Round Annapurna with Tilicho Lake plus Poonhill Trek is one of the classic journeyings in the Annapurna section of Nepal that occurs in the north-central part of the country.
Commencing the journey from comparatively lowlands leads through the settlements of different ethnic groups including Brahmins, Chhetries, Magars to the far-off inhabitants of Manang and Mustang districts.
Attractive apple orchids, the highest lake of the world- Tilicho, Thorong La- the widest and one of the highest pass, Muktinath Temple, Marpha village, natural hot spring at Tatopani, the deepest gorge of the world-Kali Gandaki gorge, numerous dazzling waterfalls, Poonhill-one of the renowned vantage points are some of the attractions of this trip.
Beyond, sightseeing of different UNESCO World Heritage Sites, visiting a diversity of Pokhara including Phewa Lake, Tal Barahi Temple, Mahendra Cave Bindhawasini temples, and exploring different cultural performances and the traditional activities performed by them make this journey more memorable and exciting.
The journey begins from Kathmandu or Pokhara reaching Bensishahar and further to Syange on a drive using a private vehicle. The trek begins here encountering a wide range of culturally rich and ethnically varied parishes and settlements of Tal, Dharapani, Chame, Pisang Manang, Khangsar, Siri Kharkha, Yak Kharka, Muktinath, Jomsom, Tatopani, Ghorepani, Poonhill, Tadapani, and further to Ghandruk as you walk on beautiful trekking trails through the very heart of the Annapurna region.
A house of freshwaters- Tilicho Lake is the highest elevated water land of the world situates at 4,949m (16,237ft) above sea level. Surrounded by Tilicho, Nilgiri, Khangsar, and Muktinath peaks, this lake reflects snowcapped mountains in the cold, clear turquoise waters.
Apart from the picturesque views of the mountain ranges throughout, Tilicho Lake carries some religious significance as well. Hindus believe that Tilicho Lake is the ancient Kak Bhusundi Lake mentioned in the epic Ramayana- a holy book in Hinduism.
The sage Kak Bhusundi is believed to have first told the happenings of Ramayana to Garuda - king of birds, near this lake. The sage took the form of a crow while telling the story to Garuda. Crow translates to Kak in Sanskrit, hence the name Kak Bhusndi for the sage.
In the past few years, Tilicho Lake has become the destination of one of the most popular side trips of the Annapurna Circuit trek spending approximately 3–4 days more.
Some of the teahouses are built between Manang village and Tilicho Lake; therefore trekkers need not stay camping during the trip. The final approach to the lake is done in a day hike from the lodge at Tilicho Base Camp.
|Day 1||Arrival in Kathmandu (1,350m/4,429ft)||Kathmandu|
|Day 2||Kathmandu: Sightseeing and Trek Preparation||Kathmandu|
|Day 3||Drive from Kathmandu to Syange (1,100m/3,608 ft)||Syange|
|Day 4||Syange to Dharapani (1,960m/6,430ft)||Dharapani|
|Day 5||Dharapani to Chame (2,710m/8,891ft)||Chame|
|Day 6||Chame to Pisang (3,300m/10824ft)||Pisang|
|Day 7||Pisang to Ngawal (3,660m/12,008 ft)||Ngawal|
|Day 8||Nawal to Manang (3,500m/11,482ft)||Manang|
|Day 9||Manang: Acclimatization day||Manang|
|Day 10||Manang to Khangsar (3,756m/12,323 ft)||Khangsar|
|Day 11||Khangsar to Tilicho Base Camp (4140m/13,583ft)||Tilicho Base Camp|
|Day 12||: Visit Tilicho Lake (4,949m/16,138 ft) then back to Siri Kharka (4,060m/13,320ft)||Siri Kharka|
|Day 13||Siri kharka to Yak kharka (4,040m/13,020ft)||Yak kharka|
|Day 14||Yak kharka to Thorang Phedi: (4,420m/14501ft)||Thorang Phedi|
|Day 15||Thorong Phedi to Thorong La pass (5,416m/17,764ft) to Muktinath (3,800/12,467ft)||Muktinath|
|Day 16||Drive from Muktinath to Tatopani (1,200m/3,937ft)||Tatopani|
|Day 17||Tatopani to Ghorepani (2,850m/9,350ft)||Ghorepani|
|Day 18||Ghorepani to Poon Hill(3,210m/10,532ft) to Tadapani (2,700m/8,860ft)||Tadapani|
|Day 19||Tadapani to Nayapul (1,070m/3,510ft) then drive to Pokhara(820m/2,690ft)||Pokhara|
|Day 20||Drive from Pokhara to Kathmandu||Kathmandu|
|Day 21||Farewell Day|
To investigate the most elevated lake on the planet, to explore quaint villages, to sightsee some of the rare flora and fauna of the Annapurna section, and spot the first yellowish rays of the sun over the giant peaks, you land at the Tribhuvan International Airport.
Completing the documentation and other formalities, you will be welcomed and greeted by one of our representatives.
You then will be shifted to the hotel in a private vehicle via the windy streets of Kathmandu valley. Get rest in the lodging of your visit and have refreshment to the jetlagged body.
As no scheduled programs are for this day, just ramble around the hotel, taste some Nepalese cuisines, and get familiar with the Nepali lifestyle.
Our exploration begins after a delicious breakfast as a private vehicle with a professional tour operator leads us towards the ancient monuments of Kathmandu Valley that represent vivid arts, crafts, and architecture. All the shrines that we visit today are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Amongst, we shall visit Swyambhunath Stupa initially. Known as the monkey temple Swyambhunath is the core attraction of the Buddhist devotees from the entire world. Crafts and carvings from the 5th century to the 21st century can be witnessed here.
A large stupa, a couple of temples around including Anantapur and Pratappur, and the temple of the Goddess Ajima or Hārītī Devī, a museum can be explored within the short time period.
Situating at the hilltop, Swyambhunath offers spectacular views of the city on a clearer day. The prayer flags hung throughout the hill add the beauty of the hilltop-Swyambhu.
Afterward, we head towards Kathmandu Durbar Square, a gem in the core of Kathmandu with a plethora of art architecture, crafts, a palace, and many temples.
Hanumandhoka Durbar Square, Kastamandapa, Kumari House, Taleju Temple, Kotilingeshwara Mahadev Temple, Indrapur Temple, Vishnu Temple, a large image of Kal Bhairav, Trailokya Mohan Narayan Temple, Basantapur Tower, and more.
Exploring around, we head for another shrine-Pashupatinath Temple, a famous and sacred Hindu temple situated on the banks of the Bagmati River, the eastern part of Kathmandu Valley.
Devoted to Lord Shiva, Pashupatinath is considered one of the most important religious places in Asia for disciples of Lord Shiva and is believed to be built in the 5th century and renovated time and again by different kings and rulers.
One can explore Pashupati temple surroundings, Pandra Shivalaya and ghat (viewpoint for tourist from the adjacent side of river Bagmati, east of the main temple), Guhyeshwari Temple, Cremate places in this trip.
The last shrine of today’s trip is Boudhanath Stupa, one of the largest Buddhist stupas in the world. Located about 11 km (6.8 mi) from the center and northeastern outskirts of Kathmandu, its massive mandala makes it one of the largest spherical stupas in Nepal and the entire world.
After the trip, we get back to our hotel and get prepared for the trip. In the office of Holy Mountain Treks, we meet our trekking guide and other crew to get ourselves clarified on the various aspects of the trekking expedition to begin from the following day.
After breakfast at the hotel, a private vehicle picks us and we head towards Syange, a small village with magnificent waterfalls nearby via Bensishahar, the district headquarter of Lamjung district. Leaving Kathmandu, the blacktopped Prithivi Highway follows the riverbed of Trishuli River.
Leaving Prithivi Highway, we follow the next turn and twisting road at Dumre and drive further-reaching Bensishahar passing several hillsides, past the streams, smaller settlements, and lush valleys en-route.
Catching a local jeep, we reach Syange-our day destination following a bit bumpy and windy road. From the windows of the jeep, one can sightsee magnificent sceneries, dazzling waterfalls, and cultivated lands with some settlements. Spending 9-10 hours in total, we reach Syange from Kathmandu.
Our actual trek to Tilicho Lake and Round Annapurna begins from this very place after breakfast at our lodge. The beginning of this trek shall mark a trek past smaller settlements along the Marshyangdi River and through a steep climb reaching the settlement of Jagat.
