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Trekking and Nepal have become synonymous with each other. Home to the highest mountain peaks in the world, Nepal has some of the best treks in the world. But the most popular trek, Everest Base Camp, is becoming victim to the problems of over-tourism.
With 500-odd tourists now hitting the trail every day during the high season, it’s leading to environmental problems and cramped trekking spaces. On the Chinese side, authorities closed off base camp to tourists due to the escalating amount of trash.
While trekking Everest base camp is no doubt an incredible experience, it’s not the only trek in Nepal, and not necessarily the best. Depending on your fitness level, you may not want such a strenuous hike. Or perhaps you don’t have the time commitment of two weeks that the trek requires. Or maybe you just want to do something different than what everyone else is.
Whatever reason it is you’re looking for an alternative trek to Everest Base Camp, this post has you covered. I’ve asked travel bloggers to share their best trekking experiences in Nepal. Ranging from one day to one month, this list will help you find and plan your dream trek in Nepal.
Trekking Areas in Nepal
The majority of treks in Nepal are in two areas. Pokhara, which is the gateway to the stunning Annapurna Mountain Range, and the Everest region, which require flights or long drives to the trailheads. There are also some popular treks which are accessible from Kathmandu. Wherever you choose to hike, Nepal’s beauty won’t disappoint.
These treks all start from Pokhara, a beautiful city in central Nepal. It’s the gateway to trekking in the Annapurna mountains but has a lot to offer itself. The city is set along Phewna lake with the Himalaya mountain ranges in the background, so there’s a lot of outdoor activities such as kayaking and short hikes.
Even if you haven’t planned a trek before arriving in Pokhara, don’t worry. On the main street, you can find tour companies to book treks with as well as many stores to buy all the supplies you need.
After trekking in the Annapurna Region, Pokhara is a great place to relax with several cute cafes and spas where you can treat yourself to a well-deserved massage. If you crave more adventure after trekking, try paragliding in Pokhara. I loved this experience!
Annapurna Base Camp Trek
Length: 10 days / Highest Point: 4,130 metres / Difficulty: Challenging
Recommended by Erin Parker of Love To Travel, Stay-Eat-Do
While the trek to Annapurna Base Camp is not for the faint-hearted, it can be for the strong-willed (training, however, is highly recommended!) The 10 day guided trek I did with Intrepid (formerly the Annapurna Sanctuary), begins in Pokhara where you will instantly feel overwhelmed by the exquisite beauty of your surrounds and Phewa Tal (Lake); you’ll be in awe of the enormity of the Himalayan range; and, full of adrenalin and ready to start the climb.
You’ll walk amongst snow-capped mountains; pass by glaciers, rivers, cross wobbly bridges that you’re sure are going to collapse under you. You’ll stay in gorgeous little rustic teahouses and eat amazing food cooked in kitchens you didn’t think possible so far up a mountain.
You’ll be inspired by the fitness levels and skill of the locals and your Sherpa’s as they trek the range carrying your heavy bags, often without shoes on their feet. You’ll see mountain goats, yaks, chickens running around and lots of beautiful friendly local faces. You’ll climb stairs – lots of them; you’ll climb big ‘hills’ and they’ll be referred to as “Nepali flat”; then you’ll climb big mountains and you’ll have so many ‘pinch yourself moments’.
Arriving at Annapurna Base Camp was epic, it was tough and very challenging, some days were gruelling; there were tears and “I can’t do this” moments, but it can safely be said, this trek is one of the most incredible adventures of my life and Nepal now holds a very special place in me.
Mohare Danda Trek
Length: 5 days / Highest Point: 3,300 meters / Difficulty: Moderate
Recommended by Katie of Two Wandering Soles
Having done the trek to EBC, I can say that it is an incredible experience, but it with an ever-growing crowd, a hefty flight price to the start of the trek, and a steep elevation gain, it’s certainly not for everyone.
If you’re looking for a relatively short trek in Nepal that brings you far from the crowded paths of more popular trails, like EBC and ABC, the newly opened Mohare Danda Trek might just what you’re seeking.
This 5-day trek brings you through seldom-visited villages in the Annapurna Region. Make your way through farmsteads and past fruit orchards, and don’t be surprised if you don’t meet any other hikers along the way. During our 5 days on this little-known route, the only others we encountered were local farmers and yaks. Unlike some of the more heavily-trekked paths where it is possible to go independently, it’s important to hire a guide or go with a trekking company so you don’t get lost or encounter any problems.
The hike is moderately difficult, with ups and downs most of the way, and a 2,200-meter elevation gain in total. The highest point is 3,300 meters (10,827 feet) so you won’t have to worry as much about altitude sickness as on some of the others treks in the Himalayas.
Take in the view of snowcapped peaks, spend the night in local villages, and soak up the feeling of being able to experience a part of Nepal that few other visitors ever have the privilege of seeing.
