Out of India

Stairway to Heaven —Annapurna Base Camp Trek

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Our Group
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Machhapuchhre

Topics covered

Preparations

Visa for Nepal/ currency conversions

Items to carry

List of Documents required for ACPC and TIMS permit

Annapurna base camp trek – 8-day itinerary

Approx cost for 8 days

Good to know info about Trek


Preparations: 

Even though I m physically active almost throughout the year, getting physically/ mentally prepared for a trek is extremely important. Before setting off on this adventure make sure to become the fittest version of self. Even though running a marathon is not necessary, it’s good to improve on cardio i.e if we want to enjoy hike to Annapurna Base Camp.


How to Prepare for a trek

  • Run- Approx. 20 kms in week for minimum 6 weeks
  • Make sure to walk up to 12 kms in a stretch on an unpaved road
  • Climb ~1800 stairs up and down with backpack at least 3 times a week
  • At least 3 hours a week work on strengthening your legs, shoulders and back.

Note: This is my personal schedule and it works for me, important thing is keep moving and do something we enjoy.


Visa for Nepal/ Currency conversions:

Visa/Currency for Indian Citizen              

Indian citizen does not require a visa to enter Nepal. Indian nationals traveling to Nepal must posses any one of the following documents: Passport or Driving License with photo or Election Commission Card. If we are entering Nepal by road, then no need to have Passport, in case we are entering by air, its required to have passport.

As of April 2019, Currency 1INR = 1.6 NPR. Even though INR is generally accepted all over Nepal I suggest, get it converted. In Airport and other foreign exchange office only 100 Rs notes are accepted. Although many hotels and travel agents accept 500 and 2000 Rs Note, it is not legal.

Please Note – In case Nepali currency is left on the last day, it’s very tough to exchange it for Indian Money. I suggest not to have too much Nepali Rupee.

 Visa/Currency for Other Nationals

                Its required to have visa for other nationals. I suggest finding out online regarding requirements of passport and Visa. it’s better to arrange the visa in advance as I saw a huge queue in Visa on Arrival counter when I reached.

As of April 2019, Currency 1 USD = 110 NPR. Some prices are quoted in dollars for ease of comparisons (e.g. hotels) and some things are priced in dollars but payable in rupees (e.g. TIMS cards). Hotels and trekking agencies might accept dollars, but it will be probably cheaper to pay in rupees.


Items to carry:

This is a very personal list. Everyone has their own preferences. These are the items I recommend.

Basic necessary

  • Trek shoe
  • 50- 60 lts backpack (Try to carry small backpack so we tend to carry less luggage—My logic)
  • Down or Padded Jacket

Other Accessories

  • Cloths – 1 pair of thermals
  • A fleece or Wind cheater
  • 3 full arm shirt and full-length pant
  • Rain jacket /pant or Poncho
  • Sunglasses
  • Suncap
  • Hand gloves (both inner and outer – Inner – Woolen Outer – water/snow resistance)
  • Socks (4 Pairs – Min)
  • Banaclava or neck warmer
  • Liner for sleep hygiene
  • Knee cap and trek pole (Essential for this trek as it has lot of stairs)
  • Day pack – 10 (Not Mandatory – its required only if we are not staying in ABC. When going from MBC to ABC)
  • Water bottle Or Hydration Pack
  • Plastic Cover for wet clothes
  • Toiletries (Paste, Brush, Sunscreen, Moisturizer, Toilet paper, Sanitizer, facewash, Comb)
  • Basic medicine Kit
  • Good camera with extra batteries or Power bank

Optional

  • A book or Kindle (I suggest – “Birds of Indian Subcontinent” will be helpful in this trek)
  • Snacks – (You get almost everything in teahouses, but it’s expensive)
  • Earphones – I suggest not to use while hiking.

List of Documents required for ACAP and TIMS permit

  Annapurna Base Camp is located inside the Annapurna Conservation Area, both solo and group trekkers are required to obtain an individual ACAP (Annapurna Conservation Area entry permit) and TIMS (Trekkers Information Management System) Permit

Documents required

  1. 2 Passport size Photograph
  2. Copy of Passport
  3. Copy of government photo ID for Indians who don’t have passport
  4. ACAP Cost – 1000 NPR for SCAAR and 4000 NPR for foreign Nationals
  5. TIMS Card Cost – SCAAR Countries— group trekkers – NPR.300 for individual trekkers – NPR.600

Other nationals — group trekkers – NPR.1000 for individual trekkers – NPR.2000

Place to obtain

  1. Nepal Tourism Board offices located in Kathmandu and Pokhara;
  2. TAAN Secretariat located in Maligaon; and
  3. TAAN Secretariat in Pokhara.

