Annapurna region trekking is named after the Annapurna Himalayas, which are north-west of Kathmandu, in central Nepal. The Annapurna section of the Nepal Himalaya covers numerous peaks named Annapurna including the 8091 m (26,545ft) Annapurana-1. The Annapurna region, about 200 KM north-west of Kathmandu, can be reached by road microbus, tourist bus, private vehicle or by a short flight from Kathmandu. Often this flight offers splendid views of the Himalayan mountains' en route.
Annapurna is a Sanskrit name which literally means "full of food" (feminine form), but is normally translated as Goddess of the Harvests. In Hinduism, Annapurna is "the universal and timeless kitchen-goddess”, the mother who feeds. Without her there is starvation, a universal fear; this makes Annapurna a universal goddess. The unique biodiversity, the scenic grandeur, and the multicultural and multi-ethnic diversity make it the world’s most popular trekking destination.
The Annapurna region covers, 7629 Sq. KM ranging from 900 m up to 8091 m. The climate zones in the area range from tropical in the lower elevations to the glacier covered alpine climate zone. The variation in the climatic pattern allows many different plants and animals to inhabit the area. There are several features that make the Annapurna region a unique place in the world. It contains the world's deepest river gorge – the Kali Gandaki Gorge, which is 3 miles long and 1.5 miles wide, a valley with fossils from the Tethys Sea dating 60 million years ago. The southern region of the greater Annapurna area contains the world's largest rhododendron forest in Ghorepani. North of the Annapurna massif is Tilicho Lake, the world’s highest altitude fresh water lake.
The biological diversity of the Annapurna region is equally rivaled by cultural diversity. Gurung and Magar are the dominant groups in the south, whereas Thakali, Manangi, and Luba are dominant in the north. Each of these groups speaks their own tongues, and has unique cultures and traditions. There are also Brahmin, Chhetri and other occupational castes, although in comparatively smaller numbers. Hindu, Buddhist and pre-Buddhist religions along with a mixture of all these are common across the region.
Annapurna is the most popular trekking destination in the country, being visited by more than 60 percent of trekkers who come to Nepal. Every year, more than 100,000 tourists are trekking and climbing in the numerous treks in the area. The Annapurna area offers treks for all fitness and experience levels. There are many shorter and easier to treks, longer more challenging treks as well as climbing. It is possible to explore from 2 to 4 days up to 30–35 days.
There are several trekking routes like the Annapurna Circuit with the Thorong La (pass) crossing, the isolated and remote Nar-Phu valley trek with another high pass crossing, and the Tilicho Lake and pass trek. Those treks are on the east side of Thorong La. The traditional Annapurna Circuit trek can continue almost back to Pokhara, or you can take a jeep or bus back to Pokhara, or you could even take a plane back to Kathmandu from Jomsom. At the higher elevations after the pass crossing the culture, people, and village/housing style change markedly, showing an interesting diversity that Nepal trekking is famous for. Additionally, on the west side is the famous-restricted area Mustang trek that goes up towards the Tibet border as well as the more isolated and difficult Around Dhaulagiri trek. Further south there is the Ghandruk Ghorepani circuit trek and many lower elevation but quite spectacular treks with outstanding views of the famous mountains in the area such as the Mardi Himal Trek, the Royal trek, the Sikles trek, and easily accessible view point treks such as the Sarangkot drive or trek, and Dhampus drive or trek.