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10 Off the beaten path treks in Nepal

  • Author: Naba Raj Amgai
  • Posted on: Sun Feb 27, 2022
Off The Beaten Path Treks

Many destinations in Nepal are hidden from most parts of the world, some which have recently lifted the travel restriction. These remote, isolated, and less trodden paths are known as off the beaten paths. Nepal is home to many off the beaten paths treks in the northern Himalayas, Tibetan borders, and the midwest.

These secluded trails are the best as they have unspoiled nature and less crowd even in peak seasons, so you have the travel destination all to yourself. Some of the trails are uninhabited by any permanent settlements due to the remoteness and lack of vegetative lands; locals have inhabited others for generations and preserved their culture by cutting themselves off from modernization. The ancient monasteries, gompas, dirt trails, mud houses seem stuck in historical times.

Most of the classic Everest and Annapurna trails have been popularized and are often overcrowded in peak seasons which can be unfavorable to trekkers looking for solitary travel. For them, the off the beaten treks are best. If you wish to pack your bags for an adventure in Nepal's less traveled trekking trails, then follow the article to know all the relevant details to guide and support your decision.

Recommended Read:

Top 10 Challenging And Difficult Treks In Nepal
Nepal Trekking FAQs - 40 Questions Answered
Trekking in Nepal - Ultimate Guide for all Trekkers
Manaslu Trek - A Complete Guide


1. Manaslu Trek

Manaslu Trek

Duration:

15 to 17 days

Location

Manaslu, northwestern region

Trek type:

Tea house and Camping trek

Max. elevation: 

Larkya La pass (5,165m/16,929ft)

Required permits: 

Manaslu Conservation Area permit (MCAP), Annapurna Conservation Area permit (ACAP), Manaslu Restricted Area Permit, TIMS card

Restrictions:

Solo trek isn’t allowed as you need a minimum group of two trekkers and a government-licensed guide

Best time to travel

March, April, May, September, October, November

Manaslu Trek is an escapade to the world's highest mountain Manaslu, in the secluded Budi Gandaki and Nubri valley area which makes it the ultimate off the beaten path trek. It will take you to the remote and off beat settings to discover the ancient Bon and Tibetan Buddhist religion and culture. Due to the restricted area status, these age-old cultures have been protected and upheld for so long by the tight-knit small communities. The routes are so silent that, at times, one might have the plateaus and Himalayas all to themselves during the trek.

A couple of years ago, this route did not even have tea houses, and there were chances of falling off the cliffside gravel path. The trail is as challenging as remote due to the elevation and tough terrain.

Traveling to an isolated region gives the advantage of undisturbed views of the majestic mountains, the lifestyle of the villagers, and unique Gompas and monasteries. Walking on the ancient trade route of the valley of Budi Gandaki takes you back in time.

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2. Upper Dolpo Trek

Upper Dolpo Trek

Duration:

24 to 27 days

Location

Dolpo region, north west

Trek type:

Camping trek

Max. elevation: 

Nagdalo La Pass (5,350m/17,552ft)

Required permits: 

Lower Dolpo Restricted Trekking permit, Shey Phoksundo National Park Permit,  Upper Dolpo Restricted trekking permit, TIMS card

Restrictions:

Solo trek isn’t allowed as you need a minimum group of two trekkers and a government-licensed guide

Best time to travel

March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November

One of the most notable names that pop up when talking about off the beaten path treks in Nepal is the Upper Dolpo trek. Upper Dolpo hosts one of the highest elevated inhabitations of Dho Tarap, and Komash village tucked away between the Tibetan plateaus and the Dhaulagiri range. This trek takes you to the land that is rarely visited by outsiders, so secluded that it has registered as a restricted area. Its off beat caravan trail offers the experience of witnessing the ancient Bon culture being protected and passed on from generations.

The communication from the rest of the world becomes very distant, and no permanent settlements can be seen afar which is why it is considered an off the beaten path trek. Furthermore, it crosses two high passes of Nagdalo La (5,350m/17,552ft) and Sela La Pass (5,100m/16,740ft).

The trek progresses to one of the deepest and pristine Phoksundo Lake which is the best highlight of the trek. The experience of witnessing this raw wildlife, rich religion, and culture unhinged by the rest of the world is undeniably the best. Living in camps for the trekking days will keep you closer to nature and help you understand the way of life up close.

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3. Nar Phu Valley Trek

Nar Phu Valley Trek

Duration:

12 days

Location

Annaurna region, north western

Trek type:

Tea House trek

Max. elevation: 

Kang La Pass (5,320m)

Required permits: 

ACAP, Restricted Area Permit TIMS Card

Restrictions:

Solo trek isn’t allowed as you need a minimum group of two trekkers and a government-licensed guide

Best time to travel

March, April, May, September, October, November

The Nar Phu Valley Trek is one of the shortest off the-beatn treks between the Annapurna and Manaslu trekking regions. Being a recently opened trekking area in 2003 with a developing trail, it only witnesses a small number of trekkers around the year. This remote trekking journey will take you to the rugged wilderness of the two villages of Nar and Phu.

