It's amazing how time flies. Six months ago (this article was first published in November 2013), I decided to take a leap of faith and start traveling solo, and in no time, I was in the middle of the Himalayas in Nepal, trekking Annapurna Base Camp, the hike I have ever done.
I have met many people along the way, and many had told me that I was crazy to take on the Himalayas on my first trek alone with no guide or porter. When I come to think of it, I was not crazy but I underestimated the difficulty of trekking the Himalayas. The trail was like a roller coaster. You either go up or go down, making my journey descending as equally tired as ascending.
So, today, I will relive that crazy awesome experience again and show you the beauty of the Himalayas. Here is a complete guide on Annapurna Base Camp trek and how you can do it in 7 days.
Looking for a complete guide on trekking the Everest Base Camp? A Complete Guide To Trekking Everest Base Camp Independently.
Annapurna Base Camp Trek Itinerary Map
Annapurna Base Camp Travel Video
When to Trek Annapurna Base Camp
The best time to trek the Annapurna Base Camp is during the shoulder seasons of either April - May (Spring) or October - November (Autumn) which are considered to be pre-monsoon and before winter respectively.
The weather is mildly hot during the day while hiking and cold at night depending on the altitude. There is also less chance of rain during this time and you will like to get clear days consecutively which is perfect for hiking.
Where to Stay in Pokhara
Hotel Middle Path is what made my trip smooth. The owner of the hotel managed to get me the climbing permit I needed to trek the Annapurna Base Camp before I arrived at no extra cost. If that does not impress you, how about the fact that he offered free gears for free like trekking poles. I have never seen such great customer service before. I highly recommended this hotel if you just want to trek the beautiful Himalayan and not worrying about paperwork.
It is very important that you have travel insurance when you are trying to tackle such a feat and the travel insurance has to cover activities such as hiking in a country like Nepal. I would recommend WorldNomads.com if you are looking to find the right kind of travel insurance for this. They have a simple and flexible search system that allows me to find the exact insurance I need for activities I am doing.
Annapurna Base Camp Trek Summary
Day 0: I arrived in Pokhara, went out and bought a map, a cheap sleeping bag, and a trekking pole to prepare myself for the trek.
Day 1: I took a taxi to Kande (1200 rupees from Lake Side) and start climbing.
5 hours in, I passed through Australian camp (where I had lunch), Pothana and arrived at Tolka. Stayed in Tolka for a night.
Day 2: I woke up early, walk through Landruk, New Bridge, Jhinu and climbed super steep stairs (I called this the Knee Destroyer stairs) to Chhomrong. Rest there for a day.
Day 3: Again, I started out early in the morning, walking down a mountain from Chhomrong, cross a suspension bridge and go up again through lower and upper Sinuwa. five hours in and I arrived at Bamboo for lunch and then walk for another 2 hours to Dovan and stayed there for a night.
Day 4: I started out early as usual and walk to the Himalaya. Rest for a coffee and proceed to Deurali and to MBC. From the Himalaya, it’s all up and up for 5 hours so be prepared. I slept early at MBC.
Day 5: I woke up at 4 and start trekking to ABC (Annapurna Base Camp) to witness a sunrise. Stayed for a few hours and walked down to MBC for lunch and power through Deurali, Himalaya and eventually arrived in Dovan at 6:00PM. Rested there for a night because the forest at night is scary.
Day 6: I continued down the same route until I reached Chhomrong and rest there for another day.
Day 7: This time, I went down the other way to Khola and up again to Kimrong Danda, had lunch and walk down to Ghandruk (beautiful village) and eventually took a jeep out (2500 NPR and 3 hours drive) from Kimche to Pokhara.
Annapurna Base Camp Trek Budget (Updated 2019)
Here is an approximate breakdown of the things you will have to pay on the trail:
- Accommodation: 300 - 400 NPR per night
- Food: 400 - 600 NPR per meal (gets more expensive the higher you are)
- Water: Free tap water, 50 NPR per litre of purified water
- Permits:TIMS permit is 20 USD and ACAP permit is 30 USD = 50 USD
- Nepal Visa: 15 USD for 15 days entry visa
- Jeep from Kimche to Pokhara (Optional): 2500 NPR
- Flights to Pokhara and Back: 160 USD round-trip
From the breakdown above, you can expect to spend around 30 USD (3000 NPR) per day on the trail with food and accommodation. Adding it all up, expect to carry around 30,000 NPR minimum in cash when you are on the trail. Your last chance of getting your money from an ATM is in Pokhara so prepare accordingly. The best way is to have more cash than you need for a smoother experience in the mountains.
