Make an Enquiry
Trekking in Nepal
with the high altitude experts Kandoo guide for trekking in Nepal

Trekking in Nepal with Kandoo Adventures

Kandoo are experts in high altitude trekking and in Nepal this knowledge and expertise really counts. Our team of guides are truly exceptional, some are multipe Everest summiteers and all are qualified with the Nepal Mountaineering Association. Several are qualified with the International Mountain Guides Association, the highest international accreditation a guide can earn.

Safety for trekking in Nepal is paramount as the altitudes reached are very high and critically you will be high for several days. This is unlike Kilimanjaro where you summit at 5850m but are back down to just over 3500m the same day. Sleeping at altitude for multiple days increases the risks several fold and our safety protocols including emergency oxygen, twice daily health checks and oxygen saturation measurement ensure your safety is never at risk.

Key to our ability to maintain high levels of safety is that we run all our treks ourselves and do not sub-contract. As far as we are aware this is unique. Certainly it is very rare and it is this extra degree of control that leads customers to give us the reviews that make us number one Tour Operator on Trustpilot.

On this page we have summarised all the important information on trekking in Nepal. Starting with which are the really good routes, covering when are the best times to trek in the different regions and lots more. We look forward to being able to help you plan an amazing trekking experience in this awesome country.

Where can I trek in Nepal

Nepal sits squeezed between India to the South, Pakistan to the West and Bhutan to the East.  To the north are the vast Himalaya which stretch all along its border with Tibet. Nepal shares Everest and many of the other highest Himalayan Peaks with Tibet. Although it is only 500 miles long by about 130 miles deep it encompasses 8 out of the 14 highest peaks in the world and a lot of the world's greatest long distance treks.

There are 10 officially designated mountain regions in Nepal but many of these are remote from any kind of reasonable transport connection and are very infrequently visited. For most practical purposes trekking in Nepal therefore focuses on three main regions. The Everest region, often referred to as the Khumbu after the main valley coming down from Everest, the Annapurna region and Langtang Valley.  

To help you plan a trek in Nepal we have explained below the main things you will need to consider  and have collected together treks in each of these regions offering what we consider to be the best options available over a range of difficulties and trek lengths. 

 The main trekking regions in Nepal

Everest trekking regions map

Everest trekking routes

The Everest trekking region is bounded in the North by Mount Everest itself and extends south past Lukla, where most people start their treks to Jiri which was the starting point for the earliest pioneers. This whole area is defined by  four  huge valleys and glaciers: the Khumbu valley running down from Everest itself; the Dudh Koshi valley running parallel  to the west, the Imja valley running down from Island Peak and a little further south the Aran valley with Mera Peak at its head. All of these valleys provide great treks: the classic Everest base camp trek, the trek via Gokyo Lakes and the Island Peak and Mera Peak climbs. All   are shown on the map below.

Everest base camp trek routes

 Classic Everest Base Camp Trek

This is the most popular of the trekking routes in the Everest region travelling from the mountain-side airport at Lukla through the capital of the Khumbu region, Namche Bazaar right up to base camp itself. Allowing for acclimatisation the journey up to base camp takes 8 days and the return hike 4 days. With views of Everest ahead of you from day 2 onwards and the stunning Ama Dablam towering over you nearly all the way the views on this trek are never less than sublime. If you are short on time, we operate this trek so that it can be completed inside a two week holiday without compromising on acclimatisation. 

Everest base camp via Gokyo Lakes

This interesting variation on the EBC trek follows the classic trail as far as Naamche Bazaar then splits and heads up the Dudh Koshi valley with the massive 8000m peak Cho Oyu at its head. After two days trekking the trail arrives at the emerald lakes at Gokyo and if you have the energy you can climb Gokyo Ri for excellent close ups of Cho Oyu. From Gokyo the path heads east traversing one of the regions great high passes, the Cho La before descending down into the Khumbu valley where it merges with the classic trail.

This is our favourite EBC trek as this route is much quieter than the classic trail and most of it forms a circuit avoiding the need for the descent to backtrack on the same trail as the ascent. If you have a coupe of extra days available this is certainly worth checking out.

Everest and Island Peak

Not strictly a trek in its own right but adding climbing Island Peak onto any of our standard Everest treks takes you from being a great high altitude trekker into a full on Himalayan mountaineer. Standing on its own (hence its name) Island Peak combines a tough approach hike with a physically demanding ice-wall climb to the summit ridge. The rewards for all this effort though are some of the very best views in the whole of the Everest region and of course all those kudos points for sitting on top of a proper Himalayan peak. While you need no prior technical experience for this climb you do not to be exceptionally fit and tough and have a good head for heights. Traversing deep crevaces on aluminium ladders is definitely not for anyone with a touch of vertigo. 

