Annapurna sanctuary trek in 8 days

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Annapurna sanctuary trek in 8 days

Beauty might have it’s limit, but not in Nepal Himalaya. If you want to enjoy something which seems out of the world, you have to go to Nepal for a trekking. Your feet will take you to the places no vehicle in this world can take you.

Among the many trekking routes in the region, one of the most popular ones is Annapurna Sanctuary Trek where you can go to the Annapurna Base Camp (ABC). I had the fortune of visiting there in this December. Before my journey, I read in most of the places that, it will take 10 days to complete the trek, for me, it took only 8 days. I could have made it shorter, however, I did not want to rush.

Itinerary:

Day 0:

My flight from Dhaka, Bangladesh to Kathmandu was at 12:15 PM which landed at 1:30 PM in the Kathmandu Trivuban Internation Airport.

After clearing the immigration, I spent some time for buying a SIM card of NCell with 3G connectivity. There was a rush during the purchase and at one point I thought about taking it at a later stage.

There are prepaid taxi counters (NPR 700) in the airport which will take you to the Thamel area. In order to trek in the Annapurna region, you need to take two permits.

  1. TIMS (Trekkers’ Information Management System )
  2. ACAP (Annapurna Conservation Area Project )

Both of the permits can be taken either from Kathmandu or Pokhara. Here is the location of Kathmandu and here is the location of Pokhara.

I rushed into the one in Kathmandu because, ACAP although in the same room closes earlier. I reached there at around 3:45 PM. I had to fill up two forms and the permits were ready within 30 minutes. You must take 4 passport sized photographs with you, each one needs 2 photos.

Here was my permit 🙂

I was relieved to get the permit and had a good night sleep in Adventure Home Nepal (US$ 8) after a stroll in Thamel and dinner in Yangling Tibetan Restaurant.

Day 1 (Pokhara -> Phedi -> Dhampus -> Pothana -> Prithom Deurali -> Tolka):

The entry town of starting the trek in Pokhara. You can go to Pokhara by bus (NPR 600 to 1000). If you start at 8:00 AM, you should be able to reach there by 3:30 PM. You can approach for the permit if you haven’t taken it in Kathmandu. As, I was short in time, I took a flight of Simrik Airlines at 9:25 AM to Pokhara. I found the cheapest deal in a site named air-viva, however, it costs me a fortune (US$ 180, both way). The flight was delayed a bit, and I arrived in Pokhara at 11:15 AM.

The starting point of the trek is Phedi, which is about an hour from Pokhara. You can go with a bus from Pokhara Baglung Bus Park. To save time, we took a taxi (NPR 900).

As, I did not take any breakfast, I ate two breads and lentils in Phedi. I bough a bamboo stick (NPR 100) from there which was my friend for the entire period of time – and it gave me a lot of support!

Finally, our trekking started at 12:45 PM.

We were welcomed by the steep stairs (which were our orders for the next several days). After 15 to 20 minutes, we felt that, we were pretty much on top and could see the roads and rivers way below!

Our target for the day was to reach Tolka, however, it was getting darker at around 5:00 PM. All on a sudden, it got dark completely. We had to turn on the light of our mobile phone and a feeble torchlight to continue our journey. Around 7:30 PM, we reached to Tolka.

We stayed in the Swapna Lodge owned by Maya Gurung. It was a basic lodge (NPR 100 per person for staying), however, the hospitality we received was one of the best in the tour.

Day 2 (Tolka -> Landruk  -> New Bridge -> Jhinu Danda -> Chhomrong):

We were trekking in the dark on the previous day, so, when we started our journey in the early morning (8:00 AM) next day, we had the first glimpse of the snow capped mountain.

We went through villages, waterfalls, beautiful roads and suspension bridges as we were moving forward.

The last leg of the journey, from Jhinu Danda to Chhomrong was a very difficult one. It had some steep ascent and our knee had some tough time.