This trail is considered to be one of the beautiful walks in the world. Apart from enjoying the beautiful scenarios of the places, you will get the view of majestic mountains from the vantage points. Further on the steep climb continues as we reach the settlement of Chamje past waterfall and a couple of suspension bridges.
Passing the cultivated lands of corn, barley, and potatoes, the forests of rhododendron, bamboo, we land in the Manang, one of the Himalayan districts of Nepal after the settlements of Tal.
Further walking on following the rocky trails, some suspension bridges, minor parishes, and Mani wall we reach the destination of the day- the settlement of Dharapani. Dharapani is an archetypal settlement of hills with houses made of stones, stone-paved trails, and surrounded by lustrous greeneries.
A district headquarter of Manang district- Chame is our day destination today that begins initially hiking upwards reaching the settlements of Bagarchhap and Timang passing the confluence of giant Marsyangdi river and other streams, pine and fir woods, stone staircases and cliffs overlooking them, and lustrous greeneries all around. En-route we shall have spectacular far-off views of Annapurna II, Mt. Manaslu, and Peak 29.
Chame 2,650 m (8,690ft) is the administrative headquarter of Manang district and is a popular stop for the trekkers. As we are ascending in the higher and higher elevation, we may realize the necessity of extra gears which can be bought here.
Although there are some well-stocked shops are available in the town of Manang, the price is comparatively cheaper here. The variety of shops includes gear shops, medical shops, cold stores are available with great views of surrounding mountains around.
Heading off in Chame towards the apple village of Bhartang With the forested steep and narrow valley at the beginning of the trek, we move on along the Marsyangdi River today as well.
The scenery gets drastically change since we began our trip and we can observe now apple trees growing everywhere surrounded by large fences with signs warning to keep out.
The views are impressive with snow-capped mountains, rushing rivers, and pine tree landscapes. It is an obvious arrival in Bhratang with apple trees growing everywhere surrounded by large fences with signs warning to keep out.This small, bustling village is a popular stop to pick up a delicious apple pie before continuing on your way.
Continuing the trek past the memorial of Akira, a Japanese Mountaineer, and the ruins of old Bhartang and crossing over a bridge where we have the sight of Paungda Danda before we traverse through the lush path and cross another bridge called Swargadwari Bridge to enter into the valley of Pisang. After having lunch at Dhukurpokhari, we head further via flatter trail reaching the village of Pisang.
Trekking past the memorial constructed in memory of Japanese mountaineer Akira, the ruins of old Bhartang, and crossing over a bridge where we have the sight of Paungda Danda before we traverse through the lush path and cross another bridge called Swargadwari Bridge to enter into the valley of Pisang.
Savoring the authentic cuisines at the village of Dhikur Pokhari, we climb onto the village of Pisang in a relatively flatter trail.
Pisang is a small township with terraced hills, green meadows, stone-paved trails and houses made of stone, monastery and prayer flags as well as a river flowing in serpentine fashion, and witnesses the panoramic views of the mountains including Chuli East and Pisang Peak.
Walking approximately around 30 minutes, we get some rest and have some snacks for a bit harder climb to Ghyaru village. Walking approximately 1-1:30 hours, via steep climb, we reach the small settlements of Ghyaru. This place offers astounding close-up views of snow-capped peaks.
It’s hard to pick where to look – from Annapurna II and surrounding peaks in the distance to the sprawling valley below and forest-covered slopes, the scenery is spectacular.
Savoring our lunch there viewing the glittering mountain peaks from the courtyard of the teahouse, we continue our hike to Nagwal.
On the way, we overlook lush green valleys, prayer flags and wheels, Mani walls, picturesque scenery, and encountering rocky trails before landing on the village of Nagwal for an overnight stay.
After breakfast, we resume our hike towards the village of Manang, adjoining the lower route at the small settlement of Munji. An easy hike today continues trekking past the trace sidestepping the track to Kangla Peak getting the small townships of Julu and further to Braga- a village famous for its Braga Gompa which is approximately 900 years old. Further hiking via a flatter route, we reach the village of Manang for an overnight stay.
