For many years now the Annapurna Sanctuary route has been one of the most popular two-week treks in Nepal. It is described as a 'classic' trek and features some of the finest mountain scenery anywhere on earth. The sanctuary is a great natural amphitheatre ringed by a number of the highest and most spectacular mountains in the world. Michael Palin followed this route as part of his Himalaya television series.
Day 1 - KathmanduToday is an arrival day and no activities are planned, so you may arrive at any time. If you are arriving early in Kathmandu you may wish to wander down to Durbar Square, which is the spiritual heart of the city located only 10 minutes walk from our hotel. Please ask at the hotel reception for suggestions of things to see and do in Kathmandu. A pre-departure meeting for the first (Nepal) part of your tour takes place this evening at the hotel. Please also check the noticeboard for details of this meeting and for any other messages from your tour guide. Please also bring your passport and travel insurance documents to the meeting. Afterwards we have the opportunity to go out for an optional group dinner.
Day 2 - Pothana(Walking time: approx 3 hours) We drive by coach to Pokhara - a six hour journey. We then begin our trek by ascending through terraced hillsides to Pothana. From here we can experience a great panorama of the Annapurna mountain range that include stunning views of the 'fishtail' peak of Machhapuchhare, Annapurna South, Annapurna II and Lamjung.
Day 3 - Modi Khola(Walking time: approx 5 hours) In the morning we walk contouring though a forest of oak and rhododendron, with views of Machhapuchhare and the Annapurna mountains to the north, to reach Bichok Deurali Pass, where we take our first tea stop. We then descend into the Modi Khola Valley to the village of Landruk, where we stop to get some lunch. In the afternoon we continue our descent to the river and the imaginatively-named small settlement of New Bridge.
Day 4 - Sinuwa(Walking time: approx 5 hours) The trail ascends to the village of Chomrong, the last major settlement before entering the Annapurna Sanctuary. From this village the trail follows the Modi Khola high above the valley floor. After an initial steep descent on a stone staircase to Chomro Khola, we cross the river on a small suspension bridge and climb to the few houses and hotels at Sinuwa (2350m), where we spend the night. From here we enjoy superb views of the 'fishtail' mountain, Machhapuchhare.
Day 5 - Himalaya Lodge(Walking time: approx 6 hours) From here we enter rhododendron and oak forest and continue to ascend gradually to the clearing known as Bamboo Lodge, where we stop for lunch. In the afternoon we pass the small lodge at Doban and then a small shrine decorated with flowers and strips of red and white cloth, which are offerings to the gods for a safe passage through the Annapurna Sanctuary. The trail continues through the thick forest high above the river to a spot known as Himalaya Lodge, where we stay overnight.
Day 6-7 - Machhapuchhare Base Camp(Walking time: approx 6 hours) After two days walking through the forest we head above the tree line into a wild and glaciated valley. The trail emerges out of the forest just before Hinko Cave (3100m), a huge overhanging boulder where views of the peaks are restricted by the towering valley walls. Beyond the cave we descend to cross avalanche debris from a huge waterfall that cascades from a hanging valley above our trail before entering a maze of large boulders and our first tea stop of the day at Deorali (3250m). The trail now becomes less steep and after crossing further old avalanche debris we reach an open meadow that leads to the gateway of the Annapurna Sanctuary. In less than an hour we reach the lodges at Machhapuchhare Base Camp, arriving in time for lunch. The afternoon is free to enjoy the truly spectacular scenery of the surrounding peaks. To fully appreciate this magical location and aid acclimatization we spend an extra day at this base camp and explore around its surrounding area.
Day 8 - Annapurna Base Camp(Walking time: approx 2 hours) We head into the heart of the mountains and follow the trail ascending to Annapurna Base Camp (4095m), a walk which should take us a little less than two hours. The scenery is continuously amazing. After settling into the lodge we have the chance to take lunch and the afternoon is free to enjoy the sensational views of the surrounding peaks - some of the best mountain views of the Annapurna region, if not the world. The towering south face of Annapurna I, Annapurna III, Gangapurna, Machhapuchhare and Annapurna South seem almost within touching distance and are particularly impressive during sunset and sunrise.
Day 9 - Himalaya Lodge(Walking time: approx 5 hours) It is hard to leave such an impressive and extraordinary location, but we must now turn our heads for home. As we retrace our steps and the air gradually becomes thicker and we find we will cover plenty of ground today. The going is all downhill and we are sure to make good progress on our return journey to Himalaya Lodge.
Day 10 - Chomrong(Walking time: approx 6 hours) Again we continue down through the forest before arriving at Chomrong in the afternoon and a chance to enjoy some of the great food available in our lodge.
Day 11 - Ghandruk(Walking time: approx 5 hours) In the morning we climb out of the valley that houses the village of Chomrong and then contour around the hillsides before descending to the village of Kymrong, where we may take lunch. In the afternoon we ascend steeply before following a well-defined path of stone flags that contours through fields of wheat and millet to the largest village of the region, Ghandruk. This Gurung village is well known for the significant number of its menfolk who have served in the British Gurkha regiments. Our lodge is located in the heart of the village where we enjoy fine mountain views, in particular of Annapurna South, beautiful Machhapuchhare and Gangapurna (7455m).
Day 12 - Pokhara(Walking time: approx 3 hours) We leave the pretty village of Ghandruk and descend to the road head at Naya Phul, where we meet our bus for the short drive to Pokhara. The lakeside area has good shopping opportunities, internet cafés and many fine restaurants. Alternatively there is the option of a boat ride out on to the lake.
Day 13 - KathmanduIn the morning we board our coach for the journey back to Kathmandu. On arrival there’s plenty of time to wander through the streets and go shopping or simply relax in a café, absorbing the ambience of the Nepalese capital.
Day 14 - KathmanduOur exciting trekking adventure ends in the morning. Additional accommodation in Kathmandu is available on request.
What to Know
• Gecko's expert English-speaking local tour guide and guides.
• 11 day trek in the Annapurna Sanctuary including to Machhapuchhare Base Camp and Annapurna Base Camp.
• Twin-share lodge accommodation, generally in rooms with sleeping mattresses.
• Porterage on trek.
• Time to unwind in Pokhara.
• Gecko’s Trek Pack and first aid kit.
• Annapurna Conservation Area Project entry fee.
- International flights, arrival and departure transfers, airport/departure taxes, visas, pre or post tour accommodation, all other meals, optional tours sightseeing or activities during free time, transfers outside of the tour program, fully comprehensive travel insurance (obligatory on all trips and must include helicopter evacuation and repatriation), tips, items of a personal nature, laundry, cost of showers on trek (if available) and flights unless specified.
Trip Dates and Prices
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What to know
A good level of fitness is essential. You will trek on hilly or mountainous terrain at altitudes of up to 5000 metres, for up to 7 hours per day.