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Nepal Trekking Guide: Discover the Top Treks and Everything You Need to Explore

Nepal Trekking Guide: Discover the Top Treks and Everything You Need to Explore

Embark on an unparalleled trekking adventure in Nepal, a haven for enthusiasts seeking days of awe-inspiring mountain vistas and charming rural villages. Nestled amidst the world’s highest peaks, Nepal stands as the ultimate destination for trekkers and mountaineers. With eight of the planet’s loftiest summits, the country boasts magnificent peaks, glacial villages, and prayer flags adorning mountain passes. After a rewarding day’s trek, unwind in cozy teahouses, bonding with fellow trekkers over steaming cups of tea. Beyond the legendary summits, Nepal unveils Sherpa villages, lush forests, ancient monasteries, and grazing yaks—a backpacker’s dream and an adventure lover’s paradise!

Trekking in Nepal isn’t just a trend; it’s ingrained in the country’s DNA, boasting a robust trekking infrastructure. The beauty lies in its inclusivity, offering trails for every adventurer—easy, moderate, and challenging. Tailor your trek based on your preferred difficulty level and available days. Here, we present a curated list of the finest treks in Nepal, endorsed by seasoned travel bloggers. Choose your adventure and embark on the epic journey that awaits!

  1. Annapurna Circuit Trek
    • Recommended by Campbell & Aly of Stingy Nomads

Unveil the allure of the Annapurna Circuit, a pinnacle in Nepal’s trekking landscape, renowned for its diverse terrains – from lush greenery and waterfalls to rugged snow-capped peaks. Ideal for both novice and seasoned hikers, this transformative adventure unfolds in the Annapurna Conservation Area in Nepal’s Western region.

For this trek, secure your journey with the essential TIMS card and Annapurna Permit, available at Tourism Offices in Pokhara and Kathmandu for NPR 5000/US$45.

Completing the full circuit from Besisahar to Nayaul takes about 2 weeks, but for a quicker option, consider using a jeep. The standard 10-day itinerary often starts in Jagat and ends in Jomsom, with flexible travel options back to Pokhara or an extended journey to Kathmandu.

This moderate-difficult trek presents challenges with high-altitude terrains, including the Thorong La Pass at 5400m, emphasizing the importance of acclimatization. Long, steep ascents and descents with elevation changes of up to 1000m in a day add to the adventure. While optional, hiring a guide or porter (US$20 to US$25 per day) is recommended, covering their food and accommodation.

Benefiting from a robust infrastructure, the circuit boasts a well-marked route and teahouses offering private rooms, electricity, hot showers, and Wi-Fi. Culinary delights range from Nepalese and Indian cuisine to Western favorites. The average daily cost, including accommodation, food, transport, and permits, is approximately US$22. Adding a guide or porter incurs an additional US$20.

Key Details:

  • Duration: 12-16 days
  • Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult
  • Best Time: March – April and October – November
  • Nearest trailhead: Besisahar, concluding in Pokhara

  1. Annapurna Base Camp Trek
    • Recommended by Charlotte Hockin of Our Taste For Life

Embark on an extraordinary journey with the Annapurna Base Camp (ABC) trek, a high-altitude adventure standing at 4130m, personally endorsed by Charlotte Hockin of Our Taste For Life. Despite its challenging elevation, this trek offers a rewarding experience in the heart of the Himalayas, achievable in just 7 days with proper training and determination.

Compared to other treks in the region, Annapurna Base Camp is moderately difficult, attracting hikers of all ages and experience levels. The grueling climb is a challenge worth conquering, with the summit revealing the breathtaking Annapurna range. Accessible and cost-effective, it’s one of Nepal’s most budget-friendly hikes, thanks to its well-maintained trail that makes independent trekking a viable option.

Accommodation on the trail is a standout feature, with a range of budget-friendly tea houses in every mountain village. While options may decrease at higher altitudes, a comfortable bed and satisfying meals are guaranteed. Whether you’re a novice seeking an entry-level hike or an experienced trekker relishing a challenge, the ABC trek caters to all fitness levels. For Charlotte Hockin, it was an unforgettable experience, showcasing the otherworldly landscapes of the Himalayas.

