The Annapurna Circuit trek and Everest Base Camp trek in Nepal are two bucket-list hikes that take you through the Himalayan mountain range. Both take 2-3 weeks of village to village trekking to complete. For people traveling to Nepal for less than a month, it can be a grueling choice to pick just one trek: the Annapurna Circuit or Everest Base Camp.
Both the Annapurna Circuit and Everest Base Camp take you on incredible, challenging journeys through the tallest mountains in the world, and both will leave you breathless (literally and figuratively).
I hiked both during a two-month stay in Nepal and good part is, you can’t go wrong with either trek. You will absolutely adore whichever trek you choose.
Here’s a run-down that puts these two iconic treks side by side so you can decide for yourself which is better for you: the Annapurna Circuit vs Everest Base Camp Trek.
Annapurna Circuit vs Everest Base Camp: General Information
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit both the Annapurna Circuit and Everest Base Camp is during the shoulder months of March-May, and October-November. These months are considered the best time for trekking because of nice weather and clear views of the Himalayas.
The monsoon season in Nepal occurs between June-August, and snow blocks many of the trails and passes between December-February.
Number of Days to Complete
How I compare the Annapurna Circuit vs Everest Base Camp
These are the categories that I’ll explain in more detail, comparing the Annapurna Circuit vs Everest Base Camp treks. Details about the Annapurna Circuit I’ve written in blue.
- Cultural Experiences
- Itinerary Certainty
- Prowess (bragging rights)
- Side Treks
1. Accessibility - Annapurna Circuit vs Everest Base Camp
Getting To: Besisahar village is the official start of the Annapurna Circuit. It’s located 5 hours by local bus from Pokhara, and a similar distance by bus from Kathmandu.
Getting From: On the way back, take a bus or a taxi from Nayapul, the end of the Annapurna Circuit, to Pokhara. It takes less than 3 hours.
Many villages along the Annapurna Circuit can be accessed by a jeep road that has recently been built. If you’re on a tight schedule, you can jeep up the trail and skip a few days of trekking. On the way back you can also catch a flight, jeep, or bus from Jomsom to Pokhara.
Everest Base Camp
Getting To and From: the Everest Base Camp Trek starts from Lukla, home to a tiny airport that you reach by flight from Kathmandu. Flights are weather-dependent and are often cancelled.
You can also take a 10-hour jeep from Kathmandu to Salleri and spend three days walking to Lukla. You can also bus 9 hours to Jiri and spend five days walking to Lukla. On the way back, do the same thing all over again.
In terms of accessibility, it is much easier, and cheaper, to reach the Annapurna Circuit vs Everest Base Camp. The Annapurna Circuit is more accessible than EBC.
Annapurna Circuit 1 vs Everest Base Camp 0
2. Comfort/Facilities - Annapurna Circuit vs Everest Base Camp
The Everest Base Camp trek is more commercialized. You’ll find many large, brick lodges with dozens of rooms, and with several staff members available to take care of guests.
Annapurna Circuit 1 vs Everest Base Camp 1
3. Cost of the Annapurna Circuit vs Everest Base Camp
The cost for the Annapurna Circuit vs Everest Base Camp can be broken down into several categories. Here’s a breakdown:
- AC: 4300 rupees ($43)
- EBC: 5390 rupees ($54)
- AC: 150 rupees to 600 rupees
- EBC: 300 rupees to 800 rupees
- AC: free to 200 rupees
- EBC: 100 to 500 rupees
- AC: 500 rupees bus + 200 rupees bus = 700 rupees ($7)
- EBC: $320 flight OR $15 jeep there and back OR $10 bus there and back = $320
- AC: FREE
- EBC: 300 rupees, 500 rupees, 600 rupees = $$
All-in-all, I spent $250 over 13 days on the Annapurna Circuit Trek, averaging $19/day. In the Everest Region I spent over $700 in 25 days, or $28/day. (25 days because I hiked the Three Passes Trek route instead of just to EBC)
The Annapurna Circuit is much cheaper than the Everest Base Camp trek.
If saving money is extremely important to you, this is probably as far as you need to read in this article comparing the Annapurna Circuit vs Everest Base Camp. I’ll transfer you over to my Ultimate Guide to the Annapurna Circuit Trek.
