For more than 20 years the high Himalayas have been the pinnacle of trekking at high altitudes, with more than half a million visitors coming to Nepal and Tibet every year for the amazing trekking trails. While Nepal undoubtedly has more trails than anywhere else with high mountains, Tibet has some of the most beautiful and arduous trails at the highest altitudes, which makes both of these awesome destinations well worth visiting. But why stop at just one? A combined trekking tour of Nepal and Tibet together can give you more spectacular experiences that you could possibly imagine. And with so many great treks to choose from, the hardest thing will be deciding where you will be going.
Nepal is, without a doubt, the top trekking destination in the world, and offers such amazing trekking routes as the Everest Base Camp Trek, the Annapurna Trekking Circuit, the Manaslu Trek, and more than two dozen other great locations. Meanwhile, Tibet has some of the highest trekking locations in the world, such as the awesome Everest Base Camp Trek in the north, the beautiful Gama Valley Treks, or the outstandingly spiritual Kailash Kora Trek, notably the hardest trek in Tibet.
Why Trek in Both Nepal and Tibet?
If you are looking for reasons to trek in Nepal and Tibet, then you need to look no further than the stunning views of the mighty Himalayas, the highest mountain range on earth, which is home to 14 of the world’s highest mountain, including Mount Everest. In fact, as Everest straddles the border between China and Nepal, this massive peak is the most popular trek in both locations, with base camps on both sides of the mountain being the ultimate destination for trekking in Nepal and Tibet. For high-altitude trekking, there are no better destinations in the world than Nepal and Tibet, as both have some of the highest trekking trails on the planet. And both treks to the Everest Base Camps (EBC) take you to altitudes well above 5,000 meters (16,400ft), while in Tibet, you can actually trek to an altitude of 6,500 meters (21,300ft).
As well as having some of the most splendid mountain views and outstandingly beautiful landscapes and scenery in the world, the trekking trails in both Nepal and Tibet are well established and easy to follow. With years of hikers taking on these amazing high-altitude treks, the trails are well known and well-marked, which makes them suitable for trekking alone in Nepal if you want. However, in Tibet, trekking does need to be done as part of an organized tour, though this only serves to enhance the whole experience, as you get the best of the entire plateau during your stay. And having an experienced guide to show you the route and the highlights and views is a great way to make the most of this amazing destination.
Another bonus for trekking in both Nepal and Tibet is their neighborly status, with excellent transport systems available when traveling between one and the other. Flights run daily between Kathmandu and Lhasa, the only international flights into Tibet from anywhere in the world. And with the re-opening of the border crossing at Gyirong Port in 2017, traveling overland between Nepal and Tibet has become even easier and cheaper, making it possible to travel to both destinations when working on a budget.
Top Trekking Routes in Nepal and Tibet
Nepal Trekking Routes
Nepal has more than two-dozen listed trekking routes that have been well established over the last 30-40 years, with well-defined trails and very experienced guides and porters for those that want them. Nepal also has some of the most popular treks in the world, taking you through some of the most spectacular landscapes and scenery to some of the most famous mountain destinations on the planet.
Everest Base Camp Trek
Renowned as the single most popular trek in Nepal, the Everest Base Camp trek is a 12-day trek that takes you through some of the most amazing scenery and landscapes in the Khumbu Region of Nepal. The route starts at the small town of Lukla, halfway up a mountain and reachable only by flight from Kathmandu. Not only does this trek take you to the Sherpa capital of the Himalayas, the beauty of the Gokyo Ri Lakes, and several Buddhist monasteries along the way, but it also traces the steps taken by Edmund Hillary and Tensing Norgay, the first people to reach the summit of Mount Everest.
Everest Base Camp trek takes you through some of the most amazing scenery and landscapes in Nepal.
Starting at an altitude of just 2,860 meters, this challenging trek takes you up to the base camp used by mountaineers for more than 50 years, at an altitude of 5,364 meters. And since it is not possible to see the summit from the base camp, most people head to the ridge of Kala Patthar, at 5,643 meters, to get the best views of the mountain.
