There is much more to Nepal than just mountains. You start with a couple of days to explore the rich culture and history of Kathmandu and the Valley by visiting some of the city’s finest UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Spending a night with a family in Panauti, a beautiful little Newar town in the Kathmandu Valley you get a chance to see a little of the ‘real Nepal’.
Perhaps one of the most scenic treks in the world, the combination of not so difficult hiking and the majestic scenery makes this trek to Annapurna Base Camp (4200m) in the Annapurna Sanctuary one of the most popular in Nepal. Walking through thick bamboo and rhododendron forests, you are surrounded by incredibly beautiful mountain views of some of the highest mountains in the world. You pass small villages and meet locals with a mix of cultures unparalleled by any of the other treks as you venture deep into the Annapurna Himal.
Trek grade: This is a Grade 3 trek as some of the days are quite long (up to 7 hours) and you climb to over 4,200m. However, the walking is along good trails, going up gradually and is not technical in any way.
If this interests you, you might like to have a look at some of the other treks Royal Mountain Travel can offer in the area:
|Day 1||Arrival in Kathmandu|
|Day 2||Kathmandu sightseeing|
|Day 3||Bhaktapur and Panauti|
|Day 5||Birethanti – Tirkedhunga (1540m, 5 hrs)|
|Day 6||Tirkedhunga to Ghorepani (2987m, 7 hrs)|
|Day 7||Trek to Poon Hill (3190m), Ghorepani to Tadapani (2590m, 7 hrs)|
|Day 8||Tadapani to Chhomrong (2170m, 5 hrs)|
|Day 9||Chhomrong to Himalaya Hotel (2920m, 7 hrs)|
|Day 10||Annapurna Base Camp (4130m, 7 hrs)|
|Day 11||Dobhan (2505m, 6 hrs)|
|Day 12||Chhomrong (1951m, 5 hrs)|
|Day 13||Dhampus (1650m, 7 hrs)|
|Day 14||Pokhara (915m, 3 hrs)|
|Day 15||Fly Pokhara to Kathmandu|
Trekking: Additional information
Please note that the published itinerary can only be a statement of intent and should be used as a guide only. Each day may vary due to the walking times of the group, camping and trail condRead More...
Trekking: Additional information
Please note that the published itinerary can only be a statement of intent and should be used as a guide only. Each day may vary due to the walking times of the group, camping and trail conditions. The guide in charge of your trip may have to alter the schedule if necessary and any such changes are at the discretion of Royal Mountain Travel and your guide.
The trekking day
Your day starts with a wakeup call, followed by breakfast and baggage pickup. You are then driven to the start point of your trek. While trekking, your day starts with breakfast at the tea house where you are staying. You need to pack up your baggage before breakfast as porters usually set off early.
Normally you are on the trail by 8 am and stop for a leisurely lunch around noon, with the chance to stop along the way for short breaks. Lunchtime usually lasts a couple of hours to give you time to relax or to explore the village where you have stopped. The afternoon walk is shorter and you can expect to arrive around 4 pm to allow time for short excursions to nearby sites, monasteries, exploration of the village or for relaxing with a book or catching up on your diary. Dinner is generally around, 7 pm.
Everyone walks at different speeds and you should always go at the pace that is comfortable for you. The grade of the trek is only an approximate indication of what to expect, based on the altitude and the hours of walking per day. In general, the condition of trails is good as these are the main routes between villages.
What you carry?
Each porter carries 15kg so you should pack 7.5 kgs of baggage, sharing one porter between two persons. These things will not be available to you during the day as the porters usually leave early and do not walk with you. Your daypack should contain all that you need during the day. This should consist of warm clothes for when you stop, a water bottle, camera, sunscreen, lip salve and maybe waterproofs depending on when you’re trekking. Your guide will let you know each evening about any extra items you might need for the following day. You should take a comfortable daypack to carry just a few kilograms of things you need along the way.
Food and drink
No meals are included on your trek. These are available in tea houses, lodges and bhattis that may sometimes have quite limited menus. There are a lot of tea houses and lodges along the way while you are trekking. Meals are generally simple but filling, but you may wish to stock up on ‘trail munchies’ before leaving Kathmandu or Pokhara. Although mineral water in plastic bottles can be found along the way in many places, you should try to avoid using this. Plastic bottles are a serious problem on the trekking routes as there is no way to dispose of them. Instead, you should use water purification tablets, a water filter or ask for boiled water at the lodges. It is a good idea to bring a heat resistant water bottle which can double up as a hot water bottle when you go to bed at night too!
It is not recommended to drink alcohol at altitudes above 3,000m or so, where altitude sickness can start to have an effect.
