“Trekkers Paradise” is the perfect title for the Annapurna Base Camp trekking route. Diverse landscape and culture of the local ethnic groups are the main attractions of this trek. The magnificent view of the stunning mountain vistas from different viewpoints in the trekking trail, terraced fields near the villages, antiquated Gurung villages, and the varied flora and fauna will rejoice you all over the trekking route.
The world’s 10th highest peak, Mt. Annapurna (8091 m), is one of the gorgeous snow painted peaks.
It is the dream of every trekker to reach the base camp of such a magnificent mountain.
So how difficult is it to trek the Annapurna Base Camp?
Well, this Camp is situated at an altitude of 4130 m and is one of the most popular trekking trails in Nepal after Everest Base Camp Trek. it is equally popular among solo and group trekkers, beginners as well as the experienced trekkers.
The Annapurna Base Camp trek may not be considered to be a difficult one because there are indeed a lot of other treks that outruns ABC in this matter. The difficulty of this trek can be considered to be a moderate one. Like most of the treks, it is also quite demanding but with a bit of patience and perseverance, it is enjoyable achievable.
Trekking through the mountainous region means there will be an adventure waiting for you at every step. It is one of the most exciting and adventurous journeys for trekkers. However, the difficulties and challenges will add up to the adventure.
It will sum up to provide you with the package of mountain region climbing experience.
Duration of the Annapurna Base Camp Trek
The duration of the Annapurna Base Camp Trek is usually of two weeks long but if you go rapidly, you can complete it within 9 days. The trekking duration can be extended or reduced as per your need. The itinerary of the ABC trek differs according to the different packages made by different travel agencies.
On an average, you will have to walk for 5 to 6 hours for the duration of your trek. If you do not have the habit of walking and you tend to slow down, you will be reaching your destination in 7 to 8 hours. This can lead to an exhausting and uncomfortable trekking experience.
To avoid this situation, you can set a hiking or walk routine a few months prior to the actual trek. Your body will get into the habit of walking and you can do this trek at a more comfortable pace and enjoy it to the fullest.
You can also train yourself for trekking in Nepal.
Total Distance for Annapurna Base Camp Trek
Annapurna Base Camp Trek route covers around 115 km and you will be walking 10 to 20 km each day. This trail is a popular one and is usually packed with trekkers from all over the world.
The trekking trails are easier on this trek. However, the rocky terrains in the mountains is a bit difficult than normal hilly trails. The moraine trails are rocky and sometimes steep.
During winter, all the paths will be covered by snow and it will be quite challenging. But the trekking trail is popular and busy in most season.
Type of Trekker
For an experienced trekker, this trekking trail will not be too difficult. It is a comfortable trek for anyone who is used to walking on rough terrains for 4/6 hours on high altitude areas.
For a first-time trekker, this trek will be a completely different experience. It will take you more time than the average trekker to cover the distance. As mentioned above, to avoid having difficulty, it is recommended for you to take up the habit of walking uphill for a few hours every day a month or two prior to your actual trek.
If you are a novice trekker, it will be difficult for you to walk in the rocky and steep trails. It would be wiser if you hire a porter to enjoy a more comfortable walk. Walking up the hills and mountain regions with heavy loads where the oxygen is thinner than the lower altitude areas is not a good idea.
So, to have a more comfortable and enjoyable 115 km distance of the trekking trail, hire a porter and an experienced guide from a trusted trekking company.
The major difficulty while trekking in the Himalayas is the high altitude sickness. The oxygen level and atmospheric pressure in high altitude are comparatively lower than sea level.
With the thinner level of oxygen and high altitude, it will take time for your body to adjust to the surrounding environment at such altitude. You may get symptoms like nausea, fatigue, diarrhea, headache, loss of appetite, insomnia, and others.
It can be moderate for some, while for others it can be serious. If you get such signs and symptoms of altitude sickness while trekking, you should immediately return back to a lower altitude region. Do not ever ignore any such symptoms while you are trekking to a high altitude area.
