Annapurna Base Camp Trek: A Complete Guide

Nepal is known for its incredible beauty, unique culture, and thrilling landscapes of the gigantic Himalayas captured and shown to the world by millions of photos or movies. But hearsay or pictures can never replace the real experience, especially for those who love trekking and being out in nature. Dreams are there to be lived – and the roof of the world is one of the most impressive destinations that should be on every adventurer’s bucket list.

The Annapurna Base Camp trek (4130 m) is perfect for the first discovery of the Himalayas. This journey offers everything from stunning views, a glimpse into the unique traditions of the mountain communities, and the most diverse flora and fauna, with tropical jungle, colorful rhododendron forests, drylands, and snow-capped peaks.

Considered one of the best treks in Nepal, the Annapurna Base Camp Trek is renowned around the world as a classic trekking destination. The diverse cultural and geographical experiences are reason enough to travel to Nepal and attempt this trek. The trek takes you through beautiful nature trails and varied landscapes, from rhododendron and oak forests to ancient rivers and teahouses on the jagged Himalayas.

Take a dip in natural hot spring baths under a clear sky as an added bonus to this awesome experience. The best time to go on this trek is around pre and post monsoon, or during March as it is around this time that the rhododendrons are in full bloom.

Annapurna Base Camp is a goal that has stamped a spot in many record books. Is there any valid reason why it wouldn't? All things considered, the awesome mountains and the provincial setting is a delightful departure everybody dreams to do. Besides, the ABC trek is of difficult and challenging level, making it open for trekkers with sound physical strength, and not for those with no related knowledge in trekking.

Numerous mountain climbers have endeavored to climb the mountain and since 2007 figures demonstrates that casualty proportion of this peak is 38% which is the highest among some other mountains over 8,000 meters. The Annapurna Conservation Area composes a few world class Annapurna Base Camp trekking routes.

The trail takes trekkers over thrilling suspension bridges, through deep valleys, along majestic waterfalls, offering countless photo opportunities. One of the special characteristics of this trek is thousands of stone stairs that will lead the way to higher altitudes. Therefore, good stamina and strong legs are essential, but the beauty of the surroundings is worthwhile every step.

The picturesque village of Ghandruk is a great location for the first overnight stay, offering breathtaking views of Annapurna South (7219 m), Himchuli (6441 m), and Machapuchare (6993 m - the holy mountain is known as the Seat of the Buddha of Infinite Light). The charming Old Gurung Museum is well worth a visit, too.

Along the way up to the top, teahouses offer a place to rest and recharge with all kinds of dishes from noodles or pasta to traditional food like Dal Bhat (with lentils, rice, vegetables, and curry), momos (dumplings) and garlic soup (which can help prevent altitude sickness). The last stop before Annapurna Base Camp is Machapuchare Base Camp.

Leaving MBC early morning increases the chances to see a clear sunrise over the impressive mountain landscape that awaits at Annapurna Base Camp. The view of the 8000 m peaks is overwhelming and can’t even be described with words – it’s a moment that has to be taken in, and that will last for a lifetime. On the way back, the soothing hot springs of Jhinu Danda offer a relaxing bath for tired legs – a perfect ending to an unforgettable adventure.

Besisahar is a pretty large town with all services, is the entrance to the Annapurna National Park and is the gate of the Himalayas, here begins the trekking of the return to the Annapurna. At the entrance to Bhulbhule there is a hanging bridge.

Annapurna Base Camp Trek guide

When is the best time to trek to ABC?

The best time to discover the Annapurna region is spring and autumn. Especially in autumn, the mountain views are stunning and the temperatures are ideal. It is possible to trek off-season, but the temperatures can get quite cold in winter.

How difficult is the trek?

The Annapurna Base Camp trek is said to be beginner-friendly because the altitude is relatively low compared to other treks in Nepal. Nonetheless, it is important to be in good health and prepare with exercise and a few hikes before the actual trek. As mentioned before, there are many stairs to go up and down, so trekkers need strong legs and healthy knees.

With good preparation, plenty of breaks, lots of water, and healthy food the goal can be reached with confidence.

How to get to the starting point?

From Kathmandu, it is possible to take a private transport, bus or plane to Pokhara. From there, Nayapul – the starting point of the trek - can be reached by taxi. The stone stairs lead through picturesque villages where trekkers can discover the local lifestyle and enjoy countless photo opportunities right from the start.

What to pack for ABC Trek?

While it is possible to rent equipment in Kathmandu, trekkers should at least use their own hiking boots to make sure to be comfortable. Regarding clothes, layering is the best advice. It can be quite warm in lower altitudes (in spring and autumn), but the temperatures get cold in higher altitudes, especially during the night.

The clothing list should include warm underwear, trekking shirts, base layers, a fleece, a down jacket, a rain jacket, hiking trousers, hiking socks and warm socks, gloves, a hat, beanie and scarf and sunglasses with UV protection, trekking poles, sleeping bag (but guesthouses can provide blankets, too).

Other important items: daypack, water bottle (water purification tablets, filter), waterproof bag, plastic bag, tissues, cash, headlamp, towel, camera, charger and spare batteries, earplugs, hand sanitizer, a first-aid-kit, medical kit, sunscreen, and, of course, a comfortable backpack with a rain cover. This list is not complete, but it should give an idea.

Annapurna Base Camp Trek guide

Is a guide necessary to trek to ABC?

A guide is not necessary or mandatory to trek to Annapurna Base Camp, but a local agent can be a reliable trekking partner, assuring smooth planning of the trip, providing an experienced guide and handling all the paperwork, permits and the logistics. A qualified guide can share his/her knowledge about the Nepali culture and, even more importantly, will do everything to keep guests safe along the way.
Kalyan Panja