Practical Information - Nepal 2000
We did the Annapurna Base Camp (ABC) trek, in the Annapurna mountains in the Himalaya, in Nepal. This page offers some brief and practical information for those planning to go there. For a more extensive description of our trek and of the rest of our stay in Nepal, with photographs, please visit my Nepal home page. For more personal stuff, please go back to my home page.This page covers the following items:
The Annapurna Base Camp lies in the Annapurna Sanctuary, a valley at 4100 m surrounded by some of the most beautiful peaks in the Himalaya. We extended our trek with a few days’ bypass to Poon Hill and Tatopani (on the Annapurna Circuit). The entire trek took 16 days (from Pokhara), but this includes two resting days in Tatopani, and one day to get from Beni to Pokhara by bus. Add two days’ travelling to and from Kathmandu for the total.
We moved up from Pokhara (700 m) to ABC in four days. This is considerably faster than what the Lonely Planet suggests, but we had no serious problems with altitude sickness. Our symptoms were limited to shortness of breath, a very slight headache, and a surprising lack of concentration. They disappeared a few hours after we reached ABC.
We usually walked roughly from 7 am to 1 or 2 pm, at a reasonable pace, and I found that the trek was not as physically trying as I had feared. My boyfriend and I are both from the Netherlands (where the highest mountain rises to a stunning 300 m) and not at all used to walking in the mountains, or even to walking much at all. We have both had knee problems in the Alps, but experienced no such trouble on this trek. I believe anyone who is reasonably fit can do this trek, just start calmly and don’t push yourself.
The trek was a great experience. The views were beautiful, absolutely impressive, and the people were very friendly almost without exception. Also, hiking into an area without roads, telephones, and electricity (most of the time), several days’ walk from “civilization”, was a new and welcome experience for me. I would definitely recommend a trek, even if you have little or no experience!
|1||Dhampus||Pothana||?||Taxi ride from Pokhara to Phedi, then a steep climb to Dhampus. Easy after that.|
|2||Thorka||Landruk||Peaceful Guest House||Lots of downhill practice.|
|3||Jhinu||Chomrong||Himalaya View Hotel||Steep “stairway” climbs to Jhinu and Chomrong. Lodge has good shower and laundry facilities, good food.|
|4||Bamboo||Deurali||Deurali Guest House||Steep “stairway” descent from Chomrong, then long climb. Basic lodge, no shower. We had planned to stay at Himalaya Hotel but all four lodges were full so we pushed on. We were exhausted upon reaching Deurali; this was by far our longest and toughest day.|
|5||ABC||ABC||? first on the right||Gradual, easy climb. Basic lodge, no shower.|
|6||Deurali||Dovan||? last coming down||Easy descent. Basic lodge, cold shower.|
|7||Chomrong||Chomrong||Himalaya View Hotel||Stiff climb close to Bamboo. Steep descent after Sinuwa, then a “stairway” with 2115 steps up to Chomrong. See day 3.|
|8||Jhinu||Chomrong||Himalaya View Hotel||Visit to Jhinu hot springs, then back up to Chomrong. Steep descent and climb. See day 3.|
|9||Ghandruk||Ghandruk||Annapurna View Hotel||Easy descent to river; unpleasant, steep climb to Kumrong. Good shower.|
|10||Tadapani||Banthanti||Clean View Lodge||Walk through beautiful rhododendron forests. Basic lodge, no shower.|
|11||Ghorapani||Ghorapani||Hotel Moonlight||Rhododendron forests. Old lodge (to be completely rebuilt in january 2001) with excellent hot shower.|
|12||Tatopani||Tatopani||Dhaulagiri Lodge||Sunrise at Poon Hill, then a 2000 m descent to the Kali Gandaki. Beautiful walk, but relentless. Great lodge, with rooms (with private bathrooms!) in the garden. We stayed here for 2 extra days, to savor the food and relax.|
|15||?||Beni||Hotel Yeti (Beni)||Easy, gradual descent along the Kali Gandaki. Good hotel, but back to “civilized” (higher) prices.|
|16||Pokhara||Pokhara||Hotel Yeti||The first hour of the bus ride from Beni requires steel nerves!|
We found that most hotels in Pokhara let you store some of your luggage while you go on the trek, provided, naturally, that you return to this hotel after your trek. I brought the following:
Something I didn’t bring but that might have come in handy is binoculars. Next time I’d also bring an extra t-shirt, as laundry took very long to dry, even when tied to our backpacks while we walked.
