Trekking Sites

Among the many tourist adventure activities in Nepal, trekking is by far the most popular. The diversity in Nepal’s nature and a range of exotic culture males this country ideal for trekking. Trekking in Nepal provides an opportunity to observe the local culture of the people and enjoy the beauty of nature undisturbed by the influence of modernity. One can choose between fully organised trekking and independent trekking, depending on the situation. Fully organised trekking costs comparatively more and has a fixed itinerary. However, when trekking in an organised group, trekkers have their own staffs and can even visit remote regions that have no teahouse infrastructure.

Equipment needed depends largely upon where, when and how one is trekking. The main emphasis is on keeping warm and dry while still being lightweight. For lower altitude, fleece jackets and pants are adequate, while at higher altitudes down jackets are advisable. Waterproof and windproof jacket and pants, well broken-in footwear and head coverings are also recommended. A good sleeping bag, sunglasses, a water bottle, a torch, sunblock cream, a first aid kit and a very good route map are other necessary items.

Trekking equipment is available in Kathmandu. Pokhara and Namche Bajaar.

There are few pharmacies on the trekking routes. Therefore, it is best to carry a first aid kit and read about the possible problems beforehand. On the Everest Base Camp route at Pheriche and on the Annapurna Circuit route at Manang, there are clinics operated by the Himalayan Rescue Association that specialises in treating trekker’s health problems. These clinics are open only during the main trekking seasons. While on treks, the following problem could occur:

1.     An upset stomach often caused by a change in diet or contaminated food and water is a common ailment. To avoid this one should pay particular attention to hygiene ad quality of food and drink.

2. Coughs, colds and sore throats common in the dry mountain air can lead to chest infections. Sore throats can best be avoided by attempting not to breathe cold air directly through the mouth. Smoking should also be avoided.

3. Joint and muscle strains, foot problems and blisters are other hindrances for trekkers. Wearing good footwear will go a long way in avoiding these problems. For sprains and strains, apply cold water to reduce the swelling and support the joint with crepe bandages.

4. Acute mountain sickness (AMS) is a fatal sickness caused by random altitude ascension. Therefore, climbers ascending 3,000 metres or above should acquire a sound knowledge of the proper acclimatising processes. Symptoms of AMS include headache, loss of appetite, swelling of limbs, dizziness, and difficulty in sleeping, irregular breathing, nausea and unusual weariness. Maintaining a good fluid intake helps combat altitude sickness and a hurried descent or evacuation to a lower altitude is the only cure.

Nepal is a safe country to trek provided the basic rules are observed. When with a trekking agency most contingencies are handled by the agency staff. However, one could get lost or hurt and have no one to ask for help when trekking alone. Therefore, trekkers should either trek with agencies or hire reliable guides if trekking in smaller groups. Women guides are available for women trekkers. The best way to avoid risk while trekking is through thorough planning, playing by the rules and realising your own limitations. In case of misfortune, a short detailed message should be despatched to a reliable organisation or individual immediately. If communication facilities are unavailable, normal first aid principles should be followed until help arrives. Some of the safety rules to abide by are;

1 Do not trek alone.

2 Do not make a display of wealth

3 Keep belongings secure and within sight

4 Make arrangements for handling emergency situations beforehand

5 Register personal information and trekking plans details with respective embassies

6 Buy a travel insurance policy that covers helicopter rescue cost. Leave a copy of details with an agency in Kathmandu

7 Choose only authorised government registered trekking agencies guides and porters.

A general advice to trekkers is to leave only footprints and take only photographs. However, recent developments along trekking trails have been of concern to environmentalists and locals alike. The sprouting of teahouses along trekking trails demand wood for construction and fuel, which has led to deforestation. In addition, the amount of waste has increased without the proper mechanism for disposal, making some of the popular trails both unsightly and unhealthy. With increased awareness on the part of trekkers and local people, this trend is changing. However, the message for more environmentally sound trekking still needs to be put across. For vigilant trekking the following rules must be followed:

1. Ensure that your trekking company supplies sufficient kerosene or gas for cooking.

2. Dispose biodegradable waste properly and carry non-biodegradable waste out or dump it in a properly constructed waste pit.

