Welcome to the view from the top of the world...

Our Blog

Welcome to Mountain Kingdoms travellers’ tales! Here is the place to share your stories, to pick up travelling, walking and trekking tips and to gain inspiration for future adventures.

Mountain Kingdoms are worldwide walking and trekking holiday experts with 30 years of experience in running trekking holidays as well as select trekking peaks, cultural tours and cycling holidays. Whether you’ve travelled with Mountain Kingdoms before or just love to travel, we’d love to hear your tales. Email us your Travellers’ tales

Search for your next adventure

Like us

Follow us

Trekking Guide to Wild Nepal

By Mountain Kingdoms in The Himalaya - 12th August 2017

No comments

Step away from the more popular trekking regions of Everest and the Annapurnas, onto the enticing trails of Wild Nepal, and you may find that you have the path all to yourself. From sculpted desert landscapes, to crystal blue lakes and from remote mountain monasteries to rarely visited villages there is a fascinating and rewarding world of delights to discover for the committed trekker. Here’s our guide to the key trekking regions within Wild Nepal.

Mustang & Dolpo

The village of Jarkot in Mustang

Mustang and Dolpo offer an alternative Nepal that is wild, remote and little-changed over hundreds of years. Isolated from the outside world for centuries the local people have retained their unique cultural identity and the area is often considered more Tibetan than Tibet. The landscape is also very distinctive, evoking images of high desert scenery, abandoned cave dwellings, ancient Tibetan monasteries and, of course, the elusive snow leopard. It’s also a region where, unusually for Nepal, you can trek in the summer months.

Where is it?

Mustang lies directly north of the Annapurnas, abutting the border with Tibet whilst Dolpo is further west. The two are linked by a challenging trek across high passes.

How to get there

To reach either Dolpo or Mustang from Kathmandu you need to take two flights. For Dolpo you first fly to Nepalganj, close to the Indian border, before taking a 45 minute flight to Juphal. For treks in Mustang a flight to Pokhara is followed by a very short one to Jomsom.

When to go

The summer and early autumn is the time to trek in Dolpo or Mustang. This is because the region lays in the rain shadow of the Himalaya so does not receive the monsoon rains the affect much of the rest of the Himalaya.

The mountains of the region

This is a very high altitude desert region without the iconic peaks of other trekking regions in Nepal. However, Dhaulagiri, at 8,167m, lies just south of Mustang and its towering summit often dominates the skyline when trekking in the area.

The people of the region

Restricted access and the extreme isolation of Mustang and Dolpo has done much to preserve and protect the uniquely Tibetan culture, language and traditions of the region. Nearly all the people are Tibetan Buddhists and their beliefs and practices permeate all aspects of their lives - best witnessed in festivals such as the Tiji Festival held annually in Lo Manthang, the ancient capital of Mustang. The way of life of the local people has changed little over the centuries and is largely based around farming and agriculture with houses still often built of mud brick.

Treks in Mustang and Dolpo

Dolpo to the Kingdom of Mustang

A challenging trek that joins the ancient kingdom of Mustang with the lakes and mountains of Dolpo through a series of spectacular, high passes. The scenery, culture, history and geology you discover along the way make this an immensely rewarding trek from first step to last.

Snow Leopard Trek, Upper Dolpo

Upper Dolpo has only been open to trekkers since 1988 and you still require a special permit to enter. The route followed in this adventurous trek was made famous by Peter Matthiessen in his book ‘The Snow Leopard’. It crosses the Kang La, passes mystical Crystal Mountain and reaches the ancient monastery of Shey Gompa.

Mustang & the Kingdom of Lo

Formerly known as the Kingdom of Lo and closed to the world till 1988, Mustang has a deep air of mystery and a rich, cultural tradition. This trek follows the trail along the Kali Gandaki valley to reach the walled city of Lo manthang before returning along the little-trekked eastern side visiting a remarkable cave monastery en route.

Ganesh Himal

For a region so close to Kathmandu with such a wealth of high peaks and gorgeous scenery, it is amazing that it has remained so little trodden and genuinely off-the-beaten-track. In fact, it’s very likely that you won’t meet any other trekkers or tourists whilst walking in the area. This wonderful sense of isolation together with strikingly deep valleys, stunning mountain views and a network of paths between picturesque villages, make this a delightful region for trekking.

Where it is

The Ganesh Himal range is in northern central Nepal, only 70km from Kathmandu. At its most northerly point the range extends to the Tibetan border.

How to get there

This is an easily accessible region from Kathmandu – only a 4-5 hour drive to reach the old town of Arughat.

When to go

As with much of Nepal, the spring and autumn present the best time of the year to trek in the Ganesh Himal.

The mountains of the Ganesh Himal

The highest peak in the range is Ganesh I, 7,422m (also known as Yangra) and there are three other peaks over 7,000m plus fourteen over 6,000m. The name of the range comes from the elephant-headed Hindu deity and it is believed that the south face of Ganesh IV resembles an elephant.

The people of the region

The villages in the Ganesh Himal are an interesting ethnic mix of Gurung and Tamang people and you will encounter both Hindu and Buddhist traditions. Many of the Gurung men have served with the Gurkhas and their pensions bring much needed income into the region. The Tamangs are almost pure Tibetan having migrated from Tibet centuries ago. Many people in the region eke out a subsistence living from their small hillside farms where very traditional farming methods are still practiced.

Trekking in the Ganesh Himal

Ganesh Himal Trek

This trekking gem crosses the region from east to west with the high point of the trek the Pangsang La pass from where there are wonderful panoramas of the Nepalese Himalaya. The trails lead through villages surrounded by verdant terraces and a couple of days are spent trekking in indigenous forests with beautiful old trees.

