No guide required, many guesthouses, and people on the main paths. Mostly forested lands, not rocky. Enjoy!
We took the bus (from Pokhara to Ghandruk) one town past Nayapul and got off at Birethanti, where the ACAP checkpoint is located.
We began loosely to follow an 11-day suggested itinerary from a website, but deviated from it greatly. We hiked to Poon Hill, then to ABC, to Ghandruk, then exited at Phedi, a very nice, and a bit longer of a route.
We were grounded for one day by a typhoon that caused it to rain for 24 hours straight. Despite this, my friend and I were able to hike much longer distances everyday than the website itinerary suggested, completing the whole trek in 10 days including the lost day of the typhoon.
Instead of staying at Annapurna Base Camp, we stayed at Macchapuchhre Base Camp and climbed up to ABC at dawn, then climbed back down. We were happy to do this and not spend too much time at ABC because it was snowy and cold (I think moreso because of the typhoon), and MBC was comparably warmer, despite being only 2 hours hike down.
We carried camping gear and camped in several spots, but gave up on camping above 2,500 m because it was getting quite cold at night.
Guides are definitely NOT required on this trek because it is very easy to find your way. The whole area is inhabited by many villagers, main trekking paths are busy and there are many guesthouses along the way. I got off the main trekking paths through some of the remote villages, got lost a few times, but in the end found my way with local’s help.
I did the trek in my barefoot shoes, Merrell trail runners. It was fine the whole way, but it was cold on the way up to and at ABC. That’s one reason I was glad not to have stayed overnight there.
Definitely visit the hotsprings, a 30-minute jaunt down from Jhinudanda to the river. It costs 50 rupees each.
Budget safely for 1,500 rupees per day. Accommodation is relatively cheap and most costs will be for food. If you don’t eat much, you could get away with less than 1,000 per day. Everything is much more expensive because there are few or no service roads to deliver goods. And if things go wrong and you are up there longer than planned (eg. typhoon), a bit of extra cash will come in handy.
Lastly, the trek did not meet my expectations in terms of scenery of remote rocky regions. This belongs to Annapurna Circuit or Everest Base Camp treks. ABC trek was mostly forested valleys and mountain slopes. Despite this, the scenery was really great throughout.
Please contact me if you are curious about anything else.
- Day 1 - bus Pokhara (Baglung Bus Park) to Birethanti, hike to Ban Thanti (~10 km, +1,200 m elev gain)
- Day 2 - hike to Ghorepani, stealth camped at Poon Hill (very cold!) (~5 km, +1,000 m elev gain)
- Day 3 - hike to Tadapani (~10 km, -600 m elev drop)
- Day 4 - typhoon! Stayed in
- Day 5 - hike to Bamboo (12 km, -320 m elev drop, lots of ups and downs!)
- Day 6 - hike to Macchapuchhre Base Camp (~8 km, +1,400 m elev gain)
- Day 7 - hike to ABC (~3 km, +400 m elev gain); then hike to Bamboo (~11 km, -1,820 m elev drop)
- Day 8 - hike to Chhomrong (~7 km, -140 m elev drop)
- Day 9 - hike to Jhinudanda Hot Springs (~3 km, -450 m elev drop); then hike to Ghandruk (~9 km, +300 m elev gain); then hike to Landruk (~3 km, -475 m elev drop)
- Day 10 - hike to Pothana (~8 km, +400 m elev gain); then hike to Phedi (~6 km, -800 m elev drop); bus to Pokhara
- PS. there were lots of ups and downs, so despite climbing 3,000 m to ABC, the real elevation ascended (and consequently descended) was probably more than 4,000 m.
- Backpack, Headlamp, Sleeping Bag
I found a wooden stick to use as a hiking stick, which I definitely think you need on such a trek with such steep inclines.
This is a high end daily cost (up to $3/night accommodation and $12/day for food). Also factor in $20 for the trekking permit (TIMS card) and another $20 for Annapurna Conservation Area (ACAP) permit.