Trekking has always been my idea of an escape from the tediousness of daily life as I always feel close to the hills. I believe in not just ticking off destinations from my bucket-list, but also in having phenomenal experiences which will leave memories that last a lifetime. Being a mountain aficionado, Annapurna Base Camp trek promised to be just the kind of adventure I was looking for.

Known for its towering peaks, unspoiled beauty and narrow slopes, Nepal has always been on my mind ever since I started trekking, and I was finally able to travel there this March. It is a very popular trek among trekkers due to its unfathomable beauty that blows you away in amazement. Essentially a moderate tea-house trek that features the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri massif along with panoramic views of Machapuchare, this is one of the most staggering journeys you will ever take.

Walk though the grassland of Annapurna Base Camp
Walk though the grassland of Annapurna Base Camp

Trek Details:

Maximum Height: 5,415 m
Trek Time: 11 Days
Distance Covered: 34.4 km
Level: Moderate
Start/Finish: Pokhara
Nearest Airport: Pokhara Airport
ATM Point: Lake Side Pokhara

Highlights of Trekking to Annapurna Base Camp

Annapurna Base Camp
Annapurna Base Camp
  • Nestled at 1,400 m with a spectacular Himalayan backdrop, Pokhara valley serves as the starting and ending point to the Annapurna Base Camp trek.
  • As you journey through the hills, you will be fascinated with the lifestyle, culture and hospitality of the Magar, Thakali and Gurung people.
  • For resting, you can easily find guest houses and tea points throughout the trek.
  • Communicating with the locals won’t be problematic as the residents are quite friendly and are very helpful with tourists.
  • Don’t forget to watch the gorgeous sunrise and sunset on each day, as the exquisiteness of the different shades of the sky will take your breath away.
  • Experience the wilderness of this unspoiled region and revel in the diversity of flora and fauna species.
  • Relax your tired muscles at a hot spring in Jhinu Danda.

My Experience – Annapurna Base Camp Trek

water-3091455_960_720-pokhra
Pokhara

Arriving in Pokhara: I took a flight from Delhi to Kathmandu, and after completing all airport formalities, hailed a taxi to reach my hotel. The next morning, I took a tourist bus to Pokhara , and checked into a hotel as soon as I arrived. After resting for a while, I headed out to the nearby market to explore the city. Settled on a lake, Pokhara boasts of numerous exciting adventures, entertainment zones, various restaurants and buzzing markets. The city is also the starting point of the Annapurna Base Camp.

Permits to trek ABC: In order to trek to Annapurna Base Camp, you need a TIMs card and a permit (ACAP Entry). These are available at Pokhara, located at a short walk from the tourist bus station. Whether you are trekking solo or with the group, you need to have both the permits as you will be required to show it to the authorities at various check-posts during the trek. Keep the permits somewhere safe from rain, don’t get it wet.
Some trekking companies take care of the permits for you to save you the hassle of doing it yourself. This is what I did when I booked my trek.

Best Route that led me to Annapurna Base Camp

Annapurna - Nepal Himalayas
Annapurna – Nepal Himalayas

My trekking journey started from Pokhara, from where I took a public transport (bus) to Nayapul. You can also hire a jeep/taxi, but I suggest you to take the public transport as it would be cheap if you are travelling solo. The scenic countryside route adorned with curvy bends and turns from Pokhara to Nayapul would take around 1.5 hours. From Nayapul, I climbed uphill following the Burgundi River upstream for a steady 4-5 hours before reaching Tikhedhunga, which is a small charming village with a number of lodges to spend the night in.

After another early morning, I left the beautiful village of Ghandruk and started to trek to Sinuwa where the mesmerizing sunrise was a kick start to my day. Following the Modi River, I ascend for some time and crossed the bridge over the Kimrong River. Then, climbed a steep trail that took me the staggering village of Gurung people, Chhomrong where the nature excellence left me awestruck with its enchanting beauty.

From Chhomrong, as I walked up and down the hill, I came across a scenic route that led me to the Chomrong Khola River where the encompassed view of bamboo, rhododendron and oak forest will enthral anyone crossing this path, and from there I hiked up to Sinuwa. I stayed overnight at Sinuwa while enjoying the breathtaking view of river and the lush green forests.

rsz_annapurna_south

Then in the morning, I travelled through the rich species of flora and fauna on my way to Hinku Cave and then finally to Deurali. From Sinuwa, I trekked till Bamboo passing the Kuldhigar onto the steep staircase to Dobhan and then crossed a suspension bridge. On reaching Sinuwa, I spend the night in a lodge and took rest after a gruelling trek of 6-7 hours.

