Trekking in Nepal: Tricky to choose one among many trails, let’s help you…
For many people trekking in Nepal is a lifetime dream. Trekking is the most sought activity in Nepal among many other Himalayan activities. Treks in Nepal are exclusive in the world which wind through the world’s highest mountains. Nepal has trekking routes available for all people with range of interests, budget, timeframe and requirement. Except than Nepal trekking connoisseur its tricky and confusing for the newcomers to decide which trek in Nepal to choose. We want to help them out. Mainly you can choose a trek in Nepal, bearing in mind the following matters:
• Your Time frame for the trek
• Level of difficulty
• Your trekking holiday season
• Your preference on nature of trails, i.e. popular touristic or remote off beaten trails, etc
• Your budget
• Your choice of accommodation during trek
• Solo, private or group trek
1. Holiday Time-frame: 2 – 3 weeks
2. Trip Grade: Moderate to strenuous
3. Season: March, April, May, June, September, October, November, December
4. Nature of Trail: Classic popular trails
5. Your budget: Low to Medium, USD 1000-USD 2500
6. Amenities: Well established local lodges (basic in some trails)
7. Nature of Trek: Independent, solo, private or group trek
8. Treks: Everest Base camp Trek, Gokyo Lakes and Gokyo Ri Trek, Annapurna Base Camp Trek, Annapurna Circuit Trek
Everest Base Camp Trek
Since Sir Edmund Hillary traced his footsteps to top of Everest, it has been ultimate dream of most hikers around the world to trek to at least its base camp, i.e. doing Everest base camp trek in Nepal. With affluence of lodges and facilities over the trail, Everest base camp trek is most achievable for hikers with normal fitness and sound health. You need not be an athlete or a highly fit person to do Everest base camp trek. You can choose the quick going program or slow going program as per your walking ability and hiking fitness but you can reach to Everest base camp even if you are a non experienced person. If you are determined, you can do solo trek too (without guide). Going with a guide and porter private or in group trek arranged by a professional agency is better for you if you don’t want to bother with the trail, flight booking, permits, lodging and eating arrangements each day. Trekkers on budget can go solo to minimize cost and them who can pay better go with local agents. But those who don’t care about spending to achieve their lifetime goal, may prefer international agents who anyway sell them to local agents again! Depending upon your ability, endurance power, experience, etc., you may find Everest base camp trek difficult to strenuous but defiantly its not easy one. If you have 2 to 3 weeks holiday in the months March to June or October to December, contact one of the local agents through internet to accomplish your lifelong dream. But due to the most popular, facilitated and classic trail Everest Base camp trek sees a lot of trekkers each season and if you are one who would not choose to trek with hordes of trekkers, Everest Base camp trek is not for you! But if its your ultimate dream and also want to avoid the crowd you may do pre season or post season trek to Everest Base Camp during winter months with good preparation to tackle the chilling temperature.
Annapurna Base Camp Trek
Wanna see the Himalaya up close without taking the extreme challenge (altitude wise)? The trek in Nepal that takes you to Himalayan amphitheater is Annapurna Base Camp Trek. You will discover quaint villages set against the backdrop of Annapurna Mountains. Be stunned by the contrast of magnificent, snow-capped peaks set against blue, clear skies. Here, the air is pure, and as a trekker you are sure to thrive and feel utterly inspired. Hike amidst uninterrupted, panoramic views of Annapurna II, Annapurna III, Annapurna IV, Annapurna South, Tent Peak, Hiunchuli, Gangapurna, and Annapurna South. You can trek independent solo, with group or private as per your preference in Annapurna Base Camp trek. If you have plenty of time, making a circuit through Ghorepani poonhill is recommended to enjoy the beautiful forests, rice paddies and villages. If you are short of time you can choose to up and back same route. As most of other trek, Annapurna Base camp trek is most enjoyed during spring and autumn in Nepal. Some places en route have less lodges, so try to reach your destination of day a little quick if you are trekking solo to get hold of a cozy room.
