Annapurna IV see from Pokhara

Nepal Trekking Guide Plan your perfect Nepal trek

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Nepal is the one destination that Kandoo’s team go back to again and again. There is so much great trekking to do and we love the friendly people. First-time trekkers in Nepal are always wowed by the trek to Everest base camp, and once you have got the taste for the Himalaya, there is so much more you can do. There are 10 mountain regions in Nepal but many of these are very remote and almost nobody visits them, so trekking in Nepal really focuses on two regions. The Everest region, often referred to as the Khumbu, after the main valley coming down from Everest, and the Annapurna region. There is more information about each region and the great treks you can do below.


If  you look up at the peaks when you are trekking and fancy trying to summit one, then there are also some great climbs like Island Peak or Mera Peak. These are perfect for a first climbing adventure, and with our experienced guides you know you are in really safe hands.

How to get to Nepal


There are several ways to get to Nepal from Europe and the USA all of which involve an international flight to Tribhuvan International Airport which is the main airport in Kathmandu. There are a lot of flights that fly to Kathmandu through the Middle East. Qatar, Gulf and Air Emirates offer daily flights from Europe and the US to Kathmandu, with a stopover at their central hubs. You must be careful though, as some of these layovers are very long indeed. Check the schedules carefully, and consider using Qatar. They seem to have the shortest layovers (at Doha) by a substantial margin. The other alternative is to fly via Delhi, with BA, Air India or Jet and then catch a shorter flight up to Kathmandu. Again be careful of long layovers and be warned - some of the reviews for Air India are less than glowing!

Everest region treks


The Sagarmatha National Park covers an area of 1,148km2 , rising from 2,845m to the highest point on earth, the summit of Mt Everest at 8848m. Sagarmatha is the local name for Mt Everest and the Sagarmatha National park was first established in 1976.  Other famous peaks in the region include Lhotse, Ama Dablam, Pumori and Cho Oyu. We operate five world class adventures around Mt Everest:

EVEREST BASE CAMP TREK | Trekking to Everest Base Camp is the adventure of a lifetime and, if time is short, this Everest base camp trek is the best option. From the exhilarating flight into Lukla, to standing on top of Kala Pattar to view Everest itself, this is a trek that you will always remember.


GOKYO LAKES TREK | A great Everest trek for the more adventurous hiker. This route leaves the classic trail at Namche and gets to Everest base camp via the Gokyo valley. It is a much quieter approach and makes for a circular route that avoids backtracking by heading up the Dudh Koshi valley, before crossing into the Khumbu to visit base camp.


THREE PASSES TREK | The ultimate trek in the Everest region, covering all the four main valleys in the Khumbu. It crosses three immense passes and hikes up three peaks for sensational views of all the tallest peaks from Cho Oyu in the West to Lhotse in the East.


ISLAND PEAK CLIMB | This is a real mountain expedition. It combines the Everest Base Camp trek with the chance to climb Island Peak for one of the best close up views of Everest, Lhotse and Nuptse. The climb itself is tough, but you do not need any technical skills as you will be led by one of our fantastic Everest Summiteer guides, ensuring you are in safe hands.


MERA PEAK CLIMB | At 6476m, Mera Peak is the highest trekking peak in Nepal. It does not take you to base camp, but it does have the best views of Everest in the whole region. Mera Peak is approached via the quiet Arun Valley, before ascending onto the long Mera glacier. As with the Island Peak climb, no previous technical experience is required.


Annapurna region treks


The Annapurna region covers the huge Annapurna massif, encompassing one 8000m peak, 13 peaks over 7000m and a further 16 peaks over 6000m. This whole area is now in the Annapurna Conservation Area. Within this vast area there are a huge range of outstanding treks - we operate four of the very best. 

ANNAPURNA CIRCUIT | The full Annapurna Circuit is rightly considered one of the World’s greatest treks, and even in Nepal it stands out for the incredible variety of scenery it offers. Starting in sub-tropical meadows near Besi Sahar, it rises through ever more impressive alpine peaks before reaching the famous Thorung La pass.


POON HILL TREK The Poon Hill Trek is the perfect choice if you are a novice trekker, or if you are really short on time. After a short flight into Pokhara, you trek up to Ghorepani, from there onto the view point at Poon Hill where there are breathtaking views of Dhaulagiri, Annapurnas and Machhapuchchre (Fishtail). You return to Pokhara by a circular route, avoiding the need to backtrack.


ANNAPURNA SANCTUARY  TREK | One of the best shorter treks we operate, this trail starts by taking in one of the greatest view points in the Himalaya, Poon Hill above Ghorepani. From here the dawn view across the Annapurnas is breathtaking. Following this, the trek takes you into the heart of the Annapurna range where huge mountains tower above you on all sides, forming the amphitheatre of the Sanctuary.


MANASLU CIRCUIT |  Manaslu sits immediately next to the Annapurna range within a closely managed conservation area, and the Manaslu Circuit shares the great views and panoramas that you see trekking around Annapurna. The big difference is that while the Annapurna Circuit is in nearly every collection of great treks, Manaslu is relatively unknown, so it is a lot quieter than its famous next door neighbour.


When to trek


You can find detailed advice on when to trek in our Nepal Travel Guide.


This a brief summary. Weather should be the first thing you think about when you decide when to trek. Nepal has a bad monsoon season during the summer when the rain is torrential nearly every day. In the winter, the temperatures can be very, very low particularly at night. This means that, as a general rule, the best weather for trekking is in Spring and Autumn.

