trekking trip can be found in my article on the Annapurna Circuit detailing the preparation process.
You can also take most of the points to prepare for the Mount Everest Base Camp Tour because there are no great deviations. For both routes, you need the Individual Trekking Permit and an Entry Permit for the selected region. Also, when putting together your gear you will find many clothes and things you need for both tracks. For your trip to Mount Everest Base Camp, you should pack warmer clothes as it gets colder in this area in Nepal! Special mountaineering equipment is not required on both treks.
The first bigger difference, which plays a role in the selection of the route, is the journey to the trek and we take a closer look at it with Tobias!
How do I get to the trekking routes?
The journey to Annapurna Circuit is quite easy from Kathmandu: there are daily buses to Besisahar, which take between six and nine hours. You get a ticket from 5.50 Euro in the travel agencies in Thamel. The official start for the route to Mount Everest Base Camp is in Lukla.
What are the options for getting to Mount Everest Base Camp?
The first option is to take a bus from Kathmandu to Jiri. The bus ticket costs between 4 and 7 euros. The ten-hour bus ride is exhausting and at the same time a unique experience, which is part of a trekking adventure in Nepal. Then a six- to seven-day hike to Lukla awaits you. During this time you can get used to hiking and get acclimated. You can start a shorter hike to Lukla from Sallerie, from where you only need three days. Or you rent a Jeep from Kathmandu to Sallerie from 38 Euro.
If you have less time available, you still have the most comfortable, fastest and at the same time the most expensive option – a flight to Lukla. A one-way ticket is around 160 euros.
Many trekkers choose to run from Jiri to Lukla and fly back after the trek. For this variant, I have also decided. In the end, getting to Lukla will cost you more, if you do not have enough time to walk this route yourself. Basically, the hike to Lukla is a great experience that you can tackle alone without any problems!
Outline Itinerary of Everest Base Camp Trek
Day 1: Arrival in Kathmandu
Day 2: Short flight to Lukla –Trek to Phakding
Day 3: Trek to Namche Bazaar
Day 4: Acclimatization day trip to Namche Bazaar.
Day 5: Trek to Tengboche
Day 6: Trek to Dingboche
Day 7: Acclimatization day trip to Dingboche.
Day 8: Lobuche
Day 9: Trek to Everest Base Camp – back to Gorak Shep
Day 10: Hike up to Kala Pattar then trek to Pheriche
Day 11: Trek to Namche Bazaar
Day 12: Namche to Lukla
Day 13: Fly back to Kathmandu
Day 14: Departure, or extend your tour for other activities in Nepal.
On the way as a solo traveler? – No problem!
With that we are already at the next point: For solo travelers, who are looking for a special adventure, the Annapurna Circuit is very popular! The route is well signposted and you do not have to hire a guide. In an emergency, the native Nepalese and the guides of other groups will be happy to help you but it is not wise to trek in such an area with a professional trekking guide.
And what about the tour to Mount Everest Base Camp? Can you also run these without a guide?
Tobias: You do not necessarily need a guide on the way to Mount Everest Base Camp. The same is true for a porter since you can carry your own luggage if you restrict yourself to the basics and pack easily. It’s a great feeling when you’ve mastered the challenge on your own and “alone” in this case is more relative!
You will meet like-minded people from the first day!
Especially with the Annapurna circumnavigation, it will be easy for you to make new contacts! On the trek are many solo travelers and small groups on the road, which you can join.
On the way to Base Camp, do you meet many travelers who are suitable as trekking partners?
Tobias: I also started alone from Jiri and already met many other trekkers on the first day, with whom I spent time in the coming days. It was joined in the next few days even more individual trekkers, with whom we had a great time, for example when we ate shared Momos – a typical dish for Nepal! There are many different hikers on the way and you will quickly find a connection. I can only say positively about this experience.
Accommodation and meals
The villages around the Annapurna massif have adapted to the hikers and live off it. You will find several accommodations in most places where you can spend the night. Even if an inn is fully booked, you will find accommodation a few blocks down the road.
Did you easily find a place to sleep on Mount Everest Base Camp Trek?
Yes, that was really easy! The owners have lost their way. From Namche, the places are almost exclusively lodges, where you can spend the night. In these regions, as with the Annapurna Circuit, you can ask for free beds when you offer to eat there in return. Only at the last stops before the Everest Base Camp, you should arrive early because there is always a lot of lost here. At the end of the day, everyone comes in and has something to eat.
In the Annapurna region, you can choose from a variety of dishes, which usually cost between 2 and 6 euros. Often there is rice with vegetables or chicken, pasta, lasagna, potatoes or even different pizzas. There is something for every taste and also vegetarians will find it on the menu.
In front of Namche, I can only recommend locals to try Nepali dishes such as Momos, Dalbhat or Samosas – all three are specialties of the country! In the higher altitudes, you even get – as on the circuit – pizza, pasta, and potatoes. However, the prices are higher on this trek, which is due to the difficult transport. However, it is not a big price difference: Prices are between 3 and 7 euros per court.
The landscape makes the difference!
