Hiking Everest Base Camp Trek or Annapurna Base Camp Trek: which should you choose?
Welcome to my blog about Everest Base Camp trek or Annapurna Base Camp Trek. Since you have come to my website you are probably looking for information about either of these treks or a comparison. And guess what? You have come to the right place! I have done both trekkings within the last couple of years and can there for tell you all you need to know about both treks and hopefully help you in making a decision in which trek suits you best. Enjoy reading and if you have any questions, feel free to ask them below in the comments so other trekkers can benefit from it, too.
Please note that you will also find Annapurna Base Camp Trek as Annapurna Sanctuary Trek, both names are used but I chose Annapurna Base Camp. They are however the same trail.
Also read my full trekking guide to the Annapurna Base Camp Trek
How difficult are Everest Base Camp Trek and Annapurna Base Camp Trek
Let me start by saying that both treks are tough and should not be underestimated. If you have no experience in trekking, you will have to carry lots of stamina and willpower in order to make it to either basecamp. It’s not easy but not impossible either.
Which of the two is the most difficult is hard to say and really depends on various factors. If we look at altitude, Everest Base Camp Trek is definitely the most challenging reaching 5.364 meters above sea level. If you decide to trek via Gokyo, which I strongly recommend so you won’t have to hike the same route twice, you will have to cross Cho-La Pass which is even higher and reaches as high as 5.420 meters. Annapurna Base Camp is located at 4.130 meters above sea level, meaning you need less time to acclimatize.
Also read: things nobody tells you about hiking to Everest Base Camp (incl. altitude tips!) or 6 shocking facts you need to know before you go hiking in Nepal by fellow blogger Daisy.
If we look at the state of the trail, I’d once again say it really depends on what you are looking for. I actually found Annapurna Base Camp Trek more challenging because it has countless steps, way more than on Everest Base Camp Trek. I’m not a fan of walking stairs because of my knees and prefer trails that gradually go up. As for both treks, I’d say that the trails are in general good condition and not very technical. The only thing you need to keep in mind that you have to cross various glaciers on Everest Base Camp Trek, which can be a little tricky. If you are going with a guide (which I can truly recommend especially if you hike solo) he or she will help you navigate them safely.
Looking at the length, the regular Everest Base Camp Trek will take you more or less 11 days to complete, reaching EBC at day 8. If you want to hike to ABC, you can do that in about 8 days, reaching ABC in some 5 days. However on both treks I recommend going on a side-tour so you won’t have to hike the same way back as up. More on that later when I give you my suggested itineraries for both EBC and ABC!
The cost of Everest Base Camp Trek vs. Annapurna Base Camp Trek
I can not give you prices of my trek because Everest Base Camp Trek I hiked with another person and Annapurna Base Camp I hiked solo. However, on both treks I had guide with me. On EBC you will usually have a guide and a porter, on ABC I had a porter/guide accompanying me. If you look around on the internet you will find all kinds of prices and they depend on the company and what is and is not included. I booked both my treks with Rural Heritage who also included all other services (such as domestic flights, pre- and post nigths and local transportation) and I’m aware they are probably not the cheapest, I heard numerous good stories about them and there for decided to book with them both times.
However, generally speaking Annapurna Base Camp Trek will be cheaper than Everest Base Camp Trek. If you are doing EBC you will start from Lukla which is only reachable by foot (a 6 day walk from Jiri) or by plane. Since we did not have the extra two weeks to trek to/from Lukla, we flew to Lukla which added to our budget. ABC starts from Pokhara which is easily reached by bus from Kathmandu. Looking at prices for meals, hot showers and wifi, EBC was a little more expensive, especially when you get up above 4.000 meters. In my packages I had my guide and overnights included, all meals and extra’s came as an add on. My budget for meals, showers and (sometimes) wifi was USD 25 a day and at EBC I easily reached that, at ABC I managed to stay below that easily.
Also read: How to survive the world’s most dangerous airport in Lukla
Which is more scenic, Everest Base Camp Trek or Annapurna Base Camp Trek?
