Should I do Everest Base Camp or Annapurna Base Camp when I go to Nepal?
Everest Base Camp and Annapurna Base Camp are two of the most popular treks in Nepal. I concurred Everest Base Camp towards the beginning of my trip and I recently returned from Annapurna Base Camp, and now have a solid grip on the pros and cons, and similarities and differences between both treks.
If you are only in Nepal for two weeks and planning on doing either EBC or ABC I would recommend ABC because of the diversity in landscape. The Everest Base Camp Trek begins and ends at such a high elevation that the scenery stays relatively consistent throughout the trek. The soaring peaks of the Himalayas surround the path, and the altitude and cold temperature become a factor as you rise above the tree line. The Annapurna Base Camp trek begins outside of Pokhara where it is dry and hot. The path follows a river and at the beginning my friend and I were able to swim in waterfalls and swimming holes because of the blazing sun. We walked through canopies of trees and Rhododendron forests surrounded the path. But this warm and scenic landscape instantly changed once we got close to base camp. The day before we reached base camp we got caught in a snowstorm. The next morning we walked to ABC from Machhapuchhare Base Camp during sunrise where we had to trek through the snow. Although in some ways Everest was more epic because of the harsh conditions and the excitement of being able to see the highest mountain in the world, Annapurna showed the diversity and wonder of the Himalayas.
Another big difference between the two treks was during EBC I had a guide and porter, and for ABC I went with a friend and we carried our own bags and had no guide. For the Everest trek, I would definitely recommend having a porter. Because of the altitude, I felt relieved to have someone carrying my bag. It made the whole experience much more enjoyable. But not having a porter or guide for ABC created a sense of adventure and a feeling of doing something on my own. The trail was decently straightforward except for when it went through the villages, so we always made sure to ask if we were heading down the right path before leaving a village. Even though we came close to taking wrong turns a couple of times, we always managed to find the right path.
Another difference between the two treks is that ABC is less touristy and crowded than EBC. I personally did not experience this as prominently because I went to EBC at the beginning of the trekking season and it was not that crowded, but I heard that in the middle of the season it can be pretty crazy. If you plan on trekking to EBC, I would recommend going at the beginning of the season in order to stay away from crowds. Annapurna Base Camp is also definitely a popular trek, and I did see a lot of tourists. I talked to people who had done the Annapurna Circuit and were finishing with ABC, and they said that the circuit was a lot less crowded and that the villages had more of an authentic feel. If that that is something that you’re interested in, it might worthwhile to check it out.
Although the Annapurna trek has its perks, one of my favorite parts of the Everest trek was the sense of accomplishing something great. There were many people I met on the trek who were carrying out a life long goal to make it to Everest Base Camp. Everyone seemed to be in it together and excited about pushing themselves to make it to their goal.
Other than the factor of altitude, I thought that the two hikes were pretty equal in difficulty. Both had a lot of really steep and long uphill, and really steep and long downhill. Both were very demanding hikes that asked a lot from you physically, but had really great rewards at the end.
All in all, I would say that both of the hikes are incredible, but they are definitely different experiences and it just depends on what you are looking for. If you want an epic and exhausting trip where you are fighting through the thin air and altitude head to EBC, and if you are looking for a diverse landscape where in a single day you will be in the snow surrounded by high peaks and swimming in a waterfall head to ABC.