A Detailed Guide for Annapurna Base Camp trek
Annapurna Mountain, at 8,091m, is the world's tenth highest mountain. It is known for the difficulty it presents to climbers who want to reach its summit. However, it is also the first eight-thousand peak ever climbed. The credit goes to Maurice Herzog, who headed the French expedition in 1950. Though the fatality to summit ratio of the Annapurna peak has improved, it is still one of the most dangerous peaks to summit. However, Annapurna Base Camp treks are very safe.
The name Annapurna comes from the Hindu goddess of food and nourishment. In the Sanskrit language, "Anna" means food, and "purna" means filled. Several rivers flowing from the Annapurna mountains provide water for irrigation in the lower elevations.
Annapurna region lies in the northwestern part of Nepal and is home to some of the world's best long treks. The entire Annapurna ranges fall within Annapurna Conservation Area. It has an area of 7.629 square kilometers and is the first and the largest conservation area in Nepal.
The Annapurna sanctuary is home to numerous short and long treks -including the famous Annapurna Circuit treks. The Annapurna massif consists of six major peaks that are over 7,200m. Annapurna region has so much to offer for adventurers, trekkers, and nature lovers.
Most Annapurna region treks start from Pokhara valley - the tourist capital of Nepal, known for its beautiful lakes and the reflection of snow-capped mountains on those lakes.
Gurungs, Magars, Thakalis, and Brahmins live in the lower regions of Annapurna. Each of these ethnicities has its own distinct tradition, culture, and lifestyle. You can clearly see the Tibetan influence in the northern Annapurna regions - mainly in the magnificent upper Mustang.
The highest pass in the Annapurna region is the Thorong La Pass (5,416m). The world's deepest gorge - Kali Gandaki Gorge- also lies in this region. If you are a religious person, you should certainly visit Muktinath - a holy site for Hindus and Buddhists. This region is also known for Poon Hill - one of the best viewpoints on Earth, and hot aquifers at Jhinu Danda.
Best time for Annapurna Base Camp trek
Annapurna Base Camp treks are possible throughout the year. However, the weather is more favorable during certain months, allowing easy treks and letting you enjoy the views to the fullest. However, the whole trekking experience to Annapurna Base Camp changes from season to season.
During spring (March-May), the temperatures are cool. There is almost no rainfall, and you will find the trails in perfect condition. The temperature at Annapurna Base Camp will be between 10 to 0°C. The lower regions are even warmer. Trek picks up from spring, and by April, you can enjoy the red, pink, and white rhododendron blossoms.
Autumn (September - November) treks are even more popular because of comfortable, cool temperatures, clear skies, a clean environment, and fantastic trail conditions. In addition, two of the biggest festivals of Nepal - Dashain & Tihar - fall during this season, adding a festive mood to the trek regions.
In Nepal, summer (June - August) coincides with the monsoon, which means the trails will be wet and slippery, making it difficult to hike. However, the summer rain adds a green blanket to the vegetation all around the trek regions. The raging rivers and giant waterfalls also add excitement to summer treks.
Winter (December - February) treks to Annapurna base Camps are moderately popular. Though the winter skies are clear, providing spectacular views of mountains and valleys, the temperatures are low, and the trails might get buried under heaps of snow. If you find thrill in navigating through the snow, you can trek during winter, enjoying the uncrowded paths.
Annapurna Region Trek Highlights
- Annapurna Base Camp (4,130m)
- Macchapuchare Base Camp (3,712m)
- Thorong La Pass at 5,416 meter
- Tilicho Lake (4,949m) - one of the highest lakes in the world
- Blue sheep at Yak Kharka
- Spectacular views of Mt. Annapurna (8,091m), Thorung Peak, Nilgiri (7,061m), Chulu West and East, Tukuche Peak, Dhaulagiri (8,167m), Lamjung Himal, Annapurna II, and Annapurna IV
- Relaxing in Tatopani hot springs
- Magnificent lakes, glaciers, gorges, and waterfalls
- Muktinath - a sacred site for both Hindus and Buddhists
- Manang district to embrace its beauty
- Barge Monastery - the largest monastery in the Manang district
- Pokhara - the tourist capital of Nepal
- Ghorepani and Poon Hill Viewpoint (3,210m)
- Upper Mustang and Tibetan style villages
Trek grade of Annapurna Base Camp is moderate. The trek is much easier than other treks, such as the Everest Base Camp trek. So, this trek can also serve as a practice for other demanding treks. The elevation of Annapurna Base Camp is 4,130m.
