Annapurna Circuit Trek Permits: Why, How and Where

Annapurna Circuit Trek

Are you planning for Annapurna Circuit Trek? The primary things you should focus on are the permits.

There are two mandatory permits one needs to attain before beginning their trek in this region: Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) permit and Trekkers Information Management Systems (TIMS) permit.

ACAP permit is required for your entry to the Annapurna Conservation Area (ACA) since the ACA includes a major portion of the trek.

TIMS permit is required to trek in major trekking trails within Nepal, including the Annapurna Circuit Trek.

However, Nepalis do not need TIMS permit for the trek, but ACAP permit is mandatory for all. You can get these permits primarily from the offices of Nepal Tourism Board in Kathmandu and Pokhara. 

Let me familiarize you with these permits, their costs, reasons for having them and processes of obtaining them. 

ACAP permit for Annapurna Circuit Trek

ACAP permit for Annapurna Circuit Trek
Important information is blurred in the picture

Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP), established in 1986, is the largest protected region in Nepal with an area of 7629 square kilometres and is managed by Nepal Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC). 

The conservation area spans across Lamjung, Myagdi, Kaski, Manang and Mustang districts of Nepal. ACAP permit is a permit required to enter this protected zone. Annapurna Circuit Trekkers need to get an ACAP permit because they need to enter the protected region as a part of their trail. 

This permit is for a single entry. This means once you exit from the Annapurna Conservation Area (ACA), you will need to obtain another ACAP permit for a second entry. An issued ACAP permit is non-refundable and non-transferable. 

You might want to note that any person entering the conservation area is subject to the National Park and Wildlife Conservation Act, 1973 and all the regulations made under this Act. 

Why you need to get an ACAP permit for Annapurna Circuit

ACA is a protected area with rich biodiversity. According to the NTNC, the protected area has 105 species of mammals, 518 species of birds, 23 species of amphibians, and 40 species of reptiles along with 1,226 species of flowering plants. The area is also rich in cultural diversity. 

The protected area has people speaking different languages and following different religions. Gurung and Magar are the major ethnic groups in the south, whereas Thakali, Manange and Loba are dominant in the north. 

Each of these groups speaks their own dialect and have unique cultures and traditions. There are also Brahmin, Chhetri and other occupational castes in the region although in comparatively smaller numbers. 

Hindu, Buddhist and pre-Buddhist religions along with a mixture of these religions are present in Annapurna region. 

You will enjoy much of the biodiversity and the cultural diversity of this region throughout the trek.

Entering a protected area is a matter of security concern and not everybody can be allowed to enter it randomly. As envisioned by the National Park and Wildlife Conservation Act, 

1973, NTNC supervises the entry of people to this region by issuing a permit. Entering the protected area in order to observe its diversity is a major activity connected to the circuit trek. So, acquiring an ACAP permit becomes mandatory for Annapurna Circuit Trek.

Such diverse protected area needs management and NTNC does it. The garbage from the trekkers is also cleaned by NTNC with the help of permit charges. You indirectly support the maintenance and development of the conservation area while paying for the permit. 

Charges for ACAP permit for Annapurna Circuit Trek

The permit for Annapurna Conservation Area is charged a certain amount depending on your nationality. 

The charges for the permit are not related to the duration of your trek. Whether you are in ACA for 5 days or 10 days, charges for the permit are the same.

Here is the information on charges:

  • NPR 200 per person (approximately USD 2) for SAARC nationals
  • NPR 3,000 per person (approximately USD 30) for foreigners who are not SAARC nationals
  • Children below 10 years do not require an ACAP permit. So, there are no charges for them. 

TIMS permit for Annapurna Circuit Trek

Trekkers Information Management System (TIMS) permit is a must for every foreigner trekking in Nepal along major trails, including Annapurna Circuit Trek.

However, all trekking routes do not need one to acquire TIMS permit. Moreover, TIMS permit is not valid for trekking in Restricted Zones like Upper Mustang and Upper Dolpo. Special trekking permit needs to be obtained from the Department of Immigration, Kalikasthan, Kathmandu, for trekking to areas that fall under the Restricted Zone. For Annapurna Circuit Trek, just TIMS permit will work.

The permit has been jointly issued by the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) and Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal (TAAN).

Like the ACAP, this permit is also for a single entry. Once the trek is over, the validity of the TIMS permit is also over. An issued TIMS permit is non-refundable and non-transferable. 

Also, a TIMS permit for a defined trek cannot be used for another trek. For instance, if you get a TIMS permit for Annapurna Circuit Trek, it cannot be used for other treks within the country.

Why you need to get a TIMS permit for Annapurna Circuit

TIMS permit is for your own safety. TIMS permit helps you as well as the stakeholders keep track of your journey. 

You will be registered on the system at every checkpoint on the trekking trail after you show your TIMS permit. This can be very helpful for you in case you go missing in the trail or meet an accident. 

If you do not check-in at a certain checkpoint after an estimated duration of the last check-in, it is taken as a signal of an accident or a loss of track and rescue operation is started. 

Thus, it is important for you to check-in at every checkpoint and TIMS permit is the document that validates your check-in. 

Charges of TIMS permit for Annapurna Circuit Trek

Charges for TIMS permit depend on whether you are trekking independently or with an agency and whether you are a SAARC national or not. 

The charges for the TIMS permit also are not related to the duration of your trek.

The charges for TIMS permit are:

  • NPR 1,000 per person (approximately USD 10) for organized treks through an agency. The permit issued is BLUE in colour in this case.
  • NPR 2,000 per person (approximately USD 20) for independent trekkers (going without a guide or a porter). The permit issued is green in colour in this case. 
  • NPR 300 per person (approximately USD 3) for SAARC nationals trekking with an agency. 
  • NPR 600 per person (approximately USD 6) for SAARC nationals trekking independently. 

How you can get ACAP and TIMS permit

You need to fill two separate application forms in order to get each of these two permits. Along with the application, you will need to submit two copies of your recent passport each for ACAP permit and TIMS permit. 

Two copies of passport size photographs each for ACAP permit and TIMS permit are also required. The charges for the permits should be paid in Nepali rupees (NPR). 

TIMS and ACAP can be obtained on

  • Nepal Tourism Board (NTB), Exhibition Road, Bhrikuti Mandap, Kathmandu
  • Nepal Tourism Board (NTB), Dam Side, Pokhara

You can access the office of the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) in Kathmandu any time from 10 am to 5 pm except for lunch break from 1 pm to 2 pm on all days except for national holidays. The board is located about 25 minutes’ walking distance from the tourist centre of Kathmandu–Thamel. 

ACAP permit can also be obtained from the ACAP entry permit counter in Besisahar, Lamjung. Besisahar, Lamjung is 79 kilometres away from Pokhara. 

Under special circumstances like loss, ACAP permit can be issued from the checkpoints along the trekking route upon payment of 100 per cent additional charge.

Additionally, TIMS permit can also be obtained from the TAAN Lakeside office in Santi Patan, Pokhara.

Please note that others cannot attain the permits on your behalf. You need to be present in person at one of the aforementioned offices with the required documents and apply by yourself to get the permit. Although you need to attain the permit by yourself, we can help you in many different ways.