Your trekking journey starts from the lake city “Pokhara”, which is at 1400 m higher from sea level. You will have to trek up to 4130 m towards Annapurna Base Camp within few days. It is very important to acclimate your body at different stops.
Hiking for a few hours each day at least a month prior to your actual trek is suggested. This will allow your body to balance with the environment when altitude gradually increases while trekking uphill. Hydrating yourself and having warm liquid foods and maintaining your diet is also a way to minimize the risk of altitude sickness.
It is strictly not recommended to drink alcoholic beverages at such high altitudes.
Though there are some medicines available to prevent altitude sickness, you are suggested to take precautions than to rely on medications.
Weather and Temperature
Weather and the temperature are the major factors that can create difficulty in the trekking route as the weather in the mountain is really unpredictable. It can change drastically and the rise and fall in the temperature are entirely based on the weather condition, altitude and season.
Autumn season is the best season to trek Annapurna Base Camp because of the calm weather in the mountains at this time of the year. After autumn, spring is the best time to trek in the Annapurna region.
The best part of the Annapurna Base Camp Trek is, you can trek there in monsoon too as there will be less chance of downpour in this region. The whole region is rain shaded region and that is why the monsoon does not affect this area too much.
The average temperature at Annapurna Base Camp in autumn and spring will be ranging from 15 to 20 degrees centigrade on a sunny day, whereas in summer, the temperature ranges from 20 to 25 degrees.
Winter season is the most challenging time in Annapurna Base Camp Trek. In winter, there is the possibility of heavy snowfall and temperature can decrease up to minus 17 degrees centigrade at night time. The temperature is moderate during the daytime under the sun.
So, you should take precautions and pack all the essential clothing for drastic weather changes in the mountain.
Lack of Training
Annapurna Base Camp is one of the most reliable treks in Nepal as the route of this trek is not so steep and difficult. However, for a novice trekker, this can be a challenging trail since the trail leads to the base camp of the world’s 10th highest mountain. So, prior preparation for hiking is important if you are trekking the mountains for the first time.
Basically, the trekkers should start training 6 weeks before their actual trek to make their body healthy and physically fit. The Annapurna Base Camp trek demands at least 6 to 7 hours of uphill daily. So, if you do not have prior training, you might have a problem catching up with your group or even have to quit lacking the required stamina and endurance need to complete the trek.
Downhill trekking is a bit easier than uphill. At higher altitude, even a short period of trekking uphill will make you feel tired. Descending towards the lower region is comparatively easier than ascending uphills to a higher altitude, as there is less oxygen up in the mountains.
Taking some professional help or joining a mountain trekking training program is beneficial and recommended. These types of training are mostly focused on cardio, stamina, leg strength, and flexibility.
If you are perfectly trained in these four aspects, you can trek in any kind of trekking trails easily. To maintain your fitness, you do not have to perform difficult workouts. Even simple exercises such as stretching, jogging, and swimming can be helpful.
You should be prepared both physically and mentally. When it comes to trekking, mental preparedness will provide you the determination and alertness.
While you are preparing for the trek, you can use weights for the hiking exercises. The weight you are carrying should be increased gradually up to 12 kg, which is the approximate weight of your backpack.
However, you can always hire a healthy porter to carry your heavy loads. It is not recommended to trek without a porter as in the higher altitudes, even your own body weight will feel like a burden to carry. With all the proper training, it is possible to overcome all the difficulties in Annapurna Base Camp Trek.
Nepal is one of the most affordable trekking destinations in the world.
However, the price of the goods and things you use will get more expensive as you reach the higher altitude rest stops. The cost of food and accommodation gets tripled or more in comparison to its normal rate. This is because of lack of transportation in the mountain region.
The only means of transportation of goods is via mules or porters.
If you wish to buy a mineral water, it may cost more than 1 dollar (NPR 100) at high altitude. The cost of other food items and accommodation are more expensive in the higher regions as well.
Although the food and accommodation cost is included in your trekking package, if you want to buy some other items, there is ATM facility available in different stations in Annapurna Base Camp Trek. It is best to carry some cash with you though.