However, you can make Annapurna Base Camp treks challenging by extending your trek to combine Annapurna Circuit. Then you will reach an altitude of 5,416m at Throng La Pass. You can also include the Tilicho Lake trek to the Annapurna Circuit. If you want to see the rain shadow of the Himalayas, the incredible Upper Mustang trek also falls in this region. So, there are plenty of trek options that you can combine with the Annapurna Base Camp trek.
1. Annapurna Base Camp Short Trek - 7 Days
If you just want to see the Annapurna Base Camp, this trek is for you, but you will not get a bigger picture of the trek region.
2. Annapurna Base Camp Trek - 11 Days
This trek is a longer version of the Annapurna Base Camp trek. In addition to Annapurna Base Camp, you will also reach Ghorepani and enjoy the magnificent views from Poon Hill before returning to Pokhara.
3. Annapurna Circuit Trek with Annapurna Base Camp - 27 Days
If you want to get a fuller picture of the Annapurna region, you should choose this trek. You will be circling the entire Annapurna Massif, on the way, you will get to appreciate Thorong La Pass, Muktinath temple, Jomsom, Poon Hill, Ghorepani, and the hot springs at Jhinu Danda.
4. Annapurna Sanctuary trek - 9 days
It is also another popular trek option to the Annapurna Base Camp trek. The path slightly varies, but the experience is nevertheless outstanding.
If you just want to reach Annapurna Base Camp, it is a moderate trek, comparatively much easier, and the path elevations are less than the Everest Base Camp trek. However, as in any other trek, the fitter you are, the more you will enjoy Annapurna Base camp treks.
However, if you have an inner adventurous self, you can add the Annapurna Circuit trek to the Annapurna Base Camp trek. Then, you will be reaching a height of 5,416m at Thorong La Pass - which will challenge your mind and body.
So, there are ways to become fit for the trek. It is a good idea to take part in stamina-building exercises such as jogging, cycling, swimming, and running a few weeks before the trek. You can also take part in short hikes that last 6-7 hours with a small backpack.
Electricity is available at lodges in the trek regions. So do not forget to take electronic equipment. In addition to cell phones/mobile, we suggest you to take a good camera to capture the incredible landscapes you will be viewing. Wi-Fi will also be available at the lodges you will be staying.
If you love reading, pack a few books. You will get enough time at night to read them. In addition, you can also bring cards or monopoly games.
Annapurna Base Camp treks lie in remote high Himalayas. So, there remains a small chance of altitude sickness and other inherent risks associated with high-altitude treks. These may include bad weather, landslides, unavailability of lodges, etc.
You will need adequate insurance with heli-rescue and repatriation up to the highest trek elevations in addition to health treatment costs. Trek regions are very remote, and you will be trekking far from the roads. So, in emergencies, the only way to safety is by helicopter. In case of the absence of insurance or inadequate insurance, you might be barred from trekking.
Please call your insurance company and double-check if they provide heli-rescue up to the highest trek altitude in addition to health care costs. Do not just rely on what they say on their website.
If you need help choosing an appropriate insurer, you can contact us. We can recommend insurance companies based on our clients' previous experiences. Please note that we are not associated with insurance companies, and we do not sell insurance policies.
It is always better to trek light. Discovery World Trekking provides free extra luggage service to all of its trekkers during their trek. Though we assign porters to carry luggage, the maximum luggage weight limit per trekker is 9 kg. We assign one porter for every two trekkers, but our porters will not carry more than 18 kg of luggage. However, if you need, we can arrange one porter per trekker.
Your luggage must include basic clothing, toiletries, essential gear, and other personal accessories. The exact luggage you need during the trek depends on the trek length, altitude, and season you are trekking.
In addition to porters, we also expect you to carry a small backpack with your essentials such as important documents, water bottle, camera, etc.
