Tilicho Lake and the Annapurna Circuit Trek

Andy CrisconiHimalayan Trekking Tours

A visit to Tilicho Lake is a spectacular side excursion to your Annapurna Circuit Lodge Trek or can be arranged as a trip all on its own. It’s that tremendous! Tilicho, one of the world’s highest lakes, is situated in a beautiful, steep-sided valley west of Manang Village and the Annapurna Circuit trail. After a day in and around Manang visiting monasteries, the trip to Tilicho Lake would be as follows:

The spectacular Tilicho Lake of the Annapurna Range in Nepal

Manang Village to Khangsar Village (12,325 feet). 3 to 4 hour hike. Lodge.
After resting, acclimatizing and visiting the monasteries around Manang Village, we continue our Annapurna by heading west from Manang, following the path down to and across the Khangsar Khola. We travel through a gorge with views of the pristine Tilicho Peak above us. The trail leads us through small settlements and past the Tore Monastery offering breathtaking views of the Khangsar River and west towards the Great Barrier before reaching Khangsar Village. Khangsar Village offers a taste of old Tibetan style and we spend the night in a family-run lodge.

Khangsar Village to Tilicho Base Camp (13,585 feet). 4 to 5 hour hike. Lodge.
Leaving Khangsar, we follow a wide trail to a small monastery before connecting with a recently constructed path towards a high ridge. Arriving at an obvious intersection, we continue along the newer route to reach the crest of the ridge where we are afforded majestic views of the entire valley. We now descend on switchbacks carved out through the scree slopes to a side valley and down to our lodge at Tilicho Base Camp.

Tilicho Base Camp to Tilicho Lake (16,140 feet). Return to Tilicho Base Camp. 6 hour hike.
After an early breakfast, we begin the 3 to 4 hour journey to Tilicho Lake in hopes catching the sunrise. The Himalayas stand out in the night sky, pure white in the distance, the snow bright as day against the stark sky. The path leads us uphill at first. Although the incline is gradual, it will seem to be a great effort at this altitude. We’ll hike past some old landslide areas and climb a hill on a switchback trail before reaching the top and a sign which reads ‘Tilicho Lake 35 mins’. From here, our path levels out alongside a few small ponds as this very special day provides some of the best views to be had on your journey around the Annapurna Circuit. Tilicho Lake, Tilicho Peak, Annapurna, Gangapurna’s glacier dome and the awe-inspiring Grand Barrier are laid out before us! After spending some time exploring the area and perhaps an early packed lunch, we’ll start making our way back to the lodge at Tilicho Base Camp.

Tilicho Base Camp to Yak Kharka, (14,500 feet). 6 hour hike. Lodge.
On our way out of this spectacular valley, we take a high route (1,300 feet or so) above Khangsar Village passing through the ruins of Old Khangsar Village and then follow an unmarked trail leading to a bridge across the river between Gumsang and Yak Kharka. Our high route offers inspiring views of Annapurna II and Gangapurna, yaks and mountain horses will keep us company in this barren windswept terrain with juniper bushes as the only surviving vegetation around. Once across the river, we continue on a winding trail past herders’ stone huts and eventually reach the small settlement of Yak Kharka. We are now back on the main Annapurna Circuit route.