The Annapurna Base Camp trek is a spectacular out and back high altitude hiking route stretching through multiple environments in the Annapurna Sanctuary National Park. The trail starts off meandering through beautiful forest and terraces of rice paddies climbing all the way to Annapurna Base Camp at an altitude of 4100m. The scenery quickly changes as you gain altitude from tropical forest to hiking in knee-deep snow among spectacular snow peaks.
Trekking in Nepal is an incredible experience. ABC trek is one of the most spectacular routes in the region. Many trekkers choose this route as a shorter and cheaper alternative to the Everest Base Camp trek. Annapurna Base Camp is surrounded by some of the highest peaks in the world; Annapurna I (8091 m), Annapurna South (7219 m), the fishtail Machapuchhre (6993 m), and Hiunchuli (6441 m). The hiking trail to Annapurna Base Camp is accessible from several trailheads and depending on your route the duration is between 6 and 12 days.
In this post, we describe different options to trek to Annapurna base camp as well as how to combine ABC with other hiking routes such as Annapurna Circuit, Poon Hill, and Mardi Himal trek. The trail is easy to reach by public transport from the beautiful lakeside town Pokhara. It is a tea house trek, meaning there are plenty of cheap guesthouses to stay and eat along the way. We discuss cost, itinerary, guides, porters, altitude sickness, and give packing and planning tips.
For a detailed route description, check our Annapurna Base Camp trek itinerary post. There you can find a complete breakdown of the route, distances, elevation gain and loss, challenges, and highlights for every day on the trek.
Annapurna Base Camp trek overview
- Distance – 80 km/50 mi
- Days required – 6-7 days
- Total ascent – 4975 m/16 322 ft
- Total descent – 5040 m/16 535 ft
- Highest point – Annapurna Base Camp – 4147 m
- Difficulty – moderate
- Permits – TIMS card – NPR 2000/US$17 and Annapurna Sanctuary Permit – NPR 3000/US$25 pp.
- Cost per day – US$27 per person including permits and transportation.
- Guide – not compulsory, can be done independently, with a guide/a porter, or in a group.
- Accommodation – guest houses
How to do the Annapurna Base Camp Trek?
Trekking to Annapurna Base Camp is offered by several agencies in Pokhara as an all-inclusive package with a guide and porters. It is also popular to do this trek by hiring your own staff, guides and porters are easy to find in Pokhara and this way is cheaper than a package trek. Trekking completely independently is the cheapest way to get to Annapurna Base Camp and if you can carry your own backpack the route is well marked and easy to follow.
We hiked several routes in the Annapurna sanctuary national park. The direct route goes through the Australian camp, Landruk, and Deurali to Annapurna Base Camp. The trek is often done in combination with the Poonhill trek, trekking for this route starts at Nayapul from where trekking continues to Ghorepani (2750 m). Trekkers usually overnight here hiking to Poon Hill (3210 m) for sunrise after which the route continues via Thadapani towards Annapurna Base Camp.
Annapurna Base Camp Trek Cost
The cost of your trek to Annapurna Base Camp will be determined by the type of trek you are planning, your trekking route, your time on the trail, and by the season you choose to trek. Overall the cost of the Annapurna Base Camp trek is lower cheaper than the cost of the Everest Base Camp trek because of low transportation costs; the trailhead of ABC is just a short bus ride from Pokhara.
I went to a few different agencies in Lakeside in Pokhara to get prices and information regarding tours and hiring staff.
All-inclusive Trek Packages
You can book a tour when you arrive through a local agency or beforehand through an agency online. Most international and local companies use the same local guides and porters. Hand your money to a company you trust, because in the end they are responsible for your safety and you want to go with a company using the best staff.
Trekking with a local agency
7-day Annapurna Base Camp trek with a local agency is often all-inclusive; guide, porter all accommodation, and food. The price in Pokhara is around $500 You have to pay extra for wi-fi, hot showers and snacks.
Trekking with an international agency
7D6N Annapurna Base Camp Trek with reputable international agency Klook – Start and end in Pokhara, you can choose between an all-inclusive option or a more flexible option only including breakfast. The tour includes guide, porter all accommodation. Wi-fi and hot showers are extra.
14 Day Kathmandu – Kathmandu Annapurna Base Camp Trek – Very well rated activity. Small-group trek to Annapurna Base Camp. All meals and overnights are included, with time to explore Kathmandu and Pokhara Airport pickup and drop-off included
Trek with Porter and Guide
Organizing your own trek with guides and porters sound very expensive, but is actually a very affordable way of trekking. We found the route easy to follow, and it is reasonably well marked. If you are not an experienced trekker or are walking alone a guide is a good idea. If you do not want to carry your own pack, hire a porter. Many solo trekkers hire a guide as company, it is not good to trek alone and is good to support the local economy.
