After back of my friend from Himalaya, I decided to experience the Annapurna trek myself. More sporty than I’m, my boyfriend was not hard to convince for the one week’s hiking together. We both agreed that Himalaya is one of the must-go destinations. We didn’t regret at all with the amazing scenic view at the cost of barely a new Iphone and harding walking.
Although we had only 9 days for the Annapurna trek, it was still manageable with 3.5 days on the transport. We consulted three different agencies, only one of them told us we could go for ABC (Annapurna Basecamp), the other two suggested Poon Hill only despite we asking for ABC specifically. We were extremely happy with the service and arrangement of the one for ABC in the end. They are not only helpful and experienced in all the details, but also arranged a porter-guide for us, knowing that a lot of other agency can’t do.
I’d like to share the contact and their tarif later, it might be useful for any English speakers who travel from China to Nepal. But I cannot wait sharing some pictures from the way to the basecamp already!
Getting to Annapurna Trek
Day 1 – Flight Shanghai to Kunming to Kathmandu, 9-10 hours
There’s no direct flight from Shanghai to Kathmandu., we had to layover at Kunming international airport, and then Kunming to Kathmandu. Kunming airport is pretty new, very nice facility but the food supply is very limited. Especially after the international security check, we barely saw any restaurant. We had to stop by a rice noodle place, which was overpriced with one bowl of noodles for 70 RMB.
The whole flight took 9-10 hours, although the second flight was already amazing. We had the chance to see the Himalaya mountains over the plane! First they were far and as vague as clouds, but the closer we got, the sharper and real the mountains turned, differentiating themselves from the floaty mist in the air.
Once arrived at the Kathmandu airport, we noticed the chaos of the city. The signals were not clear for the passengers who just arrived. There were small round stands, listing small pieces of papers, which were mostly already half written or ripped off. Farther there were several machines, half broken. On the other side of the arrival hall, there were several other windows open and some ppl were lining up.
Luckily we got free visa quickly and got out of the airport. The agency arranged two guys from the airport to pick us up at the hotel with a warm welcome. It was late in the afternoon, the roads were quite crowded in the street, even in the weekend. The guys were quite talkative and asked us about the trip, help and friendly, it was also my impression on almost all the people we met during the whole trip. Since there’s no transport anymore from Kathmandu to Pokhara after 3PM, we spent the first night in Kathmandu.
Day 2 – Kathmandu to Pokhara, 25min flight, then 2 hours driving into the mountain
My boyfriend was really against the idea of domestic flight at the beginning. He heard of stories where the plane engine was the same as for the buses. But Raj (head of our agency) told us not to worry and I saw some information saying the planes nowadays are relatively new. The agency arranged Buddha airline for us. It is said to be the best secure flight in Nepal. Indeed, despite to big fans aside the wings, the flight was pretty stable and we almost didn’t feel the buzz of these big irons.
Raj told us to ask for the seats with mountains view when checking in. We totally forgot about it. Although luckily, after 5 minutes taking off, shiny snow summits surged through our window! We regretted not having checked out pictures of Everest forehead and were blind guessing until they faded out. The flight was absolutely an amazing experience. Different from the flight view from Kunming to Kathmandu, the snow mountains were so close and much more real.
One thing to notice about winter morning flights is that they are often delayed because of cold heavy mist. Ours had one hour of delay, still acceptable. The airport facility cannot claim to be generous, all the gates are actually one-door width of access. Within the 2 hours waiting for the plane in the hall, I sometimes thought I was waiting for a train.
Arrived at Pokhara, we met up with our guide Govinda. He’s one of the few who is willing to take our backpacks with an Annapurna trek guide permit. We went into a jeep with him and his driver took into the mountain. Later I understood why we took a jeep. The road was probably the worst ever in my life memory, we were jumping up and down, left and right almost the whole time. That extended the 50km of road trip up to two hours. The jeep dropped us at Sewai, probably a part of Landruk. It was also where we officially began our Annapurna trek!
Annapurna trek for us
Our total trek last 5.5 days, skipping Poon Hill views, which were unluckily for us, one of the most scenic among all treks. From Landruk to Annapurna and back to Nayapul. The back way is the same as the way to go. The view was all the way accompanied with Fishtail summit (Machapuchare, 6,947m). However, Annapurna I main (8091m) and Annapurna II (7937m) can only been viewed after 2 days when we reached Himalaya Guesthouse.
The sea level of the trek goes up and down, but the way up was of much more fun. Full of discovery and challenges. At the beginning, there were quite a lot of villages and stairs, houses were well maintained.
