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Nepal Trekking and the Great Himalaya Trail. A Route and Planning Guide

Idioma: INGLÉS.
Autor: Robin Boustead.
ISBN 978-1-905864-31-7.
1ª edición.
320 páginas.
8 páginas con mapas a color.
16 páginas con fotos a color.

With extensive sections to help you choose your trekking region, this is a route and planning guide for anyone organising a trekking holiday in Nepal. It includes the most popular routes as well as the newest trekking areas plus the most extreme route of all, the Great Himalaya Trail. There are route guides to the following regions:

  • Kanchenjunga, Makalu, Rolwaling,

  • Solu-Khumbu (Everest Region),

  • Helambu & Langtang, Ganesh & Manaslu

  • Annapurna, Naar & Phu, Mustang

  • Dolpo, The Far West

The guide covers:

  • Visas, permits, fees and equipment

  • Choosing a trek – independent tea-house trekking or guided treks arranged through trekking agencies; choosing a guide and crew; when to go; trekking grades and duration

  • Kathmandu & Pokhara city guides – hotels, restaurants, what to see

  • Nepal background – people, religions, festivals and etiquette

  • Health, safety and responsible tourism

  • Colour mapping – showing the main trekking routes in Nepal

The Great Himalaya Trail

Running the entire 4500 km length of the Himalaya via Bhutan, Nepal and India, The Great Himalaya Trail is the world’s longest and highest walking route. The author is the first person to plot and describe the complete route; the 160-day Nepal section is included here. It winds through all of Nepal’s regions following main trekking routes linking these using local trails.

 First decisions
 When to trek? 13 – Seasons 13 – Festivals 15 – Hinduism 17
 Tibetan Buddhism 18 – Bon 18
 Trekking styles 18 – Fully independent trekking or independent teahouse
 trekking 18 – Teahouse trekking with a guide 20 – Trekking with a
 camping crew 22 – Choosing a trekking style 23 – Trekking the
 GHT 25 – Treks with a cause 26 – Trek duration 28
 Trekking grades 28 – Trail conditions 29 – Trail difficulty 30
 Trek summary: East Nepal 32 – Trek summary: Central Nepal 34
 Trek summary: West Nepal 36

 Before departure
 Visas and permits 38 – Maps and walking guides 39 – Equipment 40
 Footwear 40 – Trekking poles 40 – Clothing 40 – Packs 41
 Sleeping gear 42 – Tents and shelters 43 – Cooking gear 43
 Miscellaneous 43 – First Aid kit 44 – Recharging on the trail 45
 Typical gear list 46
 Nepal and you
 Choosing a guide and crew 47 – Trekking as a single female 50
 Shopping, tips and money 51 – Your security 52 – Insurance 53
 Communications 53 – Dos and don’ts: how not to cause offence 54
 Community 55 – Environment 56 – Safety 57
 Greetings and blessings 57 – Temple etiquette 59
 Health and wellbeing
 General health issues 59 – Food and diarrhoea 60 – Altitude
nbsp;sickness 61 – Looking after feet and joints 61 – Hypothermia and heat
 stroke 62 – First aid 62 – Rescue and emergency 63

 History 65 – Arrival and departure 68 – Orientation 68
 Where to stay 70 – Where to eat 78 – Nightlife 84 – Services 85
 Getting around 88 – What to see 88 – Staying on in Kathmandu 92
 Moving on 94

 History 96 – Orientation 98 – Where to stay 98 – Where to eat 108
 Services 110 – Getting around 111 – What to see & do 112

