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The classic trek in the Annapurna region is the Annapurna Circuit. The trek encircles the famous Annapurna massif passing through sub-tropical plains in the Himalayan foothills, trans-Himalayan Manang and then entering Mustang Valley crossing the highest elevation Thorang La pass (5,416m). The trail then joins the Kali Gandaki River that flows through the deepest gorge on earth. The Annapurna Circuit attracts a relatively high number of trekkers in Nepal. As the name itself suggests, this trail goes on a circuitous route around the entire Annapurna massif, visiting the Tibet-like country on the northern slopes of the Himalaya and the dramatic Kali Gandaki gorge. Much of the trek is through lowland country, but there is one high pass, "Thorung La" (5,380m). The trail over the pass is steep but in good shape and not hard to follow. This is the one point of the entire circuit where you really feel you are amidst the mountains. However you should be aware of altitude sickness and be prepared for weather extremes as the Thorung La is notorious for changing its moods. The pass is usually snowbound and un-crossable form mid-December to mid—April.
The Kali Gandaki gorge is another spell binding part of this trip. Known to be the worlds deepest river gorge the trail upto the Jomsom (and Upper Mustang) actually goes side by side with the river giving the lonely trekker company and groups something to talk about. Thus the Annapurna circuit is an extraordinary trek, truly one of the world's best. It requires at least three weeks. But due to the popularity of this route it can sometimes tend to be crowded.
The trek may take 15 to 22 days starting in Kathmandu and winding up in Pokhara. An entry permit for ACAP is needed for the trek. Most trekkers start the trek by taking a bus to Besisahar which is an 6-8 hours drive from Kathmandu.
The trek from Besisahar follows the partly constructed road as far as the small market town of Kudhi. The first few days of the trek goes along the Marsyangdi River. The region has lush green valleys which are inhabited by Gurungs along with a large number of other ethnic groups. You encounter countless high waterfalls that cascade down into the main river while the skyline is dominated by the Annapurna and Manaslu ranges.
From Manang, the trail goes uphill through high alpine pastures until the small teahouses at Thorang Phedi. The trek on the following day goes towards Thorang La pass from where the long descent to Muktinath for a night halt begins. There are a good number of teahouses at Muktinath as it is a very popular pilgrimage site for both Hindus and Buddhists. From Muktinath you can see the skyline to the west dominated by the Dhaulagiri range while to the north can be seen arid hills of Upper Mustang. The trail leads down through the villages of Jharkot and Eklebhati inhabited by the people of Tibetan stock and finally the banks of the Kali Gandaki River is reached. The Kali Gandaki banks are inhabited by Thakali people.