Day 6: A.B.C. to Sinuwa
Hike time: 7.5hrs
5:30am. Porters banging on doors to awaken clients. No need for alarm clocks with all the commotion. Trekkers groggily arise and amble over the frosted trail to the lookout behind the lodges where the sun, cresting over Annapurna II and IV in the east, starts to shine on the tip of their eldest sibling.
We warmed our numb hands, snapped our last shots, and headed back to M.B.C. Only stopping occasionally to look back, we were thankful for the final glances before the fullness of the peaks was out of view.
Making it to Sinuwa was a haul. It’s a drop of nearly 6,000ft, and our knees kept track of every one. But back at free-shower elevation, we washed the day away and relaxed at the Sherpa Guest House.
Day 7: Sinuwa to Tadapani
Hike time: 5.75hrs
We climbed back up to Chomrong and cut over to a new leg of trail leading to Tadapani. In standard Nepali fashion, the trail isn’t clearly marked, so keep your eyes open. On the Chomrong stairs there’s a sign for Jhinu — cut right. Ask to make sure.
From there we traversed along the hillside, scrambling over gaps in the trail washed down to the river hundreds of feet below. After crossing the Khomrong Kola, it’s a grueling 2.5hrs uphill through farms and finally jungle on a muddy, boot-caking trail.
There’s one oasis along this uphill route: Chule, a big lodge with a garden and grass lawn like a football pitch.
Tadapani, by contrast, wasn’t our favorite spot. Sprinkled with lodges and vendors, it lacked the peace we were used to. We stayed at the Himalaya Guest House, but Super View or the lodge on your right when you first step off the trail might be better.
Day 8: Tadapani to Ulleri
Hike time: 6.5 hrs
A beautiful section of trail, the hike to Ghorepani hugs a creek for the first few hours, then ascends through a forest to Duerali Pass (10,135ft). From there, we walked through clouds on top of a ridgeline until the drop into town.
We’d planned to stay overnight here, get up early for the Poon Hill pilgrimage — sunrise views over both the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri ranges — but the clouds had returned. Because of that, plus the influx of peak-season crowds and the fact that we’d already high-fived the Annapurna range, we skipped the Ghorepani stay.
But not before lunching at Sunny Hotel, which was hard to leave. The Swiss-like lodge has a central furnace that heats every guestroom, and their apple pie is legit.
After Ghorepani, there’s only one trail that leads to and from Nayapul, out of the conservation area. There was a descent of 3,000+ stone steps to our last night’s stay in Ulleri, at the Hilltop Hotel.
Day 9: Ulleri to Nayapul and back to Pokhara
Hike time: 6 hrs
The last bit of trail brought us to Nayapul, where we were shocked to remember how dirty civilization is. Out of nature and back in Nepal.
Hiking up to the road, we were met by a fleet of public buses and cabs awaiting finished trekkers and dropping new ones off. A cab back to Pokhara took 1hr and cost 1500Rs($20).
I’ve never been so ready for a warm shower and a cold beer. That’s a lie. I feel like that every time I finish a multi-day trek, but this one was extra special given how far we were from home.
Do I need a guide/porter?
It’s not necessary and easy to do without. We went alone and were happy with the decision.
One thing to consider, though, is they say a porter can feed his family for 3-4 months off the money earned from one good trip.
If you want a guide, interview and spend some time with him/her, because you’ll be stuck with them for 8-10 days.
Worst-case scenario, you can always hire porters through guesthouses along the trail.
You’ll need both the Annapurna Conservation Area Permit (ACAP) and the Trekker Information Management System (TIMS) card — there are checkpoints along the trail. Buy them in Pokhara or Kathmandu for ~$30 each; each also requires two passport photos.
Prices rise as you do, and they likely spike in high season, too. The average is around 150-250Rs (~$3USD) for double bed accommodations. Rooms come with bare amenities (i.e., two small beds and a little table if you’re lucky), but they’re generally clean and comfortable. There’s access to shared showers, toilets, and sinks. Showers are cold, but higher up they have gas or electric heating that you have to pay for.
This is not roughing it — you can get eggs, pancakes, or porridge for breakfast. Dahl baht is the cheapest, most filling (you get free seconds), and usually best-tasting option for lunch and dinner. You can also get egg-fried noodles with veggies or other carb-heavy dishes. The more you hike the more you eat, and prices get higher with increased elevation, so plan to spend most of your trail allowance on food.
Save the plastic waste and a bunch of money and bring a Steripen to purify your own drinking water. You can also fill up with boiled water at guesthouses for 40-80Rs. The higher you go, the more expensive.
There are small medical clinics spread along the route, with a larger one in Chomrong, but the care is geared toward villagers vs. trekkers.
- I pass on grass, but it’s fairly prevalent along the trek. Plants are grown in village gardens. Locals and trekkers are occasionally spotted smoking.It’s not legal in Nepal, so beware, but the only authorities we saw were at the few ACAP and TIMS checkpoints.
- You’ll encounter kids begging for chocolate and money, and we had an older man ask us for money to move his yaks out of the middle of the trail.Don’t support begging. It’s discouraged by ACAP.
- On the other hand, it’s common for village schools to raise money along the trail.Donation boxes are typically manned by someone who has you fill out your name, origin, and donation amount.
This was the first leg of a year-long trip, so we brought the bare essentials and got by. Obviously, packing depends on the time of year.
- Sturdy waterproof boots: my partner got away with wearing Salomon gortex low tops. They worked great, but ankles and knees will definitely feel vulnerable at times.
- Zip-off pants/shorts: great for cool mornings/nights and hot days. Especially handy for women, as it’s considered offensive for females to show leg — you can just zip on the bottoms through villages if feeling uncomfortable.
- Lightweight rain jacket
- Backpack rain fly
- Sleeping bag (mat is optional)
- Long underwear top and bottom: you could go without but you’d be chilly at A.B.C. and other high-elevation camps.
- Lightweight fleece or hoody
- 2 wicking t-shirts: I had cotton and was really regretting it.
- 3 pairs of good hiking socks
- Flip flops
- Pack towel
- Beanie and ball cap
- Toilet paper
- Some nighttime reading or playing cards
- First aid kit w/ ankle wraps and tape
- Trekking poles: you can buy these on the cheap in Pokhara. Highly recommended.
For more info on this route, check out Trekking the Annapurna Sanctuary in Nepal, published previously at Trips.