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Best time to trek in Nepal
Kandoo Adventures: June 1st 2020

Best time to trek in Nepal

For any long trek, weather is the biggest factor to consider when deciding when to travel to Nepal, but there are also a number of other issues you should bear in mind as there is so much else you can do while you are there. We cover all of these considerations below.

June through September is the monsoon season, and this is when 70% of the overall annual rainfall occurs. This is also the time when there is higher chance of landslides likely to occur. This leaves October through November and mid-March to mid-April being the best time to hike the Annapurna Circuit.

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Weather for trekking in Nepal

Seasonal changes

The weather throughout the whole of Nepal is influenced by changes in the direction of the wind. In the summer months, the wind comes from the South, bringing in the rainy monsoon. In the winter months, the winds come from the North bringing dry, cold weather.  As Nepal moves from Summer to Winter and back again, these winds cancel each other out, bringing calmer, warmer weather that is generally dry and sunny. So, as a general rule the Spring and Autumn are the best months for trekking in Nepal.

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However, if you can't travel during these months, it is still possible to trek in the Annapurna region. The graphs below compare the temperature and rainfall at Lukla, in the Everest region with different places around the Annapurna circuit. The Annapurna region is much cooler all year round and, in the summer months, has far less rainfall. 

So, while trekking in Summer in the Everest region is awful, it is still possible to trek the Annapurnas. That is not to say the conditions will be perfect! Summits can be cloud-covered some days, leeches can be a problem, particularly hard downfalls can cause paths to be slippy and in some cases can trigger landslides.  In general, conditions are acceptable, and you will have nice quiet trails as the reward for the hardships.

Changes with altitude

As well as the big changes in weather between seasons, you also need to take into account how much the weather changes with altitude. The first graph here shows the difference in temperature  between Lukla and Everest base camp. The graph would be the same for the bottom and top of the Annapurna circuit.

The second graph shows how sharply the minimum temperature rises at altitude. During the winter months the minimum daily temperatures drop very quickly, and so even though it is likely to be clear most days, it will be incredibly cold. You can trek in Nepal during the winter months, but you will need to bring lots of warm clothes.

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Timing of Nepali festivals 

If you are travelling all the way to Nepal and have some flexibility in your dates then it is a great idea to make sure your itinerary allows you to be in Kathmandu for one of the many festivals that take place every year. These are  the festivals we particularly recommend.

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Holi - The Festival of Colours

The Holi festival is an explosion of colour held in Kathmandu each year in February or March. The festival is famous for huge crowds celebrating this Hindu festival by showering each other in water and coloured powder. It can get a little messy so don’t go out in your best clothes but, is really spectacular to see.

Holi is primarily a Hindu festival, but Nepalis of all faiths need no excuse for a party so everyone joins in. The timing of the festival is slightly complicated as it celebrates the end of winter and, a bit like our Easter the date is tied to the lunar calendar - Holi is always the last day of winter's last lunar month.

Bisket Jatra - Nepali New Year

Nepali New Year falls in mid-April and is celebrated all around the country, though the best place to be is in Bhaktapur, where the celebrations are immense.  A huge golden chariot is prepared, carrying images of the God Bhairab, and is pushed on a tour of the town before becoming the focus of a giant tug of war between people from the East and West of Bhaktapur.  And if that is not enough fun, after the tug of war is settled, a huge phallic symbol is installed on a stone platform.

Indra Jatra - Lord of the Rain

The Indra Jatra festival celebrates both the end of the monsoon, and Indra, the annual appearance of Kathmandu's living goddess. Indra is one of the most important Gods of the Hindu religion, and Kathmandu's living goddess represents Indra on earth.

The Living Goddess is a real, young girl from the Kathmandu region, who is chosen  at the age of 4 and from then on lives in the Kumari Bahal temple in Durbar Square kept entirely away from the world.

The selection process for this seemingly awful fate is bizarrely strict: the Living Goddess can never have had an injury that has caused bleeding and must pass what they call  the '32 perfections test'. This covers everything from the shape of the eye to astrological outlook for the child.

If you are Kathmandu, you can visit the temple where she appears at the window for each of the eight days that the festival lasts.

