Annapurna Sanctuary - Nepal
The Annapurna Sanctuary trek is ideal for those limited with time but longing for something beautiful and intense with the snow-capped peaks of the Himalaya as a back drop.
This trek journeys directly into the frozen spirit of the Annapurna Region, an exceptional amphitheatre of rock and ice on a glorious scale. The sanctuary will lead you through a hidden pocket of lowland villages, meadow and rice terraces to a gorge of rhododendron forests and icy rivers that will end in glaciers and gigantic peaks. Wherever you stand in the sanctuary, the panoramic views are indescribably stunning of the soaring Himalayas.
The trek requires 10 days and begins from Pokhara with trail rising over 3000m to a total altitude of 4130m. It is an achievable trek for most fit hill walkers, the paths are well used and easy to follow. The Gurung people use these paths for transport and trade and you will find yourself trekking through the local villages, dodging yaks and experiencing the ways of the local people and their culture.
We have been organizing trips to Nepal since 1996, which has produced a very experienced team of Sherpa Guides and porters who will assist you throughout your whole trek. The average group size is 10 and accommodation is in lodges which provide a wide range of western and Nepalese food. Our programme allows you to choose freely from an a la carte menu.
The facilities for visitors are of a high standard, as is the food. We generally offer tea house treks with overnight accommodation in comfortable lodges, but we can also provide tented trips so you can concentrate on immersing yourself in a slow and easy daily routine, with only the elements, the mountains and the quiet character of the people to accompany you.
From your first enquiry you will have experienced people to talk to in the UK office who will give you an honest appraisal of the Trek. This personal service and warm welcome will also await you in Kathmandu where Pasang Tendi Sherpa from Khari Khola, runs AA Nepal. He has made nine expeditions to Mt Everest and also guides on Aconcagua. He speaks excellent English and will be on hand all the time. He understands that this is more than trekking holiday; this is often a spiritual experience.
We are passionate about responsible tourism and every aspect of your trip, from transport and accommodation to staff policies, and how we behave on the trek will reflect this. Adventure Alternative was winner of the Responsible Tourism Award in 2009 in the Best Personal Contribution category.
We run our Annapurna treks from a permanently staffed office in Kathmandu and our dedicated team provide an excellent service. As well as Pasang, our other guides include Geljun Sherpa from Bupsa, Tsering Sherpa and Lopsang Sherpa.
All of the guides have been employed for over ten years with us, and they have been trained to our high standards personally by Director and high altitude climber Gavin Bate, who has climbed Everest 5 times. They know how to deal with medical emergencies and speak good English. They are very attentive and after so many years have a good understanding of western needs.
We give the full recommended wage and are a Responsible Partner for the International Mountain Explorers Connection. We provide clothing, food and tents for all of our staff and have proven policies for payment and tipping. This means that you are not hassled by people looking for handouts at the end of the trip, and the staff themselves are happier.
Dates and Itinerary
The Annapurna Sanctuary trek is a 10 day journey that starts and ends in Pokhara, including travel days it fits in perfectly to a two week holiday. The trek is 7 days uphill, to reach the highest points- Machhapuchhare and Annapurna Base Camp, which includes one full day of rest and acclimatization. After two days visiting both Base Camps, the descent is in three days.
You can trek the Annapurna Sanctuary from March to June, and September to November.
The start dates refer to the arrival date in Kathmandu and the end date refers to the earliest you can book your return flight home for. However you are welcome to arrive earlier or stay on at the end, and stay in our guesthouse in order to spend more time sightseeing in Kathmandu.
Private trips are welcomed and available for groups like schools or charities. We have our own office and guesthouse ready and waiting for any dates you may prefer.
The 10 day trek involves a 7 day ascent of over 3000 metres over 70 kilometres, from a starting altitude of about 800 metres. The trail follows deep into the heart of the Annapurna Range: following the Modi Khola, we trek through lush fertile farming lands, vast forests of undisturbed natural forest and a mixture of different ethnic inhabitants and beautiful mountains. It is a diverse range of experiences that makes this area one of the most satisfying trekking destinations in Nepal. It is not as high as Everest Base Camp and generally it is hot during the day (up to 20ºC) and cool in the evening (average 5ºC) with little wind and occasional rain showers in the afternoon.
