Annapurna Base Camp & Poon Hill

ABC Day 01 - Pokhara
ABC Day 02 - Nayapul to Ulleri
ABC Day 03 - Ulleri to Ghorepani
ABC Day 04 - Poon Hill
ABC Day 05 - Banthanti to Chomrong
ABC Day 06 - Chomrong to Bamboo
ABC Day 07 - Bamboo to Deurali
ABC Day 08 - Machapuchare Base Camp
ABC Day 09 - Annapurna Base Camp
ABC Day 10 - Chomrong to Nayapul
Annapurna Base Camp & Poon Hill

Annapurna (Sanskrit, Nepali, Newar: अन्नपूर्णा) is the name of a massif in the Himalayas that is known for its highest mountain--Annapurna I (elevation : 8091 m), the 10th highest mountain in the world and one of the 14 8000ers. Although Annapurna I was the first 8000er to be summited way back in 1950, it also, as of 2012, has the greatest fatality rate, with a ratio of 34 deaths for every 100 safe returns (followed by K2 (elevation : 8611 m) and Nanga Parbat (elevation : 8126 m) with 29 and 21 respectively). This makes Annapurna I the world's deadliest mountain.

The vast majority of trekkers do not visit this region to summit the peaks however, but instead choose to tackle either the Annapurna Circuit, the Annapurna Base Camp trek, or the Poon Hill trek (the last two were combined on this trip, of which the route can be seen in the map below). When you head towards Annapurna from the south, up the narrow valley that has been carved by the Modi Khola River over the many eons, you will eventually reach the 'gateway' between the peaks of Hiunchuli (elevation : 6441 m) and Machapuchare (elevation : 6997 m). This gateway leads to the Annapurna sanctuary, which is an oval-shaped glacial basin that sits more than 4000 metres above sea level. This 'sanctuary' is completely surrounded by towering mountains on all sides, and is what makes the Annapurna Base Camp trek so appealing.

Poon Hill on the other hand, is one of the shortest, easiest, and most popular treks in the area. For such a simple trek, the view of the mountains from the summit can be very rewarding. On a clear and cloudless day, you will be presented with magnificent 360-degree views of Dhaulagiri (elevation : 8172 m), Nilgiri (elevation : 7061 m), Annapurna I (elevation : 8091 m), Annapurna South (elevation : 7219 m), Hiunchuli (elevation : 6441 m), and Machapuchare (elevation : 6997 m).

Hovering your cursor over the image above will show you the names of the peaks as seen from Poon Hill.

Difficulty Rating : 5.0 / 10.0 (Class 7 - Challenging)

*Click here to learn more about the difficulty rating.

**Please bear in mind that this rating is for Poon Hill AND Annapurna Base Camp. The Poon Hill route alone has a rating of 4.4 (Class 6 - Fairly Challenging) as there is a reduction in every single category. This rating is also for those who do not employ the services of porters. A lighter load reduces the difficulty levels significantly (Challenging to moderate), and becomes more pronounced with high-altitude hikes.

Interactive Location Map

The map below has sections of the path that I followed hyperlinked and clicking on each section of the route will bring you to its respective page (if the map does not work for any reason, you may also find the links at the top of this page). The GPS route can also be found at the end of this page.

C2C Map
ABC Day 02 – Nayapul to Birethanti
ABC Day 02 – Birethanti to Ulleri
ABC Day 03 – Ulleri to Ghorepani<
ABC Day 04 – Poon Hill
ABC Day 04 – Ghorepani to Banthanti
ABC Day 05 – Banthanti to Chomrong
ABC Day 06 – Chomrong to Bamboo
ABC Day 07 – Bamboo to Deurali
ABC Day 08 – Deurali to MBC
ABC Day 09 – ABC
ABC Day 10 – Banthanti to Kyumi
ABC Day 10 – Kyumi to Birethanti

Elevation profile for the entire route (hovering your cursor over the image below will reveal highpoints )

For those who also have a Suunto GPS device, the GPX file for each
segment can be found at the end of each day's entry. The entire
route can also be downloaded here (right click and save link as).

Annapurna Conservation Area

The Annapurna Conservation Area is Nepal's first and largest conservation zone, and has been set up to protect the Annapurna massif and the biodiversity-rich areas that surround it (entry into which requires an ACAP permit). This initiative is quite vital as the number of tourists that have flocked to this region has soared over the years--the region currently attracts about 60% of the total number of trekkers that visit Nepal. This is not only due to the cultural and natural richness of the region, but also because of its accessibility; the range is so close to the city of Pokhara that trekkers are able to reach Annapurna Base Camp (elevation : 4130 m) in just a matter of days.

This surge in popularity has resulted in the establishment of thousands of guesthouses [I intentionally choose to use the term 'guesthouse' instead of 'teahouse' to distinguish between lodges that cater to trekkers and the authentic Nepali teahouses], as well as other services to accommodate the trekkers' whims and fancies. The consumption of wood in the region stresses forest resources, and to make matters worse, visiting trekkers consume multiple times more wood, either directly or indirectly, than the locals do.

The amount of litter that is generated is another matter of concern. It is estimated that an average trekking group of 15 trekkers generates about 15kg of non-biodegradable waste on a 10-day trek, which amounts to tonnes of waste produced in the mountains annually. As such, the reduction of my ecological footprint when in the mountains was of paramount importance to me. So to keep it low, I decided to do the following:

Reducing your footprint

1 - Treating water - I generally use a combination of UV-sterilisers (such as the Adventurer Opti Water Purifier), water filters, and water-purification tablets in order to treat water. This ensures that I do not need to purchase bottled water (which should be the very last option due to the single-use plastic packaging), or boiled water from either the lodges or filling stations, as it can be fairly hard to determine whether the fuel that is used to boil the water contributes to deforestation.

2 - Minimising purchases - Most guesthouses rent out their accommodation for paltry sums, but the difference is made up for in their exorbitant food prices. In the mountains, the rule is you eat where you sleep. With this in mind, I always had dinner in the guesthouse that I slept in. I minimised the purchase of cooked meals by ensuring that I checked in after lunchtime, and most often than not, left whilst everyone else was eating breakfast.

3 - Cooking with a gas stove - After setting off on the trail in the morning, I would normally find a quiet corner and make a quick cup of coffee with my Jetboil Zip and have some muesli whilst taking in the wonderful views. I was especially careful to not let anyone from the guesthouses know that I even carried a stove as it represents a loss of income for them. I also never ever used the stove indoors as most of the lodges are made of wood and doing so would be an immense fire hazard.

Next : ABC Index (Part 2) - Equipment

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