To go trekking in Nepal it is Necessary to buy a Either a National Park Entry Ticket (ACAP for the Annapurna Region) and a TIMS card Before you set off trekking !! These are best bought in Kathmandu, The fee for trekking in the Annapurna region is currently 2000 Nepalese rupees and you will need two passport size photos.
2008, For Trekking Annapurna (AC or ABC) You must have your permit before you enter the park, you can buy these in either Kathmandu or Pokhara However if you are trekking either Everest or Langtang region you now pay your park entrance fee at the Park gate
In addition to your ANCAP Conservation Fee you now also need a TIM's registration document, Nirmal at HMA got me mine, but I have been told that you can pick them up at the ANCAP office at the same time that you pay your ACAP Conservation Fee
2008 second update
It is now possible to arrange TIM's and ACAP Fees in Advance through Nirmal, Drop him an email for details, But basically he will arrange both permits for you for a fee of around $50 including the price of the Permits. You will have to email him your passport details, then you attach the photographs and pay the fee when you arrive – This is a Great Service and might well save you a day or two !!
Starting March 15th 2010 TIM's card will cost $20 US in Nepali currency for trekkers not in groups. Group trekkers get it for $10
"The cabinet meeting held recently has changed some provisions related to Trekkers' Information Management System (TIM's). The new changes will come into effect from March 15.
As per the new provision, trekkers are required to take TIM's Card from Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) and Trekking Agencies' Association of Nepal (TAAN) before starting their trek. Trekkers travelling in groups can get the TIM's card upon paying $10 each while those preferring to travel individually need to pay $20.
2010 second Update – having just returned from Nepal I can confirm that the new rules mentioned above came into place on April 1st, 2010
Although TAAN registered agents aren’t allowed to sell independent trekkers cards (Green ones), nearly all of them are prepared to sell independent trekkers the Blue accompanied trekkers ones.
To do this the agents then have to demonstrate to the authorities that some money has changed hands between the trekker and the agent to arrange the trek so the price charged by the agent is usually the same at $20 that you would pay at the TAAN offices.
I have come across many lots of Trekkers who have done this. Particularly when they are on a tight timeframe organising both ANCAP and TIMS in advance and I haven’t heard of any of them running into problems, But strictly speaking the agents are stretching the rules !!
The Very Latest
The Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal (TAAN) have now opened a new TIMS Counter in Central Thamel, so independent trekkers sorting out their own TIMS is a lot easier than it used to be
However National Park and Conservation area tickets are not available there.
The new counter is located at Manang Plaza, just off Amrit Marg.
The Sagarmatha and Langtang National park entrance fees have risen to 3,000NPR (Approx $30) + you now have to pay VAT at 13% on that making it 3390NPR, or around $35 - However ACAP is still 2.000 NPR and as far as I am aware, no VAT is being added - Yet !!
I can’t overemphasize The Importance of Insurance for your Trekking Staff, especially if you have decided to hire Guides, Porter/Guides or Porters independently and haven’t gone through a reputable TAAN Registered agent.
The first thing to mention is that it is a legal requirement that Trekking Staff have insurance cover when trekking in Nepal, if you have hired them out through a TAAN Registered agent, this is the responsibility of the agent, if you have hired them out independently, the responsibility is YOURS.
To illustrate what I mean, the first problem that you will encounter is how can you be 100% sure that an independent has adequate insurance, they can say they have, but as insurance documents are all written in Nepali, how do you know that it is actually an insurance certificate that you are being shown, and not say, a guarantee for, say a washing machine ?? Next, how do you know what the level of cover is, if there is an excess to pay and how much that is, or there might be out clauses that aren’t covered at all.
Then we come to the practicalities, if you are trekking with staff provided by an agent and something goes wrong, say a severe illness or accident and this necessitates immediate medical intervention, the responsibility of organising this is the agent, if you are using independents, then again the responsibility is YOURS.
Most insurance policies used by Nepali Trekking Staff is “Land Only” and this means that an ambulance will meet the injured / ill person at the nearest roadhead and transport them to the nearest hospital (Not like trekkers insurance where helicopter rescue is the norm) so some form of transportation has to be organised from where the injured / ill person is to the nearest roadhead. This might be several days away the and the responsibility of organising this is the agent, if you are using independents, then again the responsibility is YOURS.
Apart from all the above, you should also consider the possible cost implications if you choose to hire out your trekking staff independently, even in the best case scenario that your trekking staff do have good insurance, in all probability you will have to pay for everything up front and then try to claim it back through the insurance policy (This might well be difficult, especially if you have already left the country before everything is resolved), Also any costs incurred getting the injured / ill person to the nearest roadhead probably won’t be covered and once at the roadhead and then of course, there is still the probable excess on the policy still to pay – This could all end up as being a significant amount of money that you have to shell out with no guarantee of getting any of it back. Whereas, if you had used a reputable TAAN Registered agent, this would all be his problem and Not Yours !!
Finally, a few years ago, it was always considerably cheaper hiring out trekking staff independently, but these days this is not the case, some independents are now actually charging more than if you did go through a reputable TAAN Registered agent. So there is no longer the (initial) cost savings to tempt you.
So – My best advice is to hire Guides, Porter/Guides or Porters through a reputable TAAN Registered agent – However, if you then develop a good relationship with your Guide during your trek and really trust him, you could always consider hiring him out on future trips independently, as long as you are aware of all the above.