This trip visits the Base Camps of two famous peaks in the region- Machhapuchhare and Annapurna, both 8000m giants of the Himalaya. Also included in this general area is another 8000m giant, Daulagiri, which is located to the west of Annapurna I. Between these two mountains runs the valley of Kaligandaki River, the deepest gorge on earth.
The trail starts through villages, climbing stone steps, and after reaching Dhampus, it soon leaves all permanent settlements behind and climbs through dense bamboo jungle. Finally, after rising above the vegetation line, the trail journeys narrowly between the lower sides of Machhapuchhre and Hiunchuli. Once past the sanctuary gate at Deorali, the trail rises continually to reach Machhapuchhre Base Camp and Annapurna Base Camp. The exposure to altitude makes the walking harder and the likelihood of altitude sickness higher, so it is necessary to allow for the rest day and walk very slowly. The terrain is never dangerous or precipitous, it is still just a walk, but requiring the usual care and caution. There is no climbing or special equipment required.
It is important to mention that occasionally flights to and from Pokhara can be cancelled or delayed because of bad weather, so it is not a good idea to book an international flight on the same day as the internal flight.
|8th September - 21st September|
|6th October - 19th October|
|3rd November - 16th November|
|2||1400m||Rest day and acclimatisation to jetlag, sightseeing plus trek briefing.|
|3||1750m||3hours walking||A sensational 45 minute flight to Pokhara gives you a chance to see some of the big mountains, like Manaslu and the Annapurna Range. Following on from the flight is a short drive to Phedi, meaning ‘bottom of the hill’ and from Phedi, the trail climbs uphill for a couple of hours, on a long flight of stone steps to the village of Dhampus.|
|4||1620m||4 hours||Beyond Dhampus, we get our first clear views of the mountains ahead, as we ascend through a forest on a trail which is often made up of steep stone steps. Passing through Pothana (1990m), we reach a clearing pass, at a place called Deorali. At this point we are high up on the east side of the Modi Khola valley, the river which flows out of the Annapurna Sanctuary and from here the trek continues to descend until we reach the picturesque Gurung settlement of Landruk, which offers spectacular views of Annapurna South and Hiunchuli.|
|5||2210m||5 hours||Continue to descend all the way to the river and cross over a suspension bridge where our route climbs quite steeply, high above the river, through bamboo forest and isolated farmsteads. The teahouses at Jhinu provide a welcome opportunity to stop for a drink and rest on this long, hot climb. We reach the crest of this particular climb at Daaulu (2180m) and Chomrong, our day’s destination lies a little further ahead. There are many picturesque chalet-style, wooden lodges at Chomrong, which look out towards the prominent Machhapuchhare.|
|6&7||2840m||5 hours||After dropping down steep stone steps to Chomrong Khola, the trail climbs again through terraced rice fields and forests of rhododendron and bamboo. We pass through Kuldi (2470m), Bamboo lodge (2310m) and Doban lodge (2540m) before reaching the Himalaya hotel. The following day will be a chance to relax and acclimatise.|
|8||700m||5 hours||From Himalayan Hotel it’s on to Hinko Cave (3100m), a fire-blackened overhang which has been walled-in to make a small lodge. The trail rises continually now, as we near Deorali, the gateway to the sanctuary. Passing the lodges at Deorali and Bagar, we arrive at Machhapuchhare Base Camp, a level and grassy moraine platform with several lodges.|
|9||4130m||2 hours||Leaving Machhapuchhare Base Camp early in the morning, the fairly gentle ascent, following the river through tranquil meadows, to Annapurna Base Camp takes about two hours and upon reaching the camp you can relax and enjoy the sensational views of the surrounding peaks; some of the best mountain views of the Annapurna region, if not the world are on view. The towering south face of Annapurna I, Annapurna III, Gangapurna, Machhapuchhare and Annapurna South seem almost within touching distance and are particularly impressive during sunset and sunrise. After exploring Base Camp and witnessing the beautiful views on offer, we return to Himalaya Hotel.|
