Annapurna Circuit vs Everest Base Camp

Monday, May 13, 2024

The Annapurna Circuit vs Everest Base Camp treks in Nepal are two amazing adventures through the Himalayan mountains. Each one takes about 2–3 weeks of trekking from Kathmandu to the destination. If you visit Nepal for less than a month, deciding between the two can be tough—it’s like choosing between two awesome options!

Are you having difficulty deciding between the Annapurna Circuit vs Everest Base Camp? We are here to help you understand what makes each of these treks special. This article helps explain why they are worth considering for your next adventure.

Get ready for an exciting trip to Nepal’s Himalayas! Every step of your feet tells a story, and every view is a work of art. Whether you go for Everest Base Camp or the Annapurna Circuit, adventure is a sure thing.

Understanding Annapurna Circuit vs. Everest Base Camp Trek

The Annapurna Circuit vs Everest Base Camp Trek are two of Nepal’s most iconic trekking routes, each offering unique experiences for adventure enthusiasts.

The Annapurna Circuit is renowned for its diverse landscapes, taking trekkers through lush forests, terraced fields, quaint villages, and high alpine deserts. The circuit encircles the Annapurna Massif, providing breathtaking views of snow-capped peaks and immersing trekkers in the rich cultural tapestry of the region.

In contrast, the Everest Base Camp Trek unfolds in the shadow of the world’s highest peak, Mount Everest. Trekkers traverse the Khumbu region, encountering Sherpa villages, ancient monasteries, and the stunning Sagarmatha National Park.

Both treks offer incredible experiences, and the choice depends on personal preferences, fitness level, and the type of trekking adventure you seek. Here’s a comparison in detail that puts these two iconic treks side by side so it helps you decide which is better for you: the Annapurna Circuit vs Everest Base Camp Trek.

Accessibility of Annapurna Circuit vs. Everest Base Camp Trek

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Annapurna Circuit Trek

The journey usually starts in the bustling town of Besisahar and gradually ascends through picturesque villages inhabited by diverse ethnic communities. Trekkers traverse lush subtropical forests, terraced fields, and quaint settlements before reaching the alpine meadows of Manang.

The trail then crosses Tilicho Lake and then crosses Thorong La Pass. Then it descends to the arid pilgrimage site of Muktinath. The final leg of the trek descends through the Kali Gandaki Gorge, the world’s deepest, and passes charming villages like Tatopani, known for its natural hot springs. The journey concludes after you reach the town of Nayapul and then Kathmandu via Pokhara.

Everest Base Camp Trek

Trekking to Everest base camp starts with a scenic 30-minute flight from Kathmandu to Lukla. From Lukla, trekkers start on a challenging yet rewarding trek through picturesque Sherpa villages and high-altitude landscapes. The trail then passes through villages like Phakding and Namche Bazaar, providing not only stunning mountain vistas but also insight into the local culture. As we ascend higher, we will cross Namche and Dingboche.

Continuing the ascent, the route passes Tengboche Monastery, adorned with the backdrop of Everest and Ama Dablam. The journey then leads to Gorak Shep, the last settlement before Everest Base Camp, from where trekkers embark on a challenging hike to the base camp. The adventure ends with a climb to the iconic Kala Patthar and then a descent back to Lukla.

Jiri to Everest Base Camp is quite popular among those who want to escape the Lukla flight (one of the most dangerous flight trips). The trek begins with 7-8 hours of a long drive from Kathmandu Valley to Jiri. From Jiri, you start walking to Lukla, where the classic EBC Trek route starts.

The Everest Helicopter Tour is a short and easy trip that takes you on the lap of the mighty Everest in a very short time. This Everest Base Camp Helicopter Tour is suitable for those who cannot bear long days of trekking and have a limited time schedule.

In terms of accessibility, it is much easier and cheaper to reach the Annapurna Circuit than EBC.

Trek Difficulty of Annapurna Circuit vs. Everest Base Camp Trek

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Annapurna Circuit Trek

The Annapurna Circuit Trek is renowned for its diverse landscapes, cultural richness, and challenging terrain, making it a trek of moderate to strenuous difficulty. The trek typically covers about 160–230 kilometers, depending on the specific route taken. This trek takes approximately 10 to 14 days to complete. You will pass through a variety of terrains, which range from subtropical forests and terraced fields to alpine meadows and high mountain deserts. The highest point of the trek is the Thorong La Pass, standing at an elevation of 5,416 meters (17,769 feet). Trekkers should be prepared for long daily walks and fluctuating weather conditions. Overall, the Annapurna Circuit Trek is a rewarding but demanding adventure that requires a reasonable level of fitness and preparation.

Everest Base Camp Trek

The Everest Base Camp trek is considered to be a challenging and demanding adventure, attracting trekkers from around the world. The difficulty level of the Everest Base Camp is moderate to strenuous. Trekkers must navigate through steep ascents and descents, rocky paths, and suspension bridges, often in unpredictable weather conditions. This trek starts at a height of 3,000 meters, and the base cap is situated at a height of 5400 meters above sea level, which is actually a great height. The distance between Lukla and Everest Base Camp is nearly 130 kilometers.