Good Luck and Happy Safe Trekking
For people with a reasonable level of fitness I would allow at least 7 days to safely trek ABC – You could do it quicker but would put yourself at some risk of AMS,
The schedule below is for a 9 day P shaped trek, but If you really want to do it in 7 then you can save a day by both starting and ending your trek at Lhandruk
Day 1 - I would say start your trek as early in the morning as possible at Kande and trek to Tolka or Lhandruk (Depending on how you go and how early in the day you started your trek) – Up a little to Australian Camp, the undulating, and a little more up and over a ridge then slowly down to Lhandruk (Full days trekking)
Day 2 – Lhandruk to Chomrong - about ¾ days trek downhill at first to cross the Modi Kosi at New Bridgeand the Steeply uphill past Jhinu Danda to Chomrong
Day 3 - Chomrong to Bamboo – about ¾ days trek, Steeply downhill on steps, the steeply uphill to Real Sinua and then downhill again to Bamboo
Day 4 -Bamboo to Himalaya – ½ day steadily up
Day 5- Himalaya to Deurali -- ½ day steadily up
Day 6 - Deurali to MBC - -- ½ day steadily up
Day 7 -MBC – ABC – Doban - Full day, up early, breakfast at ABC then return downhill all the way to Doban picking your pack up at MBC when passing
Day 8 - Doban to Chomrong -- ¾ day with one up and over and a pull up to Chomrong
From Chomrong I trekked towards Poon Hill but you could trek Chomrong to Lhandruk or Ghandruk in one long day – This is where the new jeep Road Ends and catch a jeep or a bus back to Pokhara from there
Many people now ask what shortest possible safe itinerary for ABC is – I believe it is as follows
Day 1 – Leave Pokhara in a jeep for the roadhead near Lhandruk as early as possible and then trek up to Chomrong – Long Full day
Day 2 - Chomrong to Doban– about ¾ days trek, Steeply downhill on steps, the steeply uphill to Real Sinua and then downhill again to Bamboo and slightly up to Doban
Day 3 Doban to Deurali – ¾ day steadily up
Day 4 - Deurali to MBC - -- ½ day steadily up
Day 5 -MBC – ABC – Doban - Full day, up early, breakfast at ABC then return downhill all the way to Doban picking your pack up at MBC when passing
Day 6 - Doban to Jhinu Danda-- Full day, first an up and over and then a pull up to Chomrong and finally down to Jhinu Danda
Day 7 – Morning at the Hot Springs and then trek back to the roadhead near Lhandruk and catch a jeep back to Pokhara (You could miss out the Hot Springs IF you are really short of time, but that would be a Big Shame)
As you can see, the above does not include sleeping at ABC and If you wish to do this, then you Must add another day – Do not be tempted to continue trekking to ABC on Day 4 as this will put you at a Huge risk of succumbing to AMS.
Please note that you may have to hire out a private jeep to get you to the roadhead near Lhandruk, you should be able to get a public jeep (Bound for Ghandruk) as far as Syauli Bazaar but will probably have to barter for a jeep there to take you on to the roadhead near Lhandruk – Or if you are part of a larger group / travelling with a decent budget, it will be more convenient to hire a private jeep in Pokhara to take you direct to the roadhead near Lhandruk
Also – The above trekking schedule is quite a tough one as it involves long days, often including several long ups and down, so Personally, I wouldn’t trek ABC this quickly, but if you are desperately short of time then this is the quickest, safest timeframe that you can do the trek in
I have written out my own trekking schedule from 2006 below, it is slightly different to the one above – you might also find it useful ;-)
1) Leave Pokhara in the early afternoon by taxi to Phidi and trek to Dhampus, Uphill, quite steep at times and passing through terraces, arriving there late afternoon
2) Dhampus to Ladruk – about ¾ days trek crossing one ridge then mainly downhill to Ladruk
3) Ladruk to Chomrong- about ¾ days trek downhill at first to cross the Modi Kosi at “ New Bridge” (No Bridge!!) and the Steeply uphill to Chomrong
4) Chomrong to Bamboo – about ¾ days trek, Steeply downhill on steps, the steeply uphill to Real Sinua and then downhill again to Bamboo
5) Bamboo to Himalaya – ½ day steadily up
6) Himalaya to Deurali -- ½ day steadily up
7) Deurali to MBC - -- ½ day steadily up
8) MBC – ABC – Doban - Full day, up early, breakfast at ABC then return downhill all the way to Doban picking your pack up at MBC when passing
9) Doban to Chomrong -- ¾ day with one up and over and a pull up to Chomrong
From Chomrong I trekked towards Poon Hill but you could trek Chomrong to Nayapool in one long day and catch a bus back to Pokhara from there
10) Chomrong to Tadapani - Full day - You cross one small ridge, then it is considerably up, initially through terraced agricultural land, then into forest before finally reaching Tadopani
11) Tadapani to Ghorapani (Poon Hill) ¾ day - first down through forest, then you undulate through a mixture of agricultural land and more forest, one small up and over then generally downhill into Ghorapani.