|10&11||1940m||10 hours||Continue up the vast gravel riverbed of the Kali Gandaki, passing mule trains traveling down from Tibet to Chomrong. Overnight in Chomrong then an alternative route back to Pokhara, via Ghorepani. After an easy ascent through forests, the trail drops steeply to Khumnu where we cross the suspension bridge over Khumnu Khola. From here, we follow the trail up the valley to the beautiful village of Ghandruk, where we camp for the night.|
|12||2410m||4 hours||From Ghandruk, the trail ascends steeply through the dense rhododendron forest to Tadapani where there are excellent views of Annapurna South, Hiunchuli and Machhapuchhare. We then follow the trail gently up and down for an hour or so to Birethanti where we’ll pick up our vehicle and drive back to Pokhara.|
|13||1400m||Pokhara flight to arrive in Kathmandu in the morning. Day for rest and sightseeing.|
|14||1400m||Depart Kathmandu. If you leave in the morning it is possible to arrive in London the same day, or arrive home on day 15.|
Annapurna Sanctuary cost: £1,075.00
- Airport transfers
- Internal flights to and from Pokhara
- Accommodation in Kathmandu for 3 nights - twin/double rooms
- Accommodation in lodges/tea houses (twin rooms with beds and mattresses)
- Three meals per day during the trek, and hot drinks (e.g tea, coffee, juices)
- Annapurna Area Permit Fee’s
- Sherpa guides (English speaking, trained in first aid)
- Porters (1 per member, carries about 15kgs)
- Staff food, insurance and equipment
- International flight to Kathmandu (~£600.00)
- Meals and drinks in Kathmandu (~£40)
- Personal costs like drinks, laundry, hot showers, bottled water (~£100)
- Trip Insurance
- Tips (~£30)
- Sightseeing Tours
Cost of Add-Ons and Some Optional Extras
Spa Hotel: £60.00
Located just outside of Kathmandu is the lovely Spa Resort, Park Village. We can arrange transfers and accommodation at the resort for you. People can then select and 'pay as you go' for the various pamperings and treatments. They also offer classes in yoga and have lovely trail walks in the surrounding hills. This option is all about rest, relaxation and rejuvenation.
Chitwan Jungle Adventure: £399.00
This is a trip for those who would like a bit more excitement rather than pampering. We depart Kathmandu by coach and after a couple of hours driving we meet up with your white water rafting crew who will take you on an adventurous trip down river for many miles until you reach the Chitwan Jungle. We then spend the next four days based in a lovely jungle resort. This quaint home from home is our base for river trips in traditional dug out canoes, jungle walks and the highlight; an elephant back safari, which at the end involves jumping in the river with your elephant to give him or her a wash! After all of the jungle fun and activities we then return to Kathmandu by a short flight.
Everest Flight!: £160.00
This is a flight around Mt Everest offering spectacular views of the mountain. This flight leaves daily in the morning and can be undertaken by those who plan to depart Kathmandu for home, on an evening flight following the trek or as an addition to the next two options. The one hour flight takes off from Kathmandu Airport and flies east in a fully pressurised aircraft, where one can see magnificent mountains from a height of around 25,000 feet. A must take tour of the majestic Himalayas. It’s an hour of breathtaking scenic beauty of the Mighty Mountains. It is a sparkling clear journey across the world’s highest peaks, Mt. Everest, Kanchenjunga – 3rd highest, Lhoste, Makalu, Cho Oyu, to name just a few including the Tibetan plateau. You enjoy a seemingly endless chain of snow capped peaks as you fly above the clouds, over glaciers and lakes, rivers and gorges from your private individual window. The clear, non tinted windows offer a great opportunity to experience and photograph the aerial views of the Kathmandu valley, the high peaks and the landscapes of Nepal.
