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Annapurna Sanctuary Trek  The Natural Adventure Company

Annapurna Sanctuary Trek

Overview

The Annapurna Sanctuary Trek (also known as the Annapurna Base Camp Trek) is one of the world’s most scenic treks. And our itinerary takes the even more scenic route variant via Ghorepani and Poon Hill before joining the main trail in Chomrong Khala. This route also provides better acclimatisation compared to the standard route.

Starting and ending in Kathmandu, the Annapurna Sanctuary trek will reward you with a stunning combination of towering peaks and dramatic valleys. The Annapurna range forms a natural amphitheatre known as the Annapurna Sanctuary, ringed by the peaks of Annapurna 1, Glacier Dome, Gangapurna, Fang and Machhapuchhare. Annapurna is the 10th highest peak in the world. It was the first 8000-metre peak ever summited, in 1950 by a French expedition led by Maurice Herzog. The trek starts through forested hillsides abundant in natural springs before arriving into the Sanctuary with its panoramic views of the Annapurna.

All our Nepal and Himalaya treks are private departures, so you are free to choose your date (between September and May), and companions (minimum group size is 2 people) and our trekking support crew will be with you during the entire trek – we provide one of the highest staff to client ratios on the trek: one trekking guide per party, one Sherpa assistant for every four trekkers and one porter for every two trekkers. During the trek, you will need to carry only your daypack. 

On this classic Annapurna Sanctuary Trek, you will spend 3 nights in a nice hotel in Kathmandu, 2 nights in a comfortable hotel in Pohkara (both on a twin share basis) and 9 nights on a twin share basis in traditional mountain lodges (tea houses).

Highlights

  • Explore vibrant Kathmandu and lakeside Pokhara
  • Experience authentic Nepali villages, meet locals during tea house stays and soak up the unique local culture
  • Trek through magnificent forests and terraced fields abundant in hot springs
  • Stay overnight at Annapurna Base Camp surrounded by majestic mountains
  • Take in the Annapurna Sanctuary, a huge natural amphitheatre ringed by towering peaks
  • Admire the sunrise views of Dhaulagiri, Machhapuchhare and the Annapurnas from Poon Hill 

Click to view map

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive Kathmandu

Upon arrival at Kathmandu Airport (you can choose any flight you wish), our representative will meet you and transfer to your hotel in Kathmandu. Relax at your hotel, then explore the streets of Kathmandu.

Day 2: Kathmandu Sightseeing & Trek Preparation

After a lovely breakfast in the morning, we start a guided sightseeing tour to four UNESCO World Heritage sites of Kathmandu that have historical and spiritual values. We will visit Pashupatinath, Temple Swoyambhunath Stupa, Kathmandu Durbar Square and Bouddhanath Stupa.

Day 3: Transfer to Pokhara

We set off on a tiring but picturesque 7-hour bus ride to Pokhara (you can opt for a flight instead). We drive past river valleys, terraced fields and roadside settlements. On arriving Pokhara, check-in at your hotel and go for a short hike around Fewa Lake and the alleys by the lake. Feel free to get the help of our guide for last-minute trekking shopping.

Day 4: Transfer to Nayapul; Trek to Ulleri | 4-5 h | 2020 m

We drive in the morning from Pokhara to Nayapul which takes around one hour to reach. After arriving at Nayapul we start our trek and cross Modi River at Birethanti, then follow an easy trail by the river. After walking for around three hours, we arrive in Tikhedhunga and have lunch. After lunch, we start following the trail which gradually ascends to Ulleri village.

  • Walking for the day: 4-5 hours, ↑600 m, final elevation 2020 m

Day 5: Ulleri to Ghorepani| 4-5 h | 2860 m

After walking for two hours, steep uphill through the lush green forest of rhododendron, we reach Banthanti and have our lunch there. After lunch, we ascend gradually through the forest. Ghorepani is a small village inhabited by Magar people that sits atop the ridgeline and backdrops Mt Dhaulagiri and the Annapurnas.

