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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.

Landscapes on the Annapurna Circuit vs Everest Base Camp, which to trek in Nepal Annapurna Circuit or Everest Base Camp
Left side of the picture is on the Annapurna Circuit, vs Everest Region on the right

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

The Annapurna Circuit can be done in 8-15 days. It depends on whether you jeep up to Chame villlage from the start, and fly, bus, or jeep down from Jomsom village back to Pokhara. If you wish, you can spend extra days in Manang or make side treks to Khagbeni or Tilicho Lake. This could increase your time in the mountains to 18-20 days. My Annapurna Circuit Itinerary tells you more about itinerary options. 
 
The Everest Base Camp Trek is similar in duration to the Annapurna Circuit. It can be completed in about 12-14 days if flying in and out of Lukla. You could extend the trek by staying additional days in Namche Bazaar (highly recommended), or trekking to Gokyo Ri, for a total of 16-18 days in the mountains.
 
Landscapes on the Annapurna Circuit vs Everest Base Camp, which to trek in Nepal Annapurna Circuit or Everest Base Camp
Whether you choose the Annapurna Circuit or Everest Base Camp, check out my trekking in Nepal Packing List

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.

  1. Accessibility 
  2. Comfort/Facilities 
  3. Cost
  4. Crowds
  5. Cultural Experiences
  6. Difficulty
  7. Itinerary Certainty
  8. Landscapes
  9. Navigability 
  10. Prowess (bragging rights)
  11. Safety
  12. Side Treks
To choose which trek is best for you, select which of these aspects are the most important to you. Then see which trek comes out on top! I’ve tallied my scores below each section for reference but everyone’s preferences are different. 

1. Accessibility - Annapurna Circuit vs Everest Base Camp

Pokhara Tourist Bus Station, bussing to Annapurna Circuit starting point, Besisahar 2018
Annapurna Circuit

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

Annapurna Circuit vs Everest Base Camp trek, which trek to choose
Who might find this important: If you’re someone who is not comfortable ‘roughing it’, you might be happier with a more comfortable trekking experience. Something with more rest stops, restaurants, and Western toilets at your disposal. 
 
The Annapurna Circuit felt more ‘authentic’ vs Everest Base Camp. Most of my accommodation on the AC was family-owned guesthouses. The walls were thin and bathrooms consisted of squat toilets and bucket showers. There were hardly any large lodges, but it felt homey in return, like hikers were friends, not guests. 
 

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. 

 

The EBC continues to be built up to accommodate tour groups, meaning it has many more ‘comfortable’ amenities compared to the Annapurna Circuit.
Annapurna Circuit 1 vs Everest Base Camp 1

3. Cost of the Annapurna Circuit vs Everest Base Camp

Nepalese Rupees with Everest image, budgeting for Nepal travel

The cost for the Annapurna Circuit vs Everest Base Camp can be broken down into several categories. Here’s a breakdown:

Permits

  • AC: 4300 rupees ($43)
  • EBC: 5390 rupees ($54)
Food, Cost per Meal (low altitude to high altitude range)
  • AC: 150 rupees to 600 rupees
  • EBC: 300 rupees to 800 rupees
Accommodation (low altitude to high altitude range)
  • AC: free to 200 rupees
  • EBC: 100 to 500 rupees
 Transportation To/From
  • 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
Other (Showers, charging electronics, WiFi)
  • 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.
 
Love having trails to yourself? Annapurna is looking like a better choice for you, especially if you trek the entire circuit.
Annapurna Circuit 3 vs Everest Base Camp 1

5. Cultural Experiences - Annapurna Circuit vs Everest Base Camp

Annapurna Circuit vs Everest Base Camp trek, which trek to choose
Who might find this important: Trekkers interested in culture are not only trying to experience the mountains, but also soak in the Nepali way of life, and interact with the locals. These people may keep their trekking goal in mind, but also treasure the means to get there. 
 

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. 