Govinda stopped at two places to get our Annapurna trek permit and TIMS card (official explanation here) checked out. There were sandy soil, a tiny bit of wetlands, tree roots, stairs and huge rocks under our steps. Guesthouses are around 1-2 hours walking away from each other. December is the end of the peak season and we got enough rooms to choose from and got very warm receive. My friend who went there in the end of September told me a different story: they had to hurry up before everyone occupies the guesthouses because of the peak season. We were pretty lucky in this aspect.
The best view is between MBC (Macchapuchhare Basecamp) and ABC, the way crosses a huge valley where the sunshine and the shadow of the mountains company around each other in this huge playground and paint together a marvelous natural scene. ABC could be seen from far on the way, as a visual target, hurried up our steps. When reached there, we turned around, gorgeous panorama view: there is one part the nature splitted the mountain into two parts, as if it was all made by an enormous sharp sword. On the other side, the sun is so close, showing off its round figure, never had it showed up so big.
The trek down was rather painful with numerous big gap stairs. Govinda found a stick for me to buffer the shock on my knees. Still, it didn’t prevent them from hurting later in the day. Good thing that we didn’t have intensive down hours opposed to the first 2 days climbing up. Govinda, on the other side, flashed down with our 15 kg backpacks, labeling himself as an authentic local. We almost got lost without him, in the fork of the way and headed back to the basecamp.
Talking about food, local dal bhat is of course the dish hard to miss out (Govinda’s favorite and daily-must). It has different varieties, typically chicken, beef or beans. However, it’s hard to get dal bhat with meat after Jhinu Guesthouse. All the dishes are made of rice and veggies. Momo is a kind of steamed dumplings like in China, while fried rice doesn’t taste as good.
The higher the sea level is, the more basic the facility is. We stayed one night over MBC, it was freezing while there was no heating system in the dining room. I had to skip the shower that night as it stank with the smelly WC in the bathroom. The next morning, we got no water to wash our faces, the pipes were frozen. Although everything was bearable and nothing really dramatic happened. All the guesthouse has electricity supply and hot water. It’s really good to remove all the dust during a whole day’s trek.
Annapurna Weather in December
Raj told us that December in recent years has become quite suitable for Annapurna trek because of global warming (sadly on the other side). We had sunny and clear day during the all trip. It was amazing. I expected some leeches dropping down from wet trees as my friend told me, but there was none in December.
The degree went up to 20 in the day, even in rather high sea level of above 3000m. It drops quickly in the night, on the contrary. We cashed out on all kind of teas to warm up.
Budget and agency for Annapurna Trek
We were really pleased with the agency Wenepal, which I found recommendation in different Chinese websites. Raj, the founder, worked as a guide himself for 7, 8 years and set up his own company in early 2010th. He and his guides all speak English and it fits the most to me and my boyfriend. He was very easy to communicate and responsive before we made any agreement.
We had very strict days but wanted to benefit the most of Annapurna trip, he was the only one who was able to alter the plans to fit our need. We had very fluent transport and accommodation flow during the trip, everything was arranged properly. He even prepared a local sim card with 40 minutes call and 1G of internet to facilitate the communication. I was amazed and never met such a good one among all Chinese agencies, shamefully.
Here below was the proposal we adopted:
Cost 3050 RMB per person, including
- International airport pickup and drop in private car on D1 and D11 in Kathmandu
- All the domestic airport pickup an drop in private car on D2 in Kathmadu and Pokhara
- Kathmandu- Pokhara flight ticket in BUDDHA Airlines including airport tax
- Pokhara- Kathmandu: transport by tourist bus
- Pokhara- Sewai transport by private jeep on D2 and Nayapul-Pokhara by private car on D7.
- Tims card
- ACAP permit
- 5N hotel during Trekking in mountain
- 1 Professional Porter-guide with his salary, all expense and insurance
- 1 Night hotel in Pokhara deluxe room including breakfast
- 2 Night hotel in Kathmandu deluxe room including breakfast
- Government tax and service charge
Cost does not includes
- All the personal expenses of the Guest
- All kinds of food and drinks during the trip
- Lunch and dinner in Kathmandu and Pokhara
- Tips for Porter-guide
Total cost per person for the Annapurna trek: 8000-8500 RMB
- Round Flight Shanghai – Kathmandu: 3500 RMB
- Agency fee: 3050 RMB
- Money exchanged to Nepalese rupee: 1500 RMB
Exchanged rupees were just enough for the stay in Nepal, the main cost was on food and drinks. Yet we had some extra to give a good tip to our guide and spend in some fine restaurants and tourist stores. Raj exchanged directly with us and gave a rate of 1:16, which cannot be found anywhere in the capital city or Pokhara.
We found these articles particularly useful for the preparation too:
PS, if you want to contact Raj from Wenepal, here’s his contact:
- Wechat: raj9841869949
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org