Many of the adventurer travelers around the world must be having ‘trekking in the Himalayas’ in their bucket list. The Annapurna Base Camp (ABC) trekking in Nepal, Himalayas will help you to cross that out. Considered as one of the most beautiful and famous trekking route in the world, the journey to the base camp of the magical land of Annapurna through the dense tropical forests, scenic villages and unbelievingly tall ice conned mountains (among them includes Annapurna I, the 10th highest mountain in the world), will surely takes your breath away. Once you reach the base camp which is situated at a height of 4130 meters in this 7 days long trekking I bet you will say it is worth every bit of struggle that you might face. You can also include Poon Hill on the way to ABC which will increase the total trekking days to 10. The sunrise from Poon hill with the snowcapped Annapurna and Dhaulagiri massifs in the background will easily make your top ten sights list!
I think many people have a false impression that this trekking can be done only with the help of guide/porters through some tour packages. But that is not true. I totally agree that this will benefit the local community in a big way, but the travelers who want to do this trekking within a short budget, it can be done independently by doing some little research and careful planning.
ABC trekking in nutshell
Difficulty Level : Moderate
Days : 7 days (10 if you include Poon Hill)
Maximum elevation : 4,130 meters
Cost : 1500 – 2500 Nepal Rupees per day
Guide needed : Not necessary
Stay : In the lodges (tea-houses)
WiFi : Available, even at the base camp!
Expenditure : 20,000 INR (Pokhara to Pokhara)
I had an opportunity do to this trekking back in November 2016 with my cousin. I am listing down the itinerary which we followed. Remember if you are going from India you can cross the Nepal border at Sonauli by road without the Passport and Visa. This will helps you to save a fortune on the flight ticket to Kathmandu from Delhi or any other places.
|Day of trekking||Place|
|NA||Gorakhpur– Sonauli 3 hrs drive or Fly to Kathmandu|
|NA||Sonauli – Pokhara 10 hrs drive or Kathmandu – Pokhara 10 hrs drive|
|1||Pokhara – Nayapul(1070 m) – 2hrs drive – Tikhedhunga (1570 m) 6-7hrs|
|2||Tikhedhunga – Ghorepani (2750 m) 7 hrs|
|3||Ghorepani – Poon Hill (3210 m) – Tadapani (2650 m)7-8 hrs|
|4||Tadapani – Chomrong (2170 m) 5 hrs|
|5||Chomrong – Himalayas/Dovan 7-8 hrs|
|6||Himalayas/Dovan – Machapuchare Base Camp (3700 m) 4-5 hrs|
|7||MBC – Annapurna Base Camp (4130 m) 2-3 hrs (1/2 day hike to glacier at higher elevation optional)|
|8||Annapurna Base Camp – Sinuwa (2340 m) 7-8 hrs|
|9||Sinuwa – Jhinu Danda (1780 m) via Chomrong visit hot springs 7 hrs|
|10||Jhinu Danda (1780 m) – Siwai (1870 m) 6 hrs Pokhara 3 hr drive|
|NA||Pokhara – Gorakhpur 14 hrs drive or Pokhara – Kathmandu 10hrs drive|
In terms of difficulty, the ABC trekking comes under moderate category but it will tire you for sure. The countless steps that you encounter, especially in the starting days will test your stamina. So always try to minimize the luggage weight for a comfortable and pleasant trekking, unless you are hiring a porter or guide. Below I am listing down the essentials things that you should carry for this trekking.
Things to carry
- TIMS card (needs to obtain from Tourist Police Office and Permit Office near Lake Side Pokhara)
- Permit for ABC trekking (needs to obtain from Tourist Police Office and Permit Office)
- 4 Passport size photos (Tourist Office has a free photo booth for TIMS and permit)
- A good backpack (45 L is enough)
- Trekking shoes (waterproof if it is monsoon season)
- Winter Jacket
- Thermal wear
- Lightweight rain jacket (if it is monsoon season)
- Sleeping bags (The lodges will provide thick blankets but it is always comfortable to sleep in your own sleeping bag)
- Slippers (for indoor & toilet use)
- Woolen gloves
- T-shirts 4-5 ( It gets really sweaty if it is a clear sky)
- Trekking pants 2-3
- Underwear (5-6)
- Walking stick (you can also go for bamboo sticks, comes for 50 Rs!)