 Main trekking areas 113 – GHT Nepal route summary 115
 Kanchenjunga region
 Kanchenjunga Base Camp Trek 117 – The Limbu 118 – Routes from
 Kanchenjunga Base Camp 122 – Other major trails in the Kanchenjunga
 region 122 – GHT Kanchenjunga 123 – Lhomi people 124
 Makalu region
 Makalu Base Camp 126 – The Rai 128 – Routes from Makalu Base
 Camp 130 – Sherpani Col, West Col and Amphu Labsta 130
 GHT Makalu 132
 Solu-Khumbu (The Everest Region)
 Sherpa people 134 – The Himalayan Trust 136 – Everest Base Camp, the
 Cho La and the Renjo La 136 – Other major trails in the Solu-Khumbu 142
 GHT Solu-Khumbu 142
 The Rolwaling
 The Rolwaling & the Tashi Labsta 144 – The Bhotia 151
 Other major trails in the Rolwaling 151 – GHT Rolwaling 151
 Helambu and Langtang
 Helambu to Gosainkund 153 – The legend of Gosainkund 156
 Langtang valley 157 – Other major trails in Helambu & Langtang 159
 GHT Langtang 161
Ganesh and Manaslu Himals
nbsp;Tamang Heritage Trail 166 – A Briddim folktale 168 – A local legend 169
 Tamang people 169 – Other major trails in the Ganesh Himal 171
 Manaslu Circuit 172 – The people of Larke & Siar 176
 The Ru-Pa people of Samdo 177 – Other major trails in the Manaslu
 region 178 – Gorkha to Arughat Bazaar 178 – Tsum 178
 Landan Kharka (north face of Ganesh I) 179 – Exit via Begnas Tal 180
 GHT Manaslu 180
 Annapurna, Naar & Phu
 Naar, Phu & the Thorong La 185 – The Gurung 186 – The Manangpa 189
 The price of progress 190 – The Thakali 191 – Annapurna Sanctuary &
 Poon Hill 192 – The Magar 193 – Side trip from ABC 195
 GHT Annapurna 196
 Mustang Circuit 197 – Baragaunle people 201 – The Lopa 202 – The
 Teeji festival 203 – Ghar Gompa 204 – Side trips from Lo Monthang 205
 North of Lo Monthang 205 – Southeast of Lo Monthang 206
 Other major trails in Mustang 207
nbsp;Upper Dolpo Circuit 208 – The Evil Lake of Reng 212 – The Legend of
 Shey 213 – The Dolpopa 214 – Other major trails in Dolpo 217 – GHT-
 Dolpo 217 – Kagbeni to Chharka Bhot 218 – Chharka Bhot to Pho via
 Dho Tarap, Phoksundo and Shey 219 – Bhijer folktale 222 – Other routes
 to Pho 222
 The Far West
 Rara Lake Circuit 227 – The Khasas 229 – Khaptad National Park 232
 Khaptad Baba 234 – GHT Far West 235 – Pho to Mugu, the Higher
 Northern Route 236 – Dolphu to Pho, the Lower Southern Route 238
 Tiyar to Gamgadhi 239 – Gamgadhi to Chainpur 240 – Chainpur -
 Darchula 243

 A – Bibliography 243
 B – Glossary 244
 C – Nepal Trekking Agencies 246
 D – Wind Chill Chart 250
 E – Heat Index Chart 250
INDEX  251

Nepal Trekking and the Great Himalaya Trail


Kanchenjunga region

Lush rhododendron forests, dramatic mountain vistas, communities that abound
in folklore and the third highest peak in the world, Mt Kanchenjunga, all com-
bine to make this a paradise for trekking off the beaten path. Located in far-
eastern Nepal, on the border with Sikkim, the Kanchenjunga Conservation Area
(KCA) was one of the first areas of the Himalaya to be explored in the nineteenth
century and yet it remains largely unvisited by tourists outside of October.


The Nepal side of the Kanchenjunga massif is split into two sections: the

remote valleys that lie beneath the horseshoe-shaped southwest face and ridges,

around Yalung, and the north face where the Base Camp for mountaineering
groups is sited. Dozens of peaks form a maze of ridges that isolate communities
from the lower valleys. Treks to this region are a little longer than those to the most
popular areas, but spending a little extra time here will prove more than worth-
while as you get to explore one of the wilder corners of the Himalaya. 

