“We're 4 adults (3 males, 1 female, all 26-28 YO in good physical condition, moderate trekking experience) who were very interested in an Annapurna base camp trek (and staying at teahouses along the route)! We would be planning to arrive in Kathmandu the evening of March 4th and to fly out the evening of March 13th. We would love any help or expertise in planning an appropriate trek!
One important aspect on our end is having a satellite phone or way to contact emergency services in case of a medical emergency.
Thank you so much for your help, please let us know if there is anything additional information we can provide!”
Raj Gyawali, a local specialist from Nepal, helped this traveler put together a customized itinerary based on Manaslu Circuit Trek: The Ultimate Off-The-Beaten-Path Trek in Nepal - 18 Days.
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Trip planning conversation
I shared it with the other members of my group and, from reading about it at least, I think we're most interested in an Annapurna Base Camp trek (including hot springs stop ideally). Would we have enough time for an abridged version of that given our trip duration? If we are arriving in Kathmandu on the evening of the 4th, how long should we expect to spend there (to get permits, etc) before being able to get started?
Sounds great. We can take care of your Annapurna Base Camp trek. (i did this trek in 1993, have great memories).
Thank you so much, that's very helpful! I will pass it on to the group. How much would it cost to plan the trip with the insider and then potentially book the trip? They're going to want to know that as well.
We offer the trip plan for free at the moment since we are a new company. The trip cost itself, if you decide to book with us, will be a competitive price for the quality you are getting with us.
Thank you so much for explaining, that's very helpful. I'll trust your judgement on the local insiders - all of them sound great!
This is Raj, one of the 'insider's taking over from Nepal. Let me answer in points, making things easier.
1. Once you land in Kathmandu, you can only go the next day to Pokhara, quickest by the 25 minute flight.
2. If you took an early flight, you could technically start your trek on the same day.
3. The permits can be done prior to you coming in, should you send in passport details and a passport type photo (you are allowed to smile on this one) we could print out.
4. From there on, the Jhinu route (the hot springs you want to go to) can be done fastest on a eight - nine day trail - Pokhara to Pokhara - but this involves harder walking on the way back. We do not recommend a fast ascent at all, specially as you cross the high altitude areas from Chhomrong on.
5. The ideal time for ABC would be 11 days, as this will allow for us to include the famous Poon Hill on the way up, and the hotsprings (ideal this way) on the way down.
6. If you missed Pokhara on your trip in the region, it would be a real shame, considering it is a perfect reward after the trek.
7. You could fly out from Kathmandu on the same day you fly from Pokhara back only if you have an evening flight - even then it is not recommended due to potential cancellations of flight or delays... I would recommend another night halt on Kathmandu (and a fantastic farewell meal)
So really, to do ABC you need more than 10 days (considering flying in and flying out).
Having said that, there are people who do it faster, but we do not recommend that you just run up and down - you do want to enjoy the mountains!
With your time constraints, you might be better off doing the seven day Pokhara to Pokhara Jomsom Muktinath Trail in the middle of the Annapurna Circuit. It is easier, though it involves an additional flight from Pokhara into Jomsom, and goes back through the deepest gorge in the world, in between two 8000+meter peaks, and is over six kilometers deep...
This we could squeeze into the ten days, though again ideally you would want to enjoy Pokhara and Kathmandu just a bit!
Thank you so much, this is extremely helpful. I'm currently discussing everything you said with the group. While we would absolutely love to be able to enjoy everything (Kathmandu, Pokhara, an ideal time on ABC), given our time constraints it sounds like we'll have to make some sacrifices. ABC would be the most important among to us. We're happy to walk harder on the way back, and will likely have to miss out on Poon Hill. Very much a bummer but unfortunately might be the only way we can make this work. If necessary, we would also be open to potentially hiring a private vehicle or such at the end to save time.
We are very much open to you judgement and expertise on whether this is possible and what would be the best way to make it happen. From our prior research looking into it, would a trek something along the lines below be reasonable or possible? We would love any input or guidance you might have on what would be best.
March 4th - Arrive in Kathmandu
March 5th - Fly to Pokhara and start trek to Tolka
March 6th - Tolka to Chhomrong
March 7th - Chhomrong to Dovan
March 8th - Dovan to MBC
March 9th - MBC to ABC to Dovan
March 10th - Dovan to Chhomrong
March 11th - Chhomrong to Jhinu and continue down (potentially to Birethanti and Nayapul)
March 12th - Pokhara
March 13th - Fly to Kathmandu and take evening flight (9pm) from Kathmandu
It's doable... Here is the link to the suggested itinerary and costs. I took the liberty of adding budget hotels and transport as that is what you requested.
Summarizing it, the total cost is USD 1038 per person and includes
permits, 1 guide, 2 porters, all accommodation, crew insurance, permits to trek, airfare Kathmandu - Pokhara - Kathmandu, all meals on trek and ground transport (all private)
Feel free to ask me any questions.
I look forward to seeing you in Kathmandu soon.
Forgot to add one thing... The SAT PHONE...
We can organise a rental for a SAT PHONE at USD 10 or so per day, right here in Kathmandu. It will have some credit, but if you use it, you need to refill it again...
I personally think that it is unecessary to take a SatPhone to this trek, as most of the areas has mobile network access, and our crew will have local phones. But if you really need it, will organise it and keep it ready for rental.
Thank you so much for the proposal and helpful summary! I will forward to the group and get back to you. Quick question - would it be significantly cheaper without a guide/porters? We had been considering doing it on our own to begin with to cut costs (we're all students) but would looking for help primarily for the logistics (permit, phone, booking teahouses, etc).
Significantly it will not be, but cheaper by a bit for sure. Most of the trek areas, one can go on your own. We recommend a guide for two reasons - 1. To liaise between you and the culture, and give you a far better experience than when you go along, and 2. God Forbid, if something untoward happens, they really know what to do, and you would be horribly lost - Does this make them worth it... totally!
The porters are also there for the same reason actually, plus its a great way to give a local some employment. You share them one between two trekkers, so the costs is not really that significant. Plus they ensure that all you have to do is to think to put one foot in front of the other. And believe me, in the mountains, you feel every gram on your back! :-)
Anyways, its your call! I can always re-cost minus the crew. If we do not do crew on the trek, we will also not budget for accommodation, food and permits, which you would then do on your own along the way. Not an issue, can be done too if you want. We can still do all transport logistics of course. This will bring down the costs now significantly, but you will of course still spend up in the mountains, lesser than the costs deducted for sure, but cannot be sure by how much.
Hope that helps in the decision making!
Great. In altitudes close to 4000 meters, temperature variations due to cloud cover or a little rain can be very drastic, so I would always take the best sleeping bag I have. As to clothing, layers layers layers... day time is hot, specially when the sun is out, and you are in your teeshirts and shorts ... nightime in layers topped by a down jacket. Always a good idea... Warmers inside the homestays and lodges of course, mostly if you stay near the kitchen... no central heating of course... so the bedrooms will still be chilly!