Luggage (Gears, weight, and other requirements)
Preparing backpack for about two weeks long mountain trek itself is a challenge. You should make sure that you are carrying all the necessary items and gears to get rid of any hassle and also make sure not to carry any unnecessary item on the trek.
A guideline of some of the essentials you should not miss out on is shared below. The list, however, is just a recommendation, feel free to personalize it.
The temperature in the mountain areas is always fluctuating. In the mornings are colder for most of the seasons while the daytime is a bit warmer. So, you need to wear your clothing in layers as you can take off the outer layer of clothes if you feel hot and sweaty.
Your clothing should include sweat absorbent underwear and shirts and warm clothes that protect you from cold and wind.
These are the list of clothing that should be carried in your trek.
- Hiking underwear
- Hiking shirts
- Trekking socks
- Trekking pants
- Rain Jacket and rain trousers
- Lightweight down jackets
- A pair of trekking boots
- A pair of gloves
- A pair of hiking sandals
- A sun hat
- Trekking Poles
- Headlamp and batteries (for night walk)
- Watch with alarm clock
- Polarized sunglasses
- Sleeping bag with liner (for extra warmth)
- Cameras and batteries
- Battery chargers
- Some extra Batteries
- Energy bars or chocolates
- Water Bottle
- First aid kit and some medicines (for altitude sickness, Diarrhea, cold, nausea, and many others)
Hygiene and toiletries
It is recommended that you carry only small packs of all the needed everyday-use items since you need it only for about 2 weeks during trekking. Carrying big packs will add to your burden.
Here are the list of important toiletries and hygiene products.
- Lip guard
- Eye drops
- Nail cutters
- Toilet Paper
- Hand sanitizer
- Toothpaste and toothbrush
Important Documents to carry at all times
Ensuring that you have these documents with you at all times is the safest and most secure way to travel in any part of Nepal.
- Enough cash (most places do not have ATMs)
It is recommended to pack not more than 20 kg whether you carry your own luggage or you hire a porter. Avoid carrying unnecessary items like laptop, ipad and speakers, and unnecessary heavy clothing.
Choosing the right seasons for the trek
Autumn and spring season is the best time to trek in Annapurna Base Camp Trek route. Autumn falls from the month of September to November and spring falls from March to May in Nepal. There is very less chance of downpour is at this time of the year and the skies are usually clear.
It is a great time of the year to enjoy the religious festivals too. You will be able to take part in a lot of cultural activities too.
The trekking trail in Annapurna region is challenging during winter due to heavy snowfall in the trails in altitude. Winter falls in the month of December, January, and February. These are the coldest months which may affect your health due to decreasing temperatures.
But if you are a winter person, you can enjoy the best winters in the Himalayan region. The daytime is usually warmer and during the night you will be wrapped in a blanket and will be indoors.
June to August is summer and monsoon in Nepal. This season is not considered as the most favorable time for trekking. But, it is quite possible to trek in Annapurna region as the higher altitude in this area is a rain-shaded area so the monsoon should not be that messy.
Although the weather condition creates some difficulties in trekking, it is possible to complete Annapurna Base Camp Trek without any hassle, if you pre-plan for these difficulties properly.
It would be best for you to pick the month October and November or March and April for a better experience. If you want less traffic on the route you can choose winter or monsoon to trek but with proper preparation.
If you really have a strong affection for trekking and experiencing the beauty of nature and adventure, stop doubting yourself and start planning. The Annapurna Base Camp is amongst the most beautiful trekking destinations in Nepal.
It is doable and the record of thousands of trekkers living their dream is the proof of it.
Well, preparedness is the key thing to overcome any or all of the possible difficulties you face during trekking.
Despite all the difficulties, witnessing the world’s 10th highest peak, the Mount Annapurna closely should be motivating enough. The up-close view of some other popular peaks like Mount Dhaulagiri, Mount Makalu, Mount Nilgiri, Mount Machhapuchhre and many more is spectacular and worth the effort you put into.
Feel the adventure of a lifetime, fill it with a wonderful experience of diverse landforms and diverse culture and tradition of the people in the trekking route.