Moving Mountains Village Trek: £350.00
This is a wonderful 7 days trek extension which starts when you approach Lukla on the way back from Everest. Two days further and off the beaten trail is two villages which our charity had been developing over the last decade. You are welcome to come and see what we've been doing and get involved. This is beautiful trip, like stepping back in time and will introduce to the traditional ways and cultures of the local people.
Not all about money
Our prices are competitive and good value, and we offer quality, service, security and an ethical stance on tourism in a developing country. We don’t want to be so expensive to run fewer trips and have our staff idle, but on the other hand we believe that running cheap trips that promote the practise of skimming budgets would result in the porters getting next to nothing, which is something we cannot consider.
Additionally we plan treks with sufficient rest days and with achievable daily altitude increases which gives good time to acclimatise. Reducing the number of days may make the price cheaper but the chances of successfully completing the trek also greatly reduce.
We include professional staff and a porter for each member. We do not operate kitties and we use an excellent hotel in Kathmandu with which we have built up a strong relationship over the years.
We have our own licensed company in Kathmandu, Adventure Alternative Nepal and full time staff to operate all our treks, climbs and tours in Nepal.
You must have an insurance policy which covers trekking at high altitude and helicopter rescue in the event of an evacuation.
Emergency and Evacuation in Nepal (link)
Type of Terrain
The Annapurna Circuit is a well trodden path all the way though this can be rocky and uneven in parts. It is not precipitous and there is no rock climbing or ‘mountaineering’ which requires equipment. It is a walk all the way, although some of the hills can be steep and never-ending!
You will meet many people along the way, and also yaks. There is only one rule of the road when meeting an oncoming yak, and that is to always ensure you step to one side, towards the inside of the trail.
Poles are useful but not necessary, depending on whether you have problems with knees and if you have a personal preference for using them. Higher up, the open slopes and moraine may give you added reassurance with a pole, but again the path is quite easy to follow.
Lightweight hiking boots with a high ankle are recommended for the trek, to protect you against possibly going over on an ankle, heavy boots will be hot and heavy and cumbersome. Cross trainers are popular, but cold in the morning up high.
The total distance covered throughout an Annapurna Sanctuary trek is approximately 70km. Every day the trek starts after breakfast at about 8.30am and there are many opportunities to stop and take photos, or have a cup of tea. The pace is slow and the itinerary allows for acclimatisation and also rest days. At the start of the trek the distances are short but there are hills aplenty, and higher the distances increase but the gradient is more consistent and even.
Kathmandu is at an approximate altitude of 1400m and the flight to Pokhara will take you down to a height of 800m. With Machhapuchhare Base Camp standing at 3700m and Annapurna South Base Camp at 4130m, the sanctuary trek gains a total of 3330 metres from Pokhara and 2730 metres from Kathmandu.
Accommodation will be in comfortable lodges and tea houses run by local families, unless people specify a preference for tents. Each lodge has a central communal area with stove, while the bedrooms are unheated with two beds and mattresses and pillows. You will need to bring a sleeping bag (3 season is normally enough), and the lodge will lend you a blanket if you ask.
The lodges generally have showers which are powered by gas and they use ‘drop’ toilets (some lodges use a flush system now).
Sometimes we use tents which are two person mountain tents, and we will provide foam mattresses. The tents are pitched close by the lodge and eating is done indoors.
The trek is not a forced march and the pace is always slow, the days generally being shorter than a day hike at home.
We do recommend that you embark on a good fitness programme at least 6 weeks prior to your trip though, and one that builds up general stamina and specific leg muscle groups. There is nothing like hiking with a rucksack to train for a trek in the Himalayas, so the best advice is to get out into the hills as often as you can. You are likely to carry about 5 kilos in your day sack so this is a good weight to work with.