- Lightweight towel
- Diamox tablets (for altitude sickness)
- Hiking lights (in case if it gets dark)
- Toilet papers, Napkins and other sanitary items
- Passport & Visa ( Not required for Indians)
- First aid kit
- Power bank ( some places charge amount for electronic items charging)
- Most important of all carry ENOUGH MONEY!!! (The last ATM is at Pokhara)
Getting the permit
The first thing you need in order to do the ABC trekking is to obtain the permit to enter the Annapurna Sanctuary. You can get it either from Kathmandu or Pokhara. At Pokhara go to the Tourist Police Office and Permit Office near Lake Side. The office will be open by 10 AM. You need 4 passport size photos and your Passport to obtain the permit. Don’t worry even if you forget the photos, they have a free photo booth inside the office! You need the TIMS card and the permit of the trekking that you wish to do. From this office, you can get the permit for many trekking routes in Annapurna sanctuary which includes ABC trekking, Annapurna circuit trekking etc..
For foreigners, the TIMS card cost 2000 Nepali rupees and the permit will cost 600 Rs. For SAARC nationalities it will be 600 Rs and 200 Rs respectively.
Purchasing the essential things
The Lakeside of Pokhara has many shops to buy the trekking gears and other essential things that you require for your trekking. Sleeping bags, jackets, poles, medicines you name it… And I bet it will be cheaper than your place no matter from where ever you are coming! So wait till you get to Pokhara to buy all the stuff that you require rather than purchasing them from your hometown and carrying it all the way.
Best time to visit
Best time to do to ABC trekking will be in March-May & October–December. It is advised to avoid the trekking during Monsoon season (June – September) due to the landslides and leeches. But throughout the year the lodges remain open, though the availability will be less in offseason.
Choosing the route
The traditional ABC trekking will take 7 days (up & down) and if you include Poon hill with that then the number days can go up to 10. (From Poon hill you can see an amazing 360 degrees view of the mighty mountains in the Annapurna sanctuary, among them include Dhaulagiri I – the 7th highest mountain in the world.) So it is essential to choose the route according to your plan. If you want to include Poon hill then head to Nayapul first. It is 2-3 hrs of drive from Pokhara.
If you want to do just the ABC trekking then head to either Nayapul/Phedi. From Phedi you can trek to Landruk to reach the ABC route or if you are going to Nayapul then you have to trek to Gangruk first to in order go to the ABC.
Typically one has to spend around 1500– 2500 Rs per day during the trekking. If I am right the last ATM is at Pokhara, so always carry enough money before you start the trekking. Indian notes of 100 rupees denomination are well accepted across Nepal. Also using the Indian SBI debit card one can withdraw up to 25000 Nepali Rs from the SBI ATMs across Nepal. There are 3 SBI ATMs in Pokhara and plenty in Kathmandu as well.
Accommodation and food
The lodges (tea houses) with basic amenities are the main accommodation methods in villages. The room rate is fixed across all places. 400 Rs for a double room, 200 Rs for a single room (which is rare) and 180 Rs for the dormitory. Keep one thing in mind that many of the inns won’t have western style toilets (especially at higher places). The food price increases as you go up (but the taste decreases!). The 50 Rs black tea at Tikhedhunga will cost 100 Rs at the Annapurna Basecamp. The popular food here in this region is Dhal Bhat (rice with grain and vegetable curry).
At peak season there could be some availability issue for rooms in small villages with a lesser number of lodges, especially at Sinuwa, Dovan and Bamboo. It is always better to ask people coming from the opposite direction to get an idea about the availability of rooms. If you think it could be a problem try to reach the below numbers (I am not sure whether they are valid numbers or not) and try to book a room/dormitory (verbally).
Day 1 : Nayapul – Tikhedhunga
The first destination is Nayapul (1070 m). Reserve the morning time for getting the permit from Pokhara if you haven’t done that already and also for the purchases. To reach Nayapul you can get either a taxi or a public bus. We took a taxi from Pokhara which cost 2000 Rs. Try to reach there by noon because it will take around 4-5 hrs of trekking to reach Tikhedhunga/Hille from Nayapul. In case if you start trekking late you might have to do the night trekking as these places get darker very soon. Believe me, you don’t want to do that.
The half an hour journey will take you to Birethanti where you have to show your permits on both sides of the river Modi Khola. The detour on the other side gives an option to go to Ghorepani to the left and Gandruk on to the right. Take left to reach Tikhedhunga (1570 m). Here you have to walk through the wide untarred road which is the easiest path in the entire route. So enjoy it till it last! You can stay either at Tikhedhunga or at Hille the village just before that. The very first lodge at Hille where we stayed provides some amazing food (sorry I forgot its name).
