Short Annapurna circuit trek vs Short Annapurna base camp trek

Annapurna circuit trek and Annapurna base camp trek are two of the most popular treks in Nepal. Hundreds of visitors come to experience the natural beauty as well as the extraordinary trekking experience when they come to the Annapurna circuit trek and Annapurna base camp trek. There are many who tend to get confused by the two different treks because they are both associated with Annapurna. Though some aspects of both the treks are similar to one another, there are many aspects that are quite different and stand out against the other. 

You can also take short treks of both the locations. Make sure to read till the end of this article to know the difference as well as things to remember about short Annapurna circuit trek vs short Annapurna base camp trek!

How can you take a short Annapurna circuit Trek?

(Short Annapurna Circuit Trek)

When you take the shorter route to the Annapurna circuit, it will take you around only 6 days to complete. Trekkers will take their journey off from Kathmandu to Besi Sahar, heading towards Chame. The entire journey will take as long as 9 hours by road. Likewise, the trek will continue with 5-6 hours of trekking each day at Pisang, Manang, and Thorong Phedi respectively. Once trekkers cross Thorang La Pass, one will drive to Muktinath and finally go to Jomsom to spend the night. From here, you are likely to take a flight back to Kathmandu. 

Many people tend to choose to return to Pokhara or Kathmandu by flight, as it ensures that the trek ends in 6 days. If you are looking to experience a longer trek, then you can simply take the same route for trekking, which will take around 2 weeks to complete. 

Though short, the shorter route to the Annapurna circuit trek is filled with lots of naturally beautiful places to explore, new lifestyles to witness, as well as a once in a lifetime trek to make. Since you will be resting after a few hours of trekking, acclimatization happens naturally throughout your short trek. And, one can always extend a rest day in case they find it hard to adjust their bodies to the changing altitudes. 

How can you take a short Annapurna base camp trek?

The Annapurna base camp trek is also one of the best treks you can complete within only a week if you take the shorter route. There are many routes you can take, but Ghandruk is the shortest. Trekkers have a lot of options when it comes to exploration during the Annapurna base camp trek, even from this route. The short Annapurna base camp trek does not limit you from coming forth the ever flowing beautiful river, scenarios of tall mountains, and come close to the lifestyle of Gurung people living in villages there. 

You will start your trek from Ghandruk to Jhinu Danda, Chomrong, Himalaya, Deurali, Annapurna base camp, and eventually Bamboo. Once you complete the trek back to Ghandruk Phedi, you will drive back to Pokhara from the location. Many trekkers also go to Kathmandu, given they have been accommodated in the capital city of Nepal from the time of their arrival. 

One of the main reasons as to why you should take the short route to the Annapurna base camp is that you will be able to experience the best at the least amount of time. You will surely need a proper amount of experience as a trekker if you want to complete the trek, but this does not necessarily mean that you need to be an expert trekker. 

Since you will be stopping now and then in teahouses on the way of this trek, you won’t be facing as much problem acclimatizing. In cases of an emergency, when a person starts feeling groggy and tired on the trek, he can always extend his trek by a day or two. 

Short Annapurna circuit trek vs Short Annapurna base camp trek – How do they compare?

Though Annapurna circuit trek is different from the Annapurna base camp trek, there are many things that are similar about the two treks like the Annapurna region, teahouses and small hotels throughout the trails, and road construction which has impacted all the treks whose end destination is anywhere around the Annapurna region. 

The Annapurna Conservation Area Project in Nepal or the ACAP has made it mandatory for visitors to take a permit to visit any areas that come within the proximity of the Annapurna region. A foreigner is required to pay Nepalese rupees 3000 for the permit, while anyone from any of the SAARC countries should pay Nepalese rupees 200. 

The accommodations for both the treks are similar. You will get to stay overnight at lodges and teahouses. However, if there is a difference between either of the treks, it is that you will get to stay in a single private room during the Annapurna circuit trek while having the same facility during the Annapurna base camp trek is not always possible. Besides the rooms, the facilities of both ABC trek and AC trek are quite similar to one another. 

An issue and an experience that all the trekkers trekking to the Annapurna base camp and Annapurna circuit faces is that the roads are being constructed at the same time. Roadblocks are common not only in the trail of a single destination but both of them. Monsoon road blockage is the most common one during both the treks. 

Short Annapurna circuit trek vs short Annapurna base camp trek – How do they differ?

Along with the similarities, there are just as many differences between the Annapurna circuit trek and Annapurna base camp trek. Some of the main ones are the difference between the difficulty of the trails, the best time to visit either of the locations, different villages on the way to the destination, highest altitude to reach, and the length of the trails. 