Annapurna Circuit Trek
Located a short distance outside Pokhara to the west of Kathmandu, the Annapurna Range is marked as one of the most extensive trekking areas in Nepal, and the famous Annapurna Circuit Trek sees more than 100,000 visitor every year. One of the first trails to be opened in Nepal the route is an 18-day trek that covers a distance of between 160km and 230km, depending on which part of the circuit you intend to challenge.
Annapurna Range is marked as one of the most extensive trekking areas in Nepal.
The trek circles the Annapurna Massif, and gives you a unique opportunity to see the outstanding Annapurna and Dhaulagiri Himalayan ranges, two of the highest mountains in the world, as well as experiencing the unique cultures of the Thakali, Gurung, and Magar communities in the region. The highest point of this amazing trek is the Thorung La Pass, which sits at an elevation of 5,416 meters, and lies right on the western edge of the Tibetan plateau.
The Langtang region of Nepal lies just to the northwest of the capital of Kathmandu, and includes the stunning Langtang National Park, Nepal’s first Himalayan national park. As one of the most easily accessed treks in Nepal, it is popular with novice trekkers and those that want a more relaxing trekking experience. One of the most underrated hikes in Nepal, this awesome trek takes you through areas of outstanding natural beauty and valley that are rich and lush with primeval forests and local wildlife. Treks usually run for 8-11 days, and is a moderate trek that reaches altitudes of just 4,773 meters.
Langtang trek is one of the most underrated hikes in Nepal.
Tibet Trekking Routes
While it may lie on the highest plateau on the planet, Tibet also has some of the world’s best treks, several of which are unique in style and landscape only to this remote region of China. From the treks around sacred lakes and mountains to the beauty of the long walk between monasteries and the delights of experiencing refreshing hot springs, Tibet is now one of the best destinations in the world for high-altitude trekking.
Lake Namtso Trek
As one of the Great Three Sacred Lakes of Tibet, Lake Namtso is also one of the most popular tourist destinations on the plateau, and a great place for trekking as it is one of the most stunning locations on the plateau. However, the trek reaches altitudes of more than 5,300 meters, which means that it is still no walk in the park. A challenging high-altitude trek that usually takes around 3 days and covers a distance of about 60 kilometers, the trek starts in the town of Damxung, and crosses the Nyenchen Tanglha Mountains over the Kyang La Pass (5,330m) to finish at the Tashi Dor peninsula, the location of the beautiful Tashi Dor Monastery.
Namtso is one of the Great Three Sacred Lakes of Tibet.
Ganden to Samye Trek
An outstanding trek of around 4-5 days that traverses the 80km route between two of the plateau’s most famous monasteries, the trek from Ganden Monastery in Lhasa to Samye Monastery in Lhoka is regarded as one of the best hikes in the world. A kind of fulfilling pilgrimage between two stunning monasteries, the trek takes you through the beautiful plateau countryside, passing by high snow-clad mountains, crystal-clear blue lakes, and lush alpine meadows complete with nomadic herders and their yaks. Reaching a maximum altitude of 5,250 meters (17,224ft) at the Shogu La Pass, the trek ends at the first Buddhist monastery in Tibet at 3,540 meters above sea level.
Trek from Ganden Monastery to Samye Monastery is regarded as one of the best hikes in the world.
Old Tingri to Everest Base Camp
The most enthralling base camp trek in the world, the 70km trek from Old Tingri on the Friendship Highway to the northern EBC in Tibet, is a trek that takes around 4 days to complete, ending at the stunning Everest Base Camp at an altitude of 5,200 meters. Traversing the Tingri countryside at altitudes between 4,400m and 5,200m, this trek is considered to be of moderate difficulty, and gives you some of the best mountain views in the world. Passing by huge mountain glaciers and through lush beautiful valleys, the trek is an exhilarating mix of landscapes, scenery, and wildlife, and is an awesome challenge for trekkers in Tibet.
After about 4 days’ trek, we finally made it to the northern EBC in Tibet.
