Annapurna Base Camp Sanctuary Trek - Nepal

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A few days in exotic Kathmandu and lake-side Pokhara followed by 12 days of spectacular trekking to Annapurna Base Camp Sanctuary Trek including views from Poon Hill make for the perfect Nepal vacation.

We've added options to make your trip a truly luxurious vacation, pampering yourself at the Kantipur Temple House or Dwarika's in Kathmandu & Barahi Hotel or Temple Tree Resort & Spa in Pokhara, here you can spend the day at the infinity pool, having massages or indulging in various spa treatments!

 After a beautiful flight through middle Nepal to Pokhara and an afternoon relaxing by Pewa Lake we start trekking in green Nepali villages, where water buffaloes wallow in the rivers, colorful, sari-clad women sit and weave by thatched huts, and villagers perform ancient rituals to appease their local deities. The sub-tropical forests come alive with an immense variety of bird life, waterfalls thunder down from steep cliff sides and monkeys chatter from the tree-tops. Trekking higher into the green, terraced hills we wander through ancient, mossy Rhododendron forests to reach the cooler Buddhist and animistic middle hills, where chortens and prayer flags send prayers out to the gods and the Gurung and Magar inhabitants look more Tibetan than Nepali. Terraced fields and tropical fruit trees surround the neat, white-washed villages of the higher regions, leading the eye to vistas dominated by some of the Himalaya's most majestic peaks. The Annapurna region is truly the heart of the Nepal Himalaya.

Accompanied by views of Annapurna South, Machapuchare (Fish Tail), Hiunchuli and Lamjung Himal, we trek into the heart of the Annapurna Circuit, the Annapurna Sanctuary. Trekking up to Annapurna Base Camp (Annapurna Sanctuary) is a feast of Himalayan peaks with incredible sunsets from Machapuchare and Annapurna Base Camps. Passing through the gateway of the sanctuary you enter an amphitheater of snow peaks: Annapurna I (8091m), Annapurna South (7219m), Machhapuchare (6993m) & Hiunchuli (6441m).

Trekking through traditional villages to reach the bustling Gurung village of Gandruk, we continue to Poon Hill for a sublime Himalayan sunrise with a 360-degree sunrise Himalayan panorama. Back down through golden, terraced villages dominated by Machhapuchare, we continue through Ulleri to the end of the circuit at Naya Pul and drive to Pokhara.

This is a classic tea-house trek run in our special Kamzang-style; instead of camping out in the cold, we enjoy the dining-room stoves and famed hospitality of the local people of the Annapurna region, our gear is carried by porters, and we have local guides to explain the various cultures, mountains and sights to us along the way.

Finishing back in Kathmandu, it's been a wonderful journey through diverse regions and landscapes of one of the most spectacular regions of the Himalaya!

Trip

Day 1 - Arrive Kathmandu
Day 2 - Kathmandu
Day 3 - Fly Pokhara
Day 4 - Drive Nayapul. Trek Gandruk
Day 5 - Trek Chhomrong
Day 6 - Trek Bamboo
Day 7 - Trek Himalaya Hotel
Day 8 - Trek Deurali
Day 9 - Trek Machhapuchare Base Camp
Day 10 - Trek Annapurna Base Camp
Day 11 - Trek Bamboo
Day 12 - Trek Jhinu Hot Springs
Day 13 - Trek Tadapani
Day 14 - Trek Ghorepani
Day 15 - Trek Poon Hill & Ulleri or Tikhedhungga
Day 16 - Trek Naya Pul. Drive Pokhara
Day 17 - Fly Kathmandu
Day 18 - Depart

Chitwan Extension
Day 16 - Drive Pokhara + Chitwan. Afternoon Wildlife Safari
Day 17 - Chitwan Wildlife Safari
Day 18 - Chitwan Wildlife Safari
Day 19 - Chitwan Morning Wildlife Safari. Fly Kathmandu
Day 20 - Depart

Chitwan National Park Wildlife Safari & Tharu Villages

NOTE
See our Nepal & Kathmandu Modules | Customize Your Trip! to put together the perfect journey in Nepal!

Highlights+Reviews

Trip Advisor Reviews

Client Comments
Kim and her colleages at Khumbu Adventures arranged a solo trek for me at very short notice in November 2013 - and did it even whilst most of them were leading another trek in Mustang! They made the complex easy. From a wonderful guide to helping me arrange evacuation when I got sick, I was always in knowledeable, kind, efficient hands. I recommend Kamzang Journeys without reservation and I'll be using them when I return to Nepal in September 2014!
- Nick A (UK), Private Everest Trek 2013

Tsering Sherpa is marvelous, extremely responsible, serious, devoted, very thoughtful, discreet and very pleasant to trek with. He is very helpful, well travelled, speaks good English, is well-mannered and has a good experience as a mountaineer and a climber.  He is very powerful, strong and quick, and smiles a lot! He seems to know everybody on the trail, is active in his community and is respected by other Sherpas. On trek he was a good counsellor on food, and of course respectful of tradition and of the Tibetan Buddhist faith. With him we felt very secure as he knows the trail and all the short cuts.
- Nan & Odette (France), Private Everest Base Camp Trek 2014

Viney was my private guide to trek to Everest base camp in October 2013.  I felt very secure with him the entire time.  He was always attentive to my wellbeing from the time we started in x (kim pls fill in) where we ended up slogging through rainfall and mud due to the cyclone left over from India, all the way through to the end of our trip in Lukla.  I could count on him without a doubt every day of the entire 3 weeks we spent together.  Thanks to Viney for an excellent trek!
- Lori C (USA), Private Everest High Passes Trek 2014

Last May I spent almost three weeks hiking with Mingma in the Khumbu region of Nepal and we explored the Gokyo lakes, Gokyo valley and we climbed Gokyo Ri. Mingma is an experienced mountain-guide, knows all the summits in the region, the Sherpas and routes.  He is responsive of the challenges, strong and kind, but he is very calm in case of difficult situations. While we walked together, he was attentive and he always tried to accommodate my phyisical condition and my spiritual eagerness. We spent wonderful time together and I immensely enjoyed every moment of the trek. I am planning to walk with him again in 2015!
 - Kati K (Hungary), Private Gokyo Lakes Trek 2014