Kangchenjunga

A chorten on the trail to Kangchenjunga

Sparsely populated and surrounded by some of the highest peaks in the world, trekking in the Kangchenjunga region is an immersive and exhilarating experience. With access to the area having been restricted until 1988 the trails are invitingly pristine and the flora and fauna fantastically rich and diverse. This is truly a wild and wonderful place where trekking is still a great adventure.

Where it is

Kangchenjunga is located in the very far east of Nepal on the border with Sikkim in India on the eastern side.

How to get there

To trek in the Kangchenjunga Himal you need to get to Taplejung which sits southwest of the mighty mountain. This can be done on an overnight car drive from Kathmandu via Phidim.

When to go

Autumn is the premium trekking time for Kangchenjunga – particularly the month of October.

The mountains of the region

Until 1849, Kangchenjunga was thought to be the world’s highest mountain, but today’s accepted height of 8,586m ranks it third, after Everest and K2. It was first climbed in 1955 by Joe Brown and George Band. Kangchenjunga itself comprises a main peak plus 4 satellites – all over 8,000m. Indeed the name Kangchenjunga means Five Treasures of Snow and it is considered sacred by the people of Darjeeling and Sikkim. Along with Kangchenjunga, the himal comprises 16 summits over 7,000m as well as a host of peaks over 6,000m.

Trekking in the Kangchenjunga himal

Kangchenjunga North & South Base Camps

This trek has two splendid objectives in the expedition base camps of Kangchenjunga. Starting with the trek to the southern one first the trail then strikes out across the Mirgin La and the Sinion La to the thrilling finale at Pangpema – the northern base camp. Breathtaking views provide ample reward for the rigours of trekking up to 5,000m.

Manaslu

En route to the Upper Valley, Manaslu Circuit, by S Moralee

At 8,163m, Manaslu is the eighth highest peak in the world and has enticed climbers and trekkers to its environs for many years with its distinctive, beautiful summit. And it’s a region that doesn’t disappoint due to the sublime Himalayan scenery, diverse wildlife and welcoming villages and tea houses. A circuit of Manaslu is still considered one of the great treks of the world.

Where to find it

Manaslu is located in west central Nepal between the Ganesh Himal to the east and the Annapurnas to the west.

How to get there

A six hour drive from Kathmandu takes you to the riverside town of Arughat Bazaar at the foot of the Buri Bandaki valley.

When to go

Typically for Nepal, the spring and summer months, pre and post monsoon, are the perfect time for trekking around Manaslu.

The mountains of the region

Manaslu is of course the main attraction of the region although there are many other peaks in the himal over 7,000m including Himalchuli, Ngadi Chuli and Shringi. Manaslu was first climbed in 1956 by a Japanese expedition team. The region has been designated at the Manaslu Conservation Area and is home to numerous species of rare mammals and birds such as Golden Eagle, pandas and bears.

The people of the region

There are several ethnic groups living in the Manaslu region: the Gurungs,the Nubri and the Tsum. Divided geographically, the Tsum valley has remained more isolated and therefore its people have retained more of their Tibetan cultural traditions. Additionally, Gurungs can be found in the central hills and they are the main ethnic group to have joined the army as Gurkha soldiers.

Trekking in the Manaslu region

Manaslu Circuit

This world renowned trek provides a more remote alternative to the neighbouring circuit of the Annapurnas and it has equally spectacular scenery, big mountain views and fantastic trekking. There is strong cultural interest throughout and a 5,000m pass to cross in the Larkya La. There’s also a tremendous sense of achievement to be gained in completing a circuit of one of the ten highest mountains on the planet.

Api

Leaving Sunsera on the way to Api Base Camp by S Moralee

Located almost as far west as you can travel in Nepal, Api is a geographically remote and very special place where few westerners will ever step foot. It is rare indeed to find a region so untouched by tourism and so unmapped and unexplored by the outside world. For these reasons, together with its scenic beauty, cultural interest and rich birdlife, it is a true trekkers’ paradise.

Where to find it

Api lies in the extreme northwest corner of Nepal near the borders of India and Tibet. It is officially part of the Gurans Himal.

How to get there

As befitting such a remote area, reaching Api takes a bit of a time. The first stage of the journey is a flight to Dhangadi followed by a long drive over a winding, yet scenic road, to reach the town of Darchula from where the trailhead starts.

When to go

Spring or autumn are the ideal trekking seasons in this part of Nepal.

The mountains of the region

Api is 7,132m high and the tallest mountain in the Gurans Himal – together with Saipal and Nampa, it forms a small range of sharp peaks. Although lower in elevation than many other Himalayan peaks, Api is exceptional in how much it rises above the low level surrounding terrain this is because the valleys around Api are lower than in most other Himalayan areas of Nepal. The first successful ascent of Api was by a Japanese team in 1960.

The people of the region

You will encounter several culturally distinct ethnic groups in the region around Api most notably the Botia people and the Tinkara from Tinkar village. The Tinkara speak a local dialect and follow both Buddhist and Hindu religions. They only live in the village outside of the cold, winter season when they tend their buckwheat and barley fields. The village enjoys a stunning position below a high mountain peak and the window and door frames of the village houses are beautifully carved from local timber.

Trekking in the Api region

Api Base Camp, West Nepal

Expect to see no other trekkers during the course of a long and fascinating approach trek to base camp through the rustic villages, pristine forest and picturesque farmland of this far-flung region. The western Base Camp of Api Himal is situated in an idyllic valley and exploring the slopes above is a magical experience.

Read our Trekking Guide to the Everest Region.

Read our Trekking Guide to the Annapurna Region.

Comment on this article