Our guides on Island Peak are highly experienced mountaineers many of whom are multiple Everest summiteers so you are in very safe hands. Everything you need to know from walking in crampons to self arrest with an ice axe will be taught to you while you are on the mountain. 

Mera Peak

Mera Peak lies to the South West of Everest and is the highest non-technical peak in Nepal at 6476m (over 21,000 ft). Unlike the other treks in the Everest region this route does not actually take you to Everest base camp but instead offers fabulous views of Everest itself standing as it does sufficiently far away to give Everest a real perspective. 

Starting from Lukla our Mera Peak trail heads south avoiding the Zatwa La Pass which is too high to cross at this stage in the trek before more days of acclimatisation. It then turns into the main Arun valley where Mera will be on your shoulder all the way. Apart from the last 50-70m all of the Mera Peak ascent is hiking but at nearly 6500m this is a huge challenge. The return path to Lukla does now go over Zatwa La before a very steep ascent and the end of your trail. Overall we rate this trek highly for its views and its real away from the crowds feel- more one for the purist perhaps. 

Annapurna trekking routes

Annapurna is a huge massif encompassing one 8000m peak, 13 over 7000m and a further 16 over 600om. The entire massif and all the surrounding region are now protected within the Annapurna Conservation Area, which was the first and still is the largest conservation area in Nepal. Within this vast arena there are a huge range of outstanding treks and we operate three of the very best.

Annapurna trek Routes

The Annapurna Circuit

This remains one of world's greatest circuit walks even though in recent years road development has pushed hard at both ends of the circuit bringing heavy dusty traffic up what were once quiet trails. To avoid this we have shortened our circuit itinerary to a 14 day itinerary starting at Besi Sahar where the road ends and then flying back to Pokhara after you have reached Jomsom. This route still takes in some of the very best of the original trek including the famous Thorung La pass  which stands at over 5100m. On private treks we also offer the option to continue hiking from Jomsom but then turn off the original circuit route to visit Ghoropani for the stunning views from Poon Hill.  

Annapurna Panoramic to Poon Hill

If you are short on time and looking for a fantastic Himalayan trek then our panorama trek to Ghoropani and then on to Poon Hill is a great choice. Poon Hill sits just to the south of the highest Annapurna Peaks and the view at dawn when the first rays of sunlight catch the summits is superb. You might find there is quite a crowd gathered for this spectacle but the views are probably the best in the whole of Nepal. 

Annnapurna Base Camp (Annapurna Sanctuary)

The highest peaks in Annapurnas form a natural basin above which their summits tower like cathedrals. This basin is the base camp for all the major Annapurna climbs and because of its cathedral like quality the base camp is often called Annapurna Sanctuary.  This trek takes you to Poon Hill first for outstanding views of all the Annapurna before following the trail deep into the heart of the massif. A really interesting and varied shorter trail. 

Other popular treks

As the Nepal region changes and develops we are continually looking for interesting new destinations.  And our key criterion for new routes is  the balance between practical accessibility and the opportunity to get away from the busier trails. Two treks that get this balance really right are the Manaslu Circuit and the Langtang trek.

Manaslu Circuit

While its famous next door neighbour gets nearly all the trekkers and has been affected by roads being built that reduce its appeal, the Manaslu Circuit has quietly been growing in popularity. It is very much like the Annapurna Circuit was about 15 years ago. Stunning views, very quiet trails and one of the best authentic trails left in Nepal. The accommodation is still pretty basic (Outdoor toilets largely) and the choice of food is limited but if you can cope with these inconveniences Manaslu is one fabulous Himalayan adventure. This roue is still only available as a private trek because demand is limited.

Langtang Trek

Relatively close to Kathmandu and accessible without a flight, the Langtang Valley is a beautiful unspoilt area that offers some great trekking. Langtang village was very badly damaged in the huge 2015 earthquake but nearly all the damage has been repaired and the region is very much back in business.  Our trek in Langtang takes you into the Kyangjin area where farming has changed little in centuries. This is not the most physically demanding trek but it is a great starter for newer trekkers. 

How hard is trekking in Nepal?

Generally trekking in Nepal is much more accessible than it used to be even 10 years ago with much improved transport between destinations and an ever increasing quality of accommodation available along the main routes. Of course the downside of this improved access is more people. Nepal trekking never was a wilderness experience: most of the high valleys have been lived in by local Nepalis for generations, even if only on a seasonal basis, but now you will get mobile signal in most areas and you should not be surprised to see genuine Illy coffee and great cinnamon buns.

