Annapurna Base Camp Trek Experience

  November 27th, 2019

Annapurna Base Camp lies at 4130 meters high. Some locals make this trip in one day, but as a tourist, it will mainly take you ten days of trekking, visiting places such as Poon Hill, which is next to Ghorepani.
Annapurna Base Camp (ABC) is a reasonable endeavor for the whole family. Kids aged ten years or older can participate in this trek.

The Start of an Adventure

You will start in Nayapul, heading for Ulleri through Birethanti. The shift between the tourist area and the local area is obvious. After a walk along a crooked sand road, you'll end up going westward to Ulleri, and that's where nature starts to turn into a jungle.
I was expecting wooden shacks and bunk beds, a worn-down dining hall with only two different types of food. But, arriving in Ulleri showed me the opposite.
Accommodations and food were great up there, many styles to choose from, meals like spaghetti were available, many different beverages, and Wifi, who would've thought that.
This wasn't what I was expecting at all, but it seems people still want that internet connection. I didn't care about it too much.
The group I was with consisted of a couple, our guide, guide in training, and me. A French girl tagged along since meeting her in Nayapul. She didn't have a guide. This, too, is possible, you can come up here and do it all by yourself with ease.
The day to day hikes is amazing. Beautiful nature along the path takes your mind off the endless crooked steps, going up and down the whole route. It isn't hard, but it isn't easy either.
Distance is not what you should focus on. Most guides don't even know the kilometers or miles. They work in hours. The average time you'll be spending walking from one place to another is around 4-6 hours.
It all depends on how fast you can go and how fast you want to go. I switched between paces, leaving my group behind, or sometimes hanging behind them.

Covering distances to take some time after, resting a bit, and gaze at nature, the big trees, the rushing waterfalls and streams, the animals running around the place. Sometimes you have to stop, look around and let it sink in.

Ghorepani and Poon Hill

The road to Ghorepani was an easy one, not many stairs, a simple stroll for all of us. For some, it might be harder because it's up and down and then up again.
We started the day early at 7 am — something I prefer. The hike took us about 4 hours, so we arrived at noon, giving us time to explore the place and also acclimate to the altitude.
At Ghorepani, the height shouldn't be a problem with its 2874 meter elevation, but some witness symptoms and some don't (I didn't).
A good tip I can give you, stay awake during the day. For people planning to go up to Tadapani and then the trail of to Ghandruk and back to Pokhara, this shouldn't be a problem. But, those going up to ABC, please, take these hints seriously.
Staying in Ghorepani is quite similar to staying at Ulleri, the only difference is that Ghorepani is a flat village and Ulleri was up against a mountainside. The hotels are of good quality, and the food is delicious.
We had some fun playing card games and exploring Ghorepani. I went outside, searching for a thought-sinking spot to quiet down. (As a philosopher, I often need this. For those in need of this, there is plenty of space where you will not be disturbed.)
After a good dinner, Chowmein and Mo Mo's, sitting on the sofas, placed around the burning stove, for a while, talking, meeting people, we went to bed.
The next day was an early day. Heading up to the  Poon Hill viewpoint was kind of tough. I don't know if it was because we hadn't eaten breakfast yet, but I took some Snickers and ate them on the way up. Don't forget to bring a water bottle.
Finally reaching the top, my mind got blown. The vast mountains stood far away, but they seemed close enough to touch them. We took some great pictures, drank some tea, and after an hour of gazing and having a few laughs, we ventured back down to have some breakfast.

A Place Called Tadapani

After filling our stomachs with a good nutritious breakfast, we set off for Tadapani. Let me stress this subject once. Eating is the most important thing, along with drinking, one should do while hiking up to ABC. Eat as much as you can, then eat some more.
Nearing the end, I ordered three separate dishes for both lunch and dinner. You can always take some dhal bat, which is a typical meal around here.
The good thing about dhal bat is, they keep giving seconds until you say stop. Don't waste food though, eat what you can, refuse what you can't eat.
The road to Tadapani is one of those down paths. It takes time to reach Tadapani, but it isn't hard. The route goes through rhododendron and pine forests, a magnificent sight to behold.