Tashi was the perfect guide for me. I was going solo, and looking mostly for solitude; Tashi's temperament was the perfect match for mine. When he had something to say, it seemed eerily to come right when I was about to ask him a question about the very thing he started to speak about! He has a real passion for the natural world he lives in and for the Sherpa people and their traditions, too. I ended up falling ill with something and here again Tashi was the perfect guide - helpful but not smothering or overly-solicitous. I will be back, and with my family and I'm certain to request that Tashi accompanies us when we return.
- Nick A-H (UK), Private Everest Base Camp Trek 2013

Thanks for looking after my friends Ian & Adam so well! They were really pleased and very impressed with the arrangements made by Kamzang Journeys and particularly pleased with the guide, Karma, who did a wonderful job of looking after them on their trek. Everything went to their satisfaction and it exceeded their expectations. He's now got a taste of Nepal and thinking about doing another trek there sometime!
 - Viv D, friend of Paul & Patrick, Private Annapurna Peaks & Villages, Helambu Trek 2014

I have traveled the world and I have never been as cared for as I was in my trek in Nepal.  Karma was beyond attentive and professional. He has become family. The very best of Nepal and mankind can be found in this young man.
 - Dave M, Annapurna Peaks & Villages 2013

Read More Testimonials
Travelers' Comments

Trip Highlights

  • Annapurna & Machapuchare Base Camps
  • Annapurna Sanctuary
  • Spectacular Annapurna Himalaya panoramas: Annapurna I (8091m), Annapurna South (7219m), Machhapuchare (6993m) & Hiunchuli (6441m)
  • Gandruk (Gurung) & Magar villages
  • Expansive Himalayan sunrise views from Poon Hill
  • Diverse scenery and cultures
  • 3 Price Options: Kathmandu Guest House, Kantipur Temple House or Dwarika's in Kathmandu
  • 3 Price Options: Sacred Valley Inn, Barahi Hotel, Temple Tree Resort in Pokhara

Photo Gallery | Trip + Trek Photos
Kim Bannister Photography

Himalayan Photos
Wildlife
Himalayan Wildlife Photos

Birdlife
Himalayan Bird Photos

Flowers
Himalayan Flowers Photos

Travel Reading
Travel Books

Date+Price

Dates
Custom Departures
18 days

+ Chitwan Wildlife Safari (20 days)

Trek Price
$2680

+ Hotel Single Supplement - $200
+ Chitwan Extension - $550

Chitwan Options
Chitwan National Park Wildlife Safari & Tharu Villages

Other Options
+ Super Deluxe Room Dwarika's (+$1050 Single +$600 Double Per Person)
+ Upgrade Temple Tree Resort + Spa in Pokhara (+$95 Single +$65 Double Per Person)
+ Extra Trek Day Gandruk (+105)
+ Extra Day Chitwan (+$125 Single +$100 Double Per Person)
+ Paragliding in Pokhara (+Inquire)
+ Everest Sightseeing Flight (including transport to + from airport) (+$250 PP)
+ Extension Shivapuri Heights Cottage (+$75 - $150 depending on room + season Per Room)
+ Cycling Trip in Kathmandu Valley (+Inquire)

Includes

  • Kathmandu Guest House (OPTIONS: Kantipur Temple House or Dwarika's Heritage Hotel) in Kathmandu
  • Lake View Hotel (OPTIONS: Barahi Hotel or Temple Tree Resort) in Pokhara
  • Domestic flights
  • Departure tax
  • Airport pick-ups & drops
  • ACAP permit
  • TIMS card
  • Private car to Chitwan
  • Kamzang Lodge Trekking: All meals from lodge menu, herbal teas and French press coffee, double rooms at lodges, small medical kit, porters & Nepali guide

Excludes

  • International flights
  • Travel or travel medical insurance
  • Nepal visa
  • Helicopter rescue cost
  • Meals in Kathmandu (while not on trek)
  • Equipment rental
  • Alcohol & soft drinks
  • Showers & hot water bottles
  • Laundry
  • Tipping & other items of a personal nature

Tips & Extra Cash
Allow approx $200 for meals (while not on trek), shopping & drinks (on trek). We recommend $150 per trekker thrown into the tips pool for the crew.

Contact+Details

Trekker's Comments
Travel Books

Kamzang Journeys Contact
Kim Bannister
kim@kamzang.com
Mobile: +(977) 9803414745
On-Trek Satellite Phone: +88216 21277980 (Nepal)
On-Trek Satellite Phone: +88216 21274092 (Tibet & India)

Kathmandu Contact
Khumbu Adventures
hiking.guide@gmail.com
Lhakpa Dorji Sherpa Mobile: +(977) 9841 235461, 9813 371542
Doma Sherpa Mobile: +(977) 9841 510833, 9803 675361

Follow Us on Facebook
Kamzang Journeys Facebook

Arrival Hotels
Kathmandu Guest House
Kantipur Temple House
Shangri La
Yak & Yeti

Dwarika's

Kathmandu Guest House Single or Double Upgrades | 2 Nights
Garden Single - $50
Deluxe Single or Double - $200

Kathmandu Guest House Single or Double Upgrades | 3 Nights
Garden Single - $75
Deluxe Single or Double - $300

Kathmandu Guest House Single Upgrades | 4 Nights
Garden Single - $150
Deluxe Single - $425

Kathmandu Guest House Extra Nights
Includes breakfast + 25% taxes
Book with Kamzang Journeys + save on room rates

Kathmandu Guest House | Room Prices
Standard Single - $80
Standard Double - $100
Garden Single - $120
Garden Double - $140
Deluxe Single - $200
Deluxe Double - $220

Kamzang Journeys | Room Prices
Standard Single - $55
Standard Double - $75
Garden Single - $80
Garden Double - $100
Deluxe Single - $160
Deluxe Double - $180

Extra Days in Kathmandu | Customize your Journey!
We have plenty of great suggestions for extra days, or weeks, in Nepal! See our Nepal & Kathmandu Modules | Customize Your Trip! to put together the perfect journey.

