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Off the beaten path Treks in Nepal

Discover the hidden gems of Nepal with our guide to off the beaten path treks in Nepal. Explore remote trails, untouched landscapes, and authentic cultural experiences for an unforgettable adventure.

Off the beaten path Treks in Nepal

One of the most captivating features that come to your mind as you think of Nepal has to be the numerous trekking trails that it features, including some of the most iconic ones. No wonder it is called the trekker’s paradise.

Being amidst the Himalayas on one of those trekking trails while witnessing the view of a lifetime as you breathe in the fresh realm of intoxicating air might be your dream too.

However, one thing that you might want to eradicate from this dream would be the crowd surrounding you on the trek.

Worry not as Ace the Himalaya has you covered. In this blog, we go beyond the popular trekking trails of Nepal to discover some of the underrated yet equally stunning and adventurous trekking routes of Nepal.

Upper Dolpo Trek

Located in the far western region of Nepal within the Shey Phoksundo National Park, the Upper Dolpo trek is a hidden adventure that gained a newfound popularity all thanks to Peter Matthiessen’s ‘The Snow Leopard’ and Eric Valli’s movie ‘Himalaya’.

However, the place definitely lives up to the hype and is as beautiful as you can imagine and offers an unparalleled trekking experience, almost like traveling back in time amidst the unspoiled beauty of nature.

Depending on your itinerary, the Upper Dolpo trek is an adventure of around 170 to 200 kilometers covered over 20-22 days, usually starting from Juphal and covering places like Dunai, Tokyu, Namduna Gaon, Shey Gompa, Kang La Pass, and even the Shey Phoksundo Lake.

Shey Phoksundo Lake
Shey Phoksundo Lake

The trek begins with a flight from Kathmandu to Nepalgunj followed by another flight from Nepalgunj to Juphal which is the starting point of your trek.

Therefore, the location is as remote as it can be with any help being far away in case of emergencies.

This trek is a roller coaster as it covers a huge elevation range across a variety of terrains, already starting with a high elevation of 2,400 m at Juphal and taking you to the maximum elevation of 5,151 m at the Kang La Pass.

Given the long distance and the challenging altitudes of the trek combined with the demanding and remote terrain, the Upper Dolpo trek is considered a strenuous trek. Along with this, the location adds to the challenge as it makes the resupply points scarce.

Kangla Pass, Shey Phoksundo National Park
Kangla Pass, Shey Phoksundo National Park

A restricted area permit is also needed to embark on this trek. Therefore, the Upper Dolpo trek is a path less traveled given these challenges.

However, the joy of witnessing the spectacular views and the untouched landscapes in complete serenity is an experience unmatched. The views of the enigmatic Crystal Mountain are truly a treat to the eyes.

Besides that, the trek also allows you to explore the dramatic landscapes of the Shey Phoksundo National Park including the ancient salt trading route while getting a chance to spot the untamed wildlife of the region.

The main highlight of the Upper Dolpo trek is the deepest lake in Nepal with the pristine turquoise waters that hold the traditional village of Ringmo on its shores- the Shey Phoksundo Lake.

Cultural exploration is another facet of this trek as it features the Tibetan Buddhist culture and more importantly the pre-Buddhist Bon Po religion which is practiced in rarely some places today.

Ancient monasteries like Shey Gompa and Bonbo monastery form the spiritual heart of the Upper Dolpo trek making it an all-in-one off-the-beaten trekking route in Nepal.

Kanchenjunga Base Camp Trek

Another addition to the less-trodden trekking trails of Nepal is the Kanchenjunga Base Camp trek which takes you to the foothills of Mt. Kanchenjunga (8,586 m), the third-highest peak in the world.

Exploring the eastern frontier of Nepal, the Kanchenjunga Base Camp trek is a flexible adventure that can range anywhere between 90 to 200 km based on the route you choose.

The trek usually begins with a flight to the eastern parts of Nepal like Bhadrapur or Biratnagar followed by a flight to Taplejung. The trek officially begins from Taplejung and spans over 20 to 22 days.

During the months of spring and autumn, spectacular views of the glaciers and majestic peaks like the Kanchenjunga massif, Mt. Everest, Mt. Makalu, Jannu, Kumbhakarna, and surrounding peaks unfold on the trek.

Trekkers also come face to face with the diverse ecosystem and remote wilderness of the region traversing through climatic zones ranging from subtropical forests to high alpine zones while being accompanied by the elusive red pandas.

In the shadow of the Himalayan giants, you will also come across a cultural symphony as you interact with the local Limbu, Rai, Sherpa, and Tibetan communities and witness the true meaning of life in the Himalayas.

