The Annapurna Base Camp Trek is also known as the Annapurna Sanctuary Trek (ABC) and is one of the most popular short to medium length treks in Nepal. Altitude is rarely a problem on this trek though there are still plenty of close-up mountain views.
The trek itself is not particularly strenuous. Though being in good shape will of course help with the many steep steps on this particular trek. The first few days of the trek involve uphill trekking which is the hardest part.
Passing through Gurung villages, lush forests and shrubs. The Annapurna Base Camp trek offers a great blend of scenery over a relatively easy trail leading to spectacular scenery.
Here's my experience of the trek plus the answers to many popular questions about the trek.
Annapurna Base Camp (Sanctuary) is located in the Annapurna Concervation Area near Pokhara. It's just to the west of the Mardi Himal trek route. Or if looking at a popular map it's to the east of Poon Hill and Ghorepani.
The trek goes through quiet stone built villages, along mountain farms, forests and often has many flowers blooming enroute. The first few days involve trekking uphill but after this the terrain flattens out and you can cover more
distance. There are plenty of steps to traverse but also plenty of rest stops. While acclimatization is not a
huge factor it’s still important to keep an eye open for symptoms.
The treks main destinations includes both Machapuchare Base Camp and Annapurna Base Camp. I've written up a full daily itinerary later on this page.
This map shows you the most popular Annapurna Base Camp trekking routes.
Please note this map should not be used as a practical trekking map. While the main Annapurna Base Camp route remains the same there are variations depending on side trails, weather conditions, time of year, natural events and physical changes to the trek paths. Do get my Trekking in Nepal guidebook for more detailed maps!
There's a lot of information about the Annapurna Base Camp Trek as it's one of the most popular treks with trekkers.
Highest point of the Annapurna Base Camp trek
At 4,130 meters (13, 549ft) Annapurna Base Camp marks the highest point of the Annapurna Base Camp Trek.
Highest sleeping point on the Annapurna Base Camp trek
The highest sleeping point along the Annapurna Base Camp trek is at Annapurna Base Camp which is 4,130 meters (13, 549ft). Machapuchare base camp is 3,700 meters (12, 139ft).
How long have people been trekking to Annapurna Base Camp?
Annapurna Base Camp was first reached in 1956. The views has always been there though! The route has been popular with trekkers for nearly three decades. Over the past ten years the treks popularity has risen.
What mountains can you see from Annapurna Base Camp?
The Annapurna mountain range is on full show from various stages of the trek. Dhaulagiri, Annapurna I are often highlights and Manaslu). From base camp Annapurna I, Annapurna II, Annapurna III and Annapurna IV are also visible.
Arranging a regular Annapurna Base Camp trek
There are many options here ranging from package tours to independent trekking. As per usual, booking online with private commerical companies can be significantly more expensive than package trips or booking in person when in Nepal.
Package tours bought online:
Package tours bought online from Neplai companies generally have a fixed itinerary with everything arranged for you. They don't allow for some flexibility. e.g. If you want so spend more time trekking - if you do decide to extend your trek - you'll usually end up paying a lot more.
Package tours also (but not always) include food, porters, accommodation and permits.
Pro's include that everything is done for you ahead of time. Con's include you don't know who your guide will be and you'll be paying quite bit more than getting everything done yourself. Extended Annapurna Base Camp treks are quite popular eg,. Poon Hill before embarking on the main trek. Here is a wide ranging list of trekking tour operators in Nepal which can be booked online.
Package tours bought in Nepal:
If you have a couple of days in Nepal then you can arrange a package trek along the Annapurna Base Camp route. Do shop around and don't get swayed by the typical talk of places names, mountain names or villages en route. Many will try to baffle you with mountain peak names and refer to the trek as the Annapurna Panorama trek or the popular Annapurna Sanctuary Trek - it's all the same thing!
What's important here is that you know what's included, meet your guide before hand and feel comfortable with the agency/guide.
Do make sure that everyone knows what's included in the total price. Accommodation, permits, bus fees, meals etc. There are no flights involved with the ABC trek unless you are coming from Kathmandu to Pokhara (where the trek starts).
Quite often these package tours are broken up into different categories. High priced categories will included everything, while lower priced package tours might not include accommodation.
Pro's here include actually meeting the guide before hand, being able to ask questions in person and it's much cheaper than online. Con's include listening to trekking agents talk up a huge amount about the trek that's mostly irrelevant. It's a sales technique in Nepal to make every trek sound technical and like you are about to see the world. Again there are some local tour operators on my page with a list of trekking tours in Nepal.
Hiring an Annapurna Base Camp guide yourself:
You might want to save on costs a little more and simply hire an independent local guide rather than a package tour. Again, the costs come down substantially however you'll be expected to do more.
You'll have to bargain and barter for your own room and order your own meals on the trek. This is something that's relatively easy along the Annapurna Base Camp route as most of the guest houses are all used to trekkers. However, the more friendly you are with the guide the more chance they'll help you out with this.