We stayed in the Excellent View lodge (NPR 150 per person) in the night. It was the best accommodation in the entire tour. You can see a glimpse of mountains from the hotel, hot shower is free and you will have a verities of food there. I enjoyed an amazing sunrise from outside of my room on the next day.

Day 3 (Chhomrong -> Tilche -> Bhanua -> Sinuwa -> Bamboo):

People can choose a different starting point for going to ABC. However, Chhomrong is the place from where there is only a single way to ABC. There is a ACAP check-in point in Chhomrong, you have to show your ACAP permit there. They will put a seal on your permit and log the information on a book. Then, you will experience a long steep descend. If you want to buy any grocery item, this is your last place to grab those. There are two “wholesale” shops from where we bought some nuts and biscuits.

We saw horses to carry different stuffs like gas cylinders in Chhomrong. For most of the part of the journey, we went through green forests dominated by bamboo.

As, we were ascending, the villages those we were leaving behind became tiny piece of toys.

Although, we were moving in the midst of green, we were often rewarded by the glimpse of utmost beauties.

It was a short day for us, we could have easily gone to Dovan. However, we decided to stop at Bamboo at 2:00 PM.

We stayed in the Buddha Lodge (NPR 200 per person) in Bamboo. They lacked a bit of professionalism, and somehow, we did not like it during our entire journey. I would suggest you to go to Dovan for better accommodation (make sure that, they are not booked).

Day 4 (Bamboo -> Dovan -> Himalayan Hotel -> Deorali):

Only one word can describe the day – “Ascent”! It was a day, where we climbed for about 800 meters and arrived at Deorali which is in an altitude of 3140 meters. The number of stoppage in-between became fewer. Unfortunately, it could not bring any good news to our journey as it became more difficult to move forward because of the gain in altitude as well as the steepness.

At the same time, the valley has started to opening up, and we were no more moving through a rhododendron, or bamboo forests. During the winter season, these mountains are covered by snow. We did not experience any such thing, we were greeted by unbelievably blue sky and gorgeous valleys.

To gain some energy, we stopped in the Himalayan hotel and ate garlic soup and tuna macaroni. Those were yummy!

We stayed at Dream Lodge in Deurali, and it was a decent one.

Day 5 (Deorali -> Machhapuchhare Base Camp (MBC)):

We trekked till only 1:30 PM on this day, however, every single step became extremely difficult for me. We reached to an altitude of 3700 meters at MBC. The air becomes thinner as you climb higher, means less oxygen for you in the air. It made my journey difficult. We could have moved forward to ABC on the same day. But, we decided to do against it for acclimatisation. This was the one of the most memorable days in my trip, we could see Macchapucchare in one side and Annapurna in other side.

Mount Macchapucchare

Mount Annapurna – a hint of avalanche as the snow melts

We stayed in the Shankar Guest House. If you can stay in the Gurung co-operative, you will have an even better view.

During night, I did not have a very good sleep for the night, but, all but excited to move to the ultimate destination, ABC!

Day 6 (Machhapuchhare Base Camp (MBC) -> Annapurna Base Camp (ABC) -> Deorali -> Himalayan Hotel -> Dovan):

Finally, the day has arrived, where we were all excited about the next hour. We thought about watching the sunrise from ABC. We later did not execute it, as we did not want to start in the dark. Later, we found that, we could have done it because the last leg of the journey was pretty flat comparing with the previous days. As we were moving forward and climbing up, we were greeted by the humongous mount Annapurna. At the same time, we could see the mount Macchapucchare when we were looking back.

We had to take more frequent rests and drink plenty of water. We left most of the items of my bag in the hotel in MBC. I suggest you to do the same, you can pick it up when, you will be back. After an hour of trekking, came the golden moment, we arrived at the dreamy ABC!

It was so humongous, beautiful, and peaceful that, I stopped breathing for a while – I understood the meaning of breathtaking once again in my life. We spent some time exploring the area and holding our breathe.

I don’t know, how many times, I said beautiful on that day. We took the breakfast there, stayed around 3 hours and started to descend. As, the ultimate goal of the trip was achieved, we were keen to go back to Pokhara. We descend till 5:30 PM that day and stopped at Dovan.

