Hotels in Annapurna Base Camp resume operationsA heavy snowstorm in February had blown the roofs off and left the hotels vulnerable to the elements.
Four hotels in Annapurna Base Camp that were destroyed by February snowstorm have resumed operations after reconstruction, bringing cheer to adventure enthusiasts on the eve of Nepal’s peak trekking season.
All four hotels situated at an elevation of 4,090 metres from sea level were closed for five months.
An estimated 40,000 trekkers reach the Annapurna Base Camp per year, which is one of the shortest trekking routes and is known for being a budget destination.
Jaganras Gurung, the proprietor of Annapurna Guest House, said that the hotels have resumed operation from July-end. “As there was a large number of snow deposits in the base camp, it delayed reconstruction works,” he said. “Trekkers, however, will not face difficulties now.”
Dilip Gurung, secretary of Annapurna Sanctuary Tourism Committee, said that the reconstruction of each hotel cost around Rs6 million. “It’s because everything had to be flown in.” He said that tourism entrepreneurs paid for the reconstruction out of pocket.
Gurung said that 40 workers were mobilised for the reconstruction effort and most of the construction materials were either flown by choppers or transported by mules.
The Annapurna Rural Municipality provided Rs400,000 in cash incentives to hoteliers for reconstruction.
Snow started blanketing the area from February 23, forcing all hoteliers and workers to move down to Pokhara. The snowstorm had blown away the roofs of the hotels and left the hotels vulnerable to the elements.
According to hoteliers, except for walls and a handful of furniture, everything was damaged. There are four hotels—Annapurna Sanctuary, Hotel Snowland, Annapurna Guest House and Paradise Garden Hotel—at the base camp. Each hotel is capable of accommodating 60 people daily.
Netra Sharma, in-charge of a check post in Chhomrong under Annapurna Conservation Area, said that in the last fiscal year 2018-19 that ended mid-July, 37 foreign trekkers visited the Annapurna base camp.
“As the hotels were destroyed by the snowstorm, trekker numbers were down,'' he said. “We are expecting an uptick in trekker numbers as the hotels have come into operation and the tourist season is nearing.”
Entrepreneurs JB Gurung and Dambar Bahadur Gurung constructed the first hotel in Annapurna Base Camp in 1981 targeting the trekkers. From Birethanti in Kaski, the base camp can be reached in four days—passing through New Bridge, Jhinu, Chhomrong, Bhanuwa, Sinuwa, Bamboo, Dovan, Himalaya, Deurali and Machhapuchhre base camp.
It takes at least three days to return. The key trekking seasons are from September to November and March to May. The route is normally closed during the winter and monsoon season. There are nearly 40 hotels along the trekking routes. In the peak season, due to the shortage of hotels room, trekkers are forced to sleep in tents and sometimes even in the hotel kitchen.