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Alternative Treks to Annapurna Base Camp Trek

Want to venture beyond the classic route? Discover incredible alternative treks to Annapurna Base Camp Trek!

Alternative Treks to Annapurna Base Camp Trek

Located in the trekker’s paradise, i.e. the Annapurna Conservation Area, the Annapurna Base Camp trek is a highly sought after trekking route that beckons the adventurers with the stunning vistas, cultural experiences, and the diverse landscapes.

However, with this growing popularity come certain disadvantages which might prompt you to consider your options. This hunt might either be limited to other short treks in the Annapurna region or treks from all over Nepal.

Either way, Ace the Himalaya can be your trusted partner to help you find the best alternative treks to Annapurna Base Camp trek.

Why Consider Alternatives?

The Annapurna Base Camp trek is considered one of the best trekking routes in the world with the kind of view and overall experience it provides. So, the obvious question is why go for an alternative trekking route?

While the ABC trek is a complete adventure in itself, there are certain factors which might not be fascinating for the trekkers. The first and foremost being the crowd on the trail.

Due to the popularity of the trek, there is a high influx of tourists which has led to the commercialization of the trail. The alternatives can help you experience a much more intimate journey connected to nature.

Other factors which might be a problem is the duration as some people might just have limited time which might not suffice for the ABC trek or the fitness level required for the ABC trek, or simply the individual interests.

If you too are such an adventurer looking for an alternative trek to the Annapurna Base Camp trek, we have compiled a list of options to help you pick a trek that perfectly complements your desires.

Ghorepani Poon Hill

The Ghorepani Poon Hill trek is a short yet classic adventure which is the perfect choice for people seeking moderately challenging and short treks. It takes you to one of the best sunrise viewing points in Nepal accompanied by the majestic Annapurna and Dhaulagiri ranges.

A trek spanning 8 to 9 days, this is a beginner friendly option which takes you through diverse landscapes including lush rhododendron forests, charming villages, and rich cultural encounters in the Gurung villages.

Early morning view from Poon Hill
Early morning view from Poon Hill

This is a suitable trek for people with basic fitness levels and also for those looking to have a family outing as it takes you to a maximum altitude of 3,210 meters which is easily achievable.

While it does provide stunning views of Machhapuchhre, Annapurna, Dhaulagiri, and Manaslu, it also gets very crowded. So, make sure to leave early to secure a perfect spot for viewing.

Annapurna Circuit Trek

An elaborate version of the Annapurna Base Camp trek, the Annapurna Circuit trek is another classic trail of the region. However, this trek features many more diverse landscapes, cultural experiences, and views too.

Unlike the ABC trek, this trek encircles the Annapurna massif, and it is a journey of 18 to 19 days which makes it a long trekking route. It also takes you to a much higher altitude at the Thorong La Pass at 5,416 m making it a difficult trek.

Trail to Upper Pisang
Trail to Upper Pisang

People embarking on the Annapurna circuit trek need to have a good level of physical fitness and preferably prior trekking experience, although not compulsory, as it can be quite daunting.

Having said that, the experience is worth it as in these two weeks you will be experiencing a beautiful blend of quaint villages, religious sites in the Himalayas, high altitude mountain passes, and more.

Capturing Moments along the trail
Capturing Moments along the trail

You will also be traversing a variety of landscapes like lush forests, alpine meadows, unique high-altitude deserts, subtropical forests, and a unique mix of different cultures including Gurung, Sherpa, Thakalis, with a high influence of Tibetan culture.

Among many other reasons to trek the Annapurna Circuit, you will also be treated with the thrill and reward of conquering the challenges of the trek after which you can relax and unwind at Tatopani. All in all, it is a better alternative for people seeking more challenge and flavor as compared to the ABC trek.

Tilicho Lake Trek

The Tilicho lake trek is another suitable alternative which can be done either individually or as an adventurous extension of the Annapurna Circuit trek. This trek takes you to the highest lake in the world- the Tilicho Lake and is considered as one of the best lake treks in Nepal.