- Guide 7 days x $30 = $210
- Porter 7 days x $25 = $175
- Trek independent = $195
- TOTAL $580
You can be a group sharing one guide and more than one person can share a porter if you carry some of your own gear, bringing this total price down significantly.
Hiking at a high altitude in a remote location, there are obviously very real risks. Emergency evacuation and treatment can be very expensive. Want to know the cost of insurance? Check here for an instant personalized quote.World Nomads travel insurance has been designed by travelers for travelers, with coverage for more than 150 activities as well as emergency medical, lost luggage, trip cancellation and more.
Trekking permits for Annapurna Base Camp
Two permits are required to do this trek, a TIMS (Trekkers Information Management System) and an Entry Permit for the Annapurna Conservation Area. Both permits can be purchased at the tourism office in Pokhara, if needed visas for staying in Nepal can also be extended here. The permits are checked along the way.
A TIMS is required for all treks in the Annapurna Sanctuary National Park and costs NPR 3000. The permit is only valid for a single entry into the park, something to remember if you are planning to do multiple hikes in this national park. The local national park permit costs NPR 2000.
What to pack for the trek?
Make sure not to bring too much stuff especially if you’re planning to do the trek without a porter. You won’t need much every night you stay and eat at a guesthouse, no need to carry camping or cooking gear. The most useful thing we had was our LifeStraw bottles. First, they save you quite a lot on buying drinking water. Second, it’s great for the environment! Overall we had the same stuff for hiking to Annapurna Base Camp as we packed for Everest Base Camp.
Getting to the ABC Trek
Getting to Pokhara
The trek to Annapurna Base Camp can be started from several villages close to the lakeside city Pokhara. Pokhara can be reached from Kathmandu by road or by air. There are several daily flights, the 30-minute flight is definitely the easiest way. Transport by road is very slow and tourist buses and local buses are available. Tourist buses leave from Kantipath, near Thamel, and take about 6 to 8 hours to reach Pokhara.
Kathmandu to Pokhara: 1-Way Car Transfer – Travel from Kathmandu to Pokhara in a private, air-conditioned car completely hassle-free. Can be shared
Local buses leave from the New Bus Station (it is not much of a bus station and is not very new). It was a bit cheaper, seat including luggage costing about NPR 500 ($5). Local buses are minibusses, they load them very full. The advantage is they depart throughout the day, so you do not have to be there early. They leave whenever they are full, so no specific time.
Lakeside is a beautiful place to stay for a couple of days before or after the trek. There are many amazing things to do in Pokhara. If you have some time you can explore the surroundings doing one of the shorter treks outside the National Park e.g. the Panchase Trek.
Getting to the trailhead
Kande – The trail head at Kande can be reached from Pokhara by public bus or taxi. The bus trip takes 1h 30 min to 2 hours, consider doing this by taxi it is much quicker and only costs about $5.
Ghandruk – Ghandruk can be reached by jeep from Baglung bus park in Pokhara for about NPR 6000 per jeep, the trip takes about 3 hours. Getting back to Pokhara from Ghandruk we negotiated with a driver for NPR 3000 (we were only two people).
Different routes of ABC trek
Annapurna Base Camp trek can be started and finished at different places. If you’re going to walk ABC trek as a separate trek without combining it with other routes the best places to start and finish are Kande and Ghandruk. You can do it either way starting at Kande (as we did) and finishing in Ghandruk or other way around. The total distance and the ascent will be the same.
If you want to extend the trek you can combine it with one of the other routes many trekkers combine ABC with the Poon Hill trek. In this case you start in Nayapul. To do these two trek together you’ll need 8-10 days.
Poon Hill + ABC trek itinerary
- Day 1. Bus Pokhara – Nayapul. Trek Nayapul – Ulleri, 12km. From Nayapul follow our Poon Hill trek itinerary.
- Day 2. Ulleri – Ghorepani, 8km
- Day 3. Ghorepani – Poon Hill – Ghorepani – Tadapani, 13km
- Day 4. Tadapani – Sinuwa, 13km
- Day 5. Sinuwa – Deurali, 14km
- Day 6. Deurali – ABC, 9km
- Day 7. ABC – Bamboo/Sinuwa, 15km/19km
- Day 8. Bamboo/Sinuwa – Ghandruk, 14km/10km
Another popular option is to combine ABC trek with Mardi Himal. You can start at Kande and walk to Landruk (the first day is the same as on ABC trek) or take a jeep to Siding and start walking from there. From both places you go up to Mardi Himal Base Camp and down to Landruk. From Landruk you continue on the ABC trek. You’ll need 10-11 days to complete it.
Mardi Himal + ABC trek itinerary
- Day 1. Bus Pokhara – Kande. Trek Kande – Landruk, 16km
- Day 2. Landruk – Forest Camp, 5km. From Landruk follow our Mardi Himal trek itinerary.
