We hike for different reasons. Some hike to see the sun rise or set in the horizon; some want to walk over the mountains and spend cold nights inside warm tents; some want to discover that beautiful lake and take a refreshing dip in it or just stay there in poignant contemplation (maybe you can write a poem or two); some like to witness the varied forms of life, not only that of strange plants and animals but also of people growing in different environments; and, some just like to chill in the wilderness. To my knowledge, the bounded territory of Nepal, whose soil will never be lapped by the wild ocean waves, can satisfy 5 different hiking motives of the thirsty adventurers.
1. Exotic Mountain Landscape
Where there are mountains, there are trails. And, Nepal has dozens and dozens of mountain trails to offer. After all, it is the land of Everest (8848m), and seven other mighty mountain peaks, including Lhotse (8516m), Manaslu (8156m), Cho Oyu (8201m), Annapurna (8091m) and Kanchenjunga (8586m), all of which make it to the list of world’s top ten highest peaks. With so many gigantic peaks, and around fifty other noble mountains, it’s no wonder Nepal is often regarded as the trekking capital of the world.
So, if your hiking fantasy is to touch the mountains, then the popular trekking zones in Nepal include the famous Everest Base Camp, the mesmerizing Annapurna Circuit Trek and the challenging Manaslu Base Camp among others. Of course, the trekking trails aforementioned do not involve climbing to the summit of those high mountains; even so, you will find yourself at breath-taking altitudes of around 5000m (so close to the sky, huh?). Speaking of high altitude hikes, there are even some little peaks in Nepal, like Gokyo Ri and Kala Patthar (offering magnificent view of Everest), the summit of which can be, and has been, touched by hikers (no need for mountain climbing training).
2. Desert-like Landscape
Tired of the usual things, we all wish for something different. So, in that sense, the green landscapes dominant in most trekking zones of Nepal, however beautiful and natural, can become an eyesore to a frequent hiker. Hence, Nepal urges these loyal hikers, asking for something different, to venture beyond its snowy Himalayas, and try the Upper Mustang trail.
An average Nepali is always shocked by such a desert-like arid landscape owned by a country so green. But, of course, Mustang’s close proximity to the Tibetan plateau leaves its mark, not only in the topography condition but also in the lifestyle of the people there. Somewhere along those barren hills of Mustang, there lies the ancient city, Lo Manthang – one of the major attractions of this wind-swept trail, along with the holy pilgrimage point, Muktinath.
3. Know the Nepali
Hiking is not all about exploring the wilderness. It’s also about discovering the varied forms of human life and culture. Thankfully, Nepal offers the culturally-interested hikers a chance to stay as a guest in a local’s home, in one of those lovely hamlets tucked atop the hills. While the houses may not seem modern enough, worry not about the accommodation. It’s good, although not as par to the 5 star hotels which you are used to but the hospitality of the Nepalese are always of “5 star” quality or so they say. In fact, they even have a traditional belief rooted inside their system that “The guest is God” or “Atithi Devo Bhavah” as the Sanskrit verse goes. Yeah, this and many other queer things, cultures, temples, waterfalls and colorful celebrations are in stock for you to witness as you sign up for the Sirubari Village Homestay or the equally enticing Ghalegaun Trek.
4. Hike to the Lakes
While many of the wonderful sights of the world, be it the twinkling stars or the majestic snow peaks, are silhouetted against the sky, you can nevertheless find jewels on the ground. Among these jewels are the poignant lakes spawned by the sweat of the Himalayas. Just imagine a glacial lake, cool and calm; then imagine a beautiful snow peak looming gracefully behind these lakes, and voila, it’s a double “breath-taking” scenario. Now, popular in this niche of lake trails of Nepal, excluding the Fewa Tal of Pokhara (it does not requires trekking; you will see that too on the way), are the Gokyo Trek (six sacred lakes plus the famous Gokyo Ri – climb to the summit for a mesmerizing view of Mt Everest) and the meandering trail from Langtang to the sacred Gosainkunda (can you believe this trail has over 100 lakes there).
5. Hiking To See the Sunrise or Sunset
We hikers have a soft spot for the sun, despite the fact that sometimes we curse it for showering us with scorching hot rays, resulting in the ailment called sunburn and, yep, dehydration too. All the same, the thing is that the sun is the source of life on Earth and so to admire the sun, the hikers tramp all they way through steep hills and mountains to that auspicious spot where they say the vista of the sun in the sky is stunning. In Nepal, one such popular hike, endeavored especially for sunrise or sunset, would be the Poonhill Trekking – although, it’s needless to say that every Himalayan trails are awesome when it comes to watching the sun posing gracefully behind the glowing mountain peaks.