Trekking Tales from Annapurna Base Camp

  • By Sheena Gandhi
  • March 11, 2024
  • 2332 views
  • This photo feature provides an interesting and crisp day by day account of the eight-day trek to Annapurna Base Camp.

Trekking has always been more than just a hobby for me; it's a passion that ignites my spirit for adventure and exploration. From tackling marathons to diving headfirst into bungee jumps and even soaring through the skies while skydiving, I've always craved experiences that test my limits and push me beyond my comfort zone. So, when it came to trekking, I was eager to dive in headfirst. 

 

My sights were set on the Annapurna Base Camp (ABC) trek back in 2020, but unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic had different plans. However, undeterred by setbacks, I was determined to make my trekking dreams a reality in 2022 so joined a group of like-minded enthusiasts for an unforgettable journey that was led by the seasoned experts at White Magic Adventures.

 

Now, you might wonder why I chose ABC over the famed Everest Base Camp (EBC). Allow me to share my journey through a collection of photos.

 

Nestled at an elevation of 4130 meters, the Annapurna Base Camp, affectionately known as the Annapurna Sanctuary, stands as a testament to nature's awe-inspiring beauty. The trek winds its way through picturesque villages, towering oak and bamboo forests, and vibrant rhododendron blooms, ultimately culminating at the foot of the majestic Mt. Annapurna, the tenth-highest peak in the world. 

 

While ABC is often touted as a moderate trek suitable for beginners, don't let its classification fool you; it presents its fair share of challenges with daily treks averaging 6-7 hours, numerous staircases, and several ascents. Yet, amidst the arduous journey, the trek rewards adventurers with stunning mountain vistas, lush forests, exhilarating suspension bridges, and serene Tibetan temples. And let's not forget the warmth of cosy tea houses, clean facilities, sumptuous Nepali Thali meals, and even Wi-Fi access (albeit at a nominal fee), all of which leave an indelible mark on one's soul, beckoning a return to this natural wonderland time and time again.

 

Our eight-day trek in April 2022 proved to be ideal weather-wise, although, as they say, mountain weather is notoriously unpredictable. We encountered everything from brilliant sunshine to relentless rain, hailstorms, and even snow, each element adding layers of richness and depth to our adventure.

 

We travelled from Mumbai to Kathmandu and then took a connecting flight to Pokhara. The journey kicked off from Phedi, approximately an hour’s drive from Pokhara. There lay verdant farmlands, where we embarked on a brief hike to Dhampus. Here, we found respite at the Anu Guest House, owned by a retired army veteran who once served alongside my father, a heart-warming coincidence that added an extra layer of meaning to our journey. Lunchtime saw us indulging in our very first Nepali Thali alongside some local beer, setting the stage for the adventures that lay ahead.

As we set out on day two, our trek took us on a five-hour journey to Landruk, a charming village situated at 1620 meters above sea level. Along the way, we meandered through scenic meadows, each step bringing us closer to the heart of the Himalayas.

As the sun dipped below the horizon, temperatures plummeted, and clouds descended upon us, enveloping the landscape in an ethereal haze. Yet, amidst the chill of the evening, the crackling campfire provided a beacon of warmth and comfort, a welcome respite after a long day's trek. 

 

Early to bed and early to rise became our mantra, a testament to the discipline instilled by our diligent trek leader. And amidst the rugged terrain, the luxury of clean bed sheets and blankets served as a reminder of the remarkable infrastructure that exists amidst the mountains of Nepal.

 

The following day brought both challenges and rewards as we made our way to Chomrong, a picturesque village situated at 2210 meters above sea level. The journey took us through pebbled pathways, and dense Rhododendron forests with a thick carpet of leaves filling my lungs with freshness.

We crossed the crystalline waters and suspension bridges like Jhinu Danda (287 meters long and stands 135 meters above the ground).

The ascent to Chomrong proved to be both arduous and exhilarating. It is the most scenic and is a hidden gem. Its beauty is mesmerizing. I was lucky to get a room with a view. At 2150m, it overlooked the entire Annapurna range.

 

It was also the last stop to take a hot water shower, adding a touch of indulgence to our adventure.

 

As we navigated through the Bamboo forest, ascending towards Dovan, we encountered diminishing supplies of chocolates and snacks, a reminder of the remote and rugged landscape that surrounded us. Torrential rain added a dramatic flair to our journey, transforming the bamboo forest into a slippery terrain that tested our agility and resolve. Yet, amidst the challenges, the camaraderie of our group and the unwavering support of our experienced guides kept our spirits high.

The Trek to Machhapuchhre Base Camp (3700m) was through the Himalaya and the Modi Khola. Walking along the river and the vast mountains was overwhelming. We were gaining altitude steadily leaving behind the beautiful and lush forest to more barren and rocky terrain.

Approaching Machhapuchhre Base Camp (MBC), we remained vigilant of potential avalanches, a reminder of the ever-changing conditions that define life in the mountains. As the air got thinner, I struggled with not just the marvel of nature but with slight a headache (AMS) and my stomach troubles continued, leading to me questioning my choices.

 

However, walking slowly, hydrating and admiring the majestic mountains as we entered the cloud-covered valley, we were enveloped in a surreal ambience, setting the stage for a cold yet cosy night at 3700 meters above sea level.

The following morning, amidst captivating views of the Annapurna range, we embarked on the final leg of our journey to Annapurna Base Camp (ABC) at 4130 meters. Snow-laden trails greeted us, transforming the landscape into a pristine wonderland. Our porters raced ahead but given the altitude, our trek leader as most days set a steady pace to make sure that we didn’t exhaust ourselves or succumb to altitude sickness. As we reached our destination, the sense of accomplishment was palpable, a testament to the human spirit's resilience.

The early morning 360-degree view of the magnificent Annapurna massif consisting of Annapurna I, III, Gangapurna, Gandharvachuli and Machhapuchhre welcomed with clear blue skies as golden sun rays hit the peaks, wind hitting my face and I stood there imagining what would it be like to Summit one of these towering peaks.

 

Reflecting on our journey, I'm filled with a profound sense of gratitude for the camaraderie shared with fellow trekkers and the unwavering support of the White Magic team and local porters. 

 

The Annapurna Base Camp trek transcended mere physical exertion, offering an immersive journey through Nepal's natural wonders and the indomitable spirit of the human soul. 

 

And as I look back on those eight unforgettable days, I'm reminded that true adventure lies not only in the destination but in the journey itself.

 

My experience was truly enjoyable, yet there are key pointers I’d advise first-timers to consider.

 

Take it Slow, Go Far: The ABC trek, though moderate, presents challenges such as AMS or stomach discomfort. Tailor your pace to your capabilities and comfort level while relishing the stunning views.

 

Harness the Power of Hiking Poles: Trekking poles offer invaluable support, alleviating strain from your legs and providing stability, especially when navigating through water or slippery terrain.

 

Stay Hydrated: As altitude increases, hydration becomes even more critical in preventing AMS. Keep a steady intake of water to ward off altitude-related issues.

 

Prioritise Fitness: A strong core and legs are indispensable for tackling this trek effortlessly. Incorporate stair and hill training into your fitness routine to enhance cardiovascular endurance and activate the necessary muscle groups for the journey ahead.

 

Article and pictures are copyright author. This article should not be re-published without prior written permission of author or www.esamskriti.com

 

Editor Notes – Though Nepal is another country, we have included it in section India Travel and Yatras. No offence meant to fellow Nepalis. Over time, the content has included trips to Indic nations in the Sub-continent.

 

Annapoorneshwari Temple Horanadu, near Mangalore Karnataka. 

 

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