- Day 3. Forest Camp – High Camp, 8,5km
- Day 4. High Camp – Base Camp – High Camp, 9km
- Day 5. High Camp – Landruk, 12km
- Day 6. Landruk – Sinuwa, 12km
- Day 7. Sinuwa – Deurali, 14km
- Day 8. Deurali – ABC, 9km
- Day 9. ABC – Bamboo/Sinuwa, 15km/19km
- Day 10. Bamboo/Sinuwa – Ghandruk, 14km/10km
If you want to do the big circuit you can combine the Annapurna Circuit trek with the Annapurna Base Camp trek. It’ll be a very long trek you need two weeks to complete the circuit and 6 days to finish the ABC trek, 3 weeks in total and one or two extra days in case you’ll need some rest or the weather is too bad, etc. We have a very detailed Annapurna Circuit trek itinerary that is easy to combine with this ABC trek itinerary.
Accommodation on the Annapurna Base Camp Trek
This is a classic tea house trek, accommodation in the tea houses (hotels) are cheap if you buy your meals here, but where else are you going to eat anyway? The tea houses make money out of food, not accommodation. The cost for a double room in a tea house on this trek was NPR 400 or NPR 200 per bed. This did not always include a hot shower and internet.
Extra Charges at most guesthouses; Hot Shower – NPR 200, Charging NPR 200 per device in the dining room. Wi-fi – NPR 300
Food on the ABC trek
The food on the Annapurna Base Camp Trek is similar to other treks in Nepal. The main local dish is dal bhat, rice and lentils with some curry, this is not the cheapest meal on the menu, but is sort of bottomless, when your plate is empty they come with more dal and rice if you are hungry and on a budget, this is the best way to go. The menu is very similar everywhere, we ate porridge, boiled eggs or an omelet for breakfast every morning and dal, pasta or fried rice for lunch or dinner. Food does get a bit more expensive as altitude increases, this is understandable since porters have to carry everything up the mountain.
Some unique meals to try on this trek is Gurung Bread which is a deep-fried bread, Rosti a very filling potato cake that is fried in the pan like a patty, order this with two eggs on top if you are very hungry.
The price of everything increases with altitude, e.g. the same meal at lower altitudes, Landruk (1730m) – 350 NPR, Duerali (3200m) – 400 NPR high altitude, Annapurna Base Camp (4147m) – 470 NPR.
The cost of Food on the Annapurna Base Camp Trek
- Breakfast ( oats porridge) – Varies between NPR 350 and NPR 550 depending on altitude
- Lunch/dinner (fried rice) – Varies between NPR 400 and NPR 550 depending on altitude
- Dal Bhat – Varies between NPR 600 and NPR 700 depending on altitude
It is another significant expense if you don’t have any filter or purification. We didn’t buy water on the route we each carried a LifeStraw bottle, we used it all the time and it worked great we could refill it on the way from any water tap or stream which means we didn’t have to carry extra water or buy plastic bottles
Places to stay in Pokhara
Lakeside is the main touristy area of Pokhara it’s full of hotels, guest houses, restaurants, bars etc. here you can find accommodation on any budget from cheap homestays to fancy spa hotels. We stayed at Hotel Lake Shore; good value for money, great shower (the best shower we had in Nepal), a very good breakfast menu.
- Budget options | Pokhara Youth Hostel | Gauri Shankar backpackers hostel |
- Middle price |Pokhara Choice Inn | Pokhara Batika | Hotel Middle Path & Spa |
- Luxury | Temple Tree Resort & Spa | Hotel White Pearl |
Recommended books & guidebooks
If you prefer e-books over paper books don’t hesitate to join Amazon Kindle Unlimited to get access to thousands of e-books and audiobooks. Even if you don’t have a Kindle device you can read or listen to books on your phone or tablet using the app. The first 30 days of the program are free.
- Lonely Planet Nepal (Travel Guide), 2018. Paper book & Kindle
- Trekking Everest: Base Camp, Kala Patar and Other Trekking Routes in Nepal and Tibet. Cicerone, 2019. Paper book & Kindle
- The Snow Leopard by Pieter Matthiessen. Paper book & Kindle
- Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster by Jon Krakauer. Paper book & Kindle.
- Yak Girl: Growing Up in the Remote Dolpo Region of Nepal by Dorje Dolma. Paperback & Kindle.
- Little Princes: One Man’s Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal by Conor Grennan. Paper book & Kindle
- A Step Away from Paradise: The True Story of a Tibetan Lama’s Journey to a Land of Immortality by Thomas K. Shore. Paper book & Kindle
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The strong half of Stingy Nomads, a nomadic aquaman that would be happy to spend all his life in the water diving, surfing and spearfishing but often has to compromise with Alya and go hiking instead. Campbell is responsible for all our marine adventures and following them with write-ups. He loves traveling, braai (BBQ in South Africa), red wine and spending the day in a wetsuit.