Pro's include a cheaper trek with more independence. Con's include having to bargain and barter for your own rooms (it's not hard) and order your own meals (English menus, not hard). You'll also need to arrange things like permits which a good local guide can help you with. Just don't take advantage of their time. You can contact me if you'd like to have the details of the guide I used.
Independently trekking Annapurna Base Camp yourself:
Finally if you have trekking experience in Nepal you could consider not hiring a guide all together. The Annapurna Base Camp trek is a well marked trail with very easy to find accommodation en route. However, do remember that Nepal is not like home. Though routes may be marked out they are often not marked out well. Safety should come first. Take a look at missingtrekker.com. For most people hiring a guide is a better and safer choice due to avalanches near Deurali onwards. Also, good guides help with information on the surrounding area.
Pro's here include complete independence and a much lower budget. Con's include having to do everything yourself from permits to lodging. You'll also be more vulnerable to accidents, sickness and being alone in the mountains so prior experience is preferable.
If you are looking for a guide for the Annapurna Base Camp trek I recommend you read my article on How to find a trekking guide in Nepal.
Weather along the Annapurna Route is always subject to change:
There are however peak seasons and the following months have traditionally been used as a guide for preferred times of the year to do the Annapurna Base Camp trek.
Mid Sept-October - November/(early)December: this is Nepal's peak and best time to go trekking.
February-March-April: this is the end of the dry season and the second best time of year to go trekking.
November/December to January/February: the skies are clear but it can get very cold and there is a risk of passes being closed due to snow.
May - June: This is Nepal's hot pre-monsoon season and it can get very warm indeed. The valleys however are starting to bloom with flowers though.
June - Mid September: this is Monsoon season and the least popular time to go trekking in Nepal.
For more details please see my guide on the best time of year to go trekking in Nepal
If you are on a package tour then your agency will give you a list of things to bring for your trek.
Otherwise if you are trekking on the Annapurna Base Camp in Nepal you'll need the following:
Trekking permits you need include the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) and TIMS Card (Tourism Information Management System) available at agents and through the official Nepal Tourism Board offices in Kathmandu and Pokhara (trekking guides can usually take care of this for you).
Depending on the time of year you'll need to make adjustments to clothing and equipment. However, the following are necessities:
- A worn in pair of hiking boots
- A wind cheater style of jacket
- Long sleeve shirts
- Trekking pants
- Rubber sandals
- Water bottles (water purification system)
- Trekking poles (due to the amount of steps on this trek)
Please note the above is a very basic list. For a full comprehensive list please see my article on trekking equipment you need for Nepal
A certain level of fitness is required however there is no direct climbing involved on this trek. You will need to trek over some rocky areas near Machapuchare base camp and base camp.
There are also a considerable amount of stone steps to climb and descent on the ABC trek. Going up is usually okay. But coming down can really put a strain on ones knees. Trekking poles can help here immensely.
I would advise anyone going trekking to see a doctor before they go for a check-up and to talk about dealing with altitude sickness.
For pure trekking alone the Annapurna Base Camp in Nepal you'll need to consider the amount of days you'll be out trekking to get an idea of how fit you should be. Most days include 4-6 hours of slow hiking. Keep in mind the entire Annapurna Base Camp trek is about 8-10 days covering roughly 40-49 km (60-69 km with bus travel included to/away from trail head).
The hardest point for many people is going from Bamboo to Deurali as it's a long day.
The whole trek as a whole does not have that many steep parts and offers a gradual ascent.
Altitude sickness is not really a problem on the ABC trek as you won't be at a high altitude for very long. As a precaution do read about altitude sickness in Nepal.
Many people from all walks of life, ages and fitness levels have done the Annapurna Base Camp trek. In peak season there's nothing much to worry about in terms of cold or extreme weather. In the winter Deurali to base camp can get quite cold with snow often present at base camp.
As with most treks, generally speaking, the slower you trek, the easier it is.
The food is typical Nepali trekking food. Meaning you can get just about anything for a price with a good range of offerings compared to other trekking routes. Dal Bhat is the staple followed by pasta, pancakes and chop suey. It won't be Michelin star quality food, but it will get the job done.
Do keep in mind that you will be burning a lot of calories and you will need to drink a lot more water. Trekking staples like Dal Bhat are filling, healthy and filled with good calories to keep you fueled up. This is what Dal Bhat looks like when you are out trekking.
Beer, soda, coffee, tea, hot lemon and water are also widely available. But just like food the price goes up the further you get to Base Camp.
Many people use water filters to help with their budget and reduce waste on the trek.
Treats like chocolate bars can be bought all along the ABC trek route. Bring a block of Yak cheese which can really help with adding protein to your diet. Or carry some candy bars for some treats.
Accommodation in the ABC region is plentiful and there's usually a good choice in each little village you come to.
Tea Houses filling up is only a problem during peak season but a good guide will book ahead for you. I didn't have a problem with any of the accommodation but I would advise to bring some ear plugs in case you have a noisy neighbor and some baby wipes for the bathroom.
Running hot water is not available in every village though hot showers are available. Buckets of hot water are also available. .
