Are there any trekking destinations for kids in Nepal?
Everyone knows there are great treks and climbing adventures to be had in Nepal but is there any family tours in Nepal which are suitable for kids? If your kids are young adults (14 and up) they probably can do pretty much everything you can. But is it possible to trek in Nepal with younger kids?
There are a lot of great treks and hikes which are suitable for kids from even as young as 4 and up to the early teen years. The best travel companies in Nepal certainly know that kids as young as 4 are going to need a bit of help in the form of a doko basket where they can comfortably sit while being carried by a porter. They also know these early teenage years can be tricky in terms of keeping them entertained and motivated. A good trekking company will be able to encourage, teach and entertain your children as well as simply booking your trip.
**Please note that many trekking agencies will not take children younger than 12 years of age on many treks or tours. All will expect the parents to be responsible for the well-being and safety of the children.
So where are the best places to go with kids?
But certain areas of the Annapurnas are also great for young kids. For example, Swotah Travel and Adventure has a great Millennium Homestay Trek or there is the Royal Trek or even flying/ driving into Jomson (a large market town) and exploring around that area is suitable for younger children.
There are short hikes around the Kathmandu Valley and Pokhara and some great small group tours of Nepal.
A Short Trek out of Kathmandu through Shivapuri National Park to Nagarkot
A one hour drive gets you to Sundarijal in the Shivapuri National Park. After paying your entrance fee, it’s a 4 to 5-hour hike through the forest (take a packed lunch!) to Chisapani. This is your first overnight stay. Accommodation is not great but the best is yet to come! Hike the next days to Nagarkot. This is a long 7 hours hike (this is where the porter with the doko comes in!) again through forest land. Take it easy, make it fun for the kids - not just a trip from A to B! Nagarkot has some wonderful accommodation, a couple of nice hotels with a swimming pool! Here you can relax with a drink overlooking the panoramic view of the mountains. Don’t forget to be on the terrace for sunset and sunrise! If it was me, I would stay the next day in Nagarkot to explore the village, staring at the mountains, swim, get a massage maybe and let the kids run off any excess energy they might still have. Then you can drive down to Bhaktapur the next day and explore the wonderful, vehicle-free ancient town. With its temples, artisans and astounding architecture, this is a fabulous reminder of days gone by. Again, if you have time I suggest you stay overnight! And simply drive about an hour back to Kathmandu the next morning. But I recommend 4 or 5 hours to explore Bhaktapur. Let the kids have a go on a potter’s wheel (with permission of course), learn the history of the temples, watch the fish in one of the ponds around the square or eat local juju dhau – royal curd. Reportedly the best yoghurt in the country.
Other Great Trek for Kids
I can recommend three great treks to do with kids.
The Millennium Homestay Trek – 6 days on the trail
So named because the concept of a homestay trek came about at the beginning of the new millennium in 2000. With the highest part of the trek only being 1,709m there is no worries about altitude-related problems! But of course, aside from the beautiful landscape and mountain views, the best part of this trek is living in real homes with real families!
The trek starts in Pokhara and the best season to visit Nepal is also the best season to do this trek. That is spring and autumn. But if that doesn’t suit your holiday plans, because this is such a low altitude trek, you can also visit during the winter. With the mountains really clear and the sun not beating down too much, winter is actually a great time to come, No snow however. Don’t go to this area in the monsoon (July and August) as the trails will be wet and slippery. Wet feed makes for unhappy little hikers!
As the name implies, you will be staying in family homes! And there will be lots of children around to keep yours occupied. Be aware it is not a luxury trek; accommodation will be basic. Two beds to a room and an outside toilet/ shower. You can certainly turn this into an educational tour about culture. Food will be prepared in the family kitchen and will be the staple food of Nepal – dal bhat. That is lentil soup, curry and rice. Bring snacks for the kids as they are sure to want something more familiar as time goes on.
Things to know: Although considered an easy trek, there are ups and downs. In the mornings paths can be slippery. There is the Millennium Cave to discover a well as monasteries and temples. There are over 30 villages to see, stay in and pass-through (not all at once!) on this interesting trek. People will want to teach you their culture, dances, songs, cooking etc. Best be prepared to sing a song from your country too. A small gift for the homeowner will be much appreciated. And, as on any trek, people will be particularly fascinated by your blond children. Best warn them in advance to expect extra attention.
**This trek gives back! Swotah Travel helps to support a local school with scholarships for under-privileged students and provides lunches for teachers and children, partly funded through this trek.