Most trekkers arrive at Taplejung (Suketar airstrip), which attracts a lively
combination of Sherpa, Limbu, Rai and Gurung people, especially for the
Saturday market. You then drop to the Tamor Khola, through dense jungle and
picturesque villages, before reaching some magnificent rhododendron forests
on the way to Kanchenjunga Base Camp at Pangpema. A challenging side trip
is up to the Jhinsang La, the starting point of the Great Himalaya Trail in
Nepal. The GHT follows a route down through Ghunsa and heads west to
Olangchun Gola, which also makes for a great side trip. From Olangchun Gola
the GHT crosses the untamed wilderness of the Lumbha Sambha, home to
snow leopard, blue sheep and, for the believer, the Yeti! Then you descend to
what is perhaps the most isolated community in Nepal, Thudam, before reach-
ing the welcoming and charming Lhomi people of the Arun Nadi valley.

The KCA is the first region in Nepal to be managed by local communities
and has so far proved very successful along the main trail, but is yet to be fully
effective in remoter valleys. Trekking is still in its infancy in much of the KCA
so tread lightly and encourage sustainable practices wherever you can.



The return trek to Kanchenjunga Base Camp takes about 20 days and can be
combined with a number of trails to explore some magnificent wilderness
areas. If you want to visit the southern valleys of Kanchenjunga, then begin
your trek by first heading to Yalung and then joining the main trail at Ghunsa.

Another great option is over the Nango La from Ghunsa to the
intriguing communities of Olangchun Gola and Yangma, which can both
be used to explore some really remote mountains. 

There are two main seasons for visiting Kanchenjunga, April-May and October-November,

which offer very different trekking experiences.  Being isolated from the other
main ranges in far-east Nepal, Kanchenjunga is renowned for mak-
ing its own weather and suffering from heavy monsoonal rains. After
the monsoon has finished the mountains are free of lingering cloud and
the views in late October and November are probably at their best.

By mid-December snow closes the higher trails, which will not open again
until mid to late March at the earliest. The pre-monsoon period is famous for
stunning forests of rhododendron that begin at Suketar and continue through-
out the trek, and are perhaps the most extensive throughout the Himalaya.

Getting to and from the Kanchenjunga region can be time consuming. In the
main trekking seasons a scheduled flight operates between Biratnagar and
Suketar a few times a week.

For the remainder of the year, you either have to catch a bus to Taplejung
or Phidim, or charter a helicopter to Suketar.


There are no scheduled direct flights to
Suketar (2420m) from Kathmandu, you
either have to fly via Biratnagar (causing an
overnight delay), charter your own flight, or
use a combination of flight and bus to the
large Limbu settlement of Taplejung (1820m).
Bad weather can delay flights so it is wise to
organise a second option, just in case.
 If you arrive late in the day at Suketar
there are some simple teahouses next to the
airport, alternatively it is an easy downhill
walk for 2 hours to Taplejung.


Suketar sits within a web of trails that can
easily confuse, so make sure you walk with
your guide or ask locals for directions at
trail junctions.
 From the airstrip follow a grass-
covered trail northwards for 20 to 30 min-
utes which brings you to a major trail junc-
tion where you turn right. Ask for Bhotegaon
if you are confused. The trail slowly
descends providing views of the Tamor
Khola valley below to your left.
 This is a very fertile region with three
crops being produced per year; depending
on the season and altitude it might be rice,
millet, corn, potatoes, cauliflowers or green
vegetables that surround you. Slowly curv-
ing northwards the trail moves on to a spur
that suddenly steepens at Gadidanda
(1890m, 21⁄2 hours).
 The 350m descent is on a muddy trail
that is slippery when wet, so take care. There
is a good camping site in the school at
Phurumbu (1542m, 1 hour) to the left of the
trail just before the end of the steep section.

The trail dips and climbs slightly as you
pass a stream, and then again after Baishakhe
(1520m, sometimes also called Moyam, 1
hour). Now the descent towards the Tamor
Khola continues, first to Linkhim (1300m),
then Tawa (1120m, 1 hour) before finally
reaching the valley floor before Nagadin
(1050m, 4 hours).
 The villages you pass through are part
of a historically important region in Nepal;
this is where the Kirati warriors came from
who first tried to unite the many kingdoms of
the Himalaya into a single sovereign state.
 The trail climbs slightly as you
approach Chiruwa (1270m, 40 minutes), a
compact settlement of teahouses, shops and
school, all squeezed between the river and
steep hillside. The campsite is 10 minutes
further on and off the main trail.

