Jomsom Annapurna Circuit Trek

14 days

5416 M



Jomsom Annapurna Circuit Trek is an ideal teahouse trail. Lake of Tilicho said to be the highest in the world…and crossing Thorong La at 5416m presents a delightful challenge that presents a bigger test for the mind than the body…but the magnificent skyline displays silver, gray and white mountains that glimmer on a fair weather day and the diverse ethnic communities we bump into on the way give us a fair idea of the world we know and the world we don’t…but wish to become a part off…

Tilicho Lake at 5,200m is assumed by many to be the assumption of a myth some time ago and is also deemed to be the highest clean water lake in the world. This lake finds its source from the glacial melt that pours down from the complete northern slopes of Annapurna and the Thorong Peak; and it is this lake that drew hundreds of hindus in 2001 to this lovely lake after seemingly been persuaded that this holy lake was supposed to be noted in the Ramayana – a holy book used by hindus.

Jomsom Annapurna Circuit is an ideal teahouse trail that begins with some negotiation from Manang to Jomsom as used on the Annapurna circuit and seems to be a convenient pathway, it may be but we need to be a bit cautious about this. Because our Tilicho trail requires some concentrated acclimatization which is more than what we would need on the Thorong la. However, Thorong la is definitely higher but we come across pretty good mule track to cross this pass which makes things a lot easier; during the humidity period of July this area can be passed by simply wearing thongs on our feet. Tantamount to this, we could only spend a few hours above these challenging heights of 5000m and we can descend pretty fast when its over; other than this, unless there is some unpredictable bad weather, this route is real good on the body because we cozy teahouses to rest our weary bodies at night instead of tents. We could spend a night in Thorong Phedi and the next night in Muktinath because the route is conveniently placed for us…

Some years ago Jomsom Annapurna Circuit was exclusive as it comes and was forbidden completely accept for a few expeditions with special permission that were allowed to explore this area. 1974 was the year that Nixon changed his china strategies and some of the areas above Thini on the Jomsom section was prohibited and declared an off-limits military zone. And there was no way that the lake could be visited from the Manang side except on rare occasions. It was even rumored that a bestseller book told ardent trekkers that the route to Tilicho was on a ‘fantasy of the mind’’ and the local folks in Manang had no idea that such a lake even existed right in their backyards. And the Manang folks refused to be used as beast of burden due to their prosperity from international trade due to the passport privileges granted to them by the then king of Nepal. Nevertheless, this so called ‘fantasy of the mind’’ lake truly well turned out to be the reality that today is the ‘Tilicho Lake’’ sought by so many trekkers from around the world.

Our venture begins with a scenic drive to the lake city of Pokhara where we relax the whole day and prepare for our trek the next day after we hop a second flight to Jomsom. We have planned this route in a way that avoids the well used Annapurna Circuit route and take us off the beaten track to the prime valley that heads west through Khangsar village {said to be the last village in Nepal} as hike up to Tilicho lake and move on to Yak Kharka to reach Thorong La; we then come down to Muktinath and travel on to Jomsom from where a 30 minute scenic flight brings us back to Pokhara…and some civilization, or so they say, but a warm and comfortable bed.
Tilicho Lake also gives us an alternative of crossing the tough Mesokanta La pass to Jomsom instead of using the Thorong La route, but this can be hectic posing risky challenges that would require more cost in extra equipments, tented camps and a host of porters so it’s best that we do it through the Thorong La. It’s much safer.

Includes and excludes :

  1. All meals as specified for trek (breakfast, lunch, dinner with tea/coffee).
  2. Arrival pick up & departure.
  3. All internal local transport as per the itinerary.
  4. Internal flights
  5. All trekking arrangements including trekking permits, climbing permits, National Park entrance fees.
  6. Accommodation in twin sharing local lodges or best available places for accommodation,
  7. Trekking & Climbing leader & porter (salary, insurance, food, accommodation & other allowances).
  8. Basic first aid kit is carried by your leader.
  9. All hard ware gears
  1. Kathmandu food lunch & dinner,
  2. International flights to Kathmandu,
  3. Tips for Porter, guide & other
  4. Personal climbing gears and climbing boot, clothing & equipment
  5. Personal expenditure, all bar bills, laundry, telephone calls, hot shower in the mountain region, mineral water, snacks, desserts.
  6. Medical examination (if required) & vaccination costs
  7. Optional trips. Charges incurred as a result of delays beyond our control
  8. Visa fees & Travel insurance. Airport taxes
  9. Meals or drinks except the 3 main meals specified in itinerary
  10. Anything else not specified in the ‘included costs’ section above

