Annapurna Base Camp Trek in Winter

SRISTI
Updated on June 10, 2024
Annapurna Base Camp Trek in Winter

The Annapurna Base Camp trek is one of the popular trekking routes in the Annapurna region. The trail ridges up to the lap of the Annapurna ranges making it a thrilling and audacious expedition, leaving you awestruck. The region offers a fascinating chain of snow-clad Himalayas, a unique landscape, and a diverse range of vegetation, flora, and fauna. To witness the snowy trail, many enthusiastic travelers make the Annapurna Base Camp trek in the winter season, a bucket list destination.

In Nepal,  winter starts in late November and lasts until February. The region offers incredible waterfalls, dense forests of oak, and bamboo rhododendrons, and shelter of diverse wildlife. Due to less rainfall in the Annapurna region, it provides longer trekking season making it available throughout the year. The peak season for trekking in the Annapurna range is Autumn and Spring season but you can trek any time of the year if you are well prepared mentally and physically.

The trekking trails offer panoramic views of the highest Himalayas like  Annapurna I, Annapurna II, Annapurna III, Annapurna South, Fishtail, Gangapurna, Tent Peak, Hiunchuli, and Annapurna IV. The heart-soothing fresh and crisp atmosphere will make you forget all the city chaos adding extra inches of a smile. The series of quiet rocky trails, chilly wind, and blue frost meadows in winter will surely test your limits and push you to your physical and mental boundaries giving you a once-in-a-lifetime memory. So pack your bag and get ready to travel to Annapurna Base Camp in the winter season. Make sure to contact Mystic Adventure Holidays for more details. 

Highlights

  • Subtropical meadows, Alpine peaks, and snow-covered landscape. 
  • Beautiful skies and Magnificent views of sunrise and sunset from Poon Hill.
  • The memorable celebration of festivals (New Year, Lhosar,  and Christmas) in the Himalayas with locals.
  • Majestic view of mountains including Annapurna I, Annapurna II, Annapurna III, Annapurna South, Fishtail, Gangapurna, Tent Peak, Hiunchuli, Annapurna IV, and Dhaulagiri. 
  • Opportunity to time travel in pre-medieval monasteries.
  • Exposed to the diverse cultures and religions of local villages with their warm hospitality. 
  • Experience walking over a mix of old and new suspension bridges over rivers.
  • Opportunity to bathe in the natural hot spring of Jhinu Danda.
  • Lower prices for budget travelers.

Outline Itinerary of Annapurna Base Camp Trek

  •  Day 1: Arrival at Tribhuvan International Airport and transfer to hotel
  • Day 2: Kathmandu Valley Excursion and trek preparation
  • Day 3: Drive to Pokhara via tourist bus 
  • Day 4: Drive to Nayapul and then trek to Ulleri (1,960 meters)
  • Day 5: Trek from Ulleri to Ghorepani (2,750 meters)
  • Day 6: Climb to Poon Hill (3,200 meters) and trek to Tadapani
  • Day 7: Hike from Tadapani to Chhomrong (2,210 meters) 
  • Day 8: Trek for 2 to 3 hours from Chhomrong to Bamboo (2,310 meters)
  • Day 9: From Bamboo hike to Deurali (3,140 meters)
  • Day 10: Deurali to Annapurna Base Camp for 5 to 6 hours (4,130 meters) 
  • Day 11: Hike from Annapurna Base Camp to Bamboo for 6 hours (2,345 meters)
  • Day 12: Trek to Jhinu Danda (1,780 meters) from Bamboo
  • Day 13: Jhinu Danda to Nayapul and drive back to Pokhara
  • Day 14: Drive from Pokhara to Kathmandu
  • Day 15: Farewell 

Weather & Temperature of Annapurna Base Camp in winter

The winter season brings snow and chilly weather at the Annapurna Base Camp trek. In December, the temperature at the base camp ranges from -10 degrees Celsius to 10 degrees Celsius at day time while it falls to -20 degrees Celsius or lower at night. The days will be shorter with only 9 to 10 hours of daylight. In other months of winter, the temperature ranges from -10°C to 10°C with an average of around -5°C.