Today is scheduled as an acclimatization day. Getting an acclimatization day in Manang is crucial even if you don’t feel any symptoms of altitude sickness. It can hit people at different altitudes so you might feel fine at 3500m but start feeling sick at 4000m. A plethora of options for a short hiking to the surrounding areas is available from Manang.
Trekkers usually go for a short hike to the nearby monastery known as Praken Gomba which also provides a great view of Annapurna ranges besides the blessing by the living monk.
Optionally, we can hike to the vicinity of nearby Gaganpurna Lake and Gaganpurna Glacier beside the long hike to Ice Lake over the Braga village that also provides a view of majestic mountains and glittering icy lake itself.
After acclimatizing and exploring around, we head towards the village of Khangsar following the trail which leads to Tilicho Lake leaving the main trail of Annapurna Circuit Trek. We head from one of its western gates of Manang village then trek down to the river.
Crossing the Khangsar River via a bridge below the settlements and subsequently hike upward till reaching the village of Khangsar after a short walk along a relatively steep slope.
We shall hike to this village following the less traveled trail above the ravine of the waterway, wind-swept stalwarts, viewing Mt. Annapurna II and the archetypal scenery of Manang and picturesque adjoining. The settlement of Khangsar is a small but very beautiful town dominated strongly by Tibetan culture, lifestyle, and traditions.
We shall trek the base of the highest elevated, marvelous and picturesque lake- Tilicho Lake today. Initially descending from the village and following the Khangsar Khola passing ancient Khangsar and reaching the summer village of Siri Kharka and Tosinja prior to reaching Tilicho Base Camp. En-route, we shall encounter rocky ridges, slopes, and spectacular views of glittering peaks.
One of the most awaited days is ahead, where we shall experience a perfect and magical trekking experience, as we visit one of our destination- Tilicho Lake. Trekking approximately 3-4 hours, we reach Tilicho which situates in the world lying directly under the main Himalayan range.
Another side of Tilicho Lake, a large magnificent lake nestled at the foot of the north side of Tilicho Peak. A leader from the French Expedition team had termed as‘The Great Ice Lake’ to this lake. This lake even holds a religious significance as well and is considered as a holy lake in one of the holy books of Hindus- the Ramayana.
Spending around an hour exploring the bluish waters of the lake, capturing the glittering peaks all around, we start a decent hike for its base camp and further to Siri Kharka, a summer settlement for an overnight stay.
The trek adjoins the main trail that leads to the Thorong La Pass today. For that, we head to Yak Kharka, a place for Yak grazing. Initially, we descend to the old Khangsar village, pass antique monastery and follow the twisting trail and cross Throng Khola and the village of Ghusang reaching Tenki, a village situates just above the settlements Manang.
Continuing the journey leaving Mane walls, prayer wheels and flags, small tea shops, yak pasturelands, river vales, we ascend to the village of Yak Kharka for an overnight stay.
A short hike is ahead as we reach the base of the Thorong La Pass. The trek starts with a gradual trail to the village of Ledar along with the la.
We head on for the foothill of the challenging Thorang La pass before crossing the pass the following day. The trek starts with trekking along the landslide-prone area and continues across the glacial river that leads to Ledar after a relatively steep ascent after bypassing the trail leading to Gundang Peak base camp.
We trek continuously in an uphill climb in the trail before we reach an area with small tea shops and further ahead another area prone to landslide. The terrain nearing the Phedi is a bit strenuous as compared to the lower altitudes.
We settle here before crossing over the Pass rather than on the High Camp as sleeping at higher altitudes is not recommended. Thorang Phedi is a small and busy settlement with an amazing view of the landscape and the Himalayas which is used as the base by most of the trekkers. Overnight in Thorang Phedi.
From Thorung Phedi, we start early and climb gradually towards Thorung La Pass, which is one of the most strenuous and longest trekking of this entire trekking passing the High Camp here. Before ascending over the challenging pass we trek past through a number of false summits and increasingly high altitudes. As we reach the top of the pass at 5416m, we have breathtaking scenery to witness.
However, the enticing extraordinary excellence of the Himalayas makes certain to keep us spurred. Despite the fact that the climbing needs great exertion, passing Thorung La, the world's greatest Pass would stay in your memory for eternity. As the height is high, the lethargic walk is suggested.