Key Details:

  • Duration: 7-10 days
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Best Time: March – April and October – November
  • Nearest Trailhead: Nayapul; Trek concludes at Kande

  1. Dhaulagiri Circuit Trek
    • Recommended by Agni of Experience Northeast India

Explore the untamed beauty of the Dhaulagiri Circuit Trek, an exhilarating journey to the west of Annapurna, endorsed by Agni of Experience Northeast India. Commencing in Pokhara, this challenging trek follows the Myagdi Khola to the Chhonbardan glacier at the base of Mt. Dhaulagiri, the seventh-highest peak globally, offering an unparalleled experience.

As a demanding trek, the Dhaulagiri Circuit rewards adventurers with panoramic views of Dhaulagiri, Tukuche Peak, Nilgiri, Annapurna, Machhapuchhare, Thorong Peak, and the Kali Gandaki River, featuring the world’s deepest gorge. Traverse through picturesque villages with ever-changing landscapes, conquering two challenging mountain passes – the French Pass (5360m) and the Thapa Pass (5200m) – providing close-up views of majestic peaks exceeding 7000m. The Dhaulagiri circuit is the epitome of ultimate adventure for avid trekkers.

Key Details:

  • Duration: 17-18 days
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Best Time: March – May and September – October
  • Nearest Trailhead: Beni, a 2-hour drive from Pokhara

  1. Everest Base Camp Trek
    • Recommended by Annie from Off Goes Annie

Embark on a transformative journey with the Everest Base Camp trek, hailed as a favorite by Annie from Off Goes Annie. Offering unparalleled mountain vistas, this trek culminates in the awe-inspiring experience of standing at the base of the world’s tallest peak.

While a reasonable level of fitness is essential, Everest Base Camp is less physically demanding than some high-altitude hikes, thanks to its gradual ascent allowing ample acclimatization time. Reaching a height of approximately 5600m above sea level, the trek brings you closer to Mt Everest and other towering peaks in the region. Spanning 14 days for the return hike, the trail winds through charming mountain villages, monasteries, and cozy tea houses.

Given the high altitude, trekking with a guide and a small group is recommended for safety, considering the rapidly changing weather conditions. For an all-inclusive experience covering your return flight from Kathmandu to Lukla Airport, 13 nights of accommodation, and meals at tea houses, budget around $600. While tea house accommodations are basic, they provide a comfortable resting place for your daily ascent.

Key Details:

  • Duration: 14-16 days
  • Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult
  • Best Time: March – April and October – November
  • Nearest Trailhead: Namche Bazar

  1. Gokyo Ri Trek
    • Recommended by Meg Atteberry of Fox in the Forest

For an unrivaled view of Mount Everest minus the crowds at Everest Base Camp, the Gokyo Ri Trek, endorsed by Meg Atteberry of Fox in the Forest, is your perfect choice. This 11-day trek elevates you to 5,357 meters, offering a breathtaking 360-degree panorama of the Khumbu Valley and Mount Everest.

Beginning your journey in the renowned town of Namche Bazaar, a rest day for acclimatization sets the stage before diverging from the bustling Everest trail. Navigate tranquil hiking paths through charming towns on the way to Gokyo Ri.

This trek isn’t just about the stunning views; it’s an opportunity to encounter mountain wildlife, delve into local culture, and explore customs along the route. Culminating in the village of Gokyo, where seven sacred lakes grace the trekking trail, the climax is the sunrise ascent to the Gokyo Ri summit. If luck is on your side, enjoy the secluded views with just a handful of fellow trekkers. Witness the mighty Kanchenjunga glacier and three other 8,000-meter peaks—Cho Oyu, Nuptse, and Lhotse.

Practical tip: Enhance your trekking experience by hiring a guide, even for experienced trekkers, supporting Nepal’s tourism economy. A private, guided trek, covering lodging, permit fees, in-country flight, all meals, sightseeing, and Kathmandu accommodation, averages around $1,100 for 14 days.

Key Details:

  • Duration: 10-12 days
  • Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult
  • Best Time: March – April and October – November
  • Nearest Trailhead: Namche Bazaar

  1. Kanchenjunga Base Camp Trek
    • Recommended by Agni & Amrita of Tale of 2 Backpackers

Embark on an extraordinary journey with the Kanchenjunga Base Camp Trek, a revelation brought to you by Agni & Amrita of Tale of 2 Backpackers. Nestled in the northeastern part of Nepal, Kanchenjunga (8586m), the third-highest peak globally, commands reverence in Sikkim, India, where it is considered a guardian deity. The Kanchenjunga Base Camp Trek unfolds in the scenic Arun Valley, boasting one of Nepal’s most captivating regions.

