Adventure may hurt you but monotony will kill you. Are you in need of some inspiration in your life? If so, the Tilicho Lake trek more than answers the question. Lying deep into the colossal spine of the mighty Himalayas, situated at over 4920 meters Lake Tilicho is one of the highest lakes in the world formed by the glacial melt of the northern slopes of the Annapurna Massif and Thorong Peak. The Lake is a blessed place, sacred for both Hindus and Buddhists. A journey to its turquoise shores is both an uplifting and challenging one that inspires just about everyone who manages it. The lake comes to its own as the morning sun rises glistening supreme providing yet another gem to reflect on when making this epic journey to circumvent the Annapurna Massif. With the all embracing peaks of Mount Manaslu, Himalchuli, Lamjung Himal, Annapurna II, Annapurna III, Annapurna IV, Gangapurna, and Tilicho Peak dominating the scene, it’s a journey very rarely forgotten.
The trek to Tilicho is becoming a popular side hike on the Annapurna Circuit trek. The hike takes an additional 3–4 days; no camping is required as new lodges have been built between Manang and the lake. The final approach to Tilicho Lake is a day hike from the lodge at Tilicho Base Camp.
Long before reaching Tilicho Lake 4919 m/16138 ft there is so much on the trail to tease the senses, a journey of snow-capped peaks, mist-shrouded valleys, isolated communities and remote monasteries. Trails that lead us into knotted lush forests, stunning waterfalls, along turbulent rivers and through well kept weathered mountain villages. We hike up through the Marsyangdi Valley set within a powerful Buddhist culture inhabited by hardy, ever welcoming people. If that were not enough the dramatic mountain views on the way can often defy descriptive superlatives. The side trek to Tilicho Lake puts a thicker layer of icing on a very unique journey.
Please important note: Weather conditions on the upper stages of the route (particularly the section from Manang to Tilicho Lake and the crossing of the Thorong La Pass 5416m) can vary considerably, from very pleasant to sometimes extreme. This will often depend on the time of year you choose to trek but not always. Please do not hesitate contact us for advice if needed.
Best times to complete Annapurna Circuit with Tilicho Lake trek is Autumn (September to November) and spring (March to May).
Day 01: Welcome at airport and transfer to the Hotel.
Day 02: Free day for final trekking preparation and sightseeing.
Day 03: Kathmandu to Jagat by bus (8/9 hrs, 1300m)
Day 04: Jagat to Dharapani (6 hrs, 1960m)
Day 05: Dharapani to Chame (2670m, 6 hrs)
Day 06: Chame to Pisang (3190m, 6 hrs)
Day 07: Pisang to Manang(3520m, 7 hrs)
Day 08: Acclimatisation day in and around Manang
Day 09: Manang to Tilicho Base Camp (7 hrs, 4140m)
Day 10: Tilicho Base Camp to Tilicho Lake then descends back to Shiri Kharka for overnight.
Day 11: Shri Kharka to Yak Kharka (6 hrs, 4420m)
Day 12: Yak Kharka to Thorong Phedi (4450 meter) or high camp (4925 meter)
Day 13: Thorong High Camp to Muktinath (3710m) via Thorong Pass 5416m.
Day 14: Muktinath to Jomsom (2600m, 6 hrs)
Day 15: Jomsom to Pokhara by bus (9-10 hrs) (or 20 minute by scenic mountain flight which options are open).
Day 16: Pokhara to Kathmandu by tourist bus (7 - 8 hrs)
Day 17: Departure
Note:- Above itinerary is just a guideline. If you are not satisfied please feel free customize the way you prefer.
One of our team will greet you at the airport for the transfer to your Hotel where there is time to relax. We set up welcome meeting with your guide at a convenient time depending on arrival at our office. For those that wish, there is the chance to go out together as a group for dinner afterwards something we like to do. There are no other activities planned for today. Depending on your arrival schedule you will have time to get around the bustling bazaar; the hotels we use are normally situated in the lively Thamel area. There is a feast of outdoor gears, souvenir shops, great bookshops and a huge variety of restaurants. It's a great place to wander through and get your bearings.
This is a good chance for you to ask any questions or clear up any issues you may have. We make sure everyone is properly equipped for the trek and we give you an idea of what to expect on a day to day basis. We often arrange a walking tour, visiting the bazaar, temples, stupas and the Durbar Square area as per your request which are situated in the centre of old Kathmandu. It is a casual stroll taking in much of the day to day life of Kathmandu and its many bazaars: a thriving mixture of people selling fruit, vegetables and spices with devotees visiting their favorite gods at temples and small shrines dotted along the streets and alleyways. With rickshaw Walla’s weaving their way through the bustle with the ever present sacred cow meandering amongst it all there is rarely a dull moment.
