Nepal is not the only Himalayan country, but as the home of Mount Everest and more than half of the planet’s other 8,000m-plus mountains, it is the country most intimately associated with the Himalayas.

Nepal was closed to outsiders and most foreign influences for the first half of the 20th century and when the first western mountaineers and trekkers arrived in the 1950s they were enchanted by what they discovered. The country was living in a medieval time warp and even the capital, Kathmandu, was little more than a collection of temples, shrines, palaces, markets and red brick townhouses. There were almost no roads in the country and those first mountaineers and trekkers had to walk from Kathmandu’s Durbar Square to Everest and the other big peaks.

Things have come on a long way since then. Kathmandu is now a sprawling mega-city, the ever-expanding road network fans out across much of the lower and flatter parts of the country and the Nepal trekking industry is second to none. One thing that hasn’t changed though is the magnificence of the mountains, the sheer beauty of the countryside, and the unending warmth of welcome displayed by the Nepalese people. These are what continue to attract trekkers from across the world.

Trekking in Nepal

Nepal's best trekking routes

Trekking in Nepal can mean a gentle amble from village to village in the richly fertile Middle Hills, meeting yak herders in the high summer pastures, visiting holy lakes and a myriad of temples, slogging over snow-bound passes, drinking butter tea with Buddhist monks in a setting that’s more classically Tibetan than Tibet itself, and dawdling through stands of old-growth forest on the way to a high mountain basecamp.

A Nepalese trek can be as hard or as easy as you like. Those who want it challenging can set off with a backpack, guide and camping equipment for an exploratory trek along trails generally only trodden by nomads and snow leopards.

For the rest of us though, the going can be much easier. There are innumerable trails where comfortable trekking lodges line the route, getting lost is almost impossible, and there’s the reassurance that at the end of the day a hot meal awaits. Whichever type of trekking you choose, be warned: trekking in Nepal is an experience that will mark you for the rest of your life and leave within you an insatiable urge to return.

Ready to dive in? Here's our essential guide to the best treks in Nepal.

Covid-19 advisory

People who have completed COVID-19 vaccination at least 14 days prior to entry to Nepal can get visas on arrival (you should bring proof of vaccination). Non-vaccinated people can also obtain visas on arrival, but – if unvaccinated, and aged over five years old – must be able to show a negative PCR test completed no more than 72 hours before the flight of first departure. Requirements are updated by Nepal’s Department of Immigration, sometimes at short notice.

Nepal_Trekking Regions

The best treks in Nepal

The best treks in Nepal

Where to go trekking in Nepal

Nepal is the trekking capital of the world with some of the best known long-distance hikes anywhere on earth. Here are a handful of Nepal's best treks.

Nepal everest base camp trek

The emblematic photo for many a Nepal trek: en-route to Everest Basecamp (EBC)

Everest basecamp trek

Best trek for: Everest views, ultimate bragging rights

Difficulty: Moderate to hard

Trek duration: 12 days+

Max. elevation: 5,545m

Accommodation: Trekking lodges

Start / end point: Lukla

This is one of the most popular treks in Nepal, and for good reason. Over two weeks you will hike through green foothills, past Buddhist monasteries, through stone-walled, slate-roofed villages and right into the heart of the mountains to arrive among the moraines of Everest base camp.

Facilities on this trek are as good as anywhere in the Nepalese mountains. Most lodges have varied menus, heating, separate rooms, electricity, hot showers and even wi-fi. There are genuinely luxurious lodges available. On the flip side, you’ll never walk alone on this route. Tens of thousands of trekkers walk this trail each year and sometimes local culture can be overwhelmed by international trekking culture. If you're looking for peace and solitude, look elsewhere.

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Nepal Treks

Nepal's best treks and hikes

The mighty Himalaya have occupied a special place in the imaginations of adventurers and intrepid travellers for generations. And nowhere more so than the nation of Nepal: land of the Sherpa and home of Mount Everest (plus eight of the world’s other 10 tallest peaks!) A country that embodies the allure and romance of these unimaginably vast mountains.

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Annapurna-Circuit

Thorong La; 5,416m, the highest point on the Annapurna Circuit

Annapurna Circuit trek

Best trek for: Legendary routes, unbeatable scenery

Difficulty: Moderate-hard

Trek duration: 12-18 days

Max. elevation: 5,416m

Accommodation: Trekking lodges

Start/end point: Besi Sahar or Bhulebule/Jomsom or Naya Pul

This, one of the world’s classic treks, takes you through virtually the whole range of Nepalese landscapes: From sub-tropical valleys where banana plants and gushing, murky jungle rivers are the defining features, through gorgeous woodlands, and across Alpine meadows and conifer forests, to the rock and ice wastes higher up.

