Day 19 Deurali to Annapurna Base Camp

 Day 4 and day 5 Sanctuary route

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Day 19

Deurali

Annapurna Base Camp

North

28°29.81'

28°31.84'

East

83°54.01'

83°52.84'

Altitude

3,200m

4,157m

Ascent

943m

Time

4 hours 15 minutes

Distance

7 kilometres

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Above Deurali are magnificent (although foreshortened) views of the snowfield on the west face of Machhapuchhare 6,309m. The view (25 minutes) is through a hanging valley on your left. Opposite is a waterfall whose source is the unseen snow of Hiunchulli 6,441m above. Although the view is good here, it is a dangerous place to spend much time. The ground is littered with avalanche debris. In particular do not wait below the waterfall.

A little further on is a ruined village (35 minutes) presumably flattened by a snow avalanche. The area around the village is fairly level and relatively (!) safe. The evidence for this are the numerous rounded and waterworn rocks, and the absence of shattered fallen rock.

The lateral moraines (1 hour 35 minutes) topped by trees are beautiful and provide cover for large mammals. Yes, there really could be a yeti eating his or her breakfast just over the moraine and you'd never know.

Pass through the gates of the sanctuary, two indistinct rock pillars from where the sanctuary opens out. At Machhupuchhare Base Camp [28°31.42'N 83°54.60'E] 3,700 metres, the first guest house is the Cozy Guest House. The view from here includes Machhupuchhare and Gangapurna. Machhupuchhare Base Camp proper (2 hours) lies a little higher, where there are 3 more guest houses on more level ground:

  • Gurung Co-operative Guest House
  • Fish Tail Lodge
  • Sankhar Guest House

The best view of Machhupuchhare is from the Gurung Co-operative Guest House, but from here you cannot see Gangapurna! You pay your money and take your choice.

Day 5 Sanctuary route

Warning: If you are unacclimatised and have not already done the Annapurna Circuit you should stop at Machhupuchhare Base Camp for the night. Annapurna Base Camp is 450 metres higher. You have already ascended 500 metres and to ascend another 450 metres in one day would risk AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness).

Follow the path above Machhupuchhare Base Camp. Annapurna III comes into view behind and to your right (2 hours 30 minutes) on a bearing of 58°.

Pass cairns and walls (3 hours 15 minutes). From here onwards the view gradually improves, revealing Hiunchulli with Annapurna South 7,219m straight ahead. After arriving at Annapurna Base Camp (4 hours 15 minutes), should the skies be clear, Annapurna itself may be seen on the right.

 

There are 4 lodges here. Accommodation can be short here. People used to having a room to themselves may have to share. Anyhow, its so cold here that 2 people sharing a room maybe a little warmer.

Annapurna Base Camp is the site of the 1970 British Annapurna Expedition. The first ascent of Annapurna, made by the French Expedition in 1950 lies 10 kilometres to the north west (as the crow flies) on the other side of Annapurna in the Miristi Khola valley.

The wild beauty of the Annapurna Sanctuary which the British expedition entered in 1970 has since been invaded by property developers. What lies in the future one can only speculate, and no doubt many people will. Whatever happens, it will never be the same again. Unless there is some control this area could see 4 star hotels within 20 years. The existing lodges have made the area more accessible to trekkers. Perhaps though, they have driven out the yeti which the 1970 expedition encountered. If the lodges and trekkers don't drive them out, the fixed price menu up here will.

Large mammals such as deer, foxes, goats and even the fabled snow leopard may be seen here, particularly after a snowfall, when they are more conspicuous. There is a great deal of wildlife still here. The impact of trekking is thankfully confined to a tiny area of the sanctuary.

Be sure to spend the night at Annapurna Base Camp to get the sensational views the next morning. Get up to see the early morning sun on the south face of Annapurna I. In the evening, Machhupuchhare is lit quite beautifully by the setting sun.

Copyright Ian P Johnson October 1998