Annapurna Base Camp VS Everest Base Camp Trek

Annapurna Base Camp VS Everest Base Camp Trek

Annapurna Base Camp Trek and Everest Base Camp Trek are two of Nepal’s most popular treks. Every season hundreds of trekkers flock to these trails to experience what are undoubtedly two of the best high-altitude walking experiences in the world.

These two treks are a must-do for every trekker on an adventure to the Himalayas. Apart from a once-in-a-lifetime experience of trekking under some of the highest mountains in the world, you get an insight into the unique culture of the ethnic communities living in the mountains.

If you are planning a trekking adventure to Nepal for the first time, you must be wondering which trek to choose – Annapurna Base Camp Trek or Everest Base Camp Trek. To make things easier for you, we have taken some valuable inputs from our local trekking guides and have outlined the pros and cons of both treks below. Annapurna Base Camp versus Everest Base Camp Trek, which one should you choose? Read on to find out.

Attractions or Highlights

Which trek offers a better trekking experience – ABC or EBC?

Both Everest Base Camp and Annapurna Base camp treks have their own unique highlights.

The appeal of the Everest Base Camp Trek is that it takes you to the foot of the tallest mountain in the world, Mount Everest. Nothing can beat the experience of walking to the top of the world (well almost). En route, you walk through picturesque Sherpa villages and experience their Buddhist culture.

The scenery on the trail is stunning – snow-covered mountains, forests of conifer and rhododendron, gushing rivers, waterfalls, and glaciers. You get to gaze at 7000 and 8000-meter peaks up close and reach some of the highest inhabited places on earth. At Kala Patthar, you reach one of the highest viewpoints in the Himalayas.

The Everest Base Camp Trek also challenges you mentally as well as physically leaving you transformed and with new perspectives at the end of your trek.

If you want a typical Nepalese hill-walking experience, then Annapurna Base Camp Trek offers you an authentic experience. You will be walking past traditional Gurung villages set amidst lush green hills. The trail meanders through terraced fields, rhododendron and bamboo forests, and pristine rivers. There will be a lot of ascents and descents on well-maintained stone steps. At Jhinu Danda you can enjoy a relaxing bath in the hot spring.

The trail to Annapurna Base Camp is one of the cleanest and well-maintained trekking trails in Nepal, thanks to the effort of the village committees.

A couple of meters away from Annapurna Base Camp is the Annapurna Sanctuary, a sacred glacial basin that the locals believe is the dwelling place of their Gods. From here you can enjoy a stunning view of Annapurna I, II, III, Gangapurna, Hiunchuli, Annapurna South, Dhaulagiri, and Machapuchhre(Fishtail Peak).

To make the most of your trekking experience you can combine your ABC Trek with the shorter Ghorepani –Poon Hill and Mardi Treks or the longer and more adventurous Annapurna Circuit Trek.

Accessibility

Is it easier to reach Annapurna Base Camp or Everest Base Camp?

Annapurna Base Camp: One can start the ABC trek from either Nayapul, Kimchi, Ghandruk, or Simrung. To reach these trailheads you need to get to Pokhara from Kathmandu either by bus, private vehicle, or flight. From Pokhara, it takes around 2 to 5 hours to reach these trailheads. Most trekkers these days choose Kimchi or Ghandruk as their starting point as it saves time and cuts down the duration of their trek.

You can hire a private jeep or take public transport to reach these trailheads. Compared to Everest Base Camp, it’s easier to get to the trailhead of ABC. Transportation is readily available and one can reach the trailhead within a few hours’ drive from a big city like Pokhara.

Everest Base Camp: To reach the EBC trailhead most trekkers fly to Lukla from Kathmandu or Ramechhap. Those who want to use the classic route and trek like the early Everest pioneers, ditch the Lukla flight and trek from Jiri or Salleri route.

Trekking from Salleri or Jiri has its own pros and cons. One of the advantages is you get to experience a more diverse culture (Rai and Sherpa) and landscape. On the downside, your trek gets longer and you spend more energy on the trail leaving you physically drained.

Taking the Lukla flight has its drawbacks. Weather for one. Mountain flights, like the one to Lukla, are weather dependent. It’s usual for Lukla flights to get canceled or delayed owing to bad weather. Sometimes when the weather takes a turn for the worse, flights get canceled for days on end. Moreover, during high season it gets really difficult to buy a flight ticket if not booked in advance. One needs to be prepared for such emergencies while planning a trek to EBC.

When you compare the logistics of getting to the trailheads of these two famous trailheads, one will find that it’s easier and cheaper to get to ABC than EBC.

