The trek to Annapurna’s base camp has become one of the most popular treks in Nepal in recent years. It’s a trek that brings travelers face to face with the deadliest mountain in the world, while passing by some of the highest rice paddies you’ll ever see, encountering countless of staggering mountain rapids while getting lost in endless stretches of lush forests. Trekking in the Annapurna Circuit is an amazing experience but it comes with a cost. If you’re wondering what’s the cost of Annapurna base camp trek and whether it’s more feasible to hire a guide or do it independently, keep reading. This article will give you a perspective of all the costs associated with this journey.
Cost of Annapurna base camp trek: hiring a guide and a porter
The Annapurna Base Camp trek is a moderate trek and more people decide to do it independently nowadays. This is certainly a good option but traveling with a guide also has its advantages. The guides know the terrain, the trekking route and can tell you a lot of things about the places you come across along the way. Additionally, you might struggle with your backpack while climbing to base camp and you might need to hire a porter as well. If you want to hire a guide and a porter, you will need between $20 and $30 per day for the guide and between $15 and $20 per day for the porter. This includes all of their meals, accommodation, and insurance. Finally, keep in mind that by selecting a local tourist agency, you are also helping the local economy.
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Cost of Annapurna base camp trek: Transportation
The trek starts and ends in Pokhara which is also the second largest city in Nepal. However, most people enter Nepal at the Kathmandu international airport and a lot of them have a tourist agency book their transportation from Kathmandu to Pokhara. You can choose from several different transportation options, including a flight, a private vehicle, a tourist bus, and a local bus. You can arrange all of these options on your own and doing it through an agency will just add unnecessary costs to your trip.
To get a rough idea of the costs involved in this journey, here’s a rough cost estimate of all transportation options.
- A one-way flight from Kathmandu to Pokhara costs between $80 and $120 USD.
- Renting a private vehicle from Kathmandu to Pokhara costs around $120-$140 USD which is feasible if you’re traveling in a group but not really if you’re traveling solo or with one companion.
- A tourist bus from Kathmandu to Pokhara costs $10-$15 USD.
- Finally, the local bus from Kathmandu to Pokhara will cost you only $5 USD but keep in mind that the journey lasts 7-8 hours and these buses aren’t very comfortable.
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Cost of Annapurna base camp trek: Permits
If you want to do the Annapurna base camp trek, you will need to obtain two permits; a TIMS card (Trekking Intelligent Management System) and an ACAP permit (Annapurna Conservation Area Project). If you’re coming from a country that doesn’t belong to the SARRC region, the cost of a TIMS card is 2,000 NPR ($20 USD) for individual trekkers and 1,000 NPR ($10 USD) for group trekkers. The ACAP permit costs 2260 NPR per person (around $20 USD).
You will also need to provide four passport photographs for your permit, so have a few extra photographs with you to avoid the cost of taking them in Nepal. The two permits can be obtained in the offices of Nepal Tourism Board in Kathmandu, Pokhara, and the village of Nayapul (the starting point of the Annapurna base camp trek).
Enjoying this article? Check out my guide to trekking the Manaslu Circuit.
Cost of Annapurna base camp trek: Accommodation
Being one of the more frequented trekking routes in Nepal, you will find a lot of tea house lodges on the way. Most of them cost between NPR 300 and 800 ($3.5-$8 USD) per night. The cost of the lodges varies based on the remoteness of the region and the altitude, as well as the rooms and the services they provide. Over the last few years, most tea houses have improved their standards and most of them have solar panels, electricity, and showers with hot water.
What about food costs?
Even though most tea house lodges have small restaurants onsite, meals aren’t usually included in the price per night. The food served in these establishments is usually traditional Nepali but you can find a few restaurants that serve continental food as well. Keep in mind that getting the ingredients to prepare these meals at such a high altitude isn’t easy and certainly isn’t cheap. Hence, the price per meal increases together with the altitude. In average, plan to spend between $2.5 and $5 USD per meal throughout your trip. Finally, I would suggest trying to take as many snacks as you can before you start the trip, as there are only a few supermarkets on the route and most of them are quite expensive.
Other Annapurna base camp trek costs
The above-mentioned costs make up for most of the costs associated with the Annapurna base camp trek but there are some other costs you should be aware of before you start preparing for your trip. Even though most tea house lodges have electricity, some of them, especially the ones in the higher altitudes might charge you a fee for charging your phone or camera. That’s why it’s a good idea to have a power bank or a portable solar battery charger with you.
Similarly, most tea house lodges have hot showers but you don’t know whether they’ll have any available rooms. You might end up in a facility that doesn’t have hot showers or charges a fee for using the showers. Hence, it’s a good idea to get some wet wipes before you start the trek.
