ANNAPURNA CIRCUIT TREK - ACCLIMATIZATION IN MANANG
Read our highly informative and detailed day-by-day Annapurna Circuit Trek guide. We spent 14 days trekking around Annapurnas, and we’d like to share useful hiking tips, how to acclimatize and where to sleep. In the third part of our lifetime adventure, we acclimatize in Manang to avoid altitude sickness.
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 300-400 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!
Our Travel Tip: 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 quieter places 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.