Well, I have to say it really depends on the eventual route you are choosing. I will compare both below with my suggestion for a detour to make the trip more scenic and avoiding having to walk the same stretch twice where possible.
Everest Base Camp Trek starts in Lukla and the regular trek is up and down the same way. To avoid having to do that, I do truly recommend hiking via Gokyo, a very scenic village located at 4.750 meters above sea level. Next to it are some very pretty lakes and also the famous Gokyo Ri, a mountain you can climb from Gokyo. If you are hiking via Gokyo, this is definitely a very scenic option. However if you decide to stick with the regular trek, it will be quite scenic too, especially once you reach Namche Bazaar on day 2. Most itineraries will have an acclimatization day here and on this day you will hike to Everest View Hotel, for the first views of Mount Everest in the distance. From here, the trail is above the tree line and you will be surrounded by snowcapped mountains most of the time.
Remember that even though you are hiking to Mount Everest Base Camp, you cannot see Mount Everest from there. You can see it from Kalapatar, another side trip option from Gorakshep, the final teahouse before Everest Base Camp. The picture above (the one with the prayer flags) was taken from Kalapatar. Reaching EBC is however still quite stunning as you are surrounded by mountains and can see the famous Khumbu Icefall in the distance. Along the way you can also visit the gorgeous Tengboche monastery and if you are lucky, you may enter at a small fee.
The landscape on the Annapurna Base Camp Trek is entirely different than at Everest Base Camp Trek. Here you are hiking much more through the forest and the surroundings are less scenic once you’ve reached the Annapurna Sanctuary. Only when you get to Machhapuchre Base Camp, the final stop before Annapurna Base Camp, you are above the treeline and will continuously see snowcapped mountains. However if you decide to trek via Poon Hill (which is another 1-2 days extra) you will be rewarded with some truly scenic views.
From Annapurna Base Camp you can see Annapurna Mountain and in my case, I really had the feeling of being surrounded by giant mountains, quite a bit more than at Everest Base Camp. Also, ABC is the place where you can stay overnight, at EBC you cannot overnight and you will stay at Gorakshep the night before and/or after.
So which is the more scenic one? I’d definitely say Everest Base Camp. I guess it also depends on what you are looking for on your trek, but looking back at both treks, I think that Everest Base Camp Trek was different yet the prettier one of the two.
How about the crowds on Everest Base Camp Trek vs. Annapurna Base Camp Trek
Both trails are crowded, however I have to say that both my guides liked to wake up early and I usually left before the rest. As Annapurna is generally the shorter and easier one, this one was definitely more crowded than EBC, but both had quite a lot of people. ABC had more large groups though, which could be a little annoying when on a narrow track and they are coming towards you. On ABC the busiest part is the first bit to Poon Hill, this is an extremely busy three day trek and on Poon Hill it was super busy at time of the sunrise. If you are looking for less crowded trails, take a look at Manaslu Trek or hiking in the Langtang region which receive way less visitors than either ABC or EBC.
About the local people
I found my trek on Annapurna Base Camp Trek better when it comes to meeting locals. Even though most of them had discovered smartphones and wifi, the small villages I passed were not just there for tourism, while those at Everest Base Camp trek gave me the idea that they had been built for that. On ABC I got to see more farmers, families and traditional villages where there still was a lot of farming going on, for example.
Staying connected on EBC and ABC
A lot of visitors who come to my blog like to know if there is wifi on Everest Base Camp Trek or Annapurna Base Camp Trek. I was amazed to find out there is wifi almost everywhere and that in most places it works quite well. Even in Annapurna Base Camp and Gorakshep, the final teahouse before Everest Base Camp. It’s a paid service though and once it got crowded in the teahouses, the signal usually faded. But to answer your question, you will definitely find reasonable wifi all the way throughout Annapurna Base Camp and Everest Base Camp Trek.