Annapurna Circuit 2 vs Everest Base Camp 1
4. Crowds - Annapurna Circuit vs Everest Base Camp
Who might find this important: Trekkers who enjoy being in the wilderness on their own, who get irritated when waiting in queues or to pass slow-walking trekkers. Others may feel safer if they are surrounded by other trekkers.
Annapurna Circuit – Quiet, then crowded around the Thorong La Pass, then quiet again
- At the beginning of the trek, a lot of distance is covered each day, so the trekkers are few and far between.
- At the middle of the Circuit around Chame and Upper Pisang villages, the trail starts to get crowded. The elevation spikes here cause bottlenecks, because you’re covering short but strenuous distances.
- The most crowded sections on the AC are near Thorong Pedi, on Pass Day when everyone departs for Thorong La Pass at the same time, and at Muktinath’s pilgrimage site.
- After the transportation hub of Jomsom, the trail is quiet again because many people choose to fly or catch a bus or jeep back to Pokhara.
The Everest Base Camp Trek, vs the Annapurna Circuit, is overflowing with tour groups.
- If you start trekking from Jiri or Salleri, you can experience the calm before the storm. You’ll stay in local villages, meet few trekkers, and donkeys bringing goods to the mountain villages.
- From Lukla, comes the storm. For trekkers who fly into Lukla, their entire EBC trek will be crowded. There are tour groups after tour groups sharing the trail, as well as many yak and donkey trains.
- When you reach the finish line, Everest Base Camp, be prepared to push your way through the crowd to snap a picture.
- Since the EBC trek is one way up, and the same way down, you’ll meet the same crowds on the way down right, up until the end of the trek.
Annapurna Circuit 3 vs Everest Base Camp 1
5. Cultural Experiences - Annapurna Circuit vs Everest Base Camp
The great thing about both the Annapurna Circuit and Everest Base Camp treks is that you will are in a region that has been inhabited for centuries. You can experience what it’s like to live as a villager in the mountains.
- In Upper Pisang on the Annapurna Circuit, there was a Tibetan archery festival.
- In Thame, a village just outside of Namche Bazaar on the Three Passes Trek (you won’t pass through here on just EBC), I saw a Sherpa festival with traditional music and dancing.
View this post on Instagram
Three Passes Trek Day 20: We were lucky enough to be passing through Thame during the once a year Sherpa festival, which took place in the Thame Monastery. There were music and dance performances by the monks and sherpas, plus free tea for those who brought a cup with them!
I felt like a friend on the Annapurna Circuit, vs on the Everest Base Camp trek I felt like a customer.
If you want to interact with the locals and experience local Nepali life, spend time on the Annapurna Circuit.
Annapurna Circuit 4 vs Everest Base Camp 1
6. Difficulty of the Annapurna Circuit vs Everest Base Camp
Everest Base Camp
(Tie!) Annapurna Circuit 5 vs Everest Base Camp 2
7. Itinerary Certainty: Annapurna Circuit vs Everest Base Camp
Who might find this important: Trekkers who have a flight out of Kathmandu already purchased, and are planning on trekking right up until the day before their flight. Also people who want to be in complete control over their itinerary and their time in the mountains.
If you are hiking the Annapurna Circuit and realize you are a day or two behind your itinerary, you can skip the last few days trekking by taking a jeep back to Pokhara from Jomson or Tatopani villages.
Everest Base Camp
Bad weather could ruin your plans in an instant, cancelling flights to and from Lukla. This is not an uncommon occurrence, and if your flight is cancelled you’re not necessarily put at the top of the list for the next flight. Many people have been stranded one extra night in Kathmandu or Lukla because of the weather. I’m sure international flights have been missed as a result of this also.
Annapurna Circuit 6 vs Everest Base Camp 2
8. Landscapes on the Annapurna Circuit vs Everest Base Camp
Who might find this important: Photographers who want to capture a variety of landscapes, not just mountains, while trekking. Trekkers who find value in experiencing different colored scenery, flora and fauna, and villages each day.
Heading down the Circuit from Jomsom exposes you to different terrain, including, a wide river basin, traditional villages, and even hot springs in Tatopani.
The view from Poon Hill on the last day of the trek is a rewarding view with many of the Himalayan summits all viewable one last time.
