People who love to trek, Nepal is nothing less than heaven to them. Home to the eight out of fourteen mountains that are above 8000 m, Nepal offers some of the most scenic and mesmerizing trekking trails in the world. And among the numerous trekking trails in this naturally gifted country, the Annapurna Base Camp or the ABC trek is one of the most popular.
Like every trek, this trek, too, has its own beauty, requirements, and difficulties. If you’re planning to go on the ABC trek anytime soon, here is a detailed guide that will surely help you make your ABC trek an enjoyable and successful one.
Check here the Annapurna Base Camp Trek complete itinerary.
The ABC Trek
Nestled in the Annapurna Conservation Area which is almost 7629 sq. km vast and is home to hundreds and thousands of different flora and fauna, Annapurna Base Camp is a snow-covered amphitheatre of spectacular mountain peaks and glaciers. The ABC trekking trail has its set of ascents, descents, steep stairs, flat terrain and passes through dense woods, terrains of sheer natural beauty and villages of the region.
Often people confuse ABC trek with Annapurna Circuit trek. However, in reality, these are two completely different treks. While Annapurna circuit trek is a 2-3-week long trail circling the Annapurna mountain range; the ABC trek is shorter and goes straight to the Annapurna Base Camp which is located at 4130 m and returns via the same path. The ABC trek is also referred to as Annapurna Sanctuary Trek and Annapurna south Trek.
The standard route to the ABC trek is via Ghorepani – Poon Hill, which takes maximum 11 days to successfully complete the trek and come back to Pokhara. If you exclude Poon Hill from your itinerary and go for simply the ABC trekking (up and down), you can go via Phedi and complete the trek in 7 days.
It’s best to plan your ABC trek during spring (March to May) and autumn (September to early December) since all the routes remain open and the views are the best during this time.
While during spring, sunny days are accompanied by flowers in full bloom and sometimes slight rains in the afternoon; during autumn the weather stays dry with clear blue skies. Though trekking during the offseason has its own disadvantages i.e. snowfall, clouds blocking the view, slippery trails, etc.; but it has its advantage too which is solitude and enjoying the trail all by yourself, no crowd, no interruptions.
Temperature to Expect
In the winter season, the mountains are quite cold, and throughout the trek, you can expect a temperature of -10 degrees C or below. Summers are both hot and wet and irrespective of rains, you can expect the mercury at 25 degrees C in the lower regions, which can drop to a lowest of -3 degrees C as you go higher and reach the base camp. The ideal trekking temperature is at spring, when the lower regions are warmer. However, temperature at the base camp will range between -10 degrees C (March) and 0 degrees C (April and May). Autumn temperatures are also similar.
The time required to complete the ABC trek depends on the itinerary you choose. Plus, there are several starting points for the ABC trek. Based on which point you begin your trek, the duration may be shorter or longer. But usually, for a standard ABC trek itinerary, it takes around 7 to 12 days to successfully complete the trek.
The trekking destination being situated inside the Annapurna Conservation Area, an ACAP permit is a must for everyone, whether you trek solo or in a group. Those who are the nationals of SAARC (The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) countries can get this permit for only NPR 200; but those who belong to other countries than SAARC, need to pay around NPR 2000 for the same. Valid for single entry, one needs to carry this permit during the entire trek and it must be shown to the authorities at the check posts if asked.
Trekkers going for the ABC trek also need to acquire the TIMS card or Trekkers’ Information Management System card, whether they are traveling solo or with an agency. While for individual trekker the TIMS card comes for NPR 2250; those with a group can have the card issued for NPR 1125 per head.
To get the permits issued, a trekker needs to carry a copy of the passport and a few passport size photographs. One can get permits in Kathmandu or Pokhara.
What to Carry
A backpack, first of all! And needless to say, permits and cash are a must if you want to enjoy this trekking adventure. Load yourself with approximately 3500 NPR per head daily; remember no ATMs or banks to help you out! Keep a map or guide book handy for choosing the most appropriate route.
Clothing recommendations: shorts, hiking pants, long-sleeved shirts, fleece jackets or sweaters, quick dry T-shirts, rain jackets and pants, socks, along with an adequate number of undergarments. Carry warm puffy jackets, gloves, neck gaiter and warm hats for winter trekking. Sun hats are must for the summer.
Footwear recommendations: hiking boots, lightweight sandals.
Food and water: Although you can buy water bottles and eat at teahouses, it would be wise to carry some food and water.
Other accessories: sleeping bags, ear plugs, toiletries, basic electronics like mobile phone and charger, first aid kits, sunglasses for the summer.
As recommended by expert trekkers, you may also carry trekking poles and umbrella.
Accommodation & Food
While on the ABC trekking trail, you’ll find plenty of guesthouses or tea houses which are small lodges with a sleeping area and a communal space. Here you can charge your electronics and have your meals. The accommodation charges here is per bed basis, which is around NPR 200-300. The meals cost mostly around NPR 500 to 700 and are standardized by the national park authority.
The Annapurna Base Camp trek is neither a super easy one nor for the faint-hearted. Yes, the trail is indeed extremely well-supported and shorter too compared to other high-altitude trekking trails in the country. Yet, a certain amount of physical fitness and stamina to walk for 6 to 7 hours a day must be there in every trekker. Otherwise, this moderate level trek can be pretty exhausting and may prevent you from enjoying the spectacular surroundings. Having prior hiking or trekking experiences proves useful for this trek.
Guide and Porter
Since the ABC trekking trail is well-supported and well-marked with signs in almost every village pointing the route and distance to the next halt, the chances of getting lost along the trail are hardly there. Doing this trek by yourself is very much possible.
But then again, if you’re concerned regarding your safety, then definitely opt for a guide who speaks good English, and understands your expectations, level of fitness and flexibility. Taking a guide can be useful for securing a place to sleep along the trail; plus, you can also have someone to chitchat and know about the local culture while supporting the local economy.
If you think you can carry your own backpack, no need to hire a porter. And if you think you won’t be able to carry your backpack, take a porter with you; but make sure you don’t over pack just because you’ll have a porter to carry your stuff.
Now that you have all the necessary information about the Annapurna Base Camp trek, why wait? Put your trekking shoes on and embark on an unforgettable journey to the magnificent Annapurna Base Camp.