The winter season means cold temperatures and months of snow at higher altitudes. You have to bring warm clothing including a down jacket, warm gloves, and a hat. The occasional snowfall at higher altitudes will make the trek more challenging due to the slippery trail. Due to shorter daylight, you need to start your hike early morning and end it before sunset. The beautiful scenery of snow-capped mountains, clear blue skies, and pristine snowfall will make your hike to the Annapurna Base Camp in winter a rewarding experience.

The cold and chilly weather along with the less crowded trekking trail will make your hike more beautiful and joyous. The sunlight makes a favorable climate for walking throughout the day. February and January receive frequent snowfall, so you need to be prepared well with the right equipment and clothing. 

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Food & Accomodation

The winter season is an off-season for Annapurna Base Camp trekking. Most of the hotels and lodges shut down their business in the winter season due to fewer travelers while some hotels and lodges are still open. The trekking to the Himalayas passes across remote places, so all the goods and items served in the hotel are brought either by helicopters or via mules and horses. This makes the served dishes more expensive than that of the urban areas.

The hotel and teahouses offer some discount offers on the dishes and delicacies in the winter season. You will save some money than that of other peak season. The fewer crowds in the hotel will prevent you from standing in the long line for food. Besides this, there will be limited items on the menu and they will serve you all organic dishes. There are cheaper rates for the room and you can ask for a single room with an attached bathroom. You shouldn't share the room with your fellow travelers and can enjoy your personal space. 

Difficulty during ABC trek in Winter

The Annapurna Base Camp trek in the winter season welcomes many challenges and disasters. This is characterized as a moderate level of trekking which will be completed without any kind of technical skills and previous experience. Due to its location above 4000 meters, you will experience many hurdles in this region. The physically fit hiker and those who are born and raised in higher altitudes have slight advantages in the acclimatization process as well as in walking every day.

The preparation and physical ability will help you overcome the overall expedition difficulty. Some of the major hurdles that you will experience during the trek are given below:

  • Altitude sickness: You will suffer from altitude sickness at an altitude of over 2500 meters from sea level. It is characterized by trouble in the adjustment of the body due to low oxygen availability at higher altitudes. You need to pay attention to the symptoms of altitude sickness during the hike to Annapurna Base Camp. 
  • Trekking duration: The overall distance of Annapurna Base Camp is approximately 110 km. So, you need to walk for more than 6 hours a day which requires physical capabilities as well as mental wellbeing. It will be difficult for you to hike at a higher altitude with thin oxygen availability. 
  • Acclimatization: Acclimatization is necessary for trekking because it gives your body enough time to reshape and replenish the lost energy. The acclimatization in the cold temperature of the winter season is more challenging. You need a rest day to avoid altitude sickness as well. 
  • Weather Factor: The winter season is considered off-season in the aspect of trekking. Due to cold weather, there might be occasional snow fall so you need to walk across the snow-covered trekking trail. You need to bring warm clothes which are usually heavy and it makes your backpack heavier. You need to bring appropriate shoes just for walking above the snow-covered trails. 
  • There is a possibility of regular snowfall and blizzards at higher altitudes. The heavy blizzard may block the trails which results in the closing of the passes.
  • The days are shorter so you need to start the trek early morning and reach the tea houses before it gets dark which makes you walk fast to cover the distance. 
  • The cold weather and snowfall cause many teahouses to close which will make you difficult to spend a night at hotels.
  • There is the highest probability of avalanches and heavy snowfall in higher altitudes which cause the blockage of the trekking trail.
  • Snow

Trekking Tips for Annapurna Base Camp Trek in Winter

The Annapurna Base Camp trekking is considered a challenging trek and trekking in the winter season makes it more challenging and adventurous. The cold weather and snowfall make it difficult to complete the trek. Here are some tips that will help your trek succeed:

  • Bring warm clothes, a sleeping bag, and a good quality down jacket to avoid catching cold in the Himalayas. 
  • Make sure to bring enough trekking equipment like a trekking pole, waterproof boots, crampons, and ice axes which will be useful to maintain balance in the slippery trial.
  • You need to start your hike before sunrise and reach to destination before sunrise as the days are shorter in the winter season.
  • Acclimatize properly and drink enough water to avoid altitude sickness.
  • Bring enough cash as there are no ATMs and no online transactions in the higher altitude.
  • Learn and stay informed about the weather, trail conditions, and other updates from the guides and owners of tea houses and lodges.
  • Without a local guide, you cannot hike to the Annapurna Base Camp in any season, so hire a certified local guide.
  • Obtain all the necessary permits like a TIMS (Trekkers Information Management System) card and an Annapurna Conservation Area Permit (ACAP) from your trekking agency or guide. 
  • Walk in a slow and steady position making your body adjust to the changed altitude.
  • Carry a water purification tablet for safe drinking water along with instant energy bars, high-energy snacks, and chocolate.  
  • Bring medicine like Acetaminophen, aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, and Dextromethorphan in case you catch a cold and cough.