Mountain biking, rafting, vespa tours or yoga retreats around the Kathmandu valley or Pokhara, trips to Bhaktapur or Patan (Kathmandu Valley's other historic capital cities), a visit to the Newari temple of Changu Narayan and a night at the Fort Hotel in Nagarkot for sublime Himalayan panoramas, an Everest sightseeing flight, a luxurious stay at Temple Tree Resort & Spa, paragliding, hiking or zip-lining in Pokhara, a spa & wellness getaway at Dwarikas Resort in Dhulikhel, a relaxing excursion to Chitwan National Park Wildlife Safari & Tharu Villages (staying at Maruni Sanctuary Lodge) or Bardia National Park, a weekend of adventure, sauna and pampering at The Last Resort or five-star treatment in historic Dwarika's in Kathmandu.

Kamzang Journeys can customize any of these excursions for you, just inquire!

Kathmandu
Kathmandu Happenings

Photo Gallery | Trip + Trek Photos
Kim Bannister Photography

Visas
You can get your Nepal visa either at the airport (or any land border) when you arrive in Nepal, or before you leave home.
Nepal Visa

Health Information
Nepal Health Information
CDC

We also recommend bringing probiotics with you to help prevent infections while on trek. Doctor's recommendation!

Travel Medical Insurance
Required for your own safely. We carry a copy of your insurance with all contact, personal and policy information with us on the trek and our office in Kathmandu keeps a copy. Note that we almost always trek over 4000 meters (13,000+ feet) and that we don't do any technical climbing with ropes, ice axes or crampons.

Global Rescue
We recommend that our trekkers also sign up for Global Rescue, which is rescue services only, as a supplement to your travel medical insurance.
Book package through Wicis-Sports via Carlota Fenes (carlota@wicis-media.com)

Wicis-Sports Wearable Tech | Sports Package
Live personal heath stats via a wearable chest strap heart rate monitor.
Track your vitals (heart rate, temperature, oxygen saturation), the weather, GPS locations, altitude, speed, bearing and stream LIVE via a Thuraya satellite hot spot. Partners: OCENS (weather), Global Rescue, Aspect Solar.

"Thuraya Telecom + WiCis Sports offer connectivity to Himalayan treks + expeditions"

"Founded in 2011 by Harvard and Stanford anesthesiologist Dr. Leo Montejo and located in the Lake Tahoe area, the company’s goal is to promote the use of mHealth and tracking devices to make adventure sports safer and engage their followers with real time data that is either private or also available to social medial platforms."

Book package through Wicis-Sports via Carlota Fenes (carlota@wicis-media.com)

Medical
Please bring a supply of all personal medications, have a doctor's check-up before leaving home, and inform us of any medical issues. This is for YOUR OWN safety. DO bring all prescription medications and good rehydration/electrolytes. We advise bringing your own Diamox, Ciprofloxin, Azithromyacin & Augmentin. Your guide will also have a basic medical kit with him with Indian-made drugs.

Notes on Itinerary
Although we try to follow the itinerary below, it is ONLY a guideline based on years of experience trekking in the Himalaya. At times local trail, river or weather conditions may make a deviation necessary; rivers may be impassible, snow blocks passes, and landslides wipe out trails. The trekking itinerary and campsites may also vary slightly depending on the group's acclimatization rate or sickness.

The Himalaya are our passion, and we take trekking seriously. Although everyone is here on vacation, please come with a dollop of patience and compassion added to your sense of adventure ...

Arrival Kathmandu

Arrival
You will be met at the airport by your hotel representative or our Kamzang Journeys driver. Look for a sign with your name on it AND the Kathmandu Guest House sign. You will be driven to the Kathmandu Guest House (or the hotel of your choice) where your rooms have been booked for you. Someone from Khumbu Adventures, or Kim if she is in Kathamandu, will meet you at the Kathmandu Guest House to go over details and get you settled into Kathmandu.

Arrival Hotels
Kathmandu Guest House
Kantipur Temple House
Shangri La
Yak & Yeti

Dwarika's

Visas
You can get your Nepal visa either at the airport (or any land border) when you arrive in Nepal, or before you leave home.
Nepal Visa

Temperatures + Clothing
Kathmandu during trekking season, in the spring and autumn, is usually warm (t-shirt, sandals, light pants or skirts) during the day, and gets chilly (light fleece or windproof top) in the afternoon. Nights can be cold enough for a sweater or light jacket, or warm enough for t-shirts. Summer is hotter and wetter; you’ll need a rain jacket and umbrella. The winter months (November – March) are chilly in the mornings and evenings, cold enough that you might start the day in a down jacket, but often warms up enough to wear a t-shirt by mid-day. Nights get cold enough for a down jacket if you’re sitting outside in the spring and autumn, and much colder in the winter when you won’t leave the hotel without your down jacket. It never snows in Kathmandu, leave your snow boots behind. Keens or lightweight sandals great for wandering around Kathmandu, and for trekking in lower altitudes.

Trekking is a mixed bag of temperatures. LAYERS are the key as hot can change quickly to freezing crossing the passes and snowfalls are common. We often have some rain below 3000 meters in the spring and early autumn, and it can rain hard in the summer. Have a wide range of layer-able trekking clothes for summer to winter temperatures. Keep a lightweight down jacket or synthetic jacket with you at all times, available inexpensively in Kathmandu. A lightweight rain poncho and umbrella for trekking recommended spring and summer. Be prepared! See our GEAR LIST for full details on gear, shoes, clothing, electronics and meds for the trek.

There are lots of real gear shops (North Face, Mountain Hardwear, Marmot, Sherpa Gear) and of course many fake ones in Kathmandu, so if you don't think you have the right gear starting the trip it will be easy to pick-up stuff once in Kathmandu. We have sleeping bags, duffel bags down jackets to rent.

Dress conservatively in Kathmandu and on the trail as a rule. Shorts are okay if they aren't too short, mini skirts aren’t recommended. Sleeveless t-shirts are absolutely fine, but perhaps avoid tank-tops on the trail. Super tight doesn't go over so well with the village elders. Many of the younger generation in Nepal wear modern Indian or Western-influenced clothes, but remember that you haven't signed up for a beach or surf vacation. Use your good judgment, be an ambassador for western tourists! Please ask Kim or your guide if unsure about appropriate clothing.

