Mt. Annapurna is the 10th highest mountain in the world standing at an altitude of 8091m. A trek to Annapurna Base Camp is a lifelong dream for many trekkers and travelers around the world. It is also one of the most recommended treks in the world.
Annapurna Base Camp trek has some of the most beautiful mountain views, sunrises in the world. It is the perfect package of superb walks along different landscapes, settlements, forest and fauna. It is suitable for solo and group trekkers, hikers and travelers.
The Annapurna base camp (4103m) is a beautiful campsite surrounded by mountains like Annapurna I, Machapuchare (Fishtail), Hiuchuli. There are various packages available for the Annapurna region.
Trekking or travelling to any place at such an altitude requires some preparation. So, here are some tips on how can you start preparing for your trek to the Annapurna Base Camp Trek.
Physical Training and Fitness
The Annapurna Base Camp Trek falls on the moderate scale of trekking difficulty. It doesn’t require you to have any kind of alpine trekking experience or technical mountain climbing experience.
However, the Annapurna Base Camp Trek is a high altitude trek and some preparations are strongly recommended. Do check out our Annapurna base camp training for a more detailed account of what you can do to prepare in regards to your physical fitness, endurance and stamina.
Best time to trek
The best time to trek to the Annapurna Base Camp Trek is September and October closely followed by April and May.
September and October falls in the local autumn season which is the best and most recommended month to do trekking in Nepal. It is the time with perfect weather for clear views of the magnificent mountains and the landscape.
April and May falls in the local spring season which is preferred for trekking by those who want to enjoy the view provided by the lush green forests and full blossoms of rhododendron on the way to Annapurna Base Camp (ABC).
You can get your visa on arrival from TIA (Tribhuvan International Airport), Kathmandu, Nepal. On peak trekking seasons, there may be a queue for it.
You can also easily get visa in advance from the embassy of Nepal, in your country.
Two types of trekking permits are required by every trekker doing the Annapurna Base Camp Trek.
TIMS (Transport Information Management System) is necessary for every trekker coming to trek in Nepal.
ACAP (Annapurna Conservation Area Entry Permit) is needed for every trekker who wishes to trek in the Annapurna Region. Some parts of the trek will take you through the forest areas of the Annapurna region which falls under the conservation area. Some parts of the permit money go to the fund for the conservation of the Annapurna region.
You can get both of these permits easily in Kathmandu or Pokhara. You can also get these on the trails themselves but the price will be slightly more.
Don’t skimp on the permits as there are checkpoints where you may be asked to disclose these permits. You will be fined and made to buy these permits at a higher cost.
Depending on how comfortable you are outdoors in remote mountain regions, you will have to mentally prepare yourself.
You will be walking uphill for 5 to 8 hours daily with your backpack on at a high altitude area. You will also be in areas where there are no wifi, air-conditioning and so on. Be prepared for these as you may end up disappointed if you have too high expectations on your living and sleeping quarters.
Equipment, Gears and Supplies
All treks to high altitude regions require good, trustworthy gears and equipments. Some of the basic things you will need on your trek to the Annapurna Base Camp trek are:
- Good and tested, waterproof hiking shoes. You will be on your feet on rough terrains every day, so a good pair of shoes is a must. Good, hiking socks are an added bonus for your feet.
- A good insulating jacket. The tea houses and the trails will not come with heaters; a good jacket will make all the difference in the cold. You can only expect the indoor fireplace at the common kitchen area.
- A sleeping bag with liner will definitely help in the cold nights in the upper regions of the trek.
- A good, durable water bottle and a sun hat/glasses. Dehydration and sunburn occurs more quickly in the upper regions of the trek and cause irritation, headaches and rashes along the trek. Carry necessary items.
- Water purifying solutions or tablets: the availability of drinking water is sparse and far between to comfortably quench your thirst in the upper regions of the trek.
The above is to give you a general idea to what you should keep in mind. You can learn in detail about what to bring to annapurna base camp trek too. This should be more helpful.
Many of the equipments and supplies can be purchased or rented at affordable prices in Kathmandu and Pokhara.
With/Without a Guide
Being one of the most popular and well maintained trails of Nepal, the Annapurna Base Camp trek can be done with or without a guide.
