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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:

General description:
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!

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Our itinerary
Day Lunch Destination Lodge/hotel Details
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!

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Packing List

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:

  • 2 pairs of trousers (It is not appreciated if women wear shorts. I ignored this principle for one day and felt somewhat uncomfortable)
  • 1 calf-length skirt (although I enjoyed wearing it in the evenings, I could have done without)
  • 2 short-sleeved t-shirts, 1 t-shirt with long sleeves
  • 1 fleece sweater
  • 1 water-proof jacket with a removable fleece lining
  • mittens and a cap (we could have suffered a few hours’ cold and managed without these)
  • thermal underwear, underwear
  • hiking boots, teva slippers
  • sleeping bag
  • sleeping matress (the matresses in the lodges were always good and we needn’t have brought ours)
  • aspirin, medicine for diarrhoea, vitamin pills
  • shampoo (also for washing clothes) and toiletries
  • body lotion (which I barely used) and sun-tan lotion
  • walking stick (telescopic ski-pole type)
  • water bottle (canteen) and a chlorine-based purifying solution. The Lonely Planet guide and most non-European trekkers we met recommend iodine but Dutch health centers say this “Hadex” chlorine stuff is fine and better for your health. I am positive that we never got sick from the water we drank
  • flashlight (candles are available in most lodges), lighter, alarm clock
  • “female portable urinal” (a latex bag with a cap). Highly useful if you often need to relieve yourself at night and don’t want to bother getting dressed and going out to a horrifically dirty toilet, using a candle, in the freezing cold. You might want to practice at home, though.
  • books, paper, pens, playing cards
  • camera and film

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.

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The Food

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.

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Guide and porters - yes or no?

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 good.

- 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 lodges, etc.

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.

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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 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.

Chitwan Booked through 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).

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Hotels in Pokhara and Kathmandu (they all had private bathrooms):


White Lotus - not worth $15 a night. We should have bargained more.

Norling - good but still overpriced at $19

Tibet Cottage - basic, but clean and friendly; our best bargain at $16, a few doors north of Hotels Norling and Utse.

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.

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