The best hikes in Nepal always seem to draw up connotations of scary, adrenaline-fuelled, record-breaking hikes up to Mount Everest (understandably too – Nepal is home to 8 of the 10 tallest mountains in the world, after all) but what surprises most people is that there’s so much much Nepal than just icy jagged mountains.
For starters, you’re as likely to need your swimwear and nothing but the lightest of clothes here as you are the thickest of winter coats.
There are bits of Nepal we visited where temperatures seemed to soar well above 40C (104F). In fact, for the most part, we never even needed to whip out the thick winter clothes we’d packed and pretty much lived in shorts and t-shirts.
Long story short – part of Nepal and really hot and part of it are really cold. The good thing about that, however, is that it’s such an amazing place to visit for hiking trips, no matter what sort of hikes you’re into.
Mount Everest, Annapurna and all the other Himalayan mountains also mean that over time, Nepal has become something of a hiking hotspot, with the kind of hikes available diversifying away from the more extreme ones like the Everest hikes.
To help you on your merry hiking way, here are 12 of the very best hikes in Nepal worth experiencing when you visit.
1.) Mount Everest Base Camp
You can’t talk about hiking in Nepal without starting with Mount Everest. Although Nepal is home to quite a few impressive mountains, at close to 9,000 meters, Everest is the tallest mountain peak in the entire world.
And yes, I know that’s stating the obvious a bit but it is this sheer height (and the challenge of summiting it – even if just in part) that makes it easily one of the most popular hikes in Nepal.
Suffice to say, actually climbing to the summit of Everest becomes less of a hike and more of a climb (and requires almost unbelievable skill, endurance and a bit of luck thrown in for good measure) so the next best thing (which is still pretty challenging) is a hike to Mount Everest Base Camp.
The South Base camp takes approximately two weeks of hiking to get to. This route is commonly guided by a Sherpa, who will be sure to show you the fastest and safest route to the camp. From here, you get the opportunity to bask in the rather majestic view of the world’s tallest mountain! It truly is one of the best hikes in Nepal to do if you’re game (and able) for a major challenge.
It is worth reiterating that you should ALWAYS pay attention to your local guide and never just wander off or decide to do this on your own. It can be a safe, reward and a rather fun hike but only if you do it sensibly and respectfully – to the local area and to your body’s capabilities. (You’d think that’s stating the obvious but we literally met someone in Nepal who decided to do this on his own, only to pass out part way through and be woken up by a dog hours later licking his face, at which point he finally gave up on the hike and went back home)
2.) Mount Everest View Trek
For those who want to lay claim to scaling a part of Mount Everest yet are short on time, this is a good hike, as it takes less than half the time of the Base Camp hike, yet still rewards with you with some pretty magnificent views.
Suffice to say, the ‘relative’ ease of this hike is a big part of why it’s one of the best hikes in Nepal for travellers who are looking for a balance between exploring local culture and getting out in nature.
3.) The Annapurna Circuit
This is another multi-day hike, taking anywhere from 12 – 14 days to complete. In contrast to the Mount Everest hike, this is a more moderately paced hike, though it does gain over 400 meters in elevation.
Here, you will find unparalleled views of the magnificent Himalayan Mountains, as well as have the opportunity to journey through the widest mountain pass in the world, the Thorong La Pass.
4.) The Poonhill Trek
This is one of the best hikes in Nepal if you find yourself with only have a limited amount of time to experience the Himalayan hiking experience! This breathtaking hike only takes an average of six days to complete, yet still offers the ultimate mountaineering experience!
The highlight is ascending the summit Poonhill, an ideal spot for taking in a panoramic sunrise or sunset.
Afterwards, the village of Pokhara (see more from our time there here and also here) for a wonderful meal at the Moondance Restaurant and Bar. Also, if you’re looking to rest up those weary muscles a massage (swiftly followed by drinks) at Jiva Cafe & Spa is absolutely recommended.
5.) The Langtang Trek
If you have a week to spare, this is a moderately strenuous walk that is another great balance of nature and culture. Surrounded by the gorgeous backdrop of the Himalayan mountains, you will walk past a number of ancient Buddhist monasteries, some of which you may even get to view up close.
The Tibetan influence is very strong here, which is unsurprising considering its close proximity to Tibet. There are a number of rural villages that can be visited as well, giving you an excellent opportunity to dip into the local culture.
6.) Gokyo Ri
This hike takes approximately twelve days to complete, yet it is far more quiet and devoid of other travellers than Everest or any of the other more popular routes.
The absolute treasure of this, however, are the five emerald lakes that are located along the hike. True to their name, these lakes are an almost ethereal gorgeous shade of turquoise. They also make a wonderful spot for camping or taking a long, well-deserved rest.
7.) The Upper Mustang Trek
Follow an ancient salt caravan route through the foothills of the Himalayas for one of the best hikes in Nepal for those who wish to get a glimpse into the days of Ancient Buddhism.
This hike will pretty much take you back in time, as you pass through a number of Buddhist villages that are largely isolated from the outside community. You will also have the opportunity to view the ruins of ancient palaces, such as the ones located in Lo Mangthang.
8.) The Ghandruk Trek
This is a comparatively short hike, lasting an average of three days.
You’ll be treated to spectacular views of the Annapurna range along your merry way, but the true highlight arrives after you have ascended the (many) stairs to the village of Ghandruk, where it’s absolutely worth taking a day or two to spend with the locals before making your way back.
9.) The Jomson Trek
This hike is located in the Mustang region, and is widely considered to be one of the best hikes in Nepal thanks to its striking similarity to the expansive Tibetan landscapes.
The hike takes approximately five days to complete, and there are loads of guest houses located along the way for shelter and a comfortable place to catch a few hours of sleep (you might find it best to temper your expectations on the luxury front).
10.) Kathmandu Valley Trek
Allow five to eight days to complete this amazing hike. Chances are that you’ll arrive into Kathmandu away and after a few days in the city (be sure to visit these places), you will explore the mountain regions outside of the famous city, as well as having the opportunity to visit some Buddhist shrines and historic villages.
Walking along the Kathmandu Valley Rim, you are greeted by some of the most spectacular scenery in the world, with a sweeping view of the mountains (including Mount Everest on a clear day).
11.) The Tamang Heritage Trail
This is a relatively new hike in Nepal, so do not expect to find 5-star hotels or fancy restaurants along the way. What you can expect however is an incredible opportunity to explore the cultural heritage of the Tamang people.
The Tamang have lived in these mountains for thousands of years, and many of their practices have not changed over time.
Not only will you be able to purchase a variety of handmade carvings and jewellery from the Tamang (souvenirs shopping sorted), there are also lots of opportunities to stop and soak in a hot spring to alleviate that hiking ache right out of your bones.
Located in the Godavari region, this short, relatively easy trek takes you up Phulchowki, which, at over 2,500 meters is one of the best hikes in Nepal to get stunning views of the Kathmandu Valley.
As one would expect from the name (it loosely translates to “Hill of Flowers“), the trail is absolutely overrun with gorgeous blooming flowers in the spring and summertime.
Looking for more to do in Nepal? Here are 16 places you absolutely have to visit in Nepal.