Duffel Bags
We have North Face style duffel bags with Kamzang Journeys logos for sale (XL, orange). They are (mostly) waterproof, mid to lightweight (lighter than North Face) and good quality. Price 4000 NRP ($40)

Cultural Issues
Nepalis are very open and welcoming, but there are a few issues you should be aware of to make your stay in Nepal more fulfilling. Use your right hand to pass things, shake hands or do most anything. Left hands are somewhat taboo. Nepali's often place their left hand on the right forearm when passing things to others, a sign of respect. Best not to pat kids on heads, or point feet ahead of you at monasteries. Don't walk over someone's legs or feet, but put your hand down in front of you to signal them to pull their legs to the side. Take off shoes and hats when going into Buddhist monasteries and Hindu temples, don't use flashes inside monasteries or temples in general, be respectful of a puja (prayer ceremony) if attending one. You can talk, all religious are very tolerant, but be aware of your level of voice.

Nepalis don't anger quickly, so try not to raise your voice if exasperated or angry as it only will make a situation worse. Do bargain at shops, with taxis and rickshaws, but don't fleece them. They are poor and making a living, generally.

Give small donations on the streets if you choose, but try not to encourage begging too much. Be aware of who you are giving money to, and please only give small amounts. If you do want to donate to a cause, ask about our Kamzang Fund or other responsible organizations.

Pampering Yourself in Kathmandu
We’re happy to book your rooms before or after the trek (or upgrade during the trek) at other boutique or luxury hotels in Kathmandu. We recommend Dwarika’s, Shangri-La, Yak & Yeti or Hyatt. We can also direct you to wonderful spa & massage centers in Kathmandu.

Tips for Staff
We recommend at least $200 per person to go into the tip pool for the staff. Please bring Nepali Rupees (NRP) with you on the trek for the tips. It’s nice to buy the staff drinks on the last night. Or any other night that you feel like getting them a bottle of Kukure Rum!

Tips in General
Tips are always appreciated but they don’t need to be extravagant. 100 NRP to carry bags to/from your room is fine. The women who clean your room will be happy with 100-200 NRP when you leave, and 100 NRP is good for drivers to/from the airport. Round up taxi fares. A larger tip would be expected for a daytrip in a car, perhaps 500 NRP. 10% is included in most restaurant and hotel bills in Nepal, and if it’s not included it’s still expected. Check your bills, and still round up at restaurants. Feel free to give out small change to the beggars in the streets (5, 10, 20 NRP) but try not to give it out to the street kids who use it for glue to sniff.

Cash + ATMs
You’ll want some cash with you on the trek for drinks, snacks, beer, sodas, etc. There are often  chances to during the trek, and usually local crafts to buy en route. (You’ll want your tip money in NRP as well). There are ATMs in KTM but they don’t dispense large amounts of cash (usually 10-20,000 NRP) so you’ll be best with currency or TCs to change.

International Medical Center Kathmandu
CIWEC

Kathmandu + Kathmandu Valley Information
Our personalized 'Insider' list of things to do, places to go, what to visit, the most happening restaurants + the best hotels in Kathmandu and the beautiful Kathmandu Valley.
Happenings in Kathmandu

Gear List

Gear List
This is a guideline, not a bible, for the gear you will need on the trek. Ask if you have questions!
NOTE: Your duffel bag can NOT be any larger than a North Face XL (140 Liter, 32" x 19" by 19"). ONE duffel bag only please.

20 kg (50 lbs) weight limit for treks
15 kg (33 lbs) weight limit for domestic flights (airline regulations). This includes day packs.

  • Duffel Bag
  • Day Pack (35-45 L)
  • Sleeping Bag (-20F/-30C recommended)
  • Down Jacket
  • Trekking Boots or Shoes
  • Crocs (evenings)

  • Trekking Pants (2)
  • T-Shirts (2)
  • Long-sleeve Trekking Shirts (2)
  • Trekking Jacket
  • Gortex (or light weight) Jacket & Pants
  • Fleece or Thermal Top (evenings)
  • Fleece or Thermal Bottoms (evenings)
  • Lightweight Long Underwear (to sleep in or layer under clothes)
  • Socks (4)
  • Gloves
  • Wool Hat
  • Baseball Cap or Wide-brimmed Hat
  • Camp Towel
  • Trekking Poles (optional, recommended)
  • Sunglasses (2)
  • Water Bottles | Nalgenes (2-3)
  • Bladder (optional, recommended)
  • Toiletries, Sunscreen with SPF, Lip Balm with SPF
  • Watch (with alarm)
  • Extra Batteries
  • Battery Chargers
  • Head Lamp 
(2)
  • Water Purifying Tablets, Small Water Filter or Steripen
  • Laundry Detergent (Kathmandu) or Bio-degradable Clothes Soap
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Small Solar Panel (optional, recommended for iPods, iPhones, camera batteries, Kindles)
  • Book(s)
  • Zip-Lock | Plastic Bags
  • Soft Toilet Paper | Tissues (we supply toilet paper but you will want something softer for blowing your nose)
  • Baby-Wipes | Wet-Wipes (for personal cleaning)
  • Handi-Wipes, J-Cloth or Chux (optional: easy for a quick daytime clean, fast drying)
  • Rehydration | Electrolytes
  • Snacks!
  • Personal Medical Supplies

Medical Supplies
We strongly suggest bringing Western meds with you as there are a lot of Indian fakes on the market!

Suggested: Diamox, Azithromyacin, Ciprofloxacin, Tinidazole or Flagyl & Augmentin. Bring COMPEED for covering blisters & good tasting electrolytes &/or rehydration salts (Emergen-C is a good American brand). The local versions aren’t very appealing.

We also recommend bringing strong knee & ankle supports & braces, ACE bandages for sprains & strains, Tegaderm &/or other would coverings. Duct tape is always useful. We're happy to take excess medical supplies off your hands when you leave if you won't need them and pass them on to others. We use lots of the large amount we have with us to treat locals as well as our own trekkers ...

