Today’s destination: Nepal
The Annapurna Base Camp (ABC) is one of the most popular treks in Nepal, taking around 7 days to complete depending on your pace as well as your starting point (see our itinerary further down). We stayed in Pokhara a few days before and after our trek, to get ready first and then to rest our (very) sore legs.
Phewa Lake in Pokhara
The ABC trek was tough some days but we had an amazing time! Here are a few take aways from our adventure:
- Be ready for any type of weather
My partner and I were there at the beginning of December which is the start of winter in Nepal. We got snow and hail (!!) but also nice sunny days. My understanding is that anything can happen at this time of the year so if you go off season, make sure you’ve got the right gear. Every night you’ll sleep in lodges which are run by villagers (you basically can’t bring your own tent, you’ve got to check in somewhere for the night). These lodges provide food and private bedrooms as well as covers but again, if you’re going off season, make sure you have enough gear to get you through the night because the bedrooms aren’t heated so it’s almost like sleeping outside. We had to sleep with multiple layers of thermals, a minus ten sleeping bag each and still, when it reached minus fourteen during our night at ABC, we didn’t get the best sleep!
Only a few hundred meters from the Annapurna Base Camp
- Fried rice, fried rice & fried rice
Food wasn’t bad considering – just try sticking to local dishes like momos (dumplings), fried rice, fried noodles, etc. unless you like undercooked pancakes and overcooked lasagna. You’ll notice that the more you go up in the mountains, the more expensive and the less tasty the food gets. You’ll end up paying 6 USD for the same dish you paid 2 USD a few days before but that’s part of the deal, there’s nothing you can do about it! Try milky masala tea (the local chai latte), it’s quite sugary but believe me you’ll need loads of energy. It was so comforting we ended up having a litre a day!
- Altitude sickness?
I recently posted an article about the Santa Cruz trek in Peru explaining how I had struggled with altitude sickness then. Well I didn’t get it at all on the Annapurna Base Camp trek and that’s because the trail went up progressively while on the Santa Cruz the ascent was sharper and also the start of the trek was already at high altitude so we were already not feeling 100% before starting the trek. If you’re thinking of doing altitude treks for the first time, I would recommend Nepal over Peru!
Don’t expect proper showers. You might be able to have one the first and second nights but as you go up in the mountains, you’ll probably get a “no sun, no hot shower” type of answer (fair enough). Just be prepared not to have a shower for 7 days or so, bring wipes and enjoy a long and hot shower when you get back to Pokhara (it’ll be one of the best you’ve ever had).
- Staying at ABC overnight or not staying, that is the question
We got to ABC around noon so we enjoyed spectacular views of the Annapurna all afternoon and still the next morning at sunrise. Some hikers choose not to spend the night at ABC because of the cold but it’s the shame in my opinion because it takes a while to fathom what you’re experiencing, plus you’ve just spent days walking up the mountain to reach this point so why rush it?
Finally made it to ABC (4130m)!
We had deserved a nice sunset that day
If you’d like to do this trek, feel free to reach out for advice. We did it unguided but I do know a great local agency based in Kathmandu: Altaï. Their prices are very competitive and their guides are experienced and speak multiple languages. You can’t go wrong with them!
As a reference, here was our itinerary:
Day 1: Pokhara to Kande by taxi and then Kande to Landruk
Day 2: Landruk to Chhomrong
Day 3: Chhomrong to Dobhan
Day 4: Dobhan to Deurali
Day 5: Deurali to Annapurna Base Camp
Day 6: Annapurna Base Camp to Chhomrong – a hell of a day! more than 30 kms total!
We had been so cold at base camp that we wanted to go down as much and as quickly as possible. Villages in which we had been freezing a few days prior now seemed super appealing compared to the minus fourteen degrees we experienced at base camp!
Day 7: Chhomrong to Siwai and back to Pokhara by taxi