Annapurna Region FAQs
“Annapurna Region FAQs”, The Annapurna region is regarded as one of the most diverse trekking regions of the Himalayas and certainly, the most popular. Home to its very own eight thousander peak, it offers up some stunning mountain scenes. It offers treks from the easier Poon Hill trek to the more moderate-difficult treks like Annapurna Base camp or the three week Circuit trek which stretches into the historic Mustang region. From Annapurna Base Camp you get amazing views of the Annapurna massif. Annapurna I, III and South, Gangapurna, Gandharvachuli and Machapuchare. The region is also home to the famous Dhaulagiri peak, another over 8000m peak.
The terrain on these treks take you from dense rhododendron and oak forests through a variety of vegetation, into the world’s deepest gorge, the Kali-Gandaki and up into alpine dry glacial areas.
Which is the best month to trek in the Annapurna’s?
Because of its location, the northern area of the Annapurna region receives much less rain than most parts of the Himalaya which means that trekking can be pursued all year-round, even during the monsoon period. However, having said that no-one wants to trek in the rainy season as that is also when you are bound to find leeches in the lower reaches of the forest. Apart from that, you also don’t want to go when it is too cold, which is December through to February. That leaves October through to November and March to April, Of course that also means that the route will be busier too.
How long does it take to trek in the Annapurna’s?
The shortest trek is the Poon Hill trek which is a total 10 day tour and only 5 days of hiking. After that is Annapurna base camp trek, where the total tour is 15 days. Then there is the longer and more difficult Annapurna Circuit trek which is almost three weeks. If none of those tours suit, we can always tailor something based on your available time.
How fit do I need to be?
Although the treks are classified as a ‘treks,’ they have substantial altitude gain, especially the Circuit trek. They require physical fitness and stamina and most importantly, mental fitness. A good exercise and training program is essential and your training should include a lot of hill walking. The treks should not be undertaken lightly, after all, why spend the money if you are not willing to prepare yourself physically as well?
What type of accommodation do we use?
We make use of tea houses along the route unless you specifically want to camp. Fore treks such as the Dhaulagiri trek however, you will be camping all the way as sections are too remote to find tea houses. Rooms in the tea house will be shared with fellow trekkers unless you add on a single supplement.
What is the terrain like?
The route is very clearly marked out with wide paths in most places. The route heads up though stunning forests through small little villages. It is very hilly, and if there is a river to cross the paths will go down one side, over the river and up the other side. You will also encounter endless stairs which meander up steep hill sections. The treks go from forest to bamboo sections to arid alpine regions.
Do I need to undergo specific medical tests?
This really depends on the operator you travel through. The Park authorities do not ask for any medical information on the climbers when permits are purchased. Some operators request the clients complete a medical form, others do not. We require that all of our clients complete a medical form and based on the answers, we may request a letter from your medical practitioner. People suffering with conditions such as severe asthma e.g. should not climb. Regardless, anyone attempting the climb, or any climb for that matter, should ensure that they are medically fit, and convey any medical conditions to the operator they book with.
Trekking and the altitude?
This is one of the most often asked questions – “how will I cope with the altitude”. To be honest, this is an ‘unknown’ factor as no-one can predict how your body will cope at altitude. People, who have been to altitude many times in the past without problems, may on one climb suddenly develop problems. There are many factors that play a role. The only way to help combat this is to take all of the necessary precautions, and walk slowly, acclimatize correctly, don’t ascent too quickly and drink plenty of water.
Are there different routes in the Annapurna’s?
There are several variations.
Poon Hill trek is the shortest trek in the Annapurna region as it can be done in as little as 3 days although 4 are best. The trek starts about an hour’s drive from Pokhara in the village of Nayapul. Like the other treks you will encounter a lot of steep stairs but it takes you to the top of Poon Hill (3200m) where you get stunning views of 3 of the 10 tallest mountains in the world including Dhaulagiri I (8,167m) Annapurna I (8,091m) and Manaslu (8,156 m).
Annapurna Base Camp trek is the most popular trek in the Annapurna region offering spectacular views of Annapurna I (the 10th tallest peak in the world) and Machhapuchhre or Fish Tail – the Matterhorn of Asia. The trek is usually done in 10-11days and also includes a visit to Poon Hill.
The Annapurna Circuit is the classic trekking route which encircles the entire Annapurna Massif. The trek is anything from 15 to 20 days depending on you start and end point. It can be done at any time of year but heavy snow fall in the Thorung La during January and February can be problematic.
What gear do I need for these Annapurna treks?
There are certain essentials that are needed for most treks and these no different. The best way to draw up your list is from the base up, i.e. thermal underwear, then hands and feet (gloves, socks etc). Then boots which must be waterproof with good ankle support, trekking pants, trekking tops, short and long sleeve, and thermal jacket, outer shell jacket which likewise is windproof and water proof, hat, scarf, beanie, balaclava. Then consider sleeping, i.e. sleeping bag, etc. Accommodation along the route is in guesthouses, so a bed and mattresses are provided. Some include lovely warm duvets, others not, so a sleeping bag is required. If you are camping, then you will still need a sleeping bag but we will supply the sleeping mat.
Then, the last items to add are personal items like toiletries, camera, medicines, water bottle, backpack, camera etc. We supply a duffel bag on arrival
What if I have to turn back?
Unfortunately this is something every trekker has to consider. Anything from a stomach bug to altitude sickness can quickly stop a trekker in their tracks. If you are ill and need to turn back or even too tired to continue, a porter will walk off the mountain with you and your gear. If you require emergency evacuation, this will be contingent on your insurance cover. It is for this reason that insurance cover for this purpose is mandatory.
Do I need climbing insurance?
Yes you do. We (Best Nepal Guide) do not allow anyone to climb with us unless they have adequate travel insurance. Adequate, means you must be covered for
1) Trekking or hiking – this may sound strange, but many insurance list that as an exclusion.
2) Altitude up to 6,000 meters. Most travel insurance providers do not include this under their standard cover and often limit it to 3500m or less.
3) Sprains strains and physiotherapy – yes, many insurers exclude this, though ironically, this is what you will most likely need cover for.
4) Personal accident – this is the horrible part of insurance. Yes, you need to be covered in the case of death. We are often told by clients – “if anything happens to me, just leave me there.” It is not that simple. Bodies need to be brought home or laid to rest overseas, and this can run into thousands of dollars, creating a huge burden on family members.
Books and other resources?
Those who have trekked in the Himalayas know that the porters are the heart and soul of your trek. Without their hard work and strength we would not be able to fully experience the magnificence of Everest. IPPG aims to improve safety and health for porters working in the mountains for the trekking industry worldwide. We work to eradicate avoidable illness, injury and death. We do this by raising awareness of the issues among travel companies, guides, trek leaders, sirdars (porters foremen), and trekkers.