10 Tips For Doing ABC Trek (Annapurna Base Camp)
1 – Ask to be a part of a group with your trekking agency even if you are planning to (or prefer to) go alone. Bookings in upper Annapurna sanctuary are not guaranteed if you are alone. They prefer to give rooms out to larger group. Not much of written bookings are taken in most of the lodges - most are verbal commitments to your guide or trekking agency via phone saying they “will have” the room when you arrive – but in busy season the first ones to get there with larger group end up taking your spot. Being of part of a group dose not mean you have to be together with them during the day necessarily as long as you arrive at the same lodge at the same evening. Worst case – you may end up sharing a 6 to 8 person room. But if you still prefer to be on your own schedule – bring a light tent as a plan B if the lodges are full.
2 – No need to panic about squat toilets - something I got asked frequently by western travelers. More than half of the lodges in all the ABC trek route have western toilets. If yours doesn’t happen to have one – hope on over to the one that has since most of the lodges are jumbled together within few hundred yards and most of the toilets are shared and are located outside. If you see the lodge lady act as if you belong there – if that fails slip 50 Rupees bill. Squatting on a tired knees of six days a trek is like getting a root canal.
3 – Go easy on alcohol. Not much selection anyway. Best drink by far (for me) is following - order a hot ginger tea and a small bottle of Nepali dark rum (called “Khukuri Rum” – all the lodges carry it) add a few splash of it over tea and some sugar. Mild drink – will warm you up but doesn’t get you too drunk.
4 – Even though most of the lodges have electricity charging the phone is a hit or miss due to lack of enough outlets and lack of enough power. Have a battery powered or solar powered chargers for your gadgets.
5 – If you need to stay connected get a CDMA sim card (and a CDMA phone) at KTM. Pretty much works all the way to MBC/ABC.
6. Village with best view of mountains => Tadapani.
Best place to stop for tea or lunch =>Upper Sinuwa.
Village with best view of village itself => Chomrong.
Villages you would rather skip staying => Bamboo and Himalaya (because of no view and limited number of lodges).
7 – Skip the Poon Hill trek (that everyone seem to do early in the morning) if you are continuing on to Tadapani (which most of you will if you are doing ABC clockwise). On your way to Tadapani you climb to similar elevation as Poon Hill and get similar view of the Annapurna range on the way.
8 – If you forgot thermal packs – you can use your aluminum water can as thermal pack when you go to bed. Just go to the Kitchen with the can and ask for it to be filled with hot water.
9 – “Dal/Bhat” Power Rules!!! As you will soon learn from seeing porters put away heaps of it front their plates – do it at least once.
10 – Leave a day or two extra in your itinerary. Saw many folks trying to squeeze trek from Chomrong to New Bridge in one day because they have to catch the flight and be back to work on Monday somewhere. Not a pleasant way to end your vacation.