Trek to Annapurna Base Camp: all you need to know!

annapurna base camp trek

Namaste! Welcome to this Annapurna Base Camp trek blog!

It has been almost a year since I made the trek to Annapurna Base Camp and my next trip to Nepal has been booked. In a couple of months time I’ll be heading back to hike the Helambu Circuit in Langtang. Before leaving I really wanted to share all my information about Base Camp Annapurna with you so you can prepare better than I did last year. Enjoy reading!
 

Preparation for Annapurna Base Camp trekking

The trekking to Annapurna Base Camp is not easy and definitely not for the faint hearted. Before you set off on your adventure, make sure to become the fittest version of you. There’s no need to be able to run a marathon, however some hiking experience is necessary. At least, if you want to enjoy your hike to Annapurna Base Camp that is!
 
How to prepare for your trek then? I suggest you have a look at your agenda and determine how many hours a week you are able to schedule to prepare. The best would be if you could combine cardio training (running, fitness, spinning / RPM etc.) with walking exercising. Make sure you can walk up to 15 kilometers without trouble, preferable on an unpaved surface (woods, dirt roads etc) and carry a pack with all you need for the day without issue. As you will most likely bring a porter on your Annapurna Base Camp trek (more about the how/why later!) there’s no need to be able to carry a heavy pack. I’d say anywhere between 5-10 kilos would be fine.
 
Tip:
Also read my suggested day packs for women. I took the Osprey Tempest 30 with me on my trek to Annapurna Base Camp.
 
Excercising at leas three times a week is useful if you plan on hiking Annapurna Base Camp without too much trouble. A good preparation is awesome but will never guarantee that you’ll actually make it to the base camp. Altitude sickness can be a real pain when it comes to hiking here but I’ll tell you more about that later.
 
Being well prepared and in shape make sure you’ll have a better mindset though. And that’s what it’s really about. Or as famous climber Scott Fisher once said:

It’s attitude, not altitude

 
In case you are curious about my exercise schedule to get in shape, this is more or less what it looks like:
 
– 2 hrs a week spinning or RPM at the gym (cardio training)
– 1 hr a week strength at the gym (BodyPump or ClubPower)
– 1 hr a week a body & mind training (for example BodyBalance of Easy Flow Yoga)
 
Those last two trainings I complete with a 15 minute walk on the treadmill with maximum inclination (18%) in order to train my calves.
 
– Every day I’m not going to the gym I make sure to take at least 10.000 steps
– I hike outdoors at least twice a week, one of those time being at least 15 kms and with a backpack on
 
Note: this is a very personal schedule and it works for me, although with all my recent weekend breaks I haven’t been to the gym as much as I’d like to. I’m not a fan of running which is a great way to get in shape too, if you are a runner. The most important thing is to keep moving and do something you actually enjoy!
 
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Visa for Nepal

For Nepal you need to have a visa. I suggest to find out online which requirements your visa and passport must have. If possible, it’s best to arrange the visa in advance as I found that arranging the visum upon arrival at the airport in Kathmandu can take a lot of time. If, like me, you don’t have a whole lot of time, getting your visa beforehand will be a winner for sure!
 
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Arrival in Kathmandu and preparation

After arrival in Kathmandu it’s useful to take a day to prepare for your hike. I usually spend my free time in Kathmandu buying some extra supplies, recover from the long journey and catch a first glimpse of the hectic Nepali life. I usually stay at Kathmandu Guesthouse in Thamel, a nice and quiet oasis in the busiest part of town. It’s a typical place where many trekkers are staying and the supermarket where I usually buy my supplies is just a five minute walk away.
 
If you want to stock up on snacks, the best place to do that is in Katmandu. Once you get higher in the mountains, things will be more expensive. Prices can be compared with Europe as food concerns, so you could also bring some snacks from home if you’d like. Most common chocolate bars (such as Snickers) can be found here. In Pokhara, where the Annpurna Base Camp Trek starts, it’s a wee bit more expensive than in Kathmandu.
 
You can also buy some outdoor gear in Kathmandu if necessary. I strongly recommend bringing your essential things from home (hiking boots, backpack, rain jacket). What I got in Kathmandu was a cheap down jacket and a woolen hat. Note that all the gear is fake and usually it’s ready to be thrown away after your trek. If you plan to do so, you may also opt to give it to your guide or your porter instead for them to reuse it.
 
Outdoor gear is not very cheap in Nepal so if you are looking for a more durable option, then don’t trust Nepalese fake quality.
 
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About the Annapurna region

The Annapurna region is one of the most walked hiking areas in Nepal as far as trekking goes. Should you stay away? You could, but it’s busy everywhere in the world and so a personal choice. When I arrived at Annapurna Base Camp there was only a handful of other people, less busy than I expected. For me, it wasn’t too bad at all to be honest.
 
At first I wanted to do Annapurna Circuit but back then I only had two weeks of vacation and so the Base Camp Trek proved to be a good alternative. You will hike for about 9/10 days, eventually reaching ABC. The Annapurna Base Camp height is 4.130 meters above sea level. A nice detour I advice you to make is the one to Poon Hill, you’ll find my recommended itinerary below.
 
The Annapurna Base Camp trek starts in Pokhara, one of the biggest cities in Nepal. It’s a smaller version of Kathmandu, also offering a nice location next to a lake and with less air pollution. I enjoyed spending some time there and did a paraglide but there are plenty of other things to do in Pokhara as well. Here’s a video for your to check out of the paraglide that I made!
 


 
My suggested location for overnighting in Pokhara is Hotel Lakefront, with large rooms and lake views!
 