  • Walking for the day: 4-5 hours, ↑1300 m, final elevation 2860 m

Day 6: Climb Poon Hill; Ghorepani to Chuile| 7-8 h | 2310 m

An amazing pre-dawn trek to Poon Hill (1.5-2 h, 3210 m) reveals a stunning sunrise over the Himalaya. After a well-earned breakfast in Ghorepani, we start our walk on a short but steep ascent to Deurali. From Deurali, the trail is mostly downhill, covered by lush green forest and with occasional human settlements. Climb a steep uphill section right before Tadhapani where we eat our lunch taking in the great views of Mount Machapuchhare, Annapurna south, Hiun Chuli, and Annapurna II. Another one hour downhill walk through woodland takes us to Banthanti where we leave the main trail and follow a side trail that leads us to Chuile.

  • Walking for the day: 7-8 hours, ↑1200 m ↓1300 m, final elevation 2310 m

Day 7: Chuile to Sinwa| 5-6 h | 2360 m

We start our trek through the forest and descend for the next hour to reach Ghurjung village. Following the trail through small hamlets, we reach Chomorong, one of the biggest settlements in the area facing Annapurna and Machhapuchre right in front. We pass this village following stone stairs down to the Chomrong Khola and cross it on a suspension bridge, joining the main Annapurna trail. Another short uphill section takes us to Sinwa village, which hosts an amazing sight of Machapucchare peak.

  • Walking for the day: 5-6 hours, ↑600 m ↓700 m, final elevation 2360 m

Day 8: Sinwa to Himalaya Lodge| 4-5 h | 2920 m

After breakfast, we follow the gradual uphill trail till Khuldighar then steep downhill stone stairs to Bamboo. Then the uphill trail covered by mixed forest leads us to Himalaya. The uphill trek following the river is challenging but surrounded by beautiful views, it will definitely be worth it. Overnight at the Himalaya Lodge.

  • Walking for the day: 4-5 hours, ↑700 m ↓500 m, final elevation 2920 m

Day 9: Machapuchhare Base Camp| 4-5 h | 3700 m

The trail continues to negotiate the forest until we reach Deurali. From Deurali, the trail enters low vegetation area. After we pass Hinku cave, start walking through the river shore then over a steep trail on the mountainside. It takes a few hours until we reach Machapuchhare Base camp on undulating trails. We can see great views of Mount Fishtail along with Mount Hiunchuli, Annapurna South, Annapurna I, Annapurna III, Gandharyachuli and Gangapurna. Overnight in Machapuchhare Base Camp, site of the 1957 British Expedition to Machhapuchhare that climbed to within 200 m of the summit. Because the peak is sacred to the Gurung people, Nepal’s government subsequently declared it off-limits to climbers and it has remained unclimbed since.

  • Walking for the day: 4-5 hours, ↑900 m, final elevation 3700 m

Day 10: Machapuchhare Base Camp to Annapurna Base Camp | 4-5 h | 4130 m

Heading up on the final stretch to Annapurna Base Camp, we leave the greenery behind us. When we reach the base camp, we are surrounded by a 360-degree panorama of incredible Himalayan peaks: Hiunchuli, Annapurna South, Fang, Annapurna II, Roc Noir, Glacier Dome, Gangapurna, Annapurna III, and Machhapuchhare. Overnight in Annapurna Base Camp. Note that occasionally there is too much snow to stay at Annapurna Base Camp. In this case, we would walk back down to Machhapuchhare Base Camp in the late afternoon.

  • Walking for the day: 4-5 hours, ↑500 m, final elevation 4130 m

Day 11: Annapurna Base Camp to Bamboo| 5-6 h | 2310 m

Wake up before the sunrise and reach the viewpoint to get the amazing 360-degree views of mountains such as Fishtail, Annapurna South, Annapurna I, Hiunchuli and other smaller peaks. Retrace the trail till Bamboo, which – you guessed it! – is named after the abundance of bamboo in the surrounding area.

