Annapurna Base Camp (ABC) Trek
Trekking in the Himalayas was my main motivation for visiting Nepal. I wanted to disconnect from my work, clear my head from all the unnecessary distractions and enjoy this incredible and challenging experience. I have never done any trekking, only long-distance walking including the 60K Just Walk I did with my friends for charity back in 2012 and Barcelona Magic Line plus some hiking with different levels of difficulty. Still… these were only one day trips with a small backpack and the altitude nowhere near 4,000 meters.
Once my heart was set on Nepal at the end of 2013 I started all the planning. I talked to few friends about their experiences and found out that the Annapurna Region is one of more popular destinations with its breathtaking scenery and a variety of routes that would work with my rather tight schedule. Sadly I only had a luxury of 16 days dedicated to the whole trip. I also checked some blogs and exchanged a number of emails with other helpful people to fully understand what I am getting myself into and decided that it might be best if I hire a guide for this trek. A couple of months and several emails later I was in Nepal, finally met Indra, my very friendly and experienced guide, and the ABC trekking adventure has begun!
Nayapul (1,010 m) to Ban Thanti (2,210 m)
After a final check that I have all the essentials including important paperwork, ACAP entry permit and TIMS card and a short drive from Pokhara to Nayapul I was starting my trek. A backpack out of the sudden became much heavier than a day before… I knew that the next 10 days would not be easy but I was ready for it!
A hearty lunch in Tikhedhunga and few stops to drink water boosted my energy and after 6 hours we made it to the first stop – Ban Thanti. The lodge was simple and basic but very clean and offered everything what was needed to anyone exploring this route. With a great help of Indra I was able to get an insight into local life. At this particular lodge he knew the owner and her daughters. One of them was an amazing cook and I could sit with Indra and other guides in a kitchen drink tea and observe how she prepares a dough for momo, Nepali dumplings to later roll it out on a table and form little round pockets. I am from a dumpling-loving country so obviously they became my favourite snack and a ginger and lemon tea was my hot drink of choice during this trek.
Ban Thanti to Ghorepani (2,860 m)
A tasty breakfast outdoors while looking at Annpurna III is an excellent way to make the most of the Himalayan beauty and kickoff a new day of trekking. The one to Ghorepani was shorter and much easier as it took only 4 hours and we were mainly going through the forest and its cooling shade. I saw local people going about their everyday routines, a number of horses and mules carrying different goods and small groups of children in their uniforms on the way to school. A lodge at Ghorepani was bigger and busier than the one I stayed in yesterday. Few trekkers and guides discussed the ins and outs of the avalanche accident at Mount Everest that happened only few days before. One Sherpa’s opinion echoed my views on the importance of work towards sustainable tourism. I also got chatting to a couple from Pamplona managing to practice a bit of my Spanish even in Nepal. Eduardo was doing a longer trip around Asia starting in Vietnam and his girlfriend joined him at the end so they can come back to Spain together.
Ghorepani to Tadapani (2,630 m) via Poon Hill (3,193 m)
Rise and shine! I had to wake up at 4:30 to walk up to the nearby Poone Hill and watch the sunrise around 6 o’clock. The panoramic view of Annapurna South, Annapurna I, Machhapuchhre and Dhaulagiri was stunning. I would recommend to anyone visiting Nepal, who does not have plenty of time, to go on a short trek to Ghorepani. To see these spectacular peeks is a must when exploring this part of the world.
After a breakfast we had back at the lodge we were mainly walking through the valleys with a small river. I managed to spot grey langurs and stay away from a direct sun. The humidity was crazy that day so I was not surprised to hear a loud thunder once we got to Tadapani. When I made it to the outside bathroom it started to rain so except a hot shower I got a cold one as a bonus.
Tadapani to Sinuwa (2,340 m)
From Tadapani the route was taking us steeply downhill. It was a very hot day, which did not make it easier but stunning views across the valley were a great compensation. When we stopped for lunch I stretched myself on a bench and saw a massive bird flying above the village. After a second there was another one and the number started to increase rapidly. It turned out that these bird were the vultures. After a minute a sky above us was full of them. Clearly there had to be a dead animal nearby. It was a first time in my life I had a view like that in front of my eyes.
We got to Sinuwa after more than 6 hours and right on time to escape the rain. It was a tough day but sitting on a balcony outside my room and looking at the mountains made it very rewarding.
Sinuwa to Deurali (3,239 m)
It was my birthday that day and the route was taking us from Sinuwa, through Upper Sinuwa at Bamboo. From that point the trek became harder. We were passing high mountains and walked in the light all the way to Deurali.
Indra spotted Eduardo and Miren at one of the lodges so we decided to stop there so we could have a tea and dinner together – my fiesta de cumpleaños! We shared our stories, Indra told us about falling off the roof of the bus, Eduardo mentioned his treks in the Everest region and I made them laugh with few of my stories from Barcelona. When you move somewhere and you do not speak the language everything oscillates between big drama and a pure comedy gold.
We decided to call it a day and as we were above 3,000 meters it was very cold at night. What a way to finish my birthday – zipping myself up in my sleeping bag wearing warm leggings, three layers of tops, a hat and a pair of gloves but at least listening to the sound of the river.
Read about the second part of my adventure here.