Trek to Annapurna Base Camp with or without a guide

I only have one thing to say about this: ALWAYS go with a guide! Why? I will mention my most important reasons below:
 
– You’re safer! A guide knows the trails, shows expertise and keeps an eye out for your concerning altitude sickness
– You’ll support the local economy as the Nepali have almost no money
– You’ll always have a place to sleep because your porter / guide will take care of this
 
My last reason is a personal one, as I truly find it safer to have a porter / guide with me. I usually hike by myself without a partner and solo hiking in Nepal as a female does not belong on my bucket list to be honest.
 
For Annapurna Base Camp you can easily have just one porter / guide for 2 people. He or she will carry a part of your luggage and take care of all arrangements for you along the way.
 
Should you arrange it upfront or in Kathmandu? I’ll leave that up to you! I usually book everything ahead as you can be sure it’s well arranged. I book all of my Nepal tours with Rural Heritage. In Kathmandu you’ll find numerous booking offices varying in price and professionalism and you can never be sure if you receive good value for money.
 
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Overnighting in teahouses: what does it mean?

During your trek you will overnight in teahouses. These are small lodges that usually have a communal space and a sleeping area. In the communal space you can have your meals and charge electronics, sometimes use wifi and chat with fellow hikers.
 
Rooms in teahouses don’t have running water nor electricity. Showering is a luxury and usually shouldn’t be done anymore when you reach 3.500 meters in altitude because it’s going to be difficult to get warm again once you take a shower. I usually have my last shower of the trek at some 3.000 meters.
 
For all the above mentioned things (showers, running water, electricity and wifi) you’ll need to pay extra. Some trekking companies will offer your trek including food and hot beverages, however I always choose to pay it on the spot so I can pick my own food. I usually spend about 20-25 euros (or 25-30 dollars) a day on those extra’s. The higher you go, the more expensive everything becomes.
 
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Annapurna Base Camp trek 10 days itinerary

You can hike the Annapurna Base Camp trek in various schedules. None is the absolute best and depends on your timeframe and own preferences. However I strongly advise you to include a visit to Poon Hill to your trek, a nice viewpoint that can be reached in three days from the start of the hike.
 
I hiked Annapurna Base Camp trek the following way:
 
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
day 7. to Annapurna Base Camp altitude 4.130 meter
day 8. ABC to Bamboo (or even Sinuwa)
day 9. hike to Ghandruk
day 10. hike Ghandruk – Nayapul and transfer back to Pokhara
 
Eventually I decided to skip the overnight in Machhapuchre Base Camp as the weather was awesome that day and I felt good enough to continue my hike. This caused me to arrive at Annapurna Base Camp in the bright sun. Your guide will tell you if this is possible and it’ll also depend on how your body is able to cope with the altitude.
 
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.
 
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What to bring on your trek to Annapurna Base Camp

This is of course very personal, however I can definitely recommend to carry the following items:
 
Rain jacket and pants
– Down jacket
– Warm down sleeping bag and a liner
– Hat, scarf, mittens
– Toiletries
– T-shirts, fleece sweater and hiking pants
– Thermal underwear
Power bank
– Drinking bottles
– Snacks and teabags
– Sunglasses and sun screen
– Lip balm
Headlight
First aid kit
– Book or e-reader
– Earplugs
– Lightweight towel
 
Note: this is a very personal list. Everyone has their own preferences. Keep in mind that the rooms where you’ll sleep are generally very cold and that a warm sleeping bag and warm clothes for during the night are not to be missed. There are no heating systems and some teahouses don’t even have a fire place. You’d better be prepared!
 
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Altitude sickness and what to do about it

Altitude sickness is not something you can do a lot about once you have it. Well trained people can get is as easily as untrained people. I once ran into a marathon runner who didn’t make it to Everest Base Camp as the altitude hit him pretty hard. Having said this, there are some things you can do that will lower the chance of getting altitude sickness:
 
1. Take the journey well-rested
2. Drink plenty of tea and water
3. Acclimatize every day – your guide will help you and tell you what to do
4. Optional: use Diamox
 
I’m being asked a lot about Diamox after people read my blogs about Everest Base Camp Trek. I’m definitely not a doctor and cannot push you in any direction for you to decide. However, my personal (and personal only!) experience is that I did not get altitude sickness on both Annapurna Base Camp Trek and Everest Base Camp Trek while I did take Diamox. There are some side effects though (the most important being tingling feet, nose, ears) but they outweighed being able to continue my journey without too much effort. I got Diamox from my doctor at home, also in combination with my asthma issues.
 
Note: you should take Diamox from about 3.000 meters altitude and keep on using it until you get back to that same altitude. Stopping half way is not recommended. Diamox will only attempt to prevent you from getting altitude sickness. Once you have it, you are too late and your only option is going back down. Always make sure to inquire with your guide about the use of Diamox!
 
Annapurna Base Camp of Everest Base Camp
 

The Annapurna Base Camp trek with asthma

Another question I’m being asked a lot by my readers is whether Annapurna Base Camp can be done with asthma. The altitude of Annapurna Base Camp is 4.130 meters and it’s not uncommon to have some breath issues at this altitude. However, apart from my normal breathing issues, I didn’t feel different hiking at high elevation. I’m out of breath on this altitude regardless of my asthma.
 
I hiked both ABC Base Camp trek and Everest Base Camp trek with asthma without too much issues but check with your doctor if you want to be sure about your personal choices.
 

Want to know more?

Then also read this post about whether you should choose Annapurna Base Camp trek or Everest Base Camp trek on your first trek in Nepal.
 
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Disclaimer

This blog contain affiliate links, meaning that I earn a small commission in case you decide to buy something through my website, at no extra cost to you. In addition I cannot accept any claims for false information about visa, altitude sickness or Diamox and the use of it. All are just personal, just so you know!

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