Bordered by the serrated ridges of the Himalayas, Nepal features a wide range of national parks, conservation areas, treks, and summits. The number of trekking choices is so big, and overwhelming, that having an overview of the main trekking regions is a great help for those not knowing what to choose or where to go.
The Everest Base Camp Trek and the Annapurna Circuit are the two most popular options in Nepal, but Nepal has many more trekking regions (and treks) to offer. Some of them are located in wild regions that are difficult to reach, whereas others are closer to bigger cities, and therefore easier to reach. Here’s a brief overview of the main trekking regions in Nepal.
Everest Region (Khumbu)
There’s no doubt why the Everest region is everybody’s dream. Besides having Everest, Sagarmatha National Park features Sherpa culture, high-altitude scenery, and views of other famous peaks (Ama Dablam, Lhotse, Nuptse, and so much more).
The Everest Base Camp Trek is the most frequented trail (in-and-out trail, 14 to 20 days). Along the trail, you can enhance your experience with alternative routes and a side trip to Goyko Valley, Thame, or Chhukung viewpoint. As an add-on, you can even hike from Lukla (the main airport, the starting point towards EBC) to Tumlingtar instead of flying directly to Kathmandu.
The Three Passes Trek (20 days) is considered another good alternative in the region and it links three of the world’s highest passes (Goyko, Khumbu, and Imja).
With dramatic views of the numerous 7000m-plus Annapurna peaks, picturesque villages, and a strong sense of cultural diversity, the Annapurna Conservation Area is easily accessible from Pokhara. For this reason, the town is a good base for a variety of treks in the region. Treks vary in length, from short treks (up to five-six days) to long treks (between two and three weeks).
The Annapurna Circuit Trek is the best choice for long-distance trekkers in good physical condition and more time to spare (three weeks). The trek basically circles the Annapurna Range, and it passes altitude villages and even a 5000-meter high pass (Thorung La). Alternatively, the Annapurna Sanctuary Trek (known also as Annapurna Base Camp Trek) is a shorter version (10 to 14 days). It passes Gurung villages and reaches an amphitheater bordered by 7000m and 8000m peaks.
If you have less than one week to trek in the region, the Ghorepani Trek (five to six days), the Annapurna Skyline Trek (seven days), or the Ghachok Trek (five days) are all shorter options boasting Himalayan scenery and passing authentic villages.
Behind Dhaulagiri and Annapurna is Lower and Upper Mustang, a so-called Mini Tibet or Forbidden Kingdom. It is one of the best-preserved Tibetan regions in the world, featuring traditional Tibetan Buddhist culture and architecture, as well as untouched wild nature.
Jomsom in Lower Mustang, with daily flights from Pokhara, is a good starting point for treks such as the Upper Mustang Standard Trek (10 days), Upper Mustang Loop (12 days), or Teri La and Saribung La (18 to 22 days).
Langtang, Helambu, and Manaslu Regions
The third most popular trekking area in Nepal, Langtang National Park, delivers close-up views of the Himalayas, high mountain lakes, and Tamang and Tibetan culture. It is the nearest trekking destination from Kathmandu and the treks in this region can be combined for more diversity and an extended trip.
The Tamang Heritage Trail (six to seven days) is a circuit passing Tamang villages. If hiked clockwise, it can be extended with the Langtang Valley Trek (in-and-out trail, seven to eight days) without descending back to Syabrubesi town (the starting point for both treks). Moreover, the two previous treks can be continued with the Gosaikunda Trek (seven to eight days) passing high-alpine lakes.
With the third-highest peak in the world, Kangchenjunga, Eastern Nepal is one of the remotest regions in terms of trekking. It is far from Kathmandu so difficult to reach. It is also quite uninhabited, so you have to carry camping gear with you and sleep in the wild. However, it offers remote alpine valleys, wildlife, rustic teahouses here and there, and rhododendron forests blooming in spring.
The Kangchenjunga Circuit Trek (22 days) and Kangchenjunga Base Camp Trek (21 days) are two of the most spectacular and remotest treks in the region, and Nepal. You need a special permit to enter the restricted area, a minimum group of two trekkers, and an accompanying guide.
Western Nepal is so remote that you can reach the starting point of most trekking routes only with special flights. Being far from the capital, local communities haven’t been impacted by tourism development at all. Treks are possible only by camping along the route and with a special permit. Despite all these inconveniences, nature is untouched, local traditions are authentic, and you will experience the true Nepali life.
If you decide to venture into this part of the country, consider trekking to the pristine Rara Lake (14 days) – known as the Queen of Lakes, in the Rara National Park. Also, the Dolpo region features two magnificent treks – the Upper Dolpo Trek (24 to 27 days) and the Lower Dolpo Trek (18 days).
Other Regions and Treks
Additionally to all of the above-mentioned trekking regions, the Dhaulagiri Trek (19 days) and Manaslu Circuit Trek (13 days) are two separate treks, easily accessible from Pokhara. These treks have been developed lately as alternatives to the popular Annapurna Circuit. They are demanding and require good physical condition, but are a great choice if you want something less touristy and still easy enough to reach.