The first days were easy because they went according to the itinerary. Most hikes take about six to seven hours, except for Ulleri to Ghorepani. (the one to Ghorepani only taking about four and a half, because it's up and down a lot, making it a bit harder. So they shorten the walking time to make it less stressful on the body.)
Tadapani brings you a step closer to ABC. It is a good point where you can decide whether you’re venturing on to ABC, or trailing off to Ghandruk for a shorter trek. (Know that Chomrong is the last point for this decision, if you go farther, there will only be one road up to ABC and back to Chomrong.)
This is on my list for the next trek I will do on the 26th of November. I wish I did it already because I heard many people taking this route, but I still have some time here in Nepal.
Being closer to ABC is something you become aware of, the evenings are colder, and the view on the mountains becomes clearer.
Meeting people is one thing I enjoyed the most during this trek. It is a common action, talking with strangers, once you are up here. Why you might ask? Well, there's not much left to do in the evening, getting dark at about 5 pm and not wanting to get lost outside, you stay inside and start conversations with strangers sitting close by.

Increase the Challenge

The next day, new challenges. If we followed the itinerary, we would have stopped at Chomrong. Instead, we choose to head up to Upper-Sinuwa, or maybe even Bamboo, but we did not make that.
Chomrong is big, and most guesthouses seemed nice. We had lunch at a place, which was our guide's favorite guesthouse in Chomrong. I had the best chili chips I've ever had up until this day. I also had a great plate of chowmein.
 
If anyone is of mind to venture towards ABC, I do recommend staying or at least grabbing lunch at the New Chomrong Guest House. (I am not getting paid for this, I honestly liked the place.) They have this little coffee house attached to the guesthouse that serves grade-A coffee. If you are a fan, you should go and get some.
After our little rest, we hiked on towards Sinuwa, aiming to reach Upper-Sinuwa. From Chomrong, you get a good view of that mountain village. This does make you aware of the road you are about to travel.
From Chomrong, you'll have to walk down a long way, only to go up again and arrive at Sinuwa. Trees don't cover the path. The sun was glaring on us, slowing us down with its heat. It took us an hour and a half to reach our destination.
 
Upper-Sinuwa wasn't the cleanest and biggest village. The guesthouses weren't great quality-wise, but something happened during the day, cutting them off from electricity.
This came to be the experience for which I was looking. The sunset and the owners brought us candles. Waiting for our food, the temperature dropped, and it became colder than any other place we had been before.
This setting did turn the advanced concept into a remote, off-world image. (Here I also had one of my biggest individual revelations. So, that is probably why I loved the place compared to others.) I whipped out my sleeping bag and had the best sleep in years.

That Last Rest

The next day, Deurali. Deurali isn't that far from Upper-Sinuwa, you can't get lost, because there's only one route. And as long as you can hear or see the Modi Khola (a river running down from the Annapurna mountains to the hot springs in Jhinu), then you are fine.
The only hardship to face is the climb. Sinuwa is located on a mere 2340 meters high, and Deurali has an elevation of 3200 meters. That's an 860-meter climb.
Due to the distance between both, it is rather simple, but do remember, altitude sickness can affect people, and the lower amount of oxygen will affect your walking pace.
Everything was going great. Then, the rain came pouring down and soaked us in minutes. I didn't mind, put on my waterproof clothes, and went on.
The path is rough and has lots of steps. (I said it was rather easy, and for me it was. But keep in mind, go your own pace. Take your time and always, I mean always, tell someone, preferably your guide, if you don't feel right.)
 
The guide in training and I went on, and we went fast. We arrived in Himalaya Hotel, the name of the village there, before the others and took a rest. Then we had lunch when they arrived fifteen minutes later.
There is this way you realize you are getting closer; everything becomes more expensive, the drinks, the food, and the snacks. After lunch powered us up, we went straight for Deurali.
Arriving there, the first thing I did, hung up my wet clothes to dry. Here we shared a room for the first time. The couple and I. The guides slept inside the dining hall. This spot was good, but it missed a stove, which would have been great for warming up.

The Awaited Moment

The day was drawing near, I felt it in my body, the excitement, the lust for that experience. Annapurna Base Camp.
Everyone was looking forward to it. Getting there was the end goal of our "challenge." The way up from Deurali to ABC takes you along Machhapuchhare Base Camp (MBC).
That's where we had lunch, chilled a bit, and then went on to get a good view of those snowy mountain tops.
The road was enveloped by mist, and the snow was mashed together into a watery mud by all our predecessors with the same end goal in mind.
 