We did not eat any meat on
the trek, and we didn’t get sick on the trek. We stuck to dal
bhat (rice with lentil soup and curry) most of the time, and
treated ourselves only to the occasional “vegetable fried
rice” or noodle soup for a change. Fried eggs on Tibetan,
Indian, or corn bread make a good breakfast.
The food at the Dhaulagiri Lodge in Tatopani was delicious, and enticed us into staying there for two days. I believe we spent most of those two days talking about food, dreaming about food, or eating!
Upon arrival back in Pokhara, we had delicious steaks at the Everest Steak House and both of us woke up next morning with a bout of diarrhoea. This could be a coincidence, but I would advise steering clear of large quantities of meat.
We hired a guide for the trek, but no porter; our guide, however, carried the heaviest backpack and I carried his - far lighter - one. Having Gopal along turned out to have a number of distinct advantages, as well as a few small disadvantages.
|Advantages||-||We got to know a lot about him, his life and
where he grew up, and about Nepali culture and history, by
talking to him as we walked. Gopal's English is
|-||If there was a difference, he usually knew the better
lodges, the places with good food, etc|
|-||He got us a double room every night. Even when lodges
are “full” a guide can often work miracles|
|-||He carried part of our baggage, which was especially
useful before we got in shape|
|-||Especially on the first few days, when we were still
figuring out how things work, he helped us along: translating
for us, getting us the required permits, reserving us
|Disadvantages||-||Although we did not have a problem with this, I can
imagine that some people might feel a little out of control
with a guide. It shouldn't be so, as the guide should always
respect your wishes.|
|-||Hiring a guide makes you a little less flexible. If, for
example, you suddenly decide to extend your trek, while you're
in the middle of the mountains with no phone within a few days'
walking, your guide might have a problem with his boss expecting
him back in Kathmandu on a certain date. You might want to
discuss such options with his boss before you go. |
|-||Finance: hiring a guide costs more. We payed $50 a day
for the guide, food and lodging, all-in. But hey, we figured
we’re injecting some cash into one of the world’s poorest economies.
This might be a problem if you yourself don't
have the money to spare, though.|
|Flight||We flew Transavia, Amsterdam to Kathmandu, with
a fuel stop in Sharjah |
|Trek||Booked at Gurkha Encounters, situated in Thamel
(on the road from Le Bistro to Nepal Grindlays Bank,
turn right into a haven just after Yin Yang Restaurant,
see Lonely Planet maps). Very professional. Ask for
Gopal, or email him at email@example.com. The
deal: a guide plus food and lodging (also in Pokhara),
plus the bus trip from Kathmandu to Pokhara and back,
plus our permits, for $50 a day (for the both of us,
i.e. $25 per person). Other agencies we checked or
heard about offered the same or more, for less service.|
Hotel Yeti in Pokhara, Lake Side 6, Baidam, next to
Hotel Bedrock. The manager took a lot of trouble for us
and was very helpful. Included: busride Pokhara - Chitwan
and then to Kathmandu, two nights plus all food and
activities in Machan Wildlife Resort inside the park.
Price: $170 each. |
|Rafting||Arranged by Drift Nepal, Thamel, below Le Bistro.
Specialized in rafting, they don’t do the easiest rivers.
Included: transport, gear, food, guides, etc. for two
days of rafting on the Bhote Kosi (grade 3 to 5). Price:
$60 each. |
|Culture||For sightseeing Kathmandu and surroundings (Durbar
Square, Pashu Pathinath, Bodnath, Bhaktapur) we hired a
guide (Shaligram, sociology teacher at the university,
very nice guy who knows a lot) plus a car with driver,
through Gurkha Encounters. Price: $30 (excluding $5
entrance fee to Bhaktapur). |
Hotel Yeti (Lake Side 6, Baidam) - good, $15
Machan Wildlife Resort, in the park. We spoke to a Dutch couple who didn't like the resort because there were oil lamps instead of electricity, but I absolutely loved the place; I think the cabins are beautiful and romantic.