Top 10 best multi-day treks in Nepal

Pip
September 28, 2015

With the Himalaya Mountains straddling its northern border and some of the world’s highest peaks on its doorstep, Nepal is the ultimate destination when it comes to multi-day trekking. It offers spectacular mountain vistas and diverse landscapes to explore, with trails passing through remote villages where distinct cultures thrive, as well as some of the region’s most impressive wildlife conservation areas. While some of the trails are widely known, with comfortable teahouse accommodation, mountaineering lore and stunning panoramas resulting in well-deserved popularity, others are well off-the-beaten-track, with few trekkers braving the remote camping conditions. Whether you are looking for the camaraderie of cosy evenings spent mingling with fellow trekkers, or the isolated bliss of nights spent out alone in Nepal’s stunning wilderness, here are ten of the country’s best multi-day treks.

1. Annapurna Circuit Trek

Annapurna Valley
The Annapurna Circuit itinerary can be spread over 16-20 days, winding between teahouse accommodation and rural hamlets dotted with temples and monasteries to the Annapurna Base Camp.

Traversing the Annapurna Conservation Area’s diverse landscapes, encompassing stunning mountain vistas and Tibetan Buddhist culture, the Annapurna Circuit is one of the most popular treks in Nepal. The route allows for gentle acclimatisation up to the highest point at 5,300 metres, taking you to the southern face of the world’s tenth highest mountain, Annapurna, and with a glimpse into the restricted Mustang Region. The itinerary can be spread over 16-20 days, winding between teahouse accommodation and rural hamlets dotted with temples and monasteries to the Annapurna Base Camp. It is easily accessed from Nepal’s third largest city, Pokhara, and best trekked in Autumn or Spring when warm sunny days combine with clear skies for incredible vistas. This is also the peak trekking season, meaning you will be sharing the trail with plenty of other like-minded individuals.

2. Three Passes Trek

Three Passes Trek, Renjo La Pass-View of Everest-Lhotse-Makalu
The Three Passes: La (5,535 metres), Cho La (5,420 metres) and Renjo La (5,465 metres), is undoubtedly one of the world’s greatest trekking adventures.

The Three Passes is undoubtedly one of the world’s greatest trekking adventures, exploring the magnificent Solo Khumbu via the passes of Kongma La (5,535 metres), Cho La (5,420 metres) and Renjo La (5,465 metres), and staring straight across at the world’s tallest mountain, Everest. The track winds through traditional Sherpa villages where comfortable lodge accommodation and hot meals are served up (meaning you can pack light), and spectacular mountain vistas and photographic opportunities are around every corner. You need to allow at least 16-18 days, or a little more if you want to add on the optional trek to Everest Base Camp, shrouded in mountaineering history. The route starts and ends from Lukla in the Khumbu Valley, just a short flight from Kathmandu.

3. Langtang Valley Trek

Langtang Valley View
Langtang Valley is a good choice for those interested in a less strenuous option, reaching its highest point at 4,700 metres.

While it doesn’t boast the high altitude passes of the Annapurna Circuit or the Three Passes, the Langtang Valley is an equally stunning place to trek, with impressive views across to both Annapurna and Makalu. This 14 day trek departs from Kathmandu, making its way through the valley basin to the foot of Langtang Ri near the border with Tibet. It reaches its highest point at 4,700 metres, making it a good choice for those interested in a less strenuous option, and allows you to explore remote Buddhist monasteries set within beautiful landscapes and spot wildlife en route. There are teahouses to comfortably bunk down in at night, and if your leg muscles aren’t weary, you can also extend the trek into the Helambu Valley and explore the magnificent high altitude Gosainkund Lakes.

4. Mt. Kangchenjunga Circuit Trek

Kanchenjunga-Lodge in Himalayas Mountain
Mt. Kangchenjunga Circuit takes in a remote corner of Nepal bordering both Sikkim and Tibet over 20+ days, great for those looking to get off-the-beaten-track.

For those looking to get off-the-beaten-track, the Mt. Kangchenjunga Circuit takes in a remote corner of Nepal bordering both Sikkim and Tibet over 20+ days. This wild area is one of Nepal’s least densely populated, with small villages home to the Rai and Limbu ethnic groups, both of Tibetan descent. In addition to diverse mountain panoramas, wildlife such as musk deer and red panda can often be spotted, all under the looming massif of Nepal’s second highest peak, Mt. Kangchenjunga, which stands at 8,586 metres. While the lodge accommodation available is far more basic than on other, more popular, routes, you will be rewarded with uncrowded trails.

5. Everest Base Camp Trek

Everest Base Camp-Base Camp Prayer Flags
The 13+ day route to Everest Base Camp is accessible and achievable for anyone with a good level of fitness and has become one of Nepal’s most sought after treks.

Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak, is steeped in trekking history, and stories of mountaineering greats tackling its peak (and some losing their lives) are legendary. Today, the 13+ day route to Everest Base Camp is accessible and achievable for anyone with a good level of fitness and has become one of Nepal’s most sought after treks, allowing you to get an up close look at this famed mountain. Like the Three Passes, it departs from Lukla, taking in monasteries and Everest museums throughout the spectacular Solo Khumbu and reaching its highest point at 5,600 metres. While the awe-inspiring landscapes with colourful prayer flags flapping in the wind are the main draw of this trek, so too is the Sherpa culture and Nepalese hospitality, and being able to relax in a comfortable lodge with good food and fellow trekkers at the end of the day makes it an unforgettable experience.

6. Rara Lake Trek

The 8+ day hike through the Rara National Park to the high altitude lake of Rara is a shorter, low altitude trek, without compromising on scenery.

