Nepal Trekking Guide — Find the Right Trek for You

Nepal Trekking Guide — Find the Right Trek for You

By Carol WangUpdated May. 14, 2021

Nepal is renowned as a trekking mecca thanks to its unique trails and its spectacular Himalayan scenery, attracting thousands of avid trekkers from across the globe every year.

The most popular trekking trails in Nepal are by far the Everest Base Camp Trek in the Everest region and the Annapurna Circuit Trek in the Annapurna region, but that’s not to say that’s all this gorgeous country has to offer! 

In this article, we’ll be taking a closer look at trekking in Nepal and highlighting some of our top picks in the country’s best trekking regions.  

Highlights

  • Nepal features some of the most popular trekking regions in the world.
  • Opportunity to witness a variety of unique landscapes on every trail.
  • Most trails offer good food and comfortable accommodation.
  • Incredibly friendly and hospitable locals.

Nepal is a Great Trekking Destination

Nepal is a trekker’s paradise and, while it’s impossible to sum up why in just a few words, there are a couple of unique reasons that make trekking in Nepal such an amazing experience.

First, its awe-inspiring mountainous landscape definitely helps Nepal stand out from other trekking destinations. With the Himalayas home to eight of the world’s highest mountains, it should come as no surprise that many of the country’s trekking trails are focused around this legendary mountain range.

What’s more, Nepal is one of the most welcoming countries in the world. Despite the place receiving thousands of visitors every year, the charming locals are always happy to see new travelers and you’ll be greeted with a comforting smile wherever you go.

Best Time to Go Trekking in Nepal

The season and time of year you visit Nepal can make or break your trekking holiday. Below are the different conditions you can expect at different times of the year:  

February to April: Valleys are full of blooming rhododendrons and other flowers as the weather starts to warm up, making February to April one of the best times to go trekking in Nepal.

May to June: Trekking during Nepal’s hot season is generally hot and sticky, with the occasional threat of rain as the monsoon season draws closer.

June to September: Nepal’s monsoon season is the least popular time for trekking. Landslides are not unheard of and trails become very muddy.

October to December: The best time to go trekking in Nepal. Mild weather and green valleys, what more could you want?!

November to February: Nepal’s cold season. Be prepared for snow and paths blocked due to avalanches, particularly on the Annapurna Circuit and Everest Base Camp Treks.

What Kind of Trekking Trip is Right for Me?

With a variety of treks ranging from easy to challenging, it’s worth keeping in mind the different conditions you might come across when trekking in Nepal. So, be sure to properly evaluate your fitness and determine your limits before picking a trail.

Additionally, you’re going to want to consider other factors such as the length of the trek itself, which can range from 3 to 30 days, before embarking on your Nepalese trekking adventure.

The following are brief descriptions of each difficulty level to help you better understand what kind of trekking trip you would be most comfortable with.

Difficulty Level Easy Moderate Challenging
Duration (days) 3–4 5–7 8–14
Trekking (hours/day) 4–5 5–6 7–8
Max Altitude (m) 3,200 4,500 5,500
Max Altitude (ft) 10,500 14,800 18,000
Fitness Requirements Average Moderately Fit Extremely Fit

 

Easy — For Beginners

If you’re not 100% sure if trekking is right for you but are willing to give it a try, we’d recommend starting with an easy trek. A typical day involves around 4 hours’ trekking, including breaks, and most treks will take place at altitudes below 4,000m (13,000 ft); so, there’s little chance of altitude sickness.

A good example of an easy Nepal trek would be the Ghorepani Poon Hill Trek.

Moderate — For Experienced Trekkers

Moderate treks are ideal for experienced trekkers and take place at altitudes between 3,900m and 4,800m (12,800–15,700 ft), with an average of 5–6 hours’ trekking per day. While not particularly challenging, moderate trails tend to involve a few tough climbs to the best views, so make sure you’re comfortable with uphill walking before selecting a moderate level trek.

Popular moderate treks include the Annapurna Base Camp Trek and the Upper Mustang Trek.

Challenging — For Fearless Adventurers

Experienced trekkers in good shape looking for a challenge will often opt for challenging treks. These treks are a true test of strength and involve an average of 7 hours’ trekking per day, taking place at altitudes between 4,800m and 5,600m (15,700–18,400 ft).

Examples of challenging treks include the infamous Everest Base Camp Trek and the Annapurna Circuit Trek.

Best Trekking Regions in Nepal

The best trekking regions in Nepal are without a doubt the Annapurna region, the Everest region, and the Upper Mustang region, each with its own impressive range of landscapes dotted with rugged hills, imposing mountains, primitive forests, and isolated villages.

