My muscles were burning, my bag twice as heavy as it should have been, my energy so low I could barely take another step. But I was happy. In my first week in Nepal, I did the Annapurna Base Camp trek (ABC) in six days. This is very challenging. Walking all day, just one break for lunch and sleeping at night. I am a professional photographer and I was even too tired to go out at night to take pictures. That’s why I did another trek to Gosaikunda three weeks later. Today I want to share my route and some recommendations with you.
Day 1 – From Pokhara to Ghandruk via Nyapul
The first day is an easy start. Wake up early and take a taxi or bus from Pokhara to Nyapul. From there, your first destination is Ghandruk. Because you will start fresh and full of energy, the first day will be by far the easiest.
Day 2 – Ghandruk to Chomrong
To finish the trek in six days, get up early. Not only because it gives you more time to walk, but also because it’s absolutely worth it. Get up for sunrise, have breakfast and wait for the sun to light up the peaks. Then start walking. There’s no reason to wait any longer.
The second day will be challenging because you will descend and ascend twice until you reach your destination, Chomrong.
Day 3 – Chomrong to Deurali
On day three, you should walk as far as you can. You will get above 3,000 meters. You might start to experience acute mountain sickness (AMS). If you get a headache, stop and take a break.
The third day is the most flexible. But be aware that any distance you don’t walk today, you will have to do tomorrow. I would recommend you go slightly above 3,000 meters and stay there for the night, to adjust to the altitude.
We stayed in Deurali, but Himalaya Lodge an hour earlier is as good as Deurali.
Day 4 – Deurali to Machhapuchre Base Camp
The last day of ascent, but you don’t reach the peak, yet. Make it a short day, recharge your batteries and stay at Machhapuchre Base Camp (MBC). The next day will be a long day of going down. It’s also nice to be refreshed when you reach your final destination. That way you can enjoy it a lot more.
Day 5 – MBC to ABC and a long way down to Chomrong
Start early, two hours before sunrise. That way you can see the sunrise while walking to ABC.
Leave your luggage at MBC and do the last part without any weight on your shoulders. After four days of hiking, you will be thankful for this option.
After reaching ABC and enjoying the view for a bit, go back to MBC, have breakfast, take your luggage and start the long walk down to Chomrong.
We hiked 12 hours on this day, including the walk to ABC, with just a short lunch break. You will definitely be tired when you reach Chomrong. Don’t go any further because the next section is a heavy descent. Your legs should be relaxed. Even if the sun is not down yet, it’s not worth the risk.
Did I mention the endless stairs of Chomrong going up from the valley to the top where all the guest houses are located? Here they are.
Day 6 – Chomrong to Landruk via Jhinu Danda and back to Pokhara
The last day will be easy compared to the previous ones. You have plenty of time because you will only walk to Landruk. There you can take the bus back to Pokhara. You should check the bus schedule before you start your trek. Especially if you need to get out in six days.
Back in Pokhara you can congratulate yourself. You did ABC in six days. It’s quite challenging for beginners, but a good hike for intermediate hikers. It was a great experience but still, there are a few things I would do differently the next time. Here’s my advice
Take your time
Doing the Annapurna Base Camp trek in six days does not leave much room to enjoy the landscape. At least not after the second day, when you can feel your body. The next time I would recommend taking at least one if not two more days for the hike.
Be smart! Get hiking poles!
Trekking Annapurna Base Camp was my first serious multi-day mountain trek. Back in Kathmandu, the first thing I bought for my next hike was a hiking pole. You might think they won’t help, and that the only people who use them are Nordic walkers. But in the Himalayan mountains, hiking poles are a big support. They take the weight off your legs and you can use the energy of your arms. They also can save you from slipping. Take my advice: get a pair of hiking poles and thank me later.
Be smart #2 – Carry smart
Your most precious resource is your energy. So you should think about all possible ways to save it.
I am a photographer and took a lot of camera gear with me. I even carried a tripod. Because my backpack was quite heavy, I had to perform all the regular tasks with as little energy as possible. I needed my hands to be free in case I fell. Therefore I needed to be able to put my camera away and take it out without taking off my backpack or pulling it to the front. Accessing my water shouldn’t cost me any energy. When the weather changes, I should not need to take off clothes.
I have a great photography backpack for trekking. I was able to access the camera without taking off the backpack or pulling it to the front. It has a rotation system that gives me easy access to my camera. It also has a compartment for my water. I bought a water pipe to drink water without taking off the backpack.
I also had functional clothes. I didn’t need to change them. They were warm enough for the cold morning and functional enough for a day of hiking without struggling.
Would I do it again?
Not in six days, but maybe more. It was an amazing experience. It made me realize you never know your limit. Would I recommend you try it? Definitely. But it’s more fun if you have one or two days more.
Article and photos by Niklas Moller.