The Ultimate Annapurna Base Camp Guide
Nepal is one of my favourite places in the world. It just has such a good vibe. The people are welcoming and kind, the food is good, and the landscape is incredible. An 8-hour drive from Kathmandu, the crazy capital city, sits the lakeside town of Pokhara, the gateway to the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri Mountain regions.
The Annapurna Region and the nearby Dhaulagiri region are home to some of the most breath taking 8000ers. The Annapurna Sanctuary (Base Camp) trek hits an altitude of 4,130m, and is one of the most scenic hikes in the Himalaya’s. Although the endless amounts of stairs are certainly a challenge, it is definitely worth it.
This Annapurna Base Camp guide will cover an ideal trekking itinerary, money matters, food, hygiene, what to pack and a whole lot of other useful information! There’s plenty of other hikes in Nepal that are incredible too, such as Everest Base Camp and the Tamang Heritage Trail Trek.
Annapurna Base Camp Trek: Everything You Need to Know
Day 1: Nayapul to Tikedhunga – 7km
- Approx. Hours of walking: 3-4hours
Day one of the trek is easy. You will take an hour-long bus ride from Pokhara to Nayapul for the starting point of the trek, which is often where you will meet your porters.
Its only a couple of hours walk over a relatively flat 7km. You will quickly adjust to life on the trail. The teahouses with hot tea and home cooked food. The friendly locals and smiling children. The feeling of having nothing to worry about except for how long you have to walk the next day.
Day 2: Tikedhunga to Ghorepani – 12km
- Approx. Hours of walking: 6-7 hours
This is a tough day. Something like 2000 stairs nonstop first thing in the morning, which hurt, a lot. It hurt even more for dad who has suffering from a bad bout of food poisoning (Im not pointing at the street food we ate. but maybe I am).
Adjusting to the altitude makes it feel a little harder, so take your time on this one. Stop for lunch before heading downhill before another steep incline to finish of the day. Arrive in to Ghorepani to the welcoming teahouses with warm fires and hot tea, which is especially great if you get some snow during the hike like we did.
Day 3: Ghorepani to Poon Hill to Tadapani
- Approx. Hours of Walking: Poon Hill 1.5-2 hours. Ghorepani to Tadapani: 5 hours.
Prepare for the early wake up call to see the sunrise at Poon Hill! We started hiking at 6am to get up the hill for sunrise. It’s a tough slog, an hour straight of stairs, but it does not disappoint. The view from Poon Hill will be one of the best you will see in your life.
It’s below freezing, you are tired and hungry. But somehow, nothing will ruin this moment. After watching the sunrise it’s back down to Ghorepani to eat breakfast, pack your gear and head out to Tadapani. The views from the morning stretch on throughout the day, making the endless stairs so much easier.
We got used to arriving in to our villages, under a sea of clouds, not knowing what was surrounding us, before waking up the next morning to see huge mountains towering around us. Tadapani was no different, and it’s worth waking up a little earlier and basking the cold to take in the view and get some photos at sunrise.
Day 4: Tadapani to Chomrong – 8km
- Approx. walking hours: 4-5 hours
It’s another day of up and down, but by now you are settled in to the routine of life in the mountains and loving it.
Chomrong is like the Namche Bazaar of the Annapurna trek. Situated atop a long winding set of stairs, the views from here are beautiful. Catching the sunrise or sunset over Machapuchare is a must, and if you are lucky you will be able to see it from your room.
Chomrong is a hiker’s haven, so if you arrive early, take some time to explore before settling in for a wood-fired pizza. Chomrong also called for a shower with (almost) warm water, and Wi-Fi that worked enough to make a facetime call home.
Day 5: Chomrong to Himalaya – 9km
- Approx. walking hours: 6-7 hours
Another hard day, but the fews make up for it. The closer you get to Base Camp, the more excited you get. The nights turn to freezing, and each morning you wake to a fresh layer of snow covering the trail and villages.
Day 6: Himalaya to Base Camp – 9km
- Approx walking hours: 7-8 hours
The day we had been waiting for. If you go in winter, be prepared with crampons. The morning trek to Machapurche Base Camp is beautiful. Walking through snow covered valleys and winding up snow covered stairs.
The mountains hover above you out in front. You are quite literally walking into the mountains. There are some slippery points if you are there in the Winter and there is a whole lot of snow. Stop for lunch at Machapuchare Base Camp and prepare for the final stretch.
We had zero visibility walking into base camp in the middle of a snowstorm, so we celebrated at our tea house all while hoping the weather would clear up in the morning.
Day 7: Base Camp to Bamboo – 13km
- Approx. Walking hours: 6-7 hours
Set your alarm early to be up for sunrise. Water bottles frozen and ice covering the windows, we throw all our layers on and basically run outside. What we saw was definitely the most magnificent thing I’ve ever seen. We were literally surrounded by mountains.
Annapurna 1 stood out right in front of us, looming down over us. A quick walk-through deep snow up to the viewpoint, with almost frozen fingers we basked in the view. Moments like this don’t come around often, so you really need to try and take it in. Retrace your footsteps as you make your way back down the mountain, still buzzing from what you have achieved.
Day 8: Bamboo to Jhinudanda – 9km
- Approx. walking hours: 5-6 hours
It’s a long day of up and down again, retracing our footsteps to Chomrong before going downwards to Jhinudanda, where the famed hot springs are. It’s the perfect spot to relax and reward yourself for your efforts over the past 8 days.
