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Most Classic Nepal Trekking Routes

Last Update: March 27, 2020

The unique terrain of the Himalayas offers a huge number of spectacular trekking routes through Nepal, each of which has its own unique features, although all offer vistas of incomparable beauty. Owing to the diversity of the landscapes, and the changing elevations, Nepal is an absolute paradise for trekking and climbing adventures. While the classic trekking routes of the Everest Base Camp and Annapurna Circuit have earned a well-deserved reputation, they have become ever-more crowded as their popularity has risen. Newer trekking routes are up and coming on the Nepal trekking scene, such as the Manaslu Circuit Trek and the Three Passes Trek, and are now considered better options for hikers seeking that ultimate Himalayan experience.

Nepal draws in a huge crowd of trekkers every year, and with the Himalayas right on their doorstep, it is not difficult to understand why. The wild, beautiful scenery, deep, lush valleys, and clear, winding rivers make it one of the most popular destinations in the world for climbers and trekkers alike. On average, most treks in Nepal take 2-3 weeks to complete, and all offer spectacular views and a close-up look at the local, Himalayan cultures.

Classic Nepal Trekking Routes

Manaslu Circuit Trek

Manaslu Circuit has become one of the popular new treks since the route was made more accessible in 2010. The trek has all the classic features you would expect from this region, including deep, lush valleys at the lower elevations and the amazing views of the 8,000 meter peaks. It also includes a pass crossing at 5,106 meters at the Larkya La Pass. The route starts in Soti Khola, and ends at Besisahar, and despite it being increasingly popular, still feels very remote. The route still has fewer trekkers than elsewhere in Nepal. The trailhead is an eight-hour drive from Kathmandu, and the whole circuit takes around 13 days.

 Manaslu Circuit Trek Manaslu Circuit Trek

Three Passes trek

The best way to really experience the Mount Everest region is by taking the Three Passes Trek. As the name implies, the route goes over three passes that lie at elevations above 5,000 meters, the highest of which is the 5,535 meter high Kongma La Pass. It is an 18-day long trek, so is perfect for those who have more time to spend on the trail, and includes sections of the famous Everest Base Camp Trek, while offering even more spectacular views of the mighty Himalayas than anywhere else, as you cross the Renjo La and Cho La passes. The route starts and finishes in Lukla, and is a real circuitous trek, which is just a 30-minute flight from Kathmandu. A challenging route, this is not for the beginner.

 Kongma La Pass Kongma La Pass

Annapurna Base Camp Trek

As the trek takes you deep into the Annapurna Massif, to the foot of Annapurna South, the scenery on the Annapurna Base Camp trek is very different from that you can find on most of the classic treks. The views are less expensive, and more vertically inclined, and you will often find yourself looking almost straight above you to see the huge mountains towering above the lush, green valleys. As a relatively easy trek marked as “moderate”, it only climbs to 4,130 meters at the highest point of the trek, and is 12 days long. Getting there is harder, as it is an 8-hour drive from Kathmandu, or a 25 minute flight to Pokhara, followed by a 2-hour drive.

 Annapurna Base Camp Trek Annapurna Base Camp Trek

Upper Mustang Trek

The arid desert landscape of the Upper Mustang Valley is a distinct feature of this trek that cannot be found in any other trek in Nepal. The desert landscape is colored with multiple shades of brown on its crumbling, sandstone cliffs. The Upper Mustang Valley lies in the desert rain shadow of the Himalayas, and the trek starts and ends at Jomsom. Relatively low altitude at a maximum of only 3,810 meters, and taking just 12 days, this moderate trek across the ancient Mustang Kingdom, with its strong Tibetan influences makes it a very interesting trek among the Mustang cultures and traditions. The trip to the trailhead requires two flights, one from Kathmandu to Pokhara, and then on to Jomsom, a total of around an hour.

  Upper Mustang Valley Upper Mustang Valley

Upper Dolpo Trek

Another trek with three passes over 5,000 meters, the extremely remote, 21-day long, Upper Dolpo Trek follows the centuries old tea trading routes that take you through some of the world’s most surreal landscapes. The route passes through several settlements and communities of yak herders, whose rural lifestyle is becoming increasingly scarcer in this modern, connected world. The highest pass is the Nagdalo La Pass, at 5,350 meters, and the route starts and ends at Juphal. You need to take two flights to get there, one to Nepalgunj, and then on to Juphal, which takes over two hours. The route is spectacularly worth the hard trip to get there, but it is definitely not for the faint of heart, with a rating at “very challenging”.

