Trekking In Nepal

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Trekking In Nepal

TREKKING IN NEPAL – A COMPLETE INDEPENDENT GUIDE

This page contains all the free and independent trek information you need for trekking in Nepal. We believe a good article should be long enough to cover the subject and short enough to create an interest.

We have summed up itineraries from the Great Himalaya Trail high and low routes. We have shortlisted thirty-six individual trek routes in Nepal with a general description, picture and summary table for each individual trekking route.

Use our exclusive filter to find the trek best-suited to your requirements. It is best to re-apply an individual filter value each time, to ensure you get an exclusive result each time! Also, check what trek experts had to say about the route.

Enjoy your trekking in Nepal!

Trek History

Blessed with enchanting landscapes and heavenly mountain ranges, Nepal has a lot to offer people who seek adventure and experience. Trekking in Nepal allows you to explore the beautiful nature, flora and faunas residing on the highs and lows of trekking trails. The heavenly mountains and snow-peaked Himalayas residing in Nepal provide your soul and body with both a positive spark and with divinity. Trekking in mountainous regions and adventure are synonymous with each other, as you get an adventure of a lifetime on the trail leading to the Himalayas. Nepal is also sometimes referred to as a trekker’s paradise.

Trekking adventures in Nepal started in 1949, when a British adventurer, Bill Tilman, made treks to various regions of Nepal, including Kali Gandaki, Helambu and the Everest regions. His exploits of these treks are described in ‘Nepal Himalaya’, a mountaineering classic that has been reprinted by the Seattle Mountaineers as a part of the Tilman Collection. Another visitor was Maurice Herzog, who led a French expedition to the base of Mount Everest.

After opening its frontiers to the outside world in 1949, ten out of fourteen peaks ranging above 8000 m were ascended within eight years of opening. Annapurna (8091 m) was the first peak to be climbed in 1950, which was followed by Everest (8848 m) in 1953 by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay (the latter often referred to as Sherpa Tenzing) and Nanga Parbat (8125 m). The number of expeditions multiplied every year and, by 1964, all giant mountains had been ascended.

In 1965, Colonel Jimmy Roberts, a former Gurkha Officer and Military Attaché, realized that establishing trekking in Nepal would appeal to tourists and so he launched the first trekking company, ‘Mountain Travel Trekking Agency’ in Nepal, which remained as the solo trekking agency for the next four years. He made Nepal and the Himalayas available to a wide community and trekking became an immediate success. ‘Mountain Travel’ prospered and became an inspiration to other Nepalese tourism entrepreneurs. Today, trekking agencies are mushrooming, helping the adventure of trekking in Nepal. Today, you will find more trekkers than climbers, due to the lifetime experience and adventure which trekking on the mountainous regions provides.

earthquake

Jean Philippe Avouac, lead study author, said “The main Himalayan Thrust is a fault which has produced large earthquakes every century or so.” More than nine thousand people died, thousands were injured, eight million were affected and a million children were in urgent need of help! These are the facts, which indicate the scale of the devastation from the earthquake that struck Nepal on April 25th 2015. This quake triggered an avalanche in Everest and Langtang, where hundreds of trekkers were reported missing.

The quake originated on the Main Himalayan Thrust. Climbing season was over for the year on Everest. Thousands of people were homeless and entire villages flattened in many districts, including Kathmandu, Patan, and Bhaktapur. Durbar Square century old UNESCO world heritage sites were partially or fully collapsed. Aftershocks occurred in intervals of between fifteen and twenty minutes, with a major one of 6.7 Richter scale on 26th April. Another major aftershock occurred on 12th May 2015, with a 7.3 Richter scale, claiming the lives of two hundred people. The risk was well known beforehand and calculations show that there is sufficient stored energy to produce another strong quake, which could possibly happen tomorrow or some time this century. Then again, it could wait even longer and produce an even larger earthquake.

On average, a great earthquake happens every 75 to 87 years or so in Nepal. The study shows that the earthquakes of 1934 and 2015 in Nepal were connected, following this historic earthquake pattern. Nepal has recovered quickly from the disaster. The Annapurna Region was on the list of the best places to travel in October 2015, by Lonely Planet. Also, Rough Guides shortlisted top 10 countries to travel in 2016, where Nepal was placed on the top of that list.

