Annapurna Circuit - The Budget
Friends, our journey is drawing closer, and we thought we’d share some of our practical decisions regarding the trip. Today we’ll tackle the subject of expenses. How much should a trip like this cost? What type of expenses should you expect?
Just a note regarding this post: It does not include any expenses incurred in coming to Kathmandu or staying there before you leave for the Annapurna Sanctuary. It does not include pocket money, insurance premiums or hiking equipment rental. Furthermore, costs will vary depending on how long you’ll be hiking, which mode of transport you use to and from the trekking route, how much of your luggage will be carried by a porter, how many members are in your trekking group and whether you use a trekking company or hike independently.
Our group has made decisions based mostly on the amount of days we have available for trekking, and with the goal of keeping costs as low as possible.
So let’s start at the beginning:
Permits and TIMS
When trekking through the Annapurna Sanctuary, you have to have an ACAP (Annapurna Conservation Area Project) permit, as well as register on TIMS (Trekkers’ Information Management System). ACAP is the trekking permit, and TIMS is a database containing the information of trekkers, as well as their proposed itinerary, in case of accidents or natural disasters. Both are compulsory. The cost of the ACAP is $30, and for TIMS it’s $10. There are several checkpoints along the route, where you’ll be expected to produce both these documents.
Total for Permits and TIMS - $40 per person
The company from which we’ll rent some trekking equipment and which is organising our trekking permits, also offers the services of guides and porters, and our group decided that we’d need one porter to help us carry our load. Insurance for the porter costs $15 and his daily fee is $20. He’ll carry a maximum of 25kg, which will lighten our loads significantly. His fee includes his accommodation and meals.
Total for Porter - $47 (11 days, group of 5 people)
From Kathmandu to the start of your trekking route, there are several options available: You could fly to Pokhara and catch a bus or rent a private vehicle to take you to the village where you’ll start your trek. A return flight from Kathmandu to Pokhara could cost $160 or more, depending on the current prices available from the airlines. We have not decided on this option, therefore we didn’t enquire as to the price for a bus or private vehicle from Pokhara.
Alternatively, you could take a tourist bus from Kathmandu to Pokhara. A ticket would cost around $7-$25, but you will need one more day to complete the trip by bus or private vehicle (for which we didn’t obtain a quote), or one day less to hike the trail, as the bus will only reach Pokhara late in the afternoon, when it would be too late to set out towards the mountains.
Our final choice was to rent a private vehicle to transport us from Kathmandu to Chamje, and then fetch us again at the end of the trek from Pokhara. In this way we could travel from Kathmandu to the start of our trek, and still be able to do a short hike in one day. Also, it saves us time compared to taking the bus, and money compared to taking a flight.
This is one part of our transport cost. The second part is travelling from the end of our trekking route in Muktinath to Pokhara. This part we had to estimate, as we’ll only be able to find a driver with a vehicle once we arrive in Muktinath.
Total transport cost estimate - $210 per person
Accommodation & Food
This was a difficult amount to settle on. We’ve read many blog posts and watched many Youtube videos, but still it’s difficult to determine how much you’ll pay, as much of what you pay for depend on what exactly you’ll need on the mountain. We estimate that $20-$25 should be a fair amount per person per day, but we’ve included an additional $10 in case of emergency. It’s not as if there’s an ATM in the Himalayas, so we though it better to go prepared.
Total for Accommodation and Food - $350 per person for 10 days
Pokhara – Accommodation
We found a hotel in Lakeside which charges $15 per room. We plan to stay there for 2 nights. Of course there are better hotels with more luxurious amenities, but in this matter we chose the more affordable option.
Total for Pokhara Accommodation - $12 per person
Pokhara – Food & Transport
We estimate that we’ll be able to pay less than $30 for food and transport per person per day.
Total for Pokhara Food & Transport - $60
So our final budget comes down to this:
ACAP Permit & TIMS - $40
Porter - $47
Transport - $210
Food & Accommodation - $350
Pokhara (2 nights, one day) - $72
TOTAL $719 per person
We expect the final amount to be less, as we have included some emergency funds in our calculations, and will report on the actual amount as soon as we are back from the Annapurna Circuit.
In the meantime, you might enjoy reading some of our posts on preparing for the journey: