Annapurna Base Camp has been a mecca for trekkers all the time. Either you are a beginner in the world of trekking or an aficionado for whom mountains are the second home, Annapurna region never ceases to lure the hungry feet of all sorts. And everyone knows the reason why – Annapurna Base Camp Trek is one of most rewarding treks in the Himalayas yet one of the easiest one! However, one should not be duped by the word “Easy”. There are certain things you need to know about Annapurna Base Camp Trek to make this adventure “a lifetime experience”.
There are three ways of doing trekking in Annapurna region– GAP, TH and Fully organized camping trek (FOT). The most popular are GAP and TH. GAP comes with Guide, Accommodation and Porter; whereas TH (teahouse) includes Guide, Accommodation, Porter and all meals. As the Annapurna region has adequate accommodation facility, FOT is not recommended. There is also a choice of travelling independently, but it’s not recommended considering the remoteness of the region.
Annapurna Base Camp Trek is rated as “Moderate to fairly challenging”. The trek goes through villages, rolling hills, forested area and then right into high mountain landscape leading to Annapurna South Base Camp (4130m), the highest point of the trek. It involves approx 6-8 hours trekking along rocky ridges. No previous experience is required, you should be moderately fit, used to some regular exercise and enjoy walking in the high altitude conditions.
Best Time to Travel
The best seasons to trek to Annapurna region is Autumn (from mid-September till November end), and Spring (from the beginning of March until mid-May). Temperatures will drop considerably as you trek higher every day. Travelling during winter (from December to February) is also possible but the temperature will be harsh and higher places will have heavy snow. Those who don’t like crowded trails and can bear extreme weather conditions can trek during this time. During monsoon (from mid May to mid-September), the weather is cloudy resulting in very poor visibility.
*March, April, October and November are the most popular and favored months for traveling.
The Gurungs form the largest group in the Annapurna region. They come from Tibeto Burmese stock. They inhabit the higher northern slopes of the Annapurna, Lamjung,Chuli and hills around Ganesh Himal. A large number of Gurung men serve in the British and Indian armies. The immediate vicinity of Pokhara is largely populated by Chettris and Brahmins. The Magars inhabit the lower trail between Baglung and Dana. They live high on the steep ridges along the tributaries of the Kali Gandaki. Another ethnic group of this region is the Thakalis. Known throughout the country as accomplished hoteliers and skilled traders, they are noted for their aggressive trading spirit. Baragaun Bhotiya, Lopa, Manages also inhabit in the region towards the northest of Annapurna region.
Climate, Flora & Fauna
The climate in the Annapurna region varies from subtropical to alpine. The southern slopes of the area has the highest rainfall rate in the country- 3000mm per year, whereas the northern slopes lying in the rain shadow has the lowest rate – less than 300mm per year. The difference in the climatic conditions in this region is responsible for its varied flora and fauna.The Southern lowlands are lush with subtropical forests consisting of chirpine and alder. In the Northern highlands temperate forests of oaks, rhododendron, fir, and blue pine are found. The wet regions yield a variety of bamboo species. The higher altitude further North give rise to forests of birch, blue pine and juniper trees. The area is also rich in wildlife. There are around four hundred and seventy-four species of birds, and around a hundred species of mammals. The Annapurna region serves as an excellent habitat for rare and endangered mammals like the snow leopard, musk deer, blue sheep, red panda and many of Nepal’s brilliantly plumaged pheasants.
The trail on Annapurna Base Camp does not go too high i.e. not above 4130m, so chances of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) are very low. Though Altitude Sickness has the potential to affect all travelers from 2500m and higher, itinerary should be planned in such a way that you make very gradual ascent, spending some days at a low elevation to build necessary acclimatization before walking up to Annapurna South Base Camp at 4130m (the highest point on this trek). If you have ever suffered from altitude sickness, or have a heart or breathing complaint, consult your doctor about your suitability for trekking in high altitude areas before planning the trip.
Consult your doctor at least 2 months prior to your trip. Let your doctor know about the area you are travelling to. It is especially important if you have ever suffered from altitude sickness, or have a heart or breathing complaint. If you are travelling with a travel agency, normally your team carries a medical kit with standard prescribed medicines along with a users’ manual which you can use upon your own risk. It’s better to carry your own personal first aid kit.
As vaccination requirements change frequently, we suggest you to consult your doctor at least 2 months prior to the beginning of your trip. We recommend protection against malaria, tetanus, typhoid, hepatitis and polio.
Your travel insurance must cover cancellation, medical expenses, helicopter evacuation and emergency repatriation if you are trekking in Nepal.
In case of a serious sickness or a casualty (which we hope won’t happen), helicopter rescue and evacuation is available. Since you are entirely liable for all the expenses incurred in evacuation please make sure that it is covered by your insurance before assigning for it or be prepared to pay on your own after getting back to Kathmandu.
During trek your main luggage will be carried by porters or pack animals (usually yaks or cross breeds). You simply carry a day pack with water bottle, camera, sun-screen, spare jacket, etc. – a small load that allows full enjoyment of the trek. A trek bag is ideal for your main luggage, plus a small lockable bag for anything that you do not need during your trek which you can leave at hotel’s locker room/safe deposit box in Kathmandu.
You don’t have to spend a fortune on this. Just be rational on your choice. You need walking boots, sleeping bag (4 seasons/ -20C rated), waterproof jacket and trousers, fleece jacket, warm hat and gloves, sunglasses, water bottle, sun-screen, day pack etc.
As geographical variation is very wide, you should go with layering style. While trekking in Annapurna region during the day at lower altitudes, lightweight trekking trousers and T-shirts are recommended. It’s always a good idea to carry a waterproof jacket and some warmer clothing with you as mountain weather is notoriously unpredictable. For the cold nights, thermal underwear, a warm fleece jacket and even a down jacket will help to keep you warm. Good shoes are of great importance.
*If you book with a travel company, they will provide you a complete list of gears and clothing.
In Nepal’s domestic airlines the weight allowance is 15 Kgs. Excess weight is chargeable about USD 1.5 or more per Kilo depending on sectors.
You will find plenty of modest tea houses along the trekking trail. You can stay in single rooms where possible, but often you may have to share. Rooms are basic, normally just a bed with a pillow and blankets. So a sense of adventure is required. In Kathmandu and Pokhara, you can find a wide range of star rated hotels.
Food and Water
You can find a considerable variety of Nepali and Western food as well as drinks (coffee, tea, milk, soft drinks, and beer) along the Annapurna Base Camp trail. You can also buy bottled water in local lodges and shops. However, it’s a sensible thing to bring water purification pills. Also, make sure that your day pack is well stocked with snacks, chocolates and bars.
You can either take a 30 minutes’ scenic flight or drive (6/7 hours) to Pokhara. From Pokhara, you have to drive to Nayapool (approx. 2 hours), the starting point of the trek.
You can expect to spend around 2500-3000 Rupees a day for your basic food and snacks (excluding accommodation and transportation as they vary widely depending on the level of service). Tips are appreciated by your support team after the trip. The amount depends on your budget and appreciation of their work. You can allocate 5- 10 % of the total tour cost as tips.
There are a plenty of telephone facilities in the Annapurna region. Cell phones work throughout the trail.. However, keep in mind that it can’t be as smooth as in lowlands. If it is important for you to keep in contact with your family or others, you can get a rental satellite phone.
Money exchange is not a problem in Kathmandu and Pokhara. You can find many local certified moneychangers. But same can’t be expected during trek. So, make sure that you have enough local money during your trek. Card payment (Visa, MasterCard, JCB and American Express) is also widely accepted in tourist- class hotels, restaurants and shops in Kathmandu and Pokhara.
Travelling is not just about what you get, it is also about what you leave. Try to leave positive impact behind. Respect the mountains, its fragile environment and the local culture. Choose the responsible service providers only. Go through “Dos and Donts in Nepal” thoroughly before travelling to Nepal.
All the best for your adventure in Annapurna!!
Nepal is blessed with geographical landscapes which caters many hidden adventure activities. Here we have listed few adventure bucket list of destination Nepal.
Trekking in the Himalayas:
In this busy world everybody needs a touch of adventure in their lives. And for those who are interested in getting up close with the Mother Nature, trekking in the Nepalese Himalayas can be in your Bucket list. You can choose your ideal trekking adventure out of many regions in the country. Whether it’s Everest, Annapurna, Langtang , Makalu, Manaslu, Dhaulagiri, Kanchenjunga, Mustang, Rara, or Kathmandu, we assure you that the journey will quench your thirst for walking adventure. Some travellers quote ‘Nepal is a Trekkers Paradise’, But we say, ‘You have to see it to believe it’.
