Annapurna Base Camp Trek: Hike in The Footsteps of Legends

By Jan Bakker

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Annapurna Base Camp Trek: Hike in The Footsteps of Legends
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The Annapurna Base Camp has to be the most spectacular trekking destination in Nepal. The high-altitude plateau where the camp is located is called the Annapurna Sanctuary and is surrounded by an arena of jagged peaks plastered with snow and ice. This location is steeped in mountaineering history. The world’s first ever climb of a peak above 8000 meters started here. But, unlike the climb, trekking to this magical place is straightforward. At Bookatrekking.com we have arranged hundreds of treks to the Annapurna Base Camp. When will it be your turn?

I’m Jan and I’ve trekked some of the most spectacular mountain ranges in Asia, including the Karakoram in Pakistan and the Tien Shan in Kyrgyzstan. In terms of mountain landscapes the Annapurna region is a huge favorite. Why should you do this trek? We’ll give you plenty of reasons in this blog post!

Annapurna Base Camp Trek: Retracing The Footsteps of Legends

In the race for the first ascent of an 8000 meter peak, a French expedition chose the 8091 meter high Annapurna l as their objective. This was in 1950, long before climbers were outfitted with technical gear. The arduous, but successful expedition was immortalized by its expedition leader Maurice Herzog in his book simply called Annapurna. It is a tale of heroes and horror, a must read for anyone doing the Annapurna Base Camp trekking. Many people think K2 or Mount Everest are the deadliest of all the 8000m peaks. It is actually Annapurna l, where one out of three climbers who attempt the mountain don’t come back. The mountain is this lethal due to the many avalanches tumbling off its slopes on a daily basis. Which is pretty amazing to see from the safety of base camp!

We consider the trek to be moderate. Yes, it’s hard work, but there is nothing technical about the Annapurna Base Camp Trek. Well-trodden trails connect iconic places such as Poon Hill, Machhapuchhare Base Camp and of course the highest point on the trek at 4,130 meters above sea level, Annapurna Base Camp (aka ABC). There is often a little confusion about ABC and the Annapurna Sanctuary. Just to clarify, ABC is the camp itself whereas the Sanctuary is the geographical area around the foot of the Annapurna Massif. When we talk about the Annapurna Base Camp Trek and the Annapurna Sanctuary Trek, these are the same.

Annapurna Base Camp Trek: Retracing The Footsteps of Legends

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The Annapurna Treks Versus the Everest Treks: A Comparison

Trekking in Nepal, surely it’s all the same? Well, not quite. Although there are of course lots of similarities between the different trekking areas, there are also big differences. Let’s have a look at the differences between Nepal’s prime trekking destinations, the Annapurna region versus the Everest region. We’ll also compare the two main long-distance treks in the Annapurna region, Annapurna Circuit versus Annapurna Base Camp.

Annapurna trekking versus Everest trekking

Travel to and from

All treks in the Everest region start in Lukla and require a flight by either a small airplane or a helicopter. The trekking routes in the Annapurnas can be reached by vehicle, although flights (to Pokhara) are optional.

The mountains

Ok, the Everest region has the highest mountain in the world, Mount Everest. However, trekking in either area gives you the chance to see three or four 8000 meter peaks. It’s basically Everest, Lhotse, Cho Oyu and Makalu versus Annapurna l, Manaslu and Dhaulagiri. Apples and oranges, all phenomenal mountains to look at.

The length of trekking routes

Both areas have short and long trekking routes. Generally, treks around Everest are longer, and you need to commit at least 10 days to complete a route. There are more options for shorter hikes in the Annapurna region, such as Mardi Himal and the Ghorepani Poon Hill trek. These can all be done in 8 days or less.

The altitude

The main reason that you need more time in the Everest region is the altitude. If you want to avoid doing a return hike, you need to scale passes that are over 5000 meters in order to do a loop. The Annapurnas have options. You can go high on the Annapurna Circuit. But it’s possible to trek below the 4000 meter mark and still have incredible views. It lowers the bar for people with less time, or those who don’t want to reach extreme altitudes.

