and Permits for Trekking Nepal
Base Camp Trek
Everybody knows of Mt Everest and that's the simple reason why
the Everest Base Camp Trek is so popular. The trek has a
number of stunning attractions, but it also has some distinct
drawbacks which might well deter potential trekkers were it
not for the undeniable plus point of being able to say you've
been to the base of the highest mountain in the world.
attractions include spectacular scenery and the outgoing Sherpa
people of the Solu Khumbu, the region where Mt Everest and
its attendant lesser peaks are located. The drawbacks include
the long, hard slog to get there and the acclimatisation problems
caused by the region's considerable altitude.
not until you get right into the Solo Khumbu region that the
Everest trek really gets interesting. The first part of the
trek is not only a hard slog, but is also pretty sparse in
the breathtaking views department. The hard slog comes about
because the trek doesn't follow valleys - like the Annapurna
treks - instead the Everest trek cuts across the valleys.
So for day after day it's a tiring process of dropping down
one side of a steep valley and climbing up again on the other.
By the time you reach the base camp your ascents will total
almost 9000m, the full height of Everest from sea level!
Everest trek starts in the Nepalispeaking Hindu lowlands and
ends in the Tibetan-Buddhist highlands where the Sherpas are
renowned for their enterprise, hard work, civic responsibility
and devotion to the practice of Buddhism. In their often inhospitable
land, the potato, a relatively recent introduction, is the
main crop, but these days trekking and mountaineering is the
backbone of the Sherpa economy. More than half the population
in the region is now involved with tourism and Namche Bazaar
looks more like an alpine resort than a Sherpa village.
Everest trekkers opt to fly one way to avoid having to repeat
all those ups and downs. This introduces its own problems
as flights to Lukla are notorious for cancellations, waiting
lists and short-tempered trekkers. If you have the time, walk
in from Giri and fly out from Lukla. If you want to make a
shorter trip you can fly in to Lukla, trek to Everest and
then fly out, taking 15 days to trek to Kala Pattar or you
can just visit Thami, Namche Bazaar and Tengpoche in a week
Everest trek may not be quite as good as the Pokhara area
for village-inn treks, but plenty of accommodation is available
during the trekking season even in the normally uninhabited
areas around the high peaks.
Helambu Trek only takes seven days, starts from Sundarijal
at the eastern end of the Kathmandu Valley and does not climb
above 3500m. It makes a loop through the Sherpa-populated
Helambu region to the north-east of Kathmandu and only the
first day's walk is repeated on the return trip. The trek's
main drawback is that it does not offer fine Himalayan views,
like some other treks, but it can be trekked on a village-inn
basis as there are guesthouses and lodges in many of the villages
along the trail. The Sherpa people of the Helambu region are
friendly and hospitable, just like their better known kinfolk
of the Solu Khumbu region. As in Solu Khumbu, the potato is
a vitally important crop and not only forms a large part of
the local diet but is also exported to the Nepali lowland
in exchange for rice and other produce.
Larung (7246m) is visible to the north of Kathmandu on clear
days. The Langtang trek takes up to two weeks and leads to
the foot of glaciers high in the Lang-tang Valley. The trail
passes through Tibetan and Tamang villages and offers fine
views of the Ganesh Himal. Though the trek passes through
comparatively lightly populated and undeveloped areas, it
is still possible to stay at village inns along the route.
Ascending from just 541m at Trisuli Bazaar to 3800m at Kyanjin
Gompa the trail passes through an ever-changing climate and
offers trekkers an exceptional diversity of scenery and culture.
Jomsom Trek is essentially the final third of the Annapurna
Circuit. It follows the Kali Gandaki valley between the soaring
peaks of Annapurna and Dhaulagiri and finally emerges to the
north of the main Himalayan range, on the dry, desert-like
Tibetan plateau. The final destination is the holy temple
of Muktinath, a farther day's walk beyond Jomsom. The return
to Pokhara can either be made by retracing your steps down
the Kali Gandaki valley or by flying from Jomsom to Pokhara.
it opened to foreign trekkers in 1977, the three-week trek
around Annapurna has become the most popular trek in Nepal.