Annapurna Base Camp Trek preparation for winter

The Annapurna Base Camp trek requires enough preparation for trekking in the winter season. The winter season in Nepal comprises late November, December, January, and February. The whole country experiences chilly nights and warm days. The trekking trail of Annapurna base camp takes you to an altitude of 4,130 meters from sea level, you will experience moderate climate at lower altitudes and snowy and chilly weather at higher altitudes. You need to practice walking in a cold environment so that your body will easily adjust to the higher altitudes. 

Trekking to higher altitudes brings the risk of altitude mountain sickness even though you are physically and mentally fit. So, a positive mindset and a slow pace are required to avoid altitude sickness. You should also practice walking uphill, descending downhill, and climbing the paved staircases before a month of your scheduled trek. Make sure to bring a knee guard for knee problems, painkillers, bandages, and pain relieving ointment for emergencies. 

Documents required for Annapurna Base Camp Trek in winter

You must have permits before starting your trek to the Annapurna Base Camp in every season whether it’s Summer, Monsoon, Winter, Spring, or Autumn. Your trekking agency or guide will take care of your necessary documents and permits. The Annapurna Base Camp trek requires an ACAP (Annapurna Conservation Area Project) permit and a TIMS card. ACAP costs 3,000 NRS for foreigners and 200 NRS for SAARC countries citizens.

You need to pay NRS 1,000 for a TIMS card. These permits can be obtained from the Nepal Tourism Board in Kathmandu, without a permit you need to pay a penalty at the checkpoints. 

Merits & Demerits of Annapurna Base Camp Trek in winter

Trekking in the Annapurna Base Camp during winter has both merits and demerits. The adventure lover enjoys this trek fully while encountering the snowfall and other weather conditions. Winter brings more difficulties in the higher altitude region. The snow-covered trekking trail adds difficulties to the journey of Annapurna Base Camp.

The merits of the Annapurna Base Camp trekking in the winter season are given below:

  • There are fewer people on the trail which allows you to find accommodation easily and helps you to enjoy the serenity of the mountains and connect with nature.
  • The breathtaking scenery, snow-covered lowland, frozen waterfall, and icy rivers make the environment unique and magical. 
  • Fewer expenses in accommodation and food help save some money for budget-conscious travelers. 
  • It is a perfect season for celebrating the traditional Gurung festival, Tamu Lhosar while witnessing the other colorful festivals and culture. 

Here are the demerits of the Annapurna Base Camp Trek in the winter season:

  • Winter season in the Himalayas is extremely chilly. The temperatures fall below freezing point at night so bringing enough clothing and gear makes your baggage weighty. 
  • Snowfall at higher altitudes makes your trekking journey more challenging making the trail slippery with ice. You should be mentally and physically fit to trek at a higher altitude.
  • Some tea houses and lodges shut down their business due to off-season. This will make you difficulty in finding the accommodation. In addition to this, opened tea houses and lodges provide limited facilities so, you must come prepared with your supplies.
  • The snowy weather makes it difficult to navigate which resulted in the cancellation of flights. There will be a delay in your departure date so you must have a flexible schedule. 

Flora and Fauna of the Annapurna Base Camp in the winter season

There is a wide range of flora and fauna in the Annapurna region. They are preserved under the Annapurna Conservation Area which spans the area of 7,629 square kilometers of the central Himalayas in Nepal. The path takes you through a wide range of terrain, lush forests, and high-altitude glaciers. You will encounter many extinct varieties of flora and rare fauna while trekking through the Annapurna Base Camp region. You will see many types of flora and fauna while trekking in the winter season. 

  • Flora

The Annapurna region is a habitat of many medicinal and endemic plants and vegetation. You will pass through bamboo forests which are found commonly in the lower elevation. It adds greenery to the dense forest and acts as a habitat for many reptiles and birds. You will see a wide range of stunning Rhododendron forests and oak trees.