The NTB offices have the same office hours as other government agencies in Nepal. The TIMS counter office at Kathmandu is open seven days a week and remains open even on public holidays. TAAN Secretariats, meanwhile, are open from 10 AM to 5 PM.


Annapurna Base Camp trek – My 8-day itinerary:

You can hike the Annapurna Base Camp trek in various schedules. None is the absolute best and depends on your timeframe and own preferences. However, we chose the below route.

Arrive at Pokhara – Katmandu to Pokhara      

Katmandu to Pokhara is close to 200 Kms. Nepali terrain and road quality make for a very long drive for 7-8 hours. I chose to fly. Flying is by far the quickest and most comfortable way of traveling between Kathmandu and Pokhara and highly recommended if you’re short on time. Numerous flights leave each day from the domestic terminal of Tribhuvan Airport and take around 30 minutes. It’s a very scenic flight, especially if you sit on the right-hand side of the plane, so you can see the Himalaya. When flying, you’re likely to arrive feeling energetic and with plenty of time for activities the same day, which can’t really be said if you make the trip overland.

By Road(7-8 Hours) – Most tourist buses leave from Kathmandu’s Kantipath Road (near Thamel) at 7 am and cost $7 -12 USD (Rs. 700 to 1200). It’s not always necessary to pre-buy a ticket from the company or a local travel agency, although in the peak season or if you’re traveling with a large group it’s a good idea to do so. Public buses are the cheapest option, at around $4 USD (Rs. 450), one-way. You can catch a full-size bus or a smaller microbus. They leave throughout the day, roughly every half an hour, and mainly from the Gongabu Bus Park (15 mins walk from Thamel).

 Private Jeep/Car – Private cars have four seats and are around $145 – 175 USD, one-way. If you’d like to have a car with air conditioning, expect to pay a bit extra

 Stay in Pokhara – Lakeside is a popular tourist destination besides fewa lake (Phewa). There are numerous hotels along lakeside than anywhere else in Pokhara. There are too many so bargains are easy to come-by. For approx. 1600- 2500 NPR you get a decent stay for one day. Its highly likely you get a stay even if you don’t book prior.

After I reached Pokhara by flight, I went to an agent to get my ACPC & TIMS Permit. Post that I enjoyed roaming around lakeside area and boating in Fewa lake for the rest of my stay.

Day 1 – Drive from Pokhara to Kimche and trek to Komrong.

Drive from Pokhara to kimche is close to 2 hours. There are lot of public buses to reach kimche which will cost you close to 400-500NPR. We opted for private shared vehicle. We left Pokhara by 7.15 and reached kimche by 9.20 AM. We had and brunch and stated our trek to Komrong by 10.30.

Kimche to Ghandruk is close to 1-hour steep stairs ascend. Ghandruk is the biggest village we will find on the trek. As soon we enter Ghandruk, we saw a rural sign board indicating all the tea- houses and lodges in the village. The trail descends gradually to Komrong Khola (Stream).

Once we cross Ghandruk its mostly 1 to 1.15 hours of flat ascend towards Komrong. Komrong is located on top of a ridge. From Komrong, we can see Chomrong on the other side of the mountain, separated by Kimrong Khola. We reached Komrong by 12.45 and it started raining. We had our Tea and soup and rested for the day. In the evening once weather was cleared we went around the tea house for bird watching. We were lucky enough to see flycatchers, Rufous sibia, Dove, Laughing Thrushes, Tits and few Jungle babbler. If the weather you see the nice view of Annapurna South, Hinhchuli, Annapurna III, Machhapuchhre.