Most Discovery World Trekking packages cover major costs during the trek. We cover standard meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner) and accommodation costs. However, that does not mean that trek packages cover all costs. Food and accommodations at Kathmandu are for our guests themselves. Kathmandu has a variety of hotels/lodges for all budgets and tastes.
Similarly, you need money for various expenses such as visa application, insurance purchase, hot (tea/coffee), cold and alcoholic drinks, gear purchase, souvenirs, tips for the crew, etc.
We recommend you to bring major currencies (USD, EURO, GBP) and exchange them for Nepali Rupees. Though the traveler's cheque is superior in terms of security, you need to undergo a lengthy process to cash it.
You can easily exchange major currencies into Nepali Rupees in banks and financial institutions, but they will charge you a commission of 4 percent or more. You will be better off by using legal money exchanges that you can find in Kathmandu and all-over Thamel.
You can also use foreign cards (credit/debit) to withdraw Nepali Rupees from ATMs all over Kathmandu. Most of these ATMs are open 24/7. However, the limit is Rs.35,000 for a fee of Rs.500. You must exchange enough money for Nepali Rupees in Kathmandu. Trek regions do not have money exchange facilities, and they only accept Nepali currency.
We also estimate that you will require USD 10 to 20 per day as spending money. You may need this amount for internet access, drinking water purchase, hot (tea/coffee), cold and alcoholic drinks, snacks, battery recharge, etc.
Indian nationals do not need a visa to enter Nepal. Citizens from other countries require a visa to enter Nepal. You can get an on-arrival visa at Tribhuvan International Airport and immigration checkpoints along Nepal borders. To apply for an on-arrival visa, you will need a passport with at least six months of validity, a passport-size photo, and visa application fees. The current rate is USD 50 for a 30-day stay. Children under the age of 10 receive free visas.
Chinese and SAARC (Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and the Maldives) country citizens receive free visas. However, the free visa for SAARC citizens is limited to 30-day per visa year.
Citizens from some countries - Nigeria, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Cameroon, Somalia, Liberia, Ethiopia, Iraq, Palestine, and Afghanistan - may not receive on-arrival visas. So, if you are a citizen of these countries, you need to contact your local Nepalese embassy.
Nepal's Government can change visa rules without prior notice. For the most current information, visit https://www.immigration.gov.np/.
As soon as you book the Annapurna Base Camp trek, we advise you to send us your flight details. When you arrive at Tribhuvan International Airport, you will find our company representative, waiting for you holding a pamphlet with your name on it, at the reception. They will present you with a marigold flower as a welcome gesture and then take you to your hotel in a private vehicle. We provide free airport to hotel and hotel to airport drop services for all guests booking our treks.
We will remain in contact with you from the moment you land in Nepal until your departure. It means you will not feel alone in a foreign country and will not find it hard to navigate.
However, please note that you must arrive at Kathmandu airport by 3 pm at least one day before trek departure. It provides you time to participate in the trek briefing, where we will check your luggage to make sure that you have packed all the right things for the trek. We will also provide you with vital information about your hike.
Annapurna Base Camp trek region starts from Pokhara. As Pokhara is well connected with Kathmandu, there are several ways you can reach Pokhara. You can choose to fly or drive to Pokhara. If you drive, it will take you about 7 hours, and if you decide to fly it will take you around 20 minutes.
Permit & entrance fee
Since you will be trekking inside the Annapurna Conservation Area, you will need Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) permit and a Trekkers' Information Management Systems (TIMS) card.
The cost of the ACAP permit fee for foreigners is Rupees 3,000 (around USD 29). For SAARC (India, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Maldives, and Pakistan) citizens, the fee is Rupees 200.
You can purchase an ACAP permit at Nepal Tourism Board Office at Pradarshani Marg, Kathmandu, or Tourism Board Service Center at Damside, Pokhara. You can also get this permit at the ACAP permit counter at Besishar.
Trekkers' Information Management Systems (TIMS) card costs around USD 10, and you can buy this card from Nepal Tourism Board Office at Pradarshani Marg, Kathmandu.
However, Discovery World Trekking will get these permits for you, so you do not need to worry about the official procedures.
There are around 122 languages in use in Nepal. The lingua franca of Nepal is Nepali. However, a sizeable population, mostly in cities, knows English. Our guides can speak fluent English, Japanese, and Spanish, so you need not worry about language barriers.