In spite of media focus on post earthquake damage in Nepal, it is ready for tourists, fully functional and safe. Below, you will find infographics of post earthquake Nepal.

nepal earthquake infograhic

<img src="https://www.magicalnepal.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Nepal-Earthquake-Infographic.jpg"> Source: <a href="https://www.magicalnepal.com/nepal/travel-guide/trekking-in-nepal"> Magical Nepal </a>

BEST TREK TIME

Nepal is situated on the same latitude as Cairo, so the climate varies from the Alpine. You start walking in the jungle, whereas the passes lie in the polar winter. Although colder, the sky is clear in the autumn, when popular treks are at their busiest. The temperature is bearable during spring and autumn. The best trekking times are the dry and warm seasons, March to May and September to November. Treks are virtually empty of travelers in the monsoon, when you can expect rain and leeches. Passes will be closed during the winter, as it will be unbelievably cold!

North of the Himalayas is in the ‘rain shadow’, meaning the mountains will somewhat block the rain and the sky may be clearer in the mornings but mostly cloudy and good examples of this are Upper Mustang and Upper Dolpo. Even the Annapurna circuit is in the rain shadow, from the village of Pisang up to Marpha.

Six distinct climate periods are categorized in a year in Nepal. They are spring, early summer, summer monsoon, early autumn, late autumn and winter. Heavy monsoon rain dominates the skies of Nepal from June to September. It will be mostly clear and cool weather from October to December, cold from January to March and then dry and warm from April to June.

Most of the treks take you from near sea level up to high alpine passes, with a tremendous range of altitudes, temperatures and micro-climates. It is key to find balance between hot and cold, views and nature and peak and off peak. Below, you will find infographics of monthly weather for Kathmandu, Nepal.

best trek time in nepal

<img src=""> Source: <a href=""> Magical Nepal </a>

DIFFICULTY GRADE

There is no standard set for defining the trek grade and individual operators grade their walks and treks in their own way. However, there are some internationally-followed grade systems for peak climbing, rock climbing and rafting. We have graded thirty five different trekking routes in Nepal, to help you choose the right trip for you. We have six sensibly-defined trek grades and our grading systems are based on the expected level of difficulty.

Easy Trek Grade

This grade is suitable for most people with good health, where elevation is usually less than 3,000 meters. They are well-defined trails and they have well-established teahouses.

Gentle Trek Grade

This grade is suitable for most people with good health and who undertake regular exercise. Elevation will be up to 4,000 meters. There will be well-defined trails, passing through villages where there is some ascent and descent.

Moderate Trek Grade

This grade is suitable for people with reasonable levels of fitness and elevation will be up to 5,000 meters. There will be reasonable levels of infrastructure for accommodation and at least two acclimatization days should be included. Expect daily ascent and descent.

Demanding Trek Grade

This grade is suitable for people with high levels of fitness. Elevation will be up to 5,500 meters and at least two rest days are needed. You will encounter rough and rocky sections, with immense ascents and descents.

Strenuous Trek Grade

This grade is suitable for people with very high levels of fitness, as it may involve mountaineering and glacial travel. Elevation limits will be up to 5,500 meters and there will be rough, rocky and exposed trails. Some ascents and descents over the passes could be snow covered.

Challenging Trek Grade

This grade is suitable for people with very high levels of fitness and previous mountaineering experience is recommended. You should consider basic preparation and training. Mountaineering and glacial travel is unavoidable and elevation could be up to 7,000 meters. Sometimes, the use of fixed ropes will be unavoidable during technical ascent and descent.

Below, you will find infographics of trek grade.

Nepal Trek Grade

<img src=""> Source: <a href=""> Magical Nepal </a>

HYGIENE AND PACKING LIST

Being ill at high altitude on a trek can really spoil your karma! You have to pay close attention to your personal hygiene. Acute mountain sickness (AMS) is another risk factor associated with high altitude trekking in Nepal. To stay healthy during your trip, honor the tips below.

  • Use hand sanitizers before eating, after going to the toilet and even before brushing your teeth!
  • Never lick your fingers at the same time as eating food
  • If you are using a water pouch, ensure the nozzle never touches the ground
  • When sneezing, cover your mouth with your elbow and not with your hand
  • Sanitize your hands after visiting a home, museum, changing money or meeting and greeting the locals
  • Avoid drinking unpurified water and don’t consume ice from the glacier!
  • Make sure your clothing, belt and bootlaces don’t touch the ground while using communal Asian squat toilets
  • Follow basic preventive rules of acute mountain sickness i.e. trek high sleep low, allocate a day for acclimatization after each 1,000 meter gain in elevation, drink adequate water and avoid ascending rapidly!

Whether you are travelling independently or in an organized group, you can use this packing list as a guideline for what to take. You do need to pack carefully, otherwise your pack will be too heavy for you, or your porter, to handle.

