Nepal beckons trekkers, mountaineers, and adventurers with its snow-capped peaks and unique blend of cultures. There are dozens of major treks and endless variations to each one. So many choices leave visitors scratching their heads. The two most popular options are the Everest Base Camp Trek and the Annapurna Circuit Trek.
If you’re still struggling with which one to choose, we have a helpful breakdown for you below. Keep in mind that either option promises to be an unforgettable adventure. The perfect trek for you will depend instead on the time you have available and what you wish to see.
Length of the Trek
The first consideration for most travelers will be the length of each trip. It will affect the time you can expect to spend on that trail, which could impact other destinations on your itinerary. The Everest Base Camp Trek covers 130 km. This route typically takes trekkers around 12 days to complete, and the highest elevation reached is 5500m.
In contrast, the shortest distance possible for the Annapurna Circuit trek is 170 km. Depending on how you trek or the guides you hire, this can be extended to 230m. The shortest length usually takes around 16 days to complete, and the highest elevation is 4200m.
There are a lot of incredible natural and cultural wonders you’ll see along the way. But admittedly, most people choose to trek primarily for the mountain views. What will you see along your trek?
During the Everest Base Camp Trek, you’ll actually see Mt. Everest from a distance near the beginning. As you approach the base, it will be impossible to observe the extreme height of this gargantuan mountain itself. There are also dozens of other “smaller” peaks you’ll see throughout your journey, which still top out at more than 6000m!
The Annapurna Circuit Trek promises an altogether different set of mountain views, but they are equally fantastic. The largest mountain you’ll see is Dhaulagiri, which is the 7th tallest in the world at 8100m. You’ll also see all the peaks in the Annapurna massif, along with dozens of other beautiful mountains.
Both treks are rich in cultural and religious customs, history, and art. Either choice guarantees that you’ll meet incredible people and learn a lot. Along the Everest Base Camp trek, you’ll discover Namche Bazaar and Tengboche. The Bazaar is the hub of trading for the Sherpa people, and Tengboche houses the largest Buddhist monastery in Khumbu, which may only be reached on foot.
While traveling the Annapurna Circuit Trek, you’ll be immersed in a variety of cultural influences. You’ll first encounter lower-lying farming communities filled with apple orchards. You’ll also find a blend of Buddhist and Hindu temples and historical sites, along with a collection of Gurung villages.
Crowds and Comforts
Like you, other travelers are excited to set out on these incredible treks for the experience of a lifetime. The routes that were once remote and sparse have adopted new comforts and attracted larger crowds. It’s important to understand that unless you go in the off-season, you can expect to see hundreds of other trekkers along your route.
The Everest Base Camp Trek is popular, but by all estimations is slightly less crowded. Its route offers a greater physical challenge as you climb to altitudes in a shorter distance. However, it has become highly commercialized in the villages along the path with regard to food and lodging.
The Annapurna Circuit Trek offers a different experience. Though these trails are more crowded, it has retained a higher level of authenticity. The trek has always wound through many welcoming villages. You won’t find as many commercial buildings. Instead, you can count on staying in local teahouses and dining with the people who reside here along your entire path.