Embarking on the Annapurna Base Camp trek in December promises to be a thrilling and audacious expedition, leaving you awestruck by the breathtaking Himalayan range. Traverse over snow-capped trails and arduous terrain, featuring Annapurna South, Machhapuchhre, and Hiunchuli, while being encompassed by splendid views of some of the world’s tallest peaks.
The Annapurna Base Camp trek in December is not for the faint of heart. The winter weather brings with it a unique set of challenges including icy trails and plummeting temperatures. But with the right preparation and a sense of adventure, you’ll be rewarded with a once-in-a-lifetime experience that few others have the courage to undertake.
The Annapurna Base Camp trek in December is an adventure like no other. It will test your limits, push you to your physical and mental boundaries and reward you with memories that will last a lifetime. So if you’re ready to embark on the journey of a lifetime, then the Annapurna Base Camp trek in December is waiting for you.
Weather and Temperature at Annapurna Base Camp Trek in December
The weather conditions at Annapurna Base Camp in December are cold and snowy due to the winter season. The temperature at the base camp can range from -10°C to 10°C during the day with nighttime temperatures dropping to -20°C or lower. It is essential to bring warm clothing including a down jacket, warm gloves, and a hat to stay warm in these frigid temperatures.
December is also one of the driest months in the Annapurna region with clear blue skies and little rainfall. However, occasional snowfall is common during this time of year which can make the trek more challenging due to slippery trails. The days are shorter in December with daylight hours ranging from 9-10 hours, so trekkers should plan their daily itinerary accordingly.
Despite the cold and snowy conditions, trekking to Annapurna Base Camp in December can be a rewarding experience. The mountain scenery is at its best during this time, with snow-capped peaks, clear blue skies, and pristine snow on the ground. Additionally, the trail is less crowded allowing trekkers to enjoy the peaceful solitude of the mountains.
The crowd at Annapurna Base Camp Trek in December
Although the hiking path sees less traffic in December compared to its peak season, it still manages to entice a considerable number of trekkers. The Annapurna Base Camp trek is notably less crowded during this time of the year. As December marks the winter season in Nepal, temperatures in the Annapurna region can plummet below freezing, leading to a decrease in the number of trekkers. However, this can result in a more delightful and serene trekking experience.
However, it is essential to note that December is also a popular time for Christmas and New Year’s holidays. Many travelers take advantage of the holidays to go on a trekking adventure and Annapurna Base Camp is a popular destination. You can expect the trail to be busier during the weeks leading up to Christmas and New Year.
Highlights of Annapurna Base Camp Trek in December
While trekking in December comes with its own set of challenges, it is also a unique and rewarding experience. Here are some highlights of the Annapurna Base Camp trek in December:
- Snow-covered landscapes: December is the beginning of the winter season in Nepal and the higher elevations of the trek are often covered in snow, creating stunning winter wonderland scenery. The snow-capped peaks of Annapurna, Dhaulagiri, and Machhapuchhre (Fishtail) provide a magical backdrop for the trek.
- Fewer crowds: December is not a peak season for trekking in Nepal, so the trails are much less crowded compared to the peak seasons of Spring and Autumn. This means you will have more solitude on the trail and a more intimate experience with nature.
- Lower prices: Since December is not a peak season, trekking costs are generally lower making it an ideal time for budget travelers.
- Pleasant daytime temperatures: While nighttime temperatures can drop below freezing, daytime temperatures are usually comfortable with sunny days and clear skies.
- Unique cultural experiences: During this time of the year, you will have the opportunity to engage in customary celebrations and cultural rituals like Christmas and the Nepali festival of Losar.
- Hot springs: December is a perfect time to visit the natural hot springs in Jhinu Danda which is a highlight of the trek. It is a great way to relax and rejuvenate after a long day of trekking.
- Sunrise view from Poonhill: Poon Hill is a popular viewpoint on the Annapurna Base Camp trek providing spectacular views of the Annapurna mountain range including the sunrise. In December, the sunrise can be especially breathtaking with the snow-covered peaks glowing pink and orange as the sun rises over them.
Here is a detailed itinerary of the Annapurna Base Camp Trek:
Day 1: Arrival in Kathmandu (1400 m)
Upon arrival at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, you will be greeted by a representative from your trekking company and transferred to your hotel.
Spend the day exploring the city, visiting temples, and preparing for the trek.
Day 2: Drive to Pokhara (822 m)
Embark on a scenic drive to Pokhara, a picturesque city situated on the shores of Phewa Lake, in the early morning. The journey typically takes around 7 hours and treats you to breathtaking vistas of the Himalayas.
Upon arrival, take the evening to wander around the city and relish the serene views of the lakeside.