Comments on Gear
Layers are essential for trekking. Quality is more important than quantity. It’s worth investing in some of the great, warm, lightweight gear available in all gear shops or online.

Kim's suggestions: I generally wear a trekking t-shirt, light trekking pants, a mid-weight trekking shirt, a lightweight synthetic jacket (instead of a fleece jacket) and always carry a wind & rain jacket (the same jacket, light weight). If the weather looks stormy, we're at higher altitudes, it's cold or it’s a pass day I carry a lightweight down jacket with me. I always have a pair of gloves, a wool hat, a baseball cap and extra pair of socks in my day pack. Good trekking boots are essential for passes although I mostly trek in low Merrill hiking shoes with socks. You don’t need climbing or plastic boots (for mini-crampons or micro-spikes).

Nights are chilly to cold, so a down jacket and warm sleeping bag are essentials. We recommend a DOWN bag of 0 to -20 F (-18 to -28 C). Mine is -20 F). At lower altitudes I open it and sleep under it like a quilt and up higher am toasty warm during the cold nights. Campsites near passes can get COLD. Rentals available.

Trekking poles are not required but strongly recommended, especially for going down passes which can be quite steep and are often icy. Bring gators if you tend to use them but they’re not required if you don't own a pair. Micro-spikes (mini-crampons) or YakTraks are almost always useful (or essential) for high pass crossings. It’s also good (possibly essential) to have a pair of plastic Crocs for washing and the evenings. Tevas take a long time to dry, not recommended. You can bring a pair of light sneakers or running shoes for the afternoons or easy days if you have room in your pack, or if you are used to hiking in them.

Good, polarized sunglasses are essential; please bring an extra pair if you tend to lose them! Don’t forget a sun hat or baseball cap and have plenty of sunscreen and lip balm with SPF!

Bring extra large plastic bags or stuff-sacks in case of rain. You can pack electronics in them or stash your sleeping bag and clothes. The weather is changeable in the Himalaya, so again I recommend that everyone has a strong, waterproof duffel bag.

Daypack
We recommend a 35-45 liter daypack (ask at your gear shop if you’re not sure of the capacity). Better to have it too large than too small as on pass days you’ll need to carry more warm gear. Most have internal water bladders built in, which are good for ensuring that you stay hydrated. Make sure it fits and is comfortable before purchasing!

In your daypack, you will be carrying your camera, 2 liters of water, a jacket, wind & rain pants, hat, gloves, extra socks, sunscreen, snacks, electrolytes, water purifying tablets, filter or Steripen (optional), camera, hand sanitizer, a pack-cover and often a down jacket. I slip my Crocs on the back for lunch. Lhakpa & I carry small medical kits in our daypacks.

Water
We bring MSF water filters along on the trek for fresh drinking water, ecologically the best way to get water in the Himalaya’s fragile trekking regions. Bring your own filter pump, Steripen | UV purifier or iodine/chlorine tablets for fresh water while trekking. NOTE: To be extra safe with your drinking water, you can drop one purifying tablet into your water bottle after filling with our filtered water. Make sure you wait the required amount of time before drinking, and don’t add anything with Vitamin C as this negates the iodine.

Please bring at least TWO (and better three) Nalgene, Sigg or other unbreakable plastic | metal water bottles. Camelbacks and other bladder systems are good for trekking but can leak, so as a back-up it’s best to also bring a Nalgene or other water bottle.

NOTE: We do not provide boiled water for drinking on either our tea-house | lodge or our camping treks although there is endless hot water for herbal, black or green teas, hot chocolate, hot lemon as well as Indian chai and Kashmiri tea.

Snacks
You will NEED snacks hiking at altitude, even if you’re not a snacker. People crave unusual foods at altitude!  Energy bars, ‘GU’ gels, chocolate bars, dried fruit & nuts, beef jerky (or whatever) are important to have along for long days, pre-lunch bonks and passes. Lemonade mix, Emergen-C or similar drink mixes are great to have for hot days in your water bottles, and it is ESSENTIAL to bring electrolytes with you every day. 

Rentals
We have Western down jackets to rent for $1.50 per day.  We also have good super-down sleeping bags to rent (0 to -10F) for $2.50 per day.

Duffel Bags
We have North Face-style duffels with Kamzang logos for sale, L & XL. They’re very good quality and come in Yellow (L) for $35 or Orange (XL) for $40.

Packing & Storage
It’s easiest to pack and unpack from a duffel bag, especially when the temperature drops, and easy for porters to carry. Inexpensive and decent quality duffels are available in Kathmandu. You can store extra gear in Kathmandu at the Kathmandu Guest House or your hotel's  storage room free of charge.

Shopping
Almost all gear is now available in Kathmandu, from real (North Face, Mountain Hardwear, Sherpa Gear, Marmot shops in Thamel) to inexpensive knock-offs. The real gear shops take credit cards.

Itinerary

Day 1 - Arrive Kathmandu 1340m
Welcome to Nepal! You will be met at the airport by a representative from the Kathmandu Guest House or Khumbu Adventures, so look for a sign with your name on it. Transfer to your hotel where your rooms have been booked for you.

The Kathmandu Guest House is located in the hub of Thamel, a myriad of banners, signs, music shops, bakeries, internet cafes, restaurants, bars, hotels, shops of all imaginable varieties and eccentrically clad backpackers. (Options to upgrade to Dwarika's, an oasis of calm near the airport. Relax by the pool, visit the spa and enjoy the historic and serene surroundings, dining at one of their world-class restaurants. Yak & Yeti is just off Durbar Marg, a tree-lined, upscale road of shops and hotels. Shangri La is in Lazimpat, just a few kilometers outside Thamel and features a lovely garden and outdoors cafe. The Hyatt Regency is a beautiful 5-star hotel near Boudhanath, with a large pool, wonderful sculptures in the lobby, and a real luxury feel).

Please give your guide a copy of your travel medical insurance, your passport and your Nepali visa and one (or more) visa-sized photo for your trekking permits. Enjoy your first evening in Nepal, there are many restaurants in and around the hotels, and drink plenty of water to rehydrate after the flight.

