Disco and I allowed ourselves 12 days to trek to Annapurna Base Camp but did it in 10. It was a wonderful experience and one I’d highly recommend. We schlepped all over Kathmandu taking two attempts to get our travel permits (don’t ask) at the tourism office then went to the fantastic Shona’s Rentals in Thamel to hire and buy the rest of the equipment we needed.
The kind patrons of the shop were so helpful and reassured us that we did not need a guide or porter, despite our hostel owner saying otherwise. Unlike almost everyone else on the trek we did it alone and it was very doable, everything is really well signposted and the trek is busy enough that you don’t walk for long before meeting another hiker or porter or guide.
The first day was certainly the hardest, we had to climb 4000 steps and we were getting used to the weight of our packs and the heat. After that the climbs were all very similar, apart from the third day when it rained from the moment we arrived at the tea house, all through the night and for the entire day we trekked after. This meant we did not get to see sunrise from Poon Hill because there were so many clouds- very reminiscent of the West coast of Scotland!
This gives some idea of how wet it was- in the photo above I’m wearing plastic bags in my shoes.
We were so impressed by the tea houses. I hadn’t seen any images of them and expected to sleep on the floor and just eat whatever the mama was cooking. However, we had a room at each with a bed and there was a menu in every tea house. The food did get a bit repetitive after 10 days but it was hot and filling and that was all that mattered. Most days we arrived mid afternoon, had a shower (sometimes hot, sometimes not) then played cards or read until tea time. The sun sets at about 1730 and then it’s pitch black so most nights we were asleep by 1900- Rock and Roll! The guest house owners reminded me of wee nana because after each meal you’d eaten you had to choose what you wanted to eat at the next meal and what time you wanted it. We met lots of interesting people of different ages and nationalities all climbing the mountains for different reasons. One British couple were doing what we are before relocating to Perth, Australia, another couple were honey mooning and a bunch of Aussies were returning for the fourth time to Nepal (one person in their party was 75!), an Israeli lady who looked to be in her 60s was doing it for the challenge and a team of hilarious Indian men were part of a photography social club climbing the hill. Base camp was truly spectacular, there are lots of prayer flags and plaques remembering the lives of mountaineers climbing Annapurna who have lost their lives in avalanches. This is a sobering reminder of the risk associated with hiking and unpredictability of nature.
Lots of farm animals walk the route too: goats, donkeys and horses were the most frequent.
The route down was far quicker and we were rewarded in Jhinu with a hot spring! At only £1.20 this little bath of heaven is far cheaper and less well advertised than any we visited in Iceland but just as good. We soaked our weary muscles. I never believed my mum and dad who said that when hiking the way down is worse than the climb up but our knees were aching and I Was really grateful that the lads in Shona’s insisted we buy a pole each.
Overall, this was a very rewarding experience and we enjoyed all 4130m of it.
Disco and Footluce’s high: ANNAPURNA BASE CAMP, literally and figuratively
Disco’s low: torrential rain preventing the Poon Hill summit
Footluce’s low: dodgy knees and associated pain