An Elite Adventure to the top of the world ‘Everest Skydive’ is undoubtedly one of the craziest things you will ever do. Getting to Syangboche Airstrip at (3810 m) in the Everest region is itself an adventurous journey. And when you lift off in a chopper, knowing that you are about to jump from the highest place on earth is a ‘Glorious moment’, (described by a jumper). So, if you are adrenaline junkie add it in your next bucket list.
Paragliding in Pokhara:
What is so special about paragliding in Pokhara!!! The question may arise. But think, you are in the sky with just a sheet of fabric holding your weight, you feel the cool Himalayan wind touching your skin, and then you see the Phewa lake and Seti river resting below your feet and the panoramic view of ‘The Magnificent Annapurna range’, right besides you. Without doubt you will never forget the view and the feeling of being up-close with the mighty Annapurna. Definitely, Paragliding from Sarangkot -Pokhara is an adventure that should be included in your Bucket list.
They are a gentle creature but can be fierce at times. We worship them as a god in our country. And for few members of Tharu tribe in Chitwan National Park they are their close companion and their source of income. You will definitely be overwhelmed by the size of the Asian Elephant but once you get to know them; they will be your best friend in a short time. You will spend enjoyable time with elephants; ride on elephants bareback, learn about their lives and also bathe with them in the Rapti River. ‘An activity definitely worth adding to your bucket list’.
Imagine a bridge over a 160m high tropical gorge, with one of Nepal’s wildest river ,’Bhote-Koshi’ raging below… Now jump!. Worth adding to your crazy Bucket list.
The melting Himalayan Glaciers gives birth to many major rivers in the country. Trishuli, Seti, Kali Gandaki, Bhotekoshi, Sunkoshi, Karnali, Marshyangdi, Arun, Tamur are the famous rivers where you can enjoy the thrill of rafting. Paddling into the high waves, crossing the river carved gorges, diving in the chilled river is an awesome experience. So, why not add it into your bucket list.
“After the thorough assessment by Miyamoto International, US based Engineering Firm and our recent client experience, we are delighted to declare that Everest Base Camp Trek and other treks in Everest Region are absolutely safe to trek.”
“Everest Base Camp Trek, the most sought walking escapade that takes trek aficionados as high as 5545m (Kalapattar) is throughout a thrilling adventure. Our tailor made trek to the base camp of Everest supported by veteran Sherpa Guides and top-notch gears allows proper acclimatization.”
“Continuing to walk along the trails of rolling hills, trekkers cross pass diverse climatic regions and the diverse forestlands frequently encountering amazing Sherpa culture in highland Sherpa hamlets and vibrant Buddhist monasteries in these villages.”
En route take your time to savor the amazing blend of nature and culture at Tengboche as the monastery caters unparallel view of Mt. Ama Dablam at its backdrop. Until Tengboche, the trek is relatively easier as it is still below 4000m.
The strenuous section of the trek begins beyond Tengboche and hence trekkers need to cope with the thinner air in elevated Himalayan Region. However, our expertise in organizing high altitude treks allows trekkers for prior and proper acclimatization and hence that would not be a problem.
Standing at the base camp of Everest from where avid mountaineers like Hillary, Tenzing, Taibe and Appa Sherpa started their journeys to the summit of mighty Everest no doubt enhances the greed to conquer the beautiful white beast soaring right before eyes. Eventually, the walk to the top of Kalapattar 5545m, the mountain of black rock, which is the vantage point to sight the whole view of Everest, is the last major highlight of Everest Base Camp Trek before retracing the trail back to Lukla.
Kongma La 18,159ft / 5,535m, Cho La 17,782ft / 5,420m & Renjo La 17,930ft / 5,465m – trekking across three elevated passes is incredibly a challenging and fascinating Himalayan trekking that caters the best of cultural and natural aspects of eminent Everest Region. Three Pass Trek in Everest Region is probably one of the most challenging treks in Nepal that most of the times take you to the region above 4500m in the wilderness of Himalayan Region dominated by the world’s highest peaks including Everest.
Recently, a solo trekker Ms. Maria Hendrika Van Horen from Netherlands undertook the challenging Everest Three Passes Trek. A very happy trekker, Hendrika expressed few beautiful lines regarding the trek before she headed off for another intriguing trek to Dolpo in Nepal.
“It was very good. I really enjoyed it. It was beautiful; mountains were beautiful, people were beautiful. We had good weather and hence we could do all the passes. We went to different tops like Chhukung Ri, Kalapattar and Gokyo Ri. We were a lot high in the mountains and the experience was wonderful.”
