Here goes the free Guide for Annapurna Base Camp Trekking. One of the most popular areas to enjoy Nepal’s trekking is the Annapurna Area. It is an area of almost obligatory pilgrimage for mountain lovers and trekkings, not only because of the exceptional environment but because there are of all levels and duration.
The fact that it is such a busy area makes it very well maintained and signposted for all levels and requirements, and therefore, very easy to make a trek in the Annapurna for free.
Basic info of Annapurna Base Camp Trekking
Surely you already know, but just in case: The Annapurna is a mountainous area located in the mountain range of the Himalayas, in the Nepalese part. So to begin, you’ll have to get to Nepal. The base city to start is Pokhara. The entire Annapurna area includes an 8000 peak, the Annapurna I, and several seven thousand so you will enjoy a true high mountain landscape.
Best time to do Annapurna Base Camp Trekking
The best time of year to trek in the Annapurna (and in general in Nepal) in general is undoubtedly October and November. The weather accompanies a lot, it does not rain and you can enjoy the landscape much more.
If you can not in these months, another good time to do a trek in Nepal is April or May, but in these months there is much more risk of rain, and you will have to consider this in order to prepare your material.
What are and how are the trekking permits managed in the Annapurna?
The area of the Annapurna in the Nepali Himalayas is officially called the Annapurna Conservation Area from now on ACAP. To travel them you will need specific permits, and if you do it for free, the trekking permits in Nepal will have to be managed by yourself. There are many possibilities and combinations to travel throughout this vast area of the Himalayas. From small trekking of three days, an average of ten or some up to 16 or 20 days. Really, the time you put it.
Can you do trekking in Annapurna for free?
The answer is simple, yes, and without any problems. We have found some people who explained to us that some agencies inform them that it is impossible to do it for free. I reiterate, it can be done by free and it is easy.
It is a trekking area where everything is well marked, it has no loss. The routes take place between small villages, and some of these are even too much in the way of tourism, with a large number of restaurants and lodges (small lodgings). You will never be without a place to eat or sleep.
What is not highly recommended for a safety issue (health, accidents, etc.) and although it is obvious to say, is to do it alone.
The 2 Annapurna trekking permits: The ACAP AND the TIMS.
If you finally decide to go free, it is essential to request the two specific permits, the entry to the ACAP Entry Permit and the TIMS (this is for all trekking in Nepal regardless of the route you take).
In Pokhara, both permits are processed in the ACAP Office (Annapurna Conservation Area Project). You have the address later.
The ACAP Entry Permit
The first of the trekking permits in Nepal is the entrance to the Annapurna area. Once in the offices of ACAP, you will go to some windows where you have to process the first permit the Entry Permit, ACAP permit entry to the Annapurna Conservation Area.
To process the ACA Entry Permit you need:
They will give you an “ACAP Entry Permit Application Form” to fill out where you will have to provide all your personal information, contact person in case of emergency, and specify which trekking route you will make, in our case, it was the Annapurna Sanctuary Trek.
Where it says “point of entry in the ACAP” and “point where you will end your trek in ACAP” you have to specify the town from which you will start to walk and in which you will end up.
In our case that we made the Annapurna Sanctuary there are only two options, start/finish by Nayapul or by Fedi.
Later I will explain both routes, but you have to know that you have to “take it decided”. It is a question of security in case they have to look for you, as well as the intermediate checkpoints that I will also explain in the second part of this post.
They will also ask you to specify the days you will be trekking. To avoid setbacks pull up. For example, the trekking of Annapurna Sanctuary is estimated in about 10 days, because it indicates in the permit 11 days to go calmer.
With this form, the two photos and the 2000 rupees, you already have the first permit managed instantly.
The TIMS (Trekkers’ Information Management System).
The second of the trekking permits in Nepal is the TIMS. At the reception desk you will see that it puts a little sign “TIMS”, there you will process it.
They will fill out a form where you will have to return to indicate all your personal data, contact person data in case of emergency, and state your insurance policy number/company and the coverage you have.
To process the TIMs you need:
Once the form is submitted, they will give you a booklet where you have to fill in all your personal information and the name of the trekking you will do. This booklet is unique and a person for each trekker. Inside green, if the trekker is independent (without a guide) and blue if it is organized.