It is recommended to hire a guide while doing any kinds of trek in Nepal. A guide will not only help you not get lost but also will be able to share any information you require regarding the local fauna, people, culture, place, landscapes, flowers and so on.
A guide can also improve your overall trekking experience as they are familiar with the locals in the regions. Hence, they can help you integrate more with the locals giving you a more up close experience of the local culture, tradition and lifestyle.
Without a guide, your overall expenses will be slightly less.
Note: Do hire a guide from a licensed agency or check the credentials of the guide you have already hired, just to be safe.
It is strongly recommended you get travel insurance that covers trekking and everything associated with it including emergency evacuation packages. This is for your safety as the weather in the mountains is unpredictable and trekking is an adventure.
Travel insurance is also recommended to save you from the hassles that may arise from loss of baggage, travel cancellation or interruptions, postponement of travel plans and so on.
However, this should be done from your home country.
Choose an itinerary that is comfortable for you or contact us to help select the perfect itinerary for you.
The itinerary that you decide on will let you have the right number of days for you to comfortably and safely enjoy your trek to the Annapurna base camp. If you have never travelled to high altitude grounds or never trekked continuously for days before, we recommend you to choose an itinerary that has acclimatization days.
These days will help your body adjust to the high altitudes and also help prevent any sickness related to the high grounds.
You can choose from a wide range of accommodation places while you are in Kathmandu and Pokhara. These places will have all the modern amenities from wifi, bathrooms, air-condition and so on.
On the trails, your choice will be limited to the local, traditional tea houses or lodges. These tea houses offer rooms on a sharing basis, usually with two beds. They do provide the basic facilities like toilet, showers.
Well, with the increasing flow of trekkers every year the quality of services that are provided have become a lot better. And due to the number of tea houses, they compete to make themselves better than the other.
Food and Water
In Kathmandu, Pokhara and the lower regions of the trail, you can choose from a wide range of food and water selection. Some examples are continental, Chinese, Italian, Newari, Nepali, range of bottled water, coconut water and so on.
On the trails, your choices will be limited to local cuisine of Dal-bhat-tarkari (Steamed Rice, Lentils, and local vegetables), flat bread (roti) and so on. As for water, you are recommended to bring your own water purifying tablets, solutions.
There are open taps, streams, waterfalls along the way but you are not recommended to drink directly from them. Use filters or purifying tablets, just in case. Bottled water is available; however the price increases as the altitude increases.
High Altitude Sickness
Do get as much information as you can about high altitude sickness. This will help you notice symptoms, take precautions and take necessary steps if they do occur.
Do not ever ignore any symptoms of high altitude sickness as this is a serious thing and can get worse or lead to death if not taken care of immediately.
Some extra tips for preparing for the Annapurna Base Camp
- Do take photographs along the way as well as at the Annapurna Base Camp. This trail makes for some of the greatest pictures with the mountains at the background. In the lower regions, blossoms of the red and white rhododendrons, and local people in their traditional attire. These are great for memories and make great postcards as well.
- Choose the best weather conditions for a perfect and comfortable trek for beginners as well as for anyone who just wants to enjoy a comfortable trek.
- Take both winter and summer clothes as the weather in the mountains is unpredictable. A perfect morning may turn into a stormy night and vice versa. But do not carry heavy clothes in summer. It is best to wear clothes in layers.
- Take your favorite snacks for the trek. Sometimes, this is all that is needed to give you that extra push for the climb.
- If possible, have an extra day at your favorite place on the way back of your trek to just relax and enjoy your journey. But this should be discussed beforehand with your agency.
- Also do not travel with a tight schedule. Since the weather is quite unpredictable at the himalayas, flight cancellations are possible. Keeping a day or two aside will help you dodge a lot of mess.
Preparation is required for any treks or travels to a high altitude region. The Annapurna Base Camp trek is no exception. The trek is doable and suitable for everyone. A bit of preparation is necessary. Train yourself to be able to walk uphill 4/6 hours on a daily basis. This will be extremely fruitful for the trek.
There are many trails in the Annapurna region and you can choose one that is the right one for you. You can contact us for any questions or queries you may have regarding trekking to Nepal.
Remember to relax and enjoy the moment. Don’t stress over the duration or the time it is taking you to do the trek and don’t compare your speed, endurance to others. Trek isn’t a competition.
Little bit of preparedness will make your journey stress free. Remember you are on a holiday and have fun.