Day 2 - Kathmandu
Enjoy a free day to explore Kathmandu's many World Heritage sites, to decompress at your hotel or the spa, to head out shopping or to embark on a tour of the Kathmandu and the beautiful Kathmandu valley, surrounded by Himalayan snow-peaks.

Kathmandu | World Heritage Sites (Optional Tour)
Kathmandu is filled with World Heritage sites and sacred destinations, crowded with traditional neighborhoods and colorful festivals. Spend a few days exploring Nepal's exotic capital and the history-laden Kathmandu valley. We can arrange sightseeing guide, vehicles and guides as required. See Kathmandu Heritage + Happeningsfor more details.

We recommend beginning with Pashupatinath in the early morning, and moving on to Boudhanath mid-morning. Hindu Pashupatinath on the sacred Bagmati river and its sacred temple complex is one of Nepal's most important sites, a powerful cremation site and Nepal's most important Hindu temple. Here, monkeys run up and down the steps of the burning ghats, and trident-bearing saddhus draped in burnt-orange and saffron sit serenely meditating, when they’re not posing for photos-for-rupees. Local guides can explain the significance of the complicated ceremonies. Please be respectful when taking photos.

Boudhanath, in the midst of traditional monasteries (gompas) and hung with long strings of multi-colored prayer flags, attracts Sherpas, Tibetans and tourists alike for daily circumambulations (koras) of the iconic stupa. The striking Buddha eyes of Boudhanath Stupa watch over a lively and colorful Tibetan community and attract pilgrims from all over the Himalayan Buddhist realm. There are wonderful spots for lunch at Boudhanath (Roadhouse Cafe has wood-oven pizzas and a breathtaking view of the stupa and colorful Nepals circling it), and it's a good place to learn the technique of thanka painting and purchase a thanka (Buddhist mural). See also Bhaktapur for more options for shopping for thankas.

Wander through the many temples, pagodas, courtyards and the museum at Kathmandu Durbar Square, a timeless gathering spot and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Kathmandu Durbar Square, including the old royal palace, is Kathmandu's 'Palace Square', a showcase for the world renown artisans and craftsmen of Kathmandu and a synthesis of Hindu and Buddhist palaces, temples, stupas and statues. The Malla and Shah kings ruled over the Kathmandu Valley during the centuries of the building of the layers of this Durbar Square. Along with their opulent palaces, the square surrounds numerous courtyards and temples, all works of art with intricate and often erotic carvings. Kathmandu Durbar Square is known as Hanuman Dhoka Durbar Square, a name derived from a statue of Hanuman, the monkey devotee of Lord Ram, at the entrance of the palace. The social, religious and urban focal point of the city, Durbar Square is often the site of festivals, marriages and other ceremonies such as Teej. Some important structures are Hanuman Dhoka Palace, Kumari Ghar (Abode of the Living Goddess), Taleju Temple, built between the 12th and 18th centuries, the 17th century stone inscription set into the wall of the palace with writings in 15 languages.

In the evening (take the interesting back streets from Durbar Square) climb the many steps to the gilded Swayambhunath stupa (known as the monkey temple) which rises from the Kathmandu valley floor at 1420 meters and is one of the holiest Buddhist sites in Nepal. . Swayambunath, the 'self created’  stupa, was founded over 2000 years ago at a time when the Kathmandu valley was filled by a large lake, with a single lotus in the center. Mythology says that Manjusri, a bodhisvatti, drained the lake with one cut of his sword and the lotus flower was transformed into the stupa. From its commanding views of Kathmandu, circumambulate Swayambunath's white-washed stupa, painted with distinctive Buddha eyes, the complex a unique synthesis of Buddhism and Hinduism. Another interesting time to visit Swayambunath is in the mornings, when Nepalis visit the temple dedicated to the God of Smallpox to with colorful offerings for the goddess.

Stop to photograph reflections in Kathmandu's many pokhari's, or ponds, including the beautiful Rani Pokhari (queen's bath) near New Road, and the Naga Pokhari (pond of the snake gods of the underworld) just beyond the palace gates. The many bathing ghats, square enclosures with steps leading down to water spouts, often decorated with naga heads, are also interesting and colorful gathering spots.

Kathmandu World Heritage Sightseeing Tour | Pashupatinath, Boudhanath + Swayambunath (+$75)
Kathmandu Durbar Square Walking Tour | Durbar Square (+$50)

Day 3 - Fly Pokhara 830m
Up early for your short but scenic flight to Pokhara, 198 kilometers west of Kathmandu. You will fly high above the north-south rivers flowing down towards the Terai from the Himalaya and Tibet, over terraced villages and green hills with the Ganesh, Langtang, Manaslu and Annapurna ranges in the distance, to balmy, sub-tropical Pokhara. You'll stay either Sacred Valley Inn, Barahi Hotel or Temple Tree Resort & Spa. Enjoy the afternoon wandering the shore of Phewa Lake, drinking fresh juice, doing some shopping. Head to Moondance Cafe for dinner and drinks in the evening, an atmospheric restaurant just near the hotels.

Day 4 - Drive Nayapul. Trek Gandruk 1940m
We will drive by private vehicle for an hour or so to Nayapul, where we will check into the Annapurna Conservation National Park and start our trek. Hiking through terraced rice paddies and tropical villages with papaya and banana trees, we climb on stone steps for several hours; take advantage of the 'chautara' or stone resting spots, along the way. We pass the villages of Chimrung, Syauli Bazaar, Kimche and Chane before reaching our destination at lively Gandruk, a bustling Gurung village.

Gandruk is perhaps the largest and most prosperous village in the region, with two interesting museums, local restaurants featuring their unique Gurung cuisine and many guest houses. We stay at a lovely garden guest house and will hike up a bit along the cobbled steps for sunset views in the evening. Watch the local Gurung women weaving with their wooden looms, drying vegetables to make a spicy 'achar', sorting lentils for dal or involved in the morning's washing at the village taps. Annapurna South and Hiunchuli dominate the horizon while the views of Macchupucchre have changed so that it looks more like its translation, a fish tail. Annapurna I and Gangapurna are just visible in the distance if the weather is clear. (1 hr drive, 5-6 hrs trek)

Luxury treks will stay at the beautiful Himalayan Lodge in Gandruk.

