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.
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.