Trip: Annapurna Sanctuary Trek
Route: KTM - Pokhara - Macchapuchare - Annapurna - Poon Hill
Date: Between March and October are best
Duration: 12 Days total - Land only
Grade: Trekking – Easy to Moderate
Price: Please contact us for prices
The Annapurna Sanctuary is “high glacial basin lying forty kilometers directly north of Pokhara, Nepal's second city.” This oval-shaped plateau sits at an altitude of over 4000 meters, and is surrounded by a ring of mountains, the Annapurna range, most of which are over 7000 meters. With the only entrance a narrow pass between the peaks of Hiunchuli and Machapuchare, where run-off from glaciers drain into Modi Khola River, the Sanctuary was not penetrated by outsiders until 1956. Because of high mountains on all sides, the Annapurna Sanctuary receives only 7 hours of sunlight a day at the height of summer. The unique combination of heights and depths in the Annapurna Sanctuary give rise to an extraordinary variety of ecosystems. The south-facing slope are “covered in dense tropical jungles of rhododendron and bamboo”, while the north-facing slopes, in the rain shadow, have “a drier colder climate similar to that of the near-by Tibetan Plateau.”
This beautiful trek mixes easy to moderate trekking on pathways through stunning local villages full of colour and charm. Overall a great short to medium trek in the stunning Annapurna Sanctuary.
Our adventure first takes us to Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, also known as the City of a Thousand Temples, and where every other day is a festival. Kathmandu is home to over 500,000 Nepalese, living a humble life in this vibrant city, the starting point for many expeditions to the Himalaya. It was once a Mecca for the drop-out hippie generation of the 60’s. However, today, Kathmandu has returned to its former ways, a place alive with the traditions and cultures of its many ethnic peoples. While here, we visit some of the famous Temples of the Hindus and Buddhas. We saunter through the busy streets and markets of the Thamel in the old region of the city and experience at first-hand the hustle, bustle, sights, sounds and smells whilst mixing with the locals of this lively, cultural city.
Each day’strek is more spectacular then the day before as we make our way deeper into this mountainous wonderland of a Shangri-La. Mountains project like massive pillars from the deep, river-gorged valleys. We make our way along narrow paths etched from the steep hillsides in a mystical world of mountains. This is the heartof the most beautiful and inspiring mountain range in the world, the Himalayas ‘home of the snows’. They stretch in a great arch across Asia, 150 miles wide and 1700 miles long, from Indus in the west to the Brahmaputra in the east. All along the length of the Himalaya, its mountain tops are revered by the people of the valleys below as the place of their gods. You are in a place that for centuries has been the setting for epic feats of exploration and mountain climbing.
The area of Annapurna is famous for its possibilities of trekking and is considered to be the most famous and popular trekking destination in all of Nepal.This area region is mainly famous for beautiful mountains such Annapurnas,Dhaulagiri, Manaslu, and Machhapuchre, There are three major trekking routes in Annapurna Region: to Jomsom Muktinath , to Annapurna Sanctuary (Annapurna BaseCamp), and a circuit of the Annapurna Himal itself. About two-thirds of thetrekkers in Nepal visit the Annapurna region. The area is easily accessible, hotels in the hills are plentiful, and treks here offer good scenery of both high mountains and lowland villages. Pokhara is also a good starting place for shorttreks of one to four days, such as Ghorepani Trekking, Ghandruk Trekking andothers. Mustang is also geographically a part of the Annapurna region, but treks to Mustang are subject to special restrictions.
The entire sanctuary was held as sacred to the Gurung people, the only people to inhabit it before the 20th century.They believed it was the repository of gold and various treasures left by the Nāgas, the serpent-gods known in India. The sanctuary was believed to be the home of several deities, from Hinduism and Buddhism as well the older animistic gods. The peak of Machapuchare at the entrance was believed to be the home of the god Shiva, and the daily plumes of snow were thought the smoke of his divine incense. Until recently, the local Gurang people forbade anyone from bringing eggs or meat into the Annapurna Sanctuary, and women and untouchables were prohibited from going there as well.