During the winter months fires are commonplace including fires for under your table on the coldest of nights.
In terms of terrain and the trails there are no ropes needed and no ice picks needed. There is no vertical climbing involved.
The trails are not paved aside from the village areas in some locations. It is rough, rocky and gravel strewn. There are plenty of stone steps to traverse on this trail so trekking poles can be of great help.
Costing for the Annapurna Base Camp trek is subject to many things. Package tours bought overseas from private companies are the most expensive. Package trekking tours from international online booking outfits is next. Going with just a guide is next. And finally going it alone is the cheapest.
Online package tours of between 8-10 days can cost up to USD$1,500+ pp. Not including water. This does include a guide, accommodation, permits and meals. Personally speaking, I don't think these are good value.
Online booking agents for 8-10 days can cost $995-1100. This includes a guide, permits, meals and accommodation. See my list of trekking tours prices.
Guide only services can cost from $20 to $50 per day. The more you pay, the more experience your guide should have and the more you should benefit from the trek e.g., learn more about the surroundings etc..
Two or more people traveling together can make things cheaper. You are essentially halving the cost of guide and accommodation. Something to consider if budget is an issue.
Porter fees are roughly half that of guides.
Annapurna Base Camp trek is generally more expensive in terms of accommodation and food than the Annapurna Circuit Trek.
- The cost of an average teahouse with shared bathroom is 150 rupees in the off season and 250-400 in peak.
- The cost of one liter of water reaches a maximum of 150 rupees at high camp. It starts at around 40-80 rupees.
- The cost of a plate of Dal Bhat starts at around 350 rupees and climbs to 600 rupees.
- A popular chocolate bar can cost 200 rupees.
Many people with trekking experience will consider a guide/porter as they are cheaper. It should be noted these are trainee guides and may not have a lot of English.
Don't forget to include your travel insurance in your budget. And be aware that many policies don't include trekking above 4000 meters. Here is my recommendation for travel insurance when in Nepal.
Please note prices here are rough estimates and do fluctuate depending on the time of year, weather conditions and political situations in Nepal. However they should give you a rough idea on budgeting your trek to the Annapurna Sanctuary (ABC).
Due to the ABC treks relatively fixed location there is basically only one way in or out. However there are many options to start the trek e.g., after the Annapurna Circuit, after Poon Hill or just by itself.
Here is a typical Annapurna Base Camp itinerary route:
|Day||Route||Distance (time)||Highest Altitude|
|1||Pokhara - Naya Pul to Ghandruk||(bus/trek) 5-6hrs avg||2,000m|
|2||Ghandruk to Chomrong||4-5hrs avg||2,210 m|
|3||Chomrong to Bamboo||4-5hrs||2,310m|
|4||Bamboo to Deurali||5-6hrs||3,200m|
|5||Deurali to Machapuchare Base (MBC) Camp/Annapurna Base Camp (ABC) *||2 hours avg||3,700m|
|6||Machapuchare Base Camp/Annapurna Base Camp*||2hrs||4,130m|
|7||Annapurna Base Camp to Bamboo||6-7hrs||2,310m|
|8||Bamboo to Jhindu Danda||5hrs||1,780m|
|9||Jhindu Danda to Potana||5hrs||1,780m|
|10||Potana to Phedi||20 km (bus/trek) (5hrs/ 2-4hours)||1,600m|
* Additional hours/days Many people extend or shorten their trek here.
There are many villages and tea houses along the Annapurna Base Camp trek. Depending on your guide you may stop for the night in different villages than the ones mentioned in this itinerary. This is normal and nothing to be alarmed about. The above itinerary is the preferred route by many due to the scenery you'll encounter. It is also featured in great detail in my guidebook on trekking in Nepal.
Annapurna Base Camp (ABC) is just one of many treks in Nepal. For alternative treks do read my list of treks in Nepal which is continually being added too based on popularity or request.If you are looking for a trekking guide I recommend you read my article on How to find a trekking guide in Nepal.
On the following pages below I've compiled detailed articles on the specifics of trekking in Nepal that may be of use to you.
You will find them to be a great place to research your whole trekking trip to Nepal - be sure to bookmark them for future reference!
Finally, for a completely detailed day by day guide on the APC trek with photos plus much more do check out my guidebook below.
|You might find my following free guides helpful:|
My guide on trekking in Nepal
|Check out my guide on equipment & gear needed for trekking in Nepal|
|Check out my list of treks to do in Nepal complete with maps||Check out my guide on how to travel overland into Tibet for a lot more!|
|How to choose a trekking guide in Nepal||My Day by day account of trekking to Everest Base Camp in the off season (winter)|
|Check out my How to travel overland into Nepal guide||Check out my country Guide to Nepal|
Liked this page? You'll love my trekking book! It's a hands on trekking guidebook that's better than the rest. Yes, really!
In the book I cover all the popular treks in Nepal with step-by-step accuracy using scalable maps, photographs and travel tested up-to-date trekking information.
Just like my other guidebooks to Nepal it's an interactive & printable guidebook like no other.
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