After the heat of the previous afternoon it’s
a relief to start walking in the cool morning
air from Chiruwa. The main trail remains on
the river’s south bank and if you get an
early start you won’t need to walk in the sun
until just before the National Park check
post at Taplechok (1380m, 13⁄4 hours).
 It is necessary to stop and complete
formalities with the National Park staff,
perhaps over a cup of tea, and confirm if
there are any landslides ahead, which might
mean taking an alternative trail. From there,
the west bank (left) trail first winds through
cardamom fields and then in to dense forest
before gradually climbing away from the
Tamor Khola to Lelep (1750m, 3 hours)
which has a small teahouse. A trail descends
rapidly from Lelep to a suspension bridge
across the Tamor Khola to Sukathum
(1576m, 40 minutes) and a large campsite.
 The east bank (right) trail follows the
river before climbing a little after Tamewa
(1420m, 2 hours), then down to the
Simbuwa Khola at Hellok (1550m, 1 hour)
where there is a small teahouse. A trail
winds around to the Ghunsa Khola valley
and across a suspension bridge to Sukathum
(1576m, 30 minutes) and the campsite.

This is the toughest and most dramatic day
of the trek so far. Cross the suspension
bridge at the Sukathum campsite and follow
a trail through dense forest until the valley
narrows in to a deep gorge (2 hours).
 Waterfalls cascade down both sides of
the valley, and the sound of the river will
make conversation difficult. It is essential
you concentrate on the trail.
 Locals have built a stone walkway
beneath a cliff face along the river’s water-
line, which makes for some great pictures but
care is needed at all times. After negotiating
this section, there is another hour of dense
forest trail before you come to a bridge at the
base of a steep climb. Switchbacks ascend
350m (2 hours) before the gradient eases,
about 1 hour before Amjilosa (2308m).


The trail leaving Amjilosa wastes no time in
climbing a minor ridge to a sharp turn to the
north (30 minutes). The forest is dense and
dark as you again descend towards the
Ghunsa Khola at Thyanyani (2405m, 1
hour) and the first of a few slippery log
bridges across a stream. There are a few
small stone shelters here which are nor-
mally only used by herders in monsoon.
 For the first time in a number of days
the trail doesn’t seem to continually climb
up and down, as the valley widens slightly
and feels less claustrophobic.
 After the third bridge (2 hours) the trail
climbs another steep track for roughly 300m
(2 hours), the last section beside a stream
can be slippery so care is needed.
 You crest the climb and find yourself
on the outskirts of the picturesque village of
Gyabla (2730m).
 For those with time and energy there is
a pleasant walk up behind the village with
views of the Birdhungga Danda.

After the previous week this day marks a
change in the flora and fauna along the trail.
At first, the trail seems much like that of the
previous afternoon; a broader valley bottom
permits views of the river and hillsides,
which continue for 11⁄2 hours. Then the trail
climbs for 200m (1 hour) and suddenly you
notice rhododendron, camellias, and azaleas
rather than bamboo and cardamom beside
the trail.
 The village of Phale (Phere, 3140m) is
spread over a large area. The first houses are
the winter village for Ghunsa, before the
village proper (30 minutes). This is a
Tibetan refugee settlement where it’s pos-
sible to buy handicrafts and homemade rugs
from some of the locals, ask around when
you arrive and potential sellers will soon
find you.
 From Phale a pretty trail winds through
dwarf conifer and pine forest before arriv-
ing at Ghunsa (3595m, 11⁄2 hours) in a very
broad section of valley. Waterfalls fall from
the steep cliffs above this Sherpa village
that feels like the edge of nowhere on a
cloudy day.