In recent years, the number of trekkers to the Sanctuary has increased substantially, in part because the Sanctuary forms the base of one of the major routes to the peaks of the Annapurna range. The Annapurna Sanctuary is now part of the Annapurna Conservation Area Project, which places restrictions on number of outside travelers, gathering of firewood, and domestic animal grazing.
Kathmandu - Pokhara - Macchapuchare - Annapurna - Poon Hill
See Itinerary for further details
Grade: Trekking - Strenuous
This trek is suitable to walkers & hillwalkers and can be achieved by a beginner with training. A good level of fitness and experience on mountain trekking is recommended prior to departure. You will enjoy your trip a lot more if prepared well. Easy to Moderate going on good tracks that most fit people should be able for. Most days will require 4 to 7 hours walking excluding acclimatizing days and a climb day. We also run fitness assessments and hill walking weekends that are ideally suited for those who need a little more preparation, please go to our Training Courses Section. We recommend these options to ensure a good level of understanding of the requirements for the upcoming trek and remeber to contact us if you have any queries or need advice.
At Pat Falvey Irish & Worldwide Adventures we have agreed to allow for acclimatisation or rest purposes. It is worth spending a bit extra to stay safe and achieve your goals. The pace is key to preventing *AMS. The group will be monitored by the guides at all times for symptoms of the effects of altitude. Only if these symptoms persist that a person should get advice or will be advised to decend. (*Acute Mountain Sickness)
Please contact us for prices. Groups are based on a minimum of 4. We can check availability on dated groups if you are interested as an individual.
Our highly experienced trekking guides have been working with us in Nepal for over 20 years. They will provide you with all information and help during the trek. On selected 'Guided from Ireland' trips (or on request for groups over 4) a guide will escort the group from Ireland. The guide will also arrange the porters role with your bags and any issues that may arise.
Info on Porters:
We at Pat Falvey Irish and Worldwide Adventures ensure that all our agents in every destination value and treat their employees including porters with respect and ensure their working rates and conditions are adhering to the local employment and Health and Safety guidelines. We have built up a good relationship’s with all of our operators to ensure the welfare of their guides and porters is priority. For more guidelines and information on porters please go to our 'Porter Guidelines'. Bags carried by porters are not to exceed 25kg in weight.
Here is a sample daily Itinerary, on booking you will be issued a more detailed version. We can also customise the itinerary to your needs if required.
Annapurna Sanctuary Trek:
- DAY 1: Kathmandu. Fly to Pokhara
- DAY 2: Trek to Landrung
- DAY 3: Landrung to Chomrong
- DAY 4: Chomrong to Dovan
- DAY 5: Dovan to Macchapuchare Base Camp
- DAY 6: Macchapuchare Base Camp to Annapurna Base Camp
- DAY 7: Annapurna Base Camp - afternoon descent to 'Bamboo'
- DAY 8: Retun to Chomrong
- DAY 9: Chomrong to Ghandrung
- DAY 10: Ghandrung to Ghorepani
- DAY 11: Poon Hill - then trek out to Pokhara
- DAY 12: Pokhara - afternoon flight to Kathmandu
Preparation - Passports & Visas
Preparation - We have selected a walking weekend to help you adjust to the goal of the trek. The weekend has two walks with advice and techniques for clothing and gear given also. On the Saturday we will climb one of Irelands highest peaks during a day hike and on Sunday morning early we will go on a night hike simulating the requirements on the summit day of a trek which takes you out of your comfort zone prior to the real thing. This method allows your body and mind to adjust to the challenge ahead. For more info on this fitness assessment weekends and day walks, go to our Irish training section. If you are a total beginner to walking/hillwalking then a 12 month training program is recommended.
We suggest a training program of at least 6 months to comfortably trek to 4000-6000m.
- Months 1-2, this should include fortnightly hillwalking for 3hrs+ with a small/medium pack of weight of 5-10kg approx.
- Months 3-4, this should be increased to include longer days (6hrs+) and pack weight of 10kg approx. Attend our Free Meet Day!
- Month 5, Two days walking back to back twice giving 4 days total. Example: Saturday 7hr & Sunday 6hr = 13hrs walking. Avoid injuries at all costs!!
