Nepal is a legendary trekking destination, thanks to one giant mountain in particular. But Nepal doesn’t just have the world’s tallest mountain. In fact, the country boasts 8 of the worlds 10 highest peaks and many, many more slightly smaller ones. The Himalayas are smack full of mountains, and that means there’s absolutely no shortage of great hiking trails.
Nepal is to hikers, what the NBA Finals are to basketball fans. This is where you find the biggest and baddest treks in the world, and therefore many people believe you need to be a hiking pro to tackle them. That’s not true at all. There are plenty of short treks in Nepal that are feasible for beginners, and this post aims to give you some inspiration in that regard!
Himalaya Trekking Video
Before we get down to the specifics though, take a look at the video we filmed during our own personal EBC trek. Although the trails we go through in this post are slightly less ambitious, you can expect similar views and a comparable feeling of adventure. The Himalayas offer a truly unique experience, not just in terms of epic mountain scenery, but also with the fascinating and highly welcoming culture of the local.
Short Treks in Nepal
Everybody knows about the epic Everest Base Camp trek or the Annapurna Circuit trail. But if you are a novice hiker, or don’t have 2-3 weeks at your disposal, there are shorter and easier alternatives available. Keep reading to find out what we, and some of our travel blogging colleagues, believe are the best ones! If you go on one of these short treks in Nepal, we pretty much guarantee you’ll want to come back the next year and try for a longer trail.
Get ready for the adventure of a lifetime!
Nagarkot is one of the most accessible hiking destinations that is located relatively close to Kathmandu. For those who are short on time, it’s even possible to come here on a day trip from the capital, which is about one and a half-hour away by car. There are various trails that one can choose, especially if you choose to stay overnight.
On a clear day, you’ll get spectacular views of some of the tallest mountains in the world, including Mount Everest and other iconic peaks in the Himalayas. The main trail is known as “The Nagarkot Panoramic Hiking Trail. It has a total distance of 12 kilometres and takes an average of 3 to 3.5 hours to walk.
This route includes the “Nagarkot Nature trail” which is a 2-3 hour loop around Nagarkot where you pass through forests, terraces hills and rustic farmhouses and villages where the Tamang people are living. The Panoramic hiking trail takes you to Kartike village and Dhanda Gaun as well where you get stunning vistas as well. The hiking is easy, and most people will be able to complete the trail without too much effort. The maximum height you will reach is around 2100 meters above the sea, so it’s safe in terms of altitude sickness as well.
For those who wish to stay overnight and wake up to scenic views over the Himalayas, I suggest staying at The Hotel at the End of the World where you can book a cabin and enjoy breakfast outdoors with mountain views.
Panchase is a 3-day trek just outside the Annapurna Sanctuary. It’s a great route to do as an acclimatisation trek before attempting one of more challenging treks inside the Sanctuary. The trek is a great cultural experience going past small Nepalese villages. Very few trekkers or tourists come to this off the beaten track area.
The Panchase trek is an easy route, the only challenging part of the ascent to the top of the Panchase Hill for the sunrise on the last day. The total distance of the trek is 44km. The highest point of the route is Panchase Peak, 2500m. The trek can be done either way starting at Lakeside in Pokhara and finishing in Nayapul or the opposite direction. There are many buses and taxis between Nayapul and Pokhara. The drive takes between 1,5 and 2 hours. No special permits are needed for the Panchase trek. From Pokhara, the route climbs to the top of the hill on the opposite side of the Phewa Lake to the beautiful World Peace Pagoda, the only touristy place on the trek.
The route goes through the rice terraces, wheat fields and the lush green jungle with many birds and butterflies. It’s a spectacular route for nature lovers. The best views trekkers can get from the top of Panchase Hill at sunrise.
March-April and October-November are the best months for doing the trek. Though due to low altitude and mild climate the route can be done in winter months December – February. The monsoon months May to September are the worst time for the Panchase trek; very hot and humid, a lot of rain, and many leeches.
Panchase is a trek for those who want to see life in small Nepalese villages far from bustling cities.
Poon Hill is one of the most scenic short hikes in Nepal. Located in the Annapurna Region of the Himalayas, the trek starts just a 30min drive out of the lakeside town of Pokhara, 200km from Kathmandu. The trek follows the same route as the first 3 days of the Annapurna Base Camp trek, with the ultimate goal being Poon Hill. The distance of the trek is 51km, and it can be completed in 4-5 days. The highest altitude is 3210m at Poon Hill, and although the trek is difficult, it is doable. You can expect lots of stairs in the first 3 days of the trek. Expect an early wake-up call (around 4:30am!), to hike to reach Poon Hill by sunrise. This is the most challenging part of the trek, due to the quick gain in altitude and hundreds of stairs, but it’s well worth it for the incredible views from the top. The Himalayas stretch out around you like a panorama as you watch the sunrise over the mountains. Apart from the breathtaking views of the Himalayas from Poon Hill, you can expect scenic views and little villages filled with teahouses along the way. The region is filled with cute dogs and kind-hearted locals, so make sure to stop to make some friends along the way. Easily one of the most beautiful short hikes in Nepal, making time to hike to Poon Hill is something you won’t regret!
