The area known as the Sanctuary of Annapurna was a treasured and sacred spiritual refuge long before the first trekkers arrived.
A natural amphitheatre, ringed by Annapurna South, Annapurna I, Varahashikhar, Gangapurna and the holy Fishtail Mountain (Macchapucchre), the Sanctuary was adopted as the Annapurna South Base Camp by the successful British summit expedition in 1970.
The Sanctuary is a three-mile by five-mile pocket of three glaciers, encircled by nine icy summits. The tiny valley floor rarely receives more than seven hours of sunlight, even on a clear day, because of the barrier effect of the peaks.
The first few days of this trek are spent travelling through quaint villages and luxuriant forest, before reaching more barren, more rugged terrain.
From Chomrong, the last village of the valley, the twin peaks of Macchapuchre are clearly visible, looking exactly like a fishtail.
Bamboo is a major theme of the next part of the trek, which moves on upwards through the gorge. The mats on the walls and floors of the lodges, the dokos carried by the porters, the forest you are walking through : all is bamboo.
Next the landscape gives way to grey scree and scrub before reaching snow-fields as you apporach the sanctuary. Entering this you walk between rocky ribs, which descend sharply from either side. The most common sight to greet you is the fog of swirling clouds.
From Base Camp there are some tremendous views: a labyrinth of mountains which tower almost vertically above, with Annapurna I dominant.
An hour or two is spent here taking in the high mountains before commencing the return journey to Pokhara, which takes five more days.
The Annapurna Base Camp itinerary is a good introduction to trekking at higher altitudes, without being too strenuous.
Day 01 : Arrival – transported to hotel – tour briefing
Day 02 : Free time in Kathmandu
Day 03 : Drive or flight to Pokhara
Day 04 : Drive or flight to Pokhara. Overnight Hotel
Day 05 : Tikhedhunga – Ghorepani (2750 m)
Day 06 : Poon Hill for sunrise (3193m) – Tadapani (2590 m)
Day 07 : Tadapani – Chomrong (2170 m)
Day 08 : Chomrong – Bamboo (23350 m)
Day 09 : Bamboo – Deurali (2505 m)
Day 10 : Trek to Annapurna base camp (4130 m)
Day 11 : Annapurna Base Camp – Dovan (2505 m)
Day 12 : Dovan – Chhomrong (2170 m)
Day 13 : Chhomrong – Ghandrung (1940 m)
Day 14 : Ghandrung – Pothana
Day 15 : Pothana – Dhampus – drive to Pokhara
Day 16 : Free time
Day 17 : Flight to Kathmandu (30 mins.) and transported to hotel.
Day 18 : Kathmandu Free time
Day 19 : Departure