Remaining in contact
The trek regions are quite remote. Nevertheless, most lodges/hotels are internet-connected, and you can use internet service by paying a small service fee. You can remain in contact with your friends and families from these lodges.
At higher altitudes, we will be using phones to communicate. DWT office remains in contact with all its trek teams at least once a day to ensure that the trek is progressing smoothly.
If you want, you can buy a local sim in Kathmandu, but still, signals might not be strong enough.
Food & water
Annapurna region treks take place in remote high Himalayas, where you will need plenty of nutritious food. We will arrange plenty of nutrient-rich, tasty, and hygienic food during the trek. However, you will not get all the choices that big cities offer.
The food choices get limited as you climb up, and it also gets more and more expensive. Our trek packages include standard meals - Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner - in trek regions. We choose the best tea houses/lodges/hotels in the trekking regions to provide you with enough hygenic food. So, you need not worry about food during the trek.
Though non-veg items are readily available in trek regions, we advise you against consuming those because of meat hygiene concerns. Similarly, we also recommend you to avoid dairy.
You can buy bottled water from en route shops/lodges/tea houses. However, some trekking regions may not allow plastic bottles. We recommend you to bring a water bottle and fill it with boiled water that you can buy from lodges/teahouses. For extra precaution, you may also use water purification pills. We can also provide them to you if you ask.
We strongly suggest you against drinking water from wells, taps, and rivers in trek regions because the water might not be drinkable.
The tourism infrastructure in the Annapurna trek regions is basic, but there is no need to camp outside unless you specifically want to do so.
We choose the best available accommodations in the trek regions. We will arrange a twin sharing room with an attached bathroom, wherever possible, and standard twin sharing rooms at other places. The lodges you will be staying in have electricity, internet, and running water. At extra cost, you can enjoy hot showers.
However, in Kathmandu, you can choose hotels based on your preferences. Kathmandu has all sorts of hotels/lodges that suit specific tastes and budgets. Most trek packages do not include accommodations in Kathmandu.
Trekking with Discovery World Trekking is very safe. We carry all the necessary equipment and first aid kits to face any situation. Our guides have completed intensive wilderness first aid training.
Trekkers occasionally catch altitude sickness during the Annapurna treks. So, we use oximeters to monitor blood oxygen saturation levels and detect altitude sickness very early. It is crucial not to avoid acclimatization days and walk at your own pace to keep a distance from altitude sickness.
You need to remain aware of the signs of altitude sickness and tell your guide about the signs of altitude sickness as soon as you become aware of them. Here is what to look for -
- Nausea and vomiting
- Tiredness and dizziness
- Appetite loss
- Difficulty in sleeping
- Increased heart rate and shortness of breath
There are several ways you can avoid or minimize altitude sickness. Here are the main ones.
- Do not skip acclimatization days
- Drink at least 4 liters of water every day
- Walk at your own pace
- Take enough food during trekking
- Take plenty of rest after a daily hike
- Drink garlic soup
- Keep your body warm
- Avoid alcoholic and caffeinated drinks.
Since our guides/Sherpas come from the remote high Himalayas, they can remain comfortably at high altitudes and are ready to help you in case of any emergency.
Severe altitude sickness can be life-threatening. In an emergency, we will use your insurance for helicopter evacuation and transfer to medical facilities. For this reason, adequate travel insurance is compulsory. If someone falls sick, your guide has the authority to decide whether to continue the trek or descend immediately based on the situation.
We understand that getting around in a new country is a daunting task. However, with Discovery World Trekking, we are always by your side to help you, right from the moment you arrive at Tribhuvan International Airport throughout your time in Nepal and until you return to your own country. So, feel free to contact our office for any help you might need during your time in Nepal.
At Discovery World Trekking, we believe that we are all a part of a global family and must help each other. Please note we provide free airport pickup service during arrival and free airport drop-off during departure to all our clients who have booked treks with us. You just need to share your flight details with us.
You have got a full picture regarding Annapurna Base Camp trek choices. Now, it is time to make an informed decision and choose one of the following trek packages.
If you want to customize your Annapurna Base Camp trek or get even more information, feel free to email Paul at [email protected] or call/Viber/WhatsApp at +977 - 9840055491.