Annapurna Base Camp trek is the most visited trek in Nepal. The towering mountains you can see during this trek are nothing short of gorgeous. With such a large number of trekkers, you might be wondering, “How difficult is the Annapurna Base Camp trek?”
Annapurna Base Camp is a moderate trek.
Annapurna is the tenth highest peak in the world. It stands 8091 meters tall. However, the Annapurna Base Camp lies at a relatively low altitude of 4130 meters. This is mild in comparison to other high altitude treks in Nepal.
Apart from the altitude, there are various other factors that determine the difficulty of the Annapurna Base Camp. These factors include the duration of the trip, altitude, and altitude gains, how well you prepare for the trek as well as choosing the time that is the most suitable for you.
Let us take a look at these various factors that you need to take into consideration while determining the difficulty of trekking to Annapurna Base Camp.
Duration of the Annapurna Base Camp Trek
One of the considerations while judging the difficulty of the Annapurna Base Camp trek is its duration. This trek lasts for 13 days in total. However, you can also complete the Annapurna base camp trek in 10 days as well.
You can also extend the trek as you wish. You can make several detours along the trek. Many people also choose to complete the Khopra Hill trek on the way to Annapurna Base Camp. You can contact us easily in case you want to customize the Annapurna Base Camp trek.
You will trek for 5 to 6 hours on average during this trek. However, if you are a slow trekker and have a lot of break in between, you might end up trekking for 7-8 a day.
In order to avoid such long stretches of trekking and difficulty, you must engage in some forms of preparation before you head out for the Annapurna Base Camp trek. That will help your body endure the rigor of trekking to Annapurna Base Camp.
One of the biggest difficulties during any trek you go to is the altitude. If the altitude is high, there are difficulties adjusting to the low level of oxygen in the trek.
Apart from altitude, you will also have to make sure that you don’t gain a lot of altitude in a single day. You should make sure that the altitude gains are slow so that the gradual gains in altitude are small. This will help you adjust to the altitude a lot better.
The Annapurna Base Camp trek starts after a bus ride from Kathmandu to Pokhara. The altitude of these two cities is 1400 meters and 800 meters respectively. But as you trek further, you will gain a lot of altitude reaching an altitude of 4130 meters.
Let us look at the altitude of the various places along to way to see if you will have difficulties in altitude while trekking to Annapurna Base Camp.
Machhapuchhre Base Camp
Annapurna Base Camp
All the places in the Annapurna Base Camp trek have altitudes lower than 4130 meters. This makes this trek easier in comparison to high altitude treks in Nepal.
The Annapurna Base Camp trek does not take you to very high altitudes like other high altitude treks in Nepal like Everest Base Camp or Manaslu Circuit Trek. However, you can’t rule out the possibility of altitude sickness during your trek. Altitude Sickness can make your trek to Annapurna Base Camp difficult.
Altitude sickness is also referred to as mountain sickness as well. The mountain region (for eg the Himalayas) has low pressure and oxygen compared to sea level. This might lead to muscle exhaustion and fatigue as your body doesn’t get the appropriate amount of oxygen.
Altitude sickness affects people when they go above 2400 meters. There are 3 types of altitude sickness. They are High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE), High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HAPE), and Acute Motion Sickness.
Let us look at the symptoms and preventive measures to altitude sickness. That will give you a very good idea as to how you make the Annapurna Base Camp trek easier in case you suffer from altitude sickness.
Nausea and vomiting
Dizziness and poor sleep
Effects similar to a hangover.
Difficulty in catching a breath
A High rate of heartbeat
Difficulty in stopping cough
foam in saliva
Saliva might contain blood.
Your lips, nails, and tongue might slowly turn blue.
Confusion in simple things.
Difficult to walk heel-in-toe on a straight path.
If you observe any of these symptoms while trekking to Annapurna Base Camp, take the following preventive measures.
Strengthening your body with appropriate training before the ABC trek.
Maintain a high level of hydration during the trek.
Avoid alcohol while trekking.
Go slow during your trek.
Have low altitude gains.
In case you observe the symptoms, make a descent to lower altitudes.
As long as you watch out for the symptoms and take the appropriate measures, you won’t have difficulty with respect to the altitude sickness during the Annapurna Base Camp trek.
Training is the best measure for staying healthy, reducing muscle strain during the ABC trek, helping to adjust to the high altitude, and increasing strength and stamina. So it is really important for you to train well for the Annapurna Base Camp trek to make the trek easier.