1. Annapurna Region

Annapurna Base Camp Annapurna Base Camp

Famous for the Annapurna Massif, the Annapurna region is situated in the middle of northern Nepal, roughly 200 kilometers (120 miles) west of Kathmandu.

The main trekking area is located in the Annapurna Conservation Area, Nepal’s largest wildlife reserve covering approximately 7,629 square kilometers (2,946 square miles), including 30 peaks — of which Annapurna I, II, III, and IV are the most popular among trekking enthusiasts. 

The Annapurna region is one of the world’s most amazing trekking destinations and features a wide range of trails. The most popular trails include the Annapurna Base Camp Trek, the Annapurna Circuit and, the Ghorepani Poon Hill Trek.

Annapurna Base Camp Trek

Min. Duration 8 days
Max. Altitude 4,000m (13,000 ft)
Difficulty Moderate
Best Time March to May, October to November
Start / Finish Phedi / Naya Pul

 

Also known as the Annapurna Sanctuary Trek, the Annapurna Base Camp Trek is one of the most popular treks in Nepal. Due to its relatively low altitude and short duration, the trek tothe base camp  is the perfect Himalayan experience for first-time trekkers.

Annapurna Circuit

The Annapurna Circuit is an iconic trekking route and has become synonymous with trekking in Nepal. Beginning in Besisahar’s farmland hills, you’ll make your way through pristine forests until they eventually give way to spectacular mountains. 

Travel up a high pass with unrivaled views and then descend into the culturally unique Mustang region and its magnificent valleys. A great trail for more experienced trekkers.

Ghorepani Poon Hill Trek

Min. Duration 3 days
Max. Altitude 3,200m (10,500 ft)
Difficulty Easy
Best Times October to November, March to April
Start/Finish Birenthanti / Phedi via Poon Hill

 

The Ghorepani Poon Hill Trek is a superb journey through a verdant rural landscape and the ideal option for travelers with only a week or so in Nepal.

The main destination on this trek is undoubtedly Poon Hill, with its stunning panoramic views of the Annapurna Massif, lush forests, and the rhododendron-filled valleys that perfectly embody rural Nepal.

2. Everest Region

Otherwise known as the Khumbu region, Nepal’s Everest region is located in the northeastern part of the country. Most of the region’s trekking is focused around the Sagarmatha National Park, which occupies an area of 1,148 square kilometers (443 square miles) and offers views of spectacular mountain peaks including Lhotse, Cho You, Makalu, and, of course, Everest.

The majority of the trekking in the Everest region takes place at an altitude of above 3,000m (9,800 ft) in the Khumbu and Imja Khola valleys — where you’ll visit ancient temples, learn about the impact of Buddhism on the Sherpas' life and traditional farming methods.

The most popular treks in the area include the Everest Base Camp Trek and the Three Passes trek.

Everest Base Camp Trek

Min. Duration 12 days
Max. Altitude 5,500m (18,000 ft)
Difficulty Challenging
Best Times October to December, February to May
Start/Finish Lukla / Lukla

 

The Everest Base Camp Trek is a world-class trek through the heart of Sherpa country and to the Everest Base Camp. It’s a bucket list journey that draws thousands of trekkers from all walks of life to Nepal.

The trek follows the same path that leads to the very top of the world and rewards trekkers with unique views of glaciers, valleys, and some of the Earth’s tallest mountain peaks.

Three Passes Trek

Min. Duration 16 days
Max. Altitude 5,500m (18,000 ft)
Difficulty Challenging
Best Times October to November, March to Ma
Start/Finish Lukla / Lukla

 

This is an off-the-beaten-track trail in the Everest area. From the Everest base camp to the remote valley and the high mountains, the views throughout this trek as you travel through the untouched Khumbu valley and the iconic three passes (Renjo La, Cho La, and Kongma La) are incomparable to anything you’ve ever seen before.

3. Upper Mustang Region

Sharing borders with both Tibet and, China, Upper Mustang is a remote region in northern Nepal with a highly preserved Tibetan culture completely hidden from the outside world. Boasting unspoiled nature and landscapes ranging from snow-capped mountains to desert plains, Nepal’s Upper Mustang region has gained a reputation as the "Grand Canyon" of the Trans-Himalaya.

Once a restricted demilitarized zone, the Upper Mustang region was opened to foreign visitors in 1992, yet, to date, only 1,000 visitors are allowed per year, making it one of the most exclusive trekking regions in the country.