If you are going to be using the gym then concentrate on step machines which work on the thigh and calf muscles, and try to build your heart rate up to 50% above resting rate. Any cardiovascular activity is good, but remember that swimming will not train the correct muscle groups so it must be added to other exercises to be effective. Exercise groups like bodypump, Pilates and aerobic are all excellent preparation for a trek like this, especially those which work on core strength, balance and stability.
Adventure Alternative Support
The porters will carry your main bag up to a maximum weight of 15 kgs and cater for all the group needs, including assisting you if you need to go back down the valley. Unless specifically tenting, all accommodation is in lodges or teahouses which are very well equipped, warm and sociable.
Pasang Tendi Sherpa is our operations manager in Kathmandu and Director of Adventure Alternative Nepal. He organises all the staff, equipment, permits and hotel arrangements. You will have his telephone number, or the staff at the hotel desk can call him for you. He is the organiser, translator, problem solver, advisor and the main link between you and the UK office. He will talk to the Sherpa guides regularly on the mountain and can make arrangements while you are on trek.
You also have continued support from the main office in Northern Ireland. Should a problem arise of significant proportion then you only need to call us, there is still an opportunity to communicate since most lodges now have satellite phones.
- 80-100 Litre Duffle or Rucksack
- 35Ltr Day Pack
- Stuff sacks, waterproof, various sizes
- Warm Jacket Synthetic or Down insulated
- Waterproof jacket
- Waterproof trousers
- Trekking trousers x2 (zip off legs)
- Long sleeved trekking shirt x1
- Long sleeved base layer top x2
- Thermal Base Layer Legginngs x1
- Thin liner socks x2 (optional)
- Thick trekking socks x2
- Underwear x4
- General socks x3
- Warm Hat
- Warm gloves or mitts
- Wide brimmed Sun Hat
- Trekking boots
- Crocs/Sandals/Flip flops
- 4 season sleeping bag (comfort temperature -20C)
- Compression sack for sleeping bag
- Thermarest or thick foam sleeping mat
- Thermarest repair kit
- Walking Poles (optional)
- Head torch & spare batteries
- Watch with alarm
- 2 x 1 litre drinks bottles
- Passport & copies, insurance details, money, credit cards, plane tickets
- Wash Kit
- Antibacterial hand gel
- Wet wipes
- Trekking towel
- Personal Medical Kit (see below)
Additional Kit Info
Personal Medical Kit
Water Purification Tablets
Personal Medication as required:
eg. Anti-Malarials, Asthma Inhalers, Insulin, Epi-Pen etc
Possible Additional Personal First Aid Items
Prochlorperazine tablets (for sickness/nausea)
Ciprofloxacin tablets (general antibiotic; prescription required)
Acetazolamide tablets (altitude prophylactic; prescription required)
Note: you must check with your GP for your personal suitability to all medicines and their possible side effects and interactions. Please inform us of the details of all regular medication that you intend to use though the course of your trip and any relevant allergies and medical history related to them. You also need to check the requirements and regulations of the airline and all countries visited in relation to medications. For example; laws governing transport of some pain control medication and the need keep insulin at a suitable temperature, ie not in the cargo hold.
Kathmandu has an area called Thamel which is full of hundreds of equipment shops, each one an emporium of new, used, quality and fake equipment all very reasonably priced for rental and buying. You can buy almost anything needed for any trek.
On sale from Adventure Alternative
Adventure Alternative will soon be selling branded fleeces, duffle bags and essential items of equipment through own online shop.
- All our guides are personally trained by Gavin Bate, Company Director and high altitude climber who has made five expeditions to Mount Everest 6 times
- We offer small scale, authentic adventures, which support the local economy.
- We do not contract out our trips, we employ full time staff, offering job security and good benefits, and we are continually improving our quality service year on year.
- All the staff in our UK office have been to Nepal so you can chat to people who understand what it’s like to go up for the first time, before you go.
- We are passionate about responsible tourism and our company supports sustainable development in Nepal in a real way. (include award logo).
- Adventure Alternative underwrites the charity Moving Mountains.
- Financial security guaranteed.