  • Walking for the day: 6-7 hours, ↓1800 m, final elevation 2310 m

Day 12: Bamboo to Jhinu Danda | 4-5 h | 1780 m

We trek uphill to Kuldighar and again downhill to Chomrong Khola and cross it for the last time. We follow the uphill trail through Chhomrong village for a while, followed by a short downhill section, we arrive at Jhinu Danda. We stay here for a night and enjoy the hot springs soothing our tired muscles. The spring is 20 minutes downhill from Jhinu Danda.

  • Walking for the day: 5-6 hours, ↑400 m ↓500 m, final elevation 1780 m

Day 13: Jhinu Danda to Nayapul; Transfer to Pokhara| 4-5 h

The trail today undulates down the Modi River Valley. We begin our trek with a comfortable downhill walk to the New Bridge and follow the trail through terraced fields and small villages. After arriving in Naya Pul, we drive back to Pokhara (1 h). The lakeside town of Pokhara is the perfect place to relax, enjoy a cold beer and celebrate your successful completion of the Annapurna Sanctuary Trek.

  • Walking for the day: 4-5 hours, ↑300 m ↓900 m

Day 14: Transfer Pokhara – Kathmandu & Overnight

Recall the memories from the trek and enjoy the bus ride back to Kathmandu (7 h). You can alternatively opt for a flight. Back in Kathmandu, you can spend some leisure time.

Day 15: Departure

Private transfer to Kathmandu Airport or optional extension.

Optional Chitwan Jungle Safari Extension (2 nights)

Experience the other side of Nepal in the jungle of the Chitwan National Park. Once home to a royal hunting reserve, Chitwan is now widely recognised as one of the best national parks in Asia. The park offers protection to numerous species including the one-horned rhinoceros, Bengal tiger, leopard, sloth bear, wild elephant, striped hyena, Gangetic dolphin, crocodile and wild bison.

  • Take a boat along the Rapti river, which shelters about a quarter of the world’s remaining gharial population
  • Jump on a jeep safari and spot a range of wild animals
  • Spend some time in a local village, visiting the wildlife display centre and learning about local life
  • Accommodation on twin share basis in a comfortable local hotel
  • Meals included: 2 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 2 dinners (excl. beverages)

Important: You will see other tour operators offering elephant riding activities and many tourists taking part in them during your time in Chitwan. However, we have an elephant welfare policy, and as such, we discourage travellers from riding elephants in Nepal or anywhere in the world. See the Responsible Travel section for more information.

Day 1: Kathmandu – Chitwan National Park

We walk off to the tourist bus stand, which is around 15 min walk from your hotel. Take the tourist bus and ride past river valleys, terrace fields, and highway settlements to southern lowlands (5 h). Upon getting off the bus, meet the staff, who will drive you to the resort. After having checked in, enjoy the lunch and make yourself comfortable amidst the beautiful garden. The manager will brief you about the activities schedule. In the afternoon, drive to the nearby river where alligators, birds, and rhinos can be spotted along with the mesmerizing sunset view. Overnight.

Day 2: Chitwan Activities

Early in the morning, we drive to the river and start canoeing through the jungle to spot alligators and various species of birds. After canoeing, we walk through the forest and take the jeep back to the resort. After lunch enjoy a jeep drive into the national park where we can spot more wild animals, and if lucky, Royal Bengal tigers. After we drive back to the resort, enjoy the dinner, and walk to the community hall to view the cultural show. Overnight.

Day 3: Chitwan – Kathmandu

After breakfast, the staff will drive you to the bus station and you will board the tourist bus. You can get back to Kathmandu or opt for Pokhara.

What to Expect

Accommodation

On this classic Annapurna Sanctuary Trek, you will spend 3 nights in a nice hotel in Kathmandu on a twin share basis, 2 nights on a twin share basis in a comfortable hotel in Pokhara and 9 nights on a twin share basis in traditional mountain lodges (tea houses). Lodges are comfortable except for a few nights at higher elevations when they are fairly basic. We have carefully hand-picked all places and regularly monitor their quality. We have tried to choose accommodations that offer friendly service, clean and comfortable rooms and local flavour.