Altitude – Komrong – 2200 m Time – 2- 2.5 hours’ drive and 2-3 hours ascend

 Day 2: Komrong to Chomrong

Chomrong is exactly on the other side from Komrong. We started our trek by 8.30 and reached Chomrong by 12.15. Descend for half an hour and cross Kimrong khola (Stream). After crossing stream ascend towards chomrong. We stopped for our lunch around 10.30 for 45mins and stared our stairs ascend towards chomrong. Chomrong has several tea houses and several shops that sell many essential.  View of Annapurna south, Hinhchuli and Machhapuchhre is breath taking from this point. We witnessed a giant hailstones rain after reaching this place and had a wonderful pastry from nearby German Bakery in the night (NOTE: Free Wifi in Bakery 😊)

Altitude – Chomrong – 2100 m Time – 4-5 hours

Day 3: Chomrong to Dovan

Route – Chomrong – Bhinuwa – Sinuwa- Bamboo – Dovan

Since it was a long day, we decided to leave early around 7. We started at 7.15 and started to descend on stone steps towards Chomrong khola. We descended close to 2300 steps (Yes, I counted – 2214 as per my count). Along 700 to 800 steps of descend towards Chomrong village we can see forest check post entry. We marked our entry here before we proceeded. we reached the khola in 20- 30 mins. That will be last view of Annapurna south till you reach MBC. Once we cross the bridge we reached Bhinuwa in another 20 mins. The trail again climbs steeply on stone steps to reach Upper Sinuwa. From this place we can see the dense forests of Annapurna conservation. We Kept our eyes and ears open to spot some amazing birds. I was lucky enough to spot several, all thanks to Ankit for helping us spot and identify it.

                Forest range from Sinuwa to Bamboo is extremely beautiful with enormous rhododendron trees on the way which makes the forest look colorful. It was like walking on red carpet laid out specially for us. The mud trail from Sinuwa to Bamboo climbs up gradually for the first 45 minutes, till we reach a clearing where we saw abandoned ACAP check post and a steep stair descend from here till we reach bamboo. We can see lot of bamboo trees lined all the way in trail. We had our lunch here started to ascend towards Dovan.

                Ascent to Dovan from bamboo is gradual. we will cross 2 bridges and the color of rhododendron flower changes from red to pink as you go higher. It’s close to 1.15 mins hike to Dovan. We reached Dovan by 2.40 PM. We saw a small water falls to our right exactly near Dovan tea house and we got the proper view of Modi Khola from here.

Altitude -Dovan – 2600 m Time – 7 – 8 hours

Day 4: Dovan to Deurali

Route – Dovan – Himalaya – Deurali

We could have directly reached MBC on the same day, but we stayed in Deurali due to snow and avalanche alert. There is a small patch from Himalaya to Deurali which is avalanche prone. However, Deurali to MBC complete route is avalanche prone, so it’s better to cross that path early in the morning before 8. We started late around 8.30 as our hike was only till Deurali. Path from Dovan to Himalaya is gradual ascend for 1.5 hours. Once we crossed Himalaya and started ascend towards Deurali, we were lucky enough to spot a Himalayan Weasel.  We spent some time with that and parted our ways. We reached a small temple in half an hour and ascended the same way for another 45 mins to reach avalanche area. We saw the board over there and we saw the first glimpse of snow from here.  We crossed that 15 mins area as fast as possible and reached Deurali in 10 mins post that.

We kept our eyes open to see Himalayan Monal from here and we were succeeded and saw 3 Monal wandering near tea house. Weather was cloudy, and it rained once we reached Deurali around 12.

Altitude -Deurali – 3200 m Time – 1.5- 2 hours

Day 5: Deurali to MBC (Machhapuchhre Base Camp) and ABC (Annapurna Base Camp)

Route – Deurali – MBC – ABC

                Due to avalanche alert we started our trek by 6.30 PM. We planned to reach MBC by 8.30 AM. The Valley between Deurali to MBC was fully covered in snow and it was slippery. If we are not used to walking in that sort of snow, it’s advised to wear micro spikes (can rent in tea houses). Even though I had micro spikes I decided to walk without that. The valley is bewitching, I was confused which way to look more but nature made the decision for me, the sunrise on Annapurna Massif was so mesmerizing that I couldn’t look anywhere else.  The local potters pushed me to keep moving as it was not a safe place. Once I reached MBC by 8.15, I was spell bound by the beauty of it. we can see several peaks from here and a totally different view of Machhapuchhre. we saw Annapurna Massif, Annapurna South, Annapurna Himal, Hinhchuli, Annapurna 1, 2 &3, Gangapurna, Gandharva Chuli, Machhapuchhre and several others.

                We had our breakfast and dumped our main bag and started our journey towards ABC. It takes 1.5 to 2 hours to reach ABC from MBC. View was hypnotic entire way. I was lucky enough that weather was clear when we reached ABC and I was thankful to goddess Annapurna. We saw Annapurna Massif, Annapurna South, Annapurna Himal, Hinhchuli, Annapurna 1, 2 &3, Gangapurna, Gandharva Chuli, Machhapuchhre, Barahi Shikhar, Tent Peak and several others. I was reluctant to come back but weather alert pushed me to come back down. I enjoyed coming down as I deviated and walked through the knee-deep snow by making my own way down.