Everest Base Camp
The Everest Base Camp region also starts with greenery around Lukla (even more from Jiri and Salleri). While there is a major river here, you won’t see much of it until you cross over the bridge to get to Namche.
The villages are filled with white and blue or green painted guesthouses. Namche Bazaar is the biggest gem in the jewelry box, with all the blocky buildings huddled in the small valley.
After Namche Bazaar the terrain starts to get rockier, the views gray and white, as you pass up above the tree line. The mountains are very in-your-face as you walk on gravel from old glaciers and around big boulders.
My Personal Preference: Annapurna Circuit
Because I felt the Annapurna Circuit had more variety in colorful scenery, villages, and terrain, I think the point here goes to the Annapurna Circuit vs Everest Base Camp.
However, the view from the top of Kala Patthar near EBC makes it a close one to call. If you are trekking in Nepal looking for the biggest, baddest mountains and nothing more though, EBC may be your best choice.
Annapurna Circuit 7 vs Everest Base Camp 2
9. Navigability - Annapurna Circuit vs Everest Base Camp
Who might find this important: People who are ‘directionally-challenged’ or have extra concerns about getting lost.
Annapurna Circuit 7 vs Everest Base Camp 3
10. Prowess (Bragging Rights) - Annapurna Circuit vs Everest Base Camp
Who might find this important: Travelers who are interested in seeing the best, the first, the TALLEST attractions when they travel. Influencers who want to impress their followers with big-name adventures and accomplishments.
When you tell your friends at home that you completed the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal, you might get a lot of ‘huh?’s. Everyone knows Everest however, and are bound to be impressed by the fact you were in the presence of the tallest mountain in the world.
Everest Base Camp is a bucket list item for many, vs the Annapurna Circuit seems to be an afterthought.
If you’re in Nepal to wow others and check off bucket list destinations, get yourself to the Everest Region!
Annapurna Circuit 7 vs Everest Base Camp 4
11. Safety on the Annapurna Circuit vs Everest Base Camp
If something goes wrong, you can be flown and driven out of the mountains faster from the Annapurna Circuit than Everest Base Camp. In my book, that makes the Annapurna Circuit a safer option than Everest Base Camp.
Annapurna Circuit 8 vs Everest Base Camp 4
12. Side Treks - Annapurna Circuit vs Everest Base Camp
Khagbeni is also another detour/side trek from the Annapurna Circuit. It’s a little oasis of a town located just on the border of the Upper Mustang area and home to an old monastery.
Everest Base Camp
Everest Base Camp’s famous side trek is to Kala Patthar, a summit at 5550m. From here, you can look over at mighty Everest herself, as well as many of the most impressive mountains in the world.
Annapurna Circuit 8 vs Everest Base Camp 5
I didn’t even mention the Three Passes Trek in the Everest Region! (EBC is more of a side trek from the Three Passes Trek, not the other way around) If you take into account the incredible experiences on this 20+ day trek, the Everest Base Camp region is much better than the Annapurna Circuit in terms of side treks.
Here are the winners (in my opinion only!) for each category.
Annapurna Circuit vs Everest Base Camp (Final Results)
- Accessibility – Annapurna Circuit
- Comfort/Facilities – Everest Base Camp
- Cost – Annapurna Circuit
- (Fewer) Crowds – Annapurna Circuit
- Cultural Experiences – Annapurna Circuit
- Difficulty – Tie! Annapurna Circuit and Everest Base Camp
- Itinerary Certainty – Annapurna Circuit
- Landscapes (Instagram-worthiness) – Annapurna Circuit
- Navigability – Everest Base Camp
- Prowess (bragging rights) – Everest Base Camp
- Safety – Annapurna Circuit
- Side Treks – Everest Base Camp
Final Score: Annapurna Circuit 8 vs Everest Base Camp 5
Decided between Everest Base Camp vs Annapurna Circuit? Read my other posts about Nepal!
- The Perfect Trekking in Nepal Packing List
- 20 Things to Know Before Trekking to Everest Base Camp
- Kala Patthar: The Side Trek from Everest Base Camp NOT to Miss!
- Annapurna Circuit Blog and Itinerary
- Ultimate Guide to the Annapurna Circuit Trek
- Check out the vlog from Intrepid Road about the Annapurna Circuit and Three Passes Trek!