Exploration group from North Nepal Trek holding banners of North Nepal trek after sucessful exploration of North Annapurna Base Camp, with the snow white Annapurna on the background.
04 Jul, 2023 - North Nepal Travels and Treks

North Annapurna Base Camp Trek - A Journey on the Rarely Known Trail(2023 )

North Annapurna Base Camp, also known as the Maurice Herzog Trail, holds a significant place in mountaineering history. In the 1950s, a courageous French expedition team embarked on a remarkable journey to conquer one of the towering 8000-meter peaks. Led by Maurice Herzog the commander, accompanied by Louis Lachenal, and also supported by hundreds of Sherpa and porters, they achieved an extraordinary feat by reaching the summit of Annapurna-I, standing tall at 8091 meters without the aid of supplemental oxygen. However, triumph over the summit came with a great cost, as Herzog lost his gloves his two-week suffering begins and he barely survived the severe frostbite, losing his hands, fingers, and legs. Also, he got lost along with two Sherpa climbers from camp V while descending to the Base camp.

The story of Maurice Herzog's struggling experience was portrayed in his book "Annapurna," which captivated my imagination and sparked a deep interest in trekking along this trail. Motivated by curiosity and the desire to explore this relatively uncharted path, I embarked on a five-day camping expedition with three fellow students studying tourism with the help of the North Nepal Trek agency. Our primary goal was to gather essential information about this hidden gem as well as promote it for tourists to explore this region.

To kick off our journey towards the North Annapurna Base Camp trek, we gathered at the North Nepal Travel and Trek office located on 13th Street Lakeside. Mr. Mohan Raj Bhandari, the CEO of North Nepal Travel & Trek, encouraged us and provided the necessary funding for the trek, fueling our enthusiasm and courage. We clearly compiled a checklist of the required equipment for our expedition. With the assistance of the Trek Equipment Solution Shop, we acquired essential items such as tents, burners, and sleeping bags. After thorough planning, we set off at 7:30 a.m., opting to ride our motorbikes to HumKhola.

Annapurna Base Camp Trek Short Itinerary:
 

Day 1: Pokhara to Tatopani to Humkhola, elevation 2890m:

After a satisfying breakfast, we met at OKM, fully equipped and excited for the short North Annapurna Base Camp Trek adventure ahead. Before we rode to HumKhola, we took our bikes to the workshop for a thorough inspection and maintenance. Capturing the moment, we took group photographs to memorize the beginning of our journey. Embarking on the Bupi Serchan highway, which leads to the Tibet border, we briefly stopped at Kande for tea and coffee. Riding through vibrant towns such as Kushma, Baglung, and Beni, we arrived at Tatopani around 1 p.m. After indulging in a delightful lunch at Tatopani Thakali Bancha ghar, we resumed our journey toward Humkhola. Along the way, we crossed the Kaligandaki bridge, passing by long and deep hydropower tunnels and awe-inspiring gorges. A challenging three-hour ascent brought us to HumKhola, where we sought shelter from the rain at a humble teahouse—the only one in the area. To our surprise, a massive hydro construction site with numerous trucks and dozers lay before us. Completing a 115-kilometer ride, we settled for the night at Humkhola's modest teahouse as planned, warmly welcomed by the friendly proprietor who graciously prepared our meals.

Expedition Team from North Nepal Trek on their way to North Annapurna Base Camp having lunch at Kande.
 Photo : On the way to HumKhola
 

Day 2: Humkhola to Bhusket Mela:

We commenced the second day of short North Annapurna Base Camp Trek by enjoying an early breakfast before embarking on our journey to Bhusket Mela, situated at an elevation of 3650 meters. Our objective was to ascend gradually, mitigating the risks of altitude sickness. As we trudged up the stairs for about an hour, we were greeted by the magnificent Futfutey waterfall. Entranced by its beauty, we paused by the waterfall, refraining from swimming due to the icy-cold water and its huge size. Continuing our trek, we reached Shandikharka, a shelter midway along the trail, where we replenished our energy with some snacks. After a brief respite, we encountered another shelter called Ghupaphant after 45 minutes. En route, we saw the awe-inspiring Tilicho peak, standing tall at 7134 meters between the cliffs, seemingly welcoming us. Finally, after an additional hour of walking, we arrived at Bhusket Mela, our hunger prompting us to prepare bread, butter, and tea. Bhusket Mela hosted two shelters within a short walking distance, with a nearby river serving as a source of drinking water. Eager to explore the surroundings, we reveled in the vastness of the area, appreciating the majestic mountain vistas. For dinner, we relished eggs, sausages, and noodles before retiring for the night under the comforting shelter of our tents.

A trekker walking towards the camping house on rocky paths in Busket Mela, which is surrounded by hills.
 
