At 8,091m, Annapurna 1 is one of the highest mountains in the world. Its surrounding sister mountains are equally imposing and create magnificent panoramas from any view point. This trek covers a wide variety of terrain, from lowland pastures and peaceful villages to powerful glaciers and stunning mountain views. In the rugged mountain scenery, we stay in mountain communities and meet friendly Nepali hill people as they go about their daily lives. The expedition is not only visually superb but also a chance to learn about local cultures. Along the way we see thundering waterfalls of melted snow, cross icy rivers and reward ourselves with a soak in natural hot springs.
While the trekking is challenging, averaging 6-7 hours' walking a day on steep terrain, our Annapurna Sanctuary expedition into the Himalayas allows you to get up close to the massive Himalayas without major issues associated with high altitude. The highest point on the trek is Annapurna Base Camp at 4130m, which is optional. Those concerned about altitude sickness are welcome to remain in the Machhapuchhre Base Camp (or even lower) for an afternoon of rest.
We stay overnight in small basic tea-houses along the track. These remote tea houses are operated by the mountain Nepalese to cater for trekkers, and they provide simple but delicious hot food.
Details for the trek are as follows. (Please note, however, that the exact itinerary can vary due to unforeseen circumstances including weather conditions or strikes called by the political parties.) All trekking times are approximate.
Day 4 - Pokhara to Ulleri (2,080m/approx. 5 hours trekking, 1 hour vehicle).
An hour long drive (remember driving times are always approximate in Asia - patience is your closest friend!) brings us to Nayapul where we commence our trek. We gear up and follow the Bhurungi Khola until we reach Ulleri.
Day 5 - Ulleri to Ghorepani (2,750m/approx. 6 hours).
We ascend to Ulleri Village through a pleasant rhododendron forest, much more impressive than the trees your grandmother has in the garden! We stay overnight at Ghorepani (check out the local disco - but don't get your hopes up in case it's closed!).
Day 6 - Ghorepani to Tadapani (2,700m/approx. 5 hours).
Early birds can bounce out of bed to witness the sunrise over Annapurna from nearby Poon Hill (1 hour uphill climb) - you have to do this at least once in your life, right? Then the adventure continues as we trek on to Tadapani.
Day 7 - Tadapani to Sinuwa (2,340m/approx. 6 hours).
We descend to Kimrung Khola before climbing again to Chhomrong village, at the base of Hiunchuli (6441m). There are breathtaking views of Annapurna and Macchhapucchhre from here, plus delicious pizza!
Please note the walk on days 8-12 is flexible according to weather conditions and how the group is coping.
Day 8 - Sinuwa to Doban (3,140m/approx. 6.5 hours).
On to Kuldi Ghar for about 3 hours' walking, then down to the banks of the Modi River and up again to Doban.
Day 9 - Doban to Deurali (3,700m/approx. 4 hours).
Passing through Himalaya Hotel, we continue up the narrow valley to Deurali.
Day 10 - Deurali to Annapurna Base Camp (4,130m/approx. 4.5 hours).
Sticking to the west bank of the Modi River, we enter an open valley near Machhapuchhre Base Camp. This is where you can decide how your legs and your lungs are holding up. You may decide to remain here or press on to the Annapurna Base Camp for the night. The views from both base camps are fantastic - all the hard work to get here is worth it!
Day 11 - Annapurna Base Camp to Bamboo (2,335m/approx. 7 hours)
After seeing the sunrise on the snowy peaks around us we head back down the valley the same way to Bamboo (or further if the knees can handle it).
Day 12 - Bamboo to Jhinu Danda (1,780m/approx. 5.5 hours).
Passing back through the up and down staircases of Chhomrong we continue on down to Jhinu Danda. From here it's a 20 minute walk down to a hot spring by the Modi Khola for a well-deserved rest.
Day 13 - Jhinu Danda to Pothana (1,970m/approx. 7 hours).
By now we have thighs of steel and are pretty good at carrying our packs. It's down to cross the river and an ascent to Landruk, Tolkha, Deurali and Pothana.
Note - This is a trek that requires a very good level of fitness as there are plenty of ascents and descents (in fact there's hardly anything flat!) and the walking is strenuous. The weather can be harsh in December and January with snow and frosts. Our expedition is led by an experienced local guide who speaks English.
Our accommodation along the way is at local lodges, better known as teahouses, which are comfortable without being luxurious, toilets and washing facilities are shared and rudimentary, and the food is plain and filling. In a teahouse, we are provided with small private rooms with twin beds, mattresses and pillows. At times, in high seasons, and in places where there are a limited number of teahouses, we may have some nights in dormitories. In some places, teahouses don't have access to electricity and depend on solar powered lighting. In remoter regions, teahouses don't have running water and toilets can mean just a hole in the ground. Hot shower facilities are available in the majority of the teahouses for a price although in most of the places, a hot shower just means a bucket of hot water!