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Annapurna isn't just a grand massif on the Himalayan skyline - it also has a prominent place in climbing history, having been the first 8,000m peak to be scaled successfully. Maurice Herzog and Louis Lachenal can claim that particular accolade, but even if you don't plan a climbing expedition to the top of Annapurna, it is still well worth doing the Annapurna base camp trek; also known as the Annapurna Sanctuary route. In this article, we tell you why.
There are few better ways to take in the stunning Annapurna panorama than trekking through the high glacial basin, known as the Annapurna Sanctuary, on your way to the Annapurna base camp. Located 40km north of Pokhara in central Nepal, this an amazing opportunity to take in the might of the surrounding Annapurna range, including the Nilgiri and Machhapuchhre, which rise up around you.
You can actually encounter several different ecosystems in the Annapurna Sanctuary itself, from the jungle of the south slopes to the colder and drier climate of the north. You could see wildlife such as tigers and leopards on safaris in lower-lying sections, and yeti, wild goats and musk deer up higher. Nepal's native people have their own religious systems and gods which co-exist with major religions, and it is known as a land of religious harmony. You can encounter many of the friendly Nepalese people as you travel through villages along the trek route.
The trekking itself, and the socialising with people from all over the world you could meet along the way are two of the reasons why the Annapurna base camp trek is treasured. Along the route, there are a series of 'tea houses' which offer a chance to enjoy refreshments, rest and relaxation. Once you get to Annapurna base camp itself, you can bask in your achievement, and savour the amazing vistas of the surrounding mountains.
The Annapurna base camp trek is known as a relatively moderate trek which does not typically present problems such as high altitude sickness, which can be suffered on the higher peaks. Mountain sickness is considered unlikely, and there are many flat sections.
Annapurna is in an area known as a rain shadow, meaning it typically receives less rain than most other areas in Nepal. In the post-monsoon season of October to November, day time temperatures can reach 15°C, while at night time the temperature doesn't drop below freezing. From December to February, temperatures drop much colder in the day time, and well below freezing at night. From March to May, temperatures rise considerably, but at night time it is still around freezing. The monsoon season from June to September can pose the problem of torrential rain throughout the region and is not recommended as a wise time for trekking.
The best seasons for the Annapurna base camp trek are considered to be the spring (March to May) and autumn (September to December) in Nepal.
- the convenience of relatively close proximity to the capital of Nepal and its major transport hub, Kathmandu
- the chance to take in the wonderful Himalayas with a trek which isn't as demanding as more intense climbs
- access to a protected area, in the Annapurna Sanctuary, and the opportunity to see multiple ecosystems and rare species
- the possibility of meeting people from all over the world who can come to trek - you could make friends for life!
The Nepalese cannot easily be pigeonholed! They are ethnically diverse, due to migrations down the years from North Burma, Tibet, India and Yunnan. Pahari and Gurung people make up the main population of the region in which Annapurna lies. Typical professions in this rural region are based around agriculture and tourism. Nepalese people in rural areas live a simple lifestyle, and their local cuisine can be compared to Indian food, with a typical delicacy named dal bhat - a lentil soup served with rice and vegetables.
Are you enticed by the prospect of completing the Annapurna base camp trek? What are you waiting for? Start planning now for your 2019 adventure.