Annapurna Base Camp, Nepal.

Annapurna is one of the 17 mountains over 8,000 meters in the Himalayan mountain range in Nepal. At 8,091 Meters it is the 10th highest peak in the world. It was first climbed in 1950 by Maurice Herzog and Louis Lachenal. Annapurna has the greatest fatality rate of all of the mountains over 8,000 meters.

Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, is the gateway to those who wish to climb these peaks, or just amateur tourists wishing a different holiday and enjoying a different culture.

After more than a year of planning Billy (whom I visited Argentina with in 2010) and I booked the walk to Annapurna Base Camp (4,130 meters) with Nepal Hiking Pvt. Ltd  We found this company very reliable from the first contact over a year ago to the time we departed Nepal. The entire hike took 11 days.

When we arrived in Kathmandu we met Mr. Gakul who was our guide and fixer for the entire stay.  It is possible to do this hike without hiring a local guide but it is much easier to have someone to negotiate our passage through the car park at the airport, the exciting taxi ride to the hotel, the flight to Pokhara, and on the hike to arrange meals, accommodation and all of the other things that were seamlessly done to make the adventure very enjoyable.

In Kathmandu we stayed at Kathmandu Suite Home.  It is a clean, friendly and a modern oasis in the middle of a very busy part of the city.  We would definitely recommend a stay there.  It is near to Thamel where almost every shop sells hiking gear with the North Face logo on it.

We flew to Pokhara and met Gopi our always smiling porter and guide. He is the type of person who says very little but is always there to help when needed. Pokhara is the start point for most treks in the Annapurna region and deserves a longer stay than the very short time we spent there.

Gopi and I walked together a lot and although we did not have a common language we had no problems in communication. When we were on our own he sometimes suggested an alternative diversion that was exciting and added a bit of adventure to the trip.

Below are a series of pictures, which do not do justice to the grandeur of the country but will do a better job in describing the trip than my words could.

The first night was spent at Tikhedhunga. This was the first of many suspension Bridges we crossed.
The first views of the Annapurna Range from Ban Thanti
View from Ban Thanti on the way from Ghorepani to Tadapani.
Sun setting on Annapurna from Ghorepani
Suspension Bridge across the Chhomrong Khola. We passed this way on the way in and on the way back. Entering this valley from both directions was a steep trail.
At New Bridge Gopi and I decided to take the scenic route and cross the Old Bridge. It had a bit missing in the centre. A newer bridge was a bit further downstream.
Some bridges were in even worse condition.
Some rivers were crossed on “rustic’ Bridges. These called for a steady nerve. Falling in here would be recovery and not rescue.
One of the many waterfalls that cascade down the steep valley sides.
Mules are used to move the heavy supplies as far as Bamboo. After that all transport is done by human porters. They carry very heavy loads with seemingly little effort.
A small section of the steps which we encountered each day. This section took over an hour. Once you got to the top it was back down to the river again.
The hike to Tadapani started, as usual, with a series of steps that went on for many Km. Once my legs got accustomed it was not that hard.
An example of the steps that were normal. We climbed and descended these for many hours each day. Although hard on the legs it made sure that there was little erosion on the well used trail.
After leaving Jhinudanda on the way to Pothana we had to descend  to New Bridge before climbing again.
On the last day we passed through farms and villages on the way to Phedi. Rice, root crops and vegetables are the main crops. We would soon see our first vehicle in 7 days.
This swing kept the children occupied. By jumping on and off at the right time it kept rotating. They made sure that more children were on the down than on the up.
This recent land slide had to be crossed on the way to Machhapuchhare. I was glad to get it behind but had to face it on the way back.
Approaching Machhapuchhare along the Modi Khola valley.
Once we in the shade of the mountains there was some snow and ice on the ground, which made the walking interesting!
Looking back on the climb from Machhapuchhare Base Camp. The clouds were descending into the valley from all directions. Behind the moraine to the left is the Glacier.
This shows the terrain on the final day to ABC. Machhapuchhre Base Camp in the bottom left. Out of respect to the Gods no one is allowed to climb Machhapuchchhre
Am I the first Bajan at Annapurna Base Camp? I still felt good and had no problems associated with altitude. The accommodation for the night is on the ridge.
Annapurna Base Camp.
All evening hikers were arriving. By night every available bunk, floor and table was pressed into service as beds to sleep. However the staff were able to feed us all with no fuss.
Annapurna Base Camp. Over night snow made the morning cold but beautiful
Early morning at Annapurna Base Camp. It was cold. We left the bunk house before dawn and climbed a hill to watch the snow covered slopes change colour from dark to orange to white.
Annapurna. The camp was at the foot of the glacier. We returned for a cup of hot tea and breakfast before descending to Bamboo.
A last look at Annapurna. The trail down was covered with ice and snow. The mornings were usually sunny and warm but the clouds usually came over in the afternoon.
Ghobang Khola River near Phedi – Just a few more steps and we were at the road where our vehicle was waiting on us. Our guide, Mr. Gakul, always had every detail arranged and we never had to wait on a meal,
L to R William (Billy) Burton, Gakul (Guide), Gopi (Guide and Porter).
Two Burton cousins on another adventure before we get too old to do these hikes. We do not want to lie on our death beds saying “Could have”, “Would have”, “Should have”.  I hope to approach my grave at full speed with “Born to be wild” playing at full volume.

