The Himalayas are one of the most impressive, magical, and daunting places our planet has to offer. One of the most impressive ways to enjoy the vistas offered by these massive monoliths is the Great Himalaya Trail [GHT]. It offers opportunities for trekkers and hikers who wish to challenge themselves. The high route requires some degree of mountaineering, while the low route allows the opportunity to travel from village to village, enjoying Nepalese culture.
Either way, the adventurer has a unique opportunity to explore the world and themselves on the GHT – whether they spend a few days there or a few months.
There are 9 trails in particular which are a joy to complete.
Arguably one of the most beautiful trails in the world, Mt. Kanchenjunga stands proudly over trekkers who seek out the rhododendron forests and rugged trails that make this journey so special. Standing at 8656m, this is the third highest peak in the world, yet this part of the Great Himalaya Trail is also one of the least visited.
Many of the trails you will follow are the same trails that the locals use on a regular basis. The eastern portion of Nepal is often described as rugged and wild, which makes it the perfect starting point for this adventure as well. You’ll be able to see up to 2,000 different species of flowering plants during the right season.
As an added benefit, few trekkers actually take on the challenge of this trail, so it will be an opportunity to explore who you are as you encounter some of the best Nepal has to offer. The reward for such a challenge? Views of the north face of this majestic peak, along with authentic cultural interactions that will warm the heart.
2. Everest High Pass
This is one of the most challenging trails that exists in the world today. It is also one of those locations that seem to pull on your heart strings. When you start this portion of the GHT, you know this is where you were meant to be.
Most of the trekking opportunities for this section of the trail involve what is known as the “3 Passes Trek.” You’ll get to explore what the top of the world really has to offer.
If you prefer something a little more comfortable, there are teahouse trails available at lower elevations. These trekking opportunities allow you to embrace the turquoise lakes of the region at your own leisure.
The bottom line is this: no words can really describe the experience. You must bring yourself here to explore the wonders available to understand how beautiful it really is.
3. Langtang and Helambu
Some of the most beautiful scenery in Nepal can be accessed from this trail. It’s so easy to access, in fact, that you can just walk out of the Kathmandu Valley and find yourself there. This is the portion of GHT to enjoy if you’re a little short on time, want to create certain travel accommodations, or want to immerse yourself in the local culture.
Because of the earthquake Nepal experienced in 2015, some areas of this trail are still in recovery. Speak with an operator about what the current conditions of the trail happen to be.
You’ll get to pass into Langtang National Park at Tilman Pass [5308m] and receive a beautiful vision of Tibet for your efforts. During the climb, sturdy pine, and terraced slopes are graced by villages which have embraced a slow pace of life that seems to be one with the planet itself.
As for the descent, you’ll venture near glaciers, hidden valleys, and experience the delicacy of Yak cheese – assuming the Langur monkeys don’t try to steal it from your first.
A permit is required to enter Langtang National Park for this portion of the trail.
4. Annapurna Circuit Trek
This tends to be the most popular section of the Great Himalaya Trail. In some ways, this is beneficial as you’ll get to experience all of the best this great mountain range has to offer. The trails here are maintained with great frequency and you’ll be graced by one of the tallest peaks and one of the deepest gorges in the world today.
And if that’s not adventurous enough for you, there are less-travelled trails that are just a stone’s throw away for you to enjoy.
What stands out about this part of the GHT is the evolving landscapes. In some areas, it is dark and luscious – fed by the monsoonal rains. In other areas, you receive the arid starkness of an arctic biome that is surprisingly inviting to the soul. Head up to Tilicho Lake at 5000m or embrace the hospitality at local villages.
It’s all about choices. The good news is that there really isn’t a wrong choice that can be made.
5. Manaslu Circuit Trek
This is one of the best tea-house treks in the world today. After completing it, some have even called Manaslu the best overall opportunity to see Nepal. You don’t even need to go camping if you plan it right, though the less-travelled trails on this circuit will take you to some incredible views as you’re surrounded by unspoiled beauty.
This region is known for several high glacier lakes and a richness of flora and fauna, which makes it beautiful all year long. August tends to be the most popular time for visitors on this part of the GHT, so plan ahead accordingly. It’s also a unique opportunity to embrace local culture, with the terraced crop fields and exposure to the traditional village lifestyle. One of the highlights is the long trek through the Budi Gandaki valley.
As with Annapurna, expect 17-22 days to complete this circuit.