“I liked the mountains, which were spectacular. The culture in the lower region was great and the facilities catered throughout the trek, were wonderful.”
“It is safe. To me it looked like every trekking trail of Everest Region is safe to trek. All the bridges were okay. There were some damages in the teahouses in certain villages and everybody is repairing them. We could always stay in safe places that had no problem at all.”
“I didn’t find any sort of challenges traveling solo in Nepal; rather it is easier to travel solo in Nepal than many other countries across the world. However, when trekking higher in the Himalayas, it is more fun to be with other people or join the group undertaking the same trek. Nevertheless, it is hard to find the trekking partner because it low trekking season in Nepal and after the quake not many travelers have visited Nepal.”
“I am really happy. I got good information before we started the trek and the briefing was wonderful. The quality of your office is great. The guide to be honest who really makes the difference during the trek, Megh (trek guide) did a great job. He told us a lot about Nepal and Himalayas. He chose a good place to sleep. He made sure we were safe. We could always talk to him about shortening the trip or the day trip or make it bit longer so that we could overnight in a better place. It was always good to negotiate with him. The service was great before and after the trek, though I came back in a very different time. I don’t think the company needs to improve in any area. You people did a great job.”
“I wish the flight back to Kathmandu from Lukla had been on the scheduled time. I waited couple of days in Lukla to fly back to Kathmandu because; the weather was not clear enough and hence no flight could fly back to Kathmandu. However, this is understandable.”
“Nepal and Everest Region is safe to trek. It is as beautiful as it was before. Anybody who loves the culture of Nepal in combination with mountains should travel to Nepal. For example, my friends back home think Nepal is not yet safe country to travel. They think roads are unsafe, trekking trails have been hindered heavily and the hotels to accommodate are not in good shape, which are not true at all. People in the west now consider that Nepal is in miserable condition, where people still live in the tents, but I did not see anything like that. My message is that Nepal has become normal and the beautiful country with beautiful people deserves more travelers than ever. Himalayas are the best mountain ranges and if anyone who likes trekking and climbing should travel to Nepal. There is plenty of trekking options hard trek like the one I did or the easy treks for novice trekkers; Nepal caters many easy treks as well.”
“The vibrancy and the colors of festivals like Gaijatra, Janai Purnima and Teej manifest the upcoming biggest celebrations of the year in Nepal. The festivals like Dashain and Tihar are approaching nearer and so does the most favorable time to travel to this Himalayan nation. Travelers’ autumn in Nepal is on the brink to start.”
“The massive assessments made at different levels in the quake affected regions, the incredible unity to rebuild and bounce back better amongst the Nepalese and the unconditional support from many noble hearts across the world has made impossible a possible and as the result, Nepal is back on its feet ready to cater the greatest walking adventures once again.”
On today’s post, we have covered the three most popular trekking regions of Nepal and the affects made on these regions by the devastating quake of 2015.
The most popular trekking region in Nepal or say in the entire world Annapurna Region remained intact despite the April quake epicentered very close to the region. Miyamoto International assessed all the areas of Annapurna except the section from Thorung Phedi to Throung La Pass because of weather constraints. Only 3 percentages of the infrastructures of the Region suffered slight damages during the quake and thirty bridges assessed were found intact. Hence, Annapurna Region is the safest and the most fascinating trekking region in Nepal for the Autumn 2015.
Everest Region is mostly intact. US based Engineering Firm, Miyamoto International assessed 40 mile of classic Everest Base Camp Trail. Almost 83 percentages of the buildings on the trail and 9 major bridges over raging Dudh Koshi River were unaffected by the quake. The properties that suffered minor damages required slight maintenance and the works have been already begun. Besides the recommendation to relocate the infrastructures of Villages like Toktok and Banker, the Everest Region is safe for trekkers during the upcoming Autumn Season.
The third most popular trekking region in Nepal, Langtang suffered heavy loss during the quake 2015. The landslide triggered by the powerful tremor of April 25 killed hundreds and swept away several settlements of the region. Hence, Langtang Valley Trek that leads to Kaynagjin Gompa is closed for the upcoming Autumn. Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal (TAAN) has put effort to reopen the fascinating treks in Langtang Region. However, treks to the lower regions of Langtang like to Helambu and Gosainkunda are still safe and are in operation.