Most days, walking is not too arduous, no more so than a typical day's hiking at home. What makes it challenging is that you are doing this for upwards of 15 days consecutively and at altitude. Altitude in particular should never be underestimated as a challenge.  By the time you reach the height of Everest base camp, air pressure is down to about 50% of sea level which means every lungful of air contains half the normal amount of oxygen. Walking slowly then becomes critical.  You can read lots more about altitude sickness and acclimatisation here.

Also, you should remember your porters are hiking the same route as you but are carrying up to 30kg so do not be too aggrieved if travel is slow and it sometimes feels as though the trekking days has been a little short.  The higher you go up into the mountains the more your porters will be able to do compared to you so a little patience is more than justified.

Nepalese trekking lodges

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

Nepal trekking Lodge bedroom

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.  More on kit and equipment is here

Nepali lodge dining roomDining 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 about 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.

Food in the Nepali trekking lodges

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" and it might be for a Nepali who has lived on it for all his life but for anyone else it is pretty unappetising fair on a regular basis.

Menu on a himalaya trek

Fortunately all but the most remote lodges now offer a very extensive menu of food although when you have seen almost the same menu every day for 14 days you quickly realise the menu is not so long as it might appear. Steam spaghetti, steam veg spaghetti, steam egg veg spaghetti, mixed spaghetti are perhaps not unsurprisingly pretty similar. 

Nevertheless the range of food options available led us to change our policy on food two years ago. Prior to that we charged food inclusive prices and in each lodge there would be "table d'hote" option which would be what was included. Over time it became increasingly clear that people wanted to choose exactly what they wanted off the a la carte so we changed our pricing to exclude food. You need to budget between $25 and $30 per day for food and should use this figure when comparing our prices to other operators

Acclimatisation and altitude sickness

Looking after yourself, eating well, ensuring you remain well hydrated, and keeping warm (or cool) and dry are all key to any successful high altitude trek but are particularly important on the longer treks in Nepal. You might get by on a short trek ignoring some of these, but on a longer trek you have to really focus on the basics to give your body the best chance of acclimatising and avoiding altitude sickness. 

Acclimatising refers to the natural changes in the body that happen as you climb to higher altitudes and air pressure reduces. These changes only happen slowly and so the rate of descent needs to be carefully controlled. Where the route ascends quickly this means days have to be taken where you either rest or do a short day hike, going a little higher during the day but returning to a lower altitude to sleep. All our itineraries are designed to ensure you have the best chance of acclimatising properly.

Altitude at different destinationsThe first and most obvious effect of ascending to altitude is that you become breathless quickly: this is because as the air pressure drops there is literally less oxygen in every lungful of air you breathe. You can see from the table opposite that this decline is quite dramatic. At Everest base camp there is only just more than 50% of the oxygen you have at sea level so no matter how fit you are you have to go more slowly at altitude.  Overtime your body will produce more red-blood cells to compensate for the lack of oxygen but this is a slow process.

And it is particularly critical  that you do not over exert yourself- you should always be walking at a pace where you can manage a conversation- as over exertion is the best way to bring on the other adverse effects of altitude,  pulmonary or cerebral oedema, which together are referred to as severe Altitude Mountain Sickness ("AMS") 

Without being too technical, where there are places in the body where a thin membrane separates fluids (eg your blood) from air, then a drop in the air pressure can cause  those membranes to leak. There are two key places where this happens: in the lungs where you get pulmonary oedema, much like pneumonia and in the head where you get cerebral oedema. This starts out as a bad headache but can then progress quickly to a coma as pressure on the brain increases. 

Both these conditions can be fatal. Our guides are all highly experienced in spotting the signs of AMS and fortunately both conditions resolve themselves very quickly if you descend. While everyone will experience some of the early symptoms of AMS you must never ignore these and if they progress you must not continue to ascend.

Some of the other great things you can do in Nepal

The Himalayas are famous for trekking and climbing but there is so much more on offer if you have time!

 
Cultural Tours
Cultural Tours

We offer a wide selection of cultural tours in Kathmandu. Visit all the main sites, including Boudhanath, Bhaktapur and Durbar Square, to get a real taste of Nepali culture and life...

Read More
 
Chitwan Safaris
Chitwan Safaris

Go on an elephant safari in Nepal's oldest national park, Chitwan. Situated a short flight south of Kathmandu, the park is home to one of the few remaining populations of the rare Bengal tiger, and also home to one-horned rhinos and wild elephants...

Read More
 
Mountain Biking
Mountain Biking

If hiking in the Himalaya is not enough of an adrenaline fix then why not add in a few days Mountain Biking. Good quality mountain bikes are available to rent in Kathmandu and Pokhara, and we can arrange a guide to get you off the beaten path and onto some great trails.