In terms of difficulty, neither of these treks is a walk in the park, and whichever one you choose. It’s a tie!

Costs during Annapurna Circuit vs. Everest Base Camp Trek

Cost of Living for Digital Nomads in Kathmandu

Below, I have listed the Annapurna Circuit vs Everest Base Camp cost, broken down into several categories. Here’s a breakdown:

TIMS Card: NPR 2000 per person
ACAP: NPR 3000 per person + 13% VAT.

Sagarmatha National Park Permit: NPR 3000 per person + 13% VAT.
Khumbu Pasang Lhamu Rural Municipality Entrance Permit: NPR 2000 per person for four weeks and NPR 2500 per person for stays longer than four weeks.

Food (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
AC: Rs. 800 to 1000 per day
EBC: Rs. 1000 to 1200 per day

AC: 100 to 350 rupees
EBC: 100 to 550 rupees

AC: Rs. 2,000 to 2,200
EBC: Around $40,000 for a flight or Rs. 2200 for a bus

Other (Showers, charging electronics, WiFi)
AC: FREE to Rs. 150
EBC: Rs. 300 to 600

In terms of cost, Annapurna Circuit is a lot cheaper than Everest Base Camp

Best Weather during Annapurna Circuit vs. Everest Base Camp Trek

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There are two main trekking seasons on both treks: spring and autumn. The spring season starts from late March to April. Spring is beautiful because the rhododendrons and other flowers are in full bloom and the days are longer. Autumn starts in late September and continues through early November. The autumn is somehow colder and the days are shorter, but you get much better clarity with really clear skies. November and December have perfectly good skies for trekking. These peak seasons are normally very busy.

In terms of weather, both Annapurna Circuit and Everest Base Camp are equal.

Accommodation during Annapurna Circuit vs. Everest Base Camp Trek


Accommodation facilities during the Annapurna Circuit and Everest Base Camp treks offer distinct experiences for each region. Along both treks, trekkers encounter a diverse range of accommodations, ranging from teahouses in charming villages to more developed lodges in larger towns. These facilities often provide basic amenities, such as a bed, communal dining areas, and hot showers. The warmth of local hospitality is a highlight, as trekkers have the opportunity to interact with the friendly residents of the Annapurna region.

On the other hand, during the Everest Base Camp trek, the accommodation situation is shaped by the challenging terrain and higher altitudes. In spite of that, the region has an adequate number of lodges that offer good food and accommodation. On the EBC trail, there are plenty of options to choose from according to your needs and budget. From luxury hotels to basic accommodations.

In terms of accommodation facilities, Everest Base Camp has many more ‘comfortable’ hotels compared to the Annapurna Circuit.

Communications during Annapurna Circuit vs. Everest Base Camp Trek

Both the Everest Base Camp trek and Annapurna Circuit trek route have pretty good mobile phone range and 4G connectivity in the lower part of the route. Naturally, reception can lag in certain of the more remote places. There are Ncell towers throughout both routes. You should be fine with an Ncell or Nepal Telecom SIM along the Annapurna Circuit Trek.

As you ascend higher, the availability of such facilities becomes less reliable. Overall, trekkers should be prepared for intermittent communication facilities.

In terms of communication facilities, both treks have the same facilities.

Time spent at altitude in Annapurna Circuit vs. Everest Base Camp Trek

High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE)

By comparing the above two elevation charts, we can see that the Everest Base Camp trek involves spending much more time above 5,000 m than the Annapurna trek route. The highest point on the Everest Base Camp trek is Kala Patthar, which is at an elevation of 5,545 meters. But the highest point on the Annapurna Circuit trek is Thorong La Pass, at 5,416 meters.

This means that at EBC we will spend more time in rarified air, where exerting yourself is far more exhausting. The mental and bodily strain of the Everest Base Camp trek is therefore more remarkable than that of the Annapurna Circuit. There are also more chances of developing altitude symptoms, such as headaches and dizziness, at high altitude.

In terms of time spent at altitude, both treks pass through high altitude, but Everest Base Camp is more risky for inexperienced trekkers.

Culture and Religion in Annapurna Circuit vs. Everest Base Camp Trek

Sherpa People of the Everest Region

There are somehow some similarities between the peoples of these two trekking regions, but also significant differences. Annapurna Circuit is in the country’s central Himalayan region. So, this region is home to various ethnic groups, including Gurung, Thakali, and Manangi people. Many people might find friendly and hospitable people in this region

The Everest Base Camp trek takes place in Nepal’s eastern Himalayas, while the Sherpa of the Everest Base Camp trek. You can also experience the Sherpa festival with traditional music and dancing during the EBC trek. People are hospitable during the trek, but you may feel like a customer.

If you are someone who likes to immerse yourself in culture rather than continuing your way through a holiday, then the Annapurna Circuit trek is for you. This part of the trekking region is home to a variety of groups of people.

