The trek

Pokhara – Phedi – Dhampus – Pothana – Landruk – New Bridge – Chhomrong – Khudi Ghar – Bamboo Lodge – Doban – Himalayan Hotel – Machhapuchhre Base Camp – Annapurna Base Camp

Julian and I will stay in Pokhara for a few days during which we will buy any last-minute necessities and find a porter.  When I was there in 1996,  hotels and cafes had notices on the walls from porters advertising their services and messages from trekkers seeking other people to walk with them.  I’m hoping that we will meet people who have recently completed the Annapurna Base Camp trek and can advise us on the conditions at the top of the trek.  They may also be able to tell us about good hostels to look out for on the way and, maybe more importantly, hostels to avoid!  If we are lucky, someone might be able to recommend a porter to us who helped them on a recent hike.  I think we will probably stay in Pokhara for 3 or 4 days.
A Hard Start
From Pokhara we will take a bus to Phedi which appropriately enough means “foot” in Nepali.  From Phedi I don’t think there is any road at all and so obviously no cars, motorbikes and so on!  The trail leads from Phedi to Dhampus, Pothana, Landruk, New Bridge to Chhomrong.  This part of the trek passes over the top of one valley down into the next and then up the other side.  It is therefore pretty physically demanding and while the rest of the hike is at a higher altitude, the gradients are not as severe.  These first couple of days are going to be a bit of an ordeal for Julian and I and I’m not intending for us to charge on heroically.  I hope our porter brings a good book with him because he’s going to spending quite a long time hanging around waiting for us to catch up.
From what I have read, Chhomrong (however you pronounce it) seems to be the last big settlement on the trail.  You can buy pretty much anything you need there and hostels are plentiful.  During the winter months when there is snow further up, people migrate down from the higher villages to Chhomrong.  We may spend an extra day here to recover from the hike from Phedi.  If we have blisters at this stage, we will definitely take our time.
shhhh – Avalanches
From Chhomrong the trail goes steadily up the Modi Khola Valley through Khudi Ghar, Bamboo Lodge, Doban, Himalayan Hotel to Machhapuchhre Base Camp.  From Doban onwards there is a slight risk of avalanches though my guidebook helpfully informed me that they usually take place after 9 am!  I’m not sure if that means we should be up at 3am and do our walking for the day before 9 am or that we shouldn’t walk between 9 am and 9 am the next morning…
Machhapuchhare Base Camp
Machhapuchhare Base Camp is the point from where expeditions attempt to climb Machhapuchhare, also known as Fishtail Mountain.  Or they would attempt to climb except for the fact that under Nepali law and by common agreement amongst the climbing fraternity, Machhapuchhare is considered sacred and no-one is allowed to climb it.  There are hostels here and at 3,700m it is at about the same altitude as the top of Mount Fuji.
Annapurna Base Camp
After resting at MBC, we will then hike the last 400 metres to Annapurna Base Camp.  The sunrise here is supposed to be spectacular but in the middle of the day there are clouds and in the late afternoon the view improves again.  Julian and I will aim to arrive mid morning and will stay at least one night in order to see the sunrise and admire the view. 
The Return Leg
From Annapurna Base Camp, we will then go back down the Modi Khola to Chhomrong.  While this part of the journey may take 5 or 6 days going up, coming down it should take only 3 or 4 days.  From Chhomrong we will take the path to Ghandruk which is a culturally interesting village because it is populated by the Gurung people.  We will probably stay a night here and then head back to the road via Chandrakot, Birethani and Naya Pul.  At the road we have to wait for a bus to take us back to Pokhara and a shower for Julian and a beer for me!  The whole trip should take from 13 to 16 days.