For more details

Itinerary breakdown

Jomsom Annapurna Circuit

Day 01: Drive from Kathmandu to Pokhara and overnight hotel

After b/fast, we drive to the airport for our flight to Pokhara early in the morning. We can get superb views of the Himalayas right from the windows of our airplane. on our arrival in Pokhara, the beautiful lake city, we are rewarded with magnificent views of the Himalayas including Dhaulagiri, Manaslu, Machhapuchare {the sacred peak of fishtail}, the five peaks of Annapurna and a whole range of other peaks. The rest of our day is free in Pokhara to chill out your way and prepare for your trek the next day. Overnight in the city of lakes – Breakfast in Pokhara and Kathmandu

Day 02: Fly to Jomsom {2713m} and overnight at teahouse lodge

After b/fast, we drive to the airport and hop our flight to Jomsom. We touch down at Jomsom in 20-30 minutes & set out for our lodge. Refresh and explore the valley of the Kali Gandaki, passing through Khobang and Tukuche. Yet again, we get to see narrow alleyways and houses built around enclosed courtyards as a protection against the unpredictable wind of the Kali Gandaki gorge. We also pass through stonewalled orchards. Soon we will come across a stone gate that marks the entrance to Marpha. We can spot several white-walled houses. Marpha has well-maintained drainage system and is most popular for its local apple brandy. After a lunch in Marpha, we continue trekking around Jomsom. in Jomsom, we observe that the landscape becomes increasingly arid and impressive with its mixture of browns, yellows and grays contrasting with the white snowcapped peaks of Tilicho and Nilgiri. We bunk out at Jomsom for the night. B. L. D.

Day 03: we trek to Tinigaon {2630m) – 1-2 hrs

From Jomsom, we hike all the way down to the village of Tinigaon which seems to be far better than Jomsom and is about one hour before Jomsom. Most trekkers tend to camp in Tinigaon. The local folks here are friendly and there’s a lot of greenery with great views of the pass. We camp out for the night at Tinogaon and this is a pretty little village to hang around in. B. L. D.

Day 04: We do some exploration by hiking through a gentle ascent from camp with fantastic views all around is followed by a steep descent, one last short steep ascent and floating high above Mustang and the Kali Gandaki valley. We then descend on an obvious path on the other side. It is possible to camp at the head of the lake otherwise head up the obvious gully. As this runs out there’s a choice of routes: crossing the rubble to the south-west on difficult terrain leads to the 5315m Meso Kanto (pass). This drops steeply to a high Kharka suitable for camping by the military base at Kaisang. The more usual route that avoids the military camp and the restricted area briefly ascends around to the north to the alternative pass, marked by a few cairns, and there is a small plaque on top. Initially the descent is steep and in bad snow conditions might require a rope. We descend generally around to the north and eventually pick up a small trail. The first camping spot is well down and often lacks water. This is where we bunk out for the night. B. L. D.

Day 05: Trek to Kaisang – {3510m} – a day for rest and acclimatization

This is a day where we rest out but don’t remain idle in order to acclimatize for the big climbs that include some passes.

Day 06: Trek to the western pass {4920m} and camp at the lake – 4 hrs

There is no easy route around the lake shore to the western pass. To the west the way is barred by glaciers while on the eastern shore, a large vertical cliff drops right into the lake. To reach the north shore we must first ascend the bounding ridge to the east of the lake. Behind the ridge is a notch at 5340m and we can now descend to the lake shore following a small tributary stream. The camp near the West end of the lake is well protected from any wind but the sun disappears early behind the Great Barrier. This barrier is absolutely astounding to watch. This is where we camp out for the night, with the barrier in sight. B. L. D.