The splendid transformation of orange and yellow hues of oak leaves makes the trekking trail more beautiful. The Himalayan Pine tree covered most of the trekking trail and the aroma of pine needles spreading all over the trail boosts your lost energy. Pine needle is also used for making tea. You will encounter juniper shrubs at higher altitudes which are globally recognized for their medicinal properties along with their fragrance. There are stunning wildflowers like primrose, daisies, and marigolds which make the lowlands more colorful. 

  • Fauna

The winter season makes it more difficult to spot animals in the higher altitudes. The lucky one will be able to see diverse wildlife while hiking in the Annapurna Base Camp region. The Annapurna region is the main habitat of Himalayan Tahr, snow leopards, musk deer, red panda, monkeys, etc. Most of the hikers encounter snow leopards, and musk deer which are considered very rare for spotting in the Annapurna region.

Besides this, many birds, reptiles, and amphibians are also available for sightseeing. You can also see the Himalayan monal popularly known as Danfe which is the national bird of Nepal. You should walk cautiously without interfering with the habitat of wildlife which results in the disappearance of the wildlife. So, you have to walk while taking care of nature and without disturbing the wild ecosystem.

 Why Annapurna Base Camp Trek in winter?

The Annapurna Base Camp trek in winter is enjoyable and is perfect for that traveler who spends like crowds. It offers an utter silence in the trail while enjoying the natural beauty. You should consider trekking in the Annapurna Base camp trek in the winter season for the following reasons: 

  • The flawless and serene atmosphere: There is a clear sky with the perfect atmosphere. The weather makes your journey lovable and worthy after a long day of hike. 
  • Less Crowd: Due to the off-season, there will be fewer crowds on the trekking trails. The winter season offers a peaceful and serene setting along with magnificent Himalayas. You will have enough time to socialize with guides and porters. There will be no distraction from the natural beauty and you can enjoy it without any rush. You will experience peaceful ambiance and solitude providing an opportunity to connect with nature. 
  • Natural hot water spring: You will get an opportunity to bathe in natural water hot springs. Jhinu Danda offers a hot spring where you can take a warm bath which will remove all the tiredness and pain resulting from trekking. There is a belief that this natural hot spring removes pain in your body joints. 
  •  Unique Exploration Perspective: You will get an opportunity to explore the Annapurna region in the winter season. You can explore different sides at its pinnacle. The snow-covered landscape of this region will surely make the journey spectacular. You will be amazed by the unique blend of striking light to the snow-clad landscapes of the winter season. This makes your adventure worthwhile. 
  •  Easy accommodation: You can stay in the room of your choice and can get a room with a mountain view easily. There is no need to share your comfort zone with fellow teammates at night as you can get a single room with an attached bathroom. The stable and clear weather makes your journey more memorable. There will be more options and services will be fast. They will serve your choice of food if the items are available. 
  • Clear Views and Chilly Air: The chill and crisp air will add freshness to everyday trek. In other seasons, you will suffer from heat while trekking in winter will avoid this thing. The fresh air will make your hike enjoyable if you are dressed properly. Besides this, winter will offer you spectacular views of Himalayas like Annapurna I, Annapurna II, Annapurna III, Annapurna South, Fishtail, Gangapurna, Tent Peak, Hiunchuli, and Annapurna IV. You can enjoy the snow-covered mountains and experience snowfall at higher altitudes. 

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Annapurna base camp welcomes trekkers in the winter season as well. If you have a determined mentality with enough well-being, no matter anything like wind, snow will stop you from completing the Annapurna Base Camp trek. The clear and bright daytime weather helps you to walk with passion while witnessing the diverse vegetation, flora, fauna, and terrain landscapes. The winter trekking to Annapurna Base camp brings many obstacles like slippery terrain and snow-covered views of mountains but worth visiting.

There is a chance of experiencing snowfall at a higher altitude and you can click pictures with your fellow travelers which could be a lifetime opportunity for you. The picturesque trail of Annapurna Base Camp combines with other popular trekking trail like Poon Hill, Mardi HimalMohare Danda, Khopara Lake, and Jomsom. If your schedule is flexible you can hike in this region. 

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