Optional Extra Day in Gandruk
If you have time, book an extra day to explore this fascinating Gurung village, a labyrinth of narrow alleyways, white-washed, slate-roofed houses with porches and traditionally-carved windows, water-buffalos in thatched huts and open slate patios. Get up for a post breakfast walk to take some photos of the breathtaking mountain views in the morning light. In the afternoon, hike up to the Hindu temple far above the village. There is lots to keep one busy in this picturesque village, and the villagers are friendly, always ready for a laugh or a chat.

Day 5 - Trek Chhomrong 2210m
Leaving idyllic Gandruk we ascend steeply for an hour, past green, terraced rice and wheat fields, to Kimrong Danda (2655m). En route, enjoy the views of Annapurna South, Hiunchuli, Machhapurchare and Gangapurna. From here we descend steeply to the Kimrong Khola and then contour, climbing gradually, to (near) Kimrong (1860m), followed by Taulung (2180m). Soon afterwards we reach our lodge at Chhomrong, a lovely Gurung village surrounded by the Annapurna massif. (5-6 hrs)

Day 6 - Trek Bamboo 2340m
Descending on the trail out of Chhomrong, we drop down on a few thousand stone steps and cross the Chhomrong Khola on a suspension bridge before ascending again, steeply, to Sinuwa. We trek through a dense forest to Kuldihar and then follow a gentle trail to our lodge at Bamboo. (4-5 hrs)

Day 7 - Trek Himalaya Hotel 2840m
Trekking through a lovely, damp bamboo forest, we continue to ascend steadily on a more gradual trail as we head further towards the Annapurna Sanctuary. We soon reach the Himalaya Hotel where we will stay the night at a lodge for acclimitization. From here the forest opens and we are treated to spectacular views of the glacial river below us, the Himalalyan peaks surrounding us. (5-6 hrs)

Day 8 - Trek Deurali 3230m
Ascending again, we trek through a forested hillside to reach Hinku cave from where we start to ascend again to Deurali, the most scenic part of today's trek. As the forest thins, the views of the steep valley, rocky riverbed and waterfalls below us are wonderful. We stay the night at a loge in Deurali. (2 1/2 hrs)

Day 9 - Trek Machhapuchare Base Camp 3700m
Starting the morning with a gentle climb, we then ascend steeply to Bagar and continue on to Machhapuchare Base Camp. Once at the lodge at Machhapuchhre Base Camp we have earned the spectacular views of Machhapuchhre (Fish Tail Peak), Hiunchuli, Annapurna South, Annapurna I, Annapurna III, Gangapurna & Gandharvachuli. Take the afternoon to peak gaze and acclimatize for tomorrow's hike to Annapurna Base Camp. (3 1/2 hrs)

Day 10 - Trek Annapurna Base Camp 4130m
We're trekking into alpine terrain to Annapurna Base Camp, entering the magical Annapurna Sanctuary. From ABC we'll have sublime and unobstructed views of the nearly vertical Annapurna I towering over the camp, a unique view of this majestic peak! (3 hrs)

Day 11 - Trek Bamboo
Returning the same way we trekked up to Annapurna Base Camp, we have a somewhat long day trekking back down to lower altitudes and warmer climates back at Bamboo. (6-7 hrs)

Day 12 - Trek Jhinu Dhanda 1780m
Continuing back down the hill, we have another long day down to the lodge at Jhinu Dhanda and the nearby hot springs. Enjoy the lovely natural hot springs about 20 minutes from the lodge, through the woods, and enjoy a lovely Himalayan sunset over a beer back at the lodge! (5-6 hrs)

Day 13 - Trek Tadapani 2610m
A balmy start as we head for the village which translates as 'far water'. Tadapani is perched on a plateau overlooking the peaks of the Annapurna region. We descend to Baisi Kharka (kharka means 'grazing field' in Nepali, a commonly used word in the trekking world and baisi translates as 'buffalo') at 2470 meters. From here, we trek through a lovely, open forest filled with chattering langur monkeys and birds, ascending all the while; a wonderful hike. Finally at Tadapani, our highest sleeping point yet, we relax with a cup of chai in hand as the clouds swirl around us, revealing breathtaking views of Machhapuchhre soaring above us. A sublime sight; the snow peaks in front of the lodge are Annapurna South, Hiunchuli, Annapurna III, Machhapuchhre, Annapurna II, and Lamjung Himal, and much of your trek is visible in the valleys below. (4 hrs)

Day 14 - Trek to Ghorepani 2750m
We have another steep and slightly longer day of trekking today, starting with an ascent through dense, damp forests, the tree-tops swaying under the weight of the langur monkeys. There are several clearings in the forest, many of them with local tea-houses offering basic fare. Soon we reach Banthanti (2650m), a hamlet of small thatched dwellings, buffalos and tea-houses. Crossing the small stream at the end of the settlement, our steep climb begins. Again, there are many chautaras en route, so take advantage of these to drink some water, have a rest and admire the views. The trail can be slippery if its muddy, so watch your step as you climb. Higher up, the trail crosses several small streams and by small huts until we finally reach the small settlement of Deurali (3050m), where Tibetans own the souvenir stalls. Finally, we have a well-deserved descent through a forest of birch, bamboo and rhododendron; about two kilometers more, contouring around green hillsides, and we reach Ghorepani, our destination for the day.