3. Ensure that campsites are left clean and that toilet pits are properly filled in after use.

Everest Region:

The Everest region is located in the northeast of Nepal. The most visited part of this region is Solukhumbu district, home of the legendary Sherpas and the highest peak of the world, Mt. Everest at 8,848 metres. To the north of Solokhumbu is Everest National Park; while to the east is the Makalu Barun National Park. The major ethnic groups that live in the Everest region are Sherpas, Rais, Tamangs, Brahmins and Chhetris. A diverse range of wildlife and vegetation are seen in the region. The animals that can be seen are mountain goat, musk deer and barking deer in the forests. Birds include Impeyan Pheasant (Danfe), ravens, crows, choughs and snow pigeons. The best time to visit is spring and autumn.

Popular trekking areas are Everest Base Camp, Gokyo Valley, Lukla, Pike Danda, Dudh Kunda, Salleri, Chiwong Circuit, Hinkhu, Hongu Valleys and Everest to Arun Valley. Interesting landmarks near Syangboche are the Khumjung School built by Sir Edmund Hillary in 1961 and the Khunde Hospital north of Namche Bajaar established in 1968. How to trek in the Everest region depends on the route chosen. Teahouse trekking is possible on the main trail to Everest Base Camp or the route up Gokyo Valley. The trail from Jiri to Lukla also has teahouses on the way.

Getting there

The Everest region can be reached by air or on foot. Buses to Jiri leave from the new bus park in Kathmandu. Jiri is a ten-hour drive from Kathmandu. By air, there are three options. The most convenient for the Everest trek is Lukla, which is serviced by many airlines with daily flights from Kathmandu. Another option is the airstrips at Phaplu, near the district headquarters which is serviced by daily flights from the capital. The last choice is the small airstrip at Syangboche, which is located above Namche Bajaar. Despite being an option, altitude makes it an impractical and unwise choice as an arrival destination for acclimatization reasons.

Permits and fees

Special trekking permits are not required to visit this area. Entry fees are charged for access to Everest National Park and Makalu Barun National Park. Entry fees can be paid at the National Park desk in Thamel, Kathmandu.  

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The world’s best trekking trails

Annapurna Region

The Annapurna region lies toward the north of Central Nepal. The region has been recognized as one of the world's best trekking trails according to a recent survey by Modern Maturity (USA). The highlights of this part of Nepal are the Annapurna peaks, Mt. Dhaulagiri, River Kali Gandaki and several other peaks. Gateway to Annapurna trekking region is the famous city of Pokhara. The most prominent ethnic groups of Annapurna region are Gurung, Thakali and Manangba. Animals found here are pika, blue sheep and the himalayan tahr and the vegetation ranges from tropical species to temperate forests of oak, beech and rhododendron.

The popular trekking routes of this region are Jomsom, the Annapurna Circuit and Annapurna Base Camp, Annapurna foothills, Sikles, Lamjung, Dhaulagiri, Upper Mustang and around Pokhara. The best time to visit is during spring and autumn. Unlike other parts of Nepal, even the monsoon months are ideal for a visit to Upper Mustang. Most trekking routes in the Annapurna region are well serviced by teahouses. Trekkers should, however, be careful while trekking to the more remote parts of the region.

Getting there

Regardless of the trek chosen, it is most likely that Pokhara would be either the starting or ending point of your trek in the Annapurna region. Pokhara is located 200 kilometres west of Kathmandu and can be reached by road in about six hours or by air in thirty minutes from the capital. For road travel there are a number of tourist buses available daily both from Kathmandu and from Chitwan. Food, accommodation and other tourist facilities of all ranges are available in and around Pokhara

Permits and fees

Entry fees are payable for the Annapurna Conservation Area Project region. The permit must be purchased before starting the trek and can be obtained in Thamel, Kathmandu, or Lakeside, Pokhara. Trekkers are advised to arrange their trek through a government recognized trekking agency.