Accommodation is in lodges and teahouses and is of a basic standard. Rooms may be twin or multi-share with basic shared toilet facilities. Hot showers are available in some places for a small charge. It is a good idea to pack wet-wipes to freshen up, especially useful when you reach high altitudes where the water can be very cold. It is not recommended to wash your hair when you are at higher altitudes and where the outside air is cold, as you run the risk of getting a chill when your wet hair takes a long time to dry.
Lodges usually have a common room where later in the day, when people start to arrive from their day’s trek there might be a stove that is lit to keep warm. Bedrooms, however, are not heated. Lodges provide clean bedding, but you may want to pack a sheet sleeping bag for peace of mind.
The main means of transport is on foot, or in some cases by horse, with mules or donkeys sometimes carrying baggage. On most trekking routes, your baggage will be carried by the porters. You should ensure that anything you might need during the day is in your day pack as you will not see the baggage that is being carried again until the end of each day.
You will be provided with government licensed, experienced trek guided assisted by the porters who transport your baggage with one porter for every two trekkers. The guide is in overall charge of the trek and looks after you. This is the person you should go to with any problems, concerns or questions. Our guides are highly trained in all aspects of trekking, conservation, high altitude medicine, first-aid and emergency procedures. They are professionals selected for their knowledge and passion for Nepal and its peoples. However, you should remember that they are local guides and their English may sometimes be quite basic and limited to trek related topics. Usually, porters will have a more basic understanding of English. Please try to speak slowly and clearly to make communication easier.
Trek grading and preparation
It is impossible to have a ‘foolproof’ grading system as everyone has different expectations and perceptions of their own fitness level. Remember that no trek in the Himalaya is a stroll as all involve going up and down, often at altitude. Altitude affects everyone differently, and even if it has not affected you much before, each time can be quite different in how it affects you.
Regardless of age or fitness, preparation, before you arrive, is a good idea. Aerobic activity, swimming, cycling or brisk walking is recommended or, at the very least, walking up and down stairs in your trekking boots to be sure that they fit well and are comfortable. Try to use hiking boots that you have already broken in to avoid blisters. Remember that the trek should be fun and you should go at your own pace.
It is best to bring cash in major currencies such as the US, Canadian or Australian dollars, Euros, or Pounds. Ensure you have a mixture of large and small denominations. Everyone’s spending is different, but as a guide, we suggest about USD 8 – 10 per meal in Kathmandu and Pokhara and USD 30 – 35 per day whilst trekking. If you drink or smoke you need to allow a bit more.
You should exchange enough money into Nepalese Rupees to last the entire time of your trek before leaving Kathmandu. You can find the money exchange counters near your hotel in Kathmandu and Pokhara but there are no exchange facilities in villages along the way.
Communication: mobile phones and internet
Please note, as you will be often trekking through valleys and will not always be close to mobile towers, mobile phone reception can be very patchy. NCELL, the local mobile company has quite good coverage, but sometimes the signal can be very weak. Usually, lodges have powerpoints to recharge your mobile, although this sometimes can be at an extra charge.
Tipping is a personal and voluntary matter and is not included in the trip price. If you wish to reward the efforts of those who have worked to make your trek the best they can, we suggest the following: USD 4 per day for groups of 8+, USD 5 per day for smaller groups which will be shared amongst the whole staff, including porters.
Travel insurance is not included in the trip price. It is essential that you take out comprehensive travel insurance prior to your trek. Your travel insurance must provide cover against personal accident, medical expenses, emergency evacuation and repatriation (including helicopter evacuation) and personal liability. We also recommend that it cover cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects. Be careful to check the small print of your insurance regarding altitude as some policies only provide cover up to 2000m.
There are no specific health requirements for entry into Nepal. Your health condition must be sound as you will be climbing to above 4000m. You should consult your doctor for up-to-date information regarding vaccinations, high altitude medication and medications for any reasonably foreseeable illnesses whilst traveling in Nepal. Be aware that some drugs, including anti-malarial, have side effects at altitude. Please discuss this carefully with your doctor.
Please be aware that you will be in remote areas and away from medical facilities for some time during this trip. We strongly recommend that you carry a personal First Aid kit as well as sufficient quantities of any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses)
AMS (acute mountain sickness) is a serious issue. It is the result of the failure of the body to adapt to high altitude and can affect anyone, regardless of age or fitness. It usually occurs above 1,800 meters and the likelihood of being affected increases as you ascend. The way to reduce the effects of altitude is to ascend slowly, 300 meters per day above 3,000 meters until you have acclimatized. Poor acclimatization can result in headaches, nausea, sleeplessness, difficulty breathing and swelling of fingers and glands. The only cure for AMS is to descend to a lower altitude and your guide’s decision on this matter is final. There is a possibility of AMS in any trek that passes through altitudes above 4000 meters.