As part of the Great Himalayan Trail (GHT), this trek traverses the Kanchenjunga Conservation Area, spanning 2035 sq km and showcasing a rich tapestry of flora and fauna. The diverse landscape encompasses alpine grasslands, sub-tropical forests, river valleys, glacial moraines, and rocky scree slopes. Throughout the 26-day trek, behold panoramic views of majestic mountain ranges, including Kanchenjunga, Everest, Lhotse, Makalu, and more. Tea houses and homestays dot the trail, ensuring a comfortable journey.

Key Details:

  • Duration: 25-26 days
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Best Time: March-May and October – December
  • Permits: Kanchenjunga Conservation Area Permit & Kanchenjunga Restricted Area Permit (Approx. USD 50 per head)
  • Nearest Trailhead: Suketar

  1. Langtang Valley Trek
    • Recommended by Alexei of Travel Lexx

Unveil the tranquility of the Langtang Valley Trek, a gem recommended by Alexei of Travel Lexx, offering a teahouse trek alternative to the bustling Everest Base Camp and Annapurna Circuit trails. While not entirely off the beaten path, this trek promises a quieter experience amid Nepal’s renowned routes, partially influenced by the 2015 earthquake’s impact on villages and local communities.

Beginning and ending in the town of Syabrubesi, accessible via a thrilling ten-hour bus ride from Kathmandu, this in-and-out trek follows the classic route to Kyanjin Gompa (3800m, 2/3 days). The journey encompasses lush green forests at lower altitudes and transitions to snow-covered peaks, glaciers, and alpine grasslands as you ascend. The landscape is among the most breathtaking in Nepal, complemented by basic yet comfortable teahouses, many of which have been rebuilt post-earthquake, offering a cozy retreat after a hearty meal of dal-bhat and a pot of mint tea.

Don’t miss the chance to embark on a 24km return hike to Langshisha Kharka from Kyanjin Gompa, taking you close to the Tibetan border along a river under the watchful eyes of yaks. Alternatively, ascend the 4984m Tsergo Ri, explore nearby lakes, or simply unwind at the renowned Dorje Bakery with delicious coffee and cake.

Beyond the scenic allure, this trek provides a unique opportunity to connect with and support communities still rebuilding their lives after a natural disaster.

Key Details:

  • Duration: 7-8 days (3 days to Kyanjin Gompa, 2-3 days in Kyanjin Gompa, 2 days to Syabrubesi)
  • Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
  • Best Time: March – April and October – November
  • Practical Info: Daily bus and jeep departures to Syabrubesi from Kathmandu.

  1. Manaslu Circuit Trek
    • Epic Scenery, Cultural Marvels, and a 5100m Himalayan Pass

Embark on a journey of epic proportions with the Manaslu Circuit Trek, delivering the quintessential Nepalese trekking experience with breathtaking scenery, local culture, and the challenge of a 5100m high Himalayan Pass. Recognized as the “New Annapurna,” the Manaslu trail has surged in popularity, showcasing stunning views of Mt. Manaslu (8163m), the eighth-highest peak globally, and the Ganesh Himal range. Along the route, encounter a fascinating blend of Buddhist and Hindu villages, enriching your cultural experience.

Despite its recent acclaim, the Manaslu Circuit Trek remains a hidden gem, less crowded than other classic Nepalese treks like EBC and ABC. Remote yet accessible, tea houses dot the trail, eliminating the need for trekkers to carry camping equipment and food. This off-the-beaten-path adventure unfolds diverse landscapes, transitioning from sub-tropical jungles at lower elevations to stark Himalayan panoramas at higher altitudes. The circuit navigates around Mt. Manaslu, culminating at the highest point, Larkya Pass (5100m), linking the Budhi Gandaki with the Marsyangdi valley.

Key Details:

  • Duration: 13-15 days
  • Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult
  • Best Time: March – April and October – November
  • Permit: Required
  • Nearest Trailhead: Arughat; A circular trek starting at Arughat and concluding at Besisahar

  1. Upper Mustang Trek
  • Recommended by Agni & Amrita of Tale of 2 Backpackers

Delve into the unique allure of the Upper Mustang Trek, an adventure endorsed by Agni & Amrita of Tale of 2 Backpackers. Nestled in the Mustang Valley of Nepal, this trek stands apart from the traditional Nepalese routes. Geographically a part of the Tibetan plateau, Upper Mustang mirrors Tibet’s landscape and climate, offering a genuine taste of trekking in this ethereal region. The Mustang district, once an independent kingdom within Nepal’s borders until 1950, boasts the last king’s palace at Lo Manthang, its former capital.