Because of this, trekkers are required to hold a government-issued permit before being allowed into the area. The most popular trail in the region is the eponymously named Upper Mustang Trek.

Upper Mustang

 Min. Duration 10 days
Max. Altitude 4,300m (14,100 ft)
Difficulty Moderate
Best Times May to October
Start/Finish Jomsom/Jomsom

 

This exciting journey will help you discover some of the most remote corners of the former Mustang Kingdom. Walking along the west side of the Kali Gandaki Valley brings you to the walled city of Lo Manthang, from where you’ll set out to further explore this mysterious region, its spectacular scenery, and fascinating history.

What is Accommodation Like

There’s no need to bring a tent or camp out when trekking in Nepal and basic lodges, known as "teahouses," can be found on most trails. Most teahouses are run as professional operations, with English signs, hot food, and English-speaking staff.

Some, like those in the Annapurna and Everest regions, include comforts such as lectricity, kerosene heaters, telephone services, Western-style bathrooms, and even Wi-Fi. The majority of teahouses offer a choice between shared dormitories or private rooms.

The majority of the teahouses in the Annapurna and Everest regions are equipped with amenities like solar or electric hot water showers and even private bathrooms, though accommodation tends to be more basic on shorter or less popular trails.

It’s worth noting that private rooms on popular trails tend to get booked out early during busy seasons, so we’d recommend booking in advance or joining a pre-arranged group trek for peace of mind.

What is Food Like

When trekking in Nepal, you’ll likely spend at least one night in a teahouse. Meals in teahouses are very affordable the standard fare includes “Dal Bhat”, steamed rice and lentil soup accompanied by vegetables or a vegetable curry, as well as international and Western dishes such as pizza, pasta, French fries, and even apple pie.

Breakfast typically consists of porridge, pancakes, bread, eggs, and hot drinks while lunch on the trails is usually a simple meal and a hot drink on the go.

After a long day trekking, you’ll be pleased to learn that dinner is generally a three-course affair, including soup, a main dish, and a dessert such as canned fruit or homemade cake and custard.

Hot tea with lemon is a staple drink in Nepal, though coffee, bottled water, snacks, soda, and even alcohol can be easily purchased at the various stops along the trails, with prices increasing the farther you travel.

On that note, bear in mind that bringing food with you to a teahouse or eating somewhere other than the place you’re staying tends to be frowned upon since most teahouses make very little, if anything at all, from the accommodation.

A Professional Guide is Highly Recommended

Even though you’re able to trek most trails without a guide, we’d highly recommend hiring one especially if it’s your first-time trekking in Nepal. You’ll also have the option of hiring a porter or even someone who serves as both a porter and a guide throughout your journey.

Most guides speak fluent English and, apart from assisting you in navigating the trail, can prove to be invaluable in helping you understand the local history and culture, acquire any necessary permits, make sure your accommodation and meals are covered, and even act as first responders in emergencies.

Porters, on the other hand, are there to simply lend a hand carrying your gear and can be useful should you choose to tackle the trail independently. To get the most out of your experience, consider hiring both a porter and a guide or a porter-guide combination.

Mules Mules hauling goods in the Himalayas

Nepal Trekking Tips

After you've chosen the best adventure for you, it's time to prepare and plan for it. We understand that proper preparation enhances trips by eliminating potential obstacles so we hope that our suggestions can contribute to your Nepal trekking plan.

1. Nepal is politically stable and one of the safest places you could visit, but that’s no excuse to let your guard down especially in remote areas.

2. See your doctor a few months before you depart to ensure you’re up to date on all the necessary vaccinations and well informed on traveling at high altitudes.

3. Choose the right travel insurance policy.

4. Don't pack too much equipment, but hiking boots with good ankle support are a must. Choose the appropriate gear for the trail conditions and the weather at that time.

5. Use a refillable water bottle and consider packing a portable water filter to avoid unnecessary plastic waste while trekking.

6. Chocolate in Nepal is more expensive than you think. Bring your own to save a little bit of cash!

Trek with Asia Highlights

Check out Asia Highlights’ trekking expeditions if you’re interested in a unique way to discover Nepal. Our expert travel advisors will help you pick the trek that best suits you and ensure you’re well taken care of throughout your trip.

Why Travel with Asia Highlights

  • Tailor-made experience: All of your ideas/needs will be carefully considered to create your ideal trip.
  • Worry-free planning: Every step of your trip, you will be looked after by your 1:1 travel consultant based in Asia.
  • No-risk booking: We refund as much as we can and adapt flexibly to unexpected changes.

11-Day Incredible India and Mysterious Nepal Tour

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