Although our routes are carefully planned to allow proper acclimatization you may feel some effects of altitude for the first few days or at higher altitudes. Breathlessness, lethargy and mild headaches are not uncommon and generally decrease as your body adjusts. Maintaining adequate fluid intake is essential. Please advise your guide if you feel more severe symptoms and do not medicate yourself without discussing it with them first.
Variation of climate is directly proportional to the altitude. For this trekking, trekking routes are often passed through a range of altitudes from 850m upwards. Between about 2700m and 3000m a cool temperate climate prevails, and you should expect a cool summer and very cold temperatures in the winter. Above 3000m, even if the daytime is sunny and quite warm, the temperature will drop sharply as soon as the sun goes down.
The weather in the mountains is notoriously changeable, so always be prepared for a change in conditions and note that if severe or dangerous weather conditions occur your guide’s decision on any course of action is final.
Trekking permits are required for almost all treks and will be obtained by Royal Mountain Travel. The Trekking Information Management System (TIMS) is essential for the record of Nepal Tourism Board keeping in mind about probable hazards to occur. You need to provide your full name, nationality, home address, passport number, sex, date of birth and 2 photographs for each permit. Royal Mountain Travel also pays any fees required for entry to national parks, conservation areas or restricted areas.
Packing for your trek
You will need to bring a comfortable medium sized daypack to carry the things you will need during the day. This should have a waist strap or (better) a padded waist belt.
You should limit your baggage to about 7kg. You will find the following items useful.
Royal Mountain Travel is a Nepal-based sustainable tourism operator. We specialize in curating once-in-a-lifetime experiences to showcase indigenous and community based tourism projects. We work with travel agents and tourism companies to help plan travel experiences that highlight authentic, local lifestyles throughout some of the most unique landscapes on earth.
Arrival in Kathmandu
Arriving at Tribhuwan International Airport is an experience in itself. Don’t let it put you off, as our airport representative will be waiting to welcome you with your name written on a placard. Depending on traffic, the drive to your hotel takes about 20-30 minutes. (Traditional Comfort Hotel or equivalent)
The day is spent visiting some of the major World Heritage Sites of Kathmandu. Visiting three of the major UNESCO World Heritage Sites, you start in Kathmandu’s Durbar Square Built between the 12th and 18th centuries. You then are taken to Swayambunath, otherwise nicknamed the ‘Monkey Temple’. This is one of the oldest and most revered shrines in the country. Pashupatinath Temple, considered one of the sacred temples of Hindu faith sits on the banks of the Bagmati River in Kathmandu. The seat of the national deity, Lord Pashupatinath, the temple complex has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1979.
You will have plenty of time in the afternoon to prepare for your trek and check that you have everything you need. You might want to visit Thamel, the tourist hub of Nepal where you can easily find all you need for trekking. Or if you just want to relax, there are many cafes and bakeries serving excellent local tea and coffee. It is best to avoid the street food, however, unless you have a very strong stomach. It is recommended that you have an early night as you will have an early start in the morning.
Bhaktapur and Panauti
Following the Araniko Highway out of Kathmandu, you reach one of the most fascinating and important World Heritage Sites in Nepal. Bhaktapur is made up of three large squares filled with historic shrines and temples, Newar architecture and fine art. Famous for its clay pots and exquisite wood carvings, Bhaktapur is also legendary for its colourful festivals and its delicious and unique cuisine.
Continuing a little further into the Kathmandu Valley, you arrive at Panauti, another historic Newar town where you have lunch with your Homestay host. In the afternoon your host will take you around the old town center. Panauti is an old traditional Newari village where you can see a large number of Hindu and Buddhist religious monuments and temples. (Panauti Homestay)
After breakfast, returning via Kathmandu (35km) you continue your drive on one of the country’s oldest and busiest highways. The construction of the highway started in 1967 with the help of the Chinese government and completed in 1974, made it possible to travel to Pokhara by road (until then it took at least two weeks on foot). The highway is named after King Prithivi Narayan Shah. Weather permitting, you may catch glimpses of the Himalayas along the way. Driving first along the Trisuli River – the main tourist attraction for white water rafting, you then follow the massive Marshyangdi River. During the drive, you have the opportunity to stop for photos and lunch. Arriving in the afternoon, the rest of the day you have free in Pokhara.
Birethanti – Tirkedhunga (1540m, 5 hrs)
After breakfast, you are taken on the two-hour drive to the start of the trek at Birethanti. Birethanti is a large and prosperous town beside the Modi River. We head up the wide trail through bamboo forests and lush pastures to Sudami where you climb gradually up the side of the valley to reach Hile (1495m), and then Tirkedhunga where you stop for the night.
Tirkedhunga to Ghorepani (2987m, 7 hrs)
The next morning you descend to cross the Bhurungdi Khola before climbing the steep stone staircase to the Magar village of Ulleri. It is said that there are 3,767 steps (who’s counting?), but this is the toughest section of the trek. As you climb, the peaks of Annapurna South and Hiunchuli emerge from behind the foothills. Pasture and cultivated fields start to give way to deep forests of oak and rhododendron.