Tsum Valley Trek

Often known as the hidden valley, the Tsum Valley Trek is a restricted paradise of ancient monasteries and unique cultures in the Manaslu Conservation Area alongside the border of Tibet.

Located at an elevation range of 2,000 to 3,500 meters, the trek to Tsum Valley allows the trekkers a perfect experience with equal ratios of pristine landscapes and a unique yet spiritually vibrant culture.

Usually starting from Machha Khola at 869 m and reaching all the way to Mu Gompa at 3700 m with a detour to Thaple Pass at 5,104 m, the Tsum Valley trek follows the same route back covering a total distance of around 80 kilometers.

Trekkers entering the Tsum Valley gate
Trekkers entering the Tsum Valley gate

The trek is completed within 13 to 15 days with proper acclimatization stops as it features an altitude difference of 4,235 meters which is huge. However, the Tsum Valley trek is considered a moderately challenging trek and can be accomplished.

It is suitable for people with average physical fitness but it does require thorough preparation in terms of navigation, guide, knowledge about the visiting season, gear and accessories, and more.

Tsum Valley
Tsum Valley

The best time to embark on the Tsum Valley trek is also the months of Spring and Autumn. During these seasons, you get the perfect show of the unique flora and fauna like Himalayan Tahr, musk deer, blue sheep, as well as some rare birdlife.

Besides this, the Tsum Valley also boasts the perfect panorama of the towering walls of Mt. Manaslu, Ganesh Himal, Shringi Himal, and other surrounding peaks. You will also get a taste of the untouched Tibetan Buddhist culture that has been long preserved by the locals- Tsumbas.

Gompa in Tsum Valley
Gompa in Tsum Valley

Ancient monasteries like Mu Gompa, Rachen Gompa, and the Lungdang Gompa combined with the chortens and mani walls add a hint of spirituality to your trek and the Thaple Pass adds the factor of thrill and achievement.

Being a recently unveiled trek of Nepal, the Tsum Valley trek doesn’t see as many visitors as other popular trekking trails of Nepal. On top of that it is also located in the restricted region of Nepal which requires a special permit.

Therefore, the Tsum Valley trek is the best option for people wanting to experience the authenticity of the Himalayas in a rather quiet setting.

Manaslu Circuit Trek

Another gem and the highlight of the restricted region of the Manaslu Conservation Area, the Manaslu Circuit trek has recently started gaining popularity because of its untouched and remote trails.

It is truly an adventure worth experiencing and is a more authentic and culturally rooted alternative to the likes of other popular yet overcrowded trekking trails of Nepal.

trekker entering the Manaslu Circuit
Trekker entering the Manaslu Circuit

Depending on the route chosen, the distance of the Manaslu Circuit trek is approximately 177 km which is covered over two weeks. Starting at Besi Sahar or Tal, the trek circumnavigates the Manaslu range.

The highest point of this trek is the Larkya Pass at 5,160 m which is also one of the main highlights of the trek. It also adds a factor of thrill to the trek with the challenging altitude requiring proper acclimatization.

Acclimatization hike to Samdo Peak
Acclimatization hike to Samdo Peak

However, the difficulty of the Manaslu Circuit trekv requires thorough preparation as you will be visiting some of the most remote regions of Nepal with no access to roads therefore resulting in limited amenities and emergency services.

All this hassle becomes worthwhile once you conquer the Larkya Pass and witness the breathtaking panorama of Mt. Manaslu, Shringi Himal, Ganesh Himal, Annapurna II, Himlung, and other surrounding peaks.

Trekkers on the Manaslu Circuit Trail
Trekkers on the Manaslu Circuit Trail

The trek features six climatic zones in one which is another reason why you should trek the Manaslu Circuit. Besides that, cultural exposure in villages like Samdo, Samagaon, Lho, and Jagat is a different experience altogether.

Therefore, to witness and live the remote life of Nepal which has been unchanged over the years without being influenced by modernization, the Manaslu Circuit trek is a must-visit off-the-beaten-path trek in Nepal.

Nar Phu Valley Trek

Nestled within the Annapurna region, the Nar Phu Valley trek is another secluded paradise which provides a unique experience of the medieval Tibetan culture as you make your way through some of the untouched corners of Nepal.

Featuring a remote setting, the trek usually begins at Jagat and takes you along several highlights of the Annapurna region like the alluring villages of Naar and Phu and challenging passes like Kang La and Thorong La, based on your itinerary.

This trek is moderately challenging as it is untouched from mass tourism and features lesser developed trails taking you to high altitude regions along with some technical sections.