Day 07: Trek to Tilicho Base Camp {4200m} – 5 hrs

We continue from western pass on a large path, passing a Gompa (monastery). The route ahead goes on a recently constructed path up towards a high ridge. At one point is an intersection. One path maintains the altitude, traversing the slopes towards a place where the valley is narrow; the other continues to ascend towards the line of the ridge. The former is the old path, and is much more difficult as it goes on really steep screed; the latter is the new path that goes a completely different way. Continue along the new path, reach a high crest, and descend on switch backs carved out through the screed slopes to a side valley of the main valley. At its bottom is a brook. On the other side of it is a building known as the Tilicho Base Camp at elevation of 4,200m. This is where rest out for an Overnight at a guesthouse. B. L. D.

Day 08: Trek to Yak Kharka – {4000m} – 5 hrs

As we hike slowly down from base camp, the trail ascends by nearly 500m to Yak Kharka. We make the climb steadily through Tenki Manang, leaving the Marsyangdi Valley. Continuing along the Jarsang Khola Valley, we reach Yak Kharka at 4,000m. as we hike by we observe that Herds of yaks and vegetations appear to thin out hereabouts. Overnight at our guesthouse B. L. D

Day 09: Trek to Thorung Phedi – {4450m} – 5 hrs

After a two-hour ascent the trail descends to cross the river at 4,310m. We then climb up to Thorung Phedi at 4,450m where decent guesthouses have been built in the recent years. We then haul up for a well earned rest and an Overnight at our guesthouse. B. L. D.

Day 10: Jomsom via Thorung La pass to Muktinath {3800m} – 8 hrs

Today it’s a long haul where we trek a real lot, starting before sunrise at 4 am {probably even before the birds get up} to reach the pass by 9-10am otherwise weather conditions (strong winds) will greatly affect the journey, particularly at the Thorung La Pass at (5,416m). We climb steeply on a well used route which is pretty easy to follow. However, some problems may arise due to the altitude and snow. It often causes a lot of problems to cross the pass if it is covered by heavy snow. About four hours climb up to the pass marked by chortens and prayer flags will reward us with stunning views from the top of the pass. Another four hours of pacy walking will take us to the holy town of Muktinath.

Muktinath means place of Nirvana and is home to the Muktinath temple as well as several monasteries nearby. It is said that all sorrows you feel are relieved when visiting this Temple, which is a sacred pilgrimage site for both Hindus and Buddhists. The prime pilgrimage month is September. The Temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and has 108 waterspouts around it. Another attraction nearby is the Jwala Mai Temple which has a gorgeous natural spring and an eternal flame fueled by natural gas. We crash out at this pleasant town for our overnight and a truly well earned rest with our knees almost buckling by now. B. L. D.

Day 11: Fly out to Pokhara

The flight times to Pokhara are generally scheduled for the morning normally because of the powerful winds in the afternoons. Sometimes, the flight time can be delayed due to bad weather and other reasons beyond our control. As we get hold of the boarding pass depending on our flight time, we make our way to the terminal for a security check. This scenic flight from Jomsom takes about 25 minutes to Pokhara, a panoramic view of the snowcapped peaks can be seen from the plane. On landing in the city of lakes we proceed to our hotel, rest and chill out by the lakeside. By sundown we roam around and we are free to do whatever we wish to. We have a lovely tasty hot supper and crash out for a great sleep in warm and soft beds in our hotel. Breakfast included

Day 12: Drive or fly to Kathmandu

If we decide to drive from Pokhara, which is a 6-7 hours drive through a real lovely scenic highway where we get to see Nepal’s true rural & colorful landscapes as we view the local folks about their farming chores with cows splattered with vermilion on the foreheads; you get to see all this right from the windows of your tourist bus & it will be wise to take out some great pictures as we cruise down the highway to kathmandu, our hotel & a much sought after warm & comfortable bed Overnight at your hotel in Kathmandu.

Destination Map