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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Tilicho -The Highest Lake in the World

Tilicho Lake at Manang is known to be the lake situated at the highest altitude in the world. The oligotrophic glacial lake is a popular destination for the trekking  and is a part of the restricted region of Manang valley.


Overview

Tilicho Lake
Tilicho Lake

Tilicho Lake is located in the Manang district of Nepal, at around 55 km from Pokhara. It is situated at an altitude of 4,919 metres (16,138 ft) in the Annapurna range.

Due to its sheer altitude, it’s known as the highest lake in the world. The max length of the lake is 4 km, with the width of 1.2 km. The average depth is 85 meters.

The Lake collects the glacial melt of the entire northern slopes of Annapurna and Thorang Peak. In 2001, Hindu pilgrims in throngs flocked to the lake convinced it is a holy spot mentioned in the Ramayana – a holy book of the Hindus.

Khangsar, Tilicho, Muktinath and Nilgiri are few of the peaks surrounding the lake.

Tilicho Lake was the site of one of the highest ever altitude scuba dives. A Russian diving team, consisting of Andrei Andryushin, Denis Bakin, and Maxim Gresko, conducted a scuba dive in the lake in 2000.

Trekking

The lake is a part of the popular trek trails in the mid-western Nepal. You can consider visiting the lake by going offbeat from the Annapurna circuit or consider doing a trek straight to Manang during the Manang-Tilicho Trek.

It may take 5-8 days from Besi Sahar to reach the Tilicho Lake. The trail offers enough the-houses or lodges, hence camping isn’t required. The periphery of the lake doesn’t have any lodges, hence, you must consider staying at Tilicho Base Camp and only doing a day tour of the lake.


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The Annapurna Circuit

The Annapurna circuit is a 200 km long trekking trail located at the mid-western region of Nepal. A lengthy trek, it is mostly opted by the tourists seeking to enjoy their time traversing through the remotes of Nepal.


Overview

The Annapurna Circuit encompasses into one of the longest treks in Nepal. It may take well over 2 weeks to complete the trek and covers a great sparse of geography. You will get to cross 4 different districts during the trek, namely; Lamjung, Manang, Mustang and Myagdi.

Lamjung and Myagdi at the lower elevations are both predominantly Hindu regions with lush green subtropical valleys. Manang and Mustang at the higher elevations are predominantly Tibetan Buddhist region.

Manaslu, Langtang, Annapurna I, II, III and IV, Gangapurna, Machhapuchhare and Dhaulagiri are few of the major peaks you will get to see. The trek goes anti-clockwise, starting from Besi Sahar and ending at Ghorepani, mainly because, you will gain the daily altitude much slower and will get cross the Thorong La Pass with much ease and through the safer route.

Annapurna Massif Panorama

You will get to witness people of varying tribes and ethnicity. The villages, settlements and lifestyles found along the trail may differ in every 30 km. Choose anytime between March-June and September-December  for trekking the circuit, mainly for the good weather and ease of access.

Along with the Annapurna Base Camp, the circuit receives over 130,000 trekkers annually.

Thorong La Pass

Thorong La
Thorong La

Thorong La or Thorung La is a mountain pass located at the elevation of 5,416 meters in the Damodar Himal and inside the Circuit trail. The pass connects two different villages, Manang and Muktinath.

It is the highest point you may reach during the Circuit trek. It is advised to start the treacherous hike early morning to avoid any worsening weather at the pass.

Muktinath

Muktinath is a sacred place revered by many Hindus and Buddhists. Located in Muktinath Valley of Mustang, the ancient temple of Muktinath is dedicated to the God Vishnu (Hindu-Trinity). It is considered to be the 105th among the available Divya Desams (108 Vishnu temples that are mentioned in the works of the Tamil Azhvars). Hindus call the sacred place ‘Mukti Kshetra,’ which literally means the “place of liberation or moksha.”

The courtyard of temple has 108 Bull-faced spouts and pouring out cold Himalaya water. Pilgrims, making a visit to the temple, must also consider taking a shower under every spout for the ‘soul cleansing’.

Ghorepani

Ghorepani at the Myagdi district lies within the Annapurna Conservation Area (ACAP), and is one of the most popular local places to trek. It serves as an important stop for the incoming tourists and traders. Most trekkers stay at Ghorepani and trek up to the Poon Hill to enjoy the mesmerizing sunrise and sunset.

It also links to the important Ghandruk village, which is a part of the greater Annapurna base camp trail.


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