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Annapurna Base Camp Trek

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This article is intended as an introduction of what you can expect and how long certain parts take. You are encouraged to discover your own pace and make your own finds along the trek.

The Annapurna Base Camp Trek was done in the second half of April 2012 by two average fit men in their forties that practice sports 2-3 times per week, but by no means the typical athletic types. This article is based on a day-long written at the end of each day, also using a detailed map of the trek.

The physical requirements for the trek are such that anybody that is reasonably fit (say sporting 1-2 times a week at least) and has stamina (more important) can do this trek without reaching the limits of your physical condition. The issue is much more if you are mentally prepared to confront 10 days with sleeping, toilet and eating facilities that range from reasonably simple at the start to very basic the higher you go. Mind that the only rooms available only cost USD 3-6 per night and what you can expect with such a price. High up you have the possibility of very cold nights with your room only offering limited protection from the cold and the neighbors’ noise (very thin plywood). Also, the higher you go, less and less showers. At ABC, a bucket wash in very cold shacks doubling as shower and toilet, but hopefully with warm water. The facilities are actually not that bad considering where you are and with the right mind set. If being able to accept such facilities and conditions, then the trekking is definitely worth every step and you will be experiencing a highlight of your life.

The trekking trail is mostly clearly marked and therefore can be done independently. However, contracting a guide and/or porter is a good way to contribute to the local economy and they will share their local knowledge with you. Guide USD 15-25 per day and porter USD 10-15 per day, all in.

Please, respect the loads for the porters if using them. As a rule of thumb for each 2 persons use 1 porter, max 20 kg. If you cannot reasonably pick up their load, imagine one person carrying it all day on the trail. Some trekkers should be named and shamed, showing employee disrespect that they cannot get away with in their own home country.

Aside from ABC, you will have GSM cell phone receipt at all villages (just calls and SMS text; no G3 / G4 internet access, only at lower altitudes).

Day 1

From Pokhara to Naya Pul by car 1.5 hour

From Naya Pul 1000m 10:00 via Birethanti 1070m via Chimrong via Syauli Bazaar 1170m (1:45), lunch 11:45-13:00, via Kimche 1638m via landslide to Ghandrung 1940m (3:00) 16:00 - total 4:45 hours walking excluding lunch

Already a very good first day. Beautiful views on villages and Himalaya peaks and good local taste. A long and most of the time steep and tough walk of 5 hours in total, not counting stops.

Many guesthouses in Ghandrung with decent facilities.

Day 2

From Ghandrung 1940m, via Kimrong Danda 2000m, stop via river 1740m (3:30) lunch 12:00-13:30, then via landslide, via teahouse (1:30) 15:00-15:30 on top of mountain 2210m (stop) (rain) Chomrong 2170m 16:30 (1:00) - total 6:00 hours walking excluding lunch

Leaving at 08:30. In the first part of old Ghandrung village and outskirts until declining beautiful views of the snow-capped mountains. Just outside Ghandrung on the left two columns giving access to long stairs of 670 steps leading to a temple with a beautiful view. If you are not in a hurry, and especially if you can leave your backpack with your guide / porter (alternatively at your guesthouse, going here just for this), this is definitely worth it. Continuing the trail, once declining very nice view of the terraced valley, river and landslide.

The day is basically just passing only one valley, but it is a steep decline to the river at the bottom of the valley (12:00) and a very steep ascent, making it a heavy day for trekking. Basically, almost only steps made of stone or loose trails.

Many guesthouses in Chomrong with decent facilities.