The Ghorepani Poon Hill Trek - 5 to 7 days on the trail, extendable
This is also a relatively low altitude trek, the highest point being 3,210m (where you will only spend a couple of hours) and takes you into the amazing Himalayan Mountain Range. There are shady forests to walk through, stone steps to climb, Magar settlements to hike through and the ultimate – Poon Hill! Poon Hill offers a panoramic view of the Annapurna Range, Dhaulagiri Range, and other mountains such as Machapuchhre (know as Fishtail). Sixteen mountains actually! Sunrise and sunset are the popular times to hike up to this stunning viewpoint.
This trek starts from Pokhara, which is a very relaxed and laid back town built around a lake.
From Pokhara, you drive a couple of hours to Nayapul from where you start walking. It takes around 4 hours to reach Ulleri which you reach with plenty of daylight left to explore and play.
Now I should warn you about the trail up to Ulleri. Stone steps – over 4,000 of them. Definitely, this is where a porter to carry small children comes in. I often wondered if there is a weight limit on that doko! Bring walking polls which will definitely help on that staircase. Expect to be exhausted and expect sore legs. Just imagine how easy the gym or that Spin or Step class is going to be from now on!
One village you won’t want to miss on this trek is Ghandruk. Here there is a museum about Gurung peoples. And you and your kids can get dressed in Gurung style and get your photos taken.
And do try very hard to drag your kids out of bed before sunrise to climb to the top of Poon Hill to watch nature spectacular sunrise over the mountains.
So beautiful is the sunrise from Poon Hill, yoga trek has been built around it. Please ask Swotha about the Poon Hill Sun Salutation Yoga Trek. While not suitable for young children, teenagers who already have an interest in yoga will enjoy this special treat!
Things to know: This is a year-round trek and can be added onto longer treks in the Annapurna region. As a result, it is extremely busy with other trekkers. Since it is very popular and a well-established trek the food and accommodation are good. Being close to Pokhara means you can relax and enjoy sightseeing before or after your trek. And there are plenty of things for kids to do in Pokhara.
The Royal Trek – 3 days on the trail
This trek gets its name from the 1980s when Prince Charles hiked here. He was so blown away by the scenery they created a whole trekking route and named it after him. Again this is a low elevation trek, with 1,700m being the highest you will go. It’s a moderate trek suitable for children and adults of all ages, but a certain level of fitness should be there. It’s actually a great trek for those will little time or who don’t want to be on the trail for too long. The scenery is the ubiquitous Annapurna range – snow-capped mountains against blue skies - as you hike through the foothills. Again the villages and people you will meet on the trail are mainly of the Gurung ethnic group. Because this is a very short trek it is often overlooked. Which means it is not very busy at all! Which makes it even better for your family.
Things to Know: A great add on to this trek that comes as ‘standard’ with Swotha Travel is an overnight at Begnas Lake. Begnas is the sister to Fewa Lake in Pokhara. But it is much more peaceful. The kids will love to go boating on it and perhaps spot a few unusual birds.
Hiking Around Pokhara
All the above three treks start and end at Pokhara. Whether you are trekking out of Pokhara or whether you go there just to relax and enjoy the mountain scenery without actually hiking up and down them, there are several short walks around Pokhara.
Peace Stupa: You can boat across the lake, and hike up to the Peace Stupa. Or drive there and hike and boat back (arrange the boat ahead of time to be sure). From the stupa, there are wonderful views of Fewa Lake and Pokhara.
Sarangkot: You can hike up to Sarangkot, which takes around 3 hours. A lot of people do this hike while it is still dark in order to watch the sunrise over the Himalaya. In my opinion, far better to drive up and then walk back down. Certainly with children walking by torch light might not be the best idea. An even better idea is to stay overnight in one of the many hotels in Sarangkot.
Aside from Trekking, What to do with Kids in Nepal?
You now know it is possible to trek in Nepal with small kids. And I’ve given some of the best trekking destinations in Nepal for kids. But what are some of the other top activities to do in Nepal with a family?
Do check out my earlier blog - Is Nepal a Family Destination? to find out lots of fun things to do with kids in Nepal. Such as rafting, boating, wildlife spotting, bird watching and discovering the rich heritage that Nepal has. Your family trip to Nepal can be as adventurous, as educational or as laid-back as you want it to be! And if you like more comfort than there are luxury tours in Nepal, including things like breakfast on Everest and other Nepal heli tours. The choice is yours!