Day 2 : Tikhedhunga – Ghorepani
Start early around 9 – 10 am because 3200 horrendous steps are waiting for you take you to Ghorepani (2750 m)! The climb will tire you terribly and there are no shops till you reach next village Ulleri, so carry enough refreshments. Have lunch from Ulleri and resume your journey to Ghorepani through the gorgeous lush greenish forest which is some consolation for that demanding climb.The big gate at the entrance of the village of Ghorepani will put a big smile on your face at the end of 7-8 hrs of trekking.
Day 3 : Ghorepani – Poon Hill – Tadapani
Wake up at 5 AM and head to Poon Hill to see the first rays of the day kissing the Annapurna massif. The way to the hill is a steep climb from Ghorepani. There is a ticket counter shortly after a brief climb where you have to purchase the 50 Rs ticket to enter Poon Hill. Make sure you bring the wallet, otherwise it would be a painful walk back and forth.
Poon Hill provides you a breath taking 360 degrees view of Annapurna and Dhaulagiri massifs. Spend some lovely time there and head back to Ghorepani. After breakfast around 10 am start trekking towards Thadapani (2650 m). There are two ways to Thadapani, one through the village of Ghorepani and other is a less used forest trail which starts from near the entrance gate.
First, you have to climb as the same height of Poon hill to reach the next village – Deurali (there are 3 Deurali in this region alone, so don’t get confused). Have lunch from there and resume the journey. The trail through the beautiful woods with small streams and waterfalls was one of my favorite routes en route to ABC. Moreover, it is a descend! After 6-7 hours of trekking (including lunch break), you will reach Thadapani.
Day 4 : Tadapani – Chomrong
Head to Chomrong (2170 m) through the path which goes up and down. Chuile and Siprong are the two villages en route. The two river crossing on the way can be frustrating. At Chomrong the traditional ABC route (from Landruk or Ghandruk side) and Poon hill route join together, making it the largest village in the mountains.
Day 5 : Chomrong – Himalayas/Dovan
The countless steps on the other side of the Chomrong will be tougher on the way back from ABC, because for now it is climb down from the Chomrong side. The check post midway down is where you have to show the permit for the 3rd time.
Cross the bridge across the river Chomrong Khola and climb towards the next village Sinuwa (2340 m). You can set the destination to Dovan or try for Himlayas if you have time and strength.
Now the trail is through one side of a narrow gorge covered with thick forest. Up to Machapuchare Base Camp it is like that. The famous 750 steps to reach the village Bamboo (2190 m) is a climb down. An hour’s journey from Bamboo to Dovan (2505 m) is relatively easy. Look carefully to the woods, you may get lucky to see a deer or bear! This path can get dark very soon thanks to the mist which covers the region by afternoon. The final push to Himalaya is about 2 hours of trekking. There are only 2 lodges here so make sure about the availability or stay at Dovan where you have much more options (well not much, just 1 lodge more).
Day 6 : Himalayas/Dovan – Machapuchare Base Camp
Today’s destination is Machapuchare Base Camp (3700 m), 4-5 hours away from Himalaya. The 2 hours journey will take you to Deurali. The woods which follow you throughout the day ends here.
The final push to MBC can be challenging. Take a Diamox in case if you feel discomfort or nausea. The stay at MBC helps you to acclimatize properly before the summit to ABC.
Day 7 : MBC – Annapurna Base Camp
This is the day. Your journey to the final destination. The funny thing is that the 2 – 3 hours of trekking to ABC (4130 m) from MBC could be comparatively the easiest path in all days. Spend the remaining day chilling at ABC coz you deserve it..
Many people leave after spending a couple of hours at ABC instead of staying there but in my opinion, if you don’t have any physical problem due to the altitude then you should definitely spend a night there. Because it is not likely that you often get a chance spend a night in the valley guarded by the mighty mountains, isn’t it?
If you want to explore the region a little more then a half day hike to the ice glaciers at higher elevation is a good option.
Day 8 : Annapurna Base Camp – Sinuwa
Now the long way back. Till Bamboo at a stretch is definitely doable from ABC, but if you have more stamina try to push to Sinuwa. Some people even head for Chomrong in the same day! But remember about those horrible steps, this time you have to climb it.
Day 9 : Sinuwa – Jhinu Danda
Take the detour to Jhinu Danda (1780 m) from Chomrong. It is a long way down the trail with steps. Find a hotel, put your luggage and head to the hot spring for some nice relaxation. It could be 20 – 30 minutes of a walk down the trail from Jhinu Danda. There is an entrance fee of 100 Rs per person.
Day 10 : Jhinu Danda – Siwai
Trek to Siwai from Jhinu Danda via New Bridge. From Siwai you can catch the public bus or shared jeep to reach Pokhara and then head home….