Difficulty Level

Which trek is easier – Annapurna Base Camp or Everest Base Camp?

While both the treks involve some steep ascents and descents, the trail to Annapurna can be a bit easier on your lungs and legs, as the elevation gain won’t be as much as that of the EBC trek. The highest elevation you will reach is 4130 meters during your ABC Trek, which is way lower than the 5000 plus meters you will get to during your Everest Base Camp Trek. But getting to Annapurna Base Camp Trek involves climbing some pretty long stone staircases which can be torture for your knees.

Beginners as well as kids (above 8 years old) who are physically fit can easily complete Annapurna Base Camp. Compared to ABC, it will be tough to walk to EBC if you don’t have experience in hiking or trekking in the hills.

The walking hours are longer on the EBC Trek and you spend much more time in high altitude (4000-5000 meters).

Duration

Which trek is shorter – ABC or EBC?

It is possible to complete the Annapurna Base Camp Trek in five days. The duration of the trek depends on your pace and the places you want to visit en route. Usually, tourists combine Ghorepani-Poonhill Trek or Mardi Himal Trek with the ABC Trek which makes the trek longer (two weeks or so).

The shortest itinerary of an EBC Trek is 12 days (including acclimatization days). This is covering the distance on foot, from Lukla to EBC and back. It’s possible to minimize the trekking duration by walking from Lukla to Namche and thereafter chartering a helicopter to EBC. This takes around five days. The most popular EBC Trek itineraries are of 14 and 16 days.

Cost

Which trek is costlier – Annapurna or Everest?

Budget plays a huge role while planning your holiday. It’s not cheap to trek in the Himalayas. The cost of commodities is expensive in the mountains mainly because of transportation charges. You will find yourself paying more for food and other items on the trail as it takes a lot of time, effort, and money to get those items up there.

Compared to an ABC Trek, a trek to the Everest Base Camp is costlier. The flight to and from Lukla contributes a great deal to making the trek expensive. Add to that the cost of food, accommodation, guide and porter charges (if you are using their services), and permits which are all dearer on the Everest side.

If you consider the accessibility and terrain, the Everest trail lies in a more remote area than Annapurna, which makes getting to EBC more difficult and costlier.

Better Views

Which offers the best mountain views, the Annapurna or Everest trail?

Both the trails leading to Annapurna Base Camp and Everest Base Camp offer some grandiose views of the Himalayan Mountains. The only difference is that you will get to view the world’s tallest mountain – Mount Everest- during your EBC Trek.

You will also get to visit some terrific viewpoints like the Kala Patthar and Hotel Everest View to enjoy panoramic and close-up views of 8000, 7000, and 6000-meter peaks during your EBC Trek. You trek in close proximity to mountains like Ama Dablam, Thamserku, Kangtega, Kusum Kanguru, etc. which makes your walking journey breathtaking and inspiring. As you walk close to Everest base Camp you can see peaks like Pumori, Lhotse, Nuptse, and Changtse soaring close to the trail.

During an ABC Trek you get to enjoy close-up views of Fishtail Peak or Machhapuchre (one of the few unclimbed peaks in Nepal), Annapurna South, Annapurna I, Annapurna II, Annapurna III, Dhaulagiri, Hiunchuli and Gangapurna. The Annapurna Sanctuary which is located close to Annapurna Base Camp is one of the most stunning viewpoints in the Nepal Himalaya.

Internet Connectivity and Electricity

There are mobile towers along the trails of both Annapurna and Everest. But because of the mountainous terrain, the connectivity may be sketchy (at some places the network will be fine while at some the connectivity will be zero). You can get an NCELL or a Namaste(Nepal Telecom) SIM with internet data to remain connected during your trek.

If you are on the Everest trail you can purchase Everest Link’s wi-fi cards, an internet provider in the Everest Region, from the teahouses or lodges along the trail.

You can also use the wi-fi at the teahouses by paying an extra fee. All teahouses and lodges have electricity on both trails. While some lodges will have charging ports in the rooms and will let you charge your electronic gadgets for free, most teahouses will have the ports only in the recreation area and levy an extra charge for the same.

Altitude and Elevation Gain

Which trek takes you to a higher altitude?

The answer is obvious – Everest Base Camp Trek. Being home to Mount Everest – the tallest mountain in the world, the Everest or Khumbu Region is by default one of the highest places in the world. But the Everest Base Camp at 5364 meters is not the highest point of the EBC Trek. The highest point is Kala Patthar at 5545 meters.