Mount Kailash Trek
Noted as the hardest trek in Tibet, the Mount Kailash Kora trek is a 52km circuit of the world’s most sacred mountain, located in the Ngari Prefecture in western Tibet. One of the most popular pilgrimage destinations in the world, thousands of pilgrims come to this sacred mountain every year to make the ritual kora around the mountain. A tough and arduous route, the rough ground and high pass of Dolma La (5,630m) make it both physically and mentally challenging. And with an average elevation of around 4,700 meters, it is one of the highest treks in the world. A three-day trek around the mountain, stopping at monasteries for the night, this is the ultimate in high-altitude trekking in the Himalayas.
Taking a rest on the way of the Mount Kailash Kora trek.
Best Time for Trekking in Tibet and Nepal
For trekking in Tibet, the best time to travel is in the spring and autumn, from April to May and September to November, when the weather is dry and clear, with little rain and no snow to impede your progress. It is possible to take on some of the treks in summer or winter, where the weather is milder, which makes Tibet a year round destination for high-altitude trekking.
Nepal can also be visited throughout the year, depending on where you intend to trek. Most of the more popular treks, such as EBC and Annapurna, can only be done from March to June and September to November, while other lower altitude treks, such as those in the Kathmandu Valley can be done throughout the winter months as well. Summer in the lower regions of Nepal is the monsoon season, which makes trekking harder, but in the remote area of the Upper Mustang, where little to no rain falls even in the monsoon months, trekking can be done from April to October. You simply need to choose the right time for the treks you are attempting.
Travel Documents for Trekking in Tibet and Nepal
Nepal has relatively few travel document requirements, when compared to Tibet. Mostly, you simply need to have a visa to enter the country, a pass for the area in which you are trekking, and the compulsory Trekkers Information Management System (TIMS) card. Both TIMS card and permits can be obtained in Kathmandu once you arrive, and the cost is relatively low.
However, for Tibet, there are a number of documetns you need to apply for in order to enter the region and travel around the various prefectures in order to trek on the Tibetan plateau. Aside from the Chinese group Visa you will need to enter Tibet from Nepal – which is obtained on your behalf by the travel agency on your arrival in Nepal – you will also need a number of permits and passes that can only be obtained once you have booked a pre-arranged tour with a registered Tibet travel agency. The permits and passes you will need are:
● Tibet Travel Permit – This is required for entry to Tibet and to travel around in the area of Lhasa.
● Alien’s Travel Permit – Required for travel to the “unopened” areas of Tibet outside Lhasa, including Shigatse.
● Restricted Areas Permit – This is often called the “Military Permit”, and is required for travel to military-sensitive areas such as Ngari, Nyingchi, etc.
● Frontier Pass – While most tours will not actually cross the border out of China, the Frontier Pass is required for all tourists traveling in the areas of the Chinese border with India, Nepal, and Bhutan, which includes Mount Everest and Mount Kailash.
Recommended Tibet Trekking Tour from Nepal
Mount Kailash trekking from Kathmandu
If you are planning a trekking tour of Tibet and Nepal, then we have the perfect tour for you for the Tibetan leg of the trip. A 15-day Mount Kailash tour that takes you from the exotic capital of Kathmandu to the Tibetan capital of Lhasa, the City of Sunshine, this outstanding tour itinerary includes the spectacular trek around Mount Kailash in western Tibet, the sacred mountain of Buddhist and Hindu pilgrimage.
Following a pleasant drive from Kathmandu to Gyirong Port, you will head first up to the mountain for the three-day trek, passing some of Tibet’s sacred lakes along the way. After trekking around the sacred mountain, you will then take the long road across the vast Tibetan plateau to Lhasa, passing through and visiting such amazing places as Saga, Shigatse, Gyantse, and Lake Yamdrok along the way.
Trekking in Nepal and Tibet is the ultimate in high-altitude trekking tours, and combining these two amazing destinations into one trip is the best way to make the most of both locations. Nepal is the obvious starting point, and after enjoying the amazing treks of this landlocked Himalayan kingdom, a trip across the highest mountains in the world to Tibet is the highlight of any Sino-Nepal journey. Lying on the world’s highest plateau, not only can you experience the world’s highest treks, but you can learn more about the unique religion and culture of the breathtaking Tibetan plateau.