Annapurna Sanctuary Trek – Get Close Up To The Annapurna Himal

On this page you will find a comprehensive and impartial guide to the Annapurna Sanctuary Trek.

Annapurna Sanctuary Trek

Route Overview

The Annapurna Sanctuary Trek is one of the most popular treks in Nepal after Everest Base Camp. Its climate varies from sub-tropical to Alpine, so there is a wondrous selection of flora and fauna, and you will come across many ethnic groups.

This trek is somewhat strenuous but requires no prior trekking experience. Most people take between 10 and 16 days to carry out this trek

The Annapurna Sanctuary Trek is the best option if you would like to get spectacularly close to the Himalayas but have no time for the acclimatisation required of other treks such as the Annapurna Circuit or the Dhaulagiri Circuit Trek. The highest altitude attained is 13,550 feet which, although still high, is lower than most treks in the region.

The Annapurna Himal is a huge massif with several peaks above 23,000 feet. A section of this range forms an amphitheatre by the name of the Annapurna Sanctuary, containing Annapurna I, Fang, Gangapurna, Glacier Dome, Hiunchuli and Machapuchhare. With so many surrounding mountains, sunlight is restricted to only 7 hours a day in summer.

At 26,545 feet, Annapurna I is the tenth highest mountain in the world. It was the first of more than 26,000 feet to ever be summitted – in June 1950 by a French party led by Maurice Herzog. Herzog’s classic account of his summit went by the title of Annapurna: The First Conquest of an 8000-Metre Peak – which we highly recommend.

The only entrance to the Sanctuary is a narrow pass between Hiunchuli and Machapuchhare. The sanctuary is regarded as the dwelling place of Shiva, the harvest goddess. It was not entered by outsiders until 1956, and only recently was the bringing of eggs or meat or the admission of women and Dalits – untouchables – permitted. The Annapurna Sanctuary Trek winds its way through the valley below the mountains. The route has been used by traders for centuries and you will share the trail with locals hefting bags of rice and crates of chickens.

Accommodation on the trek is usually in tea houses. The teahouses are almost always family-owned and are usually of good quality. Toilets are usually housed in an outside structure and will sometimes be squatters. “Flushing” is effected by means of a bucket of water. Hot showers are usually available at additional cost.

The Kali Gandaki river is one quarter of a mile wide and ensconced by the world’s deepest gorge. In winter, it is virtually dry but during the monsoon in summer it is gorged with rainwater. Fossils can be found on the banks of the river.

Please Note

The trails on the trek are generally good, however, they can often be fairly steep and the path through the forest when you approach the sanctuary can be slippery. It is possible to trek without a guide.

You will meet many other trekkers along the way. A map and guidebook ought to be sufficient (see below for recommendations). 

Please remember to plan your day to avoid trekking after nightfall.

Annapurna Regional Map

The Sanctuary is located 29 miles due north of Pokhara, Nepal’s second city, 13,120 feet above sea level. See the map schematic below.


Recommended Annapurna Map

Around Annapurna 1 : 125 000

There are two maps for this region. We recommend Around Annapurna 1 : 125 000: Annapurna Conservation Area – Annapurna Sanctuary. It includes detailed trails, walking distances and altitudes.

We have also provided links and recommendations to new guides and maps below.

Annapurna Sanctuary Trek - Typical Itinerary


Please note that there are several Annapurna Sanctuary trek itineraries that can be done. Below we have laid out the most popular version – 13 days, leaving from Kathmandu. If you want to make your own way to Pokhara then you could probably organise this with your operator or guide.

Click each day to read more.

Day 1-2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7 

Day 8

Day 9

Day 10

Day 11

Day 12

Day 13

Day 14

Recommended Guidebook


Books dedicated to the Annapurna Sanctuary Trek are Trekking the Annapurna Circuit and Annapurna Sanctuary in the Nepal Himalaya in the Nepal Himalaya by Ian P Johnson and Annapurna Sanctuary and Circuit by Alonzo Lucius Lyons.

In terms of a single detailed map we recommend the Himalayan MapHouse’s, New Annapurna Trekking Trails Map, which can be bought in Kathmandu, Pokhara or on Amazon UK here (unfortunately it is not on Amazon US yet).

You are also welcome to have a look at our recommended list of Nepal books and guidebooks Library for more options.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does the trek cost?

Are permits required for this trek?

When is the best time to trek?

Is altitude sickness a risk?

How difficult is the trek?

What gear do I need?

What travel insurance do I need?

What Trekking Insurance do I need for Annapurna?

Climbing insurance is vital for Annapurna Sanctuary Trek. If an accident or incident should occur that requires immediate medical assistance and evacuation you will most definitely want adequate trekking insurance that can cover the costs of air ambulance and treatment.

Make sure you have insurance that covers you for any travel related risks, like lost, stolen, damaged or delayed baggage; interruptions and flight delays and tour operators default.

Please read our article on trekking insurance.

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