The isolated Phu and Nar villages with mud-colored houses stacked one on top of the other is the hidden Buddhist settlement in the northwestern region. The best reason to opt for Nar Phu Valley Trek is to experience the remote villages of the Tibetan plateau in such a short period. Excursing the rural villages along the dirt roads in the middle of nowhere is a unique experience. Beyond a couple of recently built tea houses, there are only small and distant settlements amidst all the barren land. The Buddhist prayer flags, monasteries, and Chortens are all signs of the villagers' well-respected and preserved Tibetan Buddhist religion.

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4. Makalu Base Camp Trek

Makalu Base Camp Trek

Duration:

22 to 24 days

Location

Makalu, North East

Trek type:

Tea House and Camping trek

Max. elevation: 

Makalu Base Camp (4,900m/16,076ft)

Required permits: 

Makalu National Park and Conservation Area Permit, Makalu Rural Municipality Permit, TIMS card

Restrictions:

 

Best time to travel

March, April, May, September, October, November

Makalu Base Camp Trek is one of Nepal's least crowded and off the beaten path trekking destinations because it is located far away from any settlements in the isolated north east himalayas. The beautiful trek takes you to the lap of the world's fifth highest mountain; Makalu. Cruising across the Makalu Barun National Park in the off the beaten Barun Valley is an entirely different experience on its own. If you wish to have a close-up view of Mt. Everest without having to visit its crowded trails, then this silent trekking trail is for you.

Only a handful of tourists take up this trek around the year, which means that the trail is silent and unhindered, making it ideal for nature lovers. Sitting just on the border of Tibet and Nepal means that this region does not have any settlements at a higher altitude, so you will have to stay in camps.

Reaching the Makalu Base Camp  and crossing three challenging high passes of Shipton La, Keke La, and Khongma La are the major highlights. The tremendous number of diverse plants and animals in the unspoiled region of the national park makes it an ideal spot for bird watching along the trek as well. You can take as many pictures of the highest peaks of Mt. Everest, Lhotse, Nuptse, Kanchenjunga, and more.

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5. Kanchenjunga Trek

 Kanchenjunga Trek

Duration:

20 to 28 days

Location

Kanchenjunga, North East

Trek type:

Camping trek

Max. elevation: 

Pang Pema (Kanchenjunga North Base Camp) (5,143m/16,880ft)

Required permits: 

Kanchenjunga Conservation Area permit (KCA), Kanchenjunga Restricted Area Permit, TIMS Card

Restrictions:

Solo trek isn’t allowed as you need a minimum group of two trekkers and a government-licensed guide

Best time to travel

March, April, May, September, October, November

Kanchenjunga Trek is a long adventure in the far-flung and challenging trails around the third highest mountain in the world, situated in the northeastern outskirts of Nepal. This trek is suitable for only a handful of tourists because of its off the beaten paths and the notoriously challenging nature landscape. For most of history, Kanchenjunga has been notably a mysterious region due to its inaccessibility. In recent years, some professional climbers and trekkers have penetrated it who wish to experience its serenity.

The isolated trail passes through the remote Tibetan villages and some temporary settlements along the way. Some of the trails are untrodden, so there are chances that you may lose the way, which is why you would require a licensed guide along with you. You should take this trek if you are an experienced trekker who wishes to explore the off beat track of the east dominated by a snow giant.

The unspoiled Kanchenjunga Conservation area has so much to offer, from the cascading waterfalls to the lush meadows and tricky ridges. The up-close views of  Mt. Kanchenjunga, along with the best views of soaring Tibetan and Nepali Himalayas like Januu Himal, Kabru Range, Rathong, Kokthang, Mera Peak, can be witnessed.

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6. Phoksundo Lake Trek

 Phoksundo Lake Trek

Duration:

11 days

Location

Shey Phoksundo, Mid West

Trek type:

Tea house and Camping trek

Max. elevation: 

Phoksundo Lake (3,660m/ 12,007ft)

Required permits: 

Lower Dolpo Restricted Trekking permit,Shey Phoksundo National Park Permit, TIMS card

Restrictions:

 

Best time to trek:

March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November

Phoksundo Lake Trek is an extremely remote trekking destination in the Dolpo district of the mid-western region of Nepal. The isolated destination offers undisturbed and tranquil views of the majestic blue Phoksundo Lake in the Shey Phoksundo National Park. The Ringmo village up north is the only last settlement near the lake which too is devoid of even the basic facilities due to the off the beaten path. Interacting with the humble locals, visiting the sacred gompa are also other highlights of the trek.

