Everest or Annapurna Base Camp. If it’s your first time in Nepal you might be wondering which is the better trek? Having done both I would right out the gate say Everest Base Camp. However, if your worried about acclimatization, scared of flying small planes or don’t like colder temperatures then Annapurna Base Camp might be a better option. Here is a short review of both treks and the pros and cons of doing each. Keep in mind at the end of the day this is a bit subjective and that they both deserve to be included in a list of the world’s greatest treks.
The first thing to consider is the scenery of each trek. The trek to Everest Base Camp I think wins by a good margin. One of my favorite things about the trek to Everest Base Camp is that from you are almost in direct view of some amazing peaks. On the first few days of the trek you can get a view of peaks such as Thyangmoche, Kusum Kanguru and Thamserku. Once you past Namche Bazaar you are in almost always in direct view of Everest or one of the other giant peaks like Ama Dablam, Pumori, Nuptse, Lhotse, Cholatse, Lobuche. Asides from Everest, my favorite peaks in the region are Ama Dablam and Pumori (see the photos).
The mountain scenery going to Annapurna Base Camp is great as well but one issue is that you spend most of your time trekking up the canyon of the Modi Khola which is fairly deep and obscures direct line of sight with the peaks. You start to get out of the canyon after you reach the small village of Doban but this is already close to Annapurna Base Camp. One of the peaks you will see before reaching Doban is Machhapuchhre or Fish Tail which is an amazing peak and often called the Matterhorn of the Himalayas. Once you start to make your way into the Annapurna Sanctuary the views are of course great and at Base Camp you are standing directly in front of Annapurna and surrounded by peaks on all sides.
If you are interested in Buddhist traditions the Everest region is definitely of more interest and all along the trail you will find many Mani stones with carved Buddhist mantras as well as small temples and prayer wheels.
Moving on to some of the logistical matters the both the trails are quite good and well maintained. The route to Everest has more up and down elevation gain so is probably a bit more difficult. Annapurna Base Camp is also quite a bit lower in elevation 4,130m vs. 5,380m or about 4000 feet difference so if you anticipate problems with altitude it might be the better trek. The Everest trek is also colder and drier because of the higher elevations. The Annapurna region tends to get more snowfall and because the trail to Annapurna Base Camp lies low in the canyon it is susceptible to avalanches coming from the peaks above. Avalanches are not normally an issue but its certainly something one should be thinking of if your visiting during a period of heavy snow. The last time I went to Annapurna Base Camp in February of 2012 it was snowing quite a bit and a number of fresh avalanches had crossed the trail.
If you are short on time Annapurna Base Camp or even Poon Hill are great options. The Poon Hill trek can be done in as little as three days if your fast and the views of Annapurna are amazing. I always put off doing this trek because it sounded like too much walking through the foothills but now I am a fan and its great option to get in and out quick. Most treks to Annapurna Base Camp make a loop that includes Poon Hill and lengthens the trekking time by several days. If you want to skip Poon Hill and just do Annapurna Base Camp ask us and we can shorten the itinerary by a few days.
The domestic flights in Nepal don’t have the world’s greatest track record for safety and the thought of flying on a small plane into the short airstrip at Lukla can be a concern, especially if you already don’t like flying. I have met several trekkers who hiked all the way into Lukla from Jiri just because they wanted to avoid the flight. The Annapurna Base Camp trek can reached by bus and car from Kathmandu so if you don’t like flying it’s a good option and since it does not require a flight it’s also the cheaper trek which is always a plus.