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Langtang Area

The Langtang area, is towards the north of Kathmandu Valley. The scenery here is spectacular, and the trek more adventurous as the area is visited by fewer tourists. To the west of Langtang is Ganesh Himal with a range of 6,000 to 7,000 metres. The main ethnic groups living here are Sherpas and Tamangs. The forests in the region have temperate and sub-alpine vegetation. Wildlife includes migratory birds, deer, monkeys, tahr and pika. The best time for trekking in the Langtang area is spring and autumn. Most of the trekking routes in Helambu and Langtang are well served with teahouses making independent trekking quite possible. But, there are no such facilities in the Ganesh Himal area or Ganja La area.

Getting there:

Access to Helambu is particularly easy and quick. Sundarijal, which is one of the most convenient starting points is a one hour drive from Kathmandu. Other possible starting points are at Budhanilakantha, Kakani and four-hour drive away at Melamchi Pul. For Langtang and Ganesh Himal the choice is a limited drive to Dhunche in Rasuwa district. The road then continues to Syabrubesi from where Ganesh Himal and Langtang treks can start. A Hindu pilgrimage site and popular tourist destination, Gosainkunda can be reached from either of the two routes. However, the way via Rasuwa is easier. Buses leave regularly from the Balaju bypass close to the main bus park at Gongabu

Permits and fees

The northern parts of the area fall largely within the boundaries of Langtang National Park. Entry permits should be obtained from Thamel, Kathmandu, before starting the trek. To reach Helambu from Kathmandu, a permit to pass through Shivapuri Watershed Area is required. This can be obtained at the entry permit counter at the National Park.  

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Gorkha and Manaslu

In the area to the east of the Annapurna are the peaks of Manaslu group. Few visitors trek to this area, which makes a visit here all the more unique and unspoiled. The area is bordered by River Budhi Gandaki and to the west by the River Marshyangdi. This area is marked by two cultural highlights: Gorkha, which is the ancestral seat of the reigning Shah dynasty and the temple of Manakamana. Since the treks in the Manaslu region originate at around 1,000 metres and reach as high as 5,200 metres, the trekker will see a wide range of flora typical of the middle hills and alpine regions of Nepal. Plants to be seen around here are pine and rhododendron. Wildlife includes barking deer, pika and himalayan marmots. Birds to be sighted in the region are pheasant, raven and chough. People of Tibetan origin inhabit several villages. Other groups found here are Gurungs and Tamangs. The best time to trek here is between September and May. A few teahouses are seen in the Manaslu Conservation Area, however, teahouse trekking is not a suggested option. Government regulations require all the groups trekking to the Manaslu Circuit to be fully self sufficient.

Getting there

The main hub for treks in the Manaslu region is the town of Gorkha, which can be reached from Kathmandu in about four hours by bus or car. The alternative starting point is Dhading Besi, from where it can be reached by bus in about five hours.

Permits and fees

The major trekking route in the Manaslu region, the Manaslu Circuit, requires a special trekking permit which can be acquired through a registered trekking agency.  

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Far East

The far-east region of Nepal provides unique treks along rarely visited trails. One of the main attractions is the spectacular scenery of rhododendrons in bloom on the hills and ridges along the way. Deer and wild sheep are often spotted in the area and birds are found in abundance. The region is home to the ethnic groups of Kirant, notably the Rais and Limbus. The popular trekking areas in this region are Kanchenjunga area, Milke Danda and Jaljale Himal. In general, the region has not been developed to cater for independent trekkers so groups must be fully self sufficient.

Getting there

The starting points for treks in the Far East are at Basantapur, Taplejung and Tumlingtar. Basantapur needs a minimum of a sixteen-hour drive from Kathmandu. There are no tourist bus services so trekkers must either use scheduled bus services or arrange private transport. Another option is flying to Tumlingtar or Taplejung from the capital. The flights take approximately forty-five to fifty minutes from Kathmandu, and about twenty minutes from Biratnagar to Taplejung.