Starting your trek from Lukla which lies at an altitude of 2800 meters, you walk to a height of 5545 meters, which means you gain more than 2000 meters of elevation during your entire hike.

Compared to the EBC trail, the Annapurna Base Camp trail is located at a lower elevation. You will start your journey from Pokhara which lies at an elevation of 822 meters and reach the highest point of your trek at Annapurna Base Camp, located at an altitude of 4130 meters.

Altitude Sickness

Which trek poses a greater risk – EBC or ABC?

While both treks take you to an altitude above 3000 meters, trekking in the Everest Region may pose a greater risk. You will be spending long hours walking and sleeping at elevations above 5000 plus meters (where the oxygen level decreases significantly) which rises the risk factor. It is important to incorporate acclimatization rest days in your itinerary to help your body adapt to high altitude.

Walking beyond Namche one may feel the symptoms of altitude sickness like breathing difficulty, headache, palpitations, and nausea. It’s imperative to check your blood oxygen levels regularly and watch out for any serious symptoms. Keeping yourself hydrated, taking Diamox (AMS medication), and returning to a lower elevation do help a lot to offset the symptoms.

Compared to the EBC Trek, the Annapurna Base Camp Trek is easier on your lungs and feet. While it’s possible to feel a bit out of breath and dizzy at the Base Camp, trekkers generally feel fine once they descend to a lower elevation. Having said that there are instances of people suffering from AMS after reaching ABC too fast and too soon. Smoking and consuming alcohol while trekking also adversely affects your system, leading to breathing difficulties and palpitations.

Food and Accommodation

Which trek has better amenities?

Both the trails at Annapurna and Everest offer similar kinds of amenities. Each day’s stop will be at a village teahouse or lodge run by a local family. Most teahouses offer basic accommodation with food.

The newly constructed lodges offer modern facilities like a western-style washroom and proper showers. The rooms have twin beds with mattresses, pillows and blankets, and a bedside table. The dormitories have five to ten beds.  Some of the old teahouses have Asian or squatting type of toilets located outside the main building. The teahouses are significantly modern and better in the lower reaches than at higher altitudes.

The type of food available at both the trails are similar – Nepali Thaali (daal, bhaat, and curry), momo, thukpa, Tibetan bread, fried noodles, macaroni, pasta, spaghetti, chappati, pizza, etc.

Namche, an important stop during the EBC Trek, features some really good cafes and bakeries.  In recent years luxury lodges have opened along the Everest trail offering tourists a high-end experience in the mountains.

Crowds

Crowd of people

Which trail is more crowded – EBC or ABC?

More tourists head to Everest Base Camp than any other trekking trail in Nepal. The idea (and bragging rights) of walking close to the world’s tallest mountain is what lures people to the EBC like bees to honey.  As a result, the EBC trail is choked with tourists during peak seasons.

If you are a people-loving person and enjoy meeting new people then well and good, else you better book your trip at the start of or during the off-season when it will be much quieter. The weather conditions may not be ideal but you will get the trail all to yourself and can enjoy amazing discounts at teahouses.

Compared to the EBC trail, the ABC route remains less crowded and peaceful.

Cultural Experience

The Everest or the Khumbu region is home to the Sherpas, an ethnic mountain community who are known for their toughness and mountaineering skill. During your EBC Trek, you will be walking by and resting at Sherpa villages. Your journey will give you an insight into their culture and lifestyle. The Sherpas are Buddhists and in every village, you will find Buddhist icons and religious structures like mani walls, prayer flags, prayer wheels, stupas, and a gompa (monastery). Some of the oldest Buddhist monasteries in Nepal are located in Khumbu Region.

During your Annapurna base Camp Trek you will get to experience Gurung culture. Gurungs follow Hinduism as well as Buddhism. Their villages are very clean and well-maintained. In most of the Gurung villages, there’s a tradition for men to get enlisted in either the British army or the Indian army. Members of the British royalty make it point to trek to the Annapurna Region when they visit Nepal as most of the Gurkha soldiers in the British Army come from the hilly villages along the Annapurna trail.

The recent royal visitor to the Annapurna Region was Prince Harry in 2016.

Final Note

Whether you choose the Everest Base Camp trek or the Annapurna Base Camp Trek, it all depends on what you seek to experience. The timeframe of your vacation, budget, and fitness levels will also determine your choice. No matter where you want to head to, both the Annapurna and Everest trails will reward you with an unbeatable and memorable trekking experience. If you ask me, I recommend you to do both the treks. The Annapurna Base Camp Trek and the Everest Base Camp Trek are two iconic Himalayan treks recommended for all passionate trekkers and hill walkers.

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