Day 3: Drive to Nayapul( 1070 m) and trek to Tikhedhunga( 1480 m)
After breakfast, drive to Nayapul and start the trek to Tikhedhunga. The trail passes through lush forests and traditional villages, offering stunning views of the surrounding mountains. Overnight in Tikhedhunga.
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Day 4: Trek to Ghorepani (2874 m)
The trek for the day leads through a splendid rhododendron woodland en route to Ghorepani.
Although it is a demanding and extensive walk, the stunning panoramas of the nearby mountains and valleys make the exertion worthwhile. Ghorepani is where you will spend the night.
Day 5: Hike to Poon Hill(3,210 m) and trek to Tadapani(2,630 m)
Wake up early in the morning to hike up to Poon Hill, one of the best vantage points for sunrise views in the Himalayas.
After watching the sunrise over the Himalayas, trek to Tadapani. Overnight in Tadapani.
Day 6: Trek to Chhomrong(2,150 m)
The trail from Tadapani to Chhomrong is steep and challenging, but the views of the Annapurna and Machhapuchhre peaks are breathtaking. Overnight in Chhomrong.
Day 7: Trek to Dovan(2,500 m)
Today’s trek takes you through bamboo forests and along the Modi Khola River to Dovan. The trail is challenging, but the stunning views of the mountains make it all worth it. Overnight in Dovan.
Day 8: Trek to Deurali (3,200 m)
The trail from Dovan to Deurali is steep and challenging, but the views of the surrounding mountains and valleys are stunning. Overnight in Deurali.
Day 9: Trek to Annapurna Base Camp(4,130 m)
Today is the highlight of the trek as you trek to Annapurna Base Camp, located at an altitude of 4,130 meters.
The trail is steep and challenging, but the views of the Annapurna range are simply breathtaking. Overnight in Annapurna Base Camp.
Day 10: Trek back to Bamboo(2,300 m)
After having breakfast, hike back to Bamboo through a less challenging and predominantly downhill terrain, in contrast to the previous day’s trek. Bamboo will be your place of stay for the night.
Day 11: Trek to Jhinu Danda(1,780 m)
Today’s trek takes you to Jhinu Danda, where you can relax in the natural hot springs and enjoy the stunning views of the surrounding mountains. Overnight in Jhinu Danda.
Day 12: Trek to Nayapul( 1070 m) and drive to Pokhara (822 m)
Today is the last day of the trek as you trek to Nayapul and then take a drive back to Pokhara.
Spend the evening exploring the city and enjoying the lakeside views.
Day 13: Drive back to Kathmandu (1400 m)
Following breakfast, drive back to Kathmandu.
Spend the day discovering the city and indulging in some shopping before concluding your trek.
While trekking to the Annapurna Base Camp, trekkers can witness and participate in some of the festivals celebrated in the region during December:
Tamu Lhosar is a festival celebrated by the Gurung community of Nepal to mark the beginning of their New Year. It usually falls in December or January, depending on the lunar calendar.
During the Annapurna Base Camp trek, trekkers can witness the celebration of Tamu Lhosar in the Gurung villages along the way. They can enjoy traditional dances, songs, and food, and learn about the Gurung culture.
Christmas is a popular festival celebrated by the Christian community in Nepal, especially in Kathmandu and Pokhara. During the Annapurna Base Camp trek, trekkers can celebrate Christmas in the lodges along the way. They can enjoy traditional Christmas food and drinks and attend midnight mass in some of the lodges.
New Year’s Eve:
New Year’s Eve is observed globally, and even the Annapurna Base Camp trek is no exception. Hikers have the opportunity to spend the evening with fellow trekkers and locals at the lodges en route. They can relish traditional cuisines, indulge in local drinks, and participate in cultural dances and singing.
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Flora and Fauna
While the flora and fauna in the Annapurna region can vary depending on the season, there are still many types of flora that can be spotted during a December trek.
Here are some of the flora species that you may see during your trek to Annapurna Base Camp in December:
- Oak: The Annapurna region is abundant with oak trees offering an ideal habitat for diverse wildlife. As the winter approaches, the oak leaves undergo a transformation, exhibiting a splendid blend of orange and yellow hues, adding to the picturesque beauty of the region.
- Pine: The Himalayan Pine is a prevalent tree species that you may encounter during your trek in the Annapurna region. The needles of these trees emit a distinctive fragrance and can be utilized for making tea.
- Juniper: Found at higher altitudes in the Annapurna base camp region Juniper is a shrub that has adapted well to the environment. This plant species is widely recognized for its medicinal properties and emits a unique fragrance.
- Wildflowers: During the trek, you will have the opportunity to witness a diverse range of wildflowers such as primrose, daisies, and marigolds. These stunning flowers add a beautiful burst of color to the already picturesque landscape.
