Annapurna Base Camp is perhaps the best known of the Nepalese treks. Walking around Pokhara, you will undoubtedly find plenty of tour agencies organizing the trek to Annapurna Base Camp. If you want to plan well in advance, I recommend seeing the tour organized by Civitatis!
I organized myself, or rather with two other trekkers: I was joined by Arnaud, a French guy, and Tea, the Croatian girl from the Mustang trek.
The trek leading to Annapurna Base Camp has several variations in its lower reaches. In fact, there are different starting points. The most convenient, in my opinion, is Kade’s: reachable by a simple cab from Pokhara (about an hour’s drive, about 20 euros). Another option is to start from Jhinu Danda: in this case a jeep is required, the journey time increases to three hours, and the cost rises to 60 euros.
The itinerary described below combines several stages into one. In fact, I completed Annapurna Base Camp after hiking in Mustang and reaching Mardi Himal Base Camp. I suggest splitting the stages differently and sleeping at Landruk, Chommrung, Bamboo and Deurali, thus reaching Annapurna Base Camp in five days.
Once you arrive by cab in Kade, the Annapurna Base Camp route immediately gives you its main feature: stairs! In fact, Annapurna Base Camp is famous for its beauty and endless stairways! Within a little more than an hour, Australian Camp is reached: from here the first views of the sacred Machapucchare (whose summit is forbidden for religious reasons to all climbers) and the Annapurna Mountains can be seen.
Soon after is the small flower village of Pothana.
After about six kilometers you reach Pittani Deurali. Here there is a detour: on the right you go to Mardi Himal Base Camp, on the left you continue to Annapurna Base Camp. From the 2150 meters of Pittani Deurali we first descend to the 1800 meters of Tolka and finally to the 1600 meters of Landruk. Following the Modi River, we quickly arrive at Himal Pani: here we cross the river via a spectacular bamboo bridge.
From Himal Pani you start climbing up to New Bridge. This location is named after the very long Tibetan bridge that connects New Bridge to Jhinu Danda.
I slept very well at Namaste Guesthouse: the hot shower was one of the best in all of Nepal!
This stage is 18 kilometers long, with an elevation gain of 900 meters. I don’t have the exact itinerary, or rather, I have it broken. In fact, at Pittani Deurali I followed the detour leading to Mardi Himal Base Camp. After reaching this Base Camp, I returned to the Annapurna Base Camp circuit at Landruk.
From Jhinu Danda begins a very long flight of steps covering 500 meters of elevation gain. At the end of these endless stairs you reach Chommrung, at an elevation of 2,200 meters. The views from here are spatial! In fact, in addition to Annapurna and Machapucchare, it is possible to see the wonderful rice terraces. From Chommrung you can already see Sinuwa: to reach it, however, you have to go down 350 meters and then up 500 meters…always with steps!
In the downhill part there is a stupa, much loved by locals. Certainly the Annapurna Base Camp trail is much less rich in history and culture than the Annapurna Circuit: this stupa is one of the few I encountered along the trail.
The alternatives I mentioned at the beginning end at Chommrung: from here on, the route to Annapurna Base Camp is the same for everyone!
Once Sinuwa, at an elevation of 2340 meters, is reached, a good hour of up and down begins, leading to Bamboo, located at an elevation of 2310 meters. This hour-long walk features a fairly dense forest and…the classic staircase to Bamboo!
From Bamboo I walked for a half-hour to Dovan, at an elevation of 2,500 meters. Here I stopped to sleep, at the good Dovan Guest House: hot shower and wifi!
From Dovan the trail follows a forest to the 2800-meter Himalayas. In this section you can see waterfalls, a stupa and monkeys jumping with disarming ease from branch to branch.
From Himalaya, the vegetation slowly thins out, and in the meantime, we continue to climb up to the 3200-meter Deurali. Once you leave this small village you follow the Modi River again, before finding some fairly steep ramps leading up to Machapucchare Base Camp, at an elevation of 3650 meters.
This location is misnamed. In fact, Machapucchare has no Base Camp as the mountain is sacred and is inviolate. The views, on the other hand, are spectacular! In fact, from here, you can see Annapurna, Hiunchuli, Gangapurna, and, of course, Machapucchare!
The last 450 meters of elevation gain leading to Annapurna Base Camp (elevation 4130 meters) are the easiest: in fact, the slopes are never steep and, most importantly, walking in this beautiful mountain landscape helps!
I arrived at Annapurna Base Camp after walking about 13 kilometers, with an elevation gain of more than 1,700 meters. Arriving at Annapurna Base Camp before sunset was a great satisfaction! In addition, the sunset was really beautiful: the Machapucchare is so red that it seems to catch fire!
Sunrise from Annapurna Base Camp, however, did not excite me. In fact, the sun takes a long time before it rises, as it is exactly behind Machapucchare. Annapurna Base Camp, however, is a wonderful place. The views of Annapurna South and Annapurna I are truly sublime! In addition, there is a shrine dedicated to climbers who died attempting the ascent of Annapurna.
Among the climbers remembered, one of the most famous is Anatolij Bukreev. The Kazakh had miraculously escaped the tragic 1996 Everest expedition, remembered by the famous film of the same name. Bukreev died in Christmas 1997 trying to climb Annapurna. This mountain, despite being the first 8000 conquered (in 1950, by a French expedition), has a very high mortality rate among climbers (about 30 percent of those who attempt the summit find death).
Annapurna Base Camp, therefore, is not only a naturalistically fantastic place but also a place rich in history and charm!
From Annapurna Base Camp I followed the same route as on the outward journey, stopping to sleep at Sinewa. The next day, now very tired, I arrived in Jhinu Danda and from there took a jeep to Pokhara.