Both treks are suitable for solo travelers looking for an adventure in the mountains, and there are no major differences in equipment and permits. The journey to the Everest Base Camp is a bit more complicated and the flight – if there is no time to hike to Lukla – more expensive. Accommodations are available in sufficient numbers for both treks. The prices for the accommodations are similar and only the food is a bit more expensive on the way to the Everest Base Camp. You will not find great differences in these basic facts. The differences between the treks are therefore in their highlights and the possible alternative routes that you can take.
These highlights are waiting for you!
During the circumnavigation of Annapurna, I especially liked nature, besides the attitude of the friendly Nepalese. The waterfalls are a great photo opportunity and impress all along the line. It is a great sight when the waters rush incessantly into the depths. The walk along the river with the huge mountains in the background is breathtaking! As soon as you are at a certain height and your gaze wanders over the valleys, you will be offered a unique panorama. Thanks to the clear view, you can see for miles and even recognize distant villages. It is the eclectic and varied landscape that makes the Annapurna Circuit so special!
Which landscape awaits the hiker on the way to the Mount Everest Base Camp?
The landscape was very impressive trekking: forests, river valleys, lakes, glaciers and not least the mountains! From Lukla, it goes along a river, from which a path leads steeply to Namche. From Namche, you have a first and very close view of the mountains. From this point on you are surrounded only by mountains, which is also the biggest difference to the Annapurna Circuit. As you circle the Annapurna Mountains, you circle around the mountains, heading straight for Everest. In the end, follow the path along the Kumbu Glacier, which leads you through a moon-like landscape to Base Camp.
Not only the arrival at the Mount Everest Base Camp is a highlight!
The highlight of the Annapurna Circuit is the crossing of the Thorong La Passes at 5,416 meters! The ascent is exhausting and exhausting, but once you have reached the pass, all the pressure will fall off and be replaced by incredible happiness.
What was your highlight during your trekking adventure in the Mount Everest region?
I never thought so, but my highlight was not the Base Camp itself! Although I was really impressed by the scenery in the camp with the many prayer flags and quite proud of me to have made it here, the most memorable moment I experienced on the way over the three passes. I especially liked the crossing of the three passes, because there were not so many hikers on the way and it was a physical challenge that brought me to my limit.
The view as I stood on the top of the pass was unbelievable. I had a phenomenal view of the valley I had already left behind, and at the same time, I could see the next valleys and mountains still waiting for me. There can not be a better reward for a trekker! The “detour” over the three passes was the best decision I could have made and the highlight in the Mount Everest region. The side trips, which are off the main routes, I can recommend to anyone.
Worthwhile detour on the routes
During the circumnavigation of the Annapurna massif, there are some interesting detours waiting for you to plan for. Even before crossing the pass, you can take the alternative route to Tilicho Lake. Tilicho Lake is one of the highest lakes in the world and lies directly in front of snow-covered mountains at over 4,900 meters! The climb alone is worthwhile for the unforgettable sight, which guarantees you a goose skin moment. The blue lake stands out from the icy mountain and looks especially beautiful in the sunshine.
Another detour is waiting for you at the end of the Annapurna Circuit in Ghorepani. From there you can climb the Poon Hill at 3,200 meters, which is especially known for its spectacular sunrises that are unparalleled. You should tackle the climb early in the morning to be on time for the first rays of sunshine on the summit!
What interesting detours can you take on the way to Base Camp?
A great detour takes you to Chukung, from where you can take a day trip to the base camp of 6,189 meters high Island Peak. At 5,200 meters, the camp is already very high and you can understand why the mountain is climbed by many mountaineers in the phase in which they prepare for even higher mountains that are above the 7,000-meter mark.
Another alternative route that I can recommend to you for this region is the Three Passes Trek, which leads to Gokyo and which I mentioned earlier. Afterward, you will come to a very beautiful and peaceful valley, which is located after Thame. I have always recommended many beautiful places from other trekkers and in my opinion, this is a great way to get aware of alternative routes.
Conclusion: That’s what the routes differ!
The biggest difference is the mountains! On the way to Mount Everest Base Camp, you have a fantastic view of the mountain peaks and are surrounded by several mountains. At the Annapurna circumnavigation, you always have the mountain in view, but you are not as close to it as on the other tour.
Both walks are exhausting and staying at over 4,000 meters makes your body bother, which is very long for a rest period. I found the track in the Mount Everest region more strenuous, because you’re traveling at this altitude for a lot longer, and it takes several days to get back up to a level that’s more comfortable for your body.
That’s why Mount Everest Base Camp Trek!
My favorite for a trekking tour in Nepal is the three-pass trek, which you can combine with the Mount Everest Base Camp Trek. The track that is waiting for you is much more exhausting and you will ascend several times to over 5,000 meters! The views are worth it anyway and reward you for the tedious and exhausting way up. It’s definitely a challenge and a great adventure! The feeling that you have survived this tour is simply indescribable. Overall, I was very excited about Nepal and I will definitely return to this country to see more.
Which route would you choose?
You got to know both trekking tours better and have an overview of the respective highlights. How would you decide if you had the choice? Do you like the eclectic landscape, or do you want to feel more like a “mountaineer” battling through to Everest Base Camp? No matter which trek you choose, you will have an unforgettable time in Nepal and come back with a lot of memories!