You already have two permits to do your trekking in Annapurna! Both documents must be taken during the trek because they will ask for them at least 3 times in the so-called Check Post, at the entrance, in the middle and at the exit.
Where are the offices to process trekking permits?
It has no loss, you just have to ask for the trekking permit office and they already understand you.
Nepal Tourism Board, Tourist Service Center, Pardi Damside (side of the dam)
Only permits for the ACA are processed. Hours 10 am – 17 pm
The ACAP Office is very close to the station where all the tour buses stop and relatively close to the airport.
The most tourist area (where almost all the hotels, hostels, shops, restaurants, etc. are crowded together) is the Lake Side. To get to the ACAP Office from the Lake Side, the taxi ride will cost you 200 rupees.
This price is closed and is not negotiable for all types of trips on the Lake Side. But if you are not in a hurry you can walk, it is not too far, it depends on where you are on the Lake Side, it can be about 30 minutes of walking.
In relation to the processing of trekking permits in Nepal, many hostels and agencies offer to process them for you, but they charge commission. I think it is not a good option. It’s not worth paying, it’s a very simple and fast process.
So with your two permits in your pocket, you’re ready to start the trekking at Annapurna for free!
If you are in Kathmandu you can also process it from there and go directly to the starting point of the trek without going through Pokhara. Permits are only processed for the ACAP, Garushankar, and Manaslu.
Here we leave you the two official pages where you can find information about the area, a way of life, the conservation project of the Annapurna area, and information about procedures for trekking permits in Nepal for different areas of the country.
Do I need insurance to go trekking in the Annapurna?
The insurance is something that we “do not negotiate” Yes or Yes. It is true that it is not mandatory to have insurance to do the trekking, but if you have to rescue at 4000m in height, the joke can leave between 3000 -4000 euros for the helicopter service.
What insurance contract? The vast majority of travel insurance includes trekking in its coverage up to 4000 m. During the trekking in the Annapurna, either in the complete circuit or in the ABC, you will be more than 4000 m. In the case of the Circuit in Annapurna, for several days. In this case, it is your option to hire extra coverage to be more “safe”.
Think that no one is exempt from suffering the famous altitude sickness, and it is clear, the higher you rise, the more likely.
The material for the Annapurna Trekking of medium duration.
Here we will give you some orientations and advice on what to take to trekking in the Annapurna doing it for free (without guide or carrier).
It is done taking as a base the trekking in the Annapurna Sanctuary Base Camp (from now on ABC)) carried out during 8 days in November, high season of trekking in the area, so that you can get an idea of the budget, the climate, the material, backpack, etc.
The trekking Backpack
One of the issues is the size and weight of the backpack. Surely you find yourself in the situation of having your big backpack (60-75l) with its corresponding 12-14kg of weight. Forget at all to load it on.
I think that weight of about 6 kg for a girl, and between 7-8 for a boy (this depends on you) is a good step to carry during those days. So with a backpack between 35-40L, there is enough. It is important that you know discard things because then the weight can increase (water bottles, snacks, fruit, etc …).
What do I do with the big backpack? We asked the hostel where we were staying before starting the trekking to keep them and that we would return there, they did it without a problem. It is the usual practice.
When asked what to take to the trekking in the Annapurna, the number of clothes can generate doubts. The weather during the trekking of the Annapurna Sanctuary can be divided into two large groups, that of below about 3500 m, and that of above 3500 m (alpine climate).
In the early stages that pass below 3500m in the morning in the early hours it is cold but with a half hour walk is tolerated very well. Then, when the sun is already seen better, it is hot and all the clothes are left over. After 17, it starts to get dark and the cold returns. The nights are cold. Therefore short-sleeved shirts, shorts can be worn.
In the last stages (arriving at ABC), it’s cold. Except for the most direct sun hours. But long sleeves, gloves, and thermal clothing is a must.
This was the clothes that I took for ten days of trekking in the Annapurna :
- Basic trekking pants convertible in short.
- Technical mountain pants.
- Thermal mesh and thermal shirt.
- Two long sleeve shirts.
- Three short sleeve t-shirts.Leggins (which used as pajamas and in case of extreme cold thermal meshes and leggings)
- Four pairs of socks
- Four panties
You see, it’s not much, and you will not need anything else. The underwear was washed by hand and hung. If it did not dry, he hung it with clips or safety pins in his backpack, and by the end of the day’s route, it was already dry.