 
White River Rafting
White River Rafting

Sitting at the foot of the Himalaya and under the full force of the Indian Monsoon, Nepal has an amazing diversity of rivers that is a white water paradise with a variety of white water rafting adventures. Let us know how long you want to raft for and we can arrange a fantastic adventure.

 
Yoga
Yoga

Yoga and trekking combines two of Nepal's most distinct traditions. Adding a Yoga retreat into your trekking experience is a great way to allow the body to recover from the stresses of a long trek. And with the current awareness of mindfulness where better to learn than in the country where the Buddha himself was born.

 
Paragliding
Paragliding

The hills above Pokhara, on the edge of the Annapurna have become a mecca for paragliding with warm winds from India meeting the mountains to create powerful thermals. We offer tandem flights throughout the year at Sarangkot in the Pokhara valley, a site which offers spectacular views of three 8,000m peaks and friendly and constant conditions for paragliding.

FAQs about trekking in Nepal

Q1What is the best way to get to Nepal?

From Europe there are lots  of flights to Nepal connecting via the Middle East hubs and via Delhi. Our favourite is Qatar via Doha. From North America you can also fly via the Middle East or from the West Coast via Singapore or Bangkok. For more advice on flights to Nepal see here.

Q2Can I trek without porters or a guide?

Nepal is the only country where trekking without a guide is allowed and certainly on the main routes the trail is so clear that a guide is not essential. What many trekkers looking for  a cheap trek forget though is that having a guide will enhance the experience as the guides have extensive knowledge of the mountains and local customs and they will also make the trek much, much safer. 

In 2016 nearly 200 people died on the Annapurna Circuit because without a guide they got lost in a snow storm. Each year at least 20 people die on the Everest trek because of altitude sickness. These deaths could have been prevented if they had been trekking with an experienced, qualified guide. For more information about our guides see here .

Q3What is the difference between an open group trek and a private trek?

Whether you book an open group trek or private trek, Kandoo provide the same high standard of service. Where they differ is the flexibility they offer. Our open group treks run to scheduled itineraries and dates.  Private treks can be organised on any route or itinerary and on any dates. Also on private treks we are able to offer a lot of tailor made options like camping overnight at Everest base camp itself, helicopter treks, hotel upgrades and safaris and cultural tours. 

Q4Do you organise trips to Everest for charity?

Every year we organise more and more trips for charity as our private- tailor made treks are perfect for a group of friends looking to trek to EBC to raise funds for their favourite charity. For more information about what we can do for your charity trek see here

Q5Do I need travel insurance?

We insist that all trekkers have proper insurance cover for any of our Nepal treks.  The exact cover will depend on the trek being booked as most polices are linked to an altitude cap and depending on the route you choose this may vary a lot. For more advice on travel insurance see here . 

Q6How dangerous are the internal flights in Nepal?

None of Nepal's domestic airlines are on the EU list of approved airlines and they cannot be regarded as comparable with internal flights within Europe in terms of safety standards. Given the incredibly challenging flying and landing conditions (Lukla airport is literally on the side of a mountain) the incidence of problems is remarkably small. The risks of flying in Nepal should not be discounted however and it should be a personal choice on whether you feel these risks are acceptable. Please be aware though that alternatives to flying are neither safer and certainly far less conveniet. For more information on the risks of travelling in Nepal see here .

Q7How well do you treat your crew?

Kandoo have always made treating our local crews a top priority. In Nepal, all of our guides come from the Sherpa region in the North East of Peru and they are all actually related.  This might only be Mother's brothers son (try and work out what we would call that) but in villages where there are only a few thousand people at most these relations bind the communities together very strongly. As a result our team in Nepal is particularly strong and supportive of each other. For more information about our crew see here .

Q8What vaccinations will I need to visit Nepal?

By the time you have had all the vaccinations you need to visit Nepal you might end up feeling like a pin cushion.  Please ensure you see your doctor for specific up to date advice but for our general recommendations see here

Q9Do I need a visa to visit Nepal?

All travellers require a visa to enter Nepal and these can either be obtained in advance or bought at the airport. To buy in Kathmandu you will need 6 months to run on your passport and a valid return flight ticket.  For more information on visas see here

Q10What tips do you recommend?

All our crew are paid excellent wages, more than those recommended by the Nepal Mountaineering Association. Tips for good service are normal in Nepal and our specific recommendations can be found here

News
Speak with an expert Start planning your next adventure by contacting one of our destination experts.
rachael b

Rachael Bode

Destination expert

Phone: + 44 (0) 1283 499982

sharon k

Sharon King

Destination expert

Phone: +44 (0) 1283 499981

Kandoo Adventures on Trustpilot