Annapurna circuit trek is longer and a tad bit more difficult in general. And, it is easier for trekkers to complete a trek to the Annapurna base camp than the former destination. But this does not mean that you won’t come through challenges in either of the two trekking destinations. There are a lesser number of people on the Annapurna circuit trek. Trekkers don’t necessarily have to trace back the route as they do on Annapurna base camp trek. One should also be prepared for the crowd on Annapurna base camp trail. 

The highest altitude you will reach at the Annapurna circuit trek is 5,416m, whereas the highest altitude at the Annapurna base camp trek is 4,100m. The difficulty level of the Annapurna circuit trek is strenuous and that of Annapurna base camp trek is demanding. For one to complete either of the treks, he or she should have a good physical fitness, a healthy mindset, and experience in challenging treks is always a plus point. 

Annapurna circuit trek is under restriction to allow any visitors during the months of April, May, November, and December. But there are many who visit the Annapurna base camp during fall. 

Similarly, the villages that you come through during the two treks are also different from one another. The culture, lifestyle, houses, as well as the natural aspects of both these villages differ from one another in their own respective ways. You will explore Buddhist villages more during your Annapurna circuit trek while Gurung village exploration is more common during the Annapurna base camp trek. 

What are the challenges of short Annapurna circuit trek vs short Annapurna base camp trek?

Just because the trek to Annapurna circuit and Annapurna base camp are short when one chooses a shorter trek, does not necessarily mean that there aren’t any challenges on the way. Some of the most common challenges are that of extreme cold, altitude sickness, avalanches, descending from extremely ruthless passes, unbearable heat at lower heights, and steep paths. 

The challenges are lower when you are on the Annapurna base camp trek than the Annapurna circuit trek. You will, whatsoever, have to go through altitude sickness and trail difficulties during this trek. The altitude above the usual hill altitude can make a person sick and tired as he ascends higher. Since the road to the base camp is partially through the hills, the steep trails can make the trekker’s journeys uneasy. 

There is a great likelihood of avalanches when you are on the Annapurna circuit trek. There are challenges when it comes to heat at the lower parts of the trekking destination as well. The Thorong La pass is possibly the most difficult pass to descend from. While a short route does not necessarily take one to face the pass, your journey does not wholly depend on a single route, even if you are opting for a shorter one. Altitude sickness due to sudden change in the altitude can also suffocate trekkers throughout their journey. 

What are the highlights of the short Annapurna circuit trek?

The highlights of the short Annapurna circuit trek are:

  • Visit to one of the holiest places in Nepal for Hindu pilgrims, Muktinath temple. 
  • Aesthetically pleasing view of the mountains and the hills
  • Close interaction with Buddhist villagers
  • View of yak pastures
  • View of lakes, glaciers, deep gorges, etc. 
  • Short visit to Pokhara
  • Experience of one of the most popular trekking destinations in the world
  • Visit to Buddhist monasteries

What are the highlights of the short Annapurna base camp trek?

The highlights of the short Annapurna base camp trek are:

  • Rhododendron and oaks forests
  • View of beautiful rivers and suspension bridges
  • Glimpse of the Gurung lifestyle, including living patterns, food, culture, etc.
  • Tremendously pleasing view of the surrounding mountain ranges 
  • Early morning shadow of Mount Annapurna from the base camp

Short Annapurna circuit trek vs short Annapurna base camp trek: Which should you choose?

Not every trekker has the same motive and goal. Some may look for a trekking experience that is both short and easy, while others might want to go on a challenging trek. Hence, Annapurna base camp trek is the best if you are not as trained for a rather strenuous journey. 

If you want to experience a journey that will challenge you to the fullest, then you can simply go to the Annapurna circuit trek, which is quite short given you take a week-long route.

Though one cannot be sure as to how long he is going to spend at the base camp, the trekker should know better depending on his health condition throughout the trek. 

Both the treks have their own sets of benefits and challenges. Not all the beginners will be able to complete the journey either. Having done a thorough research on both the destinations as per one’s skills and experiences is what will help a trekker decide which location to choose. 


Going to a trek anywhere as tough and adventurous as Annapurna is not a piece of cake for any trekker, regardless of their expertise in training. The shorter routes to both ABC and Annapurna circuit have their own sets of pros and cons. It is crucial for trekkers to have the knowledge of both before they start their journey. Furthermore, a shorter trek does not always mean your journey will finish easily. With the help of a reliable trekking agency and information about your trekking destination, trekkers can ensure that their trek is both brief and convenient. 

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