We Leave Kathmandu’s frenetic streets today for the drive to the starting point of the trek Jagat, nestled between the high peaks of the Annapurna’s and Mt. Manaslu – the world’s 8th highest peak. It’s a scenic drive through terraced hills along rivers as we pass by lush rice paddies and quiet villages on the way. The first part of the journey is on pitched road to Besishahar where we take lunch. We then take a jeep on a dirt road to our final destination to Jagat.
From Jagat the trail leads along a meandering track that follows the Marsyangdi River, before winding our way up through a forest to a wonderful teahouse just before Chamje and marked by a magnificent waterfall on the opposite bank. The small village of Chamje (1430m) has its own unique atmosphere of traditional-style teahouses, often packed with saddled local horses. From here we descend to cross the river to the east bank and continue up to the large settlement of Tal village 1675m. Tal has a number of lodges and shops set in a landscape with some breathtaking views of the surrounding valleys. This is an ideal spot to stop for lunch before we resume our journey onto the village of Karte. The afternoon sees us crossing the river several times back and forth. As we snake our way up the valley, we pass through a collection of small villages on the way to our final destination at Dharapani.
Today we begin by following a rocky trail westwards as we hike up the Marsyangdi River and into the Manang Valley, it’s another great day on the trail with some stunning views out towards Annapurna II (7937m) and Annapurna IV. These remote high Himalayan lands are home to the Manangi people, devout Buddhists and itinerant traders who have traded salt and yaks across these mountains for centuries. Following in their footsteps of old, we head up through forests of maple and oak to Danakyu (2290m) and further on to the village of Timang (2360m) which is known as an amazing viewpoint of Manaslu and Lamjung Himal. We then need to negotiate a trail that winds its way across several forested ridges to Koto (2590m), from Koto it is a short easy walk down to Chame (2670m), the region's administrative headquarters. The distant views of Lamjung, Annapurna II and Annapurna IV provide an alluring backdrop to our day's end.
Departing Chame today, we need to cross over to the northern side of the river, and then follow a relatively easy trail up through apple orchards to the village of Bhratang (2840m), an old settlement that is largely uninhabited these days. From here get ready for some of the most dramatic scenery of the journey so far as we hike along a trail which has been blasted through the surrounding rock. We follow up through a steep and narrow valley, blanketed in dense forest. On exiting the forest and crossing the river over a suspension bridge we are treated to our first view of the spectacular Paungda Danda, a wall of rock around 1500 meters that rises up like a rising giant from the river below. After crossing a ridge festooned with prayer flags we finally reach the large village of Pisang. The village is divided into what is known as lower and upper Pisang. From the Gumpa at the top of the town there are some great views down to the meandering streets and rambling houses of the lower town.
The path leads on alternative and upper route through Gheru and Nagwal, each showcasing contrasting building styles from the upper valley. Further along the trail the old village of Braga offers up a perfectly situated monastery to pause and reflect on, Braga is a Tibetan-style village that houses an engaging collection of stacked houses along with the largest Gumpa in the district. The houses sit one on top of the other, the terraces of the upper houses forming the roofs of the ones below. There is an old monastery in the village that contains a wonderful collection of Tibetan Thangkas that date back over 500 years. We are now not far from our destination today, just a short walk away to the large community of Manang, a settlement of some 500 houses with a village chorten and a long Mani walls.
As we are going to be over 5000 meters in a few days we need to acclimatize to allow our bodies time to cope with the altitude. Today has been left free to get more used to the conditions before we make the crossing later of the Thorong La. We have a choice today, we can take some side hikes or you can spend the day exploring the area around the village. Shorter hikes into the mountains are a good way to enjoy the views of the Chulu ranges, Annapurna ranges and Thorong La in the distance. It is important to get some rest today too though, to conserve some energy for the days still to come. An optional four kilometer walk is possible; it takes around one and a half hours with a total ascent of 200 meters and a descent of 200 meters. Possible activities in Manang: Attend a 3 pm lecture on the effects of altitude, hosted by the Himalayan Rescue Association. Often in the evening it is possible to attend an assembly of Manang-born photographer Tashi R. Ghale, accompanied by a slideshow and a video of the area.
It is quite a tough day today. After an early breakfast we need to trek up to the village of Khangsar and on to Tilicho Base Camp. The trail cuts through a gnarled gorge with pristine Tilicho Peak shrouded in clouds far above us. The views today are very special as we get to fully appreciate the natural beauty of the Annapurna range all along the way. The trail leads us through small settlements and past the Tore monastery for more breathtaking views of the Khangsar River and the grand ice barrier before reaching Kansgar. From Kangsar we head on towards Tilicho Lake Base Camp, crossing wide grassy fields and, after making a slight climb up a small hill, we witness glorious views of the entire valley laid out before us in all its majesty. After trudging down a steep incline we finally reach Tilicho Base Camp for our overnight stay. We are likely to have seen many Yaks grazing today on the way.