Day 9: Jhini to Pothana – 9km
- Approx. walking hours: 6-7 hours
A long but easier day today, trekking down through the valleys as you near the end of the trek. Watch the mountains slowly get smaller behind you and be prepared to feel a tad sad about leaving.
Day 10: Pothana to Pedhi – 5km
- Approx. walking hours: 1-2 hours
An easy 2 hours walk in to Pedhi where you end the trek and head back to Pokhara. The little luxuries of a hotel are nice, and after a hot shower it’s refreshing to wander the streets of Pokhara, grabbing lunch and a drink along the way.
If you get the chance, paragliding over the lake is a once in a lifetime experience and worth doing while in Pokhara.
Your essential guide to trekking to Annapurna Base Camp
Getting to Pokhara
You need to get to Pokhara to start any treks in the Annapurna Region. You have a couple of options of getting to Pokhara, depending on where you are coming from.
From Kathmandu, you can opt to fly or take a bus. Flights depart regularly between the 2 cities, and is the quickest way, with flights only taking around 30minutes. Flights start at around $100.
Your other option is to get the bus, the most popular being Greenline Tours which offer air-conditioned travel between the 2 cities, costing around $25. Departing at 7:30am daily from Thamel, the trip can take anywhere between 6.5 and 9 hours, depending on traffic. However, you are rewarded with some magnificent views along the way. I personally took a mini-bus with a tour company I was travelling with, and it was honestly not as bad as I was expecting.
At the moment, the airport in Pokhara is domestic, however plans are in place to open an international terminal. So, if you want to fly internationally to Pokhara, you can expect a short stop in Kathmandu. Skyscanner offers the best deals on flights, scanning the internet for the best prices.
All foreigners require a visa to enter Nepal, and you can obtain one on arrival, for 15, 30 or 90 days. It is easiest to pay in US Dollars on arrival, with current costs at the time of writing (2019) currently at $25/$40/$100 for 15, 30 and 90 days respectively.
The local currency is Nepal is the Nepalese Rupee (NPR).
I want to make this point loud and clear. You need to take enough cash with you for the whole trek. There are no ATMs in the mountains (you would be surprised at how many people think there might be).
You need to get enough Nepalese Rupee out from an ATM or money exchange in either Kathmandu or Pokhara to last you the whole trek – this includes all your food and drinks, any luxuries and tips for your guides and porters. One of the questions I often get asked is how much per day you need for food, and it’s a tough one to answer.
It depends on how much you eat. If you plan on drinking soft drinks or sticking to water. If you are going to bring snacks or buy them along the way. If you are going to pay for luxuries such as a hot shower, device charge or wifi. It really depends.
Generally speaking, 30000 Rupee per day should be a good average amount to pay for your meals and one or two luxuries. Of course, it’s best to have more than you need. Prices increase as you get further along the trail.
Rough price estimates are as follows:
*please not this information was from my experience and correct at the time of writing, prices and availability change frequently in Nepal.
- Between 100 and 300 Rupee for Wifi, or a single device charge.
- Between 200 and 500 Rupee for a hot shower, depending on location and availability.
- Between 100 and 300 Rupee for soft drink.
- Between 300 and 700 Rupee for breakfast. 700 rupee will get you a hot drink and a full breakfast.
- Between 350 and 800 Rupee for main meals, depending on the item. Expect local items such as Dhal Bhat to be cheaper, and more extravagant Western items such as pizza to be more expensive.
Depending on location and availability, you can expect to find just about anything in terms of food choice at the teahouses.
Standard main meals generally include: Dal Bhat, curries, rice’s, pastas and normally pizzas too. Smaller snacks such as hot chips, potatoes and sides of vegetables are readily available.
Breakfast menus always include eggs, porridge, toast, breads and pancakes, along with some form of set breakfast.
You can expect to buy alcohol and soft drink, as well as snacks such as chocolate bars at most places. There is a hikers shop just past Chomrong village, which stocks a huge range of snacks, medical and hygiene items for good prices.
My top recommendation: Treat yourself and try a wood fired pizza in Chomrong Village.
Showers and hygiene
Although many of the teahouse advertise that they have hot water showers, it’s best not to count on it. There was a couple of people on our tour desperate to have them daily, however we only did once in the middle of the trek. For an added cost, we got a barely warm drizzle of water. My advice, take baby wipes or body wipes.. and embrace it!
What to take
What you take will depend on the time of year you go. We went in winter, so obviously the temperatures were as cold as it gets. Research the average temperatures before you go, but be prepared for freezing temperatures at night and snow. Thamel in Kathmandu offers cheap gear at very low prices. Items such as sleeping bags can be hired, and they are quality and keep you warm if you know were to go. The same goes for quality down jackets and poles. Also ensure that you have waterproof gear, and load up on snacks to munch on during the day.
Before you go – TRAINING!
The Annapurna Base Camp trek is tough, but it’s definitely achievable. Train before you go to ensure that you make the trip more enjoyable rather than miserable.
My one recommendation – stairs! We picked a steep hill near us with a lot of stairs and just went up and down over and over again, and it definitely helped! Going for long hikes can be time consuming, so this was a good way to get in quality training in a short amount of time.
Interested in reading more about Nepal? Check out my other Nepal blogs:
Feel free to leave me a comment below if you have any other questions regarding trekking in Nepal!