Also read: Wifi on Everest Base Camp Trek: what it costs and where to find it
Everest Base Camp Trek suggested itinerary
Below I will give you my Everest Base Camp Trek itinerary as I strongly recommend hiking this via Gokyo, one of the most stunning places I have been, you will see the picture below. From here you can optionally climb Gokyo Ri for an amazing view of the village and the mountains.
day 1. flight Kathmandu – Lukla, hike to Phakding
day 2. hike to Namche Bazaar
day 3. acclimatization day in Namche Bazaar
day 4. hike Namche Bazaar – Dole
day 5. hike Dole – Machhermo
day 6. hike Machhermo – Gokyo (optional Gokyo Ri)
day 7. glacier crossing to Thangna
day 8. hike to Dzongla via Cho La Pass
day 9. hike Dzongla – Lobuche
day 10. Lobuche – Everest Base Camp – Gorakshep
day 11. (optional Kalapatar) and to Dingboche
day 12. hike Dingboche – Tengboche
day 13. hike Tengboche – Monjo
day 14. hike Monjo – Lukla
day 15. flight Lukla – Kathmandu
Please always make sure to leave some time between the flight home and the flight Lukla – Kathmandu as you wouldn’t be the first to be weathered in and having to stay in Lukla for a few days.
Suggested hotel for Kathmandu: Kathmandu Guesthouse
Located right in the heart of busy Thamel, this is a true oasis of quiet and calm before and after your trek. I stayed here both before and after my trek and truly enjoyed it! All suggestions for accommodation in Kathmandu can be found here.
Annapurna Base Camp suggested itinerary
I will give you my itinerary for Annapurna Base Camp Trek as well since you will then be able to do a full comparison. I added Poon Hill along the way, but you may also choose to skip this ofcourse, however I think this was definitely one of the most scenic parts of the hike and can truly recommend it, as you can see on the picture below which was taken from Poon Hill.
day 1. transfer Pokhara to Nayapul, hike to Ulleri
day 2. hike Ulleri to Gorepani
day 3. early morning hike to Poon Hill, back to Gorepani and onwards to Tadapani
day 4. hike Tadapani – Sinuwa
day 5. hike Sinuwa – Deurali
day 6. hike Deurali – Machhapuchre Base Camp (MBC)
day 7. to Annapurna Base Camp
day 8. ABC to Bamboo (or even further down to Sinuwa)
day 9. hike to Ghandruk
day 10. hike Ghandruk – Nayapul and transfer back to Pokhara
Suggested hotel for Pokhara: Hotel Lakefront
Hotel Lakefront is quietly situated at the lakeshore and has comfortable rooms and a pretty garden. Restaurants and shops are very nearby! All accommodation suggestions in Pokhara can be found here.
IMPORTANT UPDATE APRIL 2019:
During my most recent trek in Nepal (Langtang Valley, April 2019) I was told that the teahouses at Annapurna Base Camp has been covered in snow and washed away during an avalanche. It’s currently not possible to stay overnight at Annapurna Base Camp, you’ll have to stay in Machhapuchre Base Camp.
So overall, should you choose Everest Base Camp Trek or Annapurna Base Camp Trek?
Well this is still totally up to you of course. If you are a newbie trekker, on a bit of a budget and not sure if trekking in Nepal is for you, Annapurna Base Camp Trek is your best pick. However, if you are reasonably fit and have a little more time and money, I’d definitely go for Everest Base Camp. I mean, it’s Mount Everest, right? No need to say more!
I hope you found this guide on Everest Base Camp Trek or Annapurna Base Camp Trek useful. Please also make sure to continue reading on by choosing any of the other useful blogs below. In case you have any questions left, feel free to get in touch or leave a comment below so other trekkers can benefit from it, too.
Planning a trip to Nepal? Make sure to order your copies of Lonely Planet Nepal and Trekking in Nepal here.
Want to read more? You may also enjoy the following posts:
– Nepal: a head filled with emotions after Everest Base Camp Trek
– Everest Base Camp Trek: the movie!
– Our favorite places to eat in Kathmandu
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Thanks for sharing!