For many, the Himalayas represent the ultimate trekking destination. Home to the world’s tallest mountains and some of the most spectacular hiking, it’s no surprise that climbers and adventurers have long flocked to its snowy slopes. With so many hiking trails across the five countries that the mountain range encompasses, deciding what should be on your hit list can be a difficult task. In this context, it is good to start with the most famous Himalayan treks. The trodden paths that have inspired adventurers for centuries…
But what are they? To find out, we got together with the guys at Makalu Adventures, a company that runs guided tours and adventure tours in the Himalayas and beyond. We asked them to help compile this list of top Himalayan treks to help you narrow down what’s next on your bucket list.
EVEREST BASE CAMP, NEPAL
No list of iconic Himalayan treks would be complete without Everest Base Camp, a notorious adventurer’s pilgrimage that usually involves several days of trekking in the shadow of the world’s highest peak. The stunning views are in full force from the moment you board the plane and fly to Lukla, where your trek begins.
You will then spend 10 to 14 days trekking through the Khumbu and Imja valleys, learning about the fascinating Sherpa culture in the mountains and staying overnight in traditional teahouses along the route. Finally, you’ll arrive at the iconic Everest Base Camp, where you can meet climbers hoping to reach the summit and view the notorious icefall, widely considered one of the most dangerous sections of the climb.
SNOWMAN TREK, BHUTAN
Don’t let the whimsical name fool you, the Snowman Trek is one of the most challenging yet rewarding treks in the world. The trail crosses 11 passes of up to 5,000m and winds between villages and past remote monasteries with many 7,000m peaks towering above.
The 27-day trek is an immense challenge in terms of distance, altitude and endurance, with more Westerners climbing Everest each year than completing the trek. However, the rewards are unlimited. Not only will you get an incredible sense of accomplishment for completing the trek, but you’ll also explore the remote areas of Bhutan and all the incredibly enlightening culture that comes with it.
ANNAPURNA DISTRICT, NEPAL
Another classic from Nepal, the Annapurna Circuit has long been a favorite among adventurers looking to experience the vast and incredible scenery of the Himalayas without the crowds that the Everest region usually attracts. The views are stunning and varied, from rice paddies and pine forests in the lowlands to the high desert land of Manang and the dramatic scenery of Thorung La Pass. Of course, you’ll be constantly surrounded by the vast, towering peaks of the Annapurna range, and along the way you’ll have the opportunity to soak up the region’s incredibly unique culture.
KHARTA VALLEY TREK, TIBET
Despite being on the border between Tibet and Nepal, Mount Everest is much more commonly seen from the Nepalese side and few choose to explore the less visited Tibetan side of the border. Here, the infamous north face of Everest rises above a vast landscape dotted with glaciers.
A trek through the Kharta Valley promises spectacular mountain views, mystical monasteries, temples and a good dose of traditional Tibetan culture. You’ll pass through stunning alpine meadows and nomadic yak herders to finally reach the Kangshung Valley, where you’ll have the opportunity to do a day hike along the glacier, visit Everest Base Camp on the east side, and meet the expedition teams.
MAKALU BASE CAMP, NEPAL
At 8,463m, Makalu is the fifth highest peak in the world and draws attention to the surrounding landscape of the Makalu Barun National Park. Despite being home to a major player in the mountain world, the area remains relatively untouched due to its remote location and the popularity of the neighboring Everest region. This means you’ll have the breathtaking view of Shipton La Pass and nearby Makalu all to yourself.
SOMETHING A LITTLE DIFFERENT
If you fancy swapping two feet for two wheels and experiencing the majesty of the Himalayas on a mountain bike, why not take a ride through the wild countryside with the Roof of the World Mountain Bike Tour. Cycle in the shadow of Everest from Lhasa to Kathmandu and experience the longest and steepest mountain bike ride in the world; an incredible 681 miles downhill from the Tibetan Plateaus down into the rice fields of Nepal.
You will drive along ancient Tibetan roads and even have the opportunity to visit the iconic Everest Base Camp by bike, a unique experience in itself.
Iconic Himalayan Treks: How To
We always recommend traveling with a reputable travel company like Makalu Adventures, especially in extreme mountain environments like these. Tours are led by experienced guides who know the area well and can easily mitigate risks as well as point out interesting flora and fauna that you might not see on your own. They will factor in time to acclimatize and organize all your ground transportation while you are there.
Trips booked through Makalu Adventures generally include accommodation, ground transport and internal flights, plus some food, all necessary equipment, permit fees and a guide. Simply book a flight to the departure point of your trip and get ready for an unforgettable adventure.