In pictures: The trek to Annapurna base camp in Nepal – Part 1

IF you like getting into thin air, the trek to reach the Annapurna base camp may well be the challenge you’re seeking. The popular hiking route, about a 10-day return trip from Pokhara in western Nepal, climbs to 4130m elevation, into the snow encased bowl of Annapurna base camp (ABC), where the trekker is rewarded with 360 degree views of snow peaks, many reaching over 8,000m.

These images in Part 1 showcase the journey from the trail head through to Deurali, through scenic villages such as Ghandruk and Chhomrong before the path turns more adventurous with avalanche chutes, snow, ice and glaciers to contend with.

Views from Ghandruk across cultivated terraces. Pic: Joanne Lane, www.visitedplanet.com

A trekker stocking up on last supplies at a shop in Ghandruk. Pic: Joanne Lane, www.visitedplanet.com

The trek into the sanctuary begins just outside Pokhara taking in the lovely hillside villages such as Landruk or Ghandruk and Chhomrong. Ghandruk is possibly one of the most scenic of the villages, offering wonderful views over terraced fields towards snow capped mountains in the distance. It’s also one of the last places on the trek with fully stocked shops and services.

Prayer wheels near Ghandruk. Pic: Joanne Lane, www.visitedplanet.com

A pot with flower offerings and burning incense lit in the mornings at tea houses along the way. Pic: Joanne Lane, www.visitedplanet.com

A Lhandruk teahouse with a mule train grazing outside. Pic: Joanne Lane, www.visitedplanet.com

Lodging is provided in tea houses along the way. At the start of the trek these are well painted, well equipped and quite large and numerous. As the walk progresses up towards ABC they do become more basic given their isolation and a lot colder because of the altitude. However heating is provided and hot showers – all important for trekkers after a long day out in the elements.

A mule train makes its way up the path. Pic: Joanne Lane, www.visitedplanet.com

Chickens on a porter’s back. Pic: Joanne Lane, www.visitedplanet.com

The Annapurna Sanctuary trek has become increasingly popular as more people head to Nepal. This has meant a further demand on services such as guides, porters and mule trains that stock the route with anything from live chickens to gas cylinders.

The roads diverge. Pic: Joanne Lane, www.visitedplanet.com

A group stretching in Chhomrong. Pic: Joanne Lane, www.visitedplanet.com

Once the track leaves Chhomrong, it also leaves behind some of the last permanently settled villages and village life. People here keep teahouses and shops, they also tend to their animals and utilise the steep and often dramatically landscaped hills for growing crops.

Village life beyond Chhomrong. Pic: Joanne Lane, www.visitedplanet.com

Terraced hillsides near Chhomrong. Pic: Joanne Lane, www.visitedplanet.com

Man at a window in Chhomrong. Pic: Joanne Lane, www.visitedplanet.com

Once the track leaves Chhomrong the path narrows as it begins to enter the pass between Hiunchuli and Macchapucchare well above. The scenery also becomes more wild and dramatic.

A misty view of Macchapucchare (the fish tail) mountain. Pic: Joanne Lane, www.visitedplanet.com 

Porter with a heavy load. Pic: Joanne Lane, www.visitedplanet.com

Guides are not particularly necessary on this trek, as there is only one route to follow, but can be useful getting your accommodation, helping you on slippery sections and organising meals on the way (see this post about whether you should get a guide).

One of many streams to cross – these can be treacherous in snowy, icy conditions. Pic: Joanne Lane, www.visitedplanet.com

Rhododendrons in the mist. Pic: Joanne Lane, www.visitedplanet.com

The path, simply hundreds of stairs, beyond Chhomrong. Pic: Joanne Lane, www.visitedplanet.com

The actual distance walked each day is completely up to the trekker, but it is advised they don’t make too much altitude gain in one day. The path beyond Deurali is also notorious for avalanches particularly once the sun has risen and has begun to melt snow on the slopes above the path. However, this simply makes for a leisurely day and a chance to acclimatize but just make sure you bring a book for the long hours after you stop walking each day.

Deurali nestled in the mountains. Pic: Joanne Lane, www.visitedplanet.com

You can find Part 2 of this article here

All images by Joanne Lane, www.visitedplanet.com