12) After getting up at the crack of dawn to see the sunrise on the top of Poon Hill, Either Ghorapani to Birethanti or Tatopani – both ¾ day treks and downhill all the way
13) From Birethanti to Nayapool – 1 hours hike and then bus back to Pokhara
From Tatopani to Beni by jeep then bus back to Pokhara
Personally I would opt for the Tatapani route and as long as you aren’t tight on time then have a day off there to take advantage of the Hot Springs
Annapurna Circuit Trek 2014 (part 1)
Here's a brief & much-delayed report on my Annapurna Circuit trek Sept.-Oct. 2014. This was a return to the AC after 24 years: I first hiked the western half in 1990. I hope it will be of some value to anyone planning to do the AC this season. It's basically an unedited version of the itinerary I posted with my photo set (160+ photos!) on Flickr in Nov. 2014, describing some of the highlights and all of the side-trips. There's a link to the photos at the end, see the photo captions for more details.
Sept. 20: Pokhara > Besi Sahar > Jagat
Sept. 21-24: Jagat > Tal > Chame
Sept. 25-26: Chame > Upper Pisang
Sept. 27-28: Upper Pisang > Ngawal
Sept. 29: Ngawal > Braka
Sept. 30: Braka > Manang > Khangsar
Oct. 1- 4: Tilicho Lake side-trip:
- Oct. 1: Kangsar - Shri Karka
- Oct. 2: Shri Karka > Tilicho Base Camp
- Oct. 3: TBC > Tilicho Lake > Shri Karka
- Oct. 4: Shri Karka > Upper Kangsar > Yak Karka
Oct. 5-6: Yak Karka > Thorong Phedi > High Camp
Oct. 7: Thorong-La > Muktinath
Oct. 8-9: Muktinath > Jharkot > Jhong > Kagbeni
Oct. 10-11: Kagbeni
Oct. 12-13: Marpha
Oct. 14-16: Marpha > Tatopani > Kalopani > Tatopani
Oct. 17: Tatopani
Oct. 18: Tatopani > Pokhara
Note re Oct. 14-16: There was heavy rain in Marpha Oct. 14 (the day of the Thorong-La snowstorm) with 2 more days forecast, so I took the bus direct to Tatopani and jumped in the hot spring. But Oct. 15 dawned perfectly clear (so much for that forecast!), so I shared a jeep back up to Kalopani for some last mountain views (wonderful!), then took the bus back to Tatopani Oct. 16. ... Not exactly perfect planning, but the Tatopani hot spring was very welcome on a rainy day, the views from Kalopani were well worth the return trip, and the last 2 days in Tatopani provided a perfect finale.
Another note: this was only possible thanks to the road. Trekkers generally complain about the road, and I've done my share. It undeniably destroyed what made the Annapurna Circuit so special, as I experienced it in 1990: walking far from any road on ancient trails through villages unchanged for centuries. On the other hand, the locals generally love the road: it makes it much easier and cheaper to get their produce to market, also to import products from outside, not to mention bringing in more tourists and making it easier for them to get around, as it did for me on this occasion. So I can't condemn the road completely: yes, in many cases they simply bulldozed over the old stone-paved trails, destroying the character of the villages, but in other cases (Marpha is a favorite example) the road skirts the villages, leaving the old infrastructure intact. For now, the road is much less intrusive on the eastern (Manang) side, where it's not yet complete, and I often walked on it there as I would on a peaceful country road anywhere. Of course they eventually intend to take 30-40 passenger buses on that road, which would classify as a very basic 4WD drive road anywhere else, as they now do on the western side. However, on both sides there are NATT trails (New Annapurna Trekking Trails) bypassing the road completely, and I used them often. (Andrees de Ruiter & Prem Rai deserve huge thanks for marking these trails and for their excellent guidebook, 'Trekking the Annapurna Circuit Along the New NATT Trails', new ed. pub. 2014, available everywhere in Pokhara.)
- Sept. 27-30: The upper trail from Pisang to Braka via Upper Pisang, Ghyaru, and Ngawal, completely off-road at around 3700 m. elevation with spectacular views of Annapurna II-III-IV and other peaks. The climb to Ghyaru is tough but well worth it -- after that it's a level stroll. Ngawal village was a particular favorite, where I did a great day-trip to a beautiful meadow (yak karka) at around 4200 m. on the trail to Kang-La (5000 m.), with wonderful views of Annapurna III, the nearby Chulu peaks, Chulu waterfall, and the whole valley below. (The trail on up to the pass was very clear, but clouds were moving in so I was happy just to linger there.) Finding the trail up from Ngawal is no problem: it starts right next to the gompa and is clearly marked with a big red sign ("NOTICE!! NOTICE!! NOTICE!!") indicating its restricted status -- aim for the group of sharp rocks clearly visible on the ridge above. Finally, Braka has a famous old gompa (c. 1500 AD), one of the few I actually toured, also a famous bakery with delicious apple pie!
(I didn't do either of the side-trips from Braka/Julu, to the Ice Lake and Milarepa Cave, as it was a cloudy day so not appealing. I continued direct to Khangsar via Manang -- had plenty of acclimatization already so no need to stay an extra day there.)