Embark on the Upper Mustang Trek to traverse copper-colored valleys, eroded canyons, and deep gorges adorned with mud-brick houses, vibrant prayer flags, and intricate mani walls. The region’s remote and inaccessible nature has safeguarded ancient Tibetan Buddhist traditions and culture, providing a captivating journey through a distinct landscape and heritage.

Only accessible to non-Nepali trekkers for the past 15 years, Upper Mustang maintains strict entry regulations with costly permits. To venture into this mystical land, special trekking permits are mandatory, and the journey must be guided, starting and ending at Kagbeni with a minimum duration of 9 days. Situated in the rain shadow area akin to Ladakh in India, the trek remains viable even during the monsoons, although the Mustang Valley is persistently windy and dusty. Winters, marked by harsh weather, are best avoided for trekking.

Key Details:

  • Duration: 10-12 days
  • Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult
  • Best Time: May – October
  • Permits: Restricted area permit required; Minimum 2 trekkers needed
  • Nearest Trailhead: Jomsom

Promoting Responsible Trekking Practices in Nepal

Adhering to responsible trekking practices is paramount for preserving the natural beauty and cultural integrity of Nepal. Follow these guidelines to ensure a positive impact on the environment and local communities:

  1. Leave No Trace:
    • Embrace the fundamental principle of “Leave No Trace” in trekking and backpacking. Mount Everest’s growing status as a garbage dump underscores the urgency of this rule.
  2. Water Conservation:
    • Minimize the use of bottled water in tea houses. Instead, opt for water purification methods such as pills, filters, and sterilizers to reduce plastic waste.
  3. Litter-Free Trails:
    • Maintain the pristine beauty of Nepal by refraining from littering. Dispose of waste responsibly and contribute to keeping the trails garbage-free for generations to come.
  4. Cultural Respect:
    • Demonstrate respect for local culture by adhering to cultural norms. Follow guidelines when visiting temples and dress conservatively when required.
  5. Photography Etiquette:
    • Prioritize cultural sensitivity by seeking permission before capturing photographs of individuals. Respect the privacy and preferences of the local people.

By embracing responsible trekking practices, you contribute to the sustainability and preservation of Nepal’s natural wonders and cultural heritage. Let’s collectively ensure a positive legacy for future generations of trekkers and locals alike.

Essential Trekking Tips for Nepal:

  1. Weather Wisdom:
  2. Keep a vigilant eye on weather conditions, particularly when traversing high altitude passes during your trek.
  3. Guide Guidance:
    • Opt for a guide, especially on remote treks. Your guide is not just a companion; they are your mountain ally. Pay heed to their advice for a smoother trekking expedition.
  4. First Aid Essentials:
    • Always carry a lightweight first aid kit and pack all essential items required for a Himalayan trek. Prioritize safety by being prepared for any unforeseen circumstances.
  5. Strength in Numbers:
    • While solo trekking is possible on common trails, it’s advisable to trek in groups for added safety. Forge connections on your journey, make friends, and trek together for a more enriching experience.
  6. Insure Your Adventure:
    • Invest in travel insurance specifically tailored for trekking in Nepal. This can be a lifesaver in case of unexpected incidents, offering you peace of mind throughout your journey.
  7. Cash is King:
    • Trailhead towns often lack ATMs, so ensure you carry sufficient cash for your trek. Be well-prepared financially to avoid any inconvenience during your expedition.
  8. Power Up Smartly:
    • Charge your electronic devices at teahouses along the way. While some may offer this service for free, others may charge a nominal fee. Stay connected and powered up throughout your trek.
  9. Altitude Alimentation:
    • Teahouses provide simple food options, but remember that costs increase with altitude. Budget accordingly for your meals as you ascend to higher elevations.
  10. Mountain Caution:
    • Respect the power of nature. If you or your guide sense deteriorating weather conditions, prioritize safety and reconsider continuing your trek. Nature’s unpredictability can lead to severe consequences, so always listen to both your body and the mountains.