Facilities along the Annapurna Circuit are excellent with comfortable trekking lodges and good, varied food. Many lodges have hot showers and wi-fi. It’s busy in high season and the demand for beds can exceed supply.

You can avoid the problem by joining an organised camping trip, and miss the crowds by overnighting at midway points between the major stops.

Langtang-Valley-view

The Langtang Valley, hard to believe it's a stone's throw from Kathmandu

Langtang Valley trek

Best trek for: Accessible trekking from Kathmandu

Difficulty: Moderate, the trail climbs quite rapidly so there is a risk of altitude sickness

Trek duration: Six days from Syabrubesi but allow another two to three days for side trips from Kanjin Gompa.

Max. elevation: 3,860m

Accommodation: Trekking lodges, camping required for any overnight trips beyond Kanjin Gompa

Start/end point: Syabrubesi

Before the earthquake, this was one of Nepal’s most popular trekking routes. The trails have been repaired or re-routed and trekking lodges reconstructed. And despite the obvious damage this is still one of the most delightful walks in Nepal.

The Langtang trek is a fantastic place for those with limited time, with the shortest routes taking just a week (or even slightly less) including travel time from Kathmandu. There are also many ways of combining treks to create routes lasting several weeks.

Classic view of Annapurna range from Poon Hill

Classic view of the Annapurna range from Poon Hill

Annapurna Sanctuary trek

Best trek for: Easy-going & comfortable trek

Difficulty: Easy-moderate

Trek duration: 10 days

Max. elevation: 4,130m

Accommodation: Comfortable trekking lodges

Start/end point: Naya Pul or Dhampus

Probably just beating Everest base camp for the title of most popular trek in Nepal, the Annapurna Sanctuary trek is a 10-day extravaganza of non-stop mountain vistas culminating in a great cirque of massive mountain peaks seven to eight kilometres high.

If you’re looking for a short, relatively easy and simple to organise trek that doesn’t venture too high (4,130m), and with unusually comfortable accommodation, then the Annapurna Sanctuary ticks all the boxes.

Kanchenjunga_view-2

Views over Kanchenjunga

Kanchenjunga North

Best trek for: Challenging & remote with spectacular views

Difficulty: Challenging

Trek duration: 18 days

Max. elevation: 5,140m

Accommodation: Camping or basic herders' lodges

Start/end point: Taplejung

Way out in the east of Nepal a wall of rock and ice rises up over eight and half kilometres into the sky. This is Kanchenjunga and at 8,586m it’s the third highest mountain on Earth. The hike to the base camp of this daunting peak is one of the most exciting treks in Nepal.

There are two main Kanchenjunga treks and the three-week trek to the Kanchenjunga North base camp is the longest, hardest and by far the most spectacular. The views are as good as you’ll get without venturing into the realms of mountaineering, but the risk of altitude sickness is high.

Three Passes Trek

Best trek for: Most challenging trek in the Everest region

Difficulty: Challenging

Trek duration: 18-20 days

Max. elevation: 5,535m

Accommodation: Trekking lodges

Start/end point: Lukla

For those with stamina and time the formidable Three Passes trek is by far the most exciting, rewarding and challenging trek in the Khumbu region. In fact, for sheer mountain awe this is perhaps the single best trek in Nepal for independent trekkers reliant on lodges.

Having said that, the nature of this trek makes it highly advisable to take a guide and porter as well as crampons, ice-axes, ropes and camping equipment because of the very real possibility of getting stuck out for the night due to bad weather.

Nepal Annapurna Poon Hill sunrise

The famous Poon Hill sunrise

Poon Hill Trek

Best trek for: Easy going, classic views

Difficulty: Easy-moderate

Trek duration: five to six days

Max. elevation: 3,210m

Accommodation: Trekking lodges

Start/end point: Naya Puk/Phedi

Mixing heart-stirring mountain views with enchanting villages and beautiful forests with a thousand blooming rhododendrons, this is a fabulous introduction to trekking in Nepal.

