Think “Himalayan trek” and you might imagine super-challenging high passes, sleeping in a tent, and days of gruelling ascents. If this is the kind of trekking experience you’re looking for then you can definitely find it in Nepal, Bhutan and Ladakh. But, if you’re seeking something different there are almost endless options. From rocky, high-altitude landscapes to thick, damp forest; simple camping to luxurious lodges; well-trodden paths with developed infrastructure to remote, rugged paths where you won’t meet another soul. There’s something for every kind of traveller. Here are a few ideas to help you choose the best trek in the Himalaya for your interests, fitness and other needs.
Breathtaking scenery in Nepal:
Gokyo Lakes Trek
The scenery everywhere in Nepal is pretty breathtaking, but for even more incredible views, you can’t beat the Gokyo Lakes Trek. It’s a wonderful alternative to the classic Everest Base Camp Trek and is a great choice for people who want to experience the magnificence of Everest without the crowds. This trek takes you to the attractive Gokyo Valley where tranquil turquoise lakes are surrounded by snowy peaks and Nepal’s biggest glacier. The views of Everest from Gokyo are also exceptional.
Little Tibet in Ladakh:
Markha Valley Trek
The Markha Valley Trek combines a delightful mix of camping and local homestays, for a truly memorable experience. The high-altitude region of Ladakh is home to a well-preserved Tibetan Buddhist culture, which you can experience first-hand on this moderately challenging trek. Stark barren landscapes, hill-top monasteries and impossibly clear skies greet trekkers in the Markha Valley.
Best of both worlds in Bhutan:
The Jomolhari Trek is a classic and Bhutan’s most popular, for good reason. It highlights the great diversity of the Bhutanese landscape. Enjoy fabulous views of snow-capped mountains, and walk through thick pine forests and alpine meadows that lead to high yak-grazing pastures. You’ll also encounter Bhutan’s cultural riches: ancient Buddhist temples, well-preserved traditions, and friendly and hospitable local people.
Easy cultural trek in Ladakh:
Sham Valley Trek
The Sham Valley Trek is among the easiest in Ladakh, and is a great introduction to high-altitude trekking in this region. Pass nunneries and monasteries, be amazed by giant Buddhas, and get the chance to chat with locals in remote little villages surrounded by rocky mountains. This short trek slots nicely into longer Ladakh itineraries, for a balanced mix of sightseeing and physical activity in this beautiful region of India.
Challenging long trek in Nepal:
Three Passes Trek
The incredible Three Passes Trek takes you through three different valleys linked by high passes (the Cho La, Renjo La and Nangpa La) in the Khumbu (Everest) region. It’s an excellent option for travellers who have either done the Everest Base Camp Trek before or who are wanting to visit a less crowded trail. It’s a challenging trek that is high in altitude—each of the three passes is above 5,000 metres—but is highly rewarding for trekkers who enjoy a challenge and love mountain scenery.
Remote long trek in Bhutan:
Laya Gasa Trek
Enjoy fabulous views of snow-capped mountains and experience the unique culture of the friendly Layap people in a truly remote corner of the Himalayas on the Laya Gasa Trek. October is an especially good time to do this trek, as the annual Royal Highlander Festival takes place in Laya. See the local people showcasing their unique culture over a two-day event in the remote countryside. At any time of year you can enjoy a challenging trek with stunning views, including the spectacular Tiger Mountain. When the weather is clear, practically all mountains on the northern border with Tibet are visible.
Short but remote trek in Nepal:
Mardi Himal Trek
Mardi Himal is an under-visited mountain with a recently developed trekking trail that’s waiting to be explored. It offers much of the benefits of the famous Annapurna Base Camp trek but fewer other trekkers. It’s also an easier route, so is suitable for a range of different fitness levels, including seniors and older kids. It’s especially fine in the spring (March-May) as the pristine rhododendron forests bloom with red, pink, white and purple flowers. Trek through cloud forests and charming villages to high-altitude pastures where yaks graze.
Scenic micro-trek in Bhutan:
If you’re mainly interested in sightseeing but want to get a taste of trekking in Bhutan, add a Sagala Trek extension on to your Bhutan touring itinerary. Camp in comfort in peaceful valleys surrounded by dense forest and rhododendron, under the shadow of towering peaks. Walk through rustic villages and past remote hermitage retreats, befriend yaks, and reflect on your inspiring journey beside an alpine lake.