It should take about 3-4 hours to reach Banthanti (2824m) where you stop for lunch. Then after a break, you continue for another hour and a half to Ghorepani. One of the biggest villages in the area, the views of the Himalayas from here are amazing. You may see 360° views of Annapurna and Dhaulagiri Himalayas on a clear day. Dhaulagiri I, II, III, IV, V, Tukuche, Dhampus, Nilgiri, Annapurna South, Barah Sikhar, Machhapuchhre (aka Fishtail) are some of the major peaks seen from here.
Trek to Poon Hill (3190m), Ghorepani to Tadapani (2590m, 7 hrs)
Poon Hill is the major attraction of this area. Visiting Poon Hill early in the morning for the sunrise is a memorable experience. You start early to hike the hour up to Poon Hill in the morning to admire the sun rising over the Dhaulagiri and Annapurna ranges. After spending about half an hour or so on the top of this hill, you return to your lodge in Ghorepani for breakfast.
From Ghorepani, your trail winds upwards along ridges and through pine and rhododendron forests first to Deurali (2960m) and then down to Banthanti before reaching Tadapani (2540m) on a trail that descends steeply through dense moss-covered forest rich with bird life.
Tadapani to Chhomrong (2170m, 5 hrs)
The trail descends from Tadapani, through dense rhododendron forest. Towering above the villages you see the mighty peak of Annapurna South, with the Fishtail facing it across the valley. Chhomrong (2040m) is a Gurung village and the last permanent settlement on the way to the Sanctuary.
Chhomrong to Himalaya Hotel (2920m, 7 hrs)
The trail first drops down a set of stone steps to Chhomrong Khola and then goes upwards again through Sinuwa and on through a rhododendron forest to Kuldi (2470m). Entering the upper Modikhola valley alongside bamboo thickets, you walk through largely untouched forests of oak and rhododendron as you climb and then descend to Bamboo (2335m). This section of the trail can be a bit of a bottleneck as there are just a few lodges here that only open during the high season. You follow the track steeply upward through deep bamboo and rhododendron forest to the village called Himalaya Hotel (2920m).
Annapurna Base Camp (4130m, 7 hrs)
Starting with a hike up through bamboo and then rhododendron forests to Hinko cave, the track stays on the west bank of the Modi which is now flowing through a more open valley to eventually emerges into the Sanctuary. Straight in front, you can see the high lateral moraine of the South Annapurna glacier while the Modi follows a deep cliff to the right of this. This is Machhapuchhre base camp (3480m). It is then just another two hours trek through the Sanctuary to reach ABC or Annapurna Base Camp (4130m). This final stretch to Annapurna Base Camp follows an ablation valley, a corridor-like hollow between the glacier and the flank of the mountain. Here too you have unobstructed views of the most spectacular mountain scenery.
Dobhan (2505m, 6 hrs)
From Annapurna Base Camp you retrace your route down, an easy walk of about 6 hours down to Dobhan.
Chhomrong (1951m, 5 hrs)
Carrying on down the way you came, you continue on to Chomrong where you have more comfortable lodges and the chance to relax from your high altitude adventures.
Dhampus (1650m, 7 hrs)
Carrying on from Chhomrong, you now follow a different route along the east side of the valley via Landrung to Dhampus. Dhampus is nearly at the end of your trek. This village offers you an opportunity to and interact with local people and get a close up look at the daily lives of the villagers, seeing them working on their farms.
Pokhara (915m, 3 hrs)
On the way down you pass the Tibetan Refugee camp at Hyangja. It is an easy three hours to where you are picked up and driven back to Pokhara. There are lots of things to see and do in Pokhara. There are a few museums, the most notable being the International Mountain Museum (IMM). In addition, there is an ethnographical museum, Pokhara Regional Museum and Annapurna Natural History Museum with collections of flora and fauna, and butterflies. There is also the Gurkha Museum featuring the history of the Gurkha soldiers. Gurkha soldiers are still recruited here in Pokhara. You might like to go boating or take the opportunity to try out paragliding. For the fearless, you might want to have a go at Nepal’s second bungee jumping site: Water Touch Bungee Jumping. Or if you are interested in Tibetan culture, you can take a tour of the Tibetan settlements with a Tibetan guide.
Fly Pokhara to Kathmandu
Flying back to Kathmandu takes only about 35 minutes. You have the day free. You have the rest of the day free. You might like to try out one of the many cooking classes or workshops on offer, go for some more sightseeing or do some last minute shopping.
You transfer to Tribhuvan Airport to connect with your onward flight. Please note that you should check in three hours prior to your flight time.