Annapurna Conservation Area (ACAP)

ACAP is one of the first conservation projects undertaken in Nepal to conserve, protect and decentralize the nature conservation attempts. It spans over 5 different districts and covers the entire Annapurna massif. It is also the largest conservation areas available in Nepal.


Overview

Annapurna Conservation Area or ACAP is located at the mid-western region of Nepal. It covers 7,629 sq.km and spans over 5 different districts, namely; Manang, Mustang, Kaski, Myagdi and Lamjung. The ACAP HQ is located at Ghorepani village, one of the most visited tourist places in Nepal.

ACAP
ACAP

The area has two distinctive climatic regions within a span of 120 km. The southern hills of ACAP region receive frequent rainfall, whereas, the northern most parts receive no or less rainfall, hence, the latter are known as rain-shadow areas.

The deepest gorge in the world – Kali Gandaki, and Annapurna I – Eight-Thousander, is located inside the ACAP.

Gurung and Magar are the predominant ethnic tribes in the lower ACAP regions, whereas Thakali, Manange and Loba are mostly found in the higher regions.

Tourism is undoubtedly one of the major benefactor of the ACAP project. The proceeds received from the permits are used for the local conservation programs.

Wildlife & Flora

ACAP is rich in biodiversity and is a haven for the 1,226 species of flowering plants, 102 mammals, 474 birds, 39 reptiles and 22 amphibians.

History

ACAP was launched in 1986 with the initiation of King Mahendra Trust for Nature Conservation (KMTNC) to protect the environment with sustainable community development in Annapurna area by the local people without any intervention from the Nepalese Government and/or any other institutions.

It was gazetted in 1992 and is managed by the National Trust for Nature Conservation. The main motto of the project is to conserve the resources, tourism management, community development, education and extension.

ACAP with the participation of the trekkers have been able to increase the standard of living of the local population, protect the environment and develop sustainable tourism.


Trekking

A trekker is required to obtain an ACAP permit before entering the region.

The ACAP covers;

  1. Annapurna Base Camp
  2. Ghorepani-Poon Hill
  3. Lower/Upper Mustang
  4. Annapurna circuit
  5. Sikles trail

Hence, anyone doing these treks must obtain the ACAP permits. The region receives more than 100,000 trekkers in a year, mainly due to the popularity of the base camp and circuit trails.

Entry Permit/Fee

  • SAARC National – Rs. 200/ USD 2
  • Non-SAARC National (Except Nepalese) – Rs. 2,000/USD 20

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Annapurna Base Camp in Pictures

Annapurna I 8,091 m (26,545 ft) is an Alpine PD+ peak and one of the 14 Eight-Thousanders on Earth. Annapurna I, II, III,  IV, Gangapurna and Annapurna South combined forms the greater Annapurna Massif. The Annapurna trail receives most amount of tourists in a year. Most of these tourists arrive in Nepal for the trekking.


Annapurna Base Camp entry
Annapurna Base Camp entry

Annapurna Base Camp (ABC) is a rudimentary campsite located at 4,130 meters and just below the Annapurna I. A popular trekking trail, around 70,000 trekkers reach ABC every year. The availability of better tea-houses (lodges), campsites, professional guides and weather permits easy trek.

The trek begins at Nayapul and it slowly ascends towards ABC. Around seven days of continuous trekking will take you to the top, however, you can choose to stay exploring the trail or switch your itinerary to visit Ghorepani region of the trek.

Ghorepani is an independent trail at Annapurna. Most tourists visit Ghorepani while trekking to ABC as well. Poon Hill is a landmark destination and you can enjoy sunrise from it.




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History of Trekking in Nepal

One of the most favorite outdoor activity in Nepal, trekking has been the primary option for the adventure lovers. A physically exhilarating experience, trek comprises of days of walking at a certain location for the adventure or holidaying.

With increasing accessibility to various destinations in Nepal, more people flow to taste the trekking experience. Over 400,000 tourist visit Nepal every year for the sole purpose of trekking. Today, domestic airlines, well-paved roads and choices of vehicles have made the journey far easier for the tourists.


Trekking in Nepal

Late Col. Jimmy Roberts
Late Col. Jimmy Roberts

Ever since, Late Col. Jimmy Roberts “Father of Trekking” founded the first trekking company in Nepal in 1964, Nepal started receiving international audiences for trekking.

Along with commercialization of Everest expedition, tourism industry in Nepal gave birth to commercial operators for operating trekking. Within a decade, it became a mainstream business and one of the major contributor in GDP.

With advent of public-private participation, the promotion for trek routes around the country has been easier; along with helping to empower local villages. Today, there are over 1,500 trek agencies in Nepal, and hundreds of local travel agents.


Popular Trek Trails

Some of the most popular trek destinations in Nepal are as follows;

#1 Everest

Everest Base Camp is by far the most popular trek destination in Nepal. The region receives over 40,000 trekkers a year, however, the difficulty in finding local flight to Lukla and back poses difficulty for the tourists to visit the region.

Located at 5,300 m (17,600 ft) at the southern side of the Mount Everest, the base camp offers greater trekking experience. Gokyo trail and Three Passes are another two popular trek destinations in the Everest region.

#2 Annapurna

Annapurna Circuit and Annapurna Base Camp are two most popular trek destinations in the Annapurna region. The circuit was voted one of the best long treks in the world, whereas, Annapurna base camp is popular among every age.

A relatively shorter trek, the base camp offers immense natural and cultural riches, along with the closest view of Mt. Machhapuchhre. The circuit is undertaken by mostly the trekkers looking to spend more time on trail.

#3 Langtang

Langtang National Park is another popular trek destinations. It’s located at the closer proximity to the Annapurna circuit, however, the region offers completely different perspective on the sightseeing. It’s a discreet region, hence, most of the places are still yet unexplored.

The region was utterly devastated during the major Earthquake of 2016, however, it has been rebuilt and is now open for the tourists.

#4 Upper Mustang

A rain-shadow area, Upper Mustang is accessible throughout the year. The region is culturally and geographically closer to the Tibet, hence, the entire population is ardent Buddhist follower. Before Buddhism, the population was entirely Bon follower.

Mustang is a protected region, therefore, there is a limited access to enter the region. Tiji festival is one of the highlight of this trek.


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