Things to Prepare for Annapurna Base Camp Trek
I know you hate boring list, so I made a video of all my gear.
- Hiking Cloths: The sun is strong and you will be sweating a lot while hiking so I would recommend something light and breathable like a weather-proof outer-shell jacket together with a fleece jacket and a regular shirt inside.
- Teahouse Clothing: When you are idle, you will need something that can keep you warm. A big down jacket is recommended for when you are in the teahouse. Most teahouse's bedrooms are NOT equipped with a heater so you will definitely need a good down jacket.
- Head Lamps: Important in the early mornings and in case you have to hike at night (I do not recommend this).
- First Aids: Bandages in case of blisters, Tylenol for headaches, Diamox for Altitude Sickness etc.
- Sunglasses: The sun is extremely strong up there.
- Buff: To warm up air before you breath in to prevent the nasty case of Khumbu Cough afterward.
- Wet Wipes: The next best thing from actually having a shower in the mountains. You will thank yourself for it after 10 days of not showering.
- Good Sturdy Shoes: Make sure you have waterproof sturdy shoes in case of rain. Break into your shoes first if you bought a new one. You wouldn't want to be the hikers with blisters all over his/her feet at the end of the trek.
- Money: Get enough cash out in Pokhara for all the days you are trekking as they are no way you will be able to get money out along Annapurna Base Camp trek.
- Sleeping Bag: Bedrooms in teahouses can get really cold at night and there's nothing worse than not being able to sleep after an 8-hours hike day. I would recommend getting the -10°C one in either Thamel, Kathmandu or Pokhara. I got mine in Pokhara and still using it today (2019).
- Toiletries: Wet wipes, tissue papers, toothbrush, toothpaste, sunscreens, lip balms etc.
- Snacks: Prepare some snacks to Treat yo self so you don't have to buy an overpriced Snickers bar up there. You deserve it!
- Get Maps.me: Download Maps.me app on your phone and download the Nepal map for offline navigation. They do have the trail map available and it's quite accurate. The app is available on both Android and iOS.
- Large Backpack (60L): And of course, a backpack big enough to fit all these stuff so you can carry up the mountain.
Getting to Pokhara from Kathmandu
There are several domestic airlines (Buddha Air, Yeti Airline, and Simrik Airline) that fly from Kathmandu to Pokhara on a daily basis. The price should around 85 - 150 USD one way and should take around 30 minutes.
If you have time and want to save cost, you can take a tourist bus from Thamel at 7 - 8 AM for around 7 - 25 USD depending on how comfortable the bus is, and that should take you 6 - 8 hours.
From Kathmandu international airport you have to walk out of the international terminal and head north toward the domestic airport to take a flight to Pokhara.
After arriving in Pokhara, I took a taxi to the hotel (Hotel Middle Path), and headed out to grab a few missing gears I needed for the trek. Turns out, buying gears in Nepal will save you a gazillion dollars more, than buying from your home country. Everything is cheap here.
7 Days Annapurna Base Camp Trek Itinerary
Day 1: Pokhara to Kande to Tolka (Elevation: 1,130m)
I woke up early in the morning, full of excitement as I prepared all my gears, grab a breakfast and headed out to the entry trail, Kande.
2 hours into my trek and my mind started to regret the decision of coming here. "I had a comfortable bed and a warm shower.. why am I doing this", I thought to myself as I climbed the stairs that seems to have no end. After awhile, I reached the first stop, the Australian camp and had lunch there as clouds started to sweep through mountains.
As it turns out, those clouds carried with them a tremendous amount of rain and it rained on me for 3 hours straight as I shivered. The raincoat was unable to protect me from the heavy shower. At one point, I had to ask for shelter at the local's house nearby because the wind was getting stronger, piercing through my skins into my bones, as I went higher.
The rain did eventually stops (for a moment) and I went on and found myself walking on the first suspension bridge on the trail. Imagine walking on a wet and extremely slippery wooden bridge with a 12kg backpack strapped to your back. It was a thriller.
The rain won't give up easily in the Himalayas. Can this be my worst day of the trip? Easy answer, no. :) I stopped at Tolka trying to power through to Landruk for my first night.
Unfortunately, I was unable to reach my goal as it was getting way too dark to walk alone, so I stayed at the last lodge in Tolka. The view of the mountains is awesome here.