Tea houses are mountain lodges that are located along many of the trekking routes in Nepal that provide meals and accommodation. They are similar to mountain huts in the Alps except that in Nepal you primarily get private rooms and a wide choice of food. The tea houses, in general, offer simple but adequate accommodation; please be realistic about what to expect in the high mountains and in remote areas. Most tea houses are built specifically for trekkers, but some, in the more remote regions of Nepal, may double as the family’s home.

The teahouse’s centre is the heated eating hall (some lodges charge a fee to switch the heater on). The bedrooms are almost all twin-share (note that you may still be asked to share with 2 or 3 during peak season on very rare occasions). Bedrooms are not heated, and you will need to bring or hire a sleeping bag.

Most tea houses have only one or two basic toilets, and sometimes these are located outside the main building. Toilet paper is not provided so you should bring your own or buy it from the tea house. If there is not a flush handle, there should be a container of water to use.

The owners make most of their income from the meals and beverages. For this reason, you are expected to eat all your meals at the teahouse at which you’re staying. Most teahouses sell snacks, soft drinks, tea, coffee and other essentials such as soap and toilet paper. Almost all tea houses have electricity, but power outages are quite frequent. Electricity is available to charge your cameras and other electronic devices for a small fee at the dining rooms of most tea houses. A few of the lodges on this trek have WiFi which varies in quality of signal. Some lodges now have hot showers (you will be charged a small fee for using them). Note that sometimes this is simply a bucket of hot water and not a proper shower head.

Click to view our default hotels for this trip

Click to view our optional upgraded hotels for this trip

Meals

Several years ago, tea houses’ choices were limited and pre-booking the lodge fixed menu was often the only option. Since then, as the lodges have improved in quality, so has food choice, with most tea houses now offering an extensive menu. To give our customers choice, we now operate our trek on a lodge only basis (welcome dinner and breakfasts in the Kathmandu and Pokhara hotels are included). You will need to plan £25-30 per day in total for all meals.

  • For breakfast, you can have toast, tea, eggs, and porridge. It gets served at around 7-8 am which is ideal for the early morning trek.
  • Dal Bhat which consists of rice, dal (pulses), lentils, spinach, gundruk, optional meat, and others is a typical meal offered for lunch, or you can opt for a noodle soup.
  • For dinner (normally, it’ll be served around 7:30 pm to 8:00 pm), where once there was a choice of 2-3 different rice or lentil-based meals at the lodge, most now offer a menu of 20 or more choices from the basic (such as dal bhat) through western-style (pizza, spaghetti) to more sophisticated (yak steak with blue cheese sauce).

Difficulty & terrain

This is one of the easier treks in the Annapurna region and in the Himalayas as a whole as you will be trekking roughly 5-6 hours a day (except for the trek on Day 6 which can take 7-8 hours); this holiday is graded moderate/moderate to strenuous, due to the extended length of time spent trekking at high altitudes. You should be in good physical shape and have some experience in multi-day trekking before undertaking the Annapurna Sanctuary Trek (read more about difficulty grades).

Acute mountain sickness

Altitude is not a huge issue on this trek as you will stay above 4000 m only one day. Our itinerary is designed to minimise the chances of you suffering from AMS by providing enough acclimatisation days and ensuring a gradual increase in altitude. Still, if you have any pre-existing health conditions that you think may make you more susceptible to AMS, we recommend that you consult your doctor before booking this trip.

When to go

The main trekking season in Nepal is from September to May when daytime temperatures at most altitudes are generally comfortable for walking; the sky is clear much of the time and rain and snow are occasional occurrences. Different seasons offer different advantages for the Annapurna Sanctuary Trek. The best times are in spring ‘pre-monsoon’ (March, April and May), and in autumn ‘post-monsoon’ (September, October and November). The summer months are very wet as it is the monsoon season and winter is extremely cold. 