The people

It is a common misconception that all the mountain people in Nepal are Sherpa. The Sherpa people live and work primarily in the Solu-Khumbu Valley, the main inhabited area in the Everest region. The Annapurna region has two main ethnic groups: the Gurung and Magar people.

Our verdict

Both areas are world-class trekking destinations. If you don’t have a lot of time, you want to avoid flying or you trekking to very high elevations is not what you’re after, then the Annapurna region is probably a better choice. If you crave high altitude adventures, away from the crowds and possibly scaling a 6000-er then the Everest region may be up your street. In either case, Bookatrekking.com will make sure your Nepal trek will be unforgettable.

Annapurna Base Camp versus Annapurna Circuit

These treks are in the same area, yet they are quite different in character. One of the main differences is the altitude. On the Annapurna Circuit, you have to scale the 5,416 meter high Thorung La, if you want to finish the trek. The Annapurna Base Camp elevation at 4,130 meters is much lower, and if things don’t go well, there is no absolute necessity to make it up there. Most itineraries on the full Circuit are more than two weeks. ABC can be done in 9 days, ideal for trekkers with less time on their hands. Finally, the Annapurna Circuit has seen lots of road development, forcing trekkers to walk on the road. That won’t happen to the Annapurna Base Camp hike anytime soon, as the route to the Sanctuary is a dead-end. So, take your pick, both treks are excellent!

The Annapurna Treks Versus the Everest Treks: A Comparison

What Is The Annapurna Base Camp Trek Difficulty?

Most of the mountain adventures that we do at Bookatrekking.com is trekking, except for our Island Peak and Mera Peak climbs. Trekking can be hard, but in most cases the technical difficulty is fairly low. Walking paths are clear and the terrain itself is safe. What makes trekking in Nepal often hard is the altitude. To get closer to the high mountains you will have to go up. Having said this, the Annapurna Base Camp height is fairly modest compared to the likes of Everest Base Camp. At just over 4000 meters, and with a gradual approach in terms of elevation difference, the hike to Annapurna Base Camp is not extreme by any means. It would make a great first time Himalayan trek.

What Is The Best Time for Annapurna Base Camp Trekking?

The Annapurna region has the same trekking season as most of the other mountain areas in Nepal that are prone to the monsoon rains. Pre-monsoon, in Northern Hemisphere Spring, trekking conditions are great. It’s not as cold as winter and rainfall is normally low. Obviously it’s busier during this time of year. The summer months are generally wet and the chances of seeing the mountains are lower due to the cloud cover. The good thing about this time is, that you have the trail to yourself. Autumn is similar to spring with one difference. Due to the monsoon rains, the air is more clear. Finally, there’s the winter season. The Annapurna Base Camp hike is actually great to do in winter. The highest point is 4,130m, which makes the trek less cold than the likes of Everest Base Camp and the Annapurna Circuit, that all exceed the 5000 meters mark. And you’re unlikely to share the mountains with other trekkers.

What Is The Best Time for Annapurna Base Camp Trekking?

A 9-day Annapurna Base Camp Trek Itinerary

This accelerated version enables you to do the trek to Annapurna Base Camp in a shorter time, while still seeing most of the highlights.
Day
1

Flight to Pokhara and Trek to Ghandruk

Duration: 05:45 h
Distance: 13.3 km
Ascent: 1120 m
Descent: 190 m
This option with a flight from Kathmandu to Pokhar will save you some precious time. This time can be spent on the trails to the village of Ghandruk. Make sure you choose the right side of the plane to ensure the best views of the Himalayas. The crew will be waiting for you at Pokhara airport. Upon arrival it takes an 1 hour and 20 minute drive to Nayapul (new bridge) on the main road near Birethanti. From here we start our trek. From Birethanti, we trek to Ghandruk, a beautiful village mostly inhabited by the Gurung community. If time allows us so, you can visit the Gurung museum.