Strength and Endurance Training
In order to trek along uphills for 5-6 hours a day, you will have to engage in strength and endurance training. You can hit the gym for building greater muscle strength and endurance.
Walking with a backpack for a few hours each week will also help you to strengthen your shoulder, arm, and back.
A better diet also helps in strengthening your body. Healthy consumption of water is also key to having a better diet. A good diet is rich in carbohydrates, protein, and fibres. Not only will a better diet help you during the preparation but also during the trek.
Cardiovascular Fitness helps in the functioning of your heart and lungs better. This happens when there is a good supply of oxygen to your muscles during your trek.
The air pressure decreases with an increase in altitude. In order to cope with a low amount of oxygen in the higher altitudes of the Annapurna Base Camp trek, you will need to build your cardiovascular fitness.
cycling, running, jogging, and swimming will help you improve your cardiovascular fitness.
You won’t have the feel of trekking before starting the trek. So you should complete a few one-day hikes before you trek to Annapurna Base Camp. You can also complete a one-day hike in Kathmandu and Pokhara before heading out for the Annapurna Base Camp trek.
A one-day hike will help you experience trekking for long hours. That might be a good mental exercise to know about the difficulty of a trek.
Total Distance for Annapurna Base Camp Trek
You will cover a distance of 115 kilometers during the Annapurna Base Camp Trek. On average, you will cover 10 to 20 km each day during the Annapurna Base Camp Trek.
The trekking trails to Annapurna Base Camp trek are well-managed. So the trails are quite easy to walk on. However, in comparison to normal hilly trails, the rocky terrains are more difficult to scale. The trails that take you along moraines are steep as well as rocky.
Despite the trekking trails being quite easy and popular to walk on, there are some seasons where trekking is quite tricky. These are the seasons of winter and summer.
If you are a person who has never trekked in rocky trails or in high altitude before, you might find some difficulties walking in some stony uphills during this trek. So you will have to engage in exercise for a few hours before you come to this trek.
The same is true for a novice trekker. The many steep uphills and downhills along the way can be a bit tricky to manage for someone who has not trekked in such terrains before.
However, if you have completed such a trek before, you will find that the Annapurna Base Camp Trek to be quite easy. If you have an experience of trekking in rocky trails for 4-5 hours for about a week or so, the Annapurna Base Camp trek will prove to be quite easy.
Hiring a Porter/ Guide
If you hire a guide/ porter for your Annapurna Base Camp trek, your trek will be a lot easier. You might feel really tired at the end of the day making it difficult to enjoy the views of the mountains.
As I have mentioned above, the trek is 115 kilometers long. And you will be trekking uphills and downhills frequently during this trek. So hiring a porter will make it easier for you as you won’t have to carry your bag in such uphills.
Similarly, a guide will help you get through some tricky trails in case you come for the Annapurna Base Camp Trek in the summers or in the winters.
Besides, the guides and porters are also an excellent company to have. They give you some mental fortitude when you find the uphills of this trek difficult to scale.
Choosing the right seasons for the Annapurna Base Camp
Another major factor that determines the difficulty of the Annapurna Base Camp trek is which season you go for your trek. Let us look at the various kinds of seasons you are likely to encounter in your trek as well as the various difficulties you might encounter in these seasons.
Autumn, which falls in the months of September, October, November, is one of the most popular seasons for trekking to Annapurna Base Camp. The autumn season sees the highest number of trekkers to the Annapurna Base Camp.
This is due to mild sunshine, low rainfall is low and clear blue skies. As a large number of trekkers come to Annapurna Base Camp in the autumn, you can interact with people from all over the world. All of these make the trek to Annapurna Base Camp in the autumn season quite easy.
Difficulties in Autumn trek to Annapurna Base Camp
If you are a peace/ solitude-loving trekker, you might not find this season suitable for you as there is a large number of trekkers. So the trails are very busy.
Without an advanced booking, you might find trekking to ABC in the autumn season difficult due to a great number of travelers.
As there is a large number of people in teahouses, waiters might find it very difficult to serve in time. So you might have to wait for a longer time to get appropriate services.
You might end up paying more for food and accommodation as there are many travelers to the tea houses and lodges in the Annapurna region.
The months of June, July, and August mark the summer season in Annapurna Base Camp. Summer season is the hottest as well as the wettest season in the Annapurna Base Camp. The summer season coincides with the monsoon season making this season wet.
There might be interruptions in your trek this season due to rainfall. So if you are looking for a summer trek to ABC, make sure that you have some spare days in case trekking is impossible due to heavy rainfall.
