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Best time for trekking in Nepal

For all our destinations, weather is the biggest factor in deciding when to go but there are also a number of other issues you should consider , particularly if you are planning a trip to Nepal that involves more than just trekking. We cover all of the issues you should consider below.

Weather for trekking in Nepal

If you are planning on  trekking in Nepal, you really need to decide whether you want to trek in the Annapurna region or the Everest region before you plan when to go as the weather is markedly different in the two regions and there is a much bigger time window when you can trek in the Annapurnas.

Generally though, the weather throughout the whole of the country is determined by changes in the direction from which the prevailing wind is blowing. In the summer months, from June to August, winds from the South that move in over  the Bay of Bengal, dominate and these bring hotter wetter weather. In the winter months, winds from the North coming from the main Asian continent prevail bringing drier but colder weather.  

The effect of these two balancing winds differs between the west of the country, where the Annapurnas lie, and the east of the country around Everest. This is illustrated clearly on the charts below.

Nepal Maximum TemperatureRainfall in Nepal

 

Weather in the Everest region

As the rainfall chart above shows, in the east of the country, the effect of the monsoon is very pronounced and rainfall is very heavy in the Everest region during the summer months. Effectively the Everest region closes down for this period: most lodges close and the trails become extremely difficult with either wet slippy rocks or sticky mud. Add in a massive outbreak of leaches at this time of year and this makes trekking only for the hardiest of souls.

Either side of the summer monsoon period the weather is much drier and most days are bright warm and clear, making February to end May and September to November ideal times for trekking. As you move into deep winter, rainfall is still not an issue, although you can always encounter severe snowfall, but the temperatures drop rapidly and this is really pronounced overnight. 

Taken together with the big drop in temperatures due to the increase in altitude between Lukla and Everest base camp and you have some very cold conditions indeed. Trekking can be good in this period and trails are very quiet but you will need a top-quality sleeping bag. Also, you should be aware that high passes such as the Cho La on the Gokyo Lakes alternative trek to base camp or Zatwa La on Mera Peak climb are unsafe to cross during the winter months so we do not operate these treks during this period.

base camp v Lukla max temperatures

EBC temperatures

 

Weather in the Annapurna region

Rainfall in NepalThe whole of the Annapuran region is much less exposed to the effects of the summer monsoon in Nepal as the main thrust of the southerly wind moves up through the central and Eastern regions. In addition, the Annapurna massif is so huge that it creates its own rain shadow and so rainfall to the North and West of the Massif is much reduced. You an see on the chart opposite that even in the heights of the monsoon season rainfall either side of the Throung La pass is only just above 10cm per month and in Jomson, to the east of the Massif rainfall is very low all year round.

As a result, it is possible to trek in the Annapurna region all year round and if you are restricted on when you can visit Nepal this is the best option. Trekking the Annapurnas in the monsoon period however is not without its challenges. Summits can be cloud-covered some days, leeches can be a problem and particularly hard downfalls can cause paths to be slippy and in some cases can trigger downfalls.  In general though, conditions are acceptable and you will have nice quiet trails as the reward for the hardships.

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 the Nepali festivals we particularly recommend.

Holi or the Festival of Colours

Holi festival in NepalThe 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 clothesbut 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. So Holi is always the last day of winter's last lunar month.

 

Bisket Jatra or Nepali New Year

New Year in BhaktapurNepali New Year falls in mid-April and is celebrated all around the country. The best place to be though is in Bhaktapur where the celebrations are immense.  A huge golden chariot is prepared carrying images of the God Bhairab which is pushed on a tour of the towb 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 or Lord of the Rain

Indra jtra festival in NepalThe 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 moist important Hindu 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 all 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.

And 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

Impact of time of year on other activities in Nepal

Rhinos in ChitwanIf 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 pretty much year round. You certainly would want to give this a miss in the monsoon but in the Winter months it is perfect.

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

white water rafting in nepalAnother actiivty that is great fun in Nepal is white-waterrafting. Nepal has some of the most exciting white-water rapids in the world and trips can be arranged from just a day to as long as a 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.

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 and there are  big seasonal variations in flight costs. So 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.

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