One major thing I wanted to do during my travel in Asia back in 2018 was to hike in the mountains of the Himalayas. As a person that never did any serious hikes before this was a strange goal to have. But having seeing pictures and videos of the Himalayas made me think this must be an adventure of a lifetime. Besides there was something mythical about Nepal and the Himalayas that I really wanted to explore. In a way it also felt more of a spiritual journey for me.
So after 4 months travelling through Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia, I flew from Bangkok to Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, in the middle of April. Since this was my first time in Nepal and trekking in the Himalayas, I decided to be on the safer side and booked a package tour at https://nepalecoadventure.com. The packaged included accommodation, transport and the trek itself to the Annapurna basecamp (also called ABC) with a guide and a porter. It was 15 days package tour that also included a tour in Kathmandu. However after arriving in Kathmandu the tour operator informed me that I could join another fellow trekker from Italy but the trek would start earlier. Wanting to a have company I agreed to this. This, however, means the tour of Kathmandu would be postponed until after the trek.
So after a night in Kathmandu, me, the assigned guide, porter and the fellow trekker, took a bus to a city called Pokhara from where the trek to Annapurna basecamp would begin. The bus trip was on the rough side as I’d discover that Nepal had really bad roads.
Pokhara was a much calmer city than the busy Kathmandu. We got to explore a bit of the tourist area of Pokhara, which I enjoyed quite a bit. We also did some preparations like buying some energy bars and nuts to take with us to the mountains. We were told that the price of these snacks increases as we get to higher altitude. We stayed for a night in the Pokhara before starting the trek the next day.
The Annapurna Basecamp trek started at the a small village called Birethani. Here our guide took care of the formalities like permits and other paperworks since these were included in the package tour. After the paperworks were done, we officially started our trek to the ABC!
My first impressions of the trek was the fresh air and the amazing scenery. We were probably in a good season for hiking, since the weather was really good as well. Along the way we met locals hiking up and down these paths and stairs on the mountain sides carrying food, woods and other goods for their daily lives. Of course plenty of tourists could also be found on this paths as the Annapurna casecamp is a very popular trek.
I was really surprised how lush and green the first part of the trek was. The beautiful green forest and flowers along the way gave me a feeling of being somewhere else than on the mountain sides among the highest mountains in the world.
However as we got higher and higher up, I started to feel the air got chiller, there were less forest and the view of the mountains got more visible. I also started noticing the reduced oxygen in the air, but luckily it didn’t affect me that much in the beginning.
One unexpected aspect of ABC I discovered was the amounts stairs the trek has. It felt like there were stairs everywhere! I guess this made the climbing and descending easier and less slippery, but it also made my legs really worked out!
Everyday we would wake up around 0600 in the morning, eating our breakfast and started our hike to our next stop. On average we were hiking around 6 hours a day. Since we were four relative young guys in good shape, we might have hiked faster than the average person.
When we got to our stop we would stay in a guesthouse that served food, hot drinks and a bed to sleep. I was surprised that most of the guesthouses we stayed in had western toilet and hot water. Many guesthouses higher up in the mountains did however lack these facilities. The guesthouse also acts as a social hub for hikers especially in the evening, as most hikers would finish their hike by then. I met and chat with many hikers from different countries at these guesthouses. We shared stories and tips and sometimes we also played cards together! Equally interesting were those chats and interactions I had with the locals, especially the guides and porters.
We would spend 6 days before arriving at the Annapurna basecamp itself at about 4100 metres above sea level. It was amazing to see how both the scenery and the climate changed in these 6 days of hiking. We started our hike in a lush green scenery and hot weather, but by day 6 we were surrounded by mountains and snow. The oxygen level at the basecamp were also low and I started to have a minor headache, but nothing serious fortunately. However I’ve seen hikers that had to get down right away as they were having difficulties tackling the high attitude.
We would spend 1 night at the basecamp before starting our descend back down. We then spent 4 days on our way down since it was much faster to walk down than climbing up.
I started the trek as a first-time hiker and had my fears about how I would tackle the journey. But by the end of the trek I felt a whole new world has opened to me. I’ve never felt so alive and connected to nature as I did when hiking to ABC. I saw some of the most beautiful scenery and mountains I’ve ever seen in my life. I met tons of amazing people, some of them I even met up later during my travels across Asia. This trek had everything I could wish for and made me interested in doing more hikes in the future!