Altitude -MBC – 3700 m, ABC – 4130 m

Time – 1.5- 2 hours

Day 6: ABC to Bamboo

Route – ABC- MBC – Deurali – Himalaya- Dovan – Bamboo

                We had all plans to reach Deurali before 7 and we were ready, but sunrise on Annapurna put a halt to that. We were blessed to see the entire sunrise peacefully from MBC. Post sunrise, we started around 6.45. MBC to Deurali route was quite slippery and fell few times and struggled for balance and yet refused to wear micro spikes (recommend micro spikes for others) but got a hang after some time and reached Deurali. Post that it was all downhill and we reached Bamboo by 1.15 PM. By now I was able to identify few more birds on my own on the way down.

Altitude – Bamboo – 2340 m       Time – 5 – 6 hours

Day 7: Bamboo – Chomrong

Route – Bamboo – Sinuwa – Bhinuwa – Chomrong

                You can directly reach Siwai on the same day, but we halted in Chomrong. We started late around 7.45 as hike was not much, but this day has lot of ascend.  Stairs ascend from bamboo till clearing where we can see old ACPC check post, post that it’s a descend in mud road till Bhinuwa and we will reach chomrong khola in 2- 2.5 hours. Once you cross Chomrong Khola it’s a steep ascend all the way till our tea house in Chomrong Village (2240 – Stairs). We reached chomrong around 11.15 and it rained well post 12.

Altitude – Chomrong – 2100 m   Time – 3-4 hours

Day 8: Chomrong -Siwai – Pokhara – Katmandu

Route – Chomrong – Jhinu – Kyumi – Siwai- Sayali bazar – Pokhara – Katmandu

                If you leave early in the morning you can reach Katmandu on same day (or take a night bus to Katmandu). However, I planned to stay in Pokhara as I had plans to visit Lower Mustang. We started at 7.30 from Chomrong and Jhinu is 1-hour steep stairs downhill.  Once you cross Jhinu we need to descend 30 minutes more to reach Kimrong Khola. We saw some barbette, fish tail drango and Hoope’s on the way. The bridge is one of the longest bridges with 280m. Once you cross bridge and start walking towards new bridge and kyumi, we saw a thick forest all round. Trail is beautiful with long thick trees, flowers and moist soil. You can see the Mardi Himal trail exactly on that side of Khola.  Jhinu to Kyumi is close 2 hours. we had our lunch here and it started raining again but we proceed towards Siwai in rain and reached Siwai by 12.45. Our vehicle was all set to take us back to Pokhara. However due to huge traffic jam because of poor roads, 2 hours of drive via Nayapul took us close to 3.5 hours and we were in hotel by 4.30PM. With heavy heart I bid an adieu to Annapurna Conservation area.


Approx. cost for 8 days

As per my calculations and my itinerary, it will cost close to ~25000 INR ($350) to finish the trek (including a day stay in Pokhara). Accommodation at the tea houses will cost close to 500 -600 NPR for 2 sharing room (7-10$ – charges for foreigner is high) with a stipulation to buy food in the same teahouse. As per my general observation food is costlier all over Nepal. One day food will cost close to 2000 -2500 NPR. You get different cuisine’s in several teahouses throughout the way. No big cost difference between Dalbath (Nepali Thali) and Pizza. Only difference I found is Dalbath – Unlimited serving, any other items on the menu is limited serving.


Good to know info about Trek

  • If you are planning for ABC Trek, make sure to include Poon Hill in your itinerary. Sunrise in Ponnhill will be worth as you can see both Annapurna and Dhaulagiri.
  • Hot Spring in Jhinu Danda.
  • Even though the trail is well marked I suggest taking a Nepali guide as it has several advantages in selecting a room/ food/ hotwater in tea houses. A group which has a Nepali Guide will have more preference in tea house over individual trekkers
  • 1 bucket of Hot water for bath will cost around 300- 400 NPR based on Teahouse.
  • 1 full mobile charging will cost 200- 300 NPR.
  • 1 liter of hotwater for drinking is 100-200NPR
  • Wifi Charges – 200- 400NPR. Higher the altitude higher the price.

 

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