I caught a cultural event on the Annapurna Circuit and Everest Base Camp. 
  • 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.
In terms of consistently experiencing Nepali village life however, the Annapurna Circuit trek feels much more humble than the other. 
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

Who might find this important: Those who want to take the easier option, OR those who want to take the harder option. 
 
Be prepared to really challenge yourself mentally and physically on either the Annapurna Circuit or Everest Base Camp. You’ll be dizzy from altitude, coughing from the dry air, and your body will be exhausted from always being on the move. 
View from Kala Patthar next to Everest, Everest Base Camp, a side trek from the Three Passes Trek in Nepal
Annapurna Circuit
On Annapurna Circuit you slowly gain altitude by covering long distances each day. There are a few days where you have to push up a steep slope to gain altitude. Thorong La Pass day was the longest day, about 9 hours from guesthouse to guesthouse. Half the day, 3-4 hours, is exclusively uphill, and you reach 5440m in elevation. 
 
Everest Base Camp
The Everest Base Camp trek has more steep sections, but you’ll be covering less ground each day. While the last stretch, walking from Gorak Shep to Everest Base Camp, is not too difficult, the hike up to Kala Patthar at 5550m could make or break you (but it’s totally worth it). 
 
Sounds fun right? Neither of these treks is a walk in the park, and expect to push yourself to the limit, whichever one you choose. It’s a tie!
(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. 

Jeep to Trek, Everest region trekking. Ultimate Guide to Everest Base Camp Trek, Three Passes Trek, Nepal Trekkingon the way back too!)
Annapurna Circuit
On the Annapurna Circuit, you have full control over your itinerary. Just count the days backwards from when you want to be back in Pokhara. Pokhara is just a bus or taxi ride away from Nayapul, the last village on the Circuit.

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
On the Everest Base Camp trek, most trekkers will fly in and out of Lukla. This theoretically solidifies the duration of your itinerary. However, flying to/from Lukla is highly weather-dependent!

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.

 
You will have much more itinerary certainty, therefore peace of mind for making your connecting flights, on the Annapurna Circuit vs Everest Base Camp. 
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. 

View from Poon Hill mountains, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal
Poon Hill viewpoint on the Annapurna Circuit trek
Annapurna Circuit
The Annapurna Circuit starts in the green valley, where little villages dot the hillsides covered in agricultural fields. The entire trek, except for pass day, you’ll be walking alongside a glacier-blue river. There will be waterfalls, alpine wildflowers, yaks, and many villages to admire while hiking. 

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. 
 
Landscapes on the Annapurna Circuit vs Everest Base Camp, which to trek in Nepal Annapurna Circuit or Everest Base Camp
Jagged mountain landscapes in the Everest Region
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 packing list Everest base camp packing list Nepal trekking packing list Ultimate packing list for nepal trekking
The Annapurna Circuit trail follows a river for almost the entire Circuit aside from Pass Day. If you find yourself losing the trail, as long as you know where the river is in relation to where you are, you will be able find civilization. Because there are villages on both sides of the river, sometimes the trail alternates sides which can be confusing.
 
The Everest Base Camp trek, especially from Lukla, is near impossible to lose sight of because of how commercialized it is. Firstly, there are people everywhere on the trek, and there’s only one street through each of the villages to get to the next destination. Everest Base Camp trek stays on one side of the river, and the roads stay consistently wide. 
 
EBC is the easier trek to navigate vs the Annapurna Circuit, because of well-worn paths and the ease in which you can follow the crowd. 
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.

Everest Base Camp, May 2018 trekking in Nepal

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

Who might find this important: Everyone should care about their own safety in the mountains. Safety is especially important for people who are prone to sicknesses or accidents, who or have previously fallen ill while hiking at altitude.
 
If you are worried about safety in the mountains, whether its getting lost or succumbing to altitude sickness, don’t worry. Even if you’re trekking alone you’ll never be far from help on both the Annapurna Circuit and Everest Base Camp treks
Make sure you purchase insurance before you go though. 
One feature the Annapurna Circuit has that is not available on the Everest Base Camp Trek is a jeep road that connects most of the Circuit. If you’re sick or injured enough to want to drop altitude without a helicopter, on the AC a jeep could take you. On the EBC it’s a donkey. 
 
