The Annapurna Region
North of Pokhara, Nepal's spectacular diversity appears at its finest. The deep valleys and high mountains encircling the giant Annapurna Himal (mountain) embrace a wide range of peoples and terrain, from subtropical jungle to a high, dry landscape resembling the Tibetan plateau. This is the most popular trekking region. It's also among the tamest areas with excellent lodges lining the main routes. There are three major trekking routes in this region: to Muktinath, to Annapurna Conservation Area Project, and a circuit of the Annapurna Himal itself.
Solu-Khumbu: The Everest Region
The classic walk through the Sherpa homeland of Solu-Khumbu is a tough trek with a clearcut goal - to see Mt. Everest, the highest peak of the world. There are many ways to trek in this area. One can either walk all the way up and back, or walk one way and fly out on the way back, or fly in and out depending on the time at hand and inclination. The first requires a month, the second just about three weeks and the third at least two weeks.
Most Everest trekkers avoid the hardest walking by flying in and out of Lukla airstrip. If you have got time and energy, the walk in from Jiri through the Sherpa's traditional homeland is worth the extra effort. It passes
through the lovely region called Solu and the narrow gorge of the Dudh Kosi (Pharak) to reach the high mountain region of Khumbu in a little over a week. Khumbu is at exceptionally high altitude with trekking routes going up to 5,400 meters. Solu can be trekked year around while Khumbu's trekking season is limited. October-November and March-May are the busiest trekking season of Khumbu. Besides good weather, this period offers the five-day Dumje festival (usually April) and the masked Mani Rimdu dances held at major monasteries in spring and fall. Khumbu is a good region for a monsoon trek. High pastures are full of wildflowers and grazing yaks, and the people are relaxed, taking a well-deserved break from trekking and expedition work.
Namche Bazaar (3,446 m), the modern Sherpa capital, is the nerve center of upper Khumbu: from here the trails branch out to explore at least four separate high valleys. It's a cosmopolitan little village, a good place to pick up tips on trails and conditions from descending trekkers. Food prices skyrocket above here, since all supplies must be carried in from a distance; budget extra for this trip.It is the entrance to the Everest region situated in the lap of the Khumbu Himal range,Namche Bazaar is about 241 km from Kathmandu and the distance is generally covered within 15 days by trekking. This place is the home of the legendary Sherpas, who have won international reknown as the world's most sturdy climbers with an indomitable will to scale peaks. One can fly from Kathmandu to Lukla and Syangboche in the Everest region. At Lukla accommodations are available in Sherpa huts and lodges. Lukla is the most popular base for trekking in the Khumbu region. Days could be spent hiking and visiting the Sherpa villages, Thyangboche Monastery, Khunde Hospital, Khumjung Hilary School and trekking towards the Everest Base Camp. Accommodations are available at Thyangboche, Debuche, Pheriche, Pangboche, Lobuche and Gorakhshep.
Phaplu is another scenic place that is also easily accessed via air. Phaplu which has direct flights from Kathmandu. Phaphlu is in the eastern district of Solu-Khumbu, famous for its Sherpas. From here, you can hike into little known corners of Sherpa territory, and bask in the mountains' glow, yet return at night to the warmth of the Sherpa Lodge in Phaplu bazaar.
The Langtang Region
The trek up the Langtang valley is another of those finest mountain treks. Situated directly north of Kathmandu, this region has three relatively short yet interesting treks: Langtang, Helambu and Gosainkund. The regions are usually visited separately but can be combined in 16-day trip. Lower regions like Helambu are perfect for winter treks and in springtime this region's rhododendrons are especially beautiful. The people are a mixture of Tamang, Sherpa and Bhotia. Food and lodging is easily available along the main routes.
Fascinating Places of Langtang Valley
Langtang, at 3,307m above sea level, extends from north of Helambu to all the way up to the Tibetan Border. It is the largest village of the region despite its small size. Its upper valley is a grazing paradise, rich in flowers and grass and dotted with stone huts used in the summer time for butter making. Sewn in skins and exported to Tibet to flavor tea and fuel monastery lamps, butter was once the region's major industry.