Nar Phu Valley Trek in Nepal
Nar Phu Valley Trek in Nepal

Depending on your itinerary, the trek can take around 10 to 14 days to complete and covers a distance of approximately 100 kms traversing through villages like Dharapani, Koto, Meta, before exploring the rural corners of Manang.

However, the journey is absolutely worth it as you will be crossing some of the most dramatic landscapes of the region including cascading waterfalls, fir and pine forests, rugged cliffs, and hidden valleys.

The views are also stunning while on the trek, especially from Kang La Pass and Thorong La Pass as you witness the likes of the Annapurna massif, Himlung Himal, Gangapurna, Manaslu, as well as Tilicho.

Kangla Pass
Kangla Pass

The trek also feels like taking a journey back in time as you get to experience the ancient Tibetan culture preserved in the Nar and Phu village where you can see lots of monasteries including Tashi Lakhang monastery, chortens, and prayer flags giving a spiritual experience.

However, one needs to be thoroughly prepared for the Nar Phu Valley trek as you need to acclimatize well to cross over the altitude of 5,000 meters. Besides this, you will also need to obtain a special restricted area permit (RAP).

Rara Lake Trek

When it comes to off-the-beaten path treks in Nepal, the Rara Lake trek is a name that cannot be missed as this underrated trek takes you to some of the most beautiful locations that you might ever see.

Contrary to most of the other trekking routes in Nepal traversing through the Himalayas, the Rara Lake trek features an added exploration of the Lakelands and forests of Nepal.

Depending on the route chosen, your Rara Lake trek might range anywhere between 50 to 80 kilometers which is covered within 8 to 10 days. It is a moderately challenging trek taking you to the maximum altitude of 3,010 m.

A view of Rara Lake
A view of Rara Lake

The trek passes through the diverse ecosystem of the Rara National Park through different flora and fauna like Himalayan black bears, snow leopards, pheasants, hornbills, and even the Himalayan Monal.

It also allows you to witness the local way of life with cultural exploration amidst the Magar, Chhetri, and Malla communities prevalent in the region.

The main highlight of the trek is the Rara Lake, which is also known as the queen of the lakes, the deepest freshwater lake in Nepal. The beauty of Rara Lake is ethereal as its pristine turquoise water mirrors the sky and its changing hues.

The landscape surrounding this majestic lake is equally stunning with alpine meadows, cascading waterfalls, and lush forests of pine, fir, and juniper which are often covered by migratory birds in the region.

For those wanting an extra adventure with a picture-perfect panorama of the Rara Lake combined with its beautiful surroundings, you can even hike to the Murma Top!

Located in the northwestern part of Nepal, the Rara Lake trek is considered one of the least accessible treks which makes it a quiet trail allowing you to enjoy the natural splendor in tranquility.

Another reason to pick it over other popular treks is that while the trek provides stunning views and experience, the lower altitude doesn’t necessarily require you to dedicate an entire day to acclimatization aiding the trekkers with a time crunch.

Makalu Base Camp Trek

The final addition to this list of off-the-beaten-path treks in Nepal has to be the Manaslu Base Camp trek which is the perfect blend of everything that you expect from a trek but a quieter version of it.

The Makalu base camp trek is a rugged adventure known for its diverse landscapes including lush forests, deep valleys, untouched nature, and cultural richness.

A trekker at Makalu Base Camp
A trekker at Makalu Base Camp

This trek is an adventure of around 100 km roundtrip which might vary based on your selection of route. It usually starts at Tumlingtar or the nearby village Chichila and takes you to the foot of the fifth-highest peak in the world- Mt. Manaslu.

Starting at an altitude of 401 m, the trek takes you as far as 4,870 meters at the Makalu Base Camp which is the pinnacle of this trek. Therefore, the Makalu Base Camp trek is considered a difficult adventure demanding high physical fitness.

However, the challenges are worth the rewards as you get to stand in the shadows of Mt. Makalu while enjoying the views of peaks including Mt. Makalu, Mt. Everest, Lhotse, Baruntse, and Chamlang.

Trail to Makalu Base Camp
Trail to Makalu Base Camp

This trek also has a factor of thrill as you will be crossing around 4 mountain passes while making your way to the base camp which is a different experience altogether. This is combined with the chance to explore the Makalu Barun National Park.

You will be able to explore the untamed wilderness of the region and see the transformation of the lush rhododendron forests to stark and ice-clad landscapes as you climb higher into the trail.

During your solitary exploration, you will also be able to see and participate in the local cultures of the ethnic communities of Nepal including the resident Sherpa and Rai communities.

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