Preethi is a marketing professional by day and a travel blogger/photographer by night, proving that you don’t have to quit your job to travel and blog! Her can-do attitude helps her land campaigns with tourism boards to help promote destinations. An avid hiker, Preethi is also passionate about helping other people travel the outdoors safely and responsibly.
She recently led a group of nine people to Annapurna Base Camp, in partnership with a local outfitter. She was also a panelist at the 2020 Wander Woman virtual conference, where she led a panel discussion on traveling outdoors safely in the midst of the pandemic. You can find her travel stories at theeagertraveler.com and her photography on her Instagram page.
Ten years ago, when a friend told me about this place called the Annapurna Base Camp, he described it as even more beautiful and less crowded than the journey to Everest Base Camp. The words “base camp” have become synonymous with Mount Everest, and sound intimidating to many of us. Who would have thought a scrawny, non-athletic Indian girl like me would one day hike there, at an altitude of 4,130 meters?!
In October 2019, my dream of trekking to Annapurna Base Camp (referred to fondly as “ABC”) came true, when I led a group of nine people on this hike with me. In this article, I’ll share with you everything you need to know about the beginner-friendly, eight-day hut-to-hut trek to ABC.
Getting In & Visa Requirements
Annapurna is located in Nepal, which, from San Francisco, took me two days to reach. I found a round-trip ticket for $940 USD via Southern China Airlines, with a layover in China. I had applied for an e-visa online, which made the process a lot smoother upon landing at the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu.
Walk to the counter upon arrival to pay the $30 USD visa fee and then stand in line to get your passport stamped before heading to baggage claim. The visa line can be long, and the people behind the counters can abruptly leave, so you could be waiting up to a half-hour or an hour before another officer takes over.
Introduction To The ABC (Annapurna Base Camp)
Annapurna is part of the Himalayas in north-central Nepal and means the goddess of the harvests. The Annapurna Base Camp, or “ABC”, trek is also referred to as the Annapurna Sanctuary Trek and is commonly known as a great introductory trek along structured trails (meaning there is no exposure or dropoffs that you’ll come upon during this trek). For anyone afraid of heights, this is a great multiday option.
Although you land in Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital city, you will later take a short 75-minute flight to nearby Pokhara to begin the trek, which takes you through varied landscapes, culminating at the base of majestic peaks such as Annapurna 1 (8,091 meters), Annapurna South (7,219 meters), Machapuchhre (6,993 meters), and Hiunchuli (6,441 meters).
The duration of the trek can vary. I chose to organize a guided eight-day trek. (My total trip length was 13 days, including travel days.) Give yourself at least two days before the trek to acclimatize to the altitude. You’ll need it!
Accommodations On The Trail
When you first arrive in Kathmandu or Pokhara, you can share a hotel room, or pay more to have one to yourself. Once you begin the trek, you spend each night in different teahouses in small villages nestled deep in the Himalayas. Hence, this is called a hut-to-hut trek, as the teahouses are like little huts.
Be prepared to share a room in the teahouses. The beds are typically spaced out next to each other (not bunk style), and the single beds come with pillows and sheets. Bring your own sleeping bag, as you will need the additional warmth; the teahouses are not insulated.
Most teahouses on this trek have shared bathrooms, but at least two have private bathrooms. On average, I probably showered twice in the eight days. You can shower every day, but there isn’t always hot water. Be prepared for very basic showers. There isn’t always toilet paper, so definitely bring your own.
Food You’ll Eat On The Trail
The food at the teahouses consists of yummy traditional Nepali cuisine such as dal bhat (steamed rice, cooked lentil soup, and typically some vegetables). Most teahouses will also have Korean noodles and rosti on the menu for variety. Breakfasts are a combination of porridge, muesli, eggs, toast, coffee, and tea. Lunches are had at teahouses on the way.
Wi-Fi Connectivity While Trekking
Wi-Fi is extremely weak or nonexistent the higher you climb. There is a small fee if you decide to purchase Wi-Fi. Charging stations are available at each teahouse for a nominal cost of $1–2 per hour.
How To Train Before Tackling The ABC
I live in a city where I have access to mountains, so I tried to hike 7–8 miles at least once a weekend for about two months prior to my trip. First Light Adventure, the company I trekked with, recommends working toward the following:
- Being able to run 3 kilometers in 22.5 minutes or faster
- Being able to climb 20 floors in 15 minutes, twice or more
- Being free of injuries
What To Pack For Your Trek
You need a 25–30-liter backpack with a bladder to drink from, which you will carry on your back daily during the trek, and a 50–55-liter backpack that the porters will carry for you.
It’s critical you have the right clothing and gear such that you are comfortable – no matter the weather. Out in the mountains, the weather can quickly change from sunny to rainy to windy to chilly.
Costs of Completing This Trek In Nepal
The cost of this trek as of October 2019 was $1,180 USD. Tips for the porters and guides can range anywhere from $30 USD per person to $100 USD per person depending on your experience.
Choosing A Tour Operator For A Guided Trek
On the ground, I chose First Light Adventure to guide us, as I knew the owner personally and trusted his operations. The itinerary also included a unique aspect of the trek I hadn’t seen elsewhere: entering the Annapurna Sanctuary at moonlight, just in time to see the sunrise!
I also loved hiking with the guides and the porters at First Light because they are local people who are incredibly knowledgeable about the terrain and the culture. Many companies in Nepal also don’t pay their porters and guides well, so be sure to research this before you go.
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