Permits and fees

Much of the trekking area lies within the Kanchenjunga Conservation Area and a permit fee is required for entry. Trekkers arriving via Kakarbitta border point must first travel to Kathmandu to obtain trekking permits as the government immigration office at Kakarbitta does not issue the required permit. The best time to trek in the region is between September and May.

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The West

Treks in the west of Nepal are quite different from treks in other parts of the country. The region is less developed and has fewer facilities available for the visitors. This makes trekking here much more of an exploration type and intending trekkers must be prepared for some delays and other hardships. It is also considerably more expensive to trek in the remote parts of the west. The Ethnic group seen in the northern parts of the area, particularly in Dolpa, are of Tibetan origin. Other groups found here are Magar, Gurung, and the people of Hindu caste origin. Commonly seen animals are leopard, himalayan tahr and blue sheep. Popular trekking areas in this region are Dolpa, Simikot and Lake Rara. The best time to visit is the traditional trekking seasons of spring and autumn. The northern parts are also suitable for summer treks. The region has not been developed to cater for independent trekkers, so all groups must be self sufficient, in all respects.

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Lower Dolpa and upper Dolpa:

Located in the central west of the country, the focal point of the area is the Shey Phoksundo National Park. This remote and rugged protected area is both scenically and culturally attractive. The Lower Doipa trek circuit can be completed in eight days starting and finishing at Juphal. The circuit can be attempted either clockwise or anticlockwise, but in both cases the focal points of the trek are Phoksundo Lake and the Tarap Valley.

In comparison to Lower Dolpa, fewer trekkers enter the heavily restricted upper Dolpa section of Shey Phoksundo National Park. The main attraction of the area is the wild and pristine landscape. Geographically, it is similar to Tibetan Plateau and is generally dry, cold and sparsely vegetated.

The trekking season for both Upper and Lower Dolpa is generally from June to September.

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Humla and Jumla:

The trek from Simikot, the administrative center of Humla District, to the Tibetan border is usually used to reach western Tibet, where Mount Kailash is the major attraction. Tourism related facilities are relatively undeveloped in this area although several organizations are working to promote community based tourism opportunities between Simikot and the Border. The only ways to reach Simikot are to either fly from Nepalgunj or trek from Rara Lake, the largest lake in Nepal. The area surrounding the lake is the Rara National Park. Scheduled flights to Simikot are generally unreliable due to weather conditions but large groups have the option of chartering a flight.

The most popular way to get to Rara is to take a flight from Nepalgunj to Jumla, from where it is a two to three day trek to the park. An alternative way is to combine a trek to Lower Dolpa and a visit to Rara National Park. By trekking west from Dolpa it is possible to reach Jumla and the park within a week. It is advisable to consult government registered trekking agencies before trekking to this region. The best way to trek here is in a group through a good trekking agency that can meet the requirements and the contingencies that may occur.

Permits and fees

Most of the treks described here will require a permit or entry fee.

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Trekking around Palpa:

The ancient town of Tansen is the headquarters of Palpa district. It is located about seven kilometres northwest of Bartung in Siddhartha Highway. Tansen is famous for historical monuments, temples and a lively handicraft industry. There are a number of short treks possible around Tansen that takes the trekkers to local sites of scenic and cultural interest. The best short trek from Tansen is probably the circuit to Ranighat, on the banks of River Kali Gandaki. There are basic teahouses at Ranighat and camping on the beach is also possible. Another attractive short trek suitable in the wintertime is to follow the old trade route from Tansen, down to Sisnu Khola and end at Butwal. Another popular trekking route is the Dhorpatan Circuit. Food and accommodation facilities are available at Tansen.

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Trekking in and around Katmandu valley:

The Katmandu Valley offers excellent short treks. Some of these treks can even be completed in one day. It is also possible to turn the treks into overnight trips. Some popular treks around Katmandu are Shivapuri area, Sundarijal to Budhanilkantha, Godavari to Phulchowki, Kirtipur to Champadevi, Nagarjun, Nagarkot to Changu Narayan etc. A permit is only required for trekking around Shivapuri National Park. Transportation is easily available at the beginning and the end of these treks. Private vehicles or taxis can also be hired.

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