Tilicho Lake
Tilicho Lake

While on this trek, you will follow the same route as the Annapurna Circuit up to Manang and from there you will take a detour to Tilicho lake. After that, you can either return back the same way or follow the circuit.

It is considered a moderately challenging trek that takes you to an altitude of almost 5,000 meters. The trails can be challenging, especially as the months of winters approach when the trails are covered in ice.

A trekker at Tilicho Lake
Frozen beauty of Tilicho Lake

However, the experience is worth it as you traverse through a variety of landscapes ranging from lush forests and alpine meadows and see the crystal-clear waters of the Tilicho Lake reflecting the surrounding snow-clad peaks.

Khopra Ridge Trek

One of the off-the-beaten trekking routes for people seeking a quieter alternative to the Annapurna Base Camp trek is the newly opened Khopra Ridge trek which is a moderately challenging trek that can be covered within 9 to 10 days.

This trek is not as popular yet which is a good thing for trekkers seeking solace. The Khopra Ridge trek offers spectacular mountain views, diverse landscapes, visit to some unique places, as well as rich Gurung culture.

Mulde View Point, Khopra Ridge Trek

Based on your preferences, you can either conclude your trek at the Khopra Danda at 3,640 m or you can continue it till you reach the holy Khopra Lake (Khayer Lake) at 4,660 meters. We would recommed going all the way up to the lake for an enhanced experience.

You will be treated with breathtaking spectacles of himalayan giants like Annapurna South, Hiunchuli, Manaslu, Dhaulagiri, as well as Nilgiri. You will also be treated to a serene lake view during the trek.

During the trek, you can also enjoy the architectural marvel of the Lupra Pass and explore the charming local Gurung villages with warm hospitality. After the trek, you can unwind at the natural hot springs with healing properties at Tatopani.

Langtang Valley Trek

Located in the Langtang National Park, the Langtang Valley trek is an accessible and equally beautiful alternative to the Annapurna Base Camp trek which allows you to escape the crowds and truly connect with nature.

This trek is moderately challenging and can be done by beginners too with a basic level of fitness. Covered within 7 to 10 days, this trek takes you to an altitude of 4,984 meters at Tserko Ri. However, you can skip it and conclude your trek at Kyanjin Ri too if you struggle with altitude.

Mountain view from Kyanjing Ri, Langtang Valley Trek
Mountain view from Kyanjing Ri, Langtang Valley Trek

From these vantage points, you can get spectacular panorama of the Himalayas like Langtang Lirung which is the fourth highest peak in Nepal, Tserko Peak, Yala Peak, and Dorje Lakpa.

You will also get an immersive cultural and spiritual experience at places like Kyanjin Gompa and other monasteries and be treated to rich Tamang culture in the villages along the trail.

Kyanjin Gompa village with mountains in the background
Kyanjin Gompa village with mountains in the background

While you are at it, you will also have an immersive experience with the unique flora and fauna of the Langtang National Park. You can also extend your adventure to the Langtang Base Camp which might be a good escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Comparative Analysis

Below is a tabulated comparison of the treks given above for a better and easier understanding of the best alternative trek to Annapurna base camp trek based on your preferences:

TrekLength (Days)DifficultyBest SeasonUnique Features
Ghorepani Poon Hill Trek9Easy to ModerateMarch-May, September-NovemberStunning sunrise views, beautiful landscapes, beginner-friendly
Annapurna Circuit Trek19ChallengingMarch-May, September-NovemberVaried landscapes, Thorong La Pass, stunning panoramas
Tilicho Lake Trek19ChallengingMarch-May, September-NovemberHigh-altitude lake, adventurous trail, adventurous trails
Khopra Danda Trek11Moderate to ChallengingMarch-May, September-NovemberPanoramic views, cultural immersion
Langtang Valley Trek10ModerateMarch-May, September-NovemberTamang culture, scenic valley views

Practical Information

Permits and Regulations

Your alternatives to the Annapurna Base Camp might cover treks within different regions of Nepal, most of which are included within conservation areas and national parks of Nepal.