Ghorepani, which means 'horse water', is a busy trekking village with a real Himalayan ambiance. We'll get a room in the newer, upper section of the village and have a wander around town in the afternoon. There are bookshops and lots of local (or Kathmandu-made) souvenirs to buy, plenty to keep you busy for a few hours. Don't miss the sublime alpenglow on the Himalayan peaks in the evening, especially as at sunrise from Poon Hill in the morning the sun is behind many of the peaks. (5-6 hrs)

Day 15 - Trek to Poon Hill 3210m. Trek to Ulleri 2070m or Tikhedhungga 1540m
We'll be up before sunrise for the spectacular panorama from Poon Hill, an hour's steep climb above Ghorepani. It's a popular spot, so we'll share the views with other trekkers and their Nepali guides. Make sure your camera has enough batteries, this is a once-in-a-lifetime Himalayan view dominated by Annapurna South (7219m), Annapurna I (8091m), Machhapuchhre (6993m), Hiunchuli (6441m) and Lamjung Himal (6931m) as well as the Ganesh Himal range, Dhaulagiri (8167m), Niligiri and Tukuche Peak (6920m). Don't leave the viewpoint to quickly as the mountains emerge into the deep blues of the morning sky later in the morning. Perhaps bring a pastry from one of the bakeries with you and relax with this breath-taking sight.

Heading down for breakfast back in Ghorepani, we'll later hike back down steep steps through a forest of rhododendron to tiny Nayathanti village, soon afterwards crossing a stream to reach the settlement of Banthanti. Now out of the forest, we hike through a bit of terraced village land to reach scenic Ulleri, where we stay at a lodge for the night. Ulleri is a Magar village with many lodges as it is a popular stop on the central Annapurna route. You may continue down the stone steps to Tikhedhungga for the night, your guide will make a decision. (2 1/2 hrs R/T Poon Hill + 2 hrs)

Day 16 - Trek Naya Pul. Drive Pokhara
Our last day of trekking, and another steep descent down slate steps to Tirkhedunga (1540m), with beautiful vistas the entire way. Continuing down the contouring stone steps, we pass the villages of Hille and Sudame, and then Matathanti before finally reaching Birethanti (1020m), at the confluence of the Modi Khola and the Bhurungdi Khola, where we will check out of the Annapurna Conservation Area. Less than half an hour away along a dirt-road is the bridge at Naya Pul ('new bridge' in Nepali), where we'll meet our private vehicle to take us back to the hotel in Pokhara. (3-4 hrs trek, 1 hr drive)

Day 17 - Fly Kathmandu
After the bountiful buffet breakfast we board our morning flight to Kathmandu. We have the afternoon for shopping, some sun in the garden of the guest house, shopping, cafe-ing or perhaps a visit to Boudhanath for some 'koras' to give thanks for our safe journey back from the mountains. This is also the extra day in case of cancelled flights out of Pokhara.

Kathmandu | Optional Sightseeing Tour Bhaktapur
One more day in Kathmandu, with a sightseeing excursion by private vehicle to Bhaktapur. Bhaktapur which translates as 'Place of Devotees’ and is also known as Bhadgaon, is an ancient Newar city approximately 15 kilometers east of the Kathmandu Valley. Bhaktapur is one of three ancient capitals of the Kathmandu valley, the capital of the Newar Kingdom and a city of artisans and craftspeople famous for its art and architecture: intricate carvings, sculptures, paintings, thankas, pottery, statues and temples, or pagodas. Bhaktapur has a well-preserved ‘durbar square’, or palace square, and has been named a World Heritage site by UNESCO because of its incredible temples, pagodas, wood carvings, stone carvings and metalwork. Bhaktapur is also famous for its yogurt, called curd in Asia, a taste which hasn’t been duplicated anywhere.

Spend a full day exploring Bhaktapur and its rich cultural heritage, where a majority of enthnic Newaris live in traditional ways, and life seems to stand still. There are many great restaurants and cafes to rejuvenate, and it's possibly the best spot in Kathmandu for purchasing a thanka after watching the technique, as well as shopping for endless other locally produced crafts. Bhaktapur is home to countless local festivals, so if you are lucky and arrive on a festival day, enjoy the timeless and colorful events unfold.

Kathmandu World Heritage Sightseeing Tour | Bhaktapur (+$100)

Kathmandu | Optional Patan Sightseeing Tour
Visit the third of Kathmandu's ancient capitals, known as 'The City of Fine Arts', best if you have an extra day in hand as Patan is also rich in cultural heritage, has many lovely roof-top cafes for lunch and world-class museums. Some of the highlights of Patan are its Durbar Square, the Krishna Temple within the palace complex of Patan (entirely made of stone, with 21 distinctive spires), and Hiranya Varna Mahavir, or the Golden Buddha Temple.

Kathmandu World Heritage Sightseeing Tour | Patan (+$50)

Option | Everest Sightseeing Flight
An hour long extravaganza of the world's 8000 meter peaks, including airport transfers. (+$270)

Option | Extra Days at Shivapuri Heights Cottages
A wonderful get away 20 km north of Kathmandu, Shivapuri Heights Cottages are stylishly designed and personal cottages built around a 'common house', where you can breakfast overlooking the stunningly beautiful Kathmandu valley. Massages available on request. (+$)

Option | Cycling Trip in Kathmandu Valley
Many options for day trips, or extended trips, in the Kathmandu Valley. We can customize a cycling trip for you in partnership with one of our knowledgeable partners in Kathmandu. (+$)

Day 18 - Depart
We take you to the airport for your flight home. Namaste!

Extra Days in Kathmandu | Customize your Journey!
We have plenty of great suggestions for extra days, or weeks, in Nepal! See our Nepal & Kathmandu Modules | Customize Your Trip! to put together the perfect journey.

Mountain biking, rafting, vespa tours or yoga retreats around the Kathmandu valley or Pokhara, trips to Bhaktapur or Patan (Kathmandu Valley's other historic capital cities), a visit to the Newari temple of Changu Narayan and a night at the Fort Hotel in Nagarkot for sublime Himalayan panoramas, an Everest sightseeing flight, a luxurious stay at Temple Tree Resort & Spa, paragliding, hiking or zip-lining in Pokhara, a spa & wellness getaway at Dwarikas Resort in Dhulikhel, a relaxing excursion to Chitwan National Park Wildlife Safari & Tharu Villages (staying at Maruni Sanctuary Lodge) or Bardia National Park, a weekend of adventure, sauna and pampering at The Last Resort or five-star treatment in historic Dwarika's in Kathmandu.

Kamzang Journeys can customize any of these excursions for you, just inquire!

Namaste & Tashi Delek!

© Kim Bannister

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