Grabbing a major portion of Himalayas, the northern Nepal is home to some of the highest mountain peaks in the world. In fact, 7 of the 14 highest peaks (Eight-Thousander) are found in Nepal, namely; Everest, Kanchenjunga, Annapurna, Dhaulagiri, Lhotse, Makalu and Manaslu.
The confluence of greater mountains and snowy ranges forms Himalaya, spanning 2,400 km (1,500 mi) from Nanga Parbat in Parkistan to Namcha Barwa in Tibet.
Do I go to Everest or Annapurna for my next trek? -is probably the most asked questions by a trekker before coming to Nepal. It’s hard to tell in words which one to choose between these two conglomerates of Himalaya, however, it’s simpler to explore the region simultaneously and know the difference for yourself.
Just to point out some of the major contrasts between these two popular trek trails, here are the details.
Everest Vs Annapurna
Mount Everest 8,848 m (29,028) is a northeastern peak located in the Khumbu valley of Nepal. Being the highest peak in the world, the greater confluence of climbers challenging toughest climb is most attracted towards Everest. Everest base camp trek, Base camp via Jiri trek, Gokyo lakes trek and 3 Passes trek are few of the most facilitated treks in Everest region. The geography of the region doesn’t differ much, as you start trekking from already a high altitude on the mountains.
Almost 40,000 trekkers arrive in Everest region every year.
Both Everest and Annapurna are part of Greater Himalaya of Asia. The climbing and trekking seasons on both these mountains occur at the same time. Pre-monsoon (March-June) and Post-monsoon (September-November) are considered the best times of a year to trek in Nepal. Availability of tea-houses is in abundance in both of the trails.
Annapurna 8,091 m (26,544 ft) is a northwestern mountain located in the Kaski region of Nepal. Annapurna base camp trek, Annapurna circuit trek and Ghorepani-Poonhill trek are few of the most facilitated treks in Annapurna region. It has huge diversity in geography. You can witness small and high hills of Nepal along with mountains and low altitude valleys like Kali Gandaki.
Almost 70,000 trekkers consider trekking Annapurna base camp and Annapurna circuit every year.
#1 Getting there
1. Everest region -You must take a short flight from Kathmandu to Lukla to reach Khumbu (Everest) region. As an alternative, you can consider walking from Jiri to Namche Bazaar, however, this takes time and should be opted only if you wish to walk and explore places in ease.
2. Annapurna region -Accessing Annapurna region is easier compared to Everest. You can take a vehicle from Pokhara to Nayapul (Kaski District). If you’re considering doing Annapurna circuit, then you can take a vehicle from Kathmandu to Besisahar.
#2 Things to see
- Tengboche Monastery -Tengboche is the oldest Sherpa village in Nepal. Located at 3,867 m (12,687 ft), Tengboche monastery is the highest monastery in the world.
- Namche Bazaar -Namche Bazaar is the largest village in Khumbu valley. It’s a major hub for locals, traders, trekkers and climbers. The Namche vicinity can be seen littered with guest houses and Tibetan traders.
- Kala Patthar -The highest elevation and a landmark you can reach during the trek, Kala Patthar 5,644.5 m (18,519 ft) is the only spot from where you can get a closer look of Everest.
- Annapurna Conservation Area (ACAP) -Established in 1985 and gazetted in 1992, Annapurna conservation area serves as the largest protected area of Nepal covering 7,629 km2 (2,946 sq mi) across Manang, Mustang, Myagdi, Kaski and Lamjung districts, and is popular for its diverse geography, availability of multitude of flora and fauna and ethnic lifestyles of the locals.
- Thorong La Pass – Thorong La 5,416 metres (17,769 ft) is the highest point on the Annapurna circuit. Located in the north of Annapurna mountain range, it is a major tourist attraction in the entire region.
- Ghandruk & Chhomrong -These are the two most popular ethnic Gurung villages in Annapurna region. Ghandruk (HQ of ACAP) is an ethnic village comprising of native inhabitants, culture and lifestyle. Chhomrong is more colorful and developed villages compared to Ghandruk which serves as a major stop during Annapurna base camp trek.
1. Everest region – The lowest possible point during Everest trek is at Lukla 2,860 m and the highest point is at Kala Patthar 5,643 m. Trekkers are more prone to altitude sickness or AMS during Everest trek, as you start walking from a higher altitude itself and lack of time to acclimatize. Acclimatization is very important during high altitude treks. Taking Diamox (Anti-AMS pill) and fluids is essential.
2. Annapurna region -An Annapurna trek starts from a lower altitude and advances to higher altitudes in sequence. The lowest possible altitude is 790 m and highest possible is 5,416 m at Thorong La Pass. As you walk from lower altitude to higher altitude in a longer span of time, the chance of getting AMS is rare, however it is still possible if you continuously walk without taking enough rests or acclimatization en route.
#4 Culture & Lifestyle
1. Everest region -Khumbu valley is home of ethnic tribe of Sherpa people. The early migrants from Tibet who settled in the high-altitude region of eastern Nepal. Predominantly Buddhist, Sherpa are known for their utmost hospitality and physical disdain for climbing mountains.
Sherpa are of Nyimgmapa sect of Buddhism and their language belongs to Tibeto-Burman lingual family. Their religious festivals account for Lhosar, Buddha Jayanti and other local festivities.
Their traditional attire is known as Kitycow, Chhuba, Kara, kanam and tetutng for men and Tongkok, Engi and kyetig are for women.
Tenzing Norgay Sherpa was one of the two climbers who successfully climbed Mount Everest. Apa Sherpa became the only person in the world to climb Everest a total of 21 times.
2. Annapurna region -Annapurna region is home of mainly Gurung tribe of people. Predominantely Hindu and Buddhist, Gurungs are one of the ethnic tribes, mainly found in the western and northwestern regions of Nepal. Known for their bravery and warlike skills they have continuously been recruited in British (Gurkha) regiment since ages.
Ghandruk, Pisang and Chhomrong are few of the major Gurung villages found in Annapurna region.
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