Self Guided Trekking to Annapurna Base Camp Part I
When Adam and I initially decided that we wanted to travel to Nepal Adam insisted that we devote some of our time to trekking. Adam had, a few years prior, conquered Everest Base Camp and still to this day counts it as one of the most unforgettable things he has experienced.
So eventually we settled on the Annapurna Sanctuary Trek as it fitted our fitness and ability levels, being that we were relatively unfit and I didn’t have any previous trekking experience. The guide books recommended 9 days but we ended up doing it in 7. Other than perhaps adding an extra day on the way back It was a comfortable pace. The trek starts in Phedi, just outside Pokhara, takes you to Annapurna Base Camp and then you trek back, mostly along the same way. We also decided to do it sans porters and guides as Adam wanted the challenge and I agreed on the proviso that Adam carry the majority of the weight and I was only carrying a day pack.
The whole trek is well signed and the locals are so friendly, they’re always willing to point you in the right direction if needed. The weather conditions were extreme, even while we were there in Autumn, and I wouldn’t recommend going in Winter or the middle of Summer for these reasons. We chose to go in October as Autumn (September to November) and Spring (March to May) are the best seasons to trek, with the weather being quite mild with the least amount of cloud cover for some amazing views.
If you are looking to do this trek or any one in the Annapurna region, be sure to organise your TIMS card and ACAP ticket from Kathmandu in advance. Its fairly straight forward, just find your way to the NTB tourist centre in Kathmandu with several passport photos, fill out the forms, wait a while in a line and hand over some money, only around $20 or so each from memory. You’ll get the cards on the spot and they’ll ask you for the exact dates you intend to trek so make sure you are certain of your departure date. We over estimated our trek time by a few days to give us a bit of leeway in case we were slower than we had planned.
Now your good to make your way to Pokhara. We took the bus from Kathmandu which is a relatively scenic and enjoyable ride. Although it does take about 7 hours to travel the 200 km distance. Once in Pokhara we checked in to a guesthouse for a few nights, giving us time to explore the city. We arranged with the owner to look after all our gear that we wouldn’t be taking with us on the trek and said we’d be back in about a week.
Remember to take a lot of cash with you as everything is paid for with cash and there are no ATM’s from a certain point on wards, and its always best to have too much than not enough. Rooms and food get pricier as you get higher but all in all it works out to be incredibly cheap still. Most of the guesthouses offer the same deals and similar menus.
Below is the itinerary we used for the trek which was pre-planned from the online research we had done. We had originally planned to take an extra day and stay the night at ABC, but due to some exhaustion and all of our clothing being wet we decided to only spend a few hours there and then start the trek back down the same day. We had also allowed a third day to come back down but only ended up taking two. We were really itching for a hot shower and nice bed by this time so we ended up basically running down the mountain.
Annapurna Sanctuary Trek – 7 Day Summary
Day 1 – Tranfser to Phedi & Trek from Phedi to Tolka – 6 hours.
Day 2 – Trek from Tolka to Chomrong – 6.5 hours.
Day 3 – Trek from Chomrong to Bamboo – 5.5 hours (We couldnt find accomodationg here so kept going for another hour to reach Dobhan)
Day 4 – Trek from Bamboo to Deurali – 5.5 hours (Or in our case only 4.5 hours as we left from Dobhan)
Day 5 – Trek from Deurali to Annapurna Base Camp (ABC) – 5 hours – and then trek back down to Macchapucchere Base Camp – 2 hours
Day 6 – Trek from Macchapucchere Base Camp to Chomrong – 9 hours
Day 7 – Trek from Chomrong to Ghandruk then drive back to Pokhara – 6 hour trek and 3 hour bus ride