Annapurna Base Camp trek during the spring season
Isabell and Sue booked the trek to Annapurna base camp after reading a blog written Chay (Isabell's friend) who did this trek in December 2014. They arrived on the evening of the 6th of April. The hotel had been requested to send a driver to meet them at the airport and bring them to the hotel.
Time in Kathmandu
We met for breakfast the next morning as pre-arranged during our communication. We went to the money changer; they were oriented around Thamel -the tourist district of Kathmandu so they could find the way to their hotel, restaurants etcetera.
We went on a walk through the old spice market and back roads of Kathmandu before returning to Thamel to rent sleeping bags. We parted ways after lunch after setting time to meet the next morning for our flight to Pokhara and the start of the trek.
We left for the domestic airport after breakfast. We went through the usual procedure of checking in with the airlines, security, and waited for our flight to be summoned to board the aircraft. We had boarded the plane when the stewardess informed us that our flight had been delayed by thirty minutes due to air traffic congestion. Once we took off, it was a smooth flight to Pokhara.
We collected our luggage, met our support crew at the airport. We went to the hotel booked for us after the trek to leave extra luggage and proceeded towards the starting point of the trek. These days due to the network of roads that have been constructed around the Annapurna region; we have flexibility or driving further if we are running late or have a shorter time for trekking.
We had about a two and half hour drive to the starting point of our trek; we had a lunch break in between the ride. We had a short 45-minute trek to our first night stop at Banthanti 2300m. We had the whole lodge just to ourselves. The Singaporean ladies were tired and went to bed early. We heard a massive rainstorm in the middle of the night with strong wind - This year we have experienced more rain, hail, and snowfall in Nepal than the previous years.
Trek to Ghorepani 2850m.
The rainstorm had cleared the skies and made the snow-clad peaks of Annapurna 3 and the tip of Mount Fishtail visible. We enjoyed the sparse number of trekkers on the trail. We arrive in Ghorepani in time for lunch after three hours trek. Clouds already covered the mountains.
I was utterly surprised to see only six foreign trekkers were staying at our lodge, which is one of the most popular hostels in this settlement. We enjoyed the delicious food here and retired early as we had to get up at 4 a.m. to hike up Poonhill for sunrise.
We met and started hiking towards Poonhill with our headlamps on in the dark. We reached the top in a little under an hour. There were just over one hundred trekkers, which is unusual as sometimes there can be nearly a thousand trekkers during the peak seasons. The views were a little hazy as it usually is during the spring season, but the mountains were visible.
We returned to Ghorepani for breakfast and continued on our trek to Tadapani, our final stop for the day. We enjoyed the uncrowded trail, saw some Rhesus and Langur monkeys. We reached Tadapani, took our showers before a big group of G Adventures trekkers arrived.
Hike to Chomrong.
We woke up with the mountains covered in clouds as it didn't rain the previous night. We descended in hot weather for two hours to Kimron river and stopped for lunch after four hours of trekking. We met some familiar faces from Poonhill two mornings ago, and we were passing each other on the path; in fact, we became friendly with some of them. We reached Chomrong by 2.30pm. There were only four trekkers here, our Singaporeans and an American couple who had been traveling for four months and four more months of travel left.
Hike to Doban 2600m.
We had 45 minutes of descending on steps to Chomrong river and two hours of steep ascend to the settlement of Sinuwa 2300m. We entered a lovely forest trail which helped to keep us a little sheltered from the sun. We arrived at Bamboo for lunch two hours after leaving the last settlement. The sky threatened rainfall as it turned dark, and thunder was heard. We had just over an hour to reach our destination for the day. It started pouring halfway, and we had to trek for 30 minutes in the rain.
Trek to Machapuchare Base Camp 3700m.
This day was significant as we had to ascend 1100 meters in about 6 hours of hiking. We observed that most of the trekkers we passed coming from the opposite direction were mostly Asians, namely Indians, Singaporeans, Chinese, Taiwanese, and Koreans. The few Europeans we saw were backpackers trekking on their own.
We noticed that the trekking trail was being widened near Himalaya (name of a stop on the trail). The government has allocated budgets directly to the villages which are used widely to expand walking trails or make roads.
We noticed that the raging Modi river was covered at places by a massive avalanche that had come during the last winter. Despite being April, a lot of the snow and ice had yet to melt away. We had to walk on some snow from the avalanche before our lunch at Deurali 3200m.
We had to walk on snow from a previous avalanche for about twenty minutes. We were walking in thick clouds for the past ninety minutes of the day's hike. It started to rain just as we were about to reach the Machapuchare Base camp. This was the busiest lodge on the trek so far. There was a Singaporean student group, a Korean group, and us.
Our trekkers decided against another 4 a.m start to trek to Annapurna base camp because of the cold. Trekkers usually stay at ABC, but avalanche in January had damaged all the lodges at ABC and reconstruction work had just begun. Despite being April, the Singaporeans still feel the cold as they come from a temperate climate.
We got up a little early at 6 a.m, had our breakfast and started to trek towards Annapurna Base camp. We stopped a few minutes after beginning our hike so our trekkers could put on their walking crampons which they had bought in Kathmandu upon my advice, on the snow. We were the only ones walking up to ABC at this time as everyone had left at predawn and were returning by this time.
We observed several helicopters flying to base camp with tourists who had no time to trek. There were several tourists from China at base camp; they have taken a chopper up there. Some of them thought one of our Singaporean trekkers looked like a superstar from China and took many photos and selfies with her.
It was a lovely morning with great views, but once we finished taking photos, it started to get cloudier. We retraced our steps back to Deurali and had our lunch there. It began to rain while we were there. It usually rains in the late afternoons, but in recent days, it started to rain by midday. The rainfall was quite intense, which generally means it will stop after a good downpour; we were hoping this would be the case.
We started our hike down to Doban, and it started raining quite soon after. I had thought of stopping earlier if we could meet Ganesh, our porter as the rain was torrential with thunder and lightning. When we reached Himalaya, Ganesh had gone past, so our only option was to walk to Doban. The Singaporean ladies were advised to hike carefully as the rain makes the trail slippery. We were glad to arrive in Doban without any incidents.
We had lovely hot showers, and there were only another three Nepali trekkers in the whole lodge with us.
The last four days of the trek were broken into short trekking days as we were all tired of getting caught in the rain by midday. We could afford to do this as we had an extra day by not staying at Annapurna base camp due to the damaged lodges.
We stopped by lunchtime at the villages of Chomrong, Landruk, Pothana and from Dhampus, we drove back to Pokhara. We spent a few relaxing days in Pokhara before returning to Kathmandu.
Isabel and Sue had three extra nights in Kathmandu during which they had opted for the adventure of exploring Kathmandu valley on their own by local transport. They left for Istanbul on the 24th of April. They will be traveling through Eastern Europe until September.
Our trekkers got to see the fantastic Annapurna range, saw wildlife such as Rhesus and Langur monkeys, Himalayan Tahr (wild mountain goats), and a good number of birds along with flora such as Rhododendrons, wild strawberries, gentians, primulas, Daphne and magnolias to name a few. Overall it was yet another successful trek operated by our team.
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