- Oct. 1-4: Tilicho Lake side-trip, THE essential side-trip on the Manang side of the circuit. I took 4 days for this: Khangsar > Shri Karka > Tilicho Base Camp > to the lake & return to Shri Karka > Yak Karka via Upper Khangsar, including a perfect clear day at the lake. The lake, at 5000 m. one of the highest in the world of its size, is extremely beautiful itself, a gorgeous shade of deep turquoise, but even more impressive are the extreme closeup views of the Grande Barriere, an overwhelming wall of rock and ice several km long below Tilicho Peak, so named by Maurice Herzog on the failed 1950 French expedition to Annapurna I when he realized there was absolutely no way around it. This is certainly one of the most awesome mountain panoramas I've ever experienced, and it was a magnificent perfectly clear day, first above a sea of clouds then completely clear all the way down the valley. The last day's walk to Yak Karka via the 'ghost town' of Upper Khangsar was another highlight, with spectacular views down the valley all the way to Manaslu and up the valley to Thorong-La.
- Oct. 7: Thorong-La. At 5416 m. this is the 3rd-highest point I've ever reached walking, following Drolma-La at 5630 m. on the Kailas kora in 2013 and Kala Pattar (Everest BC) at 5545 m. in 1990. (I'm not counting the road to Nubra in Ladakh at 5600 m. reached by jeep.) It was partly cloudy and cold but I crossed the pass with no problem after staying 1 night each at Yak Karka, Thorong Phedi, and High Camp. This was exactly a week before the snowstorm that claimed 40+ lives in Nepal's worst ever mountain disaster -- just a matter of timing and luck, it could easily have been me or any of us on that other day. (By then I was down at 2700 m. in beautiful Marpha, trivially complaining about 2 days of rain.)
- Oct. 8-14: Muktinath > Kagbeni > Marpha. Kagbeni and Marpha were absolute favorites on my 1990 trek up the western half of the circuit, and that was reconfirmed this time when I spent about a week touring the whole area: from Muktimath via the villages of Jharkot, Chongur, and Jhong to Kagbeni, a day-trip from Kagbeni to Tiri in Upper Mustang, then down via Jomsom to Marpha. (I missed the side-trip to Lupra and the high 'windy pass' route to Jomsom.) Kagbeni is an ancient Tibetan world out of time, where I stayed again in the Red House lodge (I actually remember it from 24 years ago!), a historical monument in itself, right next to the old fortress. The other villages in the area (Jharkot, Chongur, Jhong) are similarly ancient and atmospheric. A special highlight was the day-trip from Kagbeni to Tiri, the only place in Upper Mustang it's allowed to visit without a very expensive special permit. ... Marpha is another of the most beautiful places in the Annapurna, famed for its apples, and as noted above it has remained largely unaffected by the road, which passes below the village. It more-or-less marked the end of my trek, a very fitting conclusion. ... Note: the apple cider was excellent in both Kagbeni and Marpha. It's not commercially produced, only 'homemade' and sold in recycled plastic bottles. Kagbeni's is a little stronger, more like wine, Marpha's mellower and sweeter.
- Oct. 15-17: Kalopani and Tatopani: Kalopani for its famed mountain views (on a perfectly clear day), one of the few places on the circuit (and the best) with a view of Annapurna I, as well as Dhaulagiri, Nilgiri, and other peaks -- Tatopani for its wonderful hot spring, of which I took full advantage for 3 days off-and-on. ... I only regret missing one side-trip, up from Larjung (between Marpha and Kalopani) with reportedly even more spectacular mountain views -- maybe next time, as it's easy enough to come up again by road.
Re that 'next time' I should note in closing that there's a potential 'if' involved. In the wake of the Thorong-La disaster, some Nepali officials were making noises about placing more restrictions on 'Free Individual Trekkers' (me), like requiring guides and porters, even blaming 'cheap' trekkers for the tragedy -- odd considering that most of the dead were not FIT's but people in organized groups with guides, and there were even accusations of guides 'herding groups to their deaths'. There has just been a proposal to enact such restrictions for the upcoming Fall 2015 trekking season. It remains to be seen what if anything comes of this.
Enjoy the photos! I tried to keep the number under 150, still too many but only 5 per day on average, though some places obviously account for many more than others.
*** Flickr photoset ***
*** NOTE: Some final thoughts and comments here: Annapurna Circuit Trek 2014 (part 2). ***
Annapurna Circuit Trek 2014 (part 2) ... some final thoughts & comments:
Here's my post-trek report on the road situation (eastern side), though it's now almost a year out-of-date. When I started from Besi Sahar on Sept. 20, buses were only running to Ngadi (not far past Bhulbhule) for Rs 300. Jeeps were running to Syange (Rs 1000) and Chamje (Rs 1500). I compromised with a jeep to Jagat (Rs 1200), getting a head start & avoiding most of the road walking up to that point (I walked 1 hr. from Jagat to Rainbow Falls to end my 1st day). I was told that later in the season buses would be possible to Chamje & jeeps to Chame, but that's obviously uncertain. In any case jeeps were only possible as far as Chame, since the next bridge (between Chame and Bhratang) remained unfinished. From there to Manang it was only motorcycles.
Personally I'd recommend a jeep (if at all) only as far as Jagat or Chamje. The walk from Chamje to Tal (on the opposite side of the valley) is very attractive and the 'really hairy' section of the road seems to start there, just before Tal. In fact when I was there walking on the opposite side, a landslide had blocked part of that stretch, so it would have been necessary to walk across & transfer to another jeep anyway. Hope this is of some assistance to anyone headed that way now.