As the morning unfolded, I continued my journey to Annapurna Base Camp. The route from Deurali to Machapuchare requires you to be tough and cautious as it is known to be the avalanche prone area. On reaching Machapuchare Base Camp, the valley opens up wide and features beautiful snow peaks. Then, after few hours of climb I entered the Annapurna Base Camp and enjoyed the magnificent vista of mighty Mountains. I stayed overnight at the camp and thoroughly cherished my triumph over the highland. Got up in the middle of the night to spectacle the Milky Way galaxy that illuminated the entire sky; I had goosebumps!

After absorbing the beautiful sunrise at Annapurna, I descend

till Bamboo, and followed the same route to Jhindu danda. On reaching Jhindu Danda, I settled my luggage and proceeded to relax in hot springs. Uh! It was so relaxing, it gave my sore muscles a soothing caress. I stayed overnight at Jhindu Danda. In the morning, I descended through the same route and reached Nayapul, from where I took a bus to Pokhara.

Which is the best season to plan your trek to ABC?

Annapurna Base Camp is accessible throughout the year apart from the late winters and monsoon season. Slippery and muddy monsoon trails, and winters trail laden with heavy snowfall makes both the season difficult to trek. The best season to trek this wonderland is during spring (April, May) and autumn (September to November). During this time the climate is not harsh, visibility is clear and the routes are uncomplicated and trouble-free.

Important Information

Camping in the Annapurna Sanctuary
Camping in the Annapurna

Annapurna trek requires medium-level fitness as you need to hike daily for 6-7 hours. At an altitude of 5,000 m, the oxygen levels will be low, and you might face breathing issues. You need to start exercising a month before your planned trip to increase your stamina. You need to carry medication in case you face AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness). Some must-have items to include on your trek are:

Trekking shoes
Trekking pole
Warm clothes and an extra pair of woolen socks
LED flashlight or headlamp with extra batteries
Sunscreen lotion, sunglasses, lip balm and mosquito repellent
Water bottles, energy drinks and bars
Emergency medical kit

“Trekking to the Himalayas of Nepal is an experience to be treasured. The picturesque valleys, startling rivers and towering peaks embellished with fluttering Himalayan flags everywhere, is definitely a treat to any traveller’s eyes. To sum up, a trek with nature in Nepal will give you far more happiness and peace than you will ever seek.”

Landlocked between Tibet and India, Nepal is one of the most stunning and serene countries in Southern Asia. It is known for housing eight of the highest summits in the world, including the gigantic Mt. Everest, which is said to be bordered with the birthplace of the creator of Buddhism, Lord Gautama Buddha. Remarkably, the spectacular spiky mountains, swaddled in the Kingdom of Gorkha, spread the magic in the region along with the lively shades of Buddhist culture and traditions.

Trekking in the High Mountains of Nepal
Upon entering Nepal, one could easily feel the magnificence of the land which is home to the legendary mountaineers such as Tenzing Norgay and Pasang Lhamu Sherpa. Over the years, Nepal has become an idyllic destination for mountaineers and nature lovers. The trekking adventure amidst the breathtaking mountain scenery offers a chance to explore the lifestyle of Nepalese and the hidden gems of nature, simultaneously.

Some of the Himalaya’s most stunning and accessible trekking destinations with jagged trails include Upper Mustang, Gokyo Lakes, Everest, Dhaulagiri Circuit, Nar Phu Valley and Annapurna. But the two treks that have gained attention and reputation among the hikers are the classic Everest Base Camp (EBC) and Annapurna Base Camp(ABC). For adventure enthusiasts, these treks are a must-try to gain the ultimate Himalayan experience.

EVEREST BASE CAMP: The Ultimate Adventure!
EBC is the place where the most thrilling and daring dreams turn into reality. The grand Mount Everest lies in the abode of splendid nature and it wholeheartedly welcomes adventure lovers from across the globe to scale its height. A journey through dense forests, glacial pools and Sherpa villages is truly an incredible experience.

everest-base-camp-trek_1439798387

The exclusive Everest Base Camp trek is known for providing the impressive views of the world’s highest snow-clad mountains. The trail accompanied by the beautiful Himalayan ranges begins from the beautiful town of Lukla and it takes you to EBC through terraced landscapes and striking river valleys, Namche Bazaar, pine forests and suspension bridges. Moreover, you will come across the several wonderful Everest high passes, gushing River Dudhkoshi, tranquil Imja Tse Valley and stunning Buddhist monasteries.

