Everest vs Annapurna - Comparison of Regions
Mt Everest from Kala Pattar
These regions while sharing 8000m+ peaks are quite different. There are advantages to both and are suited to different types of travellers.
Here are some points of consideration:
In Everest Region most of the treks require moderate to high fitness levels.
In Annapurna region it’s possible to experience the mountain scenery even on treks suited to low fitness levels.
In Everest Region trekking commences by flying into Lukla airport at 2800m (you can walk in via Jiri) and from there it just gets higher. So it’s pretty much all at an altitude where AMS is possible and trekking requires being vigilant and mindful of this.
In Annapurna Region it’s possible to do treks where altitude is not a problem. While there are still high passes on some routes many including Annapurna Base Camp (4025m) carry little risk of AMS. Part of this is due to the fact that you need to walk from low altitude to the higher locations thus allowing the body plenty of time for acclimatization.
In Everest Region while it is a big climb to Namche Bazaar on day 2 much of Everest trekking includes moderate inclines and switch backs. Of course these are not easy as with the altitude all inclines seem much more difficult.
In Annapurna Region particularly on the Annapurna Base Camp and Poon Hill treks there are literally thousands of STAIRS. If you have knee or joint issues please be mindful of this.
Ascent and Descent:
In Everest Region you fly in over the mid hills. Even though you will have some descent and ascent each day you will find these are quite moderate (even though it may not seem so at altitude).
In Annapurna Region it is quite normal to have a big descent and big ascent on most days. Much greater than any day in Everest Region. Thankfully the lower altitude makes it a lot easier.
In Annapurna Region you are physically closer to some 7000m and 8000m peaks so it’s possible to enjoy them from lower altitude and easy walking.
In Everest Region you need to walk further to get closer to the high peaks. But there are more of them to enjoy.
In the Everest Region you will find Sherpa people who are Buddhist and of Tibetan descent.
In the Annapurna Region the mid hills are occupied by many Gurung people. In the Mustang area higher up the mountain people are Tibetan in origin.
Monasteries and Sacred Places:
The Everest Region has many monasteries that you can visit on your trip. A feature of this region is all the mani walls and gompa’s along the way. It’s a great way to add a spiritual dimension to an epic mountain trek.
Annapurna has a holy Hindu pilgrimage place “Muktinath” high up in the mountains but has very few monasteries and places of spiritual interest overall.
Everest Region can be accessed via a short flight direct from Kathmandu. Or via bus (full day) and 5 day walk from Jiri.
Annapurna Region can be accessed via a short flight to Pokhara or bus to Pokhara (5 hours). Then a bus or private vehicle to the trekking starting points. An overnight in Pokhara is recommended prior to commencing trekking.
Rhododendron trekking around Poon Hill is one of the things Annapurna is famous for. Bright red being common. There are also rhododendron forests in the Everest Region.
There are more waterfalls along Annapurna routes as you are trekking at lower altitude and more in the forests. You can also see wild monkeys in these forests.
Everest Region is where you will see glacial lakes at the base of snow covered peaks (Gokyo area). Although the pond at ABC is very photogenic also.
Everest Region is busiest in October for trekking and in April and May for climbing. During climbing season you can see EBC in full operation.
Annapurna is the busiest trekking region in Nepal due to its ease of trekking and accessibility. Autumn and Spring are the busiest times. It is not uncommon for Poon Hill to be very crowded for sunrise at these times.
While there is now wifi available at both ABC and EBC the availability of connection can be problematic due to altitude and weather. Power also can be an issue particularly at higher altitudes.
As Annapurna is at lower altitude it is significantly warmer for most of the time. However fuel fires are banned in the National Park so it is cold at night and you will need your beanie and gloves to stay warm even in lodges.
In Everest Region there are many yaks on the routes. The dung is used to fuel the fires. At all the lodges you will be warmed at night by communal fires which is very nice in the cold.
In Everest Region supplies are carried to villages via yaks at higher altitudes and cross bred yaks and cows at lower altitude as well as ponies or donkeys. This makes for some great photo opportunities but also requires some caution and adherence to personal safety.
There are no yaks on the Annapurna Base Camp trek but you will see ponies and donkeys.
Due to the altitude acclimatisation requirement and distance Everest trekking generally requires some length of time. 2-3 weeks is a good guide for treks involving close up views of the peaks.
In Annapurna Region it is possible to view the peaks from close up (ABC) in a much shorter time frame (1-2 weeks) due to the much lower altitude.