For a shorter, low altitude trek, without compromising on scenery, consider the 8+ day hike through the Rara National Park to the high altitude lake of Rara, set within the remote Karnali region to the northwest of Kathmandu. The Nepal Himalaya’s largest and deepest lake is a popular pilgrimage site for locals, sitting at 2,990 metres above sea level and surrounded by a stunning wilderness of blue pine, black juniper and spruce forest. Few trekkers brave the remote camping conditions, but the rewards are well worth it, with the waters of Rara perfectly mirroring the snow capped Himalaya mountains behind. The region is known for its wildlife, including Himalayan black bear and illusive snow leopards, as well as being a bird watcher’s paradise, particularly during the migratory months of November and April. The trek is accessed from Jumla, a one hour flight from Kathmandu, and to see the landscape ignited in wild alpine flowers, opt to trek during the Autumn months.

7. Upper Mustang Trek

This 10+ day trek takes in sheer cliff faces embedded with caves, beautifully preserved 16th century Buddhist monasteries, and Mustagi cultural villages of stone.

For a complete contrast in landscape, take the 10+ day adventure to the former desert Kingdom of Mustang through the impressive Kali Gandaki Basin. This trek takes in sheer cliff faces embedded with caves, beautifully preserved 16th century Buddhist monasteries, and Mustagi cultural villages of stone and sun-baked mud bricks that remain little changed throughout the centuries. Tibetan Buddhism prevails here and the people still recognise their own king, Jigme Palbar Bista, with lavish celebrations held during the dry season Tiji Festival. It’s a spectacular one hour flight from Pokhara over the world’s deepest gorge to the starting point of Jomsom, from where the trail follows an ancient caravan trade route through the barren Lo-Mangthang Valley, peaking at 4,230 metres and with views across to the glaciers and high peaks of Nilgiri, Annapurna and Dhaulagiri. The region was only opened up to tourists in 1991 and although teahouse accommodation is now available, a permit is still required to trek the Upper Mustang, meaning relatively few trekkers visit.

8. Annapurna Base Camp Trek

Annapurna Base Camp is one of Nepal’s shorter trails, departing from Pokhara. The panoramas are stunning and for those limited on time, it’s possible to complete the trek in only 8 days.

One of Nepal’s shorter trails, but undoubtedly a trekker favourite, is the Annapurna Base Camp, set at the foot of the world’s tenth highest mountain, Annapurna (8,091 metres). The trail departs from Pokhara, passing through beautiful mountain villages surrounded by terraced rural landscapes, dense rhododendron forests, and cascading waterfalls. The panoramas are stunning and for those limited on time, it’s possible to complete the trek in only eight days. Like Everest, Annapurna is surrounded by mountaineering legend and the memorial to Anatoli Boukreev, killed in an avalanche on Annapurna’s peak in 1997, sits poignantly at the edge of the base camp. The trail’s popularity means that during Autumn and Spring when the skies are at their clearest it can get very crowded, but if you are willing to brave the cold, then the winter months are a good alternative.

9. Manaslu Circuit Trek

Manaslu Circuit has seen a recent surge in popularity. This 14 day route ascends through rhododendron forests and along precarious bridges over white-water rivers to the impressive Larkya Pass at 5,135 metres.

Circumnavigating the world’s eighth highest peak, the Manaslu Circuit has seen a recent surge in popularity, not only as word spreads about its outstanding scenery, but also as teahouses have begun to open throughout the region. This 14 day route ascends through rhododendron forests and along precarious bridges over white-water rivers to the impressive Larkya Pass at 5,135 metres, where stunning views across to Mount Manaslu (8,163 metres) are on offer. For a longer adventure you can extend the trek through the recently opened Tsum Valley which branches off to the east, visiting the Tibetan Buddhist Mu Monastery. The Manaslu Circuit departs from Arughat, a 5 hour drive from Kathmandu, and with the region’s restricted area status meaning a special permit and registered trekking guide are mandatory, the trails see far fewer trekkers than Annapurna or Everest.

10. Upper Dolpo Trek

A long, challenging and remote trek, the Upper Dolpo takes in some of the country’s most isolated villages and gompas, visiting the magnificent Dolpo region between the Tibetan plateau and Dhaulagiri Himalaya.

For those seeking a long, challenging and remote trek, then the Upper Dolpo takes in some of the country’s most isolated villages and gompas, visiting the magnificent Dolpo region between the Tibetan plateau and the Dhaulagiri Himalaya. The 21+ day route takes you to the pilgrimage site of Crystal Mountain and the high altitude lake of Phoksundo, with sightings of Himalayan Blue Sheep, Musk Deer and Snow Leopard often encountered en route. There are three high passes to cross, peaking at 5,350 metres, and while they involve long and strenuous ascents, the panoramas are superb, dotted with unexplored villages where highlanders graze their yaks backed by snow-capped mountains. The Upper Dolpo trail departs from the village of Jhuphal, a short flight from Kathmandu. It passes through a restricted area and permits are required, but with trekker numbers capped at 250 people per year, you know you are venturing into a landscape few have the privilege of visiting.

Supporting Nepal’s earthquake recovery

There are few destinations that inspire trekkers quite like Nepal, and with just you and your backpack amidst the mountain wilderness, it’s also a life affirming experience for many. While the country has recently experienced one of the worst natural disasters of recent years, and routes through the Langtang Valley and Manaslu Circuit are still undergoing reconstruction, Nepal’s trekking industry is still well and truly open for business, and there is no better time to support it than now.

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