After arriving at Thorung La Pass, you are hypnotized by the excellence of what this tallness offers. Ahead we have the panoramic view of the humongous Himalayas that stretches far on to Tibet, while the view of majestic Annapurna massifs is there behind us. After experiencing the natural wonder from the Pass we descent to Muktinath.
Muktinath, a significant journey objective for the two Hindus and Buddhists. Muktinath stays at an elevation of 3800m, we will adore this stature after a high height journey.
Muktinath contains Lord Vishnu and Jwala Mai Temple, Sarwa religious community, and Muktinath Temple. The 108 waterspouts in the periphery of Muktinath Temple is another attraction. At Muktinath, a yearly reasonable happens upon the arrival of Janai Purnima.
Avoiding a couple of days’ trek (Jomsom, Marpha, Ghasa, and Kalopani), we drive to Tatopani. Our drive continues to holy places of Kagbeni, Jomsom- the district headquarter of Mustang district, Marpha- a place of apple orchids, Kalopani, and ultimately to Tatopani via windy, twisting, and curvy as well as bumpy road.
Passing several settlements, waterfalls, via Kali Gandaki River valley we stop at the deepest gorge of the world-Kali Gandaki river gorge and explore for a while. Tatopani, a settlement famous for natural hot water springs believed to cure several skin diseases of the persons taking a dip in the hot water.
The journey continues to the village of Ghorepani initially crossing the Kali Gandaki River. En-route, we have to pass several settlements, small streams, terraced hills and cultivation fields, and stone staircase, stone-paved, and lustrous greeneries viewing a couple of glittering peaks.
We trek through the settlement of Ghara and ascent on to the Magar village of Sikha before further climbing to the trail junction ahead of Phalate which heads on to Chitre village. Traversing further in the trail we ascent to the Ghorepani Deurali and after a short descent we ascent to the marvelous village of Ghorepani.
The destination of Ghorepani is the traditional stoppage of traders’ en route Tibet for trade and is famous for marvelous and breathtaking panoramic views of the Himalayas besides serving as the hub connecting some popular trekking trails.
We shall witness one of the most spectacular sunrises over the giant peaks of Annapurna and Dhaulagiri massifs. We shall start an early upward hike about an hour reaching the vantage point of Poonhill. Numerous fellow trekkers can be met on the way and seem to compete to spot panoramic views of the Himalayas.
Upon arrival at Poonhill, one can have the glittering peaks followed by the spectacular views of the golden rays of the sun over them.
Witnessing the mesmerizing sunrise view from Poonhill over Annapurna massifs including Mt. Gangapurna, Mt. Annapurna South, Annapurna I mountain, Dhaulagiri Mountain, Hiunchuli Mountain, and their neighboring peaks, we descend to Tadapani.
En route, we shall trek past dense rhododendron woodlands, pristine landscapes, some settlements of diverse ethnic groups, stone staircases, scenic landscapes, and cultivated lands.
After breakfast, we have a gradual climb to the Komrong Danda followed by descending hike to the famous village of Ghandruk, an ethnic Gurung settlement having a plethora of lodges, guesthouses, and homestays.
After lunch, we hike further downward reaching Nayapul via Kimche, Lilu, and Syauli Bazar and joining the trail along the Modi River before reaching the settlement of Birethanti and further on to Nayapul.
We shall be driving to the beautiful city of Pokhara passing the scenic lustrous greeneries, rural reimbursements, and view of the Himalayas supervising the journey.
Leaving the heavenly site of Pokhara, we drive back to Kathmandu. It approximately takes 7-8 hours to reach Kathmandu passing middle hills countryside, diverse landscapes, and streams, torrential rivers of Seti, Marsyangdi, and Trishuli, ethnic settlements of Thakali, Gurungs, and Newars, antique religious shrines, and other natural sceneries.
Upon reaching Kathmandu, we check in the hotel and get some refreshments. The rest of the time can be spent own ways. In the evening, we shall gather in one of the cultural restaurants for the farewell dinner organized by Holy Mountain Treks.
The adventurous journey to the Annapurna section has come end today and it is time to say bye to Nepal. One of the representatives from Holy Mountain Treks shifts you to the Tribhuvan International Airport at least 3 hours before the scheduled flight.