It’s true Nepal is not really a destination people come for on a quick getaway holiday. More often or not visitors come for somewhere between 3 and 4 weeks. And while there are lots of other wonderful things to do such as mountain biking in Nepal, or wildlife spotting in Chitwan National Park, a Nepal yoga retreat, or even a luxury tour in Nepal, most people come for hiking in Nepal.
Whether you are coming with family, friends or on your own, trekking in Nepal is a wonderful experience not to be missed! And, as I said, with most people, coming for around a month’s vacation, there is plenty of time to do the best treks – whether off the beaten track treks or those you have heard and read about – Nepal has the right trekking for you.
If you are not an experienced trekker or want to spend more time exploring other parts of the country, check out my blogs on Best Treks to do in Nepal in a Week or Less and Best Treks to do in Nepal in Less than 14 Days.
If you have more time or want to explore the hills and mountains for between two to three weeks, read on.
Fabulous Nepal Treks in 2 to 3 Weeks
Around Mount Everest
Everest Base Camp Trek Approx 2 weeks
This is of course the most famous trek in Nepal! While I don’t really recommend doing it with young children, it has been known to be, for some, a family tour in Nepal. In fact, during the lockdown in spring 2020, a family from Scotland did eventually make it up to base camp after being stuck in a Sherpa home or several months! Not for all children however. It is great though for a small group tour of Nepal.
Starting with a flight into the high altitude airport at Lukla, the trek starts as soon as you land! The following day you reach Namche Bazaar where you have to spend an extra day to acclimatize to the high altitude. But acclimatization days are never boring in Nepal because the best way to acclimatize to altitude is to hike! This is your chance to explore the surrounding area with absolutely no pressure. Another acclimatization day will be taken at Dingboche, which lies a short distance from the interesting Tengboche Monastery with its astounding panoramic mountain views. Then, of course, there is base camp itself and Kala Patthar, an astounding and breathtaking viewpoint over Everest and the surrounding mountains.
Everest Three Passes Trek / 19 days
If you have a bit longer time and want to see a bit more the Everest Region, the Everest Three Passes Trek takes you to all the same iconic places: Namche, Tengboche, Dingboche, Everest Base Camp and beyond. As the name suggests, this trek takes you over three high passes: Kongma La, Renjo, and the highest at 5,420m, Cho La Pass. It also takes you to the beautiful high altitude Gokyo Lakes. This is a high altitude and challenging trek so trekkers should have a good level of fitness and be aware of and on the lookout for altitude-related illnesses. But any good Nepal tour agency will be able to brief you on Nepal travel advice and safety, including altitude sickness. This trek follows a loop so unlike the Everest Base Camp Trek, you do not back-track but every day is something new. But the mountains never change, except in their colour mood with the rising and setting sun.
Around the Annapurnas
The Annapurna mountains lie near the lake town of Pokhara. Being that you can easily reach Pokhara by road and it is such a chilled place to relax after your trek, this area is very popular with the trekker of all ages and levels of fitness. There are short treks around Pokhara – see my Best Treks to do in Nepal in a Week or Less- and longer treks which take you deep into the mountains. With regards to the weather, the best seasons to visit Nepal are also the best seasons for this area – spring and autumn. Some treks fall into the rain shadow so can be done in the monsoon (summer) months. Most treks should be avoided in the winter due to heavy snowfall. But if that is the only time you can come – please ask us!
Annapurna Circuit Trek / Approx 2 weeks
This is one of the classic treks in Nepal. It starts from Kathmandu and ends in Pokhara, from where you can drive or fly back to Kathmandu. A day’s drive at the start takes you to Jagat in Manang from where you start trekking. This is a hard trek, but has been voted one of the best treks in the world! So if you feel your fitness level is up to it, you won’t be disappointed by the scenery, mountains and overall experience! The trek starts by taking you through the foothills and forests of Mustang, along rivers and across those suspension bridges you have seen in every trekking picture of Nepal! The hardest day is going over the Thorong La Pass at 5,416m. The hike over starts in darkness so you can cross before the high afternoon winds come. Once over the pass, you are in Mustang. First stop is a look at the Hindu pilgrim site at Muktinath. This is a very revered site with its small temple, 108 water spouts where devotees take a shower - under each one – and its eternal flame. Further down the trail, the trek side-steps up Poon Hill. Another iconic viewpoint with astounding views of the mountains, particularly at sunrise and sunset. The ending point is Pokhara with its bars, restaurants, night clubs and lakeside cafes. The perfect end to a perfect trip.
Annapurna Circuit with Tilicho Lake Trek / 16 days
If you want to add a bit extra onto the classic Annapurna Circuit trek then consider a trip to Tilicho Lake. At 4,919m, it’s among the highest in the world. This trek starts and ends the same way as the Annapurna Circuit Trek but takes you to the beautiful Tilicho Lake and Base Camp. Through meadows and yak pastures, passed cliffs, chortens and monasteries, and of course, the mountains, are the key points of interest on this trek. Along with the deepest canyon in Nepal, the Kali Gandaki. Which is also responsible for those high afternoon winds! Like on the classic Annapurna Circuit Trek, you will spend some time at Tadapani with its hot springs. A fantastic way to relieve your aches and pains!
Nar Phu Valley Trek / 14 days extendable
Another trek that starts with a drive from Kathmandu to Jagat in Manang and ends in Jomson, Mustang, takes you off the beaten trail to the Nar Phu Valley. Once again the mountain views are spectacular – the Annapurnas, Himlung Himal, Tilicho Peak and more. In addition, glaciers, narrow canyons and remote villages are highlights of this trek. Then there is the fact the villages are less visited and retain their ancient culture and traditions. In fact, this valley was only opened to trekkers in 2003. Once over the Thorong La Pass into Mustang the trek ends at Jomson where it is a short flight back to Pokhara. Or if you still have the stamina, you can trek on for a few days more! Please note, there are two high altitude passes to cross and this is a hard trek, so a good level of physical fitness is required.