(You'll have no questions re road access on the western side: tourist buses now ply the road from Pokhara to the gates of Muktinath, you can't miss 'em.)
Would I still recommend the AC despite the road? Absolutely! You'll see wonderful things and enjoy amazing views there that you won't experience anywhere else in the Annapurna (or Nepal). Yes, it's not like before, you'll find the road intrusive and obnoxious the few times you can't avoid it, but generally you can avoid it most of the time via the NATT trails. And as noted it does make things easier if if your time is limited and you want to pick and choose which parts of the AC to do. Actually I'm guessing you'll be more bothered by the sheer numbers of people on the trail rather than the road itself, but that's the price you pay for being in one of the most beautiful places on earth that's now much more accessible than before.
Would I recommend the AC as the best trek in the Annapurna? No, honestly, I might have done before but now my personal highest recommendation goes to ABC (Annapurna Base Camp aka Annapurna Sanctuary), starting with a mandatory short side-trip to Poon Hill. Completely off-road, slightly less crowded, considerably shorter, plus at Poon Hill you get the best wide-angle panorama in Nepal, at ABC you get right up into the heart of the mountains, and throughout the trek you get ever-changing views of Machhapuchhare, the most beautiful (and holiest) mountain in the Annapurna. There's a tradeoff, the area is neither as scenically nor as culturally diverse as the AC, and of course there's no one 'best', they're just different. But if I were asked to name one as first choice and most essential, I'd go with ABC.
A description of Andrees de Ruiter & Prem Rai's guidebook 'Trekking the Annapurna Circuit Along the New NATT Trails', new ed. pub. 2014 -- as noted it's available everywhere in Pokhara: Amazon
I've just discovered there's been a justifiable outcry among experienced trekkers and old Nepal hands regarding recently proposed restrictions on Free Individual Trekkers. These links are worth checking out:
The original news report: Republica
Response on Lonely Planet's Thorntree forum: Thorntree
Response on TripAdvisor's Nepal forum: TripAdvisor
Finally, if you want the best advice anywhere on trekking the Nepal Himalaya, check out the Travelogues & other info at Rob into-thin-air's Nepal page here: Rob into-thin-air
First you would head for Pokhara, Tourist Bus is a good way of getting there form Kathmandu – Then from Pokhara, get a jeep to Ghandruk and start your trek there – For a six say trek, head from Ghandruk to Jhinu Danda on day one, The next morning, have a dip in the Hot Springs, then just do a short couple of hours trekking up to Chomrong on Day two. Day three, a longer day to Tadapani (If you wanted to do a shorter trek then you can trek a direct route from Ghandruk to Tadapani in one day) From Tadapani you trek to Ghoropani on day four. Day five, up early, Sunrise on the top of Poon Hill and then trek down to Hille where there is a new jeep road and you can catch a jeep back to Pokhara, either that day or the next morning.
The downloadable trekking map in the link below will put things into prospective (However, it doesn’t show the new roads that I mention
Many people are now asking how to combine Poon Hill with ABC – But to do it is as fast a timeframe as possible, keeping safe and within the safe daily height gains as recommended by the International Society for Mountain Medicine (Link below)
This is how I would do it, IF I HAD to is such a short timeframe – But for people with more time available, I would recommend spending an extra couple of days as the schedule below doesn’t leave time to “Smell the Flowers” and will probably feel Very Rushed to most – Also to trek as below, a high degree of fitness will be required
Day 1) After arriving in Pokhara, get straight off the Tourist Bus (Which will arrive around 2pm) and catch a bus or taxi to Naya Pul, then walk to Birithanti and enter the National Park – Overnight
Day 2) Jeep to Hille and trek to Ghoropani – Overnight
Day 3) Sunrise Poon Hill and then trek to Tadapani – Overnight
Day 4) Trek to Sinua (Long Day) – Overnight
Day 5) Trek to Deurali – Overnight
Day 6) Trek to MBC – Overnight
Day 7) Early start – Trek to ABC for sunrise, then back to MBC, pick up your packs and trek to Doban – Overnight
Day 8) Trek to Jhinu Danda – Late afternoon at Hot Springs – Overnight
Day 9) Trek to Ghandruk, Jeep to Pokhara
The above schedule is safe from an acclimatisation point, but it does involve some long days - Days one, three and four, six and nine will all be around 8 hours actually trekking + breaks / lunches
Yes, You can, Although it is Very Tight !!
And Only If you fly into Lukla, Then you can do EBC in 2 weeks and still allow sufficient time for acclimatisation.
Here is my suggested itinery
1)Kathmandu to Lukla by flight then trek to Benkar (2800m)
2) Benkar to Namche (3450m)
3)Namche - Rest / Acclimatisation day
4)Namche - Debouche (3700m)
5) Debouche - Pangboche (3930m)
6) Pangboche - Pherichi (4220)
7) Pherichi - Dhugla (4600m)
8) Dhugla – Lobuje (4950 m)
9) Lobuje – Kala Patter(5545m) - Gorok Shep(5140m)
10) Gorok Shep- EBC (5360m)- Lobuje (4930m)
11 Lobuje - Dingboche (High level route turning left at Dhugla)
12) Dingboche – Tengboche
13) Tengboche - Namche Bazaar
14) Namche Bazaar - Lukla
15) Fly Kathmandu
(If you wanted to cut this trek down by a day then you could choose between Kala Pattar (Best option for Great Views of Everest) and EBC it’s self) and therefore combine days 9 and 10 and therefore save one day)
Also If you are Really tight on time and want to combine days 13 and 14 you can do this without affecting your safety but it does make it a very Long day - This way you can fit the trek into a 2 week timescale.