  • Post Monsoon: September to November. This is the main trekking season in Nepal. Skies are usually clear and days on trek are sunny and mild with clear mountain views. Nights will be colder with temperatures dropping as low as to minus 10ºC at the highest altitudes.
  • Winter: December to February. Despite the cooler conditions, this is a good time to trek in Nepal. Skies are usually very clear especially in December and the mountain views are at their best. Nights will be very cold with temperatures down to minus 15ºC to minus 20ºC at the highest altitudes but days are pleasant and sunny. The trails are also much less busy at this time of year. If you want to trek during the winter months you need lots of warm clothes.
  • Pre-monsoon: March to May. Both day and night temperatures will be warmer in general but often a haze will build up in the afternoons. Flowers bloom in this season and this is one of the reasons many people chose to trek in spring.

Getting there

FCO up-to-date travel advice

Tipping

It is customary in Asia to tip service providers such as waiters, at approximately 10%, depending on the quality of service. All our staff in Nepal (guides, assistant guides and porters) are fully insured and paid a fair wage; however tips are not a substitute for wages. The amount is purely a personal matter but we would suggest a tip per day of 15-20 USD for your guide, 8-10 USD for your porter and 5-6 USD per day for assistants and other staff. These apply to the whole party, not per person. Obviously this is very much a rough guide and you are completely free to give whatever you feel is appropriate.

Inclusions

Included

  • All ground transfers as listed in the itinerary (one arrival and one departure airport transfer per party)
  • 3 nights quality accommodation on a twin share basis in Kathmandu 
  • 2 nights quality accommodation on a twin share basis in Pokhara 
  • 9 nights twin share accommodation in the mountains
  • Full day sightseeing tour of Kathmandu including entrance fees 
  • Welcome dinner in Kathmandu
  • 3 breakfasts in Kathmandu
  • 2 breakfasts in Pokhara
  • All national park fees and trekking permits 
  • 1 English-speaking tour guide in the lowlands
  • 1 English-speaking trekking guide in the mountains
  • 1 Sherpa assistant for every 4 trekkers
  • 1 porter for every 2 trekkers 
  • Detailed pre-departure information pack including guide book, city maps and trekking maps 

Excluded

  • International flights and international airport departure fee
  • Visa fee
  • Lunches and dinners in Kathmandu (except for the welcome dinner) and all meals in the mountains (plan £25-30 per day in total for all meals)
  • Hot shower, water, WiFi, charging mobiles and cameras etc during trekking (if you plan on using the internet and showering every day, then you should budget around £8-10 per day)
  • Drinking water (beverages)
  • Extra expenses due to unforeseen events such as natural disaster, roadblocks or health conditions of a fellow traveller
  • Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
  • Personal expenses and tips
  • Any items not specifically mentioned as included in the programme

Options, extras & supplements

  • Single room supplement applies to members of a group who require a single room (Kathmandu and Pokhara only – ask our experts for a quote); in the tea houses you may ask the owner if there are single rooms available and you can pay locally for them
  • Unfortunately, we are not able to accommodate solo travellers on the Annapurna Sanctuary Trek
  • Kathmandu upgrade to a superior 4 or 5-star hotel
  • Breakfasts in the mountains (add 9 breakfasts)
  • Full board in the mountains (add 9 breakfasts, 10 lunches and 9 dinners)
  • Return flight Kathmandu-Pokhara instead of bus transfer on Days 3 and 14
  • Extra nights in Kathmandu
  • Optional Chitwan Jungle Safari Extension

Gallery

Reviews

Average rating:    from 2 reviews

Ben R

We have just completed an amazing trek to the beautiful heart of the Annapurnas. The weather was perfect, the scenery was breath-taking and the people were so friendly. They were all kind, helpful, knowledgeable, caring and lots of fun. I can thoroughly recommend it.

Stephen H

A very well organised and knowledgeable team. These guys made both my treks a truly remarkable experience. They provide an excellent itinerary and fantastic guides. I will be coming back for more.