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 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 mountain junkies from across the world.

Covid-19 advisory

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, at the time of update (April 2021) there were some important changes to the rules and regulations regrading visiting and trekking in Nepal. At the current time Nepal is closed to fully independent travellers. The only tourists allowed into Nepal are those booked onto an organised trek with a registered Nepalese based trekking agency. The agency will obtain all your trekking permits and TIMS cards for your group. As always with organised treks a group can be as small or as large as you wish.

Tourist visas for Nepal are no longer issued on arrival and must be obtained in advance through a Nepalese embassy or consulate in your home country. To get the visa you will be asked to prove that you're booked onto a trek with a trekking agency.

For some months all arrivals to Nepal have been required to show a recent Covid negative test result and to isolate on arrival in a hotel for seven days. However, in April 2021 the requirement to isolate for a week was lifted and now you only need to show a negative test result on arrival. You also have to take a second test as soon as you arrive in Nepal and while waiting for the result of this test (which normally only takes a few hours) you must isolate in a designated hotel room.

Note that all tourist arrivals to Nepal are currently by air through Kathmandu only.

Note that regulations can and will change at short notice. Before booking a trip to Nepal you should first check what your home countries regulations are on international travel to and from Nepal (some countries simply don't allow it and others will require you to self-isolate on your return home). In all cases make sure you have a very good insurance policy that covers Covid-19 changes, hospitalisations and repatriations.

Nepal_Trekking Regions

Nepal's top trekking regions

A trek 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.

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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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Nepal's most popular treks

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 most popular trekking routes.

Nepal everest base camp trek

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

Everest basecamp trek

Difficulty: Moderate to hard

Trek duration: 12 days+

Max. elevation: 5,545m

Accommodation: Trekking lodges

Start / end point: Lukla

This is probably the most popular trek 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.

The route is served by top-notch facilities and trekking lodges, with genuine luxury for those willing to pay. The downside to its popularity is the inevitable crowds: this is very much a sociable trekking route, if you're looking for peace and solitude, look elsewhere.

Read more: Everest Basecamp Trek

Annapurna-Circuit

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

Annapurna Circuit trek

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.

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.

Read more: Annapurna Circuit trek

Langtang-Valley-view

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

Langtang Valley trek

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.

Read more: Langtang Valley trek

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.

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

Gokyo Lake, in the Everest / Khumbu region

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.

Read more: Gokyo Lakes Trek

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.

Read more: Nar-Phu trek

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.

Read more: Khopra Ridge trek

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.

Read more: Upper Mustang Loop

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.

Read more: Ganesh Himal trek

Manaslu-circuit

The Manaslu Circuit

Manaslu Circuit (Manaslu region)

Difficulty: Challenging

Trek duration: 14-18 Days (It’s best to allow 18 days to enjoy the many side trips and to acclimatise properly)

Max. elevation: 5,160M

Accommodation: Trekking lodges

Start/end point: Arughat or Soti Khola/Dharapani or Besi Sahar

When the Manaslu Circuit opened to trekking tourism back in the early 1990s it was an almost immediate hit. The first trekkers returned with tales of stupendous mountain scenery, fascinating and varied village life and challenging walking. It soon gained a reputation as the new Annapurna Circuit — and as that walk was long considered the world’s best trek, it was a big claim indeed. Now, after 25 years of trekking, the Manaslu Circuit continues to live up to expectations. This walk really does have it all. Over two weeks the scenery — and the people — gradually change.

Read more: Manaslu Circuit trek

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.

Read more: Dolpo to Jomsom or Upper Mustang

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.

Read more: Makalu Base Camp

Nepal Annapurna Poon Hill sunrise

Sunrise from Poon Hill on the Annapurna Sanctuary trek

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.

Near Lukla nepal

Lower altitude hiking near Lukla

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.

Read more: Jiri/Shivalaya to Lukla trek

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.

Read more: Annapurna Sanctuary trek

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.

Read more: Phoksundo Lake (Dolpo region)

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.

Read more: Island Peak trek

Teri La and Saribung La

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.

Read more: Teri La and Saribung La

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.

Read more: Ganj La trek

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.

Read more: Saipal Base Camp trek

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.

Read more: Makalu to Everest trek

Nepal Manaslu

Stunning views in Manaslu region

Best places to trek in Nepal

Everest (Khumbu) region

Mount Everest, (8,848m) the highest mountain on Earth, exerts a magnetic pull on trekkers, mountaineers and armchair adventurers alike. The main trekking routes around Mount Everest can be busy and over commercialised, but for sheer awe nothing comes close to the trails threading through the Khumbu, the area around Everest.

Although the focus on these treks is naturally on Everest, the surrounding giants — Lhotse (8,501m), Nuptse (7,861m), Lobouche West (6,145m) and others — are often more beautiful and more inspiring.

Read more: Trekking in the Everest Region

Annapurna region

From the lakeside resort town of Pokhara, a great wall of white fills the northern horizon. This is the Annapurna range, which tops out with the 8,091m Annapurna I.

There’s a huge variety of treks here from simple walks in the flowery foothills, to legendary hidden valleys that feel like Tibet and require special permits to visit. But whatever trek you choose, one thing is for sure: the mountain scenery will blow you away.

Read more: Trekking in the Annapurna region

Upper Mustang region

North, beyond the highest Himalayan peaks, is Upper Mustang. Long shrouded in mystery and closed to outsiders until 1992, the Kingdom of Mustang (the much-loved last king sadly died in December 2016) is a high-altitude desert of multi-hued gorges, green oases, fairy-tale gompas, prayer flags and blood red fortified monasteries.

This is a land so rich in traditional Tibetan Buddhist culture that it can often feel more classically Tibetan than the modern Chinese region of Tibet itself.

It’s worth noting that Mustang doesn’t have the same awe-inspiring close-up views of the mountains as many of the other main Nepalese trek areas and that walking here is as much a cultural experience as a mountain one.

Read more: Trekking in the Upper Mustang region

Far Western Nepal

In terms of development, the far west of Nepal comes at the bottom of almost every list, but for adventure and wonder, the region is near the top of the class. This is a landscape of deep, dank forests, sparkling sheets of water, lonely ice and snow-covered mountains, narrow canyons and ancient villages.

It’s a land of pilgrims and trade routes with goods still carried to and from Tibet by mule and yak, and Nepalese pilgrims head through the region en route to the Holy of Holies, Mount Kailash in western Tibet.

Read more: Trekking in Far Western Nepal

The Best Treks 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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