Side Trek to Gokyo
To do this side trip you could either cross Cho La (Guide recommended for this crossing) or do as I did which is instead of staying at Tengboche on day 11 trek to Phortse Tenga, Then
Day 12 trek to Gyele
Day 13 Gyele to Phang
Day 14 Phang to Gokyo
Day 15 Climb Gokyo Riand trek back to Luza
Day 16 Luza to Namche Bazaar
Day 17 Namche Bazaar to Lukla
Day 18 Fly Kathmandu
2012 update – Please note that the trail up the eastern side of the Gokyo Valley has recently been much improved, although I haven’t been up this way recently myself, two of my trek-mates trekked up to Gokyo last month (April) and told me that it is now much improved, in fact one of them said it was now in far better condition that the more traditional route on the western side.
So this gives you a choice of routes and it now makes a lot more sense to stick to the eastern side of the Gokyo Valley when trekking from Gokyo to EBC (Or the reverse) and leave the trail on the western side for trekking between Namche and Gokyo (Or the reverse)
Unfortunately entrance prices to get into National parks in Nepal have just been revised – And Revised Steeply I may add with Sagarmatha (Everest) and Langtang Tripling from 1000NPR to 3000Npr
Full details on the TAAN site below
1)Kathmandu to Lukla by flight then trek to Benkar (2800m)
2) Benkar to Namche (3450m)
3)Namche - Rest / Acclimatisation day
4)Namche - Debouche (3700m)
5) Debouche - Dingboche (3930m)
6) Dingboche - Pheriche (4220)
7) Pheriche - Dhugla (4600m)
8) Dhugla – Lobuje (4950 m)
9) Lobuje – Kala Patter(5545m) - Gorak Shep(5140m)
10) Gorak Shep- EBC (5360m)- Dzonglha
11) Dzonglha across Cho La to Thagnak (4830m)
12) Thagnak to Gokyo
13) Rest and exploration day at Gokyo
14) Gokyo - Mong La
15) Mong La – Namche Bazaar
16) Namche Bazaar – Lukla
17) Fly Kathmandu
If you are running short of time you can safely get from Gokyo to Namche Bazaar in a single long day
10) Gorok Shep- EBC (5360m)- Lobuje (4930m)
11) Lobuje - Pangboche (High level route turning left at Dhugla)
12) Pangboche – Phortse
13) Phortse - Thare (Or Nha)
15) Thare (Or Nha) to Gokyo the explore around Gokyo
Then as above but one day later
1) Seeing Everest
2) Wonderful high altitude trek that can be trekked safely in as little as 2 weeks Lukla – Lukla or 3 weeks Jiri – EBC – Lukla or just under 4 weeks Jiri EBC – Lukla – Gokyo – Lukla or longer
Can be expensive if you fly to and from Lukla and risk of flight delays at Lukla
Trek Report from my own EBC Trek
Downloadable Trekking Map
AC (Annapurna Circuit)
1) Diverse trek starting off at low altitude passing through paddy fields. Then grain fields, pasture, forests and out above the tree line over Thorung La (5540m) then through the deepest valley I the word, The kali Gandaki
2) Easy road access to trailheads so no flights required
3) Can be trekked as the full circuit of fly out of Jomsom if time is tight
Con’s – Trek now somewhat marred by road building
Downloadable Guide to The Annapurna Circuit Trekking Route avoiding the new roads
Downloadable Annapurna Trekking Map
ABC (Annapurna Sanctuary)
1) Relatively short trek of about 10 days but gets you right into the heart of the mountains
2) Can be extended to include Poon Hill and Mardi Himal if time permits
3) Easy road access to trailheads so no flights required
Few villages and none above Chomrong so a little lacking in culture and real Nepali life
Trek Report on Alternative Annapurna Trek
Langtang / Helambu
1) Least crowded of all the teahouse trekking routes
2) Can be combined with Helambu (You can then trek right back into the Kathmandu Valley and save a long arduous bus journey)
The bus ride from Kathmandu to Syapru Besi
Trek Report from my own Langtang Trek
Downloadable Langtang Trekking Map
Both treks have their own merits so it is difficult to say that one is better than the other, the AC is a longer and harder trek, it usually takes around 18 days to complete and involves walking up one valley (Marsyangdi), over a high pass (Thorung La), down another valley (Kali Gandaki), then over a high ridge (Poon Hill), The advantages of the AC trek are that you walk through a lot more diverse terrain, You see the changing landscapes and cultures, from paddy fields at Besisahar, passing through different crop belts as you gain altitude, then into forest and finally you trek above the tree-line and cross the pass. The culture also changes as you gain altitude from Nepali to Tibetan. However the AC is Slowly changing as road building progress up the valley towards Manang and there are now jeep roads all the way down from Muktinath to Beni in the valley of the Kali Gandaki, But you can avoid most of these and keep to the old trekking routes so don’t let that worry you too much, Maybe the time to do the AC is now before the road building is completed though !!??
