We recently finished an 8 day trek to the Annapurna Base Camp (ABC). If interested in our experiences and pictures, please see this other post of ours: ABC Trek Report.
In this post I share some information about our supplies, money/costs and on porters / guides in hopes that it will help anyone thinking about going on this or a similar trek.
Aside from the general clothing that you’ll bring, we found the following quite useful:
- Gloves and Hat: we bought a cheap pair of gloves from a shop in Pokhara before the trek along with a neck gaiter/hat (convertible) for me. Jenny already had a buff (And thick hair). These were great on the chilly mornings (sunrises) and in the evening as well when up top.
- Extra shoes and sandals: not necessary but the extra shoes we brought (Brooks runners) were comfy to wear in the afternoons after trekking all day in our hiking shoes. The sandals were nice for showering and for the lower elevations post-hike.
- Sun hat and sun glasses: probably already on your list, but a wide brimmed hat for the fair skinned folks is really nice because you change hiking directions so often you never know where the sun is coming from.
- Rain gear: You should definietly be prepared. There were some hikers that had rain pants (we didn’t) but if we had gotten rained on up near the top it would have been pretty miserable. Others brought along umbrellas (probably a good idea – we didn’t). We lucked out with the rain, and it only rained one day while we were trekking and it was in the lower elevation so it wasn’t too cold. We did, however, end up with a few leaches on us after the downpour!
- Trekking poles: if you’re debating this one: do it. You can rent or buy (or borrow from friends, like us) and we found these so helpful. Not just for saving our knees a bit going downhill, or helping get us up the stairs easier, but when it rained a bit and the rocks and clay became slick, these saved us from numerous possible falls. In general they helped keep our balance and since we both hikes in low-top shoes, our ankles thanked us for using the poles. Adjust long for downhill, short for uphill.
- Toilet Paper: we took a small amount and probably should have taken more, but you can buy it along the way, and in a jam you can just use a few napkins from you last meal stop 🙂
- Sleeping sheet / bag: we had great weather on our trek, and for October/November treks here is our recommendation: if you’re a cold sleeper (Jenny), take a light weight sleeping bag; if you’re a warm sleeper (me), a sleep sheet and a Nepali blanket from the guest house will do just fine. We were only really cold at ABC, but once snuggled in we both were warm enough and it helped keep our pack size smaller with only one sleeping bag.
While you can get by with eating at the tea houses and buying small snacks along the way, we found it cheaper and healthier to bring along a few key food items from Pokhara:
- Nescafé – hot water for instant coffee is cheaper than buying coffee or the delicious masala tea every morning at the guest houses. Plus you can make it to your liking.
- Granola/muesli bars – quick, easy and cheap snack between meals on the trail. We liked the Mountain Man brand of muesli bars.
- Digestives (dark chocolate and regular) – another quick snack and a cheap, light dessert
- Peanut butter – high calorie super food that tastes amazing on the morning pancakes (apple or banana are the best).
- Emergen-C – cheaper than a can of orange juice, we brought these from abroad, not sure if you can find these in Nepal.
- Snickers/Reese’s – another high calorie dessert and snack, much cheaper in town than at the tea houses.
- SteriPen / Iodine tabs – we were lucky to be able to borrow a SteriPen from our friends in Kathmandu. This saved us from buying bottles waters. However, the batteries in Nepal seem to be pretty cruddy, so even though we bought new ones in Pokhara, they failed us after 4 days use. We were able to score some purification tablets from some other hikers and when those ran out we purchased boiled and/or filtered water to refill our bottles and not have to buy more bottles.
II Money and Costs:
This was one item I couldn’t find too many specifics on prior to the trek. I know there aren’t ATMs on the trail, but I also didn’t want to be carrying way more cash than I needed to. Our guide (more on guides/porters below) told us that about 2,000 rupees a day would probably be enough, so I brought a little bit more than that for the two of us.