This is one of the best treks for nature lovers who want to go to remote trails because it is relatively easier and shorter. Having to go to the depths of Nepal, untouched by the modern world, to experience the rich wilderness and beauty in such a short period is the true essence of the trek. It is certainly a hidden treasure as the trek is paired with an insight into the Tibetan Buddhist and Bon culture, passing by the traditional villages.

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7. Limi Valley Trek

 Limi Valley Trek

Duration:

18 to 21 days

Location

Karnali, Mid Western

Trek type:

Tea House and Camping trek

Max. elevation: 

Nara La Pass (4,620m/15,157ft)

Required permits: 

Simikot Rural Municipality permit, Limi Valley Restricted Area Permit, TIMS card

Restrictions:

 

Best time to travel

May, June, July, August, September, October

Limi Valley Trek in mid-western Nepal's distant and hidden Humla district is one of the most off the beaten paths in Nepal. The trek follows the ancient trade route connecting Nepal, India, and Tibet. Untouched by modernization, the trail is mostly solitary and deserted, with only a few scattered settlements. Being a recently opened trekking trail in 2002, it does not see many tourists as the road connectivity is very poor. Hence, there are only a handful of tourists all around the year with the facility of tea houses and camping treks available for accommodation.

The off the beaten trail reaches the Tibetan Border touching Til and Limi village and the deserted land almost looks like a scene from a historical movie. The gompas and Mani walls are decorated in tethered prayer flags representing the Tibetan Buddhist religion and culture prevailing alongside the ancient Bon religion. Often considered to be the Hidden Himalayas of northwest Nepal, the Limi valley offers views of the Mt. Kailash, Api, Kanjirowa, and Saipal fall in the crux of Tibet and Nepal. The true Shangri-la myth is experienced here in the plateaus and Himalayas of Limi.

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Where to travel next?

Get help from our travel specialists for holiday ideas that matches your interests.

8. Upper Mustang Trek

 Upper Mustang Trek

Duration:

15 days

Location

Upper Mustang, north western

Trek type:

Tea House trekking

Max. elevation: 

Gyu La Pass (4,077m or 15,650 ft)

Required permits: 

Lomanthang Rural Municipality permit, ACAP, Restricted Area Permit , TIMS Card

Restrictions:

Solo trek isn’t allowed, so you need a minimum group of two trekkers and a government-licensed guide

Best time to travel

March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November

Upper Mustang Trek in the hidden ancient kingdom of the trans-Himalayan region of Nepal offers an insight to the mysterious Tibetan Buddhist religion and culture. Once a forbidden land to enter, Upper Mustang Trek is one of Nepal's most off the beaten path treks. In 1992 the land was removed from the status of the restricted demilitarized area. Over the years, it has gained a restricted area status to protect the fragile landscape, rich traditions, and cultures of the Tibetan Buddhists. Hence, even now, the roads, landscape, centuries-old monasteries, and livelihood of the locals is as it is.

Traversing through the Kali Gandaki valley the trek reaches the ancient kingdom of Lo village in the Upper Mustang. The entire experience of visiting the unspoiled areas of Mustang is surreal. Following the rain shadow area of Dhaulagiri and Annapurna, Upper Mustang offers a unique chance to explore this area even in the monsoon season of Nepal. The remote setting of the arid deserted land feels stuck in time. As only a few trekkers visit this land, there is less crowd and more to enjoy in the peacefulness.

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9. Dhaulagiri Circuit Trek

 Dhaulagiri Circuit Trek

Duration:

20 days

Location

Dhaulagiri region, north west

Trek type:

Camping trekking

Max. elevation: 

French Pass (5,360m/17,590ft)

Required permits: 

ACAP, TIMS card

Restrictions:

Solo trek isn’t allowed, so you need a minimum group of two trekkers and a government-licensed guide

Best time to travel

September, November, April, May

Dhaulagiri Circuit Trek is one of the most adventurous treks in the off the beaten-path around the world's seventh highest mountain situated in the west of Annapurna massif. As most of the trail is remote and uninhabited, so there are no nearby settlements, which means there is the only option of camping. As most of the terrain is unfrequented, the route is often tricky.

Some of the most adventurous parts of the trail are reaching Italian Base Camp, Dhaulagiri Base Camp, and Hidden Valley. The major attractions of this trek are the up-close views of Mt.Dhaulagiri, Annapurna massif, Dhampus peak, and Gurja Himal. Due to its remote and challenging nature, the trail is not packed, and often you can enjoy the mountains all to yourself. In the lower altitude areas of the trek, you can witness the culture, tradition, and fascinating lifestyle of the Magar, Gurung, and Thakali communities.