The highlight is Poon Hill itself, an hour’s walk above the village of Ghorepani. Watching the sunrise from here is an almost obligatory Nepalese experience. As the first beams of light shine across a panorama that includes Dhaulagiri I (8,167m), South Annapurna (8,091m) and Nilgri (6,940m), it rarely disappoints.

The trailheads are only about an hour’s drive out of Pokhara and there are excellent trekking lodges along the route plus some luxury hotels. The trek can be done clockwise or anti-clockwise and it makes a good add-on to the more challenging Annapurna Sanctuary trek. It’s also an ideal first time trek for families and those who don’t want to go too high. But do keep in mind that there’s a lot of steep up and down.

Trekking-In-Everest-Region-With-A-View-Of-Himalayas-And-Gokyo-Lake-Nepal

Gokyo Lake, in the Everest / Khumbu region

Nepal's best lesser-known treks

With nine regions and dozens of routes, and yet most people have only heard of Everest Base Camp and the main Annapurna routes.

Here are a few Nepal treks you may not have heard of, but should definitely consider—especially if you're looking for something a little different.

Gokyo Lakes trek (Everest/Khumbu region)

Difficulty: Moderate to hard

Trek duration: 12-14 days

Max. elevation: 5,360m

Accommodation: Trekking lodges

Start/end point: Lukla

With scenery every bit as spectacular as that on the Everest base camp trek but with far fewer crowds, this trek, which leads to a series of high glacial blue lakes, is arguably one of the best in Nepal. Note that altitude problems can be an issue. Go slowly and allow as many extra rest days as you can.

The trek follows the Everest base camp trail for the first couple of days to Sanasa, a half day walk beyond Namche Bazaar. From here, while the masses plod towards Everest, Gokyo trekkers skip up the Dudh Kosi valley. Forested at lower levels, the valley becomes increasingly forbidding as it passes herders’ camps and yak pastures and enters a realm of moraine and ice circled by looming peaks.

Nar phu trek nepal jpg Lcn

Trekking in the Nar Phu valley

Nar-Phu trek (Annapurna region)

Difficulty: Moderate-difficult

Trek duration: Seven to nine days

Max. elevation: 5,320m

Accommodation: Camping and basic trekking lodges

Start/end point: Koto/Ngawal

Most Annapurna Circuit trekkers heading through the village of Koto won’t know that a trail off to the east leads to a magical, hidden world. The Nar and Phu valleys were closed to tourism until 2002 and when they finally opened up the first trekkers discovered a landscape of narrow gorges, 7km high mountains, timeless stone villages festooned with prayer flags, and a distinct local culture based on yak herding and trade with neighbouring Tibet.

Still rarely trekked (a restricted area permit and camping gear is required), the route follows a dark, deep and shady gorge up to the medieval village of Phu, which consists of around 40 or 50 mud and stone houses and red painted monasteries huddled together on the top of a hill. Entry to the village is via a spectacular old gateway.

Annapurna Range under sun light in Khopra Nepal

View of the Annapurna range from Khopra

Khopra Ridge trek (Annapurna region)

Difficulty: Moderate

Trek duration: Five to six days

Max. elevation: 3,660m

Accommodation: Camping and limited trekking lodges

Start/end point: Ghorepani/Tadapani

Also known as the Khopra Danda trek, this is well off the standard Annapurna trekking routes and offers a low-key, peaceful trek to lofty viewpoints on the flanks of Annapurna South. There are a number of different route variations.

The trails pass through charming villages with simple private and community lodges and lots of pretty forests. Khopra Ridge itself is an impressive dome with an exposed trail running along it that feels much higher than it really is (especially when covered in snow). The views across to Dhaulagiri I (8,167m) are unforgettable. From the ridge it’s possible to make a very long and challenging 10-hour day trip to the high altitude Khayer Lake (4,600m). Given the 1,000-metre height gain in a day, plus the beauty of the lake, it’s much more advisable to go on an organised camping trek and sleep on the lake shore.

Nepal Mustang lowres

Trekking in Upper Mustang

Upper Mustang Loop (Mustang region)

Difficulty: Moderate to difficult

Trek duration: 12 days

Max. elevation: 4,380m

Accommodation: Homestays

Start/end point: Kagbeni/Kagbeni or Muktinath

A more rewarding but longer version of the standard Upper Mustang trek is the 12-day Upper Mustang loop. The first part of the trek to Lo Manthang follows the standard way up the western side of the Kali Gandaki. For the return though you follow a much wilder route down the eastern side of the Kali Gandaki.