Swotah Travel does a great Lower Manaslu Trek which is not as demanding as the trek shown below. If you are interested in that, please either check out my blog Best Treks to do in Nepal in Less than 14 Days or on the main Swotha website.
Manaslu Circuit Trek with Tsum Valley / 19 days
If you love exploring the hidden valleys and trekking off the beaten track this demanding trek will take you near the Tibetan border and show you monasteries, gompas and chortens in the Manaslu region. This area only opened to trekkers in the 1990s and the Tsum Valley even later than that in the 2000s. It is very demanding, with over 7 hours of walking each day. Some parts of the trek are over 3,000m and there is the Larkya La Pass to cross at 5,160m. If there are snow and ice at that time fixed ropes will be used. So you can see it is a trek for the adventurous and fit hiker! The mountains on view include Mt Manaslu of course and the Hinchuli, Ngadi and Ganesh Himal ranges, among others. Changing landscapes make the trek more interesting and unique – from sub-tropical forests and green meadows to snow and ice.
Tsum Valley Trek / 17 days
It is possible to trek only in the Tsum Valley. This hidden valley was only opened up in 2008 and sees very few trekkers. Its pine forests, fast-flowing rivers and waterfalls, monasteries, and villages give a great insight into both the countryside and people’s way of life. The people here are Tibetan Buddhist so there mani walls (prayer walls), and stupas to see and Milarepa’s Cave to visit. The days of this trek are long, with the majority over 3,000m in altitude so a good level of fitness is required for this trek. But the views of Himalchuli, Ganesh Himal, and Manaslu and many other mountains, makes it worthwhile. This trek starts and ends with a day’s drive from Kathmandu.
The Far West
There are some wonderful treks in the far west of Nepal. These are definitely not luxury tours in Nepal but are unique and less trekked and will provide you with amazing memories and photographs! These treks are more remote, harder to get to and thus a little more expensive. But the extra effort and cost are well worth it.
You can also extend your trip to the far west with a safari in Bardia National Park, which is two hours drive from Nepalganj airport. This is a totally different experience from the mountains! Tigers, elephants, monkeys, deer and a host of other animals and birds in a sub-tropical setting! Maybe the perfect way to relax after your trek!
Limi Valley Trek / 18 days
The Limi Valley is situated in Humla district in the far north-west of Nepal, bordering on Tibet. This is a relatively unexplored area which was only opened in 2002 to trekkers. It involves two flights so by the time you get there your anticipation is extremely high. The Limi Valley will not disappoint you! Fly from Kathmandu to Nepalganj where there is time to explore this lowland border town before flying out the next morning to Simikot in Humla. While we will stay in a hotel in Nepalganj, the rest of the trip is camping. Which simply adds to the excitement and feeling of being in an unexplored area. From the Nara La Pass (4,620m) we can see into Tibet and are surrounded by barren mountains associated with that country. On another day we follow the Karnali River, the largest river in Nepal. And of course, there are plenty of signs this is a Tibetan Buddhist area – from the gompas and monasteries to the prayer flags fluttering in the wind. From the valley, we can see many mountains, including Mount Kailash on the Tibetan side. Revered by both Hindus and Buddhist alike, Mount Kailash attracts thousands of pilgrims every year. Since this is a remote area, there is plenty of rare flora and fauna. You might be lucky to see marmots, wolfs, wild yaks, blue sheep and even perhaps the rare Snow Leopard!
Lower Dolpo Trek / 16 Days
This demanding trek again takes you into an area which is less hiked by trekkers. Again two flights are required to reach here. Kathmandu to Nepalganj and Nepalganj to Jhupal in Dolpo. And once again this is a camping trek. This trek takes you through a desert area in the rain-shadow, along the ancient salt trade route and to Shey Phoksundo, a high altitude lake sitting at 3,611m. Set in Shey Phoksundo National Park, this lake is pristine and mesmerising and is a designated Ramsar site. As you have probably worked out, this area is also very Tibetan like in appearance, feel and local inhabitants. Much of this trek is through the National Park with its pine, fir and birch forests. Wildlife includes the Himalayan blue sheep, thar, Himalayan black bear, langur and rhesus monkeys and the Snow Leopard! Interestingly the Bon religion is still practised in some of the villages here. In fact, this is one of the remaining places in the world this similar-to-Buddhism-but-different religion is practised. Paths are narrow, passes are high and the going is tough. But it is a trek you will never forget.
Snow Leopard Trek in Dolpo / 18 days
If you have read the book by Peter Matthiessen “The Snow Leopard” you should know he wrote that after travelling to Dolpo. This trek is based on the writer’s experience. Mostly found in the Himalayan Region, Snow Leopards can be found in eight protected areas in Nepal. Shey Phoksundo National Park in Dolpa being one of them. This trek takes you into Upper Dolpo, an even more remote and a restricted area of the country. The trek begins by either driving to or flying into Nepalganj in the west of the country, then flying up to Jhupal and is again a camping trek. The trek again takes you through Tibetan Buddhist inspired landscapes and cultures, to Phoksundo Lake and through Phoksundo National Park. All the best in spotting a Snow Leopard!
There are many other treks of around two to three weeks in length in Nepal. And much longer and shorter too. Please check back into this blog periodically to find out.