A Wealth of Choices

Features Issue 209 Apr, 2019

Blessed with great ecological diversity, Nepal invites you to come and trek on its mountain trails and experience many different lifestyles and cultures. In addition, you are assured of plenty of challenges and spectacular views. It’s not that easy to choose your trek, with so many excellent choices. Here are some popular treks that you may like to try out the next time you are here.

1. Ghalegaun Village Trek (around 10 days)

This is one of the recently-opened trekking routes in Nepal, and it takes you across a landscape full of unspoiled nature, dotted by neat little villages inhabited by the famous honey hunters of the high hills and mountains. The setting is made all the more dramatic by the spectacular panorama of the Annapurna Range, one of the major reasons for this trek’s popularity. This region is home to the Gurungs, who are legendary not only for their valor, but equally, for their hospitality. The starting point of the trek is a town called Besisahar, which is about a four-hour drive from Kathmandu. From here, the trail goes along the Marsyangdi River to first, Khudi, and then to Ghalegaun, where trekkers are treated to one of the finest sunset views on the Annapurna and Manaslu ranges. The next two stops en route are Ghanpokhara and Bhujung, and on the way, cascading waterfalls and rhododendron forests provide added luster to the already fantastic scenery. Then, it is an uphill hike to Khumre Danda (2000 m) in a village called Pasgaun, and then on, downhill to the Mandi River and Pakhrikot and Thumsikot, before finally reaching Pokhara.

2. Imjatse (Island Peak) Trek (around 18 days)

This trek is popular because it gives you the opportunity to climb a Himalayan peak. First, you fly to the dramatic airport of Lukla, an adventure in itself, before starting off on a remarkable trek on a trail in which yak caravans carrying trekking and mountaineering equipment and supplies are a common sight during the trekking seasons. The route goes first to Phakding, along the Dudh Kosi River, then on to the pretty Namche Bazaar and onwards to Tengboche, where a visual feast for the senses awaits you—a panorama of magnificent ice-laden Himalayan peaks. However, it is your next destination, Kala Patthar, which really brings you up-close, visually that is, with the biggest of them all, Mount Everest. Next, the trek carries on to Dingboche and Chhukung, and along moraine and glacier streams, to Imjatse Base Camp. The icing on the cake is, of course, the climb up to Imjatse Peak (6,189 m).

3. Mustang Trek (around 14 days)

Lying at the end of the swirling Kali Ganadaki River, and beyond the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri ranges, Mustang is an arid region in west Nepal that’s dominated by Tibetan culture and lifestyle. It is divided into Lower Mustang and Upper Mustang, with the latter once the Kingdom of Lo. It’s an interesting destination, that’s for sure. First, you fly from Kathmandu to Pokhara, and from there, to Jomsom, the capital of Mustang District. This is the starting point of the trek, which takes you to a place called Kagbeni in about four hours, during which time you’ll come across flat-roofed houses built in Tibetan style, most of which have sheep horns hanging over their doorways, amulets against evil spirits. The trek carries on through expansive barley fields to Charang, and you observe more signs of Tibetan culture in the form of large dzongs and a gumba on the way. The latter houses a number of ancient hangkas (religious paintings) and equally old deity figures. By and by, the trail reaches Lo Manthang, the erstwhile capital of Lo, and then Muktinath, a temple and pilgrimage site that’s scared for Hindus and Buddhists alike.

4. Annapurna Circuit Trek (around 20 days)

It is generally regarded as the most popular trek in Nepal, and among the best in the world. The take-off point is Besisahar in Lamjung district of western Nepal, a four-hour drive from Kathmandu. The trail goes alongside the Marsyangdi River. The clear flowing water originating from the Himalayas complements perfectly the lovely scenery all around, and when hiking from Pisang to Manang, the views of the Himalayas are spectacular, with fantastic views of Annapurna II (7,937 m), III (7,555 m), and IV (7,525 m), part of the 55-km-long massif called the Annapurna Range. The trail heads on to Thorung-La pass, its high altitude (5,416 m) offering a panoramic view of the Himalayan peaks and the Kali Gandaki Gorge, the world’s deepest gorge, far below. After this pass, it’s mostly downhill, with the trail going to Muktinath and Jomsom. Next, you reach Ghorepani, famous for mesmerizing sunrises and sunsets from nearby Poon Hill, and all this, hike down to the lovely lake city of Pokhara.

5.Everest Base Camp Trek (around 21 days)

One of the most renowned treks in the world, this trek, known popularly as EBC trek, takes you to the launching point of all Everest summit expeditions from the Nepal side. This once-in-a-lifetime adventure begins with a 45-minute flight from Kathmandu to Lukla (2,860 m). It’s an exciting 45 minutes, with the plane flying between two huge mountains and landing on a 500-meter-long strip that drops down into a valley at the far end. The trek begins thenceforth, and you’ll be walking through some of the most awesome mountain landscapes, and eight days later, you arrive at Gorakshep (5,164 m), nearby which is a glacial lake. Of course, there will be rest stops on the way for acclimatization, in Namche Bazaar (3,440 m) and at Dingboche (4,530 m). High altitude sickness is the major danger of this long trek, since the trail climbs steadily, and for the most part, you’ll be trekking at very high altitudes. So, the rest stops are vital to the EBC trek. When you arrive at Gorakshep, a detour takes you to Kala Patthar (5,660 m), from where you get the best views of Everest (8,848 m). After this, hike on to the Everest Base Camp (5,380 m), which is located on the Khumbu Glacier.