There’s much less development on this side of the river and no road construction. Villages tend to be more traditional and there are fewer trekkers. The scenery is also more impressive than the western route, but the walking is tougher, fresh water harder to find, and villages more spaced out with some long days of walking.

Ganesh Himal and Manaslu Himal mountain range Himalayas Langtang Nepal

Ganesh Himal and Manaslu Himal mountain ranges, Langtang

Ganesh Himal trek (Langtang region)

Difficulty: Moderate

Trek duration: Two weeks

Max. elevation: 3,842m

Accommodation: Camping only

Start/end point: Syabrubesi/Tripura Sundari

Named after Ganesh, the elephant-headed Hindu god of fortune, Ganesh Himal lies directly between the Manaslu and Langtang ranges, and is one of the great unknowns of Nepalese trekking. With stunning mountain scenery, attractive and welcoming villages, hot springs, waterfalls and a genuine sense of being well off the beaten track, the Ganesh region really has a bit of everything — except crowds of other trekkers.

A handful of homestays and trekking lodges have started to open up, but for now the trails are still largely empty. Because formal accommodation is still so scarce, an organised camping trip is the best way to tackle this trek.

Manaslu-circuit

The Manaslu Circuit

Tsum Valley (Manaslu region)

Difficulty: Moderate

Trek duration: seven to 17 days

Max. elevation: 3,709m

Accommodation: Homestays, camping

Start/end point: Lokpa

Tucked up to the northeast off the main Manaslu Circuit, the Tsum Valley has only been open to trekkers for a decade. The views are wonderful but they are not the attraction here (although if you have camping gear then an overnight trip to the Ganesh base camp at about 4,000m rewards with a stunning view of mountains). Instead, this is all about venturing off the beaten path and discovering an older pace of life where the farming seasons and Tibetan Buddhism are all-important.

There is a set trail that takes about seven days but much of the delight of the Tsum Valley lies in making your own routes.

Dolpo_caravan

The high-altitude desert of the Dolpo region

Dolpo to Jomsom or Upper Mustang (Dolpo region)

Difficulty: Strenuous

Trek duration: 21-30 days

Max. elevation: 5,550m

Accommodation: Camping

Start/end point: Juphal/Jomsom

You want adventure? Here it is: The epic three to four-week long Dolpo to Jomsom or Upper Mustang trek. Starting from the airstrip at Juphal head north to Phoksundo Lake (you can also go via Do Tarap), over the Sehu La (5,160m) to Shey Gompa and then east, up and over several massive 5,000m-plus passes, through desolate high-altitude desert. The only other people you’ll meet will be the occasional herder with his flocks, or a yak caravan and trader returning from Tibet.

Makalu-hiker

Hiking to Makalu Base Camp

Makalu Base Camp (Makalu region)

Difficulty: Difficult. Lots of steep up and down and the fast elevation gain means the risk of altitude sickness is high

Trek duration: 14 days

Max. elevation: 4,870m

Accommodation: Camping; very basic herders’ tea houses.

Start/end point: Num

There’s only one standard route to Makalu base camp and it’s a simple there and back along the same trail. But this is a real wilderness trek and there are only permanent villages for the first and last couple of days. Most of the time the only other people you’ll meet are herders with their yaks.

Near Lukla nepal

Lower altitude hiking near Lukla

Nepal's best treks for beginners

With extreme altitude and constant ascents and descents, Nepal deserves its reputation for challenging treks. But they're not all endurance activities. Here are a handful of Nepal's easier and less challenging trekking routes.

Jiri/Shivalaya to Lukla trek (Everest region)

Difficulty: Easy to moderate

Trek duration: nine to 10 days

Max. elevation: 3,530m

Accommodation: Trekking lodges

Start/end point: Jiri or Shivalaya/Lukla

A wonderful way to reach (or leave) the Everest area and though it doesn’t offer the same kind of high altitude mountain scenery of the Khumbu, it does offer peaceful walking with barely a single other foreign trekker around, beautiful rural vistas and mountain views, traditional village life.

Classic view of Annapurna range from Poon Hill

View of the Annapurna range from Poon Hill

Annapurna Sanctuary trek (Annapurna region)

Difficulty: Easy to moderate

Trek duration: 10 days

Max. elevation: 4,130m

Accommodation: Trekking lodges

Start/end point: Naya Pul or Dhampus

If you’re looking for a short, relatively easy and simple to organise trek that doesn’t venture too high (4,130m), and with unusually comfortable accommodation, then the Annapurna Sanctuary ticks all the boxes.