Length: 3 days / Highest Point: 2,870 metres / Difficulty: Easy
If you’re looking for a short hike near Pokhara that’s not too challenging, consider the Ghandruk Trek. It takes only takes three days but will leave you feeling immersed in nature.
The trailhead of the trek is about an hour drive from Pokhara. The first two days will take you through vegetable patties and stone stairs to the charming village of Ghandruk. Inhabited by the Gurung community, Ghandruk village is well-serviced with tea houses to stay in. It has stunning views of the Annapurna South mountain range, which look incredible with the morning light.
The Ghandruk trek is relatively easy. The first two days take about 5-6 hours, and the last day is only 3. The trek doesn’t go past 2870 metres of elevation, so you don’t have to worry about altitude sickness on the trail. A nice aspect of the Ghandruk trek is that you won’t see many other tourists on the trail, and will have a chance to talk to locals in the village.
I was short on time in Nepal so the Ghandruk trek was a perfect chance to hike in the Himalayas even with limited time. The trail can be booked from any tour agency, which you can find along Pokhara Lakeside.
Mardi Himal Trek
Length: 4 days / Highest Point: 4,500 metres / Difficulty: Easy-Moderate
Recommended by Sarah & Andy of Hotels & Hand Luggage
The Mardi Himal Trek officially opened in 2012 when a small number of tea houses were built at various points along the route. This shorter trek in the Annapurna Region of Nepal is therefore much quieter than other routes, although it’s quickly growing in popularity. The trek offers forested walks and scenic mountain terrain with basic accommodation and remarkable views.
It can be completed in 4 days, but we highly recommend completing it over 6 or 7 days so it isn’t too rushed. You could even combine the trek with a night in the traditional village of Ghandruk.
If you have experience trekking in Nepal you could complete the trek without a guide as the trail is well-marked. In saying this, we do recommend a guide for a stress-free trek and almost all the other people we met along the route used a guide.
A good level of fitness is required for the Mardi Himal Trek. It’s easy-moderate in difficulty with the harder sections being between high camp and base camp where the terrain is rocky, steep and narrow in places. The maximum altitude is 4500 metres at base camp and the maximum sleeping altitude is 3580 at high camp.
We highly recommend the Mardi Himal Trek, especially to people who are looking for a shorter Nepal trek that still provides stunning mountain scenery.
Poon Hill Trek
Length: 4 days / Highest Point: 3,131 metres / Difficulty: Easy-Moderate
Recommended by Campbell & Alya of Stingy Nomads
The Ghorepani Poon Hill trek is one of the easier routes in Nepal, it’s a perfect route to do as an acclimatization hike before attempting one of more challenging high-altitude treks. The Poon Hill trek is a 4-day route in the Annapurna region, Central Nepal.
The total distance of the trek is 40km. The highest point of the trek is 3131m, the top of the Poon Hill. To hike the Poon Hill it’s required to have a TIMS (Trekkers Information Management System) card and an Annapurna Sanctuary Permit, both together cost US$45 per person.
The route is well-marked from the beginning to the end, there are many teahouses and restaurants along the way. Teahouses on the trek have good facilities; hot shower, electricity, wi-fi, blankets etc. Local restaurants offer Western, Indian, Nepalese and Chinese food.
The route starts in Nayapul, a small village 40km from Pokhara and finishes in Ghandruk, it can be walked either way. It’s easy to get to the start and back to Pokhara by public bus, depending on the road conditions the journey might take between 1h30min. and 3 hours. The trek can be done independently or with a guide. To hire a guide costs about US$25 per day it can be split between a couple of people. It’s possible to hire a porter for those who don’t want to carry heavy backpacks, a porter will cost about US$20 per day, one porter usually carries between 15kg and 20kg.
Everest Region Treks
Getting to the treks in the Everest Region is more complicated than the Annapurna Region, as the trailheads are faraway from Kathmandu, as opposed to the Annapurna trek trailheads which are close to Pokhara.
Many treks in the Everest region require a flight from Kathmandu to Lukla which is an experience in itself. As the weather can be volatile in the mountains, flights are often cancelled so it’s important to make sure you leave a couple of extra days in your itinerary for delays. Some of the Everest region trek trailheads can be reached by car, but these are long journeys over unkept roads.
Island Peak Trek
Length: 14-18 days / Highest Point: 6, 189 metres / Difficulty: Strenuous
Recommended by Carryn of Torn Tackies
Sitting at 6,189 m above sea level, Island Peak is an entry-level mountaineering peak in Nepal offering some of the best trekking and views of the Himalaya mountain range. The return hike from Lukla to Island Peak takes 14 -18 days and follows a similar route to Everest Base Camp before veering off into the Chukhung Valley.
