Himalayan Country – ‘ Nepal ‘ has some of the best trekking trails in the world. This extraordinary country comprises of one of the most incredible mountain scenery in the world – ranging from lush and terraced farmlands, subtropical forest and beautiful valleys, high altitude plains, remote mountain passes and the summits of the highest peaks on the earth including ‘ Mount Everest ‘. Nepal is the place where one gets opportunity to submerge into cultures largely unaffected by the modern world and get inspired by the greatest mountain scenery on the planet. The country has become one of the world’s best trekking destinations with thousands of trails and endless mountain views. Incredibly done is the operation performed by the tourism industry of Nepal, which is well prepared to facilitate all manner of trekking styles and destinations for keen trekkers. Three main trekking regions – Everest (Solu-Khumbu), Annapurna and Langtang attracts over 160,000 trekkers from around the globe every year.
Everest (Solu-Khumbu): The Everest region is also known popularly known as ‘Solu-Khumbu Region’. Everest Base Camp Trek is one of the main trekking destinations for trekkers around the globe. The attractions of the trek around Khumbu region includes hike from Jiri or fly to Lukla then hike up to Namche Bazzar at 3550 meters – Capital of the Sherpa lands at the foot of Everest. From there trek up to Everest Base Camp through high alpine pastures and settlements of welcoming Sherpa community. An ascent up to Kala Patthar at 5545 meters for best view of Everest, Nuptse, Lhotse, Cho Oyu, Ama Dablam and several other high peaks in Everest Region. The region is equally popular among the climbers who keep coming back to climb the high peaks. Gokyo valley with its sacred lakes is also popular among the keen trekkers who visit Everest region.
Annapurna: Annapurna region has been the most popular trekking destination of the entire Himalayas. The region lies north of Pokhara and comprises of beautiful and lush middle hills filled with rhododendron trees into the high alpine vegetation. Annapurna Circuit Trek leads up the Marsyangdi river to Manang, and over the popular high alpine pass – Thorong La Pass (5416m) to Muktinath Temple – a famous pilgrimage center for Hindus and Buddhist. Then heading down through the deepest gorge of the world – Kali Gandaki Valley to arrive at Jomsom. The trail allows one to experience the hospitality of Gurung, Magar, Manangi and Thakali ethnic tribe communities. A hike up to Poon Hill at 3210 meters for stunning views of Annapurna – Dhaulagiri – Machhapuchre (Fish-Tail Mountain) Himalayan ranges of Nepal. Annapurna Base Camp Treks leads through spring rhododendron blooms into the very heart of Annapurna Sanctuary – an enchanting spot on planet.
Helambu and Langtang: Helambu and Langtang region lies to the north of Kathmandu. The trails are considered as one of the most convenient of all trekking areas. Trekking leads through the middle-hills countryside of Helambu, either circuit around and return to Kathmandu or cross the pass to the sacred – Gosainkunda Lake. Any trekker visiting the area in Spring season would enjoy the scenery of rhododendron forests that covers the northern slopes of Helambu. Enjoy the magnificent views of Langtang Himalayan Ranges while hiking up the Langtang valley beneath mountains that form the border with Tibet. And experience Nepal harmonious ethnic diversity – Bhotias, Brahmin, Chhetri and Newar ethnic tribe communities of Nepal. It is almost unbelievable that so few trekkers continue past Kyangjin Gompa to visit Langshisa Glacier, or cross the Tilman Pass from where the view of high snow capped mountains are simply amazing.
The traditional trekking routes all offers wonderful trail experiences but there is more to Nepal than Annapurna, Everest (Solu-Khumbu) and Langtang regions.
Kanchenjunga: Kanchenjunga lies to the far eastern of Nepal Himals and forms a natural border with the Indian State of Sikkim. Village to village trekking routes connect Singalilla National Park with Taplejung and numerous other trails that leads to Makalu and the Solu-Khumbu (Everest) region of Nepal. The main Kanchenjunga Circuit Trek route heads to the mountain’s north face and the stone huts of Pangpema. There are many ethnic groups in the region including Rai, Limbu, Sherpa, Lhomi as well as Tibetan nomads who cross the border for trading goods and services.
Makalu: Makalu region is sandwiched between Kanchenjunga and Solu-Khumbu (Everest) region of Nepal. The region consists of massive Makalu-Barun National Park which offers breathtaking views of high landscapes and splendid views of surrounding mountains. The region is largely inhabited by Sherpa and Rai community based villages and is also home to many endangered animals including Snow leopard and Red Pandas. The trek in Makalu region also includes the crossing of challenging passes – Sherpani Col 6180m, West Col 6190m and Amphu Laptsa Pass 5850m which are considerably the highest and hardest passes of the entire Himalayan Region of Nepal.
