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Trekking in Nepal

Mar 6, 2024 | Travel Tips

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Nepal, nestled in the heart of the Himalayas, is a haven for trekkers seeking awe-inspiring landscapes, rich cultural experiences, and the thrill of adventure. With its diverse topography and breathtaking views, Nepal offers a plethora of trekking options for enthusiasts of all levels. Some of the great benefits of trekking in Nepal are that most treks have comfortable teahouses to stay along the way. As well, there are numerous experienced guides to support you on your trek (which as of April 2023 is a requirement in most regions, see end of blog post for more info).

Here, we present a list of some of the best treks that showcase the unparalleled beauty of this Himalayan nation. The post includes the most popular treks in Nepal, but also a few lesser known ones. The spring (March to May) and fall (September to November) are the ideal months to go trekking in Nepal.

mountains nepal

Everest Base Camp Trek

Duration: 12-14 days

Undoubtedly the most iconic trek in Nepal, the Everest Base Camp Trek, takes you through the legendary Khumbu region. With stunning views of the world’s tallest peak, Mount Everest, and encounters with Sherpa culture, this trek is a blend of natural beauty and cultural richness. Highlights include Namche Bazaar, Tengboche Monastery, and, of course, reaching the Everest Base Camp.

Annapurna Circuit

Duration: 15-20 days

The Annapurna Circuit is renowned for its diverse landscapes, from lush subtropical forests to high-altitude deserts. Trekkers traverse Thorong La Pass, one of the highest trekking passes globally, and witness panoramic views of Annapurna, Dhaulagiri, and Machapuchare. The circuit also allows for immersion in local Gurung and Manang cultures.  I did this trek waaaaay back in fall of 2001, and while many changes have occurred since then (cell phones!), the unparalleled beauty of the region remains the same.

Nar Phu Valley Trek

Duration: 14-16 days

In the Annapurna region but much less trekked compared to the Annapurna Circuit, the Nar Phu Valley trek takes in many of the highlights of the Annapurna Circuit.  This trek also includes high-altitude settlements, ancient monasteries, and crossing the challenging Kang La Pass, while offering outstanding views of the Annapurna and Manaslu ranges.

North Annapurna Base Camp Trek

Duration: 5 days

Another alternative in the Annapurna region, is the North Annapurna Base Camp trek (also known as the Maurice Herzog trail) which recently opened and takes you to the foot of Annapurna 1, the tenth highest mountain in the world. Unlike other treks, there are no teahouses along this trek (hence why you’ll find very few people on this trail and you can have the pristine landscapes all to yourself). This is a great option if you’re searching for something shorter than many of the popular treks in Nepal.  

mountains lake nepal

Langtang Valley Trek

Duration: 7-10 days

Located close to Kathmandu, the Langtang Valley Trek offers a spectacular and rewarding trekking experience. Trekkers explore the Langtang National Park, encountering Tibetan-influenced villages, dense forests, and high alpine meadows. The sacred Gosainkunda Lake and the panoramic views of Langtang Lirung are among the trek’s highlights.  There are numerous alternative options for trekking in the Langtang Valley, including day hikes.

Manaslu Circuit Trek

Duration: 14-18 days

For those seeking a less crowded trekking experience, the Manaslu Circuit is an excellent choice. This trek takes you around the eighth-highest mountain in the world, Mount Manaslu. Remote villages, ancient monasteries, and a diverse range of ecosystems make this trek a hidden gem in the Himalayas.

Upper Mustang Trek

Duration: 12-16 days

Often referred to as a “mini Tibet,” the Upper Mustang region offers a unique blend of Tibetan culture and dramatic landscapes. Trekking through the arid and barren landscapes, visitors encounter ancient cave dwellings, monasteries, and the walled city of Lo Manthang, providing a glimpse into a bygone era.

Gokyo Lakes Trek

Duration: 12-14 days

Nestled in the Everest region, the Gokyo Lakes Trek offers an alternative to the Everest Base Camp route. Trekkers are treated to breathtaking views of turquoise Gokyo Lakes, the Ngozumpa Glacier, and panoramic vistas of Everest, Lhotse, and Makalu. The trek also includes a challenging climb to Gokyo Ri for a stunning sunrise view.

mountains lake nepal

Mahabarat Range

Often celebrated for its towering Himalayas, Nepal also hides a gem for hiking enthusiasts in the lesser-explored Mahabharat Range. Nestled between the lowland Terai region and the majestic Himalayas, the Mahabharat Range offers a unique hiking experience that combines lush landscapes, charming villages, and panoramic views.

Some of the hiking here includes treks and day hikes in Shivapuri Nagarjan National Park, the Valley Fringe Hiking Circuit (a 2-3 day trek) and hiking around Nagarkot.

Important Notes

In April 2023, the Nepalese government banned foreign independent trekking in certain regions of the country, requiring the accompaniment of a registered guide in order to trek in these areas. The government cited safety reasons as well as economic development, but the new rules have frustrated many foreign solo trekkers who enjoy trekking independently.

On a more positive note, effective February 2024, Nepal has introduced a digital system for obtaining trekking permits, discontinuing the practice of paper permits which had been in place for more than 70 years.    

There are also many other routes being planned, such as new ones in the Mustang Valley, as well as a cross country trek. We will update this blog post as new information becomes available.

Resources

There are lots of resources online to assist with planning a trek in Nepal, and below we’ve listed some of the main guidebooks available:

  • Trekking In Nepal: Nepal’s best treks and hikes, by Stuart Butler, ‎David Ways, 2019, Horizon Guides – https://amzn.to/3UWfkRs
  • Nepal Trekking and the Great Himalaya Trail: A Route and Planning Guide, by Robin Boustead, 2020, Trailblazer Publications – https://amzn.to/42ZpGlv
  • Lonely Planet Trekking in Nepal Himalaya, by Bradley Mayhew and Lindsay Brown, 2016, Lonely Planet Publications – https://amzn.to/3Vl6cpR
  • Trekking Nepal: A Traveler’s Guide, by Stephen Bezruchka and Alonzo Lyons, 2011, Mountaineers Books – https://amzn.to/3T5bliO
  • Trekking Annapurna: 14 Treks including the Annapurna Circuit and Sanctuary, a Cicerone Guide, by Siân Pritchard-Jones and Bob Gibbons, 2017, Cicerone Press – https://amzn.to/49TLOzZ
  • Trekking Everest: A Trekker’s Guide: Base Camp, Kala Patthar, and other trekking routes in Nepal and Tibet, a Cicerone Guide, by Kev Reynolds and Radek Kucharski, 2017, Cicerone Press – https://amzn.to/49AM4UV
  • A Trekking Guide to the Nepal Himalaya: Everest, Annapurna, Dhaulagiri, Langtang, Ganesh, Manaslu and Tsum, Rolwaling, Kangchengjunga, Mustang, Makalu, Dolpo, West Nepal, by Bob Gibbons, Himalaya House and Siân Pritchard-Jones, 2020, Independently published – https://amzn.to/49YZ864

Nepal’s diverse trekking options cater to all levels of trekkers, from beginners to seasoned adventurers. Each trek promises a unique blend of natural beauty, cultural encounters, and the thrill of exploration. Whether you’re gazing at the towering peaks of Everest or immersing yourself in the ancient traditions of the Annapurna region, a trek in Nepal is an unforgettable journey into the heart of the Himalayas.

1 Comment

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