Ghandruk

Info
Ghandruk
Day
2

Trek to Chhomrong

Duration: 06:00 h
Distance: 10.6 km
Ascent: 800 m
Descent: 800 m
We trek uphill for about an hour to Kimrungdanda, while enjoying great views of Annapurna South, Hiunchuli, Fishtail Mountain (Machhapuchhre) and Ganggapurna. Then we take a steep descent to the Kimrong Khola. After another steep ascent from Kimrong Khola to Chere Danda, we descend for a while and then it’s a gentle walk to Chhomrong, a beautiful village located in the lap of the giant Annapurna.

Chomrong

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Chomrong
Day
3

Trek to Bamboo

Duration: 03:00 h
Distance: 6.5 km
Ascent: 540 m
Descent: 240 m
We descend 2500 stone steps and cross the bridge above Chhomrong Khola. From here it is an uphill climb to Sinuwa. Next, we pass through a beautiful forest to Kuldihar followed by an easy downhill walk to Bamboo. We will spend the night in Bamboo village.

Bamboo

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Bamboo
Day
4

Trek to Deurali

Duration: 03:20 h
Distance: 7.14 km
Ascent: 840 m
Descent: 10 m
We trek through a damp and cold bamboo forest, then ascend steadily through several steep sections. Upon reaching Himalaya Hotel, the forest opens up to the sun with an astounding view of the glacial river below. Then we take a steep climb up through a much drier forest before we reach Hinku Cave. From here the trail drops closer to the river before climbing again to Deurali, the most scenic stretch of the day. The vegetation is more sparse, allowing magical views of the valley, the river below, and the sheer rock-face cliffs above with bands of wispy waterfalls. A great place to spend the night.

Deurali

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Deurali
Day
5

Trek to Annapurna Base Camp (4130m) via Machhapuchhre Base Camp

Duration: 03:30 h
Distance: 6.7 km
Ascent: 950 m
We climb gently through a river bed then over a steep trail over to the mountain side, and then a somewhat strenuous hike from Bagar to Machhapuchhre Base Camp follows. From the base camp we get excellent views of the majestic Machhapuchhre along with Mt. Hiunchuli, Annapurna South, Annapurna I, Annapurna III, Gandharvachuli and Gangapurna. The vegetation becomes scarce hereafter and the path widens as we enter the Annapurna sanctuary. From here, we get sensational views of the near-vertical south face of Annapurna towering over us. The sanctuary boasts of a dynamic view without anything impeding the 360-degree panorama. From the base camp we again get to savor mesmerizing views of the Machhapuchhre, Annapurna South, Annapurna I, Hiunchuli and other peaks. We will spend the night at Annapurna Base Camp.

Annapurna Base Camp

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Annapurna Base Camp
Day
6

Trek to Bamboo

Duration: 05:30 h
Distance: 14 km
Ascent: 10 m
Descent: 1810 m
After spending some unforgettable hours in the high mountains, we will hike down to beautiful Bamboo. This is a walk of about 6 hours, following the same trail. Our trail descends around 1,700m along the bank of Modi Khola to Bamboo at 2,345m. Upon reaching Bamboo, we can go for a short exploration of the place. We will again spend the night in a local teahouse.

Bamboo

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Bamboo
Day
7

Trek to Jhinu Danda

Duration: 04:45 h
Distance: 9.3 km
Ascent: 470 m
Descent: 1040 m
In the morning we will hike to reach Jhinu Danda. We will make a steep ascent to Kuldi Ghar. From there to Sinuwa, and following the stone steps to Lower Chomrong. It takes another climb up a thousand stone steps to reach Upper Chhomrong. Then, we will descend over the steep trail leading to Jhinu Danda. You can soak in the natural hot springs 20 minutes away from Jhinu Danda.