  Upper Dolpo Trek Upper Dolpo trek route passes through several settlements and communities of yak herders

Gokyo Lakes Trek

Similar to the Three Passes trek, Gokyo Lakes Trek also shares parts of the route with the EBC Trek, although it does take you into a valley just west of Mount Everest. The main attraction of this route is the beautiful Gokyo Lakes, which lie at around 5,000 meters above sea level. From the lakes you will climb up to the highest point of the trek, the rocky peak of Gokyo Ri, at 5,375 meters. The view from the peak is an expansive one that affords one of the best views of Everest, and it is a challenging route to take. Starting and finishing in Lukla, it is just 30 minutes from Kathmandu by plane.

 Gokyo Lake Gokyo Lake

Dhaulagiri Circuit Trek

One of the most challenging treks in Nepal, the Dhaulagiri Circuit Trek has a sustained elevation of over 5,000 meters for 3 of the 14 days, with no easy route down. If you are up for the challenge, this is an unforgettable trekking adventure that takes you into the very heart of some of the world’s highest mountains. The highest point of the trek is at French Col, at 5,360 meters, and there is no comfy hostel along the route, meaning camping is the only option. The route starts at Darbang, and ends in Marpha, and it is an eight hour drive from Kathmandu, although you can fly into Pokhara, and drive 2 hours to Darbang.

 Dhaulagiri Circuit Trek Dhaulagiri Circuit Trek

Nar Phu Valley Trek

A real Himalayan wilderness adventure, the Nar Phu Valley Trek is as spectacular as it is unforgettable. The route was only opened to visitors in 2002, and it is still not crowded by hikers yet. Set in between the more popular Annapurna and Manaslu regions, it is a real hidden treasure that offers trekkers the rarest of opportunities to explore some of Nepal’s most unspoiled valleys. The route incorporates a mixture of raw Himalayan nature with ancient Buddhist culture, as there are several Buddhist monasteries in the area. Getting there requires a full day of driving from Kathmandu to Koto, via Besisahar, and the trek ends at Pisang.

 Nar Phu Valley Trek Nar Phu Valley Trek

Everest Base Camp Trek

Without a doubt, the most popular trek in Nepal, if not the world. The route of the EBC Trek rightly deserves its reputation due to the rich history, the amazingly spectacular views, and the unforgettable experience of the Sherpa culture. The trek is very popular, and in the peak trekking season the trails can become crowded. However, despite the crowds, Everest Base Camp still continues to be one of the greatest treks ever, and deserves its place in the hearts of hikers the world over. The trek starts and finishes at Lukla, and its highest point is at the base camp, at 5,364 meters above sea level. The 14-day long trek is challenging, but has easy parts along the route, making it fine for beginners to moderately experienced trekkers.

 Everest Base Camp Trek Everest Base Camp Trek

Annapurna Circuit Trek

Hiking through the beautiful villages and mountains of the Annapurna range is one of the quintessential treks of the Himalayas. The Annapurna Circuit Trek has lost some of its innate character due to the peak season crowds, and the newly-constructed roads that infringe on the natural trekking route. What used to be an 18-day trek has now been reduced to 12 days of unspoilt landscape, mainly thanks to the new roads. However, the trek is still a great adventure, especially at the crossing of the 5,416 meter high Thorong La Pass.

 Annapurna Circuit Trek Thorong La Pass

Again, getting to this region requires either an eight-hour drive of a flight to Pokhara or a two hour drive to the trailhead at Bhulebule. The route finishes at Jomsom, and leaves one with a sense of achievement for having completed one of the most famous treks in history.

Best Time for Nepal Trekking

Spring and autumn and pre-winter are the best times for trekking in Nepal, as the weather is milder, and the rains are very rare during these seasons. The rainy season is not good for trekking many parts of Nepal, due to flooding and mudslides. However, it is great for trekking in the Upper Mustang and Dolpo regions, as the climate here is dry almost all year round. Nepal, unusually, has six seasons, as opposed to either three or four in other places. The seasons in Nepal are listed as:

• Basanta Ritu (Spring); mid-March to mid-May.
• Grishma Ritu (Summer) mid-May to mid-July, hottest months.
• Barsha Ritu (Rainy); mid-July to mid-September, considerable rainy days.
• Sharad Ritu (Autumn); mid-September to mid-November, best time of year.
• Hemanta Ritu (Pre-Winter); mid-November to mid January.
• Shishir Ritu (Winter); mid-January to mid April.

Travelers mainly focus on the months of October, November, February, March, and April when looking to trek in Nepal, but it is possible to come at any time of the year, and still experience amazing trekking. Join in the Most Popular Nepal Tibet Tours

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