As expected we had to make some changes to the itinerary as the trek progressed - something one must keep in mind because the high altitude treks come with their own challenges and mountain weather can play spoilsport. However, outside these uncontrollable circumstances, there were few things we could have done better had we taken time to know the region map better.
Since our aim was to reach ABC and back and that we weren't interested in doing the whole Annapurna Circuit, in hindsight, I would have planned the itinerary the following way:
- Take a bus/private vehicle from Pokhara to Siwai in the morning. You would reach by 10:30 am or so. Then hike to Kyume (lunch halt). Post lunch proceed to New Bridge and finally to Jhinu Danda. Enjoy the hot springs if you would like.
- Jhinu Danda to Chomorong (tea halt) to upper Sinuwa (lunch halt) to Bamboo for the night
- Bamboo to Doban (tea halt) to Himalayan (lunch halt) to Deurali for the night
- Deurali to MBC (lunch halt) to ABC for the night
- Enjoy the sunrise at ABC. Walk back to MBC, continue to Deurali (lunch halt). Proceed to Himalayan and stay the night at Doban
- Doban to Bamboo, lower Sinuwa (lunch halt), to Chomorong and stay the night at Jhinu Danda. Again enjoy the hot springs in evening (if you want to take it easy - stay the night at Chomorong - Chomorong to Jhinu Danda is just 45 min - all downhill)
- Jhinu Danda to New Bridge to Kyume to Siwai and take the bus back to Pokhara. (Lunch halt can be Kyume or Siwai depending on your start point - if you stayed at Chomorong previous night then stop at Kyume, else reach Siwai and have lunch)
- One, there is no need to do the arduous climb to Ghandruk. Have no idea why was it there in our itinerary
- Two, you can enjoy hot springs twice.
- Three, you stay at ABC and avoid the early AM trudging through snow in dark.
- And lastly, none of the days are very long (we had a real long one from MBC to ABC and then from ABC to Doban). Had we followed this itinerary, I am sure CD & PC would have not felt so tired after just two days of hiking.
The following table tells you typical hiking time between the key stops except Siwai to New Bridge which is about 2.5-3 hours. And if you do the math, no onward day has hiking time longer than 5 hours in the itinerary that I am suggesting.
Return days may seem longer per this table but keep in mind that these timings are based on going up, while coming down is usually much faster. For instance, though we took 2 to 2.5 hours from MBC to ABC, return was exactly half of the onward time. In addition, Here is the map of the region, you can also plan your own route if you don't like my suggested one :)
Another key information about this region - bottled water is banned and all places sell boiled and filtered water which is very safe. So if you carry hydration daypack like I do, please also carry one empty water bottle with you to buy water.
Also have at least one metallic water bottle on you as MBC and ABC can be very cold at night and the metal bottle with hot water will help warm up the sleeping bag.
And if you still need more information, I am sure you know how to reach me :)