Mustang & Dolpo: Mustang and Dolpo both lie in the rain shadow of Annapurna and Dhaulagiri mountain ranges. The regions are more unique when compared to the rest of Nepal. Both regions are influenced and have strong uphold of largely unchanged Tibetan culture – dating back up to 1200 years. Mustang & Dolpo region offers trek from lush lower valleys to high arid alpine vegetation and towards some of the highest permanent settlements on earth. Lower Mustang and lower Dolpo trekking can be done without special trekking permits, but trekking in Upper Mustang and Upper Dolpo requires special trekking permits.
Ganesh Himal and Manaslu: Ganesh Himal and Manaslu lies at the geographical center of Nepal and the trails truly offer the country’s best kept trekking secrets. Manaslu Circuit Trek is perfect combination of nature, culture and history. Mt. Manaslu (8156m) – world’s eighth highest mountain and the crossing of challenging Larke La Pass at 5135 meters is considered to be the main features of the trekking in this region. For those seeking to gain wild trekking experience while being in the lower altitudes – Ganesh Himal is the place. The trails in Manaslu region includes the high and low diverse altitudes where exploring the region’s flora and fauna is an lifetime experience. The trail is followed through the sub-tropical forest to the dry arctic zone near the border of Tibet. Ethnic communities such as Gurung, Tamang, Magar, Larke and Siar blend together to create the most ethnically interesting series of valleys throughout the Himalayas.
There are 2 main ‘styles’ of trekking in Nepal. Which style is right for you completely depends on your destination, budget, time available and personal preferences. There is no better or worse style, in fact you might find your self-combining styles in some destinations to provide a wider experience.
- Teahouse trekking with a guide
Dramatic increase in the standard and convenience of teahouse trekking in the major trekking trails – Everest, Annapurna and Langtang areas of Nepal has attracted tens of thousands of trekkers every year. For example, The Sherpa Capital – Namche Bazaar in Everest region now boosts 24 hour electricity with multiple internet cafes, bakeries, and other essential facilities at 3500 meters. Commercial trekking companies from all over the world sell organized trekking holidays using these teahouses and a local guide agency. They are flexible enough to suit almost any kind of fitness and experience level. Recent years have seen the steady growth and development of more basic tea house facilities in Kanchenjunga, Manaslu, Makalu, Rolwaling, Tamang Heritage Trail and Mustang – all of which offers an authentic trekking experience in Nepal. There is no need to camp and a selection of western style foods are available on the menu. No special permits are required – however Conservation Area and National Park Entry Permits fees are mandatory. The main areas for these treks are Everest/Khumbu Region, Annapurna Region, Mustang Region & Langtang/Helambu.
- Trekking with a camping crew
The most flexible, comfortable and hygienic way to explore the Himalaya is on the camping trek. Trekking in Nepal was initially very much camping based which means that even the first time camper will be comfortable and well looked after by the support of the team of experienced staff. The roles of various crew members is normally well defined – the guide or ‘Sirdar’ is incharge and leads the trail, the Sherpas look after the clients during the trek, serve timely meals, set up and pack up the tents. Likewise the cook and the kitchen department staffs prepare or cook the meals while the porters carry all the trekking and camping equipments. Facilities available in remote areas are less extensive than in the more popular areas. Off the main trails where there are no lodges and food from menus a camping crew becomes very essential including guide, porters and full support. Kanchenjunga Circuit Trek, Upper Dolpo Trek, Rolwaling Tashi Lapcha Pass Trek, Makalu Circuit Trek, Rara Lake Trek, Kalinchok Cultural Trek are some of the trails that are done as camping trek.
Alternatively there are several Home-Stay trekking destinations where you will get opportunity to experience the local Nepali culture and daily survival activities. Trekking trails such as Tamang Heritage Trail, Pikey Peak Trail, Lower Manaslu Eco Trek, Ruby Valley Trek are some of the best and adventurous trekking with the convenience of lodging and fooding with local home stay facilities.
For many trekkers, camping style treks are their favorite method of exploring the hidden wonders of Nepal. They say that their experience feels more genuine. Camping brings you much closer to nature and the atmosphere built around the campfire often outlasts longer than that of teahouse trek.