Nevertheless, the experience of reaching EBC is as exciting and adventurous as accomplishing the Mt. Everest summit which is considered as the mother of all the adventures.  

Maximum Height: 5642 m
Trek Time: 14 Days
Distance Covered: 97 km
Level: Easy to Moderate
Start/Finish: Lukla/Lukla
Trek Style: Tea House
Nearest Airport: Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu
ATM Point:
Namche Bazaar

Kathmandu>Lukla> Phakding>Namche Bazaar >Tengboche >Lobuche>Gorakshep>Everest Base Camp>Kala Patthar>Namche Bazaar>Lukla>Kathmandu

everest-from-base-camp

  • Witness the stunning vistas of snow-capped mountains of the Everest, Thamserku, Lhotse, Nuptse, Ama Dablam, etc.
  • Walk through the forests of pine and cedar along the River Dudh Kosi
  • Explore the lifestyle of the people residing in Thame and Khumjung villages
  • Hiking the peaks like Imja Khola, Chhukung and Nangkartshang
  • Spend a night on a hilltop surrounded by the Khumbu glacier
  • Enjoy a splendid view of sunrise against the Everest from Kala Patthar

everest-base-camp

What is the best time to trek to EBC? 
Due to extreme height, the weather in EBC remains harsh and cold throughout the year. The best time to undertake the trekking expedition is either from March to May or September to December.

March to May: The weather during this period remains pleasant and it is considered as the perfect time to head on the trek. The course is also less slippery since snow starts melting in the spring season. This is the primary reason why this place gets overcrowded by the trekkers at this time around. Notably, you can enjoy clear-crystal views of mountains. The average temperature ranges from 8°C to 18°C during the daytime. At night, it ranges from -15°C to 4°C.   

September to December: Ardent trekkers undertake the journey during this time of the year as it is the most challenging. Notably, hiking during this time is considered tough due to snowy and slippery trails, and tricky slopes. Also, very few trekkers can be found during the journey and the temperature falls below the freezing point at night and in the daytime, it remains between 12°C and 18°C.  


ANNAPURNA TREK: A Thrilling Journey Through The Deepest Gorges!
Known for its high passes, deep gorges, stunning hills and narrow slopes, the Annapurna trek is very popular among the young trekkers. The trek which starts from the picturesque village of Besisahar ends at a certain point in the striking Annapurna range. The trail goes along with the River Marshyangdi and takes you to the beautiful lake town of Pokhara from where you can enjoy exceptional views of the Annapurna and Machapuchare ranges. The maximum altitude that you will hit on this trekking expedition is 5,415 m at Thorong La. Notably, the French duo Maurice Herzog and Louis Lachenal made history when they scaled the Annapurna range at a height of 8000 m in 1950.

The blended one! - in Nepal

You have to cross various suspension bridges, rivers, waterfalls and tea houses. On this expedition, you will come across exotic flora and fauna that will lend some of the most beautiful views to your camera.

Maximum Height: 5415 m
Trek Time: 15 Days
Distance Covered: 82 km
Level: Moderate to Difficult
Start/Finish: Kathmandu
Trek Style: Tea House
Nearest Airport: Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu
ATM Point: Besisahar and Jomsom

Kathmandu>Besisahar>Bhulbhule>Jagat>Dharapani>Chame>Pisang>Manang>Yak Kharka>Thorong Phedi>Muktinath>Jomsom>Pokhara>Kathmandu

Lake Gangapurna (3500 m) is one of the most amazing places. Just half hour away from Manang, you can reach the lake on the 5th day of Annapurna Circuit trek.
Lake Gangapurna (3500 m) is one of the most amazing places. Just half hour away from Manang, you can reach the lake on the 5th day of Annapurna trek.
  • Reaching the source of River Marsyandi, Tilicho Lake, which is situated at an altitude of 4919 m
  • Crossing Thorang La Pass and arriving at Phulchoki Valley is a unique experience in itself
  • The views of upper Mustang and lush green landscape of Manang are a feast to eyes
  • Explore the local markets and buy amazing souvenirs at decent prices
  • A sacred bath in the steaming pond of the most famous temples of Hindus, Muktinath, which is believed to vanish all the sins of pilgrims
  • Crossing the deep gorge and river of Kali Gandaki gives you a spine-chilling experience
  • Meeting and knowing about the lifestyle of warm-hearted locals gives you immense pleasure
Trekking around Annapurna Circuit
Trekking around Annapurna