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10. Tsum Valley Trek

Tsum Valley Trek

Duration:

16 to 18 days

Location

Manaslu, north western

Trek type:

Tea House trekking

Max. elevation: 

Gyu La Pass (4,077m or 15,650 ft)

Required permits: 

MCAP (Manaslu Conservation Area) Tsum Valley Restricted Area Permit , TIMS Card

Restrictions:

Solo trek isn’t allowed, so you need a minimum group of two trekkers and a government-licensed guide

Best time to travel

September, October, November

Tsum Valley is an off the beaten trek to the hidden valley of the Manaslu region in the trans-Himalayan northwest of Nepal. To be particular, it lies on the east end of the Manaslu Circuit trek. Tsum valley was restricted for tourism until 2008, after which it was opened as a trekking trail with virgin paths and locals preserving their rich culture and tradition.

The trek to this mysterious valley passes by the Budhi Gandaki River. You will witness many distant villages in the remote setting inhabited by the Tibetan Buddhist and Tsumba people living off their terraced farmlands throughout the trail. You will be coming across many ancient Gompas built by the locals living generations in the valley following the same culture and practices. The well-preserved culture untouched by the rest of the world can be witnessed in the longest mani walls at Dzong and Phurbe and the oldest Dhephu Doma Gompa. This is truly an epic and insightful off the beaten trail in the depth of western Nepal.

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Recommended Read:

20 New Trekking Routes in Nepal
10 Easy Treks in Nepal for Beginners
Short Treks in Nepal
The 15 Best Treks in Nepal

Conclusion

Nepal has many trekking trails which have yet to gain popularity due to its restricted status or remoteness. These off the beaten path treks in Nepal certainly offer the best experience of witnessing the hidden valleys, mysterious villages, unspoiled national parks, and less trodden trails. The trails mentioned above are a perfect match for those trekkers looking for a unique local experience in the nooks and crannies of Nepal, along with a challenge.

As most of these remote trails require you to get your trek organized by some registered agency and licensed guide, it is very important to reach out to agencies with wide experience in planning these treks. You can reach out to our team of experts who have decades of experience planning such remote and restricted area treks for trekkers from all over the world. With our experienced guide's ample knowledge resources, we can offer the best advice and service as required for a wonderful and memorable tour.



  • Author: Naba Raj Amgai
  • Posted on: Sunday Feb 27, 2022

Recent Comments

JM
Jayson Munoz | Mon Mar 21, 2022
One of my friends from Nepal suggested me the Tsum Valley trek and I will be doing it in 2023. This blog helped me on my decision of the trek. Shout out to the writer!
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MC
Marc Crawford | Sun Mar 6, 2022
Nar Phu Valley Trek sounds interesting, will definitely research on it and probably do it by 2024. Thanks for this wonderful blog.
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RH
Raymond Hopkins | Sun Mar 6, 2022
Nepal is truly a paradise for trek-lovers. I want to try all these in my lifetime.
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RS
Rahul Shetty | Sun Mar 6, 2022

Go for Makalu BASE CAMP trek if you are seeking suggestion for the best trek among these 10 treks.

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HJ
Harry Jordan | Sun Mar 6, 2022
I recently did Kanchenjunga BC trek, and is definitely one of the best off-the-beaten-path treks in Nepal. I personally recommend this trek to anyone looking for challenging and peace trek.
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Naba Raj

About Author - Naba Raj Amgai

Naba Raj Amgai, stepped into the world of travel and tourism in 1996. He is Founder and Managing Director of Third Rock Adventures.

Beginning his journey in the tourism industry as a humble Porter Guide to founding hospitality establishments and an adventure travel company, he has come a long way.

In a career spanning more than two decades, he has achieved more than anybody dreams of achieving. Along with his professional achievements, his selfless contribution towards his community and society has won him a lot of accolades and praises.

Having dedicated more than two decades in the tourism and hospitality sector, he has amassed a wealth of experience.

After passing high school, he began helping out some trekking guides and was soon recruited as a porter guide at a reputed trekking agency. Within a short time, he was individually guiding clients across the well-known trails of the Himalayas.

He went on to lead tour groups on multi-country tours to Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan and India. Being a part of mountain climbing expeditions familiarised him with expedition logistics and operations. Later on, he went to become the Executive Director and took over the reins of Operations, Sales and Marketing departments. Spending several years in the tourism field has made Naba Raj Amgai a destination expert.

Travelling is his passion and he has been to many countries across the world – USA, Canada, Australia, Japan, Holland, Germany, Austria and many parts of Asia.

His journeys to different parts of the world have enriched his travel experience and knowledge. This experience has been instrumental in planning and organizing successful trips for several clients.

As of today many reputed travel companies, hotels and restaurants are under his leadership. A dynamic and proactive leader, he continues to inspire and motivate people from all walks of life.

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