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A simple ABC to Annapurna Base Camp

NEPAL | Thursday, 8 December 2011 | Views [505]

Dec.8th and the legs are a bit sore, having just returned from a trek to Annapurna Base Camp (or ABC). After the bus trip from Kathmandu we went back to the same guesthouse we stayed last time (Trekkies) having rather spacious rooms, and being away from the main hotel area so hopefully a bit quieter. Indeed less noise from taxis, motorbikes, music and returning hotel guests, however the rural location includes some roosters, dogs and the like.

In Pokhara we arranged our TIMS card (a document to get access to all trekking areas; TIMS registers trekkers in each region and their fee helps to improve general facilities) and our ACAP card. The ACAP is specific to Annapurna region, and gives local support to the communities in the area). Off course these document require bureacrats to register (no computer, and most data is filled in twice or three times by hand) so it takes a bit of time and money to get it all done. After being told the ACAP could be arranged on the track we left that one for the next day (when walking) only to find out we needed to pay double the fee. Even in US dollars quite a bit, and not good for our mood). But that's "just" money, so we did not to have our day spoilt.

The ABC trek is easily reached from Pokhara - about 20 minutes in one of the Suzuki Alto taxis. The start of the track involves many stone stairs to gain height, then descending, going up, and zigzagging through the landscape. From the road to ABC is about 3000 metres up, but we guess we climbed about 5000 metres to get there (and again 2000 metres to get back out). Most of this was stone steps, some shallow, some just to steep, and pretty hard on the knees. The high-altitude training in Macchermo did pay off: no problems with breathing or headaches so we were able to go up quite fast. A sense of luxury was added to the trek by the high temperatures at the lower end of the trek (T-shirt and rolled-up pants in December!) and the presence of hot springs halfway. As a logical consequence we stayed twice in the same lodge in Jinlu, a 20 minute walk from the springs for a nice afternoon soak.

Further up the trek we had a few cloudy days, translating into fog in the narrow valley packed with bamboo, curly rhodondendrons and other trees, and lots of moss. One day the fog was frosted, so all vegetation was covered in a thin layer of ice - lovely view! At  the top end the valley broadens up into a wider area, and we were lucky to have great blue skies above the many summits of Annapurna. The ABC is enclosed by high mountains 360 degrees around, so our 4 days walking uphill was rewarded.

The way down is exactly the same route as up, but anyway the views are a bit different. A troop of white monkeys crossed the trail early on one day, and we spent about 20 minutes seeing the adults and kiddies move through the trees from our side of the river gorge to the steep bank at the other side, giving good opportunities to watch them and make a few photos. Apart from that some colorful birds, lots of tourists and even some insects (we appreciated we didn't miss any flies nor mosquitoes when staying in Macchermo).

Now back in Pokhara we'll have an easy day or two, then travel partly back to KTM to stay in medieval Banjipur for some day hikes in the hills, and then finish our trip in KTM. We've decided to skip the rhinos, monkeys and mosquitoes in Chitwan park to avoid spending too much time in busses - maybe a next time?

All the best with your Christmas preparations; hopefully the earthquake in Welly hasn't done too much harm!


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