Photo: Niti Thanomsri/Shutterstock

5 Gorgeous Himalayan Treks You Don’t Need To Train For

Backpacking Hiking Insider Guides Nepal
Photo: Niti Thanomsri/Shutterstock
Kat Liljegren
Dec 4, 2019

A figure in a snowsuit so puffy it conjures images of the Michelin Man trudges slowly through knee-deep snow. His frozen nose is black with frostbite, and with every breath, more ice crystals form on his massive, rugged beard. Suddenly, there’s a loud crack and a deafening rumble. Avalanche!

It’s scenes like this that come to mind when most of us imagine trekking in Nepal.

It’s no wonder given that Nepal is home to Mount Everest and seven more of the world’s tallest peaks. Yet only about 800 out of the over one million visitors who come to Nepal each year have their sights set on summiting Everest. In fact, despite tightening restrictions on climbing Everest, Nepal is experiencing a tourism boom. So where are all those visitors heading? Turns out, you don’t have to be an accomplished adventurer to enjoy Nepal.

“We like to say ‘Mountain is about attitude, not altitude,’” says Bimal Karki from Apex Himalaya, one of the top-rated trekking agencies in Kathmandu. His brother Bikram and their team of certified mountain guides have designed and led trips to fit a wide range of ages and abilities. “We have experience hiking in the mountains with kids as young as three years, on up to 68 years old, from healthy people to people who suffer from asthma. Nepal offers different grades of adventurous activities from beginner hikers to hardcore mountaineers, and from backpacker to lavish traveler.”

If epic mountain vistas, fresh dumplings, spiced tea, and vibrant culture sound up your alley — but months of intense physical training does not — consider these five adventures any moderately fit person can totally handle.

1. See Gosaikunda Lake and experience Tamang culture in Langtang National Park

Photo: PatKov/Shutterstock

Perfect for: beginner or intermediate hikers looking for the Nepalese trifecta: mountains, culture, and history

Difficulty: 6-7/10, depending on itinerary

Days Needed: six to 14, depending on itinerary

Elevation: average 8,021 feet, highest 14,370 feet


  • Hike through rhododendron fields and pine forests
  • Watch for grey langur monkeys, red pandas (also called red bear-cats), Himalayan thars (which look similar to mountain goats), and musk deer
  • Enjoy snow-capped views of Langtang Lirung mountain and the Ganesh Himal range
  • Stay in a homestay and experience local life and Tamang culture

Keep an eye out for the elusive red panda as this off-the-beaten-path hike takes you through pine forests and across iconic suspension bridges. You’ll experience Tamang culture up close and support local villagers with an overnight stay at Gre Village Community Homestay. (Gre village is a particularly good place to see the lingering impact and recovery from the devastating 2015 earthquake.) As the trek winds from village to village, you’ll pass several Bhuddist monasteries, sparkling white stupa monuments, a yak cheese factory, and many small stalls selling local handicrafts. The highlight of the trip is the pristine alpine lake Gosaikunda. The bright blue waters, which remain frozen six months of the year, are an important holy site, attracting thousands of pilgrims each year during two festivals.

2. Savor expansive mountain views in Panchase

Photo: Jose Coso Zamarreno/Shutterstock

Perfect for: seniors, luxury travelers, beginner hikers, or anyone wishing to dip a toe into adventure travel

Difficulty: 4/10

Days Needed: three to six, depending on the starting point

Elevation: average 2,690 feet, highest 8,200 feet


  • Watch the sunrise over the Himalayas
  • Hike through rhododendron fields and oak forests
  • Enjoy views of stunning, snow-capped Machapurchhre, Hiuchuli, Mt. Dhaulagiri, Mt. Manasalu, Gangapurna, and Annapurna
  • Visit the Gurung cultural heritage village of Sidame
  • Explore Pokhara lake and town

This totally doable hike packs a massive mountain-view bang for your physical-exertion buck. A few hours of hiking on a mix of flat paths, stone steps, and moderately sloping trails will pay off with panoramic views of some of Nepal’s highest and most famous mountains — including the Annapurna range, Manasalu, Dhaulagiri, and Gangapurna. You’ll start and end in the chilled-out lakeside town of Pokhara. It’s an ideal place to while away a few more days and rest your not-so-tired feet.