It is generally a thirteen day trip, counting transportation time and a day above Kyangjin and Gosaikund, the sacred lake devoted to Lord Shiva.
The trek to Helambu is one that remains open for twelve months of the year. It is the most easily accessible of all trekking regions. Helambu is below 3000 meters and creates few altitude problems. The trek provides a sudden, dramatic contrast between higher and lower areas of Helambu. The higher region consists of pleasant forests, interesting Sherpa villages and offers stunning mountain views. The lower valley is comparatively dull and depressing hot much of the year.
Beyond the aforementioned "Big Three" trekking regions of Nepal, Nepal is basically a virgin territory for trekkers. Trekking off the main paths is not only possible, but can be immensely rewarding, though you need a sense of adventure and an increased ability to deal with the unexpected. The treks range from teahouses to wilderness hikes. Frequently they combine both aspects by crossing over one or two uninhabited passes. You need extra time to get beyond the standard routes, however, as said rewards are great - not just mountain views, but increased contact with a wide range of Nepalis, and the chance to glimpse a completely different way of life.
The best known of the many isolated high Himalayan valleys across the northern Nepal, Dolpo preserves one of the last remnants of traditional Tibetan culture. Legend says it's a bayul, one of the "hidden valleys" created by Guru Rinpoche as a refuge for devout Buddhists in troubled times. Surrounded by high mountains including the Dhaulagiri to the southeast and cut off by high passes closed by snow half the year, Dolpo's easiest access is from Tibet, where its' people emigrated thousand of years ago.
Upper Dolpo shelters about 6,000 people, whose lives revolve around Buddhism, barley, and yaks; their villages (over 4,260 meters) are among the highest settlements on earth. A large portion of Dolpo has been set aside as Shey-Phoksumdo National Park, at 3,555 sq.km. The park shelters blue sheep, Himalayan black bear, leopards, wolves and the elusive snow leopard.
Largely thanks to "The Snow Leopard" book and Oscar nominated movie, "Caravan," Dolpo is the best known of Nepal's remote northern border regions. One needs to get trekking permit from Department of Immigration in Kathmandu or Pokhara to visit this fascinating region.
Phoksumdo lake at 3,627m is the most fascinating part of the whole trek in Dolpo. The lake is a basin of unearthly turquoise blue ringed by rocky crags and forest, framed by snowcapped peaks.
Rara lake, the largest lake of the country, is a major destination among the treks in western Nepal. The lake, located within the Rara National Park, is perched on a high shelf, encircled by gray ridges and pine forested hills inhabitated by beers, jungle cats and deer. The trail leading to the lake was built as a horse trail for His Majesty King Mahendra's 1964 visit to Rara.
Access to Rara Lake is from Jumla, which can be reached by flight or by walking for around ten days from Surkhet in western Nepal. A trip to the lake and back to Jumla takes just about ten days.
Kanchanjunga, referred as "Five Great Treasures of the Snows", is the third highest mountain of the world that lies at the eastern border of Nepal at an altitude of 8,586m. It takes at least two weeks' walk to reach the destination, Khangchenjunga base camp. There are two Kanchanjunga base camps - north and south, and the usual trek involves reaching either of them. It is possible to visit these both camps, but it takes a much longer time and both are very difficult to cross.
This region requires a trekking permit from Department of Immigration from either Kathmandu or Pokhara.
Upper Mustang, an arid barren land with pockets of fertile oases, is very different from any other parts of Nepal. In fact, the kingdom of Lo share similar culture and geography of Tibet. The lifestyle of Lo, people of Lo, is also unique and to date remains untouched by modernity.
The trek to Upper Mustang requires a trekking permit from Department of Immigration of Kathmandu or Pokhara. One should remember to get trekking permit only through the registered trekking agencies. The trip to the capital of Mustang and back takes around two weeks and can be done by partly retracing the way in or by taking a circuitous trail through the outposts of this ancient pilgrimage.