Gear Up: The Best Time To Take This Adventure
October and November are the months when a number of adventure enthusiasts undertake this trek. Notably, the valley experiences heavy snowfall except December to April. Mid-April to May is another time to head on this trek as a trekker can enjoy the perfect picturesque views of Annapurna and Dhauladhar ranges.

October and November: The average temperature ranges from 10°C to 18°C during the daytime. And at night, it ranges from -12°C to 4°C.   

Mid-April to May: The average temperature ranges from 12°C to 20°C during the daytime. And at night, it ranges from -5°C to 8°C.   


Check Your Fitness Levels! Both EBC and Annapurna treks require moderate physical fitness as you have to climb at altitudes higher than 5,000 m and that too for 6-7 hours daily. Also, due to lack of oxygen at height, a trekker is likely to face breathing issues. Thus, mental and physical fitness is a must to undertake the trek.

It is advised to start exercising at least a month prior to the trek. You should increase your walking speed and stamina. Notably, you have to carry a medical certificate to ensure your physical fitness levels, and a disclaimer certificate stating that you’re voluntarily undertaking the trek.

Check The List: Trekking Essentials

  • Trekking shoes/trekking pole
  • Warm clothes/extra pair of woollen socks
  • LED flashlight/headlamp with extra batteries
  • Camera/raincoat/gloves
  • Sunscreen lotion/sunglasses/lip balm/mosquito repellent
  • Water bottles/energy drinks and bars
  • Emergency medical kit

How to Reach Kathmandu?
The mighty Annapurna and Everest Base Camp treks start from the capital of Nepal, Kathmandu. It is well-connected to India by air. Notably, most of the flights are being operated from the major cities like Mumbai and New Delhi. However, the availability of flights completely relies on the weather and season.

Tenzing-Hillary Airport or Lukla Airport
Tenzing-Hillary Airport or Lukla Airport

You can also travel to Kathmandu by train. To avail the train you have to reach Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh. Also, Delhi Transport Corporation has been operating a direct bus service from Delhi to Kathmandu since 2014.  Further, a luxury Volvo bus is available on daily basis and it departs at 10 am from Ambedkar Stadium Bus Terminal at Delhi Gate. In order to reach Nepal, it covers a distance of 686 km in 30 hours via Agra, Kanpur, and the Sunauli border in Uttar Pradesh.

For a traveller’s eyes, nothing could be more fascinating than enjoying a sight of the stunning temples and striking gompas, consisting of multi-coloured prayer wheels and fluttering flags against the regal Himalayas in Nepal. Also, on these trekking expeditions, you will get an opportunity to explore the charming rustic hamlets, snowy landscape, magnificent glaciers, and a wide variety of wildlife. After completing these treks, you will surely come back with a whole new experience that will remain entrenched in your heart for a lifetime!

  • Where is Muktinath?

Muktinath overland tour is a thrilling journey that brings one closer to nature as well as God! Muktinath Temple is located in the Annapurna Region in the Mustang District of Nepal and is considered to be of spiritual and religious significance to Hindus as well as Buddhists. This Lord Vishnu Temple is situated at about 12000 feet, and to get here one has to undertake an overland journey by jeep, a 4 KM trek and an ATR ride! It is quite an adventure and ultimately leads one to a spiritual tryst with the Lord!

Muktinath Temple in the snow
Muktinath Temple in the snow

In addition to visiting the temple, this trip also gives one the opportunity to discover and explore the cities of Kathmandu and Pokhara, soaking in the many marvels of these places.

Home to some of the highest peaks in the world, Nepal is arguably the best mountaineering destination on earth. For a long time, people from across the world have been coming here to experience adventure and give themselves a challenge. The popularity of trekking in the country has opened so many new trails for thrill seekers. Mountain passes, glacial lakes, valleys and peaks themselves, what don’t such tours take you to? Now, obviously, Mount Everest is the most sought-after peak by experienced mountaineers because it is the world’s highest. Annapurna is another distinguished peak among mountaineers.