It passes through country inhabited by a wide diversity of
peoples, it offers spectacular mountain scenery and it goes
to the north of the main Himalayan range on to the high and
dry Tibetan plateau. To many independent trekkers it also
offers the considerable advantage of having accommodation
available each night. The only drawback perhaps are the tedious
checkpoints on this trek -between ACAP and the police there
is a checkpoint to pass almost every day!
circuit is usually walked in a counterclockwise direction
because of difficulties crossing the Thorung La. Travelling
clockwise the longer ascent and shorter descent from west
to east is too much for many people to manage in one day.
The Thorung La at 54l6m is often closed by snow from midDecember
to mid-March and bad weather can move in at any time. Trekkers
should be prepared to turn back due to the weather or if they
suffer from altitude sickness. If you take porters over this
pass you must make sure they are adequately equipped for severe
cold and snow.
people start the circuit from Dumre, on the Kathmandu to Pokhara
road. There are jeeps and buses that ply the miserably rough
road north from Dumre as far as Besi Sahar.
you cross the Thorung La from Manang to Muktinath the final
seven days of the circuit trek are the same as the Joinsom
Trek from Pokhara, but in reverse.
walk up to the Annapurna base camp is a classic walk right
into the heart of the mountains. The walk ends at a point
where you are virtually surrounded by soaring Himalayan peaks.
At one time this trek was a real expedition into an uninhabited
wilderness area, but now there is a string of lodges that
operate during the trekking season. The return trip can take
as little as 10 or 11 days but usually takes a full 14 days,
and the walk to the base camp can be tacked on as a side-trip
from the Jomsom or Annapuma Circuit treks.
are several possible routes to the sanctuary, all meeting
at Chhomrong. The diversion from the Jomsom and Annapurna
Circuit treks is made from Ghorapani to Ghandruk.
route to the Annapurna Sanctuary is occasionally blocked by
avalanches. Check with the ACAP offices in Ghandruk or Khuldighar
for a report on current trail conditions, and do not proceed
into the sanctuary if there is heavy rain or snow.
trekking route up to the Kanchenjunga North and South base
camps in the extreme aorth-eastern corner of the country is
open is trekkers, but you have to go with a recognised agency.
The starting point can be Basantapur or Taplejung by road,
or Tumlingtar or Taplejung by air.
a long but fine trek from Hile or Turnlingtar up the Arun
River to the Makalu base camp in eastern Nepal. The area is
protected by the recently established Makalu-Barun National
Park and its conservation area.
Khumbu To Hile
an alternative to flying back to Kathmandu from Lukla, or
walking back to Jiri, the Everest Base Camp Trek can be extended
by walking for 11 days east and then south to Hile. From Hile
you can travel by road through Dhankuta and Dharan to Biratnagar
from where there are buses and flights to Kathmandu.
to the Dolpo region has only been permitted since mid-1989.
The region lies to the west of the Kali Gandaki valley. A
special permit is needed, and you must be well equipped and
self sufficient. From Pokhara it's a tough 14-day trek to
Phoksundo Lake, and beyond it is 'inner Dolpo' the site of
Shey Gompa. A special permit ($700) is required to trek into
eight-day round trip trek from Jumla to the Rara Lake and
back still gets very few trekkers, largely because trekking
here requires real planning since flights are difficult to
get on, porters are hard to find and little food is available.
has lured trekkers for many years, and has only recently been
opened. It was closed, both because of guerrilla war along
the border with Tibet, and because of the ecological sensitivity
of the region. The area is part of the Tibetan plateau, and
is high, dry and beautiful. It lies to the northwest of the
Kali Gandaki, beyond Kagbeni, which is the farthest point
west on the Jomsom Trek. It is only possible to enter with
an organized group, and permits are needed .