Additional material for trekking
- Hat and gloves.
- Trekking boots
- Shower slippers.
- Bag with the right thing: comb, travel bottle of shampoo and gel, toothpaste and brush.
- Towel (of those that dry super fast)
- Water purification tablets.
- Sack sheet.
- Walking sticks
- Snacks (chocolate type, cereal bars, etc.)
Boots high or low? Sticks to walk? Need a jacket?
On trekking boots: If you’re wondering what kind of mountain boot to take you, I’ll tell you that I’ve seen everything.
Other people wore low trail shoes (type Salomon or Sportiva), others even with normal sneakers.
The terrain is not complicated in general, you do not need a super technical boot/shoe.
The journey between villages takes place between forest paths and stone stairs. Of course, think that you will walk a minimum of 4 or 5 hours a day, so your feet will appreciate comfort, do not skimp on that if you want to avoid greater evils.
I personally recommend boot high, I avoided a dozen sprains.
The Goretex is not strictly necessary if you do not go in times more chance of rain. Check that the sole is not too worn to have a good grip, and that’s it!
On sticks/walking sticks: I highly recommend them. They are a great help, especially because you carry your kilos on your back, and some of the steep climbs are great support.
In my case, the walking sticks were two excellent bamboo sticks that made me a great service.
You can buy them right there, the cheapest (Chinese brand) you can get for about 2000 rupees, or you can also rent them for days for about 80 rupees a day.
Bamboo sticks came out for free, one was given to me and the other I made myself, but you can also buy them in the larger villages.
On the sleeping bag: If you have doubts about taking the sleeping bag or not, I will tell you that it is something dispensable … I did not take it and I did not need it.
In all the lodges they give you blankets, and they are super chubby and warm. I did not go cold at any time, and if you ask, they give you more blankets. The only place where I went cold was at 3800m, just before the ABC. I just put on more clothes to sleep on. I say this because carrying the sack is not necessary.
How to take water during the trekking?
In relation to water, I believe it is essential that you buy water treatment pills.
During the route, you can take water directly from the mountain, and with a pill, you have it ready to drink. You can drink mountain water and faucets without a problem.
The bottled water they sell in the villages is very expensive.
In supermarkets, you can find water purification tablets for a price between 200 and 250 rupees. Do not buy them in mountain clothes shops, they will ask you for 400 rupees, or at least if you go, do not pay more than 200-250 rupees.
Take snacks to eat in the breaks you do at each stage, it seems that no, but they give life. Look for chocolates, cereal bars, bananas, etc. It is a time where sin is allowed and necessary.
I suggest you buy them before starting the trek, once you enter the ACA all snacks, chocolates, etc., are worth gold!
Ah! If you have a small hole in your backpack I recommend you take a book (if it is a better ebook, lighter). At 16 hours you have finished walking, and until 20 or 21 that you do not go to bed are many hours with nothing to do, especially if it is cold.
Can I rent equipment in Pokhara?
If your trip is long, trekking is an intermediate activity, and you do not want to carry heavy things like trekking boots or sack for the rest of the days, there is the option of renting all the material in Pokhara.
On the Lakeside, there are hundreds of mountain material tents (you know that all are imitations) but that to do the trekking can go well. You can buy the material, or rent it.
In order to have an orientation on the price range that could cost to rent material, we asked in a couple of stores and these are the tentative prices that they gave us:
- Mountain boots 150 rupees per day.
- Sleeping bag 100 rupees a day.
- Walking sticks 80 rupees a day.
What they made very clear is that the more days you rent the more you reduced the price, so these are the prices “out” for a short trek (2-4 days). For more days you have to negotiate.
Buy trekking equipment in Kathmandu
If you have to buy clothes for trekking you can also do it in Kathmandu. In Pokhara, prices go up 15%. Travelers have recommended us Kalapatthar (negotiable prices).
Plan the trekking in the Annapurna
In order to prepare the trekking in the Annapurna by free, this space is very important. It is obvious that before doing the trekking you will look for all the possible information (that is why you are reading this).
Nepal Trekking Guide
When we prepared it our main reference was the guide of Lonely Planet Trekking in the Nepal Himalayas.