Tips for trekking to Annapurna

  • The trek to ABC has been described in one book as “could be done by any reasonably fit person”. The writers of these travel blogs and books are usually experienced hikers and are very fit. You will climb and descend thousands of steps every day. If you have any problems with your knees or ankles it will make them worse. Especially if you are overweight.
  • Practice using a squat toilet before you leave home.
  • Most trekkers are younger than 30 years old. The conversation around the communal dinner table is wide ranging and interesting.
  • Do not expect to get your protein from beef or chicken. Be prepared to adapt your eating habits to the local cuisine. If you order apple pie and get 2 pancakes with apple sauce between them eat it. The next time you order apple pie it will be totally different.
  • The Nepalese in the towns, farms and tea houses are very friendly and always smiling although few speak a foreign language. They have a hard life compared to western standards, but are happy.
  • Carry some pencils, pens and other basic school supplies to distribute to schools along the way.
  • If you are afraid of heights, crossing the swaying rope bridges will be terrifying. Otherwise it will be a good location for pictures of the valley.
  • Carry your own cough medicine and pain killers etc.  You will not find them on the trail.
  • Do not read the expiry date on the Mars Bars and Snickers you purchase on the trail.
  • Spend an extra day or two in Pokhara at the end or beginning of the hike. I would fly back to Kathmandu if I went again.
  • This is a fascinating country to visit and I highly recommend the hike and Nepal Hiking. The good memories will last you a lifetime.
  • The same tip should be given to the porters as well as the guide. Although you will interact with the guide more the porter works very hard as well. A figure of 15% of the cost per hiker is reasonable.

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Responses to “Annapurna Base Camp, Nepal.”

  1. Julie Coldwelll

    Thank you for this and so wonderful to see the photos from your journey…….they give such a good visual description, bringing back so many memories.
    I went to the Annapurna Base Camp in early February 1981! The trail hasn’t changed much nor the landslides!
    Loads of snow for us and no buildings, we slept in Hinku (?) cave overnight before striking out to the sanctuary. It really was a sanctuary of wondrous, awe inspiring silence……….

    I’m sure you will agree……a place never to be forgotten.

    Julie Coldwell
    Twitter: @LivingTLOL
    Blog: Living This Life 0ut Loud

    1. William Burton

      Hi Julie
      Thank you for your comments. The cave is still there. I used it for rest and a snack on the way up to base camp. Some places will live on in my memories forever and Nepal is one of them.

  2. Diana Jepson

    Great blog William and stunning photography. An amazing adventure. Well done.

  3. Betty Marshall

    William – We think it is great what you have done! Your Mum and Dad would really be proud!
    John and Betty Marshall

    1. William Burton

      Thanks Betty. My love of travel and adventure must have started as a young boy when my parents allowed us to ride all over St. Philip during school holidays. Later in life, when I was planning a trip, I had to get the atlas and show them where I was going. They always wanted to see the pictures when I returned..

  4. Maria

    Thanks William, for that interesting and entertaining read. Really admire you, you wild thing! :) Your German friend, Maria

    1. William

      Hi Maria. Thanks for the comment. You will enjoy this hike when you do it. William

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