We need to make an early start today as we really want to catch Tilicho Lake for sunrise. The Himalayas stand out in the night sky, pure white in the distance, the snow bright as day against the stark sky. The path leads us uphill at the start although the incline is gradual even a small incline feels a lot more than that at this altitude. Hiking past some landslide areas on the way before climbing a hill covered in switchbacks where at the top a sign reads Tilicho Lake 35 mins. From here, the ground evens out with barely any incline. Moving on we pass a few small ponds, calm in the early morning. This is a very special day with some of the best views we will have on our journey around the Annapurna Circuit. Tilicho Lake Heavenly, Sacred, Holy whatever, the journey today with Annapurna, Gangapurna’s glacier dome and the marvelous Grande Barrier to admire on the way make the day. After spending about 30min to an hour admiring one of nature’s gifts to the world we need to move on and make our way back to Tilicho Base Camp, where we have lunch. After lunch it is an easy walk along the riverside, across a steep landslide area and further down to our overnight stop at Shree Kharka.
We take a trail that leads us out on a slow climb for around an hour, the track gently winds up offering inspiring views of the Annapurna II and Gangapurna, Yaks and mountain horses keep us company in this barren windswept terrain with juniper bushes as the only surviving vegetation around. We continue on a winding trail crossing the river below over suspension bridges and past herder’s stone huts eventually reaching the small settlement of Yak-Kharka.
The next two days sees us on our greatest challenge, today is another full day in the high Himalayas, where Blue Sheep and even Snow-Leopards sometimes magically appear. From Yak Kharka we have two options either to stay the night at Thorong Phedi or move up to high camp. By now we are suitably acclimatized so a stay at high camp for more stunning mountain views is the goal today, it also makes it a lot easier to cross Thorong La pass on the following day. The trail to Thorong Phedi is an easy one with only a short climb to negotiate as we near the village. There then follows a stiff climb up to High Camp for around two hours, if you are cursing a little on the way, just think you won’t be having to do it tomorrow.
Today we face the greatest challenge of the trek as we attempt to cross the Thorong La. Our guide will keep a careful eye on the weather conditions and also check on every member of the trekking group. The Thorong La Pass takes us to 5416m where each breath brings in around half of the oxygen available at sea level. So your lungs heart and legs will be working hard today. It will be a long day so expect to start early. The trail winds up the valley wall to cross the Thorong La Pass which is in fact the lowest crossing point possible in this part of the Himalayas. There are clear days and days when you can expect plenty of ice and snow on the trail and at the top of the pass. Either way we tread carefully and take our time. The higher we get the more spectacular the mountain views become. After many false dawns the pass is finally upon us and time to take in the grandeur of it all with sweeping panoramic views of snow-capped peaks that extend towards Tibet and beyond. Looking back to where we have come offers some splendid views of the Annapurna’s. A steep descent follows, the way down is long and again we need to take things slowly, following a series of switchbacks we eventually reach some grassy slopes. We pass some more sheep herder huts before reaching our overnight stop in the holy town of Muktinath (3800m). The temple at Muktinath is surrounded by rugged mountain landscapes with unparalleled views of Dhaulagiri (8167m), the world’s 7th highest mountain. It is an extremely important pilgrimage site for both Hindus and Buddhists. Against a backdrop of incredible starkness, you can sit and stare south to the snow-covered Annapurna range, or to the north to the Tibetan plateau.
The final leg of the trek via Kagbeni offers fine Himalayan scenery and glimpses of the restricted and highly secluded region of Upper Mustang. Kagbeni itself, situated in peaceful surroundings by the Kali Gandaki River, is also sacred to Hindus. The trail leads on by the river all the way to Jomsom, a sizeable town that serves as the central administrative and transport hub for the region.
The drive from Jomsom to Pokhara is a lengthy - if adventurous - journey, while the much shorter option of a direct flight is also an option. With enough time a side trip to nearby Tatopani and its natural hot springs is also available, and certainly worth considering for its recuperative effects on weary limbs.
Early morning drive to Kathmandu by tourist bus.
Transfer to the international airport or spend your rest of the holiday the way you prefer.
Perfect trip from tailor made circuit discussion to end of the trip. Rajesh organized perfectly our trip with kindness and responsiveness. Thakur, our guide, was awesome. He is very knowledgeable, we learnt so much, and he has been patient and so kind that we had full trust spending two weeks with him. Same with our porter who has been really kind and smiley. We highly recommend using the service of Rajesh, Thakur and team for your next trip in Nepal!!
Me and husband did the Annapurna Circuit/Tilicho Lake Trek with Nepal Trekking Experts in October 2019. We were really happy with the trekking program and the overall organization. From the airport pick up until the end of the trek everything worked perfectly and Rajesh, the owner of the agency was always available for questions and really helpful. We did the trek with a guide and porter who were both very nice and took really good care of us. I can definitely recommend booking a tour with them. Thanks a lot for the great trip to Rajesh, Suman and Tharkur!