3. Escape from Kathmandu in Shivapuri National Park

Photo: Nepalifilmmaker/Shutterstock

Perfect for: tacking on some hiking to a short visit, stopover, or business trip to Kathmandu

Difficulty: 4/10

Days Needed: three to four

Elevation: minimum 4,400 feet, highest 8,950 feet


  • Watch for grey langur and red pandas
  • Hike through pine and oak forests
  • Cross the Sundarijal dam
  • Enjoy views of snow-capped Machapurchhre, Hiuchuli, Mt.Dhaulagiri, Mt. Manasalu, Annapurna, and Gangapurna
  • Visit the Tamang village of Mulkharka
  • Watch the sunrise over the Himalayas
  • Explore the historic temples, pottery, and artwork of Bhaktapur city and cultural site

It’s hard to believe that just 30 minutes from the dusty cacophony of Kathmandu’s lovable chaos there’s a place where the only sounds you’ll hear are birds chirping, a bubbling stream, and the occasional monkey hooting from the treetops. This trek through Shivapuri National Park has three solid days of hiking, but after one tough ascent the trail flattens out, and it’s mostly downhill from there. If the weather — or, more accurately, the smog from Kathmandu — cooperates, you’ll wake up each morning to panoramic mountain views.

4. Summit Kangin Ri and experience Tamang Culture in Langtang National Park

Photo: naturemania/Shutterstock

Perfect for: beginner or intermediate hikers up for an epic adventure or looking to bag their first summit

Difficulty: 7/10

Days Needed: nine to 10

Elevation: average 8,609 feet, highest 14,927 feet


  • Hike through rhododendron fields and pine forests
  • Watch for grey langur, red panda, Himalayan thar, and musk deer
  • Enjoy views of snow-capped Langtang Lirung and Ganesh Himal
  • Stay in a homestay and experience local life and Tamang culture
  • Summit Kyangjin Ri and get up-close panoramic views of snow-covered Langtang Lirung and several other peaks

You’ll start off on the same route as the first entry, gaining elevation through pine forests and rugged terrain that’s home to red pandas, grey langurs, Himalayan thars, and musk deer. Accommodations in a local homestay on the first night will provide a good base understanding for the Tamang culture you’ll experience throughout the trek. (Gre village is a particularly good place to see the lingering impact and recovery from the devastating 2015 earthquake.)

Langtang National Park is one of Nepal’s better-kept secrets, and it’s likely you’ll see more donkeys navigating the winding footpaths than fellow tourists. The literal pinnacle of your trek will be reaching the summit of Kyanjin Ri. From there, you’ll be mere feet from the imposing Langtang Lirung and have unobstructed, nearly 360-degree views of the stunning Himalayas. Find the plaque marking the elevation and take your token summit photo among a shrine of Tibetan prayer flags. Then hike down to replenish your energy supplies with fresh yak cheese or a yak-milk latte.

5. Savor Everest views near Lukla

Photo: saiko3p/Shutterstock

Perfect for: families or beginner hikers who want to experience the world’s most famous mountain without the snowy sufferfest

Difficulty: 6/10

Days Needed: 5.5

Elevation: average 10,300 feet, highest 11,286 feet


  • Hike through rhododendron fields and pine forests
  • Watch for grey langur, red panda, Himalayan thar, and musk deer
  • Enjoy views of several of the world’s highest, snow-capped peaks: Everest, Ama Dablam, Thamserku, Konge Peak, Nuptse, Lohtse, and Cholatse

This trek gets your adrenaline pumping from the very start, with a twin-engine plane ride into Lukla Airport, lovingly dubbed “the world’s most dangerous airport” thanks to its precarious location at the edge of a mountainside, 9,317 feet in the air. After a brief acclimatization stop in Lukla, you’ll hike along a river through pine and oak forests and across picturesque suspension bridges decked out in colorful Tibetian prayer flags. Reasonably short hikes each day will leave plenty of time to enjoy the dramatic views, appreciate the many brightly painted sacred Mani stone walls, explore the colorful village of Namche Bazar, sample local “Rakshi” wine, and learn about Sherpa culture at the Sherpa Museum. Though, again, perhaps the most unforgettable experience will be watching the sunrise over Everest.

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