For safety, you need to be prepared for the worst. Mountain weather can be unpredictable and conditions can be harsh, so it is better to take more layers of clothes than to be cold.

Back to 2015, we had operated a Kanchenjunga Trek for the John and Nancy Coppock. John and Nancy have itchy feet and they travel the world. They are worldwide travelers and now clients of Magical Nepal. Check the packing list for trekking in the Nepal infographic, which was kindly provided by them.

trekking pack list for nepal

Still not sure? Click here to download this trekking in nepal packing list.

Also, do not forget to include a trekking map. You can buy a laminated map at any trek here in Thamel and the damage will be less than five American dollars! In the meantime, check this collection of trekking map.

<img src=""> Source: <a href=""> Magical Nepal </a>

INCIDENT AND PROBLEM OCCURRED

Mountains are unpredictable! Trekking in Nepal itself is an adventure and there are several risk factors along the trip. High altitude sickness, diarrhea and dysentery are the major problems trekkers are facing. To prevent diarrhea and dysentery, you have to pay close attention to your personal hygiene and follow some tips for staying healthy.

Human bodies need oxygen to function properly and, the higher you go, the less oxygen. Acute mountain sickness is the result of less oxygen present in the air. AMS can result in High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE) or High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE). If severe, immediate evacuation to proper medical facilities is required.

Certain trekking trails in Nepal are rough, rocky and exposed. They are prone to landslides during monsoon and avalanches in late winter! The earthquake in April 2015 triggered an avalanche in Langtang, devastating the entire village. More than two hundred and fifty trekkers were reported missing, probably buried beneath the rubble.

Nepal’s worst trekking disaster occurred in central Nepal in October 2014! This is known as the Nepal Snowstorm Disaster, where a snowstorm and a series of avalanches occurred on and around Annapurna and Dhaulagiri.

Both proper travel insurance and co-ordination are important and having a trekking guide with you could be handy. The first calls for international assistance were raised by the Israeli Embassy in Kathmandu, after a trapped tourist sent a hand-written note from the top of the pass via a local guide who descended the mountain. Whiteout resulted in deaths of at least forty-three people. Annapurna Circuit is considered an entry-level trek and most of those who attempt this circuit have little or no bad experiences. Most of the hikers caught by the snowstorm appeared to be young backpackers with limited winter gear. The Guardian wrote that officials in Nepal blamed budget tourists, who tried to save money by not hiring a guide to cross a high mountain pass.

Margaret Carter Cabbab

In 2014 I once again visited Nepal. I spent some time volunteering in an orphanage in Kathmandu and then decided for the remainder of the visit to trek with few of my Nepalese friends.

We choose Lake Gosaikunda in the Langtang Region as our destination. It is a holy lake and the site of annual pilgrimages. The pictures of the lake were beautiful, the trek was not at all difficult, and did not require too many days round trip. Time, it seems is always a big issue in planning treks. My only request was that a horse be provided for the trek. I had broken a toe at the orphanage and walking was painful. It was agreed upon, somehow my friends would find a horse.

We took the jeep to Dhunche and then, following the trail, trekked some hours (I limped and moaned) to a guesthouse, and to where the horse would be brought.

We never reached the lake.

In the morning I woke to find a yak in the yard and thought my friends were just being funny. But soon the horse and owner arrived. Their names were Karma and Karma, respectively. The horse was a sad little animal with mistrustful eyes, and I had immediate reservations. But not too long after, we were packed and off up the rocky trail, me on the horse and my friends walking. Karma (owner) was constantly whipping Karma (horse) to keep him moving. It got colder, we went higher, and the mountains were misty and beautiful.

After a while we stopped at a nearly deserted guesthouse to eat and wait for my friends. By now it was even colder and Karma (Owner) wanted to keep moving to the lake. I said no, we will wait here for my friends. And they did arrive soon. We prepared to move on but as I was mounting Karma (horse) something spooked him, he bucked and threw me and then kicked and stomped on my leg. I passed out.

What followed I remember only from a dazed and shocky awareness, frantic phone calls for help, a helicopter evacuation to Kathmandu, a quick transfer from the roof of the hospital to the ER, and then surgery. All of the time only loving, smiling, concerned Nepalese my friends, the nurses, the doctor the hospital staff, everyone!

What could have been one of those traumatic life experiences become instead an affirmation of how great Nepal and the Nepalese people are. My love affair with Nepal just got deeper.