Previous climbing experience is not required and you don’t need a guide to get to Island Peak Base Camp. Here, you’ll need to join a trekking company with experienced climbing guides who will assist you with your summit attempt.
As with all high altitude trekking, the hike to Island Peak is tough on your body. The summit climb will see you pushing yourself to your limits and you’ll need to be mentally and physically strong to get to the top. The final push takes over 10 hours and includes a strenuous snow trek as well as a rope section where you’ll ascend an ice wall.
For any adventure lover or those up for a challenge, Island Peak is just for you. It’s tough, but it is doable – even with very little training! Check out this Island Peak travel guide to see if it’s something that should be next on your bucket list.
Makalu Base Camp Trek
Length: 14-20 days / Highest Point: 4,870 metres / Difficulty: Strenuous & Remote
Permits: TIMs permit and Makalu-Baron National Park permit, about $50 total
Recommended by Megan of Mountains with Megan
Makalu Base Camp is a trek east of the Everest region to the base of the world’s fifth highest mountain.
The trek begins in the village of Num, and the first several days are through the jungle. Expect to see monkeys in the trees and lush, overgrown forests. The trail soon begins to climb to higher elevations.
There are two passes that must be traversed in one day, and they are often covered in snow. For this reason, it’s only recommended that very experienced hikers go without a guide.
At higher elevations, there is only one guesthouse in each village. If you’re planning on hiking in the busy autumn season, bring a tent. The guest houses are more rustic than their Everest counterparts. Don’t expect to be offered a menu to order off of or have access to a hot shower.
This trek would be perfect for hardy hikers who want to experience a region of Nepal that hasn’t been overrun by tourism.
Mera Peak Trek
Length: 12-16 days / Highest Point: 6, 476 metres / Difficulty: Strenuous
Recommended by Michelle of Full Time Explorer
Mera Peak is considered the highest trekking peak in Nepal and reaches 6,476m in altitude. It’s the perfect trek for those who want to challenge themselves or for anyone looking to learn the ropes of mountaineering. This peak is often used as a training peak for larger expeditions including those looking to conquer Everest.
The trek can be done in 12-16 days depending on which Mera Peak Itinerary you choose. A guide is required and typically costs between $25 and $40 USD per day for the group. Mera Peak tests your mind and body. The days leading up to the summit are extremely difficult and every single step takes will and determination. This isn’t a trek for the faint of heart.
Three Passes Trek
Length: 18-25 days / Highest Point: 5,545 metres / Difficulty: Strenuous
Recommended By Erika from Erika’s Travelventures
If you are looking for a hike in Nepal bigger and badder than the Everest Base Camp trek, consider the Three Passes Trek. This 20+ day trek in the Everest Region is a circuit trek that will take you over three high mountain passes, Kongma La, Cho La, and Renjo La.
If you’re keen on reaching Everest Base Camp and Kala Patthar, they are a short side trek away from the Three Passes route. The Three Passes also encompasses Gokyo and its beautiful lakes, so you can see all of the top-rated views in the Everest Region in one trek.
The Three Passes Trek is considerably more difficult than just Everest Base Camp. Pass days, the days where you go over either Kongma La, Cho La, or Renjo La, can be 9-12 hours from guesthouse to guesthouse. Pass days require you to ascend hundreds of meters up to the mountain pass, then descend steep terrain back down to the next village. Two of the three passes also require you to cross over glaciers of crumbling ice, so crampons are highly recommended.
Most people complete the trek in 18-25 days depending on trekking speed and the number of rest days taken. Tour agencies may say a guide is highly recommended for this trek, although many people have trekked it independently without any problems.
Tsho Rolpa Trek
Length: 7-9 days / Highest Point: 4,580 metres / Difficulty: Easy-Moderate
Recommended by Michelle of Full Time Explorer
The Tsho Rolpa Trek is the up and coming trek in Nepal. The Swiss Embassy recently redid all of the trails, making this one of the nicest trekking trails I’ve ever walked on. It’s easy to navigate and has yet to experience any crowds. Most people haven’t heard of Tsho Rolpa yet, making it the perfect time to go visit.
The trek can be done in 7-9 days depending on which Tsho Rolpa Itinerary you choose. A guide is not required, but you will learn a lot more about the history of the area if you have one.
It’s important not to do this trek in monsoon season because the trails experience flash flooding. Locals won’t even walk from town to town during monsoon. The Tsho Rolpa Trek is fairly easy since it only reaches an altitude of 4,580m. Despite that, there are not many towns to sleep in and the altitude gains each day can cause altitude sickness, so it’s best to walk slowly and do acclimation hikes when you can.