Here’s how our costs broke down (with a total below):
Lodging: Rs2,050 total [7×300 – 50 (discount first night)]
All of the lodging prices are set by the ACA so there really isn’t any need to worry about these costs, they’re pretty fixed. It was Rs300 a night for a double room, and that included blankets if needed. The price was usually two times that for a room with an attached bath, and up at ABC there were no private rooms available, but our shared room was 150/pp, so same cost. Only the first night did we pay under the rate (Rs 250) because it was so empty in the town they really wanted us to stay there. It seems they make most their money off of the food, because it’s a lot more expensive to stay at a place if you either eat elsewhere or bring your own food for dinner/breakfast.
Food & Drink: Rs14,940
This was total food costs, including waters if we needed it, and remember, this is for two people. The daily costs go up as we ascended…
|food day 1||Rs1,520|
|food day 2||Rs1,765|
|food day 3||Rs2,090|
|food day 4 (ABC)||Rs2,910|
|food day 5||Rs1,820|
|food day 6||Rs2,230|
|food day 7||Rs2,085|
|food day 8 (breakfast only)||Rs520|
Some menus and bills from our stays:
Our SteriPen worked great for the first 3 days (“free water”), then when it got colder our batteries failed us and it was cheaper to buy some boiled water than new batteries. We also scored some sterilization tablets from some other hikers that we used successfully.
Maybe budget an extra Rs 3,000 for extra supplies you might need along the way (batteries, pain killers, phone charging, showers, etc)
- Kathmandu > Pokhara & Back: Rs9630 (4830+4800). We rode the Greenline buses because of their reputation. Not cheap, but clean, comfortable and on time.
- Pokhara > Naya Pol: Rs 3,500. Because of the gas crisis going on in Oct 2015, this price was really high. We shared a ride with a group from the Netherlands. It was arranged through our hotel in Pokhara.
- RpPhedi > Pokhara: Rs1,300 (800 bus and 500 taxi). We hiked closer to Pokhara on the way back instead of going to Naya Pol, so our return costs were much cheaper. We took a local bus then a taxi with the help of our guide.
Permits: Rs 8,000
We got the TIMS and ACAP permits done on our own. Check out this post for more information: TIMS & ACAP
Lodging + Food/Drink + Transportation + Permits + Guide (see below): 2050+14940+14430+8000+15000 = Rs54,420
For us US citizens at the time, that came out to be about $525. When you consider that the couple of tour companies we contacted in Kathmandu about all of those costs and they were charging $575 per person, we definitely came out ahead by doing it ourselves.
III Porters and guides
It’s no secret that you can do the ABC without a porter or guide, but we recommend one or the other, or in our case, a combination (porter-guide). We also heard this same recommendation from others who had made a similar choice.
Why take a guide? Taking a guide is not just for knowledge about the route (ABC trek is pretty hard to get lost on), but rather it’s more about the knowledge of the tea houses, their ability to speak Nepalese when needed, their expertise should something go wrong (weather/injury) and also to just learn more about the people and environment you’re trekking in.
For us, we hired a porter/guide (PG) who carried my backpack loaded with both of our stuff and then we had a small day pack with our camera, snacks and water. Having our PG there likely saved us from bickering about which tea house to choose, how best to ask for what we wanted to eat/drink, and was always there to see if we needed anything and to of course carry out heavy bag.
Rates are negotiable, with most paying between $15-20/day (Rs1560-2080/day) for a guide or PG.
it’s our suggestion to wait until you arrive in Pokhara to hire a guide, and try to find one without a travel company (through a referral or online) or one with a company that has a good reputation of treating its employees well. If arranging online or in Kathmandu, the extra money you pay usually ends up in the hands of foreigners running the business and not those on the ground doing the work.
Well, that’s it. I hope that helps someone out there figure understand what is useful to pack, how much cash to bring along, and how much one can save if you do some of the work yourself.
Keep on adventuring,