Difficulties in Summer trek to Annapurna Base Camp
The low altitude regions receive substantial rainfall. These regions are also the hottest. So the trek in the low altitude regions in the summer season is hot and humid.
At certain portions of the trek, the trails might be affected due to avalanche and mudslides.
During the daytime, there might be occasional heavy showers affecting your trek.
Due to the rain, the trails are slippery making trekking in steep trails difficult.
If the rain is incessant, trekking can also be interrupted for a few days.
The views of the mountains might also be regularly interrupted due to the dark clouds of the monsoon season.
Winter season in the Annapurna region falls in the months of December, January, and February. Winter is off-season in the Annapurna region as the number of trekkers here is quite low in this season. In some places in the Annapurna Base Camp region, the temperature goes as low as -20 degrees in the winter. Besides, there might also be some snowfall along the trails making it tricky for inexperienced trekkers.
However, the winter trek to Annapurna Base Camp has its own benefits. Winter is the best season for viewing the mountains of the Annapurna region from the Annapurna or Machhapuchhre Base Camp. The skies are perfectly blue with little or no rainfall. Besides, there are also chances of getting off-season discounts.
Difficulties in Winter trek to Annapurna Base Camp
Snow in the upper altitudes during the trek might make trekking difficult for inexperienced trekkers.
The amount of sunshine is quite low in this season. So wearing bulky clothes while trekking can feel a bit uncomfortable.
If you have never trekked while snowing, you might find trekking difficult as there is some chance of snowfall even while trekking.
The temperature can get as low as -20 degrees in the summers.
You must keep an eye out constantly on weather forecasts for snowfall.
Winter with its snowfall also brings possibilities of an avalanche. So you should be really cautious in the avalanche risk areas.
The months of March, April, and May are the months of the spring season in Annapurna Base Camp. These months have an almost identical temperature to the autumn. Spring, along with, autumn, sees a high number of trekkers to Annapurna Base Camp.
Difficulties in Spring trek to Annapurna Base Camp
Most of the snow accumulated in the trekking trails in the winter season disappears in the spring season. However, there is still some cold in the higher altitude regions in the early spring.
The trails are quite busy in the spring season. This might not be the perfect season for all the solitude-loving trekkers.
Without appropriate reservations, you might find difficulty in finding rooms at the teahouses and lodges. You might also end up sharing rooms with strangers.
You might end up waiting for food for long in the tea houses as the waiters have their hands full with work.
In the late spring, you might also encounter some rain which obstructs the scenic views of the mountains.
Packing List for Annapurna Base Camp Trek
There is a variation in the temperature in the mountain areas. Mornings are generally colder in comparison to the daytime or evening time. Daytime is the warmest time of any day. So, wearing layered clothing is the way to go. That will help you take off the outermost clothing layer when you are hot.
You will need to keep the weather of the season you trek to in mind while packing. As long as you have all these items during the Annapurna Base Camp trek, you won’t have a lot of difficulties dealing with the weather and temperature of the region.
You will need multi-layered, high-quality and comfortable clothing in order to trek to Annapurna Base Camp regardless of the month you trek in. These are all the clothing you will need:
A Baselayer of clothing (for the higher altitude of the Annapurna region).
The insulation layer (to wear on top of the base layer)
An outermost layer (this layer of clothing will protect you from the wind and cold)
underwear, trekking trousers and shorts, trekking shirts, a Waterproof Shell jacket, and trousers.
A hat, a beanie, and a neck gaiter (for protecting your head)
Inner gloves (used during moderate trekking temperatures)
Outer gloves (used when the temperature is too cold)
Sturdy, comfortable hiking boots
Trekking shoes and sandals (to roam around teahouses after the trek)
Hiking socks, thermal socks, and gaiters
A large spacious and compartmentalized backpack of 50 - 65 liters
If you hire a porter to carry your backpack, you will still need a daypack that you will carry and contains items that you will regularly use.
A rain cover.
Sleeping bags, trekking poles, sunglasses and moisturizers
Water bottle, pee funnel, basic first aid kit, toiletries, and towels will help you maintain personal hygiene.
Camera, books, and chargers (to pass your free time easily).
You will also need mosquito repellents and ointments to keep mosquitoes, leeches, and other bugs at bay.
There are various ways you can prepare for the difficulties during the Annapurna Base Camp trek. Besides, the Annapurna Base Camp has wonderful trekking trails that make your trek easy. The lower altitudes of the various places also make the Annapurna Base Camp trek easy to complete even for people without a lot of trekking experience. So throw all your doubts away and start preparing for this most popular trek and tour in Nepal.