Treks near Kathmandu
Nagarkot to Dhulikhel Trek
Length: 1 day / Highest Point: 2,300 metres / Difficulty: Easy
Recommended by Stephen of A Backpacker’s Tale
No hike while backpacking Nepal is as memorable as the one from Nagarkot to the village of Dhulikhel. This whole day hike takes you off the well-worn hiking trail, and into less known parts of Nepal.
This trip isn’t for the faint of heart. There a lot of hills to climb and the trail isn’t always well marked. The hike between the two small town is only 9 miles, but due to the difficulty, it takes 7-9 hours. You don’t need a guide, but having a map is vital. Along the way, there are a handful of restaurants and shops but make sure to take a lot of water.
As you traverse the highest points on the trail, you get epic views of the Himalayan Range – on a clear day you can see Everest. You also pass through rice patties, valleys, and remote villages. Many of these villages aren’t used to seeing foreigners. In one village we were surrounded by groups of kids and adults who invited us to a wedding.
Some parts are steep, and the path is often challenging. Yes, the hike from Nagarkot to Dhulikhel is hard. But the rewards of pushing through it are worth it.
Langtang Valley Trek
Length: 8-12 days / Highest Point: 4,773 metres / Difficulty: Moderate-Difficult
Recommended by Rai of a Rai of Light
The Langtang Valley provides one of the best alternative options to hiking in the Everest region. Not only is the beautiful valley accessible from Kathmandu by road, but it also brings you close to 7,000-meter peaks before reaching the summit of Kyangin Ri at a height of 4,773 m.
Trekking in Langtang also gives you numerous opportunities to intermingle with the Tamang people of this region as you make your way along the old trade route to Tibet. This allows for an enjoyable cultural exchange; something that’s missing on many popular treks around the country.
Another reason to choose a trek in the Langtang region is the chance to hike without the crowds. Access to the area requires a purchase of the Langtang National park permit and the trek can be done with or without the use of a guide and porters.
This moderately difficult trek, with accommodation in tea-houses along the way, takes around one week to complete, making it one of the best short treks in Nepal.
Tips for Trekking in Nepal
Acute Mountain Sickness
If you plan to trek over an altitude of 2500 m, you may suffer from altitude sickness. It’s important to know the symptoms of altitude sickness, as this is common in Nepal and can be fatal at its worst.
Oxygen levels drop down the higher you ascend, and a result you will feel short of breath and nauseous. This makes trekking at higher elevations much more challenging. It’s important to take your time and descend if you begin to feel the dangerous effects of altitude sickness.
Many people choose to take altitude sickness tablets while trekking in Nepal, as this can reduce the symptoms. Talk to your doctor or travel clinic about getting these before your trip.
You want to have travel insurance if you plan to trek in Nepal. Injuries are common on the trails, as is altitude sickness. In the event that you are so sick you cannot descend on your own, you will have to get air-lifted out via helicopter, and this is not cheap. Give yourself peace of mind from this situation by getting travel insurance. I recommend World Nomad’s Travel Insurance as they cover a wide range of adventure activities including trekking and helicopter evacuation.
Plan for Contingency Days
Due to the unpredictable weather in the mountains, you will want to plan for 2-3 contingency days. The internal flights to places like Lukla and Jomsom are often delayed or cancelled due to weather. By including a few extra days in your itinerary you will feel less stressed if your flight gets delayed.
Buy your gear in Nepal
Everything you need to trek in Nepal can be bought in Kathmandu or Pokhara. Trekking poles, hats, gloves, socks, down jackets, sleeping bags, etc. There are fake, good-quality brands such as North Face, and the prices are very cheap compared to what you would pay in North America. There are also authentic stores for proper mountain equipment. If you are on a longer-term trip you don’t need to worry about lugging all your trekking equipment with you. Whatever you need, it can be bought in Nepal.
Although having a guide isn’t a requirement for trekking in Nepal, it is recommended if you are not a seasoned trekker or are not well versed with the Napoli language and culture. The more popular treks such as Annapurna Base Camp are well-marked with signs, but other treks are not. Not only will the guide help you during the trek with guidance, but they can provide insight into the local culture.
Choosing a tour company/guide
You can either book your trek/guide in advance or book in Kathmandu or Pokhara. Availability and dates of tours are never guaranteed, so if you are only coming to Nepal for a specific time period I recommend booking a tour in advance to avoid disappointment.
There are many companies that run tours in Nepal, but I love G Adventures. Not only do they plan excellent tours, but they are committed to responsible travel. I’ve travelled with them in the past and it’s allowed me to have unique experience and connections with the local community that I wouldn’t have been able to make on my own. Book your G adventures tour now!
Whichever trek you choose to do in Nepal, the views will not disappoint. Trekking through this country felt like nothing short of a dream. Thanks to all of those who contributed to this post, It’s sparked my wanderlust to go back and try another one of these treks in Nepal.
Have you gone trekking in Nepal before? What trek did you do? Let me know in the comments below!
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