Once you reach Manang you Must spend an extra night there to aid acclimatisation, otherwise you increase your risk of AMS. Then after Manang you should only gain 300m per day, so take 2 days to reach Thorung Phidi, Then it is a hard day crossing the pass to Muktinath !!
One day after Muktinath you come to Jomsom and have a choice of ending your trek here and flying to Pokhara, or picking up a bus or jeep on the new jeep road, if you keep trekking you have an easy few days following the Kali Gandaki down as far as Tatopani before “The Sting in the Tail” and the hike up to Ghoropani (Poon Hill). It is a good idea to visit the Hot Springs at Tatopani in the morning as they are a lot less crowded and a lot cleaner then, then set off up towards Ghoropani after lunch and take a day and a half to get there – you will find this a lot more pleasant than trying to get up there in one day !!. From Ghoropani trek down to Birithanti and spend a last night there before the short trek (maybe one hour) to the road head at Naya Pul and the bus ride back to Pokhara.
To avoid most of the road building you should read the link below on the NATT guides that route you around the worst if the road building
ABC is a shorter trek, around 10 days with different options of where to start your trek, Kande, Phidi or Naya Pul. It is classed as an easier trek, but don’t be fooled into taking it lightly as it is still hard enough ;-) You start off by crossing a ridge from Phidi / Kande to Lhandruk (Two days), cross the Modi Khola at New Bridge and then follow the valley up to ABC – However the trek does involve a lot of ups and downs as the path takes in the villages of Chomrong and Sinua which are both high above the river, there is only one path after Chomrong so you have to return the same way but can divert after Chomrong and trek out via Tadapani and Ghoropani (Poon Hill) to extend your trek up to about 2 weeks. From Ghoropani you can either trek out as per the AC, or trek down to Tatopani in one day to take advantage of the hot springs, then either walk down to Beni or catch a jeep, From Beni you get a bus back to Pokhara.
The ABC is a lower trek so less risk of AMS, but you still have to take care and only gain the statutory 300m per day after Himalaya Lodge.
The views from Both treks are Awesome so not a lot to help you choose there.
So it all depends on how much time you want to go trekking for and what your own personal tastes are.
Whichever trek you choose, I am Sure that you will have an Excellent time – Just Enjoy
Good Luck and Happy Safe Trekking
Equipment: There is now a new NATT Guide out (Link on the bottom of this page)
This helps you avoid the worst on the new jeep roads
If you decide to do this trek then whatever you do don’t rush it as the Gokyo Valley is known locally as The valley of death because of the amount of people who have died with AMS over the years there !!
Day 1 Kathmandu to Lukla by flight then trek to Benkar (2720m)
Day 2 Benkar to Namche (3450m)
Day 3 Namche - Rest / Acclimatisation day
Day 4 Namche to Small lodge called Himalayan View opposite Phortse Tango (Aprox 3800m)
Day 5 Himalayan View – Gyele (4110m)
Day 6 Gyele – Phang (4550m)
Day 7 Phang Gokyo (4790m)
Day 8 Climb Gokyo Ri and trek back to Luza
Day 7Luza to Namche Bazaar
Day 10 Namche Bazaar to Lukla
Day 11 Fly Kathmandu – back mid morning
Personally, Even though it is Slightly more expensive I would say it is Far Better to hire your Staff (Guide – Porter / Guide and Porters) through a Reputable (And preferably well recommended) Agent than it is to try and hire them hire them off the street or en-route yourself.
The Good and Reputable Agents do a Great Job, For the trekker and for their staff, My preferred agent, (Details on travelogue entitled “A Very Important Decision”) sub-contracts his staff form a list of Experienced porters and guides that he has put together over the years, Thus he makes sure that All the staff that he supplies are well known to him, they are all trustworthy and excellent at their jobs. Yes – he does take a commission, But this is agreed between the porters and guides and himself and is only a small percentage of their salary.
From the trekkers point of view, this practically guarantees that the staff that you hire are up to the job, You have the opportunity to interview them Before you head off on your trek and assess their suitability.
They are trustworthy, they have good clothing, boots etc, they have insurance and the price that you pay covers Everything that has been agreed.
Particularly If you are a first time visitor to Nepal, then it also takes a lot of the pitfalls and hassles out of finding your own suitable staff.
From the porters and guides point of view, a Good and Reputable agent keeps their staff as near to fully employed as they can, Often at the end of one trek they are off on another within a couple of days, they can then spend this small amount of time off relaxing with there families as opposed to walking the streets looking for their next job
Reputable TAAN registered agents provide their trekking staff with insurance so if you hire your trekking staff out through one, then it is the agency that is responsible for them
If you hire your trekking staff out independently (Directly) then it is YOU that are responsible for them
So – What does this mean?
If you have hired your trekking staff out through a reputable TAAN registered agent and your guide (Or Porter- Or any person that you have hired as a member of your trekking staff) then it is the agent that carries the responsibly – Obviously if something goes wrong and your guide (Or whoever) has an accident or falls so ill that he is unable to communicate then you would endeavour to contact the agent and he would look after the needs of his member of staff and then try to get a replacement out to you so as to inconvenience your trek as little as possible. In cases of emergency everyone will pull together, if there is no mobile phone signal, runners will be dispatched to either a place where there is coverage, or to the nearest land-line, or to where there is a satellite phone available – Any costs involved will either be picked up by the insurance or the agent.