Both regions have access to helicopter evacuations, but they are harder to get in the Everest Region. In the Everest region you might be waiting a day or two for the weather to clear enough for a helicopter to come and get you. 
 

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

Read my ultimate guides for the Annapurna Circuit or the Three Passes Trek (plus Everest Base Camp) for more in-depth tips on how to stay safe in the mountains.

Make sure to purchase insurance before you leave for the Himalayas! It’s especially important to get insurance that will cover high-altitude evacuations!!

12. Side Treks - Annapurna Circuit vs Everest Base Camp

Who might find this important: Trekkers who enjoy spending extended periods of time in the mountains, who have an open return date and no schedule to adhere to. 
 
Great news: Both the Annapurna Circuit and Everest Base Camp have great side treks! 
Gokyo Lakes side trek from Annapurna Circuit and the Everest Base Camp
Annapurna Circuit
The Annapurna Circuit’s most famous side trek is the 2-day, 1-night hike to Tilicho Lake. Check out Intrepid Road’s experience trekking to Tilicho Lake, and their Ultimate Guide if you want to add this to your Annapurna Circuit itinerary
 
I trekked up the side trek to the Ice Lake on my ‘rest day’ at high altitude. It which was a pretty unassuming lake, but the views going up to it were incredible, with just a wall of snowy mountains opposite the river. 

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. 

Another brilliant side trek is over Cho La Pass to the village of Gokyo, which adds 3-4 days to your itinerary. Gokyo is located next to the most beautiful little turquoise lake, and is sandwiched between a glacier and another mountain pass, Renjo La. 
 
The panorama from the top of Kala Patthar and the blueness of Gokyo’s lake puts Everest Base Camp above the Annapurna Circuit for side treks in my opinion.
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. 

Thorong La Pass, Annapurna Circuit Nepal, April 2018

Here are the winners (in my opinion only!) for each category.

Annapurna Circuit vs Everest Base Camp (Final Results)

  1. AccessibilityAnnapurna Circuit
  2. Comfort/Facilities – Everest Base Camp
  3. CostAnnapurna Circuit
  4. (Fewer) CrowdsAnnapurna Circuit
  5. Cultural ExperiencesAnnapurna Circuit
  6. Difficulty – Tie! Annapurna Circuit and Everest Base Camp
  7. Itinerary Certainty Annapurna Circuit
  8. Landscapes (Instagram-worthiness) Annapurna Circuit
  9. NavigabilityEverest Base Camp
  10. Prowess (bragging rights) – Everest Base Camp
  11. SafetyAnnapurna Circuit
  12. Side Treks – Everest Base Camp
 

Final Score: Annapurna Circuit 8 vs Everest Base Camp 5

Landscapes on the Annapurna Circuit vs Everest Base Camp, which to trek in Nepal Annapurna Circuit or Everest Base Camp
Looking back, if I was advising my past self who only had time to do one trek in Nepal, I would recommend the Annapurna Circuit Trek. This is based on what I value while trekking in the mountains, but your values may differ from mine. 
 
Based on my priorities of cost, landscapes, culture, and crowds, when comparing the Annapurna Circuit vs Everest Base Camp treks, I would have preferred the Annapurna Circuit. 
 
If I was to make a recommendation on the Annapurna Circuit or the Three Passes Trek in the Everest Region however, I would recommend the Three Passes Trek! That’s for another post, another day 🙂 

Decided between Everest Base Camp vs Annapurna Circuit? Read my other posts about Nepal

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Everest Base Camp vs Annapurna Circuit, which trek to do in Nepal? Which trek should I do: Everest Base Camp or Annapurna Circuit Trek?
Everest Base Camp vs Annapurna Circuit, which trek to do in Nepal? Which trek should I do: Everest Base Camp or Annapurna Circuit Trek?
Everest Base Camp vs Annapurna Circuit, which trek to do in Nepal? Which trek should I do: Everest Base Camp or Annapurna Circuit Trek?