In terms of Culture and Religion, the Annapurna circuit trek is good because you will experience Nepali village life and feel much more humble than the others.

Tamang Heritage Trail Trek

Navigation is most important during the trek in the Nepal Himalayas. If the trails have a clear path then the trek will be fun and hassle-free.

Annapurna Circuit Trek is generally more diverse and it is hard to find the right track. This trek also takes you through diverse and varied terrain, from lowlands to high mountain passes. These diverse trails make your walk more challenging and the trail condition will change frequently.

Except for Pass Day, nearly the whole Annapurna Circuit trek follows a river. You can locate civilization even if you lose your way—as long as you know where the river is in respect to your current location. It can be confusing when the trail switches sides because there are small villages on both sides of the river.

In terms of navigability, Everest Base Camp Trek is easier to navigate because you can follow the crowds, and the trail is also well maintained.

Prowess (bragging rights)

Tips for Safe and Enjoyable Trek

Both the Annapurna Circuit Trek and the Everest Base Camp Trek offer unique experiences and opportunities for bragging rights. But they offer different aspects of trekking.

Annapurna Circuit Trek features challenging high mountain passes, including the Thorong La Pass, which stands at an elevation of 5,416 meters. This trek takes you through a variety of landscapes, from lush forests and terraced fields to arid and barren alpine regions in a single trek.

Visiting Everest Base Camp is an iconic achievement. You can proudly say you’ve stood at the base of the world’s highest peak. The trek offers breathtaking views of several of the world’s highest peaks like Everest, Lhotse, Nuptse, and many more.

In terms of Prowess, Everest Base Camp is best because it’s the bucket list destination for many people and Annapurna Circuit seems to be an afterthought.

Side Treks in Annapurna Circuit vs. Everest Base Camp Trek

High Season Crowds & Alternate Routes For Annapurna Trek

Both treks offer intriguing side treks that can add variety and adventure to your journey. The Annapurna Circuit provides side treks to unique destinations, while the Everest Base Camp Trek offers detours. Your choice of side trek can depend on your interests, available time, and appetite for additional challenges and exploration.

Annapurna Circuit Trek

This trek takes you to a diverse range of landscapes but offers a limited number of side treks. During this trek, you can visit Tilicho Lake as a side trek. If you have a long holiday left, then Upper Mustang is another side trek. You can also explore Kagbeni, Jomson, or Marpha village.

Everest Base Camp Trek

The famous side trek during Everest Base Camp Trek is Kala Patthar, 5550 meters above sea level. Morning hike over the summit feasts your eyes with the breathtaking view of Mt. Everest and other mighty peaks.

Another best side trips during the EBC trek is to go over Cho La Pass to reach Gokyo Lake. This trek takes you an additional 3–4 days and displays beautiful turquoise Glacier Lake. This lake is located between Renjo La and Cho La.

Other side trips during the Everest Base Camp Trek are Ngozomba Glacier, Chukung Ri, Machermo, Mera Peak, and many more. You can also find other lot more side trips during the Everest Base Camp.

In terms of side trips, It’s best to choose Everest Base Camp rather than Annapurna Circuit.

Famous mountains

Everest Base Camp

Both the Annapurna Circuit Trek and the Everest Base Camp Trek offer stunning views of famous mountains. Here is a comparison of some of the notable peaks you can see on each trek:

Notable peaks during Everest Base Camp Trek

  • Sagarmatha (8,848.86 meters)
  • Lhotse (8,516 meters)
  • Nuptse (7,861 meters)
  • Pumori (7,161 meters)
  • Ama Dablam (6,812 metres)
  • Thamserku (6,623 meter)
  • Kangtega (6,782 metres)
  • Island Peak (6,165 meters)
  • Lobuche East and Lobuche West

Notable Peaks during Annapurna Circuit Trek

  • Annapurna (8,091 meters)
  • Gangapurna (7,455 meters)
  • Tilicho Peak (7,134 meters)
  • Machapuchare (6,993 meters)

In terms of mountains, the sunrise view from the Kalapatthar makes the Everest Base Camp Trek on top.

Final Result

  1. Accessibility – Annapurna Circuit
  2. Trek Difficuly – Tie
  3. Costs – Annapurna Circuit
  4. Best Weather – Tie
  5. Accommodation – Everest Base Camp
  6. Communications – Tie
  7. Time Spent – Annapurna Circuit
  8. Culture and religion – Annapurna Circuit
  9. Navigability – Everest Base Camp
  10. Prowess – Everest Base Camp
  11. Side Trek – Everest Base Camp
  12. Famous mountains – Everest Base Camp

Which one is right for me?

Looking back, I would like to recommend the Annapurna Circuit Trek if you are a budget trekker. This is based on my values during mountain walking; your values could vary.

When evaluating the pros and cons of trekking to Everest Base Camp versus the Annapurna Circuit, I would have chosen the first option due to my preferences for budget, scenery, culture, and crowds.