You can read more about the festivals here.

Other activities in Nepal

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If you have the time and energy, there are lots of other great things that you can do while you are in Nepal but, like trekking, most are weather dependent. One of the most popular extensions to a trek is to visit Chitwan on safari. This park is in the Southern region of Nepal and is hot and humid almost year-round. You certainly would want to give this a miss in monsoon season, but in the Winter months it is perfect.

All of our trips to Chitwan are private, tailor-made visits, and you can either drive down or catch a flight. Whichever you choose, Chitwan is a fascinating safari park and, although the chances of you seeing the famous tigers are slim, you are pretty much guaranteed to see rhinos! Plus, the elephant-back safari treks are great fun.

Another activity that is great fun in Nepal is white-water rafting. Nepal has some of the most exciting white-water rapids in the world, and trips can be arranged from one day up to a whole week! The best time of year for rafting, if it appeals, is late Spring, before the monsoon sets in, but late enough for melt-water from the Himalaya's massive glaciers to have swelled the rivers flow.  Be warned though, even if the air temperature is nearly 30°c, the water will be incredibly cold. Wetsuits are definitely recommended!

Flight costs

And last, but by no means least, when you are planning your trip check out the prices of flights early.  The sooner you can book, the better, as there are big seasonal variations in flight costs.

If you are looking to save a little money, find your flight first and then find a trek that works with the dates you have.




Frequently asked questions

Annapurna Circuit Best Time To Go

Most people don’t know that as much as 70% of the yearly rainfall happens during the monsoon season. This monsoon season stretches from June all the way to September. Take note that this is when the possibilities of landslides and rock fall greatly increase. All these mean that there are really only two stretches of time throughout the year when it’s ideal to hike the Annapurna Circuit. These two periods are October all the way to November and then middle of March to the way to middle of april.

Spring (March-May)

Hiking Nepal in the spring comes with the same risks and rewards of any springtime activity: beautiful, blooming flowers and mild temperatures, but also the risk for the spontaneous chilly day early on.

You can expect mild temperatures are the norm in lower elevation (800-2000m) regions in the spring, making trekking in areas like lower Annapurna very pleasant. Locations with elevations above 4000m usually have moderate temperatures, making way for cloudless skies and warm- weather trekking conditions.

Spring is considered one of the best seasons to trek and climb in Nepal, not only because of the weather but because of the gorgeous growing landscape. Talk about a great view!

Summer (June – August)

Monsoon season runs from late May until mid-September, so your standard summer vacation may not apply in Nepal. Trekking or climbing during this time of year is dangerous and discouraged. Monsoon season in Nepal also means warm, humid conditions that would make for uncomfortable climbing weather. The lower elevations tend to get completely saturated with rain, mud, and even leeches.

But this by no means implies summer is totally off limits for the region. While Nepal likely won’t be your destination of choice, these months are ideal for exploring the Indian Himalaya and Ladakh. Because of its elevation on the Tibetan plateau, this time of year is mostly dry and sunny, not to mention surrounded by incredible scenery.

Autumn (September-November)

Autumn is considered the best trekking season in Nepal. While springtime runs the risk of some cooler afternoons, after monsoon season clears, you can almost guarantee sunshine and cloudless skies all day long.

Autumn in Nepal means moderate temperatures and pretty excellent trekking and climbing conditions, topped off by incredible views made possible once the dust and pollution are cleared from the atmosphere by the monsoon.

But of course, you have to be careful: start too early and you could still run into monsoon trouble. You are usually safe starting around the middle of September, once the weather has fully settled. On the opposite end, beware of treks set too late in the year. Once you hit December, the temperatures can plummet.

Winter (December-February)

For the majority of travelers, those December temperatures could mean a miserable trek in Nepal. Winter climate ranges from 9 to 12 degrees Celsius during today, to below zero at night.

If you can survive the polar climate, you can certainly avoid the crowds, since most climbers explore during the more temperate times of the year. The Everest region, in particular, is far less crowded than in the Autumn, for instance. But because of morning fog, high passes in the Everest region, such as Kongma La, Cho La, and Renjo La are usually closed from November until March. 

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