If you hire your trekking staff out independently (Directly) then it is YOU that are responsible – As above, In cases of emergency everyone will pull together, if there is no mobile phone signal, runners will be dispatched to either a place where there is coverage, or to the nearest land-line, or to where there is a satellite phone available but any costs not covered by insurance will be down to you, Likewise, any replacement staff will have to be sourced by you and if the insurance doesn’t cover the guides (Or whoever)transport to the trailhead then covering these costs will be again down to you.
I had a long conversation a couple of years ago with the agent that I use about what actual cover the insurance policy he provides for his trekking staff and he told me this
Helicopter Rescue isn’t included and the guide (Or whoever) has to be transported down to the nearest trailhead where he will be met by an ambulance and transported to hospital (In the case of EBC, if he has a flight ticket (Bought as part of the trek by the client) and is able to use this then this would be the normal procedure) and once in hospital the insurance would also cover all the fees there.
However, in a case of a disputed claim, this would be up to the agent to sort out – Or if you had hired your trekking staff out independently it would then be your responsibility.
Hence, part of my reasoning for always recommending hiring trekking staff out through a reputable TAAN registered agent.
So – To summarise - If you decide to employ your own trekking staff directly then you MUST remember that it is YOU that are entirely responsible for their wellbeing and if they don’t have insurance and something goes wrong with your trekking staff, serious illness of accident then your group has to pay all associated medical costs and compensation if the result is loss of limb or, God Forbid, loss of life and this can end up being many thousands of $’s
If you read Page 49, section 38: of The Nepal Immigration Rules on this link below, it will give you the official wording
If you are hiring out “Staff” the secret of a successful trek is to set the ground rules Before you leave Kathmandu and these rules should include
1) Always interview your “Staff” Before you go trekking with them, Preferably get them to give you a walking tour around Kathmandu, Then they are away from the office, will be able to talk freely and you will be in a better position to judge their ability to communicate, character and if you are going to be able to get on well enough with them on your trek.
2)Ask if he has already trekked the route you are going on and how many times
3) Tell them that You Always retain the final say where you will stay and where and when you will eat.
Personally I am Happy to look at places recommended by my “Staff” (As I am aware that some places look after Nepali’s a lot better than others, better accommodation as well as better / cheaper food for them + if they get a little kick-back then as long as I am happy with the standard as well as the price that I am paying this doesn’t bother me)
4) I also mention to them that as long as I am happy with their services then they will get a Good Tip – I think this clears the air and gives your “Staff” that extra incentive to ensure that you are well looked after.
5) The agent that I use provides all his “Staff” with a mobile phone – I also think this is an excellent idea so that if there is a problem then (providing you have a phone Signal) these can be Quickly sorted out.
6) Before I start a trek is to have a rough schedule, then I know approximately how many days I will be trekking for, to this I usually add one buffer day, so If all goes according to plan I am usually back from my trek one day ahead, With this the agent that is use I can claim one days fees back, but in reality, as I have always been happy with my treks, I have never done this, but have ensured that my “Staff” are still paid the extra day.
Another system that the agent I use has is that if you want to extend your trek, if it takes longer than originally anticipated or if for what ever reason you are delayed then you can pay your “Staff” direct. This works well for everyone as the “Staff” in actual fact get more money as there is no agents commission deducted and as the agent has already had his cut he is (Or should be) happy as well.
7) It is also worth making 100% sure that your “Staff” are insured and that the agent is making sure that their clothing is up to the standard for the area / season you are trekking in.
It may sound like a bit of a list – But personally I think it is well worth that little extra effort at the beginning of your trek to help minimise potential unforeseen problems later :-)
Happy and Safe Trekking to One and All
Obviously a major consideration to any trek is the availability of Safe Drinking water, In Nepal you have several options of getting it !!
Please try and avoid buying bottled water as this does lead to a Huge Littler problem with all the empty plastic bottles being poorly disposed of !!
On the Annapurna Circuit there is a series of Safe Drinking Water Stations that sell water purified by ozonation.
You can read about the scheme and se where these stations are located on the link below.
On ABC after passing through Chomrong Bottled water has been banned, you can buy Safe Drinking water which has been boiled from lodges.
If you buy it last thing in the evening and pop it into a metal water bottle (After it has cooled a little) then pop this in a sock, you then have a hot water bottle for the night and nice cold drinking-water on hand the next morning.
Also a lot of water is now boiled on solar cooker like in the photo, So Safe Drinking Water at no ecological cost and still providing that essential extra income for those people that really need it !!
Both the above schemes provide an extra income for locally who badly need the money and the AC of Safe Drinking Water Stations also help fund ACAP
You can also buy Safe Drinking water which has been boiled from lodges on EBC and Langtang too
Another option is Lugols Solution of Iodine – This is readily available from chemists in Kathmandu for a few rupees (But bring your own dropper / pipette bottle from home as the ones in comes in leek – Thus making a Big Mess of your pack !!!)
It makes the water taste a bit metallic so you should take something like “Tang” along as well to flavour your water.
Some people now bring their own water filters / Steri-Pens, although I think that this is a great idea, the downside is that by using your own water filtration system you are depriving local people of a much needed income.