Trekking in Nepal
Nepal, officially Kingdom of Nepal, is a landlocked Himalayan country in South Asia, bordered by China to the north and by India to the south, east and west. The origin of the name Nepal is uncertain, but the most popular understanding is that it derived from Ne (holy) and pal (cave).
For a small territory, the Nepali landscape is uncommonly diverse, ranging from the humid Terai in the south to the lofty Himalayas in the north.
Nepal boasts eight of the world’s ten highest mountains. The world’s highest mountain, Mount Everest (Sagarmatha in Nepali) at 8,850 m is located on the border with Tibet. Kanchenjunga, the world’s third highest peak, is also located on its eastern border with Sikkim.
Since the first successful ascent of Mount Everest, almost 60 years ago, the Himalayas have become far more accessible to walkers. Every year Nepal attracts more than 150,000 trekkers. That also means that every year more than 150,000 people are faced with the hard choice of selecting which trekking destination to explore in Nepal. Let’s face it – this is not an easy choice.
Most of the trekking Nepal is called “Tea-House Trekking” as the day’s hike is between guesthouse-filled towns. While this doesn’t make the treks that much easier, it means there is no need for tents, food, water, or beer– all those things, plus luxuries such as apple-pie, can be purchased along the way. Remote trekking is also possible, but unless you are an experienced wilderness trekker, it is recommended to hire a guide and porters.
– Mt. Everest Base Camp Trek: Stunning scenery, Wonderful people. While trekking is possible in this area the whole year round, the best times to visit are from the beginning of March to mid May and from the beginning of September to mid November.
The trek can be as short as a two day walk from Lukla to Namche or an eight to ten day trip to Everest Base Camp. Irrespective of the length of the journey, as there are no roads in the area, it will definitely involve putting on hiking boots and walking the mountain paths. Trekking permits are not required for the Everest (Khumbu) region.
– Annapurna Circuit: A 3-4 week trek around the Annapurna mountains. May be considered as one of the best treks in Nepal. This trek takes you through distinct sceneries of rivers, flora, fauna and above all – mountains. The trek goes counter-clockwise and reaches its summit in Thorung La (pass) at the height of 5416 m.
– The trek typically starts at Besishar. Tourist and local (longer trip with more stops, but cheaper) buses will get you from Kathmandu to Besishar in a drive that is quite spectacular in itself for the Middle Hills scenery you pass through and the narrow, windy road.
– Jonsom-Muktinath Trek: The last week of the Annapurna Circuit, done in the opposite direction. Known as the “Apple-Pie Trek” partly for crossing the apple growing region of Nepal, and partly for being one of the easier (but far from “easy”) treks.
– Helambu-Langtang Trek: Relatively easy Trek from Kathmandu. The Langtang Trek provides an opportunity to see the nearly whole Nepalese Himalayan mountain range from Annapurna in the west, to Makalu in the east.
The most popular trekking areas – like Everest, the Annapurna region and Ladakh’s Markha valley – have a network of basic lodges to stay in, opening up these areas to independent trekkers who don’t want to carry a tent and are on a more limited budget. It’s also possible to reach Annapurna, or Nepal’s Langtang region, by bus, without the need for costly internal flights.
Make sure you trek with other people – especially on side treks with unclear paths. If a problem occurs, it is much easier to get help if others are nearby. Many people have gone missing or died on treks. If you do not have a trekking partner, in Kathmandu or Pokhara, it is usually easy to find other like-minded people with similar travel plans in and trek together. Even if you start at the trailhead alone you are likely to meet the same people along the trail and share lodges at night.
Trekking is the most popular activity in Nepal, and travellers will be bombarded on the streets of Kathmandu and the trekking hub, Pokhara, with guides, organised tours and gear for sale or rent. The huge variety of options allows for people of many ages and capabilities to attempt a trek in the country. While you could spend a year planning an expedition to wild and lofty places that few would dare attempt, you could also arrive in Kathmandu with no plans and be on the trail in a matter of days.
One reliable and highly recommended trekking company is run by the very experienced Ngawang Sherpa: firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also choose Himalayan Humanity, a tour company run by a former porter and an advocate for porter rights and social responsible trekking.