Hiking the Mountains of Nepal: An Overview

May 26, 2020

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We’re delighted that so many of you enjoyed our recent Feature Friday event covering Nepal! Our local guides Dipak and Chet did a fantastic job discussing treks in Nepal and common questions. But if you missed the event, don’t fret! We’ve put all the information right here to answer all your Nepal gear, trekking, and destination questions.

Most Popular Treks in Nepal

Annapurna Basecamp

In the north-central part of Nepal, lies a group of condensed mountains clustered within 34-miles, which is commonly known to the world as the “Annapurna Massif.” This massif is surrounded by the largest conservation area in the country, the Annapurna Conservation Area. 

Photo credits to Simon English
Annapurna Circuit

This 10-14 day trek to the Annapurna Base Camp allows hikers to enjoy the most spectacular section of the massif — experiencing the most expansive views of the 10th highest mountain in the world, Annapurna.

Everest Basecamp

Looking to get your lungs working harder? This is a must! A hike to Everest Base Camp is a world-class trek amidst the Mighty Himalayas of Nepal. This famous trek is known worldwide for its trailblazing routes and famous mountaineers & landscapes that speak to your heart. Hiking through the stunning foothills just below the soaring Everest brings jaw-dropping views of the larger than life peaks that can only be found in the Everest Region.

Photo credits to Toomas Tartes
Everest Base Camp

We also recommend the lesser-known Three Passes Trek in the Everest Region to experience three stunning, snow-covered passes — Kongma La (18,159 ft.), Cho La (17,782 ft.), and Renjo La (17,585 ft.).

Annapurna Circuit

Looking for a heart-pumping, butt-kicking, scenic rich trek to explore? Well, you have found it! The route, known as the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal, is a 14-21 day hike (depending on your timeline and your fitness) that begins in the lush green Himalayan foothills and meanders over high mountain passes and down to the Mustang Valley. This is one of the oldest trekking trails in the Himalayas and has been open to foreigners since 1977. 

Off the Beaten Path Treks in Nepal

Manaslu Trek

The Manaslu trek reveals sensational mountain vistas, fascinating culture, and biological diversity. It spans across 17,000+ feet elevations and is one of Nepal's last Himalayan jewels. It shows off the unspoiled diverse culture and tradition with its wonderful views of Mt. Manaslu. Undoubtedly, this trek around Manaslu best suits those who are looking for the less trodden adventure in Nepal.

Photo credits to Samrat Khadka
Manaslu Trek

Gokyo Valley

The stunning Gokyo Valley Trek is an excellent choice for adventurers who want to experience the magnificence of Everest with less traffic. This trek takes you to the attractive Gokyo Valley, where tranquil turquoise lakes are surrounded by snowy peaks and Nepal’s biggest glacier – Khumbu Glacier. The views of Everest on a clear day from Gokyo are nothing less than breathtaking.

Photo credits to Chinh Le Duc
Gokyo Lake

Common Questions for EBC and ABC / Annapurna Circuit Trek: 

What fitness level or experience would one need for hikes in the Nepal area?

Good/above-average level of fitness. The altitude throws another curveball into the mix, so having a base of solid fitness is necessary. 

How should one train for a trek like this?

We recommend steps and steep grades using a pack. 45 minutes a day walking uphill – ideally without a break – with weight on your back will help you train!

How far in advance should one begin training?

If you have a solid level of fitness and a routine, just kick it up a notch. If you don't, we recommend 3-6 months of solid activity daily to get your muscles and your mind prepared for what's to come.

How should one prepare for the altitude in Nepal?

“Preparing for Altitude” is very difficult unless you live at altitudes above 8,000 feet, but there are still steps you can take. Your preparation should include plenty of physical training – which doesn’t guarantee you won’t experience altitude sickness, but will certainly help limit the symptoms. Additionally, consult with your doctor about common medications for altitude. Lastly, remember plenty of hydration and rest when you first arrive in-country to help with acclimatization. 

Photo credits to Samrat Khadka
Annapurna Circuit

Please don’t take the altitude lightly! Acute mountain sickness (AMS) is a condition some hikers start to experience at altitudes of 6,000 feet and higher. Early signs include nausea, vomiting, dizziness, leading to a plethora of additional and more severe symptoms if left untreated. Therefore, we recommend monitoring your health closely, and investing in comprehensive travel insurance.

What gear is needed?

This is pretty simple, actually! You’ll be staying in tea houses along the way, and won’t need much extra gear apart from your personal hiking clothing and gear. Our top suggestions are good worn-in hiking boots, hiking poles, a pair of traction devices in case you do hit snow (such as micro-spikes), and a durable pack with a rain cover.

As far as clothing is concerned, remember that you’ll be carrying everything you have on your back for 13+ days, so make it count! We recommend 1 or 2 pairs of wind/water-resistant hiking pants (zip-offs come in handy for warmer days), rain gear (Goretex or similarly waterproof), and a pair of hiking shorts/skort with 2 or 3 tops (long and short sleeve) that are quick dry/wicking. 

Remember a base layer and warm layer. You are climbing up to 14,000-18,000+ feet, and it’s going to get chilly. Warm sleeping thermals – it is cold at night! Additionally, a baseball cap, beanie, gloves, sunnies, a neck buff, and a small medical kit with any personal medications are all very important to bring along.

Undergarments can be washed at night and dry out by the morning. Multiple pairs of hiking socks and dry bags to store gear inside your pack will come in very handy! Lastly, remember no cotton anything!! 

Best times to plan the trip?

The Autumn time frame – from October to November – is often considered to be the absolute best Nepal trekking season. You can enjoy relatively mild weather, clear views of the jaw-dropping landscape, and avoid hazardous avalanche and monsoon conditions.

Additionally, Spring (from March to May) is a fantastic time to adventure in the Himalayas. Enjoy the lush vegetation as it emerges from the winter freeze, but be prepared for chilly nights and occasional rain squalls! 

Differences in physical demand of Annapurna vs EBC, if any?

In all honesty, the treks have similar daily elevation gains. However, the big difference is the overall altitude. Hiking times and lengths are very similar, but the Everest Base Camp elevation is almost 3,000 feet higher than Annapurna. So slow and steady! 

Bringing it All Together

Trust us, a hiking adventure through the beautiful Himalayas in Nepal is the trip of a lifetime. Enjoy comfortable guide-to-guest ratios with an experienced lead guide for a group of 6-8 persons, along with the option to hire porters to handle your gear during our 4 to 5 hours of hiking every day. We’ll be staying at cozy mountain teahouses every night, soaking up incredible mountain views during the day, and forming memories that will last a lifetime! 

If any of the treks mentioned above sparks your interest, don’t hesitate to visit our trip page and send us any questions you may have! 

Everest Base Camp 

Annapurna Base Camp 

Annapurna Circuit 

Manaslu Trek 

Gokyo Valley

Three Passes 

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