Day 2: Tolka to Chhomrong (Elevation: 2,170m)
I know I'm a slow walker so I decided to start off early (6 AM) and headed out to Chhomrong. Since I was behind my schedule, I had to push harder.
So close, yet so far..
I walked through Landruk, and saw many trekkers preparing themselves for the climb.
Every time I had to descend down to the river, deep down I know that I will have to ascend all those heights again, not to mention that walking back would be as demanding.
About to cross the New Bridge. Since it's one of the longest suspension bridge in the trail, we had to go 3 at a time, to prevent the bridge from swinging way to hard.
As I walked up and down several times, I arrived at the Jhinu village (hot springs) but this was not my stop so I powered through it, and climbed what seems like thousands of steps (I called this ascend to Chhomrong, the Knee Breaker). It was so steep that I spent 2 - 3 hours climbing from the river bank to the top of the mountain. My first day walking in the rain seems like a child play now.
I eventually arrived at Chhomrong, and as I looked back, I realized how ambitious humans are, climbing all those mountains. No matter how slow you are, as long as you arrived, the feeling of accomplishment is still as great as climbing fast. I crashed at the first lodge I found and stayed for the night.
Day 3: Chhomrong to Dovan (Elevation: 2,600m)
Another early morning start, I trekked down the heights I came up from yesterday and then up again the same height to Sinuwa. The other night I met a couple from Amsterdam who had the exact same schedule as me and I decided to stick with them. As I arrived at my stop and luckily got an individual room, they encouraged to push to the next stop which is only an hour and a half long. I'm now stuck with a decision to make, power through it with a chance of not getting a room (because it was late), or stay here with a room, and pushed the next day.
"What's my limit?" I asked myself this, and decided to test my strength and power through for another hour and a half. I arrived in Dovan, drained and severely dehydrated. I tried begging for a room and the lodge and most of them said it was full, until I met a lodge owner that decided to shove into into a shared room. At that point, I no longer care where I sleep, as long that I don't have to walk further.
Day 4: Dovan to Machapuchare Base Camp (MBC) (Elevation: 3,700m)
This is the hardest day on the trek, as I reached the highest altitude I have ever been at 3,000m, I had a difficult time breathing and I had to stop more often and rest longer.
My planned was to go through the Himalaya and Deurali and then rest there but since many people I met are pushing through Deurali and stop at MBC, I decided to stick with them and trekked up to MBC. A trek that was suppose to be 2 hours, took me almost 4 as I struggled to breath. There were many porters (sherpas) who offered me to help carrying my bag for free, but I insisted that I can do it.
I eventually arrived and I did not regret my decision. The view was magnificent! I was like walking into the entrance of heaven. The landscapes here made me feel like insects. These mountains are magnificently humongous!
My first sight of the Annapurna South.
Without any pollution and lights coming from cities, the beauty of the stars and skies at night returns to us.. This is my first time seeing the milky way with my own eyes. It was an awe-inspiring moment.
Day 5: Machapuchare Base Camp to Annapurna Base Camp to Dovan (Highest Elevation: 4,130m)
The next morning, I woke up at 4 to catch the sunrise at the Annapurna Base Camp. The tortures I went through had finally paid off. The view is breathtaking, but not as great as the feeling of accomplishment that swept though my body as I reached the base camp. I can proudly say, I have trekked the Himalayas alone and survived.
Like one big family! :)
Saying goodbye to the mountains and all the friends I met during the trek. It was a hell of an experience!
One last look back at the Annapurna South, I missed this place already. :(
And it was time to go.. The mountains had taught me so much about life. It was a life changing experience. I now look at our surplus societies in a different way now.
Day 6: Dovan to Chhomrong (Elevation: 2,600m)
I decided to take it slow going down so that I could absorb everything in before I leave.
The Himalayas has left me wanting more..
Day 7: Chhomrong to Kimche to Pokhara (via Jeep) (Elevation: 2,170m)
This is my way out of the mountains. I took a 3-hour ride on a jeep out of Kimche near Landruk right back to Pokhara, rest and prepared to go home. Goodbye, and I'll be back for the Everest next time in Nepal!
And that is it for a 7 days Annapurna Base Camp trek. Are you excited to do it yourself? Let me know in the comments below!
Update 2019: Added Annapurna Base Camp Itinerary map, more information and gear list.
The Solo Traveler’s Journal is a series of posts by BucketListly where we will follow our founder, Pete Rojwongsuriya around the world as he singlehandedly travel alone and experience different cultures, people, and historical locations one country at a time.
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