EBC vs. ABC
EBC v. ABC
Everest Base Camp (EBC) and Annapurna Base Camp (ABC); two of the most well know Base Camps in the world and both are in Nepal.
But how do the treks compare? And which one to choose?
Everest Base Camp is by far the most well known, and is widely considered as a challenging trek taking around 12 – 13 days depending on your precise itinerary. The anticipation and excitement of flying up into the Everest Region is what provides the buzz, that feeling of flying into another world. The tiny airport (Lukla) that serves the region is after all, considered the most dangerous airport in the world!
Physically, taken at a relaxed pace, there’s nothing too extreme here with 2 or 3 sections worthy of note where climbing steeply for a couple of hours on each occasion is involved. But when you add the altitude, it becomes a different beast.
There is no question that this is a stunning trek; you have a constant view of the biggest mountains on the planet. The challenge is to cope with what I describe as harsh conditions; living conditions are relatively basic (albeit in lodges), the temperatures are low (especially at night) and the high altitude will cause all sorts of changes to your body. There is undoubtedly an element of robustness required.
Reaching EBC is therefore a feat in itself, it is certainly not a given. Some are a little disappointed as there is no formal ‘base camp’, the term EBC really refers to a general location as there are no buildings. The traditional location is at the turn of glacier where it pitches up to the right through what is known as the Khumbu Ice Fall. Hundreds of tents are pitched on the glacier (usually in expedition groups), clear of perceived avalanche threats. It is a sight to behold in April/May when the climbing season is in full flow.
Annapurna Base Camp is a different kettle of fish, located in the heart of the Annapurna’s some 200km to the west of Everest. The area is accessed through Pokhara, a 6 hr drive or 30 min flight from Kathmandu. The trek length is similar and at 4130m, the maximum altitude on this trek is much lower.
ABC is a group of stone buildings, providing a much more comfortable base for climbers and visitors generally to ABC. It is a fantastic location, an absolute amphitheatre of snow and ice, being completely surrounded by towering peaks. Sunrise on Annapurna South is a wonderful sight.
For those looking for a physical challenge, just because the altitude isn’t as high, don’t underestimate the physicality. In my view it matches the EBC route easily with its fair share of long steep ascents. The route in and out of the region is different, only the section up to ABC itself (the Annapurna Sanctuary) is out and back (5 days).
So, all in all, both have ample views of the big mountains, both can be physical and both reach a Base Camp. Whilst EBC may have the name attached to it and that challenging element of altitude, ABC has far more to offer in terms of variety of terrain, route, no altitude problems, experiencing the people working the land, Poon Hill and Pokhara on the end of it. A far more encompassing experience of Nepal.
Pokhara is perfect for post trek relaxation, a few nights here really caps it off before a domestic flight back to Kathmandu.