The Ultimate Guide to Annapurna Base Camp Trek
Annapurna Base Camp Overview
If you are a trekking enthusiast, traveling in/to Nepal, there’s no way you haven’t heard of Annapurna Base Camp Trek. Annapurna Base Camp (also known as ABC and Annapurna Sanctuary) Trekking is one of the most popular trekking destinations in Nepal after Everest Base Camp trek. The ABC Base Camp Trek offers the grandiose mountain vistas and amazing trekking experience, which is why it is a must trek for all the trekking lovers.
Annapurna Base Camp Trek
The trek to Annapurna Base camp offers the beautiful nature at it’s best with the well-maintained paths and alluring views around. It is a deep glacier surrounded by majestic peaks like Annapurna South, Annapurna I and III, Gangapurna, Machhapuchhre, Hiun Chuli, and Fang. This awe-inspiring trail runs through forested hillsides, terraced fields and ethnic Gurung settlements to the ice and snow-covered base camp, the sanctuary of Gods.
The trail offers exceptional experience of natural and cultural splendor. One can witness the culturally rich diversities on the way to ABC. This place mostly comprises of Gurung, Magar and Thakali community people among other minorities. The warm hospitality of people, enthralling landscapes, diverse floras and faunas, and taste of delicious foods are surely the memories from ABC trek to be cherished for the lifetime.
General Information about the trip
- Trek Difficulty: Moderate
- Duration: 10-15 days
- Elevation: 4130 meters
- Trek Total Distance: 40 Kilometers (KM) equivalent to 24.8548 Miles.
- Accommodation during the Trek: Teahouses and Hotels
- Transportation: Bus and Jeep/Car or flight (if you prefer to travel (KTM to Pokhara to KTM) on a flight).
- Duration of the trek: Depends on your walk and your desire. Normally it takes as less as 7 days and if you want a slow and steady trek enjoying the beautiful trail (walk less and get acquainted with the places more) then the trek can go up to 12 days.
- Permit needed? –Yes, if you’re a foreigner.
- When to travel? The ABC trek can be done all year around. It is because of the easy access to the hotel/lodges and teahouses on the way to ABC. However, the best seasons to trek to Annapurna Base Camp are during spring and autumn. Spring season falls in the month of early March until the end of the month May. Autumn season falls in the month of September (starting days of September) to the early days of December.
ABC Trek Map
Itinerary of the trip
Day 1: Kathmandu – Pokhara (Bus ride of 6-7 hours)
Day 2: Drive to Nayapul (1.5 hrs) – trek to Ghandruk (1940 m) 5-6 hours of walk. Ghandruk is an amazing village densely populated with Gurung, Poon Magar, and Thakali people. You can witness their cultures there.
Day 3: Ghandruk (1940 m) – Chomrong (2170 m) 5-6 hours of walk. You should not miss the sunrise view from Chhomrong.
Day 4: Chomrong (2170 m) – Dovan (2600 m) 6-7 hours of walk.
Day 5: Dovan (2600 m) – Machapuchare Base Camp (3700 m) 7-8 hours of walk. Amazing view of Mt. Machhapuchhre and the way back that you walked.
Day 6: Machapuchare Base Camp (3700 m) – Annapurna Base Camp (4130 m) 3 hours of walk. Congratulations!!! You’re at your destination of the trek!!! Cherish the moments of desperation, hardships along the way and more than that cherish all the beautiful moments being in that destination.
Day 7: Annapurna Base Camp (4130 m) – Bamboo (2310 m) 7-8 hours of walking.
Day 8: Bamboo (2310 m) – Jhinu Hotspring (1780 m) 6-7 hours of walking. Take a warm bath in hot spring. You’re re-energized and warmly bid goodbye.
Day 9: Jhinu Danda (1780 m) – Nayapul (6-7 hours of walking). Drive to Pokhara (1.5 hours of bus ride). The final day of the trek in Pokhara before leaving to Kathmandu the next day, so have fun in Pokhara.
Day 10: Pokhara – Kathmandu (By bus or by flight).
What to carry while trekking?
- Down Jacket
- Rain/Wind Jacket
- Trekking Boots
- Sun hat/cap
- Sunglasses with UV protection
- First Aid Kits
- Small Towel
Highlights of the Trek:
- Annapurna Base Camp lies within the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) and is situated on the lap of Mt. Annapurna (9091 m) and is the world’s 10th highest peak.
- Annapurna Base Camp is at an altitude of 4,130 m above sea level.
- Mount Annapurna, Dhaulagiri, and Machhapuchhere Himalayan range. Base camps of Mt. Annapurna and Machhapuchre.
- While trekking to Annapurna Base Camp, one has to reach Machhapuchhre Base Camp as well. The view of Machhapuchhre from this point is simply breathtaking. Machhapuchhre base camp (MBC), (the literal English translation of Machhapuchhre is fish-tail). Because of the steep and unique structure, no one has ever been able to summit Mt. Fishtail until now. So it’s a virgin mountain until now. From Machhapuchhre Base Camp, the trekkers will be able to see the close-up views of Annapurna I, Annapurna South, Gangapurna, and Hiunchuli. So in one trek, you will come across two base camps; Annapurna and Machhapuchhre.
- Picturesque beauty along the way. Panoramic view of Mt. Annapurna, Fishtail, and Dhaulagiri. You should not miss capturing these moments during the trip.
- You will have to pass through numerous bridges and perennial rivers throughout the trek. This can be a pretty new experience for you. Beautiful landscapes during the trail. The trekkers can see the rhododendron blooming, oak trees, fern and bamboos on the way. The sound of a river flowing on the way takes away all of your exhaustion and rejuvenates with positive energy.
- Amazing view of Mt. Machhapuchhre, Annapurna South and surrounding villages from Chhomrong. One should not miss the majestic view of sunrise (sunrays striking in Mt. Machhapuchhre and Annapurna South in the early morning) from Chhomrong while in ABC trek.
- A number of Tea houses and lodges at regular intervals. You can stop in the tea houses and lodges for small tea and coffee break in a span of 2-3 hours. Also, you can have Dal- Bhat or any other preferable lunches in between as well.
- You will be witnessing the authentic local lifestyle of ethnic groups; Gurung and Magar especially in the village of Ghandruk and other places on the way. Typical Gurung, Poon Magar, and Thakali cultures and villages. You can see the people in these places with their cultural dresses.
- Presence of rare species of flora and fauna including musk deer, Himalayan Thar, snow leopard among others.
- There are three natural Hot springs in the Annapurna region. Natural Hotspring (Jhinu Danda). Nothing gets better than taking a bath at Hotspring in Jhinu Danda surrounded by the dense forests and a river flowing by the side. With a glass of chilled beer in the hand, sipping it and cleansing all the tiredness from the trek. What a beautiful way to end the memorable trek. The farewell gets even joyful and worth remembering with such a warm goodbye.
Frequently asked questions about Annapurna Base Camp Trek
1. How difficult is ABC Trek?
Annapurna Base Camp trek is relatively easier trek as compared to other high altitude and camping treks. However, the trails are steep and rough. There might be snow and ice falls at a certain time of the year.
2. Can I trek to Annapurna Base Camp alone?
Yes, you can trek to Annapurna Base Camp alone. There are hundreds of solo trekkers traveling to ABC each year. However, if you are a first timer trekking to the Himalayan region, it is best not to trek alone. The trails might be confusing and it can be overwhelming at times.
Another option would be to join other solo trekkers on the way to ABC. That way, you will be in a small group and safer than traveling alone.
3. When is the best time to trek to Annapurna Base Camp?
Autumn (the months between October and November) season is the best time to trek to Annapurna Base Camp. This season is marked by the clear skies, drier trails and clear views of the mountain vistas.
Similarly, the second best time to trek to Annapurna Base Camp is during the spring season. The spring season falls starting from the month of March until May. During this season, you can witness rhododendron blooming which colors the forest in red.
If you like to be adventurous, you can choose to trek during the monsoon (June to September). The trails are wetter and there are fewer trekkers traveling. Also, during the winter (the months of December to February) season is characterized with cold weather but the visibility is clear. The trails get strenuous and sometimes the snow may have blocked the paths.
4. How long is Annapurna Base Camp trek?
Normally, the ABC trek is 10-15 days long. However, you can customize the itinerary based on your choice. It can be done in as less as 7 days. But you won’t be having a comfortable trek. This way you will need to rush more.
5. What is the highest elevation I will be reaching in ABC Trek?
The highest elevation you will reach on ABC trek is 4,130 m above the sea level. It is in Annapurna Base Camp itself.
6. What is the total trekking distance for Annapurna Base Camp Trek?
The total trekking distance while trekking to Annapurna Base Camp is somewhere about 40 Kilometers (KM) and is equivalent to 24.8548 miles. However, the distance also depends on which route you have chosen.
7. What kind of accommodation will I have on the trek?
Teahouses and lodges are there in every stop of Annapurna Base Camp trek. So you will be accommodated in those teahouses and lodges.
8. Are there any ATMs on the route?
No, there aren’t any ATMs on the route to Annapurna Base Camp trek. So you will need to carry cash on your own. Also, it is important to carry Nepalese Rupees (the official Nepali currency) as there will be a problem using US dollars or any other currencies. There are plenty of ATMs in Kathmandu and Pokhara.
9. Do I need travel insurance?
Yes, you will be required to have travel insurance. It’s for your own safety.
10. Will I get altitude sickness on this trek?
You are prone to having altitude sickness above 2500m altitude. So it is very important to stay aware. The key is to ascend as slowly as possible.
11. Is there an internet facility in the teahouses and lodges?
Yes, the teahouses and lodges do have a facility of internet. But you will be required to pay around $5 or sometimes even $10 to use the internet.
12. How do I charge my phones and camera batteries?
The main source of electricity in these routes are solar panels. So you can charge your phones and camera batteries with them. You will need to pay some money for that.
13. Can I make phone calls during the trek?
Yes, you can make phone calls during the trek. It also depends on which kind of network provider you have.
14. What kinds of foods will I be having during the trek?
Normally, the trekkers are recommended to have daal-bhat (rice, lentils, and curry). These foods are rich in carbohydrates and proteins.
But the teahouses have plenty of options which even includes foods like momo, pizza, sandwiches, etc.
15. Is water safe to drink?
You are not recommended to drink tap water while trekking to Annapurna Base Camp. You can use water purifiers in the tap water or you can choose boiled water or the bottled mineral water.
16. What kind of transportation should I choose?
From Kathmandu, you can easily catch a bus and jeep/car going until Pokhara. It takes around 6 hours to reach Pokhara from Kathmandu. Similarly, you can opt to fly from Kathmandu to Pokhara. It is around 30 minutes of flight.
17. Do I need a permit to trek to ABC?
Yes, if you’re a foreigner. You will need to get Trekkers’ Information Management System (TIMS) and the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) permits. TIMS permit costs $10 and ACAP entry fee costs $20.Where do I get the TIMS and ACAP entry permits?
You can purchase TIMS and ACAP entry permits in the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB). The offices are located in two places. One is situated in Bhrikutimandap, Kathmandu and the other in Damside, Pokhara.
If you booked your treks through a company, the company will get these permits for you.
18. How fit do I need to become to trek to ABC?
It is not necessary to have an absolute higher level of fitness in order to trek to Annapurna Base Camp. The average level of fitness is okay. However, it is best to prepare yourself with jogging and physical exercises a week or two before embarking on a journey to Annapurna Base Camp.
Important things to consider while trekking to Annapurna Base Camp
1. Be physically and mentally prepared
It is super important to prepare yourself physically and mentally before trekking to Annapurna Base Camp. Trekking to higher altitude is not a joke and you have to prepare yourself accordingly.
2. Pack light with all the essentials
Packing light is the key to comfortable trekking experience. If you have a tendency to pack each and everything, you are sure to suffer from the heaviness of the backpack. With the increasing altitude and difficulty of the trails, you will be troubled more.
However, you should not miss the essentials. You need not compromise in this regard.
3. Stay hydrated
You have to drink at least 5-6 liters of water every day. And if you sweat more, you need to drink more water. Staying hydrated is very important while trekking.
4. Altitude sickness
Altitude sickness is a great challenge while trekking to Annapurna Base Camp. So as a trekker you should understand that walking slowly and steadily is the key to avoiding altitude sickness. You can carry medicines on your own. But you should not force yourself too much. There’s always next time; with more preparedness. But don’t challenge nature!
5. Carry energy bars and nuts
You can munch energy bars and nuts in the middle of forests or while taking a long break. It will provide you with instant energy. Don’t forget to carry energy bars and nuts with you.
6. Sunscreen cream and Sunglasses
Sunscreen cream will protect you from burning your skin and sunglasses will protect you from snow blindness.
7. Don’t forget to capture your memories
You are on a vacation; to enjoy moments, make the best time out of this time. So collect as many memories as possible. Take pictures, write diaries or shoot videos. Do whatever you like! But make sure to have plenty of them which you can share when you return to your country.
8. Respect the local culture
It’s great to know a few local terms which will help to get acquainted with local people. People will be happy if you learn cultural etiquettes like “Namaste”, eating etiquettes, clothing, etc.
You know it better!
9. Bring a map with you
Even though modern technology has made our life easier, it is best to bring a map with you. You don’t need to be dependent on phone network if you have one.
Wishing you all the pleasant and joyful trekking experience. Happy traveling! 😊
Learn more about Trekking in Nepal.