As host to an annual trail running race, this part of the GHT is one of those few once-in-a-lifetime experiences that is readily available to almost everyone. From the arctic deserts of high altitudes to the heat of red deserts, never has there been so much visual drama to enjoy.
Your footsteps on this trail will also be following history. It follows the safest trading route between Tibet and Nepal that has been established for centuries. Historical treasures dot the landscape, caves are ready to be explored, and monasteries bring beauty to the soul using practices maintained for tens of generations.
Enjoy a lingering view of Dhaulagiri and Annapurna while standing in a field of barley and you’ll find a moment of perfection. If you only choose one part of the GHT to enjoy during a lifetime, this is the trail which many recommend.
There was a time when the towering Dhaulagiri was thought to be the tallest mountain in the world. Today we know that not to be true, but this doesn’t change the fact that this trail offers a chance to experience transition. It’s not just the different landscapes and biomes you’ll encounter while trekking that change.
You’ll also get to experience a cultural transition from Hinduism to Buddhism as you proceed along the trail. There are also those who still practice the relatively modern religion of Bon. Founded about 1,000 years ago, it’s a form of Buddhism that is believed to be practiced in just two villages in the entire world today.
This part of the Great Himalaya Trail also provides access to the deepest lake in Nepal, Phoksundo. No sea life calls this lake home and the colors of the water seem to shift with the mood of the day. You’ll also get to meet Drokpa nomads and Rokpa farmers – people who live exclusively at some of the highest altitudes in the world.
Many who call this part of the world their home are cut off from Nepal by snow almost all year long. Yet even with such stark terrain offered to visitors, it still offers an intense beauty that is almost beyond compare.
8. Rara and Jumla
Here’s an amazing statistic: in 2010, there was a total of 170 trekkers which took on the challenges of this part of the GMT. There are more species of birds, 236 to be exact, that call this region of Nepal home. For many, this is the Final Frontier of trekking. To go where virtually no other trekkers have gone before.
The fascinating part about this section of the trail is the historic nature of it. Along the way, you will encounter shrines that are 700 years old. Ancient cedars, pines, and spruce create life for local villages, but what provides sustenance here is, ironically, a fungus.
A caterpillar fungus, to be exact. Called Yarchagumba, it’s been called a dream medicine by those who have embraced this rare fungus which grows from the head of local caterpillars. Just 1kg of this fungus has a value 10x greater than the average annual income of a Nepali.
The upper and lower routes of the GHT also have a crossroads in this section at Rara Lake.
If you want to enjoy some of the world’s most beautiful landscapes all on your own, then this is your trail. The facilities may be basic, but the culture is authentic, and you’ll get to see part of human history that more birds than humans get to enjoy on an annual basis.
9. Makalu Barun
The toughest part of the GHT is left for last. Edmund Hillary tried to climb Makalu twice and failed both times. Towering cliffs and shimmering glaciers are your reward for embracing this part of the trail and the immensity of scale will literally take your breath away.
While here, you’ll receive glimpses of Everest, Lhotse, and Makalu. Only 2 months out of the year are usually suited for trekking, so plan carefully and well in advance to make sure you can complete this part of the trail.
Nepal also has a hydropower project planned for this region, which just adds some incentive to see this part of the world right now.
Here is the challenge: Complete section 1 to 8 of the Great Himalaya Trail with Adventures Unlimited (in partnership with World Mountain Treks, Nepal).
This is The Holy Grail.
This is what it means. If you’re able to complete the THG section 1 to 8, then you will receive a lifetime free trek pass to hike in Nepal with a guarantee undertaken by World Mountain Treks P/L. There are some conditions which must be followed to qualify.
- All 8 treks must be completed with Adventures Unlimited.
- Each must be part of the organized treks by Trek For Hope or Adventures Unlimited. With apologies – you cannot arrange to go privately or with a different group to qualify.
- Only 1 free trek is claimable once a year.
- There is no imposed time limit as to when the 8 treks must be completed. You can embark any of these trails yearly or after a certain number of years.
- Private group organisers, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to find our how your group can qualify under the THG reward programme.
The challenge is great, but so is the reward. Visiting Nepal creates the need to keep exploring all this majestic land has to offer.
Some may attempt the GHT all at once. Others may break it up into 8 separate trips. Either way, whether you earn this reward or not, you will still get to experience the unparalleled majesty of the Himalayas.
And that itself is one of the most amazing rewards anyone can experience.
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