NEPAL

Annapurna Base Camp vs. Everest Base Camp


Last October 2018 my husband, sister and I spent 5 weeks in Nepal. We managed to try both the Annapurna Base Camp and Everest Base Camp Trek. Both hikes were incredible and equally beautiful. If you’re planning a trip to Nepal and are not quite sure about which trek is right for you, please read on as I compare the Annapurna Base Camp vs. Everest Base Camp Trek.

View from Annapurna Base Camp
View from Everest Base Camp

Annapurna Base Camp vs. Everest Base Camp

Duration:

Everest Base Camp trek: 11-13 days

Annapurna Base Camp Trek: 7-10 days

If you are planning on doing the trek solo then you’ll be able to shorten and extend your trek to suit your abilities and schedule. However, if you are taking a guide then 11-13 days for Everest Base Camp and 7-10 days for Annapurna is standard. The 10 days trek to Annapurna Base Camp can also include a side trip to Poonhill. Poonhill is a gorgeous look out point that shows off the Annapurna mountain range.

The view from Poonhill a side trip on ABC

The standard schedule for Everest Base Camp is 11 days and this includes a couple of acclimatization days. For Everest it’s important to build in an extra 3 days into your itinerary in case additional acclimatization days are needed.

Difficulty:

Everest Base Camp Trek: hard

Annapurna Base Camp Trek: medium

There is no doubt that the trek to Everest Base Camp is the hardest trek I’ve ever done. However, this doesn’t mean that Annapurna Base Camp is a stroll in the park. Both treks have their own challenges, and depending on your strengths and weaknesses you might find that Everest Base Camp is easier than Annapurna. So here are the main challenges:

Hardest day on EBC going up Thukla pass
Hardest day on ABC the long hike from basecamp to Sinuwa

Altitude:

Everest Base Camp Trek: 5300m

Annapurna Base Camp Trek: 4100m

High altitude hiking is very challenging for me. Starting our 5 weeks in Nepal with a trek to EBC was probably not the best idea. However, don’t let this scare you, some people handle altitude better than others.

If you are new to high altitude remember to walk slowly and drink lots of water. If you start to feel altitude sickness, consider resting an extra day at the same altitude. This will give your body more time to adjust. The symptoms for altitude sickness includes: fatigue, loss of appetite and diarrhea.

On the trek to EBC you will start hiking at 2800m and peak at 5300m. This is considerably higher than the trek to ABC, which starts at approx. 1000m and peaks at 4100m. If you already know that high altitude is an issue for you I would highly recommend ABC.  But if you have your heart set on Everest, you can look into starting the hike at Jiri. This itinerary will allow you to start your trek at a lower altitude and you will also save on the flight into Lukla. This schedule will add an extra 5 days to your trek.

Trail Condition:

Everest Base Camp Trek: clear trail, mostly dirt path and rocks

Annapurna Base Camp Trek: clear trail, some road, lots of stairs

The main difference between EBC and ABC trail condition is the amount of stairs. EBC has one day that has a lot of stairs, while ABC has an enormous amount of stairs almost every day. I also found that there was a lot more up and down on the ABC.

Other trekkers said that they found ABC harder than EBC because the stairs were so hard on their knees. I highly recommend hiking poles. Even if you are not a big fan, have at least one on hand.

Another thing to consider for trail conditions on EBC, is that it gets very rocky as you get closer to basecamp. It’s best to have ankle support on your hiking shoes. The trail for ABC is smoother, even the steps are nicely lined with large stones. I even saw people hiking with just sneakers.

The endless stairs to ABC
The rocky terrain to Gorakshep EBC

Weather – October:

Everest Base Camp Trek: light sweater to down jacket

Annapurna Base Camp Trek: t shirt to down jacket

We did both treks in October and we had mostly clear blue skies on both treks.  The weather in the Everest region is significantly colder. As you get higher up in elevation the temperature starts to drop below zero during the night.  The teahouses that you’ll be staying in are not insulated so if it’s below zero outside, it’s also below zero inside. 

This was not a major issue in the Annapurna region.  The weather only dropped close to zero during the one day at the basecamp. Otherwise it was warm, and during the night we were able to stay warm with just a sweater.

Starting Point:

Everest Base Camp Trek: Lukla

Annapurna Base Camp Trek: Nayapul

The EBC trek starts off with a thrilling 40 min. flight from Kathmandu to  Lukla airport. It’s also known as one of the world’s most dangerous airport. The runway is short and is situated on the edge of a cliff. Despite this our flight was extremely smooth, it was one of the best landings I’ve experienced.

The one thing to be aware of is that flights to Lukla are often delayed or cancelled due to bad weather. This is common in mountainous areas. It’s best to add an extra day into your itinerary, and be prepared for the possibility of spending extra cash to take a helicopter to Lukla.

The starting point for the ABC trek is easier find. First you have to travel to Pokhara, a beautiful lakeside city. There are regular 45 min. flights from Kathmandu to Pokhara. If you’re looking to save money, there is also a bus from Kathmandu to Pokhara. However, keep in mind that Nepali roads can be a rollercoaster ride. Once you arrive in Pokhara, you can take a 1 hr taxi ride to Nayapul, where you will begin the trek.

Lukla airport gateway to Everest
Pokhara the lakeside town in the Annapurna region

Scenery:

Everest Base Camp Trek: varies from green valleys to glaciers and rocks

Annapurna Base Camp Trek: forests and distant snow capped mountains

Both hikes offer stunning views. I found the scenery throughout the hike to EBC more stunning. It was amazing to see the transition from green trees to rocky icy terrain . The mountains also felt closer, and during the last few days you could really feel them surrounding you.

Glacier views in the Everest Region
Soft grass and mountain on the ABC trek

The hike to ABC allows you to see more village life, and takes you through green hills and valleys. The mountain nick named fishtail is always in the background, and the final view from basecamp is simply stunning. We stayed a night at basecamp so we were able to see both the sunset and sunrise. It’s a true 360 degree view of the mountains.

I hope this post helped outline Annapurna Base Camp vs Everest Base Camp. It’s a tough choice, and both hikes are definitely worth the effort. Don’t fret too much about which hike you do, just make sure you go, and once you start savour every minute.  If you have any questions, or if there’s anything I didn’t answer in this post, feel free to comment below or send me a message. Happy planning!

For more information on my trek to Everest Base Camp please check out the links below:

  1. Packing List
  2. Day 1 & 2 – Lukla to Phakding & Phakding to Namche
  3. Day 3 & 4 – Namche Acclimatization & Namche to Tengboche
  4. Day 5 & 6 – Tengboche to Dingboche & Dingboche to Thukla
  5. Day 7 & 8 – Thukla to Lobuche & Lobuche to Gorakshep

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