Now, here is the catch. It is not just the peak you can trek to. If you don’t consider yourself that experienced or fit or adventurous, then you can also hike just to its base camp or opt for the popular Annapurna Circuit Trek. If you ask me which one is better, Annapurna Base Camp Trek (ABC) or Annapurna Circuit Trek (ACT), then even I am confused because both of them has their own different experience. It is almost like asking someone, which ice cream flavour is better, chocolate or vanilla, or which Thrash Metal band is better, Metallica or Slayer. For everyone’s sake, including my own, let us do a comparative study of the two trekking routes.

To make it easier on myself, I have decided to make the comparison on the basis of the difference in route, altitude, challenge factor and a few unrelated aspects as well. Keep reading to see how it goes.

Nepal ranks among the most peaceful nations in the world, be it in terms of the culture, people, landscape or the social setup. Home to the great Mount Everest and nestled in the magnificent Himalayan Mountain Range, Nepal’s economy thrives on tourism and it sees an influx of thousands of tourists from across the globe. Having the highest peak in the world certainly helps boost tourism in the country, but Nepal contains several other sights and gems, which are worth visiting for adventure aficionados. From time to time, there are things one needs to do that are not in synchronisation with convention, thereby making it all the more exciting and intriguing. A trek to the Annapurna Range could aptly be characterised as one such activity, which a lot of people do not undertake out of fear, but should definitely try.

As confessed by French mountaineer, Maurice Herzog, “Annapurna, to which we had gone emptyhanded, was a treasure on which we should live the rest of our days. With this realization we turn the page: a new life begins. There are other Annapurnas in the lives of men.”

William Blake, the great 18th century poet, said that great things happen when men and mountains meet. Almost two centuries later, the world saw that come to life!

World’s highest mountain range, Himalayas, is home to 14 peaks higher than 8,000 meters or eight-thousanders as these are commonly called, and till the first half of the 20th century, all of these were unscaled! While the geographical conditions were a major deterrent, political unrest in India, Pakistan, Nepal and Tibet also proved to be one big hurdle!

Aerial view of the Annapurna Image credits: Wikipedia.org
Aerial view of the Annapurna
Image credits: Wikipedia.org

But all that was about to change! In 1949, the Maharajah of Nepal gave his consent to a climbing party of nine from France to attempt an assault on one (or more than one) of these peaks. The party, led by experienced French Alpinist Maurice Herzog, arrived in Nepal in the spring of 1950 with plans to attempt either the Annapurna (8091 m) or the slightly higher Dhawalgiri (8167 m).

This was a time when not even the local inhabitants had any knowledge of reaching higher up in those mountains through the thick forests and tough terrain speckled with gorges and ridges. Having spent some time probing for routes and backtracking, in April of 1950, Herzog, his climbing partner Louis Lachenal and the rest of the team realized that they needed to make haste if they wished to climb any of those peaks, since the ideal weather conditions would only last till June. So they zeroed in on Annapurna by the north-western glacier, which seemed like the perfect approach at the time. The next difficult step was the setting up of a chain of 3 camps in higher altitudes. The last and highest camp was pitched at 7407 m. It was already June and the threat of monsoon fast approaching was looming over their heads.

Lachenal and Herzog Image credits: Wikipedia.org
Lachenal and Herzog
Image credits: Wikipedia.org 

Here are the top 10 highest mountain peaks in the world.
9 out of these 10 lie in the Himalayas, Mount Everest being the highest in the world.

Mountain Peak

Mountain Range

Height (in feet)

First Ascent

Mount Everest

Mahalangur Himalaya

29,029

1953

K2

Baltoro Karakoram

28,251

1954

Kanchenjunga

Kanchenjunga Himalaya

28,169

1955

Lhotse

Mahalangur Himalaya

27,940

1956

Makalu

Mahalangur Himalaya

27,838

1955

Cho Oyu

Mahalangur Himalaya

26,864

1954

Dhaulagiri I

Dhaulagiri Himalaya

26,795

1960

Manaslu

Manaslu Himalaya

26,781

1956

Nanga Parbat

Nanga Parbat Himalaya

26,660

1953

Annapurna I

Annapurna Himalaya

26,545

1950

Mount Everest
Mount Everest – 29,029 feet
K2
K2 – 28,251 feet
Kanchenjunga
Kanchenjunga – 28,169 feet

Lhotse
Lhotse – 27,940 feet
Makalu
Makalu – 27,838 feet