Phoksundo Lake in Dolpo Nepal

Phoksundo Lake in the Dolpo region

Phoksundo Lake (Dolpo region)

Difficulty: Easy-moderate

Trek duration: Three days to the lakes, five to six days return

Max. elevation: 3,730m

Accommodation: Camping, basic homestays

Start/end point: Dunai

This short and sweet trek follows the Suli Gaad river through pristine forest to the beautiful Phoksundo Lake. It is 4.8km long, 1.8km wide and, at over 600m deep, the deepest lake in Nepal.

Hiker on Himalayas view from Island Peak trek Nepal

View from Island Peak, one of the most challenging routes in the Everest/Khumbu region

Nepal's best challenging treks

At some point trekking becomes mountaineering, requiring technical skills, equipment and experience. Here are a few routes that sit between the two—some of Nepal's top challenging treks that certainly require plenty of fitness, prior experience and a qualified guide.

Island Peak in Chukkung Everest Base Camp trek Nepal

On the way to Island Peak, in the Everest region

Island Peak trek (Everest region)

Difficulty: Strenuous, mountaineering skills required

Trek duration: Six days

Max. elevation: 6,189m

Accommodation: Camping

Start/end point: Lukla

Not technically a trek but a mountain climbing expedition, Island Peak (6,189m; more accurately called Imja Tse) is one of Nepal’s official trekking peaks. It’s a relatively easy ascent compared to many other trekking peaks and its proximity to the main Everest trekking trails means it’s by far the most popular. This is no stroll in the park though. Ropes, crampons and ice-axes are all needed and there’s a short stretch that involves ice-climbing.

Teri La and Saribung La (Upper Mustang)

Difficulty: Strenuous

Trek duration: 18-22 days.

Max. elevation: Teri La 5,595m, Saribung La 5,600m

Accommodation: Homestays and camping

Start/end point: Kagbeni/Koto

This is only for the most adventurous and experienced hikers with full expedition support. The Teri La (5,595m) and Saribung La (5,600m) passes connect Upper Mustang with the valleys of Nar and Phu. Each trek is around three weeks long and requires several nights camping well above 4,000m. Ropes, crampons and ice-axes are likely to be needed.

Ganj La trek (Langtang region)

Difficulty: Very strenuous and dangerous. People have died attempting this crossing.

Trek duration: Four days from Kyanjin Gompa

Max. elevation: 5,106m

Accommodation: Camping

Start/end point: Kyanjin Gompa/Tarke Ghyang

The most challenging and dangerous trek in the Langtang region is the crossing of the high (5,106m) Ganj La pass, which links Kyanjin Gompa at the head of the Langtang Valley with Tarke Ghyang on the Helambu Circuit.

This should only be attempted by very experienced trekkers with a good support team. You will need camping equipment, a guide who knows the route well, ropes, ice-axes and crampons.

Saipal Base Camp trek (Far Western Nepal)

Difficulty: Strenuous

Trek duration: 18 days

Max. elevation: 4,550m

Accommodation: Camping

Start/end point: Cahinpur

This very remote trek leads through pristine conifer forest to the base camp for Saipal (7,031m), western Nepal’s highest mountain. This is possibly the quietest trek listed in this book and any agency offering this will probably have their own variation of the walk.

Makalu-hiker

Trekking Makalu to Everest

Makalu to Everest trek

Difficulty: Very strenuous. Borderline mountaineering

Trek duration: Minimum 21 days

Max. elevation: 6,143m

Accommodation: Camping; very basic herders’ tea houses, trekking lodges

Start/end point: Num/Lukla

One of the most challenging treks in this book is the Makalu to Everest traverse via the very high passes of Sherpani (6,135m), West Col (6,143m), Baruntse Base Camp (5,700m) and Amphu Laptsa (5,850m) before descending into the Everest region at Pangboche. You should allow a minimum of three weeks for this trek and a lot more if you want to explore the Everest region in depth. You will need full expedition equipment, an experienced team, mountaineering experience and to be prepared for many nights’ camping above 4,500m.

Trekking In Nepal

Stuart Butler

Stuart is the author of Lonely Planet’s Trekking in Nepal, the Rough Guide to Nepal, the Tibet chapter of the Rough Guide to China and the Bradt guide to Kashmir & Ladakh. He also writes widely about East Africa and conservation issues.

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