I have trekked many times but never had an experience like this. It was an unforeseen accident. If I had gone alone without my friends who are guide and if I had not taken overseas travel insurance, this experience would have been a disaster, both physically & financially.


Margaret Carter Cabbab

Margaret Cabbab is a veteran trekker who has been coming to Nepal for the last thirty years. She is a nurse, a writer, a musician, and a huge fan of Nepali People. She presently lives in Hawaii but plans to relocate to Kathmandu in the future.

<img src=""> Source: <a href=""> Magical Nepal </a>

INDEPENDENT AND ORGANIZED TREK

It is a personal decision based on available budget and difficulty of the trek, whether to join an organized guided group, trek unguided with other independent trekkers, or hire your own independent trek guide in Nepal. All guided treks should be organized legally, through agencies registered under the Tourism Agency Association of Nepal. Keep in mind no one other than a registered trekking agency in Nepal is authorized to organize a guided trek. No one else, no hotel, no airport, no street brokers and not even a freelance trekking guide! Most of the agencies operate fixed departure treks during peak season i.e. spring and autumn.Don’t forget to check our fixed departure.

Independent trekking is easier in the main trekking regions. When trekking on side treks with unmarked trails, make sure you are following fellow trekkers. It will be easier to get help if a problem occurs. Include headlamp, spare batteries, dry food, mobile phone, and emergency contact details, just in case of emergency. It is really easy to find a trek partner in Kathmandu and Pokhara. You will definitely meet like-minded walkers sharing the trail or the teahouses but, though rare, some trails are known for encounters with desperate crooks! Ganesh Himal and Langtang Region are the infamous trekking trails in Nepal as, though few trekkers went missing or were found dead, some were robbed! Consider hiring a guide when trekking in Nepal.

Also, there are a few restricted regions which require special trek permits. You do not require Trekkers Information Management System for these regions. Government rules state a minimum of two trekkers and a guide to obtain a permit. Independent trekking is illegal in restricted regions. Below, under the permit and visa section, we have a complete list of restricted and general trekking regions in Nepal.

<img src=""> Source: <a href=""> Magical Nepal </a>

ACCOMMODATION AND FOOD

Some treks are to see picture perfect landscapes, some to experience the life of locals and some to explore wild areas where no one lives! Before you set off on a trail, do some research.

  • Teahouse accommodation

Many teahouses in the mountains are comfortable, while some may be basic. Dining rooms may be smoky in the areas where chimneys are but these are rare. There is no central heating for bedrooms or dormitories. Also, make sure to bring your own sleeping bag, as the teahouses do not provide linen and night can get very cold. Most often, communal squat toilets are in practice. While trekking in Nepal, sometimes nature calls when you least expect it. You’ll have to run to the nearest squat toilet to take care of business, so it makes sense to learn how to use one.

  • Camping accommodation

With basic crew support, camping can be conducted anywhere in Nepal, though there are certain rules and regulations to follow while camping in protected landmasses. Camping is normally carried out in areas where settlements don’t exist and a good example is the Dhaulagiri Circuit Trek. Double or single person tents for trekkers, toilet tents, kitchen tents and a dining tent are commonly used during camping treks in Nepal.

  • Homestay accommodation

There are a few trekking trails where homestay facilities are available. Tamang Heritage Trek and a few trekking itineraries in the Ganesh Himal region are perfect examples of homestay accommodation. Also, at Ghale Gaun in Lamjung, and Ghandruk in Annapurna, homestay facilities are available. Homestay is also in practice at Tsum Valley in the Manaslu Region.

Teahouse or Camping

In the mountains, the sky is beautiful when it gets dark! Camping is still unavoidable in certain trekking areas of Nepal, as they are mostly expedition-style exploratory treks. On most of the trekking trails, you don’t need to carry funny yellow or orange tents with you. Support the local economy and go for a teahouse trek where possible, where you can stay with the locals and be like the locals.

Traditional meals i.e. Dal Bhat, are commonly available! Also, a complete menu system is available in major trekking regions. You can choose filling foods from a wide range of options. Medicines are cheap in Nepal, so buy antibiotics for stomach infections. We also recommend getting a prescription for bacterial and amoebic infections. Do not buy bottled water on the trek, as there is no proper rubbish disposal system on the trail. Bring your water purifier. Iodine tablets are available in the main cities.

Consider using a UV treatment system i.e. SteriPEN Travel, to make sure you have completely safe water, as 80% of illnesses in Nepal are caused by contaminated drinking water. Also, use treated water for brushing your teeth when possible.

<img src=""> Source: <a href=""> Magical Nepal </a>

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