The Annapurna Base Camp lies at the base of the tenth-highest mountain in the world, the Annapurna I (8091m). It is the final destination of the Annapurna Base Camp Trek, one of the most popular treks in the Nepal Himalayas. Located at an altitude of 4130m, the Annapurna Base Camp can be reached via a foot trail running across lush forests, traditional Gurung villages, terraced fields, Himalayan rivers, and hot springs. The ABC Trek is one of the shortest and most doable high-altitude treks in Nepal.
Easier than the Everest Base Camp Trek and with an easily accessible route, the Annapurna Base Camp Trek is a favorite among tourists trekking for the first time in Nepal. Depending on the route one chooses, the trek can last anywhere between ten to five days.
The shortest route to ABC is the one from Kimchi and Ghandruk. If you are fit enough, you can complete the Annapurna Base Camp Trek in five days via this route. The route from Nayapul or Tikhedhunga takes longer (around 9-10 days), but the experience is richer as one gets to trek via the beautiful rhododendron forests of Ghorepani and visit the Himalayan viewpoint of Poon Hill. Starting your trek from Kande takes you past the beautiful Australian Camp and the rarely visited Gurung villages of Tolka, Pothana, and Landruk.
The major stops en route to Annapurna Base Camp are Ghandruk, Jhinu Danda, Chhomrong, Sinuwa, Bamboo, Dovan, Himalaya, Deurali, Machapucchre Base Camp, and finally, Annapurna Base Camp.
- Annapurna Base Camp is located under the shadows of the magnificent Annapurna Massif. One can enjoy close-up views of Annapurna I (the tenth highest mountain in the world), Annapurna II, III and IV, Annapurna South, Hiunchuli, Gangapurna, Dhaulagiri(the seventh highest mountain in the world), Manaslu(the eighth highest mountain in the world), Tilicho Peak, and Pisang Peak.
- At night you can savor a spectacular view of the Milky Way. The stars and galaxies appear closer to the base camp.
- On your way to ABC, you cross the longest suspension in the Kaski district. The bridge which is 287 meters long and 135 meters high is built over the Modi River and connects Jhinu Danda with other Gurung villages.
- The hot spring at Jhinu Danda offers a welcome respite from the tiring trek. You can enjoy a relaxing dip in the hot spring with healing properties.
- En route are traditional Gurung villages with charming clay and stone houses. Each night you can stay at a teahouse or lodge owned by a local family. The trek to ABC offers you a great opportunity to learn more about the rural lifestyle and culture of the Gurung community.
- The route is clean and well-maintained. The stone steps are well constructed, and the villagers regularly clear the path along the forest.
- Before reaching the Annapurna Base Camp, you cross the Machhapucchre Base Camp, which lies at the foot of the sacred Fishtail Peak or Machhapucchre. One of the unclimbed mountains in Nepal, stepping on Fishtail Peak is strictly prohibited as the Gurungs consider the mountain as their guardian deity.
- Annapurna Sanctuary, a glacial basin that lies close to ABC is a sacred place for the locals. Known as the abode of the gods, the Annapurna Sanctuary offers breathtaking views of the Annapurna Massif and other Himalayan giants.
How to reach Annapurna Base Camp?
The journey begins in Pokhara, a beautiful lakeside city. From Pokhara, you can get on a local bus or hire a taxi to take you to the trailhead of your choice. If you are traveling from Kathmandu, you can fly or ride on a bus or taxi to Pokhara.
Most tourists these days prefer to head directly to Ghandruk Village or Kimchi as the route from the village is the shortest to ABC. Depending on the condition of the road, it can take anywhere between 4 to 6 hours to reach Ghandruk from Pokhara.
The drive from Pokhara to Tikhedunga takes around 2 hours, while the drive to Kande takes about an hour. Each day's trek lasts for 5 to 7 hours. There are some steep ascents and descents en route and lots of stair climbing. None of these need technical skills.
How difficult is the Annapurna Base Camp Trek?
The ABC Trek is graded as moderately difficult. One has to be physically fit to tackle the long ascents and descents. AMS or altitude sickness is not much of an issue as ABC's elevation is only 4130 meters. However, some trekkers do suffer symptoms like breathlessness, headache, and nausea. The solution is to walk slowly and let the body acclimatize instead of rushing to the base camp. Drinking lots of fluids also helps.
The landscape begins to change as one leaves Dovan and enters the narrow valley leading to Machhapucchre Base Camp. The treeline vanishes, and the oxygen level drops. Although the mountain views get spectacular, some trekkers began to feel sluggish from this point onwards. Taking Diamox helps a lot to alleviate the symptoms of altitude sickness.
To trek to Annapurna Base Camp, you need to have these permits:
- TIMS (Trekkers Information Management System) Card
- ACAP(Annapurna Conservation Area Project) Entry Permit
To get these permits, you need to pay the required fee at the Nepal Tourism Board's Office (Pokhara or Kathmandu).
Accommodation and Food
There are clean and comfortable lodges and teahouses run by locals along the trail. The rooms usually have twin beds with mattresses, pillows, and blankets. Some lodges offer rooms with attached bathrooms. Every teahouse has a common area with a stove in the middle where guests can dine and socialize. Hot showers, wi-fi, and charging electronic devices costs extra money.
Since the ABC trail is one of the oldest commercial trails in Nepal, the food available along this route is one of the best. Popular items include pizza, lasagna, noodles, macaroni, momo, different types of bread, dal-bhaat (rice, lentils, and curry), etc.
Annapurna Base Camp is the best trekking destination if you want to walk close to an 8000m mountain within a short duration. The trek introduces you to a typical Nepalese landscape – terraced fields, traditional villages, and forested hills. Children as young as eight years old and adults as old as seventy have been able to trek to ABC. The only criteria to complete this amazing trek is to have a fit body and strong determination.