Day 3

From Chomrong 2170m via Stone Staircase via Sinuwa 2340m (3:10) via Khudi Ghar 2540m to Bamboo 2340m (1:30) - total 4:40 hours walking excluding lunch

Cloudy and fresh day, still while in motion warm enough to only use short and t-shirt. Leaving at 08:30. Very steep decline of 300m from Chomrong to the suspension bridge over the river (so be prepared when returning this only same trail, you have to pace and put in some serious effort the very last part before arriving in Chomrong). From the river, up about 500m to Sinuwa, but good trail and not too steep. Arrival at Sinuwa 11:40 for lunch. Still clear and spectacular views from the restaurant's terrace. Half an hour later you could not see the snow-capped mountains anymore. Departure Sinuwa at 13:00 for a not very tough, good walk up and down of 1:30 hours to Bamboo, a very nice trail through the forest. Some raindrops, even some hailstones, but not enough to use raincoats. Very nice temperature of 18 degrees Celsius and cloudy made it a perfect day for trekking. Arrival at 14:30. In total 4:40 hours not counting lunch, but including frequent rest stops. Maybe a bit too early to stop. You make easily make it to the next village Dovan (1:30 hr) or maybe even Himalaya Hotel (another 1:30 hr).

Bamboo is little more than 10 houses of which about 5 guesthouses. Facilities become more basic.

Day 4

From Bamboo 2340m via Long Steep Stone Staircase via Avalanches Chutes via Dovan 2510m (1:20) via Himalaya Hotel 2870m (2:00) via Hinku 3170m via landslide too Deurali 3230m (1:30) - total 4:50 hours walking excluding lunch

Leaving at 08:00 from Bamboo and arrived 09:20 at Dovan. Beautiful forest walk, easy going uphill with splendid views, many waterfalls, and a little temple right on the trail opposite a mountain wall with many waterfalls. This is a good and peaceful stop, but if you decide to continue, mind to always pass a sacred place clockwise!

Arrived at the Himalaya Hotel for lunch at 12:00. leaving at 13:30 and arriving at Deurali at 15:00 easy-going. The forest became less dense close to 3000m and only rhododendrons were still the few trees flourishing and with leaves. Just before Deurali a huge avalanche had come down in January 2012 and in April 2012 still about 50m wide of snow had to be passed. First snow of this trekking. Also, just before Deurali it started to rain heavier and raingear had to be used for the final 5 minutes.

There are only four lodge buildings that make up all of Deurali. The third lodge is the only one with a gas heated hot shower, all other lodges only provide a bucket of warm water.

Day 5

From Deurali 3230m 07:50 via Bagar via Avalanche Track via to Machhapuchre Base Camp 3700m 10:30 (2:30), lunch 10:30-12:20, to Annapurna Base Camp 4130m 14:00 (1:40) - total 4:10 hours walking excluding lunch

Given the altitude, slow down to a comfortable pace with regular rest. Especially between MBC and ABC. Going too fast, too high, too soon can give you a severe headache or even worse, making staying at ABC less enjoyable or even be forced to return to MBC or lower villages like Deurali or Dovan.

Beautiful views while walking the avalanche track of Bagar between Deurali and Machhapuchare Base Camp (MBC). Passing this part of the trail between Deurali and MBC is recommended before 11:00 to avoid the risk of avalanches. Clear skies and sunny. First part still freezing cold, but after about an hour the exercise and sun allowed to take of coats and walk in long sleeves till MBC. Early lunch at MBC from 11:00-12:00, while enjoying views of Fish Tail, Annapurna III, Annapurna South and sometimes getting out of the clouds Annapurna 1.

Soon after leaving MBC the skies got really cloudy and it became quite cold. Putting on coats against cold, wind, and rain. Soon thereafter small hailstones and powder snow started falling down, gradually increasing all the way to Annapurna Base Camp. When arriving at ABC lodges at 14:00 it started to snow really hard and soon temperature dropped rapidly below zero. It snowed from 14:00 till 22:00 about 20 cm.

There are about 4 guest houses at ABC. All just the very basic facilities for eating, sleeping, and bucket wash in a separate shack. No showers. When very cold, the advice is to skip washing one day.

A very, very cold night in ABC, with room temperature around zero and outside less 15 degrees. Going to the outside toilet at night, leaving your warm sleeping bag, was plain suffering.

Day 6

Annapurna Base Camp 4130m - sunrise - return 08:30 via Machhapuchre Base Camp 3700m (1:30) via Bagar via Deurali 3230m 12:00 (2:00), lunch 13:00 via Hinku 3170m via Himalaya Hotel 2870m 14:00 (1:00), stop 14:25 to Dovan 15:35 (1:10) - total 5:40 hours walking excluding lunch

Do not miss this by staying in your bed too late! Make sure you are outside at first day light, still at least 15 minutes before the first rays of sunlight.

Waking up at 05:00 and being outside at 05:20. Very soon the sunrise started and it was absolutely stunning. If a clear day, this will be one of the best views and experiences you will ever have. First the tops of the mountains glowed orange with the rest still a weak white. Surrounded by mountains.

After sunrise, most people have breakfast, pack and start their descent. Leaving ABC at 08:30 as one of the last people. Very nice descent, with beautiful views, clear skies and sunshine. Soon dressing down from full coats, gloves, and hat to only shirts, because of the heat of the sun and exercise.

Although arriving at MBC at 10:10, because of the danger of going through the avalanche track Bagar between MBC and Deurali, better to continue to pass this area still in the morning with less risk of avalanches.

Arriving at Deurali at 12:00 for lunch. It started to rain, so when leaving at 13:00 walking almost non-stop in 2:30 hours in rain gear. Because this part of the trail is already done on the way up there was not much reason to stop in the rain other than for short rests. Rain-soaked arrival at Dovan at 15:35.

Dovan is little more than 5 guest houses and one local shop. Very important, you can get a 24/7 hot shower here, highly recommended, even more so if you skipped the washing at ABC.

Day 7

From Dovan 08:00, via avalanches Chutes, via Long Steep Stone Staircase, via Bamboo 2340m (0:55), stop 08:55-09:20, via Khudi Ghar 2540m, via Sinuwa 2340m (1:15), stop 10:35-11:25, via Stone Staircase to Chomrong 2170m 13:45 (2:20) - total 4:30 hours walking excluding lunch

Leaving Dovan at 08:00. In a good pace reaching Bamboo 55 minutes later. After a stop of 25 minutes again in a good pace to Sinuwa. A very good day for walking, cloudy so not to warm, and mostly through forest trails. Arriving early in Sinuwa after 1:15 hours for lunch and rest. Thereafter hitting the trail again aware that a tough part was waiting, especially the last hour uphill to Chomrong Arrival Chomrong at 13:45.

Many guesthouses in Chomrong with decent facilities. From Chomrong you can once more enjoy the views on Annapurna South and Machhapuchare from most of the guesthouses.

Day 8

From Chomrong 08:30, via Gurjung, stop of 0:30, via Chiule (4:15), lunch 12:45-14:00 to Tadipani 2660m 15:15 (1:15) - total 5:30 hours walking excluding lunch

A tough day, first steep decline to two river crossings, both with suspension bridges. A very nice coffee stop in Gurjung. Also in Gurjung you can visit the local school and make a donation. Then some more descent to the river suspension bridge. Then an especially tough and steep ascent between river and Chiule, also with little shade and few man-made steps even on the steepest parts. Probably the toughest part so far of the trekking. In Chiule a nice and long lunch, outside in the sun on the spacious lawn with beautiful views of the valley and Gurjung. From Chiule to Tadipani a very beautiful forest trail, with the rhododendron forest untouched and pure aside from the trail itself. Intense green colors. The trail ascent was steep, but manageable, especially because in the shade of the trees.

In Tadipani there was not much difference between the guesthouses, all very simple rooms, and all shared bath rooms.

Day 9

From Tadipani 2660m 08:30, via Banthanti 2520m, via Deurali 2990m (3:00), lunch 11:30-12:45, to Ghorepani 3194m 14:15 (1:30) - total 4:30 hours walking excluding lunch

What a great day! Right from departure from Tadipani all the way to destination Ghorepani it is a beautiful forest trail, full of rhododendrons (magnolias), very rich reeking Daphne flowers (of which the bark is also used to make traditional paper), waterfalls, and all the way up to the nascent of a stream. The final part of the trail was especially beautiful, with more flowers blossoming and the wind blowing. At the end the trail opened up at the top of the mountain at 3200m with views of Poon Hill and Ghorepani and surrounding mountains, valleys, and forests. On top of the mountain there is a nice monument with many prayer flags blowing in the wind.

Ghorepani is probably the most developed village on the trek with many guesthouses, restaurants and even quite a few shops around the central square. Checking various guesthouses revealed that the standard was all about the same: basic. Favorite room building material is ultra-thin plywood and sheets of aluminum.

When asked why there was a lack of different standards all along the trek, the explanation given is that all villages work with tourism committees that set fixed low prices for one quality level of accommodation (backpacker basic) that do not allow, nor make it economically viable to offer higher standard rooms for which there certainly is demand willing to spend much more along the trail than is possible.

Day 10

From Ghorepani 3194m 05:00 to Poon Hill 3210m 05:45 (0:30) - sunrise with view of 17 mountains - 06:30 back to Ghorepani 3194m 07:15 (0:30) - breakfast and packing - Ghorepani 3194m 08:45, via Nangethanti 2450m 09:40-09:45 (0:55), via Banthanti 2300m 10:40-11:00 (0:55),via Magar Village, via Ulleri 2080m, via Tirkhedhunga 1540m, Hille 1520m 13:00-14:00 (2:00), via Sudame 1340m, via Ramgai Gokul, via Matathanti, via Birethanti 1080m, to Naya Pull 1000m 17:00 (3:00) - total 7:50 hours walking excluding sunrise, breakfast, and lunch

Waking up at 04:30 to get quickly dressed and leave at 04:45 for the walk to Poon Hill to see the sunrise at 05:30 with views of 17 mountains of which now also the Dhaulagiri 1 of 8167m, the seventh highest mountain in the world, in addition to the now familiar and often seen Annapurna range (with Annapurna 1 of 8091m, the eighth highest mountain of the world). Because the day was not very clear, luckily arriving on Poon Hill with first weak sunlight, causing that most mountains were still clearly visible. Once sun was up, the sky became hazy and only the contours of the mountains were still barely visible. Poon Hill has become a real crowded tourist attraction, being on the route of almost all short and long Annapurna and Dhaulagiri trekking’s.

Thereafter most people return to their guesthouse for breakfast and packing. This day from Ghorepani to Naya Pull is a long day of walking, that some people do in two days instead of one. Leaving at 08:45. The first part between Ghorepani and Banthanti was a forest trail, but not as spectacular as previous forest trails, aside from a beautiful waterfall just after Nangethanti. Stop at Banthanti. At 11:00 it started raining, gradually harder. The trail between Banthanti and Tirkhedhunga is a very long and steep stone staircase. If doing this in the other direction, uphill, then this is most likely the toughest part of the trail of the whole 10-day Annapurna Sanctuary trekking. With rain, you have to be very concentrated and careful while descending the very steep, slippery steps. So, lucky to finally arrive at Hille after a bit more than two hours for a dry place, rest and lunch. Luckily the rain stopped exactly at the end of lunch and the remaining 3 hours from Hille to Naya Pull walking in the sun. From Sudame to Naya Pul the trail became a dirt road with the occasional taxi jeep passing. Progress brought by this new road at the same time impacted the roadside villages negatively from a trekker's point of view. Still some very nice waterfalls and a very big suspension bridge halfway along this road.

Reaching Naya Pull will be a very emotional and fulfilling end of the 10-day trekking that was very intense in all its beauty.

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