Annapurna Base Camp Trek is one of the most popular treks in Nepal. It lets you explore the beauty of the Annapurna region and takes you to the foot of Annapurna and Machhapuchhre. The trek provides you with a plethora of amazing views of the landscapes, subtropical forests, snow-capped mountains, glaciers, and moraine valleys. It is also a great opportunity to explore the culture and tradition of the Gurung, Magar and Sherpa people of the Himalaya region.
Walking through the thrilling trail surrounding by the heavenly view is one of the best experiences to have in life. However, with the amazing experiences Annapurna Base Camp trek, there comes the risk of altitude sickness as well. For a few days, you will have to trek along the high altitudes (altitude more than 3000 m). Starting from Pokhara(820 m), Annapurna Base Camp trail elevation increases steadily all the way to Annapurna Base Camp which is at the altitude of 4130 m. The elevation crosses the mark of 3000 m from Dovan. So, above that mark, you might get affected by altitude sickness. Altitude sickness can range from a minor problem to fetal. Many times people have to abandon trek and return back because of altitude sickness. So, to prevent the altitude sickness we need to be well informed about it, acclimatize our body properly before trekking to the high altitude regions. Here we will get into the details of the altitude sickness.
Altitude sickness is a form of illness that is caused when the body can not adapt to the low level of oxygen and atmospheric pressure in the high altitude mountains. It is also known as acute mountain sickness and affects many trekkers and mountaineers. The oxygen level starts to decrease from an altitude of 3000 m. So at the altitude higher than 3000 m, altitude sickness can affect the trekkers who come from the lower altitudes. Altitude sickness can be fatal as well if not treated well. While trekking to Annapurna Base Camp, you will have to walk for a few days in the high altitudes so you are likely to be affected by altitude sickness. So, you need to be well informed about this sickness and prepare yourself to prevent it.
There are 3 types of altitude sickness which depend on how strong or mild they are and what part of your body they affect the most:
1. Acute Mountain Sickness
Acute mountain sickness is a mild form of altitude sickness you can get while traveling to high altitudes. While being affected by this, your organs give you the sense that you are moving even when you are stationary.
- Nausea and vomiting
- Insomnia etc
2. High Altitude Pulmonary Edema
High Altitude Pulmonary Edema affects your lungs. It results in the formation of fluid in the lungs which doesn’t allow let the lungs to get filled with oxygen. It ultimately leads to the lack of oxygen in your body making you feel exhausted.
- The problem in breathing even while resting
- Increased heart rate.
- Lips, nails, and tongue turning blues
- Symptoms similar to acute mountain sickness
3. High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE)
High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE) is the strongest type of altitude sickness. It results in the formation of fluid in the brain that affects your cognitive ability.
- A severe Headache
- Vomiting and Exhaustion
- Fuzzy vision
- Confusion in the simplest of things
- The impossibility of walking in a straight line
Annapurna Base Camp Elevation and Altitude sickness
There are numerous routes you can take to get to Annapurna Base Camp. Here we will be discussing how the elevation changes throughout the route of classic Annapurna Base Camp trek. You will have a drive from Kathmandu to Pokhara and Pokhara to Nayapul. The trekking starts from Nayapul.
Nayapul to Hile
After 1.5 hours of ride from Pokhara, you will reach Nayapul which is at the elevation of 1070m. Then you will start your trek to Hile which is at the elevation of 1430 m. Hence you will have gained 360 m of altitude when you reach Hile. You will complete the trek in 4-5 hours.No risk of altitude sickness.
Hile to Ghorepani
The next day you will trek to Ghorepani from Hile crossing the stone stairs of Ulleri. Ghorepani lies at the altitude of 2874m. You will have gained 1500 m altitude when you reach Ghorepani and it takes 5-6 hours to complete the trek. No risk of altitude sickness.
Ghorepani to Poon Hill to Tadapani
You will then trek to Tadapani from Ghorepani. First, you will hike to Poonhill to behold the sunrise over the mountains which is at the altitude of 3200 m. You will trek to Tadapani which is at the altitude of 2630m. As the Poon hill lies above the 3000m, you might feel a bit uncomfortable because of altitude but as you don't spend much time there, you will have no risk of altitude sickness
Tadapani to Chhomrong
You will trek to Chhomrong from Tadapani which is at the altitude of 2160 m. As Chhomrong is at a lower altitude than Tadapani there will be no altitude gain on this day. No risk of altitude sickness.
Chhomrong to Dovan
From Chhomrong you descend to Chhomrong Khola and ascend uphill for about 4-5 hours to reach Dobhan which is at the altitude of 2500 m. You will have gained an altitude of 450 m when you reach Dobhan. No risk of altitude sickness.
Dovan to Deurali
You will ascend further uphill from Dobhan and cross the Hotel Himalayan village to get to Deurali which is at the altitude of 3230m. You will have crossed the same limit of altitude (3000m ). You need to be careful about the signs of altitude sickness from now on. If your body shows any signs you have to take a rest and not move forward. You also need to limit your pace of trekking from here.
Deurali to Annapurna Base Camp via Machhapuchhre Base Camp
Finally, you will reach to Annapurna Base Camp (4130 m) on this day. You will have gained an altitude of 900 m. This is the day your body is most likely to show the signs of altitude sickness so you need to be careful about that. You should stay hydrated and walk slowly and steadily.
You will return from Annapurna Base Camp using the same trail or slightly different trail. As you will be descending you will be free from the risk of altitude sickness hence you can enjoy the trek without having to worry about it. You can also have fun in Jhinu hot springs while getting back if you choose that trail. While returning back, you can walk as much as you can in a day.
Some tips to prevent Altitude Sickness while trekking to Annapurna Base Camp:
- You are recommended to take various strength training such as running, cycling, jogging, push-ups, gym, etc to devolve the stamina of muscle.
- You have to stay hydrated during the trekking and avoid alcohol as it causes dehydration
- You need to have an appropriate diet throughout the journey.
- You need to carry a subscription of Diamox during the trek as it is the most common medication for altitude sickness. However, you should consult your doctor to know if it works positively or not.
- You should not rush while trekking to the high altitude. You should trek leisurely and steadily.
- You need to acclimatize properly before trekking to the altitude higher than 3000 m
- If your body shows any signs of altitude sickness you need to stop right where you are or descend some altitude.
- Staying clean might also help you prevent altitude sickness