If you are a trekking enthusiast, you had probably come across a lot of articles warning people against trekking in the monsoon season. This is due to excessive rain, high risk of landslides, loss of road signs, etc. And I assume that you are reading this because you are going for a monsoon trek in Nepal. I had trekked Annapurna Circuit during the monsoon season in July 2017. Until now, I had no regret and had an amazing experience trekking Annapurna Circuit in monsoon season!
The question is, is it a good idea to trek Annapurna Circuit in this season?
Well, I would say definitely YES… but really, it depends…
Here’s what you should know about trekking Annapurna Circuit in monsoon season.
What to expect during monsoon season in Annapurna Circuit?
First of all, you should know that the Annapurna Circuit is located in the rain shadow in the Annapurna Conservation Area. The strategic location of this trek made Annapurna Circuit less vulnerable to rainfall, especially during the monsoon season.
Most of the time, it only rains during the night, which means you are not likely to be soaked wet while trekking Annapurna Circuit in monsoon season. I got soaked wet on my first two days on the trek, and it never rained on the day since then, as I trekking deeper into the rain shadow area.
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A lot of people are worried that landslides will cause damage and block the entire road. It wasn’t entirely true unless the landslide was very serious. I walked over all the landslides easily during my trek there. Landslides are not really a big issue, at least not as big as you might think.
You might encounter several leeches along the way, during the first few days. As you trekked deeper, there will be less rainfall and therefore less mud for leeches to live in. I encountered leeches for the first 3 days on my trek and never met them since then. Just remember to bring some salt with you. Pinch a bunch of salt and sprinkle on the leeches, then it will get off from you. Most teahouses along the trek can provide salts for you for free, so don’t worry about it.
Convenient Stores and Teahouses Closure?
This is partly true because some of the convenient stores at less popular town were closed during the low season. However you will still find a lot of convenient stores along the way, so it’s not a big deal. Most of the teahouses, on the other hand, open all year round, you don’t have to worry about it, they live in there too!
Too Many Clouds For Photography?
Since it’s monsoon season, expect a lot of clouds and fog along the way. Monsoon season is a terrible season for photographers, as clouds and fog block part of the view most of the time. You could hardly take the photo of the entire peak without including the clouds.
Despite that, the chances of rainfall are still low as long as you are in the rain shadow area. If you are coming for Annapurna Circuit for stunning photos, my advice is do not consider trekking in monsoon season.
Overflowing of Rivers?
During the monsoon season, you can’t escape from walking across the river. Sometimes, the water even flows in the middle of the road. While crossing the river, remember to take off your shoes. Soaking your boots wet is a nightmare because it is very hard to dry your boots in Annapurna Circuit due to the cold weather. I soaked my boots wet several times, it’s definitely not fun. It’s like carrying a dumbbell with your boots.
Keep in mind that you could trip over while crossing rivers, so be careful all the time and make good use of your trekking poles!
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Great Things about Trekking Annapurna Circuit in Monsoon Season?
Just plenty. It’s low season for entire Nepal during monsoon season. Landslides occur a lot, blocking highways and affecting intercity transfer especially between Kathmandu and Pokhara. My friend was stuck in a bus from Pokhara to Kathmandu for 14 hours, due to landslides blocking the road.
In 2017, there was a great flood in the lower altitude regions at Chitwan National Park and Lumbini, which is why I didn’t visit those two places. However, trekking Annapurna Circuit in monsoon season can be advantageous.
Here are the reasons why.
Nobody likes their holiday trips being ruined by weather, which is why nobody travels to Nepal during the monsoon season. During this season, there are significantly fewer competitions among hotels and teahouses, both in the city and along the trek. You got to name the price in most of the accommodations you stay in, with a little bit of bargaining.
I stayed 9 night for free during my trek. However, at more crowded stops, such as High Camp, you would have to pay around Rs100 for a night, but that’s still a lot cheaper. Fewer people also mean fewer parties going on at night, so your chances of getting a good night sleep are somewhat higher. Make your trek more fun by looking for other fellow trekkers for a company here.
Less Weight to Carry
Generally, you only need to wear short pant and a T-shirt for most of the trek. Winter jacket can be left at home, along with your thick mid layer. Check out my Annapurna Circuit Packing List for monsoon season here.
Less competition among trekkers for accommodations means that you can wake up anytime you want in the morning, eat and rest as long as you want along the way, and check in as late as you want in the evening.
Nonetheless, I still recommend trekkers to wake up earlier, because the chances of rainfall during the late afternoon are much higher than in the morning. Also, the weather is cooler and more comfortable to trek in. I slept at 10 pm and woke up around 7 am, with good long hours of sleep.
Again, this is due to the competition among teahouses. Most of the teahouses will not charge you for their Wi-Fi service during the low season. While some will try to charge you for around Rs100 to Rs250 for Wi-Fi usage, that’s where your bargaining skills come in handy. Remember, everything can be bargained during the low season.
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I didn’t know about this and had never thought of this until my German trekking partner told me. He bargained for cheaper food price at the accommodations he stayed in before we met. I still do not support this idea because the income of the locals is very flat during the low season. I consider myself more affordable and more financially-able compared to them. It’s a better idea to contribute to the local economy rather saving the few pennies in the pocket.
Keep in mind that even though there are way fewer people, the teahouses still takes a lot of time to prepare your meal. We waited for an hour for 6 dal-bhats to be prepared for 6 of us.
Teahouses along the trek use solar energy to power the buildings. During the monsoon season, there are good daylight hours, therefore more solar energy is generated. Fewer trekkers mean that less electricity is used. Blackouts still occur especially when the whole day was cloudy without much sunshine.
The Summit is All Yours
During the peak season, you have to queue up for a photo with the summit sign, which you probably know what it is. It could be frustrating, working all the way up, and going back with a few photos on the summit. In monsoon season, however, you can have the summit all by yourself.
Choose a better timing, check about what time other trekkers will depart from the High Camp teahouse the next morning. We departed around 8.30am, which was later than most of the trekkers. We eventually ended up staying up at the summit for an hour. Of course, there were other trekkers coming up too, but we had a great time taking as many photos as we wanted.
Be noted that there will be no snow at the summit during the monsoon season, which somehow disappointed me a little… just a little anyway. There is a way up on the left side of the summit, which you can walk up, have a seat and enjoy the view of the whole pass. The cafe at the summit is closed during the monsoon season.
If you’re going to travel to Nepal, check out my comprehensive guide for backpacking Nepal. It covered literally everything you need to know prior to arriving in the country.
So, should you trek Annapurna Circuit in monsoon season?
I would say give it a try. Annapurna Circuit is a famous trek around the world. If you are worried about getting lost in the trek, you need not to worry. Locals live all along the trek, you should ask them for the direction to the next stop. Most of them do speak good English. There are also painted road signs along the trek.
In the end, it still depends on you. If you will be going for this trek during monsoon season, I wish you the best of luck and enjoy your trek! If you never trekked Annapurna Circuit in monsoon season before this, definitely consider it! After your trek, make sure you pay Bandipur a visit for a good rest before moving on.
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