The mist was a bummer, but at the same time, I enjoyed it. Closed off from everything that was outside, "lost," alone, by myself, hiking up further, towards a place I couldn't see. And then I reached it.
The clouds thinned out, and I got my first glimpse of that raw natural power up close. The mountain tops of the Annapurna region. All the pain, cold, heavy breathing going up the stairs was worth it.
The view is grand, magnificent. Something I had never witnessed before, and it made me feel tiny, compared to that which was in front of me, yet, at the same time, I felt so big, so strong.
All that got taken away when I saw four people heading down. A woman carried by two men and one man behind them. She was crying and couldn't walk. Altitude sickness is a killer.
Never did I experience any symptoms myself, but many people complained about faint headaches. (Being a smoker, close to chain-smoker, I expected something to happen, but nothing, which is good in a way, but I love experiences so much, I wanted a little headache or something else.)
 
I watched them struggle down while waiting for the rest of my group to catch up. We took some pictures at a sign saying "Namaste, Annapurna Base Camp. (A.B.C. 4130 Mtrs.)"
We made it safe and sound. The place was covered by snow. The air was cold, tingling my lungs as I took a few deep breaths. Fresh air!
The guesthouse was packed, only a couple of rooms left. Sharing was the only option.
Warming up in the dining hall, eating dinner and talking with everyone. Meeting new people and seeing people we met before. The vibe up there was excellent. I used to say it was because of the lower amount of oxygen.
A Chinese girl arrived late and didn't have a room, so we offered to share ours. All of us went to bed early; the next day was photo day.
 
We went out to see the sunrise at around 6 am, along with everyone else up on Annapurna Base Camp. Some came from Machhapuchhare Base Camp in the morning to do the same. I don't know which is better, but it takes about an hour to walk up, so you choose.
The view was amazing, and I will never forget what I saw there. That is why I recommend everyone going there. It won't be the easiest thing you ever did, but it's worth more than the hardest thing you did up until now. (If you didn't perform a trek like this before, of course.)
It is not always clean, and the food doesn't come from a three-star restaurant. The guesthouses aren't five-star hotels, but so what. You only need them to sleep.

Your five-star hotel is out there, on the road, hiking through nature. Because what nature holds is so much more than having a swimming pool and some free drinks all day long.
But wait. It's not done. After ABC, we had to go back towards more central villages. The only way to get out ABC quickly is by helicopter, and that's a little expensive, so be sure to bring proper insurance, you never know if you run into any troubles.

Let’s Do Something Crazy

The way back was a long day. We decided to go for Chomrong, remember, we had lunch there before we went to Upper-Sinuwa, and it took us another day to get from there to Deurali.
We did Chomrong in about ten hours, lunch, and resting included. The hike was a tough one but worth it.
That lunch place became the guesthouse we stayed at in Chomrong. And like I said before, it's worth checking out. After a hot shower and a tasty dinner, we hit the sack.

I shared a room with my guide and guide in training. I rather had them there than someone else. It would have been okay, but I felt like this because I was a bit tired and knew them. I slept like a baby and who wouldn't after such a stroll.

Rest and Relax

The next day, hot springs day. Jhinu was supposed to be a destination, and the hot springs were an extra. But we choose to hit the hot springs (or hotty springs as our guide would say) early in the morning and then head back to Pokhara by jeep. (We took a jeep in Siwai.)
The ride was funny and bumpy. I hadn’t been that silent in a long time. Partially because I was hungry, but I was also contemplating everything and enjoying the view of the valley and mountains around us.
When we got back to Pokhara, I took a good, long shower, then all of us went to a place called FewaThakali for dinner.
I ordered a plate of Mo Mo's, some chili chips, and Dal Bhat. This time I overdid it and overate myself. Taking seconds on the Dal Bhat. But I survived and had a blast. We grabbed some drinks. (I don't drink alcohol anymore.) But the others had some.
Pokhara is a charming city to stay at, compared to Kathmandu I think it’s better. There’s so much to see and do and so many different shops and restaurants, but no one is hassling you to buy anything, unlike what happens in Thamel.
If you can, you should stay in Pokhara one more day because it’s worth it.

Our Final Moments

The next day our guide left. The guide in training stayed behind with me, and we had a fantastic time, taking a rowing boat and going around the lake.
The couple met up with friends who just arrived, we had dinner in the same place from the night before and ran into them.
After that, we went for some drinks close by and ended our trip with that. The next day I went back to Kathmandu with the guide in training. A seven-hour bus ride.
All in all, this is something to do at least once in your life. The things you see and the mental and physical challenges are an excellent way to learn more about yourself and the culture of Nepal.
The thing that intrigued me the most is the bonding process between all of us. At the start, we were strangers, but in the end, we started to know each other better, becoming a little family, talking about stuff you would never talk about with strangers.
I wish all those commencing on the Annapurna Base Camp trek an extraordinary journey and a happy experience. May this change you for the better, because I know it changed me for the better.

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