Hiking in Nepal not only takes you into the shadow of summits, but also climbing up towards them in some cases, with Everest Base Camp and the Annapurna Circuit the pinnacles of many adventurers’ ambitions. However, there are many other Nepal hiking havens to discover that won’t push you to the extreme, such as our Poon Hill Panorama Trek.
If you thought that hiking in the Himalayas wasn’t ever going to be for you, take a look at our Nepal tours, and never say never.
Where to go
Everest Base Camp
Everest Base Camp is as high as most of us will go on the world’s highest summit, 8,848m. In Nepali, Everest is called Sagarmatha, meaning “Peak of heaven” and you pass through some ethereal landscapes en route to Base Camp, at a not-to-be-sniffed-at elevation of 5,364m. This is a journey through Himalayan heritage with stops along the way like Namche Bazaar, the cradle of Sherpa culture. Or Lobuche, where traditional stone houses sit amongst the frozen landscapes of the Khumbu Glacier, the highest on the planet.
Annapurna Circuit and Sanctuary
The Annapurna Circuit trek is one of our longest Nepal trekking holidays, taking in a spectacular array of high mountain passes, traditional suspension bridges, and devout Buddhist villages, such as Braga with Nepal’s oldest monastery. You will worship the wonders of the Annapurna range on this revered 125km circumnavigation, one of the highlights being the barren beauty of Thorong La pass, at an epic 5,000m. The Annapurna Sanctuary trek is a shorter fortnight adventure around a natural amphitheatre, at slightly lower altitude but still enveloped by Annapurna peaks, glaciers and traditional villages.
All of our Nepal tours start in Kathmandu, the capital city with both charisma and chaos and, thankfully, slowly being restored for its residents, as well as its visitors, after the 2015 earthquake that brought tragic loss of life, homes and Buddhist architecture. On our Kathmandu Valley tour, spend time in the capital learning about the resilience and restoration efforts, and then go trekking in Shivapuri National Park, take in views of the Himalayan Mountain ranges and even cycle to the ancient city of Bhaktapur, also fighting back fitfully after 2015.
Poon Hill Panorama Trek
Trekking Poon Hill is in no way pooh-poohing the pinnacles of the Himalayas. Swap the sweating and pushing for a panorama that still brings you into the cradle of the Himalayas, on a five day trek that culminates in the 3,210 peak – not a hill by any standards with views across the great Annapurna range. Poon Hill and its nearby Mt. Dhaulagiri are added highlights on our Annapurna Sanctuary Treks. The Himalayas are just heaving with the most rousing routes.
Things to do
- Visiting Chitwan National Park is an optional extra on several of our Nepal tours and well worth the extra few days for a completely different sub-tropical view of the country. Famously home to around a hundred tigers, it also boasts over 500 endangered, one-horned rhinos, hundreds of bird species, sloth bears, elephants and leopards.
- Experience the world famous tea houses, or traditional mountain lodges where you sleep, eat and dream of more peaks while hiking in Nepal. They often cater for tourists with western cooked breakfasts of porridge or eggs, coffee and, no surprise, plenty of tea. Lunches are, more often than not, dal bhat, a mix of lentils, pulses, spinach and/or meat, and dinners stretch to the likes of yak steak on a posh day. Sleeping arrangements are basic, usually in shared rooms, and hot showers are sometimes a thing, for a small fee. Energy is at a premium here, so be prepared to go off grid.
- The name sherpa has become synonymous with ‘guide’. Whereas, Sherpa is the actual the name of Himalayan people who live around the border with Tibet. The other regional people are the Newars and, along with the Sherpas, their cultural heritage and spiritual knowledge are deeply engrained. Go beyond the usual namaste greeting and get to know them if you can, as these are the people who will make your expedition an extraordinary one.
Responsible travel tips
- Trust and tip your mountain leaders and sherpas, as they are superbly trained, passionate to the core and they put your life in their hands. Note, this is in no way a replacement for a fee, as all our guides, assistant guides and porters in Nepal are fully insured and paid a fair wage. Guides are trained by the International Federation of Mountain Guides Associations (UIAGM) and porters often sustain at least one family by keeping you safe, and luggage light, in their sacred landscapes.
- Prepare for hiking at high-altitude and trust the experts if you start to feel unwell. Acclimatisation days are built into our Nepal trekking holidays so that you can get used to the altitude, but sometimes you just get unlucky. Mountain leaders recognise the signs quickly and it’s vital to let you know if you have headaches or a shortening of breath so that they can assess the situation and act accordingly.
- As your guides will tell you, you need to drink three to four litres of water a day on most long treks in the Himalayas, but don’t buy bottled water, which adds to Nepal’s already problematic waste problems. Use boiled water provided in the tea houses, or bring a refillable bottle with an in-built filter, such as Water to Go.
- Many of our Nepal tours offer the additional option to visit the wildlife rich Chitwan National Park. Trekking on elephants has long been a tradition here, but we do not support this in any way as it is extremely bad for the elephants’ welfare.
- Consider donating to the Nepal Red Cross Society, which is affiliated to the International Federation of Red Cross, and is a vital line of support not only for ongoing rebuilding after the earthquake but also after the COVID19 pandemic, as Nepal was badly hit by both.