Photo : Busket Mela 
 

Day 3: From Bhusket Mela to the Campsite:

The morning greeted us with crystal-clear skies and the soothing sound of the flowing river. Immersed in nature's splendor, we prepared ourselves for breakfast at 9 a.m. as Suraj skillfully cooked over an open fire. Assisting him, we eagerly participated in the morning routine. With breakfast concluded, we set our sights on reaching the campsite, following a trail that predominantly ascended amidst imposing rock formations. After approximately four hours of trekking, we encountered numerous enchanting waterfalls and streams along the way. Two hours into our journey, we came across a signboard indicating Sunkhola(Gold River in Nepali), named after the golden hue of the stones found there. Taking a short break, we continued onwards, eagerly anticipating our rendezvous with Yuddha. Another 1.5 hours of walking brought us to our first glimpse of the lake and the nearby shelter. The sight filled us with renewed vigor and excitement, and I couldn't resist running the final five minutes to join Suraj, who had already immersed himself in Robert Kiyosaki's "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" near the glacier lake. Arriving at the campsite, we encountered a disarray left behind by a previous group, prompting us to clean the shelter before settling in and preparing lunch. Enjoying our meal against the backdrop of the glacial lake was an unforgettable experience. As the day transitioned into evening, accompanied by a gentle cold wind, we sought refuge in the shelter to set up our tents and utilized the lake water for drinking and cooking.

The rocky trails along with rocky background near the Sunkhola river
Photo: Rocky surrounding near SunKhola.

 

Day 4: North Annapurna Base Camp:

The peaceful morning was disrupted by Yuddha's call, beckoning us to witness a group of blue sheep right in front of our shelter, within close proximity. Captivated by this unexpected encounter, I observed them until they disappeared from sight. Despite the initial overcast weather, the skies gradually cleared, prompting us to embark on our journey to the Base Camp, a mere 20-30 minutes away. The path was straightforward, with a prayer flag gracefully waving in the distance. Along the way, we paused at a prayed at Shiva temple and trekked towards the Narchyang Lake, renowned among Hindu and Buddhist pilgrims. Narchyang Lake, known as Pancha Kunda, was nestled amidst the majestic surroundings.

Reaching the pinnacle, we beheld the North Annapurna Base Camp, situated at an elevation of 4190 meters. The nearby flat expanse resembled two football fields covered in gravel, offering a breathtaking panoramic view. As we soaked in the awe-inspiring scenery, we captured moments with our cameras while consulting the map to familiarize ourselves with the surrounding peaks. Among the notable sights were the North Nilgiri at 7061 meters, Nilgiri Central at 6940 meters, Nilgiri South at 6839 meters, Tilicho peak at 7134 meters, Bharha Chuli at 7647 meters, Khangsar Kang (Roc Noir) at 7485 meters, and the towering Annapurna I at 8091 meters. Delving deeper into the Base Camp, we gravitated towards the enchanting Nilgiri peak, which shared the same expansive area as the Annapurna side. Savoring the moment, we eventually returned to the campsite for breakfast, relishing Korean noodles. As we prepared to depart, an avalanche from the south side of Nilgiri captured our attention, and I managed to capture it on my phone. Before bidding farewell, we immortalized the experience with a group photograph, proudly displaying the North Nepal Travel & Trek banner, our primary sponsor. With our belongings packed, we set off on the return journey, vowing to promote the trail and return in the future.

The path homeward now led us downhill. Within four hours, we traversed the distance from the campsite to Humkhola, encountering two other trekking groups along the way. Upon reaching Humkhola, we thanked the teahouse owner for safeguarding our motorcycles. Reconnecting with the outside world, we eagerly communicated with our families, having been cut off from communication for three days due to the lack of network coverage. After a two-hour journey, we arrived in Tatopani and settled into the comforts of Hotel Hot Spring. Satisfying our appetites with a Thakali Khana from the nearby Thakali Restro, we whiled away the remaining time, engaging in a game of pool at a nearby pool house.

photos of expedition team from North Nepal Trek on the campsite and base camp of North Annapurna also highlighting Futfute cascade, Nilgiri range
  Photo : A collection of North Annapurna Base Camp.
 

Day 5: Tatopani to Pokhara:

After a hearty breakfast, we bid farewell to Tatopani, commencing our return journey to Pokhara. Passing through Beni, we joined the Baglung Highway, relishing the fully blacktopped road. As we progressed, we made a lunch stop at Naudanda after three hours of riding. Bhandari Khaja Ghar, a renowned establishment, provided us with a satisfying meal, reminding us that our adventure was drawing to a close. Taking a moment to savor the experience, we embarked on the final leg of our journey, riding back to Pokhara, where we ultimately concluded our unforgettable four-night and five-day trek to the North Annapurna Base Camp.

Bikes of our Expedition Team with Background of Hotel Hotel Spring in Tatopani
 Photo : Departure to Pokhara from Tatopani.
                                           

Written by Niranjan Adhikari, a travel enthusiast.

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