Various travelers have attempted trans-Nepal treks over the years, including Sir Edmund Hillary’s son, Peter, who completed a 3,100-mile Himalayan traverse in 1981. But by following the newly proposed Great Himalaya Trail, any reasonably fit trekker able to commit about four months (a month less than the Appalachian Trail) can hike across Nepal. The provisional route requires little to no advanced mountaineering skill. Dharma Adventures (dharmaadventures.com
) and Social Tours and Travel (socialtours.com
) are familiar with the GHT project and can help you plan and outfit a thru-hike.
The alternative is to cherry-pick sections of the GHT as the author did. En route, the accommodations range from tents that are days away from the nearest village to simple teahouse lodges where you can sleep in a bed and get a hot meal. Arguably the best and certainly the most action-packed lodge is the Last Resort, about three hours north of Kathmandu on the GHT, where you can bungee jump, river raft, and canyoneer—as well as receive spa treatments (doubles from $52; thelastresort.com.np).
As is the case elsewhere in Nepal, March through May and September through November offer gorgeous, sunny weather and dry trails. To reach Nepal’s most remote district, you’ll have to fly from Kathmandu to the Terai village of Nepalgunj, spend the night, and fly the next day to Simikot. Your outfitter will coordinate the flights and your hotