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Published: October 11th 2011
The trek to Annapurna Base Camp (ABC) is one of the most popular treks in Nepal. It came highly recommended by other travellers that we’ve met and seemed like a great choice for our first trek in Nepal. We decided to organize the trek by booking a group tour, although it’s possible to do the trek independently and many people do. We had porters for our main gear but we carried day packs, cameras, water, etc.
For the first several days of the trek the weather was generally overcast and there wasn't much for mountain views. It would normally rain for an hour or so in the afternoon which was just enough to ensure that we were thoroughly soaked by the time we got to our destination for the day. Thank goodness we kept a dry set of clothes for the evenings. The days were long but we got quite used to hiking 6-8 hours a day. The trails were rarely flat and generally each day came with several ascents and descents up and down steep stone stair cases. It was nothing to do 600 meters in elevation before lunch. The trek covered an amazing variety of terrain including lowland
pastures, hill side villages, bamboo forest and alpine scrub. The accommodation was fairly basic guesthouses but much better than we expected. It’s well set up for tourists since it’s such a popular trail. Every place has the same food menu that is set by an organization in Pokhara and the prices increase the farther along you go. There’s a surprising amount of variety on the menu although by the end we grew quite tired of fried rice and noodles.
On our third day we got up bright and early at 4:45am to climb Poon Hill for sunrise at 3200m. Poon Hill is supposed to offer one of the better panorama views of the Himalayas, but unfortunately for us it was cloudy. It was also incredibly crowded (almost Angkor Wat-like sunrise crowds) which kind of takes away from the atmosphere of it all.
Fortunately the weather seemed to be improving with each day and soon the mornings were fairly clear and gave us a small preview of what was to come. On Day 7 we made our ascent to Annapurna Base Camp. It was a clear morning, but by the time we left Machhapuchhare base camp (2 hours from
ABC) the fog started to roll in and it got quite chilly. Slowly but surely we reached our goal and made it to ABC. Despite being out of breath, we had very few other problems with the altitude so we were quite happy about that. The porters on the other hand were already into a full-on game of volleyball.
At this point we were still oblivious of our incredible surroundings as everything was covered in a thick blanket of fog. We still held out hope for some sort of sunset view and hung out around the lodge with our cameras waiting for something to happen. Then miraculously the clouds began to part and soon we could see the sunlit peak of Machhapuchhare (6997m) emerge into view. The fog continued to lift and we were then surrounded on all sides by snow-covered peaks ranging from 7000 to 8000 meters high. Just incredible, it kind of puts our little Rocky Mountains back home into a new perspective. That evening the skies cleared completely and everything was lit up by the moon light. Dawn and sunrise were equally amazing and we didn’t want to leave. Unfortunately our itinerary had us hiking 7-8
hours down 1800 meters of elevation that day so we made the most of the time we had and reluctantly made our way back the way we came.
The trek to Annapurna Base Camp is one of the most physically challenging things we've ever done. We're both very proud to have completed the trek all the way to base camp. There were times where we felt like we might not make it and the endless staircases up and down would get the better of us, but we pushed ourselves and it felt awesome to accomplish our goal. We can definitely see how this sort of thing can become addictive.
There are a few routes that one can take to ABC. For those who are interested this is the general route we followed:
Bus from Pokhara to start at Nayapul
Day 1: Tikedhunga (1540m)
Day 2: Gorepani ( 2750m)
Day 3: Climb Poon Hill for sunrise (3210m), then trek to Tadapani (2700m)
Day 4: Chhomrong (2170m)
Day 5: Doban (2580m)
Day 6: Deorali (3231m)
Day 7: Annapurna Base Camp (4130m)
Day 8: Bamboo (2335m)
Day 9: Jhinu Danda (1780m)
Day 10: Pothana (1970m)
Day 11: Finish at Phedi
and bus back to Pokhara
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