We stayed in the Annapurna Lodge in Dovan and was happy with their accommodation.

Day 7 (Dovan -> Bamboo -> Sinuwa -> Chhomrong -> Jhinudanda):

If you think that, descending means only going down, your bubble will be bursted just before arriving to Chhomrong. The stairs up to Chhomrong were the scariest, steepest, and most energy sapping in the entire trip. Good news for you is, the rest of the journey was mostly downhill and easy. All you need to do is to have your balance with the stick and right judgement so that you do not fall down.

We could see the green villages with vegetations and crops.

We trekked till 5:00 PM on day 7 and stopped in Jhinudanda. We stayed in Gurung Cottage there, it was an okay accommodation.

Day 8 (Jhinudanda -> New Bridge -> Siwai -> Pokhara):

We asked local people about the shortest way for getting a vehicle to Pokhara. Everyone pointed us to a place named Siwai. Although, we were down by a long way, we could still see the glimpse of mountain.

Many people go to the natural hot springs of Jhinudanda which is about 90 minutes from the lodge. We thought it better to go back to Pokhara and take artificial hot shower instead. So, we trekked toward New Bridge, took our breakfast there (Gurung Bread) and walked till Siwai at 12:30 PM.

We found several jeeps there. However, there was no trace of the bus. Later, we found that, about two buses run a day there and you have to call the driver with enough passenger. So, we talked to the fellow travellers, managed to make a group of 8 people and rented a Jeep (NPR 4800/=) to go to Pokhara. It took us 3 hours to reach to Pokhara.

So, our memorable trekking adventure ends at 3:30 PM in Pokhara after going through some unforgettable moments. So much memories were popping up in my mind!

Hospitality of Maya Gurung on the first night when we navigated in the dark.

We had the fortune of meeting an Australian dad and daughter, who came several times in the basecamp.

An enthusiastic Chinese, who does not understood a single line of English, could not recognise our country, however, was excited enough to take several photos with us! Photos – the universal language in our time!

A bunch of lovely young ladies from Australia whom we met frequently and ended up in the same Jeep to Pokhara.

A Korean couple who brought their 10 years old son – who was not comfortable in the last leg, however, they didn’t care, they made fun out of it and made sure that, their son gets the taste o ABC. They were successful.

Simon, an English gentleman, who had to take an outbound flight and had only 5 days to make trip, and he did it!

We met an old lady (who was younger than me inside) from Japan who was 74 years old. We could not but stop her to take a snap and bow her courage.

Repeated reading of the Annapurna Sanctuary Trek chapter in the Lonely Planet and navigating through maps – only to comprehend, what lies ahead, beneath and above! Will it be a tough day tomorrow? Will there be any respite after a while? Do we need to push our limits a little further?

Endless chanting of Naamaste and encouragements of the fellow trekkers made our journey a little easier.

I stayed in Hotel Diplomat in Pokhara (US$ 8 for single person) which was of great value!

The last flight from Pokhara to Kathmandu leaves at 3:00 PM. If you are short on time, you can do your maths and try to catch a flight on the 8th day. There is always the least expensive bus service to Kathmandu. It would be a shame not to spend some time in Pokhara as you can do some adventurous activities like paragliding, and bungee jumping. However, Pokhara looked a bit pale to me after the mesmerising previous 8 days. It was not a fault of Pokhara, it has it’s own beauty and charm, it was the outstanding beauty of the ABC – wherever I will go from now on, things might look a bit gloomy – you can call it a curse!

The curse of Annapurna – the beauty my eyes could not behold!

P.S.: I did not take any guide or porter for the trek. My co-trekkers were Shaer (my colleague and friend, 43 years old) and Meesam (Shaer’s son, 14 years old). They gave me company, motivations, guidance and inspirations for the entire trip. I doubt, I could make it without them. My heartfelt gratitude to them.

 

Fuad Omar

Fuad Omar

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