Annapurna Circuit Trek
Suitable for first time trekkers in Nepal as Annapurna Circuit although takes you to altitude as high as 5416 at Thorong La gives time to smoothly acclimatize with the altitude. Annapurna Circuit Trek has long been a popular classic trek in Nepal that offers more variety than any other treks in Nepal, taking us through almost every type of scenery that Nepal has. Starting form low land hilly villages and sub tropical forests, we pass through farmlands and getting astound at superb views of the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri we find the landscape dramatically changing to alpine and arid semi-desert akin to Tibet culminating to the Thorong La Pass (5416m), an exciting snow covered strenuous pass again dropping you down to subtropical villages forests and farmlands through the sacred temple of Muktinath. Lately due to road construction through most part of Annapurna Circuit trekking trail, the Annapurna circuit trek was less recommended but trekkers have found alternative trail throughout most part of the trail, and this is still an excellent trek in Nepal. If you have time and would like to add a variation, challenge and excitement a visit to Tilicho Lake is rewarding. Hundreds of trekkers trek through Annapurna circuit independently but for a safe worry free trek better go with a guide and porter and with a government registered local agency. Depending upon how you go, you can do Annapurna circuit trek with expenses as low as USD 1500 to as high as USD 3000. Best season is spring and autumn of Nepal. And if you are tight of time, you can drive through some part of the Annapurna circuit trail and still enjoy the journey and for those who are abundant of time are recommended to trek through whole circuit.
Manaslu Circuit Trek
Some call it the new Annapurna Circuit. If you are searching for wilderness and ‘authentic’ village experiences with moderate (some find it difficult) effort then do Manaslu Circuit trek. Only opened to trekkers since 1991, it remains comparatively uncrowded because Manaslu circuit trek only sees 1/30th of the visitors who hike Annapurna each season. We don’t recommend to trek independently, at least hire a guide even if you are in a tight budget. If you can spend more, going a package trip with guide, porter, special permits, TIMS and other services on their responsibility will give you pleasurable experience. Manaslu circuit trekking route has just recently developed basic lodges, so do not expect very much as in Everest or Annapurna region treks. The higher the elevation, the more expensive food will cost, as nearly everything must be carried by mules. Best time to trek through Manaslu Circuit is March to early June and from mid September to November. The Lakya La pass which you need to cross during this trek might get unpassable after November. Budget USD 2000 to 4000 depends upon how you go.
Rara Lake Trek
Looking for wilderness trek without worries of high altitude! Rara Lake Trek is best option for you. Surround by unspoiled forests of pine, juniper and spruce and flanked by the high ridges of the middle hills to the south and the snow-capped peaks of the Himalaya to the North, the spectacular setting of tranquil Rara Lake cannot be described in words. The boundary of Rara National Park is home to several of Himalayan black bear, leopard, black panther, musk deer, red panda, wild boar, Rhesus and languor monkeys and numerous species of birds. As Rara Lake trail is located at the very far west of Nepal, very less tourist visit this region so although its moderately easy trek its still well away from the crowds. An outstanding snow capped panorama of Dolpo and Tibetan mountains overshadows the scene across the deep clear waters of the lake. For a different and refreshing aspect of Nepali culture quite unlike other parts of the country, this short circular trek to one of the Himalaya’s most beautiful and unspoiled lakes, will please both the first timers and the seasoned veteran of Nepal trek. Due to being located far away from Kathmandu and domestic flights being involved, this trek costs a little more. If you can sort out logistics, you may trek independently but its rather bothersome as Rara trek is not as easy as Everest and Annapurna treks logistics-wise, so better you contact an reliable local agency to organize your trek. A budget of USD 3500 to 4500 would suffice for Rara Lake Trek. Rara Lake Trek in Nepal can be done from February to June and September to December.
Holiday Time frame: 3 weeks +
Trip Grade: Challenging
Season: March, April, May, June, September, October, November, December
Nature of Trail: Very remote area trekking
Your budget: High, above USD 4500
Amenities: basic local lodges/homestay
Nature of Trek: private or group trek
Treks: Everest Three Passes Trek, Kanchenjunga Base Camp trek, Dhaulagiri Circuit Trek, Makalau Base camp trek
Everest High Passes Trek (or Everest Three Passes Trek):
Everest High Passes Trek is the most challenging and most spectacular trekking in Nepal’s Everest region only fit for adventure lovers with plenty hiking experience preferably high altitude. No any technical climbing is associated with Everest high passes trek but crossing high passes need continues demanding long walks at high altitude. Trekkers get to crossing of three high passes of Everest region: Kongma La (5,535/18,159 ft), Cho La (5420m/17,782ft) and Renjo La(5,340m/17,520ft) with visit to Everest Base camp, Kalapatthar, Gokyo Lakes, Gokyo Ri in between three pass crossings providing breathtaking close up mountain vistas of Mt. Everest, Ama Dablam, Cho Oyu, Lhotse, Nuptse and hundreds of other peaks from most part of the trek. Like in the Everest Base camp trek the journey is complemented by visits to vibrant Sherpa villages, alpine floras and faunas, ancient monasteries, etc. If you are plenty experienced with high altitude, you may dare to trek independently but as you will be trekking through remote and potentially hazardous sections of high passes where chances of getting lost are there, better go with an experienced guide. Local trekking agencies of Nepal offer reasonable price for package arrangement or Everest High passes Trek. A budget of USD 2500 to 4000 might be needed depending on how you choose to go. Best months are March to June in spring and mid September to November and you will find plenty of lodges throughout the Everest high passes trekking trail.