Wi-Fi is almost non-existent in the lodges located at higher altitudes and most of the time you have to pay a few dollars to use it.
Don’t forget about water. Drinking tap water in Nepal is not recommended and getting clean drinking water at high altitudes costs up to $3-$4 per bottle.
Finally, if you’re traveling with a guide and a porter, keep in mind that they will be expecting tips. This isn’t mandatory but they will do their best to make you feel uncomfortable if you don’t tip them.
Guided tours vs trekking independently
As you could see from the above-mentioned costs, reaching Annapurna independently will cost between $25 and $35 per person per day. If you’re traveling with a companion or in a group you can minimize these costs by sharing your food and accommodation. The lowest price for which you could complete the trek is around $15 per day if you don’t make any additional costs. However, my advice is to still have around $300-$400 per person for the journey.
Alternatively, if you’re booking your trip with an agency that will provide a guide and a porter for you, this will cost between $750 (if you’re starting from Pokhara) and $1,200 (if you’re starting from Kathmandu). The cheaper tours don’t include your meals and the cost of hiring a porter, while the more expensive options usually include this, as well as your transportation from Kathmandu to Pokhara. With both options, you don’t have to worry about searching for accommodation and getting the permits, as the tour operator will do this for you.
Annapurna Base Camp Route & Highlights
The hot springs of Jhinu
Nothing can help your tired legs recover like a dip into the hot springs near Jhinu Danda, a charming mountainesque settlement with beautiful views of the Annapurna Circuit. You’d have to take a 20-minute detour to reach the springs but it’ll be worth it!
Observe the rural life at the Gurung Villages
Even though the Annapurna trail has all the necessary facilities, most people that live in the mountain villages still prefer doing things the old traditional way. Farming is still the main occupation of most locals and on this trail, you’ll find some of the highest rice paddy fields in the world. The locals have gotten used to tourists throughout the years and are always warm and welcoming. The way these people live and transport all necessary goods and products to high altitudes is admiring and will make you appreciate what you have a lot more while learning a lot about the local culture at the same time.
Endless stretches of lush forests
The Annapurna base camp trek leads you from the charming rice fields-filled mountain establishments through the subtropical forests before finally reaching the basecamp. Even though it doesn’t like a dreamy vacation, wondering through the mesmerizing endless stretches of pine, oaks, and bamboo is a mesmerizing experience.
The views of Mount Machhapuchre
The Annapurna base camp trek is one of the rare treks that passes through two base camps. Most people start the journey to reach the Annapurna base camp trek but the views of snow-capped mountains, towering waterfalls, and staggering mountain rapids at the Mount Machhapuchre base camp are just as beautiful.
Overnight at Annapurna base camp
Words can do little justice to spending the night watching the stars with the majestic Annapurna in the background. Reaching base camp is the highlight of the trip and seeing the sun set behind the snow-covered mountaintops is the most rewarding moment of the journey…
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The route to Annapurna base camp
The trek to base camp is located in the heart of the Annapurna circuit and there are a lot of amazing things to see along the way. The journey usually takes 10 days but keep in mind that if your starting (and ending point) is Kathmandu, you’ll need an extra day to reach from Kathmandu to Pokhara and vice versa. If you’re starting your journey from Pokhara, here’s how your 10-day itinerary would look like.
The first day: Taking a one-hour drive from Pokhara to Nayapul, start trekking and reach the village of Ulleri (1,960 meters)
Second day: Trek from Ulleri to Ghorepani (2,874 meters)
Third day: It’s a detour but seeing the sunrise at the top of Poon Hill (3,212 meters) is a must. If you want to skip this, you can proceed to the village of Chomrong (2,171 meters) and probably reach Dobhan on the same day and make your itinerary a day shorter.
Fourth day: Trek from Chomrong to Dobhan (2,601 meters)
Fifth day: Trek from Dobhan to Deurali (3,205 meters)
Sixth day: Reaching Annapurna base camp (4,130 meters)
Seventh day: Trek down from the base camp to Bamboo (2,312 meters)
Eighth day: Trek down to Jhindu (1,780 meters)
Ninth day: Reach the end of the trail at the village of Phedi and drive off the road back to Nayapul.
When is the best time to take the Annapurna base camp trek?
The best time of the year to take this trek is in October/November or March/April. However, keep in mind that this is also a time of the year when most tourists decide to visit. Alternatively, you can visit during the winter but pack some winter clothes. You can also visit in the summer but be ready for hot temperatures and a lot of sunburns. If you want to, you can also visit during the monsoon season but keep in mind that the visibility will be lower due to mist.
A few more helpful tips
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Did this article answer all the questions you had about the cost of Annapurna base camp trek? Do you think we didn’t mention some important additional costs? Let us know in the comments!
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