There are more to Nepal and the Himalayas than Everest Base Camp. The range and quality of treks in the region are amongst the best in the world, and the country has the culture to match. You will be hardpressed to find friendlier and more helpful people, and they love to take good care of tourists. This is especially the case in Pokhara and the Annapurna Region of Nepal. Compared with its more famous counterpart, Lukla and the Everest Region, here you find fewer crowds and more authentic experiences. A particularly good example is the hike up Mardi Himal.
Most people have heard about Annapurna Circuit or the Poon Hill trek. However, in terms of majestic mountain views and authentic guest houses, Mardi Himal is right up there with them – minus the crowds. To reach this hidden gem, you have to pass through the charming city of Pokhara. Here you should stock up and make your final preparations, before hiring a jeep to take you to the trailhead in Kande. There 4 days of beautiful Himalayan trails await you culminating at Mardi Himal Base Camp at 4.500 metres (14.750 feet). The view of the starlit sky at that altitude will likely change your life. You can also expect plenty of snow-covered peaks, killer sunsets, and delicious dal baht.
A big advantage of this trek is that altitude sickness is not a major concern. Spending 3-4 days on your ascend will ensure proper acclimatisation. Go during Mar/Apr for a breathtaking display of rhododendron flowers, but the trail is also beautiful in Oct/Nov. Expect to pay around 100 USD per day for a guide, and 15 USD for a porter. Prices of local food are minimal, but chocolate bars and alcohol will be more expensive, the higher you get.
If you’re looking for a short multi-day trek in Nepal, then look no further then the Ghandruk Trek. This beautiful hike takes only three days with beautiful scenery all along the way.
The Ghandruk trek is relatively easy as far as hiking in Nepal goes. Each day is only about five-six hours of hiking, and unlike many treks in Nepal, you don’t have to worry about altitude sickness. The trek doesn’t go past 2000 meters of elevation, and there are no difficult ascends/descend.
All along the trail, you will find small villages with tea houses to stay in. You don’t need to worry about bringing food and water, as supplies can be bought in each village. There are plenty of tea houses to stay at in those villages as well.
The scenery along the trek is beautiful, taking you through picturesque rice fields and stone stairs to the village of Ghandruk. At the village, there are stunning views of the Annapurna South mountain range.
Permits are required for the Ghandruk trek which can be arranged from any tour agency in Nepal. A guide is not required for the trail but recommended if you are not a seasoned trekker or not well versed with Napoli language and culture.
The Langtang Valley trek is something I’d highly recommend to anyone looking for a great trek in this country that also provides one of the best alternative options to hiking in the Everest region. Not only is the beautiful valley accessible from Kathmandu by road, but it also brings you in the surroundings of the beautiful Himalayan mountains. The hike up to the peak of Kyanjin Ri at a height of 4,773 m provides numerous opportunities to intermingle with the Tamang people of this region as you make your way along the old trade route to Tibet, allowing for an enjoyable cultural exchange, something that’s missing on many popular treks around the country.
A bonus of trekking in this region is the serenity it provides during the 40-kilometre journey and getting to experience it without the crowds. Access to the area requires a purchase of the Langtang National park permit and the trek can be done with or without the use of a guide and porters, although it is recommended to at least have some form of company. The best time to trek is during the spring months, which is generally the best time to visit Nepal. The hike can be described as moderately difficult, with accommodation in tea-houses along the way. It takes around 5 days to complete depending on your fitness levels and the pace at which you choose to go.
Annapurna Base Camp
The Annapurna Base Camp trek is a beautiful, challenging out and back high altitude trekking route in the Annapurna Sanctuary National Park. The trail starts at low altitude surrounded by beautiful forest and terraces of rice paddies climbing all the way to Annapurna Base Camp at an altitude of 4100m. The scenery changes as you gain altitude from tropical forest to unreal snow landscapes surrounded by some of the highest peaks in the world including Annapurna I (8091 m), Annapurna South (7219 m) and the fishtail Machapuchhre (6993 m). The hiking trail to Annapurna Base Camp is accessible from several trailheads and depending on your route the duration is between 6 and 12 days. Reaching the trailhead is easy from the beautiful lakeside town Pokhara by taking public transport. It is a tea house trek, meaning there are plenty of cheap guesthouses to stay and eat along the way. Hiking the popular route from the trailhead at Kande to Annapurna Base Camp and back is a distance of 80 km/50 mi and can fairly comfortably be completed in 6 days. If you want to do the trek in a group, there are many agencies in Pokhara offering organised treks, or you can contact them to hire a guide or porter. It is not compulsory to have a guide, the trail is well marked and doing the trek independent is not too difficult. There are 2 permits required for the trek, a TIMS card and Annapurna Sanctuary Permit, both can be purchased beforehand in Pokhara.