The guide is very good although it is only in English. You have all the trekking routes in Nepal. It lacks some information on a daily budget in the villages and other necessary things that I have tried to include in this post.
Map of the Annapurna Area
Another thing that I recommend you do a lot is to buy a map of the ACAP (Annapurna Conservation Area). There are thousands of them in Pokhara stores, worth 200 rupees.
It marks all the main routes, secondary routes, villages, accommodation, places with telephone, etc. If you ask me what to take to the trekking in Annapurna to do it for free, I will tell you that this is one of the top 3.
If in any case you do not want to buy it, do not worry, at the tourist offices, and at the Annapurna trekking checkpoints, you have small maps of all the ACAP for free, simpler (no contour lines, no hostel indications, and those things) but where also the main routes and most important villages appear through which you will pass.
They also give you a small triptych specific to the trekking you are going to do, where you have some general information, rules, advice and the profile of the route. And to make it even easier.
Finally, we are in the part of the map, we had downloaded Maps.Me.
And now that I have the Internet theme, know that there is Wi-Fi in practically all the villages. Of course, from a certain height, you have to pay to connect, but this is explained below.
The budget for trekking in the Annapurna
As a starter, I will tell you that the trekking budget in Annapurna (as a base we take the route of the Base Camp Sanctuary) can be in a range from 10 Dollar to 20-25 Dollar per day. I explain the reason for this price range.
As you have seen on the map, the trekking route at the Annapurna Sanctuary is not a circular route but a linear route. You go up and down the same site (except for some variation at the end but not important for your budget). The route you will take twice is between Chomrong and ABC.
I explain this because it determines the price of both lodging and food.
Sleeping for free during trekking
Up to Chomrong, our budget was about 10 Dollar per day, which includes sleeping, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It’s that cheap because in many villages you travel to Chomrong they do not charge you for the room if “in return” you have dinner and breakfast there.
It is something that some offer you directly “room free” and in others, you have to propose, I always said: “free accommodation for have dinner and breakfast here?” And it worked in all. We did not pay even a single room until past Chomrong.
If you are two or more, you are more likely to accept the deal, but I have seen trekkers alone who have also managed to sleep for free. This is because the passage of people is more “diluted” in those sections of the trek than in the one that comes from Chomrong.
On the other hand, there are “main” and “secondary” villages, coinciding with the main stages marked by trekking. We did not sleep in Chomrong in the main villages, but in the “secondary” ones, where there were only one or two lodges.
From Chomrong it was impossible for us to sleep for free, as much as we got a bar in a room. And you get the night for 180 rupees per person.
The food during the Trekking
The price of food increases as you go up. In the early stages, a bowl of fried rice with vegetables can cost you about 380 rupees and from Chomrong 450 or more.
What is very expensive are the extras like coffee between 100-200 rupees, Coca-Cola between 200-350 rupees, and beer can go for 600 rupees and up. Therefore, if you want to keep your budget at bay, forget about all these things or you will be shot.
The trekking at the Annapurna Sanctuary is “planned” in 10 days. We did it in 8 (no problems), and my total expense in eight days of accommodation and meals was 9140 rupees, that is, 90 Dollar. Sounds amazing !!!
Towards my regular meals, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but I had no extra expenses (coffees, chocolates, colas, beers, etc.). The food plates are quite strong so I did not go hungry.
And if you are good food, then you ask for a Dal Bhat, which is like a combined plate of rice, with other additions to mix them to taste, and that you can repeat for free.
Other expenses (hygiene, internet …)
Other “luxuries” that in some lodges will make you pay for are the shower or bucket with hot water. Yes, yes, you read correctly, in some, there are no showers but a bucket with water heated to the fire. They will make you pay securely from Chomrong, and the prices are between Rs.100, Rs 150, and Rs. 300 (only in MBC and ABC).
Another extra from Chomrong becomes luxury is the internet connection. The truth is that I was quite surprised that they had WIFI in the villages, but almost all the lodges have it. Until Chomrong the connection is free (if you consume there), but from Chomrong, if you want to connect you have to pay between 150 and 300 rupees.
In the lodges they also usually have things of hygiene (paper, toothpaste, compresses, etc.) but all at the price of gold, that is, that you better check the backpack well before leaving.
Of course, take all the money in cash.