Annapurna Circuit Trek - Acclimatization in Manang
Read our practical day by day Annapurna Circuit Trek guide. The third part of our amazing adventure in the Himalayas features how to acclimatize in Manang to prevent altitude sickness, where to sleep, trail description, what to pack, a side trip to Ice Lake and Praken Gompa, and useful hiking tips.
Acclimatization when hiking Annapurna Circuit is essential, especially once you reach the elevation of 3500 meters and higher.
Until this point, you can adjust pace according to your plan and level of fitness, but when you get to the 3500 meters line, you should not climb more than 300-600 m per day, and it is always better to sleep a bit lower than was your highest hiking point that day.
Also, you should allow yourself couple free days at this point to make few acclimatization trips just to make sure your body is adjusting to the elevation.
Listen to your body as every single person reacts differently to high altitudes.
We met few people along the road who had to go back, and some of them had to pay for a jeep to get to the lowlands only because they did not follow the instructions how to acclimatize properly.
Honestly, it isn't worth the risk to save a day or two and put your health in danger.
Fortunately, the Manang area is mesmerizingly beautiful and staying here for few days to acclimatize is not an obstacle at all.
You can choose from many side trips and also enjoy town Manang, a favorite stop on the way where hikers can do the last big shopping before heading to saddle.
Manang offers everything you could think of. You can buy food, hiking gear and there is also bank machine, doctor's office, and even a cinema!
We decided to stay 25 minutes walk before Manang in a smaller village called Braga and we started our acclimatization trips from here.
Why we chose Braga over Manang?
It is a quieter place than Manang which suited us well. You can also find here one of the oldest monasteries in the region, and last but not least, it is a good starting point to hike to the Ice Lake.
The hike to Praken Gompa was our first try to get closer to 4000 m line.
It is an isolated religious building hidden from sight in a mountain wall towering above Manang in elevation of 3945 m. The trip is a steady climb from Manang town, and the path ascends the hillside from its eastern end.
Few meters above Manang stands a stupa, and from here you will walk up the narrower path which is fringed by sea buckthorns bushes. We had few delicious sea buckthorn juice drinks when hiking Annapurna Circuit, but the best we had was here in Manang area.
Lama, a Buddhist monk who achieved enlightenment, lives in Praken Gompa and will bless you to cross Thorong La safely for a small donation.
The views from this place are incredible you can see Annapurna IV, Annapurna II, Gangapurna and Tarke Kang.
Trip to Praken Gompa did not take us more than three hours roundtrip so after lunch (fried rice again) we decided to go to Gangapurna Lake.
We had to descend several steps among the houses from the main street and cross the bridge, and after fifteen minutes we reached the bank of Gangapurna Lake which owes its creation and beautiful color to the process of melting the Gangapurna Glacier above.
ICE LAKE - KICHO TAL
The toughest and the most spectacular climb is a long day hike to Ice Lake, consider to leave this one for the second day of your acclimatization.
You can hike to the lake from Manang or Braga but as we heard and read, the trail from Braga is preferred by the majority because the path is wide, well-marked and is not that steep as the one from Manang.
On the Braga's main dusty road, you'll see a sign to Ice Lake, follow the arrow and cross the meadow up to the old settlement.
It is nice to walk in a maze of stone buildings, the white painted marks on the walls will lead you out of the village.
From now on the trail is easy to follow as you are above the tree line.
Although the trail ascends steeply, it is not hard to forget the exertion with the views like this.
Good weather guarantees you look-outs to Annapurna (8091 m), part of Manang Valley and Pisang Peak, you can also see the village of Braga, Manang and far right is visible the trail leading to Tilicho Lake.
After you reach a plateau with a small stone tea house on your right, you must cross a rocky meadow and climb a little bit further, but the end is in sight.
First, you'll see lower Ice Lake, and after another 10 minutes, you'll arrive at today's destination, Ice Lake.
When we got there, the lake was still mostly frozen at the beginning of April.
You can expect snow almost any time of the year, but the path should be without snow during two main trekking seasons though. Views of the lake and surrounding mountains are incredible, and you can walk around the lake before setting on the way back
A big plus of this trek was that we could keep our stuff in the lodge and we climbed only with a light backpack containing a water bottle, food, sunscreen and extra clothing such as water and windproof jacket, extra trousers, and gloves.
WHAT TO PACK FOR ANNAPURNA CIRCUIT
Packing for the Annapurna Circuit Trek can be challenging.
We started in Besisahar (740m) in a jungle-like climate, where temperatures were hitting 30+ degrees of Celsius and after more than 14 days of challenging trekking finally crossed the snow-covered Thorong La Pass (5416m), the highest point of our adventure.
You need a bit of everything, but also you must pack light, so try not to overpack. Every extra kilogram will count and you will feel it when climbing up. To give you a simple example, you need short-sleeved t-shirt and shorts for the first part, but you also need a down jacket for cold weather and should wear winter gloves for Thorong La in case there is a snowstorm.
These seven things are absolutely essential to include in your packing list.
Rucksack for Him & for Her | When traveling without a porter, it is essential to choose the right large backpack with waist straps and good back support - nowadays you can choose a backpack for man or women, because the physique is different, and the comfort will be better. When it comes to hiking Annapurna Circuit, bear in mind that you should not carry more than 13 kilograms, optimal weight is anything between 8 to 12 kilograms to enjoy the hike without back and knee pain.
Sleeping Bag for Him & for Her | There is no heating in the rooms, and nights can be really cold. Well, we don't want to scare you, but they will be cold. I remember one night, when I was wearing down jacket, warm hat and leggings inside my sleeping bag, and was not able to warm up. Accommodation might provide you with extra blankets, but they are not often enough. Generally, we wouldn't travel to Nepal without own sleeping bag.
Hiking Poles | Nepal was the first country where we used hiking poles, and we had a great experience. Hiking poles will help your knees when hiking downhill or uphill and are great for establishing walking pace and rhythm.
Camera | Camera and lenses were probably the heaviest things we packed with us to Nepal, but they were well worth it.
You can also read our in-depth Annapurna Circuit packing list, where you will find more useful tips and advice on what to pack and what to leave behind.
WHERE TO STAY IN NEPAL
Nepal is still a developing country, and services, for example, accommodation to be specific, is quite cheap. In Nepal, you can afford to sleep in a nice place for a bargain price.
To make your hotel reservation in Nepal before your arrival, click on the links below.
Kathmandu | Oasis Kathmandu Hotel - Spotless modern rooms, quiet location so you will get a good sleep at night, and walking distance from Thamel.
Pokhara | Hotel White Pearl - Centrally located hotel overlooking the Phewa lake and mountains. The rooms are spacious and clean, the staff is professional and friendly and a great breakfast is included.
TRAVEL INSURANCE - SIMPLE & FLEXIBLE
We never leave our home without travel insurance which is designed to help cover your expenses if something goes wrong on your trip.
World Nomads Travel Insurance has been designed by travelers for travelers, to cover your trip essentials.
Travel smarter and safer!