Nepal – a landlocked country in South Asia where majestic peaks seem to touch the immense blue sky. Mainly located on the Himalayas, Nepal offers by far the world’s highest mountains, making it the perfect playground for hikers and outdoor activities lovers. The country has been long promoting trekking tourism, however, in the last few decades, the number of yearly trekkers has drastically increased. In fact, more than 200.000 people – approximately 13% of the total amount of tourists -, decide to explore every year the extraordinary country’s hiking trails.
Backpacking to Nepal? Discover the best locations!
Visitors have countless possibilities to trek in the country, therefore, the choice is definitely not easy. Moreover, this also depends from other numerous factors; namely, level of difficulty, duration, season, budget, and tourism intensity. Yet, in this article, we will try our best to give you an insight of the most popular hikes in the country. Don’t forget that if you are not organising your trip through a trekking company, you will be required to purchase a permit (Trekking Information Management System Card) and pay a small amount of fees for the entrance to national parks and the conservation of the natural environment. Moreover, there are a few areas – Manaslu, Nar-Phu, Tsum Valley, Upper Mustang, Dolpo, Kanchenjunga and Humla -, which are further restricted and regulated by specific permits. If you are planning to travel to one of these sights, we highly recommend to check the latest up-to-date regulations. Finally, don’t forget that in order to enter Nepal, you will need to get a tourist visa, which can generally be purchased upon arrival at the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu. There are here different options depending on the duration of your stay. For further information about visas, vaccinations, prices, as well as the ultimate backpacking trip in Nepal, visit the German website Backpackertrail.
The best period to hike in Nepal
According to several guides, it is possible to hike in Nepal all year round. Yet, most trekkers decide to travel in one of the two peak seasons; namely, in Fall (October-November) or in Spring (March-April). Although it means more visitors, beginners are highly suggested to travel during these two seasons. While in Fall – absolutely the most popular season – visitors will enjoy clear mountain views, sunny skies, and little precipitation, in Spring, trekkers will be delighted by trees blooming, an active wildlife and mild temperatures. Trekking off season could represent also a good alternative since tourism intensity is extremely low and prices are cheaper, however, you will be expected to find several downsides: cold temperatures, short days and harsh winter storms.
For many trekkers, the teahouse trekking culture is what makes Nepal such an attractive and interesting country to hike. These teahouses are small mountain lodges, which are placed on the most touristic trails – you can find one every hour or two on the Everest, Annapurna or Manaslu-, where you can sleep and eat every night at a cheap price ($3-5). Generally, it is expected visitors to have their own food, however, it is also possible to buy something on-site. Here, trekkers also have the possibility to shower, charge their phones and share their experiences with other travellers in front of a few pints of beer.
When travelling to Nepal and hiking through some of the most remote places on Earth, it is essential to respect some general rules and take every possible precaution. Indeed, carelessness and negligence can here cost your life! First of all, listen carefully to what your guide says. If you don’t have one, we have a few suggestions that will be extremely useful during your hike. Don’t rush… the slower you go and the more often you stop, the better your body will adapt to altitude and thinner air. Remember to stay hydrated the whole time. Sometimes, with cold weather, people forget to drink, which however could result in a dangerous mix. Finally, learn about the Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) and its symptoms. AMS can be a dangerous enemy when hiking at high altitudes.
What to pack for hiking in Nepal
Packing for hiking in Nepal depends of course on several factors: season, location and altitude for instance. Therefore, we suggest to always check the basic information of your destination, such as weather, forecasts and altitude. Yet, there are some items which can always be useful wherever you are travelling to, such as thermal clothes, buff for protecting your face and regulating temperatures that go into your lungs, beanie, sunglasses, waterproof gloves, sleeping bag, and tent (if you are travelling during the peak season).
Classic hiking routes in Nepal
Everest Base Camp
It takes approximately 14-16 days to complete Nepal’s most famous trekking route. Visitors will hike the flanks of the world’s highest mountain, enjoying the beautiful landscapes that Mother Earth offers. Although you should be trained, difficulty ranges from moderate to difficult.
Everest Three Passes
The Everest Three Passes definitely require more experience and training, as well as a good amount of time (18-20 days). If these requirements fit you perfectly, this is the most spectacular route you could possibly see in your life.
On the homonym massif, it takes between 12 and 16 days to complete the Annapurna Circuit. Trekkers can here admire beautiful mountain views as well as enjoy the particular local culture.
The journey, which is definitely shorter compared to the others (approximately 10 days), will take trekkers through numerous valleys in the heart of Annapurnas.
An unforgettable experience at a high altitude, surrounded by massive peaks, such as Himlung Himal (7126m) and Manaslu (8163m). The difficulty of the trail ranges between moderate and difficult and it takes around 16-18 days to complete the circuit.
The arid mountain landscape will definitely catch your attention. The 12-day trail represents an amazing choice when the country is heavily hit by the monsoons. The Upper Mustang is located on a restricted area, therefore, visitors are required a permit.