Kanchenjunga Base Camp Trek
Trek targeting the base camp of world’s third highest mountain, Kanchenjunga is a remote wilderness trek in Nepal in a remote region but a great opportunity to spend time with locals being far away from hordes of other trekkers who flood more popular treks in peak seasons. If you are one looking for a challenging trek with a cultural mix up and have more than three weeks of time for trekking in Nepal, Kanchenjunga Base Camp Trek would be ideal for you. Due to security and various other reasons independent solo trekking in Kanchenjunga area is not suggested, so either take a private trip or find a group. However, if you would hire a guide and porter, solo private trek is also possible. Plan a budget of around USD 4000 including personal expenses (except international flights). Best season to trek to Kanchenjunga base camp is as most of the other treks in Nepal, spring (March to June) and autumn (September to November).
Dhaulagiri Circuit Trek:
The Dhaulagiri Circuit starts like a rara lake trek, one of the toughest trek in Nepal but it combines everything that makes trekking in Nepal so special, with great views of Dhaulagiri Massif as early as from day 2 and getting dramatic as we climb up. You will still pass through villages, farmlands, and forests at the lower elevations and as you climb through a series of climate zones into an increasingly empty landscape. Dhaulagiri Circuit Trek takes you into a landscape as remote and wild as it is beautiful. Kanchenjunga Base Camp is explained as “most beautiful campsite in the world” but with Kanchenjunga you turn round and retrace your steps back down the valley once you’ve ‘done it’ but with Dhaulagiri, after the base camp you still have a number of other amazing places in store: French Col, the Hidden Valley and Dhampus peak. The Dhaulagiri Circuit also has a reputation for bad weather hoax, so its not recommended to do Dhaulagiri Circuit during March and April (when its more possibility of snowfall, the weather is unpredictable and dangerous). rara lake trek should only be attempted when snow-free, from late September to December and in Spring in May and early June. Take information about rockfall and dangerous snowfall areas before doing Dhaulagiri circuit trek. Ascending to Dhaulagiri Base Camps and through the Hidden Valley involves a dangerously sudden rise in altitude. If you aren’t previously partially acclimatized you risk serious altitude sickness in an area that is tough to escape from. Related to altitude and weather contingent dangers Dhaulagiri Circuit Trek is never recommended to trek independently, so look for a group or if you want to go private, should be with experienced team of guide and porters. Basic lodges facilities are available, but if you are in a group you will enjoy the camping trek more.
Makalu Base Camp Trek
Until few years only camping trekking was possible throughout Makalu base camp (5250m) trek route that reaches the base camp of the world’s 5th highest mountain, Makalu that is located only 22 kilometers towards the east of Everest and 80 kilometers towards the west of Mt. Kanchenjunga, but its possible to do this trek as basic lodging facilities are available nowadays. Due to the remoteness of the region, its culture, flora and fauna are perfect. The region provides striking contrasts with the waterfalls, craggy rocks, and colorful flowers beneath the white snow peaks. The untouched beauty of this region will surely be dramatic for anyone visiting this region. Starting as low as 400m from sea level, you will reach the stunning height of 5250m in this trek in Nepal and between these you will pass through pretty villages inhabited by variety of ethnic groups, steep gorges, huge mountains, rhododendron forests, alpine lakes and meadows. Suitable for adventurers if have time over 3 weeks, budget of over 4500 dollars, and holiday time of year as spring (March to June) and autumn (September to November), Makalu Base camp trek will best apposite. Trekking independent is not recommended, can go with guide, porter on private solo trek or in a group. Makalu Base camp trek is better in camping style if you are in a group! It is important to note that this is a holiday for the connoisseur of Nepal trekking, using lodge accommodation of a generally more basic standard than that found in the popular trekking areas, such as the Khumbu. If you are not prepared to ‘rough it’ in this way, we would suggest that this trip may not be for you.