Annapurna Base Camp – 6 considerations when planning your trek

Decided on trekking to Annapurna Base Camp? That’s great! But before you go it’s worth checking the detail of your itinerary, as not all itineraries to ABC are the same.

Most itineraries spend between 7 and 13 days trekking up and down to ABC, all of which might be suitable for certain groups at certain times of the year, but may also require prior acclimatisation to altitude, additional fitness requirements or just missing some of the best parts of the route to squeeze it in!

It can be confusing looking at an itinerary with a long list of obscure village names to try and determine if a trek is going to be suitable for you. There are lots of questions that need to be answered: Am I seeing the best bits? Is the altitude profile reasonable? How physically demanding is it? What type of accommodation is used? What will a typical day look like?

Trekking to ABC is a magical experience and, although most itineraries sound similar, some minor tweaks can make all the difference, to ensure you are getting the most out of your trip and not pushing too high, too fast and have time to enjoy the scenery you are trekking through.

Our aim with all our adventures is to create once-in-a-lifetime experiences that make the most of the region you are visiting, assuming you are unlikely to revisit the same area again. With that in mind, when putting together our adventure itineraries, we are sure to include the key sights, most rewarding experiences and best routes whilst also adhering to our robust safety protocols and ethical standards.

In the instance of our newly revised Annapurna Base Camp Itinerary, this has meant adjusting the overnight stops to ensure a reasonable altitude profile is being followed, including a side-hike to Poon Hill and still fitting it into a trip that can be done with just two weeks off work from the UK or Europe.

Below are some of the key considerations for you when choosing your Annapurna Base Camp itinerary and reasons behind the choices for our refined itinerary.

6 considerations when planning your Annapurna Base Camp Trek

Getting to Pokhara – Private vehicle or flight

Our itinerary has a full travel day to get to and from Pokhara. This means the journey can be taken overland by private vehicle (6-8 hours) or by internal flight. (The cost of a private minibus is included as standard).

If travelling by vehicle you’ll have the opportunity to stop off at the Trusili river on the way, where you may opt to go white water rafting or just relax and have lunch by the river. You will arrive to Pokhara by mid-afternoon so have plenty of time to prepare for trekking the next day. If you choose to fly you will have longer to explore Pokhara and Kathmandu on the return leg.

Note: At the time of writing, all of Nepal’s airlines are on the EU flight blacklist, this is due to the failure of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal to meet international standards. Although many locals and tourists still choose to use the local carriers to get to places like Pokhara or Lukla we have opted for an itinerary that allows for travel by land if preferred.

Duration – 2 weeks off work

We’ve refined our ABC itinerary so you can get there and back with two weeks off work. The itinerary is 14 days in-country plus international travel.

You can fly out on the Saturday, arrive Sunday morning and then travel to Pokhara on Monday, ahead of the trek start on Tuesday. On the way back, the itinerary ends on the Saturday, usually allowing you to arrive back to the UK by Saturday evening, depending on your flights. Giving you an all-important day to recover before going back to work!

If you do have more time we can add extra days for sightseeing in Kathmandu or Pokhara.

Poon Hill

We think Poon Hill is well worth the short detour and makes this a much more rewarding route. As well as being a spectacular viewpoint in its own right, it will give you a couple more days to get used to the trekking before venturing to higher altitudes. It also adds some variety, with your route down being different to the way you take up.

Season of travel

Some companies may offer this trek year-round. However, trekking in the summer months (June-August) you are likely to bare the brunt of the monsoon season with rain most days, severely limited views, leaches and increased risk of landslide. For most, it is far better to enjoy this trek in the two main seasons; post-monsoon (October – December) or spring (March to May). We do not run this trek in summer.

To stay at ABC (or not)

We have opted to spend two nights at Machhapuchhre Base Camp (MBC) and visit the Annapurna Sanctuary during the day, rather than spending a night at ABC. We have done this for a couple of reasons to increase comfort, enjoyment and safety.

To reduce the chances of altitude related illness we prefer, that when above 3,000m, to keep the increase in sleeping altitude below 300m per day, with no increase every third day. Following the principle of ‘climb high, sleep low’, as set out in the MedEx Travel at High Altitude advice. On some routes this is relaxed up to a maximum of 500m per day, with additional precautions taken. Although the jump from MBC to ABC is within this at 430m, this is after climbing 470m the day before from Duerali. Spending the second night at MBC will reduce your risk of experiencing the negative effects of altitude and allow your more comfortable sleep. It also shortens the following day’s long downhill trek on your way back out.

Daily Distances and difficulty

We have pitched this trek as a rewarding and challenging trek for a moderately experienced hill-walker. That doesn’t mean you have to be super fit but you will certainly benefit from some long walking days in preparation. You’ll generally be on your feet 5-7 hours a day, with reduced distances as you reach the high altitudes.

We have one longer day in the middle of the itinerary, trekking from Chhomrong to Deurali, which will take up to 8 hours. This is because one longer day is needed to keep the itinerary to 14 days and also allow for better acclimatisation before heading up to MBC.

Sounds Great! Where do I sign up?

Head over to our Annapurna Base Camp trip page where you’ll find all the nitty gritty details on this awesome adventure!

Still trying to decide which Nepal trek is right for you? Why not check out our Nepal Trekker’s Guide, which compares Annapurna Base Camp to Everest.

Or if you’re still not sure why not Get in touch and we’ll be happy to discuss the best trek for you.

About Author

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James
Before founding 'The Grand Adventure Company' James worked in a variety of different roles from planning school expeditions around the world to organising high-altitude and remote mountaineering ventures. These roles led to all sorts of adventures from travelling across Mongolia in a 'Russian Forgon' delivering tourism training to remote Mongolian nomads to visiting communities damaged by the Nepal earthquakes to assess damage and setting up community projects in the regions. James is a qualified Mountain Leader, Leave No Trace trainer and expedition leader and holds membership to the British Mountaineering Council, the Mountain Training Association and aspirant membership to the British Association of International Mountain Leaders. In 2013 James cycled solo from London to Sydney. More recently, James completed the infamous '24 hour Bob Graham Round' and can usually be found in The Lake District running and cycling up mountains.

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