While it can be more challenging to spot animals during the winter months, with some luck and patience, you may be able to see some of the following species:
The Annapurna region is home to the Himalayan Tahr, a sizable species of mountain goat. These goats are well-adapted to the cold climate and are protected by their thick, shaggy coats during the winter months
While it’s rare to spot a snow leopard, the Annapurna region is one of the few places in the world where they can be found. These big cats are known for their elusive nature but if you are lucky enough, you may be able to catch a glimpse of one.
Musk deer are another species that can be found in the Annapurna region. They have a distinctive musky scent, and the males have long, sharp fangs that they use during fights for territory or mates.
The red panda is a small, arboreal mammal that’s found in the forests of the Annapurna region. They have a distinctive reddish-brown coat and a long, bushy tail.
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There are several species of monkeys that can be found in the Annapurna region, including rhesus macaques and langurs. These playful animals can often be spotted swinging through the trees or playing on the ground.
The Annapurna region is also home to a variety of bird species, including eagles, vultures, pheasants, and more. You may be able to spot these birds soaring high above the mountains or perched on a tree branch.
Difficulty Level of Annapurna Base Camp Trek in December
The Annapurna Base Camp Trek is considered to be a moderate to difficult level trek, even in the best of conditions. However, during the month of December, the trek can become more challenging due to the colder weather and the possibility of snow and ice on the trail.
The trail conditions in the Annapurna region can be challenging, especially due to the snowy and icy terrain. Hiking in steep areas may be particularly treacherous and difficult to navigate. Additionally, inclement weather can reduce visibility, making the trek even more challenging.
Tips for Annapurna Base Camp Trek in December
December is considered the off-season for trekking in the Annapurna region because it is the winter season. Here are some tips for Annapurna Base Camp Trek in December:
Prepare for the cold weather:
December is the coldest month of the year and the temperature at the base camp can drop down to minus degrees Celsius. Therefore, it is crucial to bring warm clothes, a sleeping bag, and a good quality down jacket.
Make sure to bring all the necessary trekking equipment such as trekking poles, waterproof boots, crampons, and ice axes. These will be useful while trekking in the snow and slippery trails.
The days are shorter in December, so it is better to start early in the morning to reach your destination before it gets dark.
Be cautious of altitude sickness:
The risk of altitude sickness is still present in December, so it is essential to acclimatize properly and drink enough water.
Carry enough cash:
Make sure to carry enough cash as there are limited ATM services available in the Annapurna region.
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Stay informed about the weather conditions, trail conditions, and other updates about the trek from the local guides or teahouse owners.
Hire a local guide:
It is recommended to hire a local guide for trekking in the Annapurna region in December as the trails might be covered in snow, and it can be challenging to find the way.
Side Treks/Activities that can be done in December
While December is considered one of the colder months in Nepal, the Annapurna region still has plenty of activities and side treks to offer. Here are some of them:
Poon Hill is a popular side trek that can be done during the Annapurna Base Camp trek. From the top of the hill, you can enjoy a panoramic view of the Annapurna range, Dhaulagiri, and other snow-capped peaks. The sunrise and sunset views from Poon Hill are particularly breathtaking.
Explore the local culture:
The Annapurna region is home to various ethnic communities, particularly the Gurungs and Magars. To immerse yourself in the local way of life, you can venture off to neighboring villages along the route. Here, you can explore historical dwellings, savor the regional cuisine, and delve deeper into the unique customs and traditions of the area.
Visit the Annapurna Sanctuary:
The Annapurna Sanctuary is a natural amphitheater surrounded by snow-capped peaks. The sanctuary lies at an altitude of 4,130 meters and is considered one of the most beautiful and serene places in the region. You can take a day trip to the sanctuary and explore the area.
Trek to Khopra Danda:
Khopra Danda is a lesser-known trekking route that offers stunning views of the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri ranges. The trek takes you through rhododendron forests, traditional villages, and alpine meadows. You can also stay in a community lodge and learn about the local way of life.
Mardi Himal Trek:
The Mardi Himal Trek is a relatively new trekking route that takes you through dense forests, beautiful villages, and stunning mountain landscapes. The trek starts from Kande and takes you to the base of Mardi Himal which lies at an altitude of 5,587 meters. The trek can be done in 5-7 days and offers breathtaking views of the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri ranges.
The Ghandruk Trek is a short trek that can be done in 2-3 days. The trek takes you through the beautiful village of Ghandruk which is famous for its traditional houses, cultural shows, and handicrafts. From Ghandruk, you can enjoy panoramic views of the Annapurna and Machhapuchhre peaks.