Jhinu Danda

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Jhinu Danda
Day
8

Trek to Naya Pul and drive to Pokhara

Duration: 08:00 h
Distance: 19.6 km
Ascent: 720 m
Descent: 1340 m
We trek from Jhinu Danda to Nayapul, while enjoying the amazing hilly landscape of western Nepal. From Nayapul, we drive to Pokhara. From here we will drive back to Pokhara. *If the road construction connecting Jhinu Danda to Nayapul is complete, we can skip the trek and drive from Jhinu Danda to Pokhara.

Pokhara

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Pokhara
Day
9

Flight Pokhara - Kathmandu

On the final day we fly back to Kathmandu. If you're lucky enough to have a window seat on the left side of the plane you may see all the big peaks of the central Nepal Himalaya.
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Annapurna Base Camp Trek Map

This map shows both our trekking options for Annapurna Base Camp

Staying in Traditional Villages on The Annapurna Base Camp Trek

What is it like to stay in the traditional villages along Nepal’s trekking routes? In my opinion it is an integral part of trekking in Nepal. It’s a perfect symbiosis of rugged mountain wilderness and a unique mountain culture. When you stay in the mountain villages, you really catch a glimpse of what life is like in the Annapurnas.

In each village you will stay in a tea house, the local expression for a guesthouse. On my Nepal trekking adventures, I’m always keen to arrive early at the next destination. Why? Because I love the serenity and simplicity of life in the mountain villages. Sipping tea, while immersing myself in the daily hustle and bustle of life in the Himalayas. In some villages you can visit a monastery, or if you’re lucky one of the many Buddhist festivals. The tea houses themselves are simple, though in the past years some of them have been upgraded somewhat, with flush toilets, warm water and even WiFi. The delicious dhal bat, essential trekking food in Nepal, is fortunately still on every tea house menu. Experience Nepal’s mountain culture on the Annapurna Base Camp Trek!

Staying in Traditional Villages on The Annapurna Base Camp Trek

Not sure yet or want to discuss your plans for the Annapurna Base Camp Trek with one of our trekking experts? Get in touch today and turn your dreams into memories!

Do I Need a Permit For The Trek to Annapurna Base Camp?

When planning a trek on the Annapurna Base Camp, it's essential to obtain the following permits:

TIMS (Trekkers Information Management System):

This permit is crucial for any trekker intending to explore Nepal, whether on the Everest Base Camp or the journey to Poon Hill. It is a mandatory requirement for all trekking routes, and the fee is NRS 2000 per person, approximately 17 USD or 15 EUR.

Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) Permit

An ACAP Permit is a must for those wanting to traverse the trekking routes within the Annapurna region. Administered by the National Trust for Nature, its primary objective is to protect and conserve the wildlife and natural environment of the region. The funds collected from this permit are dedicated to conservation initiatives.

For each individual embarking on a single-entry trek, the cost of an ACAP Permit is Rs. 3000 (roughly USD 25), regardless of the duration of the stay. These permits can be obtained in either Kathmandu or Pokhara, and designated checkpoints along the trail ensure the maintenance of trekking records.

Packing List for the Annapurna Base Camp Trek

Trekking in Nepal requires decent gear. Especially the basics like an 80-90 L backpack and quality trekking socks. Read an extensive blog here about what to bring with you.
  • Documents

  • Sleep

  • Footwear

  • Clothing

  • Accessories

Where Can I Book the Annapurna Base Camp Trek?

At Bookatrekking.com you can book this trek and many others. Our guided options come with experts on the ground, and offer you a convenient, stress-free, safe, and educational way to explore the outdoors. Find our offers here. Our easy-to-use platform allows you to browse and compare different trekking options and find the perfect fit for your interests, abilities, and budget.

If you have any questions about a specific trek or need help choosing the right one for you, our team of trekking experts is here to assist you. Simply reach out to us and we will be happy to provide you with personalized recommendations and advice to help you plan the trekking adventure of a lifetime.

Is this not your cup of tea and are you looking for other epic adventures? Check out one of our blog posts:

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