- Month 6, Continue with some walking but reduce to lower peaks and durations of 4hrs, avoid injuries at all costs!
Passport & Visas
You will need a valid passport. Please ensure the expiration date is six months past your travel date. Before applying for Visa please check dates on passport. Please bring 4 passport photos for visas at departure.
We will need to get a visa and this can be got on upon entry to Nepal.
For general wear on trek:
Cotton pants, t-shirts and if you have light thermals these will be ideal.
One pair of trekking boots for trek. These boots can be used for good wear also. If you have a hillwalking pair of boots you can also bring them. If you like comfort we recommend boots with extra insulation in sole around €150 with Vibram or similar sole.
Four pairs of warm trekking stockings. (Thorlo or similar)
Adjustable ski poles: these take a lot of pressure off the body and makes walking less tiring. Some use two spring loaded ones as it takes 36 ton of pressure off your knees per day as well as allowing you to have a crutch to lean on when you are tired.
Thermal under-wear heavy gauge: 2 Tops and 2 bottoms. Dryflo etc.
1 fleece or pile jacket. Windproof is good.
Wind and water proofs (Gortex or similar): Top jacket and bottoms.
Sleeping bag range to -5/-15C degrees- make sure it packs small. Also for sleeping it is important to bring an insulating sleeping mat. I usually bring a Thermarest full-length non-slip. There is insulating mattresses provide on trek but for extra comfort bring a Thermarest.
1 water bottle with wide neck and 1 with narrow neck (Nalgene or similar) or one Platypus container, the platypus is ideal for trekking as you can stay hydrated by drinking from a tube as you walk.
Gloves: 1pair of thermal and 1 pair over gloves or mitts, no harm in bringing spare sets.
Headtorch, Petzl with spare batteries and bulbs. I cannot stress the importance of this to have in good working order. (New LED versions are also lighter and smaller)
Peak hat for the lower regions to protect your head from the sun. (bandana or neck gaiter also)
Ruck sack 30 liters daypack for the mountain to carry your camera food and day gear. For traveling, 70-100 liters rucksack or strong gear bag- this will also do to give to porters on trek to carry your general gear.
Optional for night up high for the cold, a light down top or extra fleece.
Personal first aid and medicine kit. (All our guides will have these for emergencies only)
UV sunglasses – Cat. 3 or Cat. 4 recommeded if there is a lot of time in or near snow.
2 x Earplugs pairs – If you have an inside pocket in sleeping bag, leave one there full time.
Sun-block (very important and use it!)
Backpacking towel and general toiletries.
Extra Clothes for travelling and/or socialising.
Tips on Gear
- Make sure your boots are well broken in.
- For the mountain, a layering system works best to allow you to cool down or warm up with ease - t-shirt or thermals, shirt or warm top, a good fleece and good heavy-duty waterproofs if you intend doing more treks in future.
- Gloves and hats are vital. Bring waterproof gear that is made of breathable material. You can use a normal 3 season sleeping bag. If you tend to get cold very easily, you can add in a sleeping bag liner. Remember that sleeping bags work on trapping layers of air so wearing clothes in your bag doesn't help.
- If you wear contact lenses take plenty of saline and comfort drops as the paths are dusty. Also glasses are essential for summit night as temperature and altitude may effect eyes if contacts worn.
- Common first aid complaints are headaches, dehydration, stomach bugs, diarrhoea, sunburn and occasional mouth ulcers. Looking after yourself with plenty of fluids, rest and enjoying the gentle ascending pace will assist in avoiding these. Your personal first aid kit should contain treatments for these minor aliments. Please get advice from your GP before departure.
- Money can be left in the hotel safe. All currency can be easily changed to local currency in the cities you will be staying in. The only money you will need to carry for your treks will be to cover porter and guide tips and bottled water if you choose to purchase. (Hotels offer Launderette facilities if you wish to wash clothes following trek otherwise there is no opportunity to wash clothing.
- Digital cameras will cope fine with the conditions if you keep them warm close to your body where possible especially on summit morning or when reaching you highest day, otherwise batteries can run down. Spare batteries are a must.