There is though a lot of variation in the weather between the Everest and Annapurna regions, as the Annapurnas are much drier and cooler, even during the summer monsoon period. While you should definitely avoid the Everest region from June to August you can still trek in parts of the Annapurna region during this period.

In winter, it is normally quite dry everywhere in Nepal, but it will be very, very cold. This means that trekking is possible on most routes, but you will need extra warm sleeping bag and plenty of suitable warm winter clothes. Trekking peaks and routes like the Annapurna Circuit, which involve crossing high passes, are closed during the winter.

Training for your trek in Nepal


Generally the trekking in Nepal is not too difficult. Apart from on trekking peaks, there is nothing that compares with summit night on Kilimanjaro. What makes trekking in Nepal challenging is the altitude - you will be at a high altitude for the majority of the trek. The lack of oxygen in the air has a range of effects on the human body, but the most obvious is breathlessness. At Everest base camp there is half the oxygen content in the air that there is at sea level. This makes any exertion a lot harder, so the most important thing you can to do is go slowly.  Exerting yourself too hard is a great way to bring on altitude sickness.


In order to avoid getting altitude sickness you also have to limit the altitude gain in any day to 500m. This sometimes results in days when you can only work for 4-5 hours before you have to stop. So in terms of distance walked and the altitude climbed, a day's trekking in Nepal will be no more difficult than a typical day's hiking at home. Doing this for upwards of 12 days consecutively and at altitude do combine though to make any trek a tough challenge and you will need to be really fit when you arrive.


AVOIDING ALTITUDE SICKNESS IN NEPAL

HIMALAYA TRAINING GUIDE

flight delays in Nepal


Airports in the Himalaya are vulnerable to closure due to adverse weather conditions, and this can cause you to miss your scheduled trek. For example, Lukla airport in Nepal has been closed by fog, for several days running, several times in the last year. Jomsom airport, used by trekkers on the Annapurna Circuit, is occasionally shut down due to high winds. Kandoo’s trek itineraries do take acclimatisation days into account, but we do not allow for flight delays or cancellations. As a result, we strongly advise you to include as much flexibility as possible into your travel plans, and try to arrive early (and be prepared to leave late) so that delays won’t spoil your trek. The extra time can easily be spent sight-seeing in Kathmandu, which is something most travellers would want to do in any case. 


DOMESTIC FLIGHTS IN NEPAL

Lodges and food in Nepal


The standard of accommodation still varies hugely but on the most popular routes there is generally plenty of clean, well kept accommodation. Lodges nearly all have inside toilets and for a modest fee you can even get a warm(ish) shower. Rooms are normally twin shares with two pretty hard wooden beds and a thin foam mattress. They may even provide blankets but we would certainly recommend bringing your own good quality 4 season sleeping bag unless you are used to sleeping rough in freezing conditions.


Dining in the lodges will be in a large open room with tables round the outside. Our guides try to make sure we secure you a spot away from the door and nearer to the fire but can't always guarantee this.

All of these comments on lodges relate to "standard lodges" but there are now a small but increasing number of "luxury lodges" - these are not on a par with a normal 3 star hotel but they will have heating, en-suite bathrooms and other home comforts. As they are in short supply they get booked very early and we only offer them on private treks.


As the quality of lodges has improved, so has the food. It used to be the case that the only meal available was Dahl Bhat - boiled rice with a very thin lentil dahl. This is what the porters will eat almost exclusively and you will often hear them joke "Dhal bhat - 24 hour power". It might be 24 hour power for a Nepali who has lived on it all his life but for anyone else it is pretty unappetising fair on a regular basis. Fortunately, all but the most remote lodges now offer an extensive menu of food although, when you have seen almost the same menu every day for 12 days, you quickly realise the menu is not so long as it might appear - steamed spaghetti, steamed veg spaghetti, steamed egg veg spaghetti, mixed spaghetti are unsurprisingly pretty similar!


Other things to do in Nepal


Besides trekking, Nepal has some fantastic activities and a lots of spectacular festivals. White water rafting is extremely popular, and this is particularly good in the later Spring months when the glacier melt swells the rivers.  For animal lovers, a visit to Chitwan on safari is an excellent option. This is best between October and February when the days are cooler and less humid. You can view rhinos and occassionally tigers as well as countless bird species, elephants, clouded leopard and wild boar. Whatever you see though, the jungle at Chitwan is a great destination and well worth a visit.


Cultural tours in Kathmandu are possible all year round, but the summer months are, again, best avoided. The main sites in Kathmandu including Boudhanath, Swayambhunath and Durbar Square can easily be visited in a day. If you have time, a day trip to Bhaktapur is also worthwhile If you can, try to fit in a Nepali festival.  Nepalis are generally either Buddhists or Hindus , with a large number being both! The great advantage of this is that they celebrate all the important dates in both the Buddhist and Hindu calendar, as well as a number of other holidays. If you add up all the days of festivals, it comes to more than two months worth! Festivals specifically celebrated in the Everest region are the Mani Rimdu festival, in October/November, and the Dumji Festival, celebrated in May/June. Both are big colourful festivals and are worth adding into your trekking schedule if you have time.


If you are in the region and want to make the most of your time in the worlds highest mountain range, why not consider visiting Bhutan. Tourism is strictly controlled in this isolated Buddhist kingdom so you will need to book well in advance. Send us a message if you would like more information.