Trekking to Annapurna Base Camp via Poon Hill

I met up with an old hiking buddy in Colorado, it was time to take on another 14er. We started chatting about going back to Nepal. He has just come back from the Annapurna region was really impressed with the Annapurna region of Nepal. I had trekked to Gokyo Lakes and around the Manaslu Circuit with my wife and I was really impressed with this circuit Ian has developed. Therefore, I decided it was time to go back to Nepal.

We were a small group of 8 trekkers trekking to Annapurna Base Camp in March. It was good to be back in Kathmandu and the Yatri Suites Hotel. We enjoyed walking the back streets of Thamel in Kathmandu, however was really looking forward to a few relaxing days in Pokhara. The following morning, we were off with Dawa and Nima on the 30 minute flight to Pokhara.

The Annapurna Range from Pokhara

Arriving in Pokhara

Once we jumped off the plane the view of the Annapurna range is nothing short of spectacular. The air quality in Pokhara was much better than Kathmandu. We had two nights in Pokhara to relax before driving into the mountains.

Pokhara feels like a small town. It has a nice walk around the lake, nice bars, restaurants and more peaceful than Kathmandu. We took a boat trip out onto the lake watching Parasailers floating around above our heads.  After that, we took a nice walk along the lake and back to the hotel.

Relaxing in Pokhara was nice, but it was time to get into the mountains and start walking. I had been training and preparing for months. Our team was ready to get out of the town and into the peace and quiet of the mountains.

Below Chhomrong near Annapurna Base Camp

Picking the Right Annapurna Itinerary

There were a few things I really liked about Ian’s Itinerary. Skipping the dusty road walk up to Tikhedhunga was one of them. Therefore, our team drove up the road and made the short walk into the scenic little village on Tikedhunga for some lunch. After lunch we then hiked up the long section of stairs, all the way to Ulleri, which is a much better way to manage this trip.

I had viewed some other itineraries on the trip. Ian’s itinerary had us staying in Machhapuchere Base Camp instead of lower down the trail.  In my opinion, this is the best way to manage this trek. This itinerary Ian has developed was perfectly managed and delivered.  Therefore, I knew I had made the right choice in going with them.

Fishtail Mountain from Poon Hill

Poon Hill

As we arrived into Ghorepani I could see an Ian Taylor Trekking sticker on a pole.  Therefore, I knew we must be close.  I over heard a group chatting they got up Poon Hill too late.  The mountains were covered in cloud by the time they arrived. Not sure what happened to them, after listening to that group. I was adamant that we would not miss our opportunity.  We were up for the early start and the scenery was worth the hundreds of stairs up to the top.  I have to say the views off Poon Hill are really special and the sunrise with stay with me forever.

Experiencing the range of mountains was truly a special moment for me. I sat on the grass close to the top and took it all it. An hour that can never be taken away from me. I certainly walked back down hill with a smile and you could feel the excitement in the group. We had just witnessed something epic.

Machapuchare Peak from Tatapani

The Next Part of the Adventure

After breakfast, we started hiking towards Tadapani. This walk was very relaxing as we crossed a ridge line in the forest with some great mountain views between the trees. Likewise, the views of Annapurna South and Machhapuchere mountain up towards Annapurna III were stunning at sunset in Tadapani.

We had a nice hike from Tadapani to Chhromrung.  Firstly, we went downhill through the forest, we passed through small villages where people lived, passing farm lands all done by hand on a very large scale. The mountain scenery in this section of the trek is really worth experiencing and is some great additional acclimatization.

After a long days walking we arrived into Chhromrung in the afternoon. This village is sitting high on the mountain with direct views towards the Annapurna valley that needs to Annapurna Base Camp. The sunset on Machhapuchere mountain was extravagant and Annapurna South looked very close from here.  Undoubtedly, one of the most beautiful sunsets I had seen before.

The Route Into Annapurna Base Camp

From Chhromrung, we walked down hill on stairs all the way to the suspension bridge crossing.  Then all the way back up on the other side. This is the Himalayan way up and down, up and down. At the low point on the bridge we  were at 2,000m/ 6,561 feet. The trail here is more manicured than in other regions of Nepal.  If you have been training is trek is very manageable in terms of the altitude but it can be hot during the day. As you walk up the stairs into Sinuwa, then you can look back at where you have just come from in Chhromrung.

The view of Chhromrung from Sinuwa

From Sinuwa we then hike up through this famous valley towards Annapurna Base Camp. We passed a numbers of small villages along the way as we hiked to Dovan or Doban at 2,500m/ 8,202 feet. This valley felt big with lofty cliffs on both side of the valley. I was really impressed with hike all the way up to Machhapuchere Base Camp. Crossing narrow wooden bridges and steep rocky sections, along with amazing views all around.

Hiking towards Annapurna Base Camp

I think this hike through the valley is one of the best hikes I have ever been on. You will be hiking up the left side of the valley. Mountain viewing on both sides of this valley are unparalleled. I was really enjoying this section of the hike and knew we were getting closer to our ultimate goal.

NearMachhapuchere Base Camp

The Hike into Annapurna Base Camp

If you like waterfalls, then you will see some amazing high angle water falls along this whole valley.  The trail hugs the mountain on the left side and moving around and towards Machhapuchere Base Camp, where we would stay the night.

It is worth the extra few hours of hiking further up the trail.  This will give you the maximum amount of time in the unique mountain setting. It truly is worth extra effort of staying higher up the trail.

Just above Machhapuchere Base Camp

Staying at Machhapuchere Base Camp

Sunrise from Machhapuchere Base Camp was again mind blowing.  We then enjoyed breakfast with some epic mountain views. We were all excited to complete our journey high into the Annapurna sanctuary. However, I can tell you the pictures can not come close to comparing to actually walking up this high alpine meadow.  Water flowing right past us as we inched our way to Annapurna Base Camp. Again this trek went to a whole new level of mountain viewing. This trip was getting better and better.

Sunrise and snow at Annapurna Base Camp

You will not believe your eyes. The views all around are breathtaking.  Walking all the way into and around the back side of Annapurna Base Camp are truly unique. I have to say walking around in the dark waiting for the sun to come up, in Annapurna Base Camp was one of my fondest Himalayan memories.

We had a close up view as sunrise came over the back of Fishtail or Machhapuchere Mountain. The sun hit the ridge line between Annapurna I, the world’s most dangerous mountain and Annapurna South. The 360 panoramic view in the Annapurna Sanctuary should be on every trekkers list of top 5 treks to do in the world.

Sorry to Say Goodbye

I was blown away by the adventure and would return again to do it all over again with my son. As we walked back down the valley the views and scenery we missed on the way up were on full display. Hiking back past Deurali and Dovan to Chhromrung were pleasant and enjoyable. I was also really looking forward to Jhinu and the Hot Springs.

The team arrived in Jhinu the day after Annapurna Base Camp and we staying in this really nice lodge with a bar and great sunset. We had our final dinner and celebration before making our way back to Pokhara. I have to say I did not want to leave.

The journey must come to an end. Our team had a short walk back to the jeep pick up point before driving back to Pokhara. The team, service, itinerary and whole set up was a impeccable. I will be back to complete this trek again and will do with with Ian Taylor Trekking.

Mike Brown, Annapurna Base Camp Trek 2019.

How difficult is it trekking to Annapurna base Camp
All you need to know about trekking to Annapurna Base Camp
The best months for trekking to Annapurna Base Camp