Hiking in the Himalayas evokes long lines on Everest, donkey trains teetering on cliffsides and faded prayer flags flapping in the wind. Nepal remains the global hiking mecca. It’s got the potential to be a life changing journey, but you’ve got to pick the right hike for you! We all know the Everest Base Camp, Annapurna Circuit and Langtang Valley get most of the hype. And rightly so, they’re amazing! However, if you're hanging around Patagonia post Adventure Guide program, then there are a few more off the beaten track options where you can escape the crowds and go against the grain. You might need a permit and a guide, but this contributes to the local economy and spreads the wealth to more remote parts of the country.
Sand Empire in an Old World Kingdom: The Upper Mustang
This 85 mile hike feels more like the Tibetan plateau, and you will be meeting many Tibetan Buddhists in the teahouses and monasteries that sparsely dot this ancient Kingdom. The main meal is Tibetan thukpa rather than the Nepalese dahl bhat. We love this hike because it’s off the beaten track. You’ve got to pay USD$50 per day for entry into the Kingdom, and also take a guide. Don’t let this stop you, it’s worth every penny for the red packed dirt chasms and eerie, expansive vistas. The altitude is not too intense, but the views are out of this world. It doesn’t have the quintessential snow capped peaks of the Annapurnas or Everest, but it’s unique - and a valuable cultural experience. The beginning of this trek is on the Annapurna Circuit, so for a double whammy you could add that too.
Best option for Exposure and Views: Island Peak
At 20,305 ft, this one is the real deal. Camping and hiking your way 12 days up the base camp, getting those pins ready for the big climb. Most hikes in the Himalayas go over high passes, traversing the easiest way through the mightiest mountains. However, this is the chance to get to the top of one of those snow capped peaks. Trudging over snow and glaciers, you are elated once you reach the top, with the full expanse of the Himalayas spread out before you. The hike to get there is comparable to Everest Base Camp. If you are into peak bagging but also want a classic hike, this might be for you.
Best long-distance without the crowds: Manaslu Circuit and the Tsum Valley
Some 22 days of hiking around the world’s eight highest mountain may sound daunting, but there is just so much to characterize the different sections of this trip. It’s got the epic scenery. The Tsum Valley is not difficult, it is culturally inspiring. According to the strict following of Buddhism in the Tsum Valley, no one is allowed to eat meat. There are temples and monasteries that are out of this world. The Manaslu starts low, and culminates in a 17,000ft pass that loops you onto the Annapurna Circuit for the final section of the walk. The walk is ideally staged for those high altitudes.
We’ve kept the list short and sweet. Once you start to research the best hikes in Nepal, you will be overwhelmed with options. It’s great to hike in March to May and September to November. Avoid the winter and the monsoon season. Get out there and let us know how it goes!
Spend 12-weeks hiking, climbing and upping your outdoor skills on our Nepal Adventure Guide Program.