DAY 8: GHUNSA             ALL DAY
As you have now passed the 3000m mark,
it is wise to take a rest day at Ghunsa. You
can relax and explore the village.
 Sherpa hospitality is legendary, and the
local school is proud to show off its computer
(you can charge iPods here for a donation).
 Alternatively, explore the Yamtari
Khola which boasts a fantastic view of
Jannu (7711m) from the south – continue up
the left hand side of the river until you reach
some herders’ huts, then climb to your left
for a viewpoint.
 This valley is also the route to the dis-
used and dangerous Lapsang La (5161m),
as well as Selele La (4290m) and Sinion La
(4440m) both of which offer interesting
route variations to/from Yalung if you have
camping gear.
(KHAMBACHEN)               51⁄2HRS

Pine, deodar and rhododendron forest,
grassy glades dotted with wild flowers, and
increasingly spectacular mountain scenery
combine into what is perhaps the most impres-
sive section of trail along the entire trek.
 It will take about 11⁄2 hours to reach the
bridge across the main river before Rampuk
Kharka (3720m), which is often blocked
with sticks to prevent yaks from wandering.
The trail now climbs almost 400m past, then
through, a large landslide (beware of rock-
fall) beside the terminal moraine of the
Kanchenjunga Glacier to 4100m (21⁄2 hours).
 A brief traverse of the hillside might
offer a glimpse of Jannu before descending
to the yak farming settlement of Khangpachen
(Khambachen, 4050m, 11⁄2 hours).

(KHAMBACHEN)             ALL DAY

A day to acclimatise is normally taken at
Khangpachen, where there are two great
day walks to help you adjust to the 700m
altitude gain tomorrow.
 One route is to explore the valley
directly behind Khangpachen, and walk up
to the base of Tha Nagphu (5980m), a mas-
sive snow and rock dome that you can see
from the village.
 Alternatively, for those feeling fit,
cross the river and climb the left-hand side
of the Kumbhakarna Glacier lateral moraine
to the popular pilgrimage site beneath the
massive vertical north face of Jannu – there
is a large boulder and plenty of prayer flags
to mark a viewpoint.


The trail away from Khangpachen is sur-
prisingly easy as you gradually climb scrub-
by lateral moraine for 1 hour. Then comes
perhaps the hardest and most dangerous
section of the entire trek, a climb up a long
section of landslide, mostly across large
boulders, which takes about 21⁄2 hours.
 It is wise to keep moving, however
slowly, across this section and complete the
climb as early as possible as the risk of rock
fall increases throughout the day.
 Once across the stream from the water-
fall section the trail climbs steeply (beware
of rockfall) for a short section to the top of an
ancient lateral moraine at 4670m (a popular
lunch stop), where the gradient eases as you
cross some scrub and grass covered moraine.
On the far side is the Lhonak Khola, which
you follow to a seasonal bridge and a few
stone shelters at Lhonak (4780m, 2 hours).

DAY 12: LHONAK             ALL DAY
The large sandy bed of the Lhonak Khola
offers an inviting walk for an acclimatisation
trip. It is important that you are prepared for,
and understand the hazards of river cross-
ings if you want to fully explore this valley.
 It is possible to explore a rough track
along the western edge of the Lhonak gla-
cier to the confluence of the Chabuk and
Chijima glaciers at 5080m, 5 hours return.
 Alternatively, you can enjoy the views
of Gimmigela, Wedge Peak, Nepal Peak
and Tent Peak (Tharpu Chuli) that line and
head the valley to the east. Try to spot the
rock pinnacle on the far side of the glacier,
just at the point it turns southwest.


The trail from Lhonak climbs gently along
the massive lateral moraine of the
Kanchenjunga glacier for the first 2 hours.
It’s hard not to stop and admire the views of
the peaks and the glacier below.
 A short steep section of loose rock and
landslide formed by a side river will take 40
minutes to 1 hour to cross. The trail then
climbs more gently for another hour before
you reach the few stone huts of
Kanchenjunga Base Camp (5143m).
 Expedition groups will probably not
have a permanent camp here, however, as
an advanced base camp across the glacier
has become a preferred spot.
DAYS 14-21
Return to Suketar along same route, then fly
to Kathmandu.