Therefore, one must carry certain documents and permits for the trek as they are restricted areas regulated by the government of Nepal. As most of the treks on our list fall within the Annapurna Conservation Area, we have provided the details of essentials specific to this region.

To trek in the Annapurna Conservation Area, you need to have the Trekker’s Information Management System (TIMS) permit and the Annapurna Conservation Area Permit (ACAP).

For other trekking routes, the TIMS permit remains a compulsory constant. However, the other permits might change based on the area that you are entering. These permits can be easily obtained from the trekking department.

Some areas need one permit while some others like Sagarmatha National Park require two permits, namely Sagarmatha National Park Permit and Khumbu Pasang Lhamu Rural Municipality card.

Also, as of 2024, tourists are not allowed to trek alone in the remote trails of Nepal. This rule is applicable to all the trekking routes in Nepal including the Annapurna Base Camp trek as well as all of its alternatives.

This has been imposed to ensure the safety of the trekkers while exploring the areas new to them. It also increases local employment opportunities. So, make sure to partner with a reputable local agency like Ace the Himalaya for the best experience.

These permit requirements and rules have been put in place by the government of Nepal to protect the fragile ecosystem and flora and fauna of the trekking areas while ensure responsible trekking.

Best Time to Visit

No matter which trek you are picking from this list, the best time to trek in Nepal is usually the months of autumn (September to November) and monsoon (March to May) which is also the case for all these treks too.

Trekker on the way to Thorang Phedi from Yak Kharka, Annapurna Circuit
Trekker on the way to Thorang Phedi from Yak Kharka, Annapurna Circuit

These months feature clear skies with high visibility resulting in spectacular mountain views, active flora and fauna, moderate temperatures, and much more comfortable trekking conditions.

For details on a specific trekking route, conduct more research on the route and refer to blogs like best time for Everest base camp trek and best time for Annapurna circuit trek.

Safety Tips

While on trekking trails of Nepal, your safety is in your own hands. Along with enough prior preparation, it is also important to follow some tips to ensure your safety and comfort throughout the trek.

The first thing to ensure is to not trek alone. Always hire a guide with enough knowledge about the region as they can help you in communication with the locals and even find the best route for evacuation in case of emergencies.

Make sure you are not disturbing any wildlife during the course of your trek as it might bring unwanted consequences. Observe them from a distance and make sure to be respectful to nature.

Trekkers traverse the rugged path to Thorong La Pass.
Trekkers traverse the rugged path to Thorong La Pass.

Although the basic weather of the trails can be predicted based on the months, it is best to expect the unexpected as the weather might change at any time. So be prepared for the worst and keep additional days in your itinerary.

Most of the alternative treks to Annapurna Base Camp are moderately high-altitude treks. Therefore, make sure to acclimatize well to prevent altitude sickness and other health ailments.

Stay hydrated throughout the trek and stick to a vegetarian diet to avoid issues like food poisoning. If you see any symptoms of sickness, descend immediately.

Accommodation and Food

Just like the accommodations on the Annapurna Base Camp trek, the alternative trekking routes also feature options for a comfortable and cozy stay. While they might not be as luxurious as the Annapurna trail, they will still suffice.

Dal Bhat during ebc trek
Dal Bhat during  trek

You will find teahouses and lodges with basic facilities like hot water, comfortable beds, and more. Some might even feature options for laundry. If you have the option, you should opt for homestays for a better experience.

The food options will include a variety of local dishes including the staple dal bhat tarkari (rice, lentils, and vegetables), momo, thukpa, and other meals. Also carry some high protein snacks for added energy.

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