IF you like getting into thin air, the trek to reach the Annapurna base camp may well be the challenge you’re seeking. The popular hiking route, about a 10-day return trip from Pokhara in western Nepal, climbs to 4130m elevation, into the snow encased bowl of Annapurna base camp (ABC), where the trekker is rewarded with 360 degree views of snow peaks, many reaching over 8,000m.
These images in Part 1 showcase the journey from the trail head through to Deurali, through scenic villages such as Ghandruk and Chhomrong before the path turns more adventurous with avalanche chutes, snow, ice and glaciers to contend with.
The trek into the sanctuary begins just outside Pokhara taking in the lovely hillside villages such as Landruk or Ghandruk and Chhomrong. Ghandruk is possibly one of the most scenic of the villages, offering wonderful views over terraced fields towards snow capped mountains in the distance. It’s also one of the last places on the trek with fully stocked shops and services.
Lodging is provided in tea houses along the way. At the start of the trek these are well painted, well equipped and quite large and numerous. As the walk progresses up towards ABC they do become more basic given their isolation and a lot colder because of the altitude. However heating is provided and hot showers – all important for trekkers after a long day out in the elements.
The Annapurna Sanctuary trek has become increasingly popular as more people head to Nepal. This has meant a further demand on services such as guides, porters and mule trains that stock the route with anything from live chickens to gas cylinders.
Once the track leaves Chhomrong, it also leaves behind some of the last permanently settled villages and village life. People here keep teahouses and shops, they also tend to their animals and utilise the steep and often dramatically landscaped hills for growing crops.
Once the track leaves Chhomrong the path narrows as it begins to enter the pass between Hiunchuli and Macchapucchare well above. The scenery also becomes more wild and dramatic.
Guides are not particularly necessary on this trek, as there is only one route to follow, but can be useful getting your accommodation, helping you on slippery sections and organising meals on the way (see this post about whether you should get a guide).
The actual distance walked each day is completely up to the trekker, but it is advised they don’t make too much altitude gain in one day. The path beyond Deurali is also notorious for avalanches particularly once the sun has risen and has begun to melt snow on the slopes above the path. However, this simply makes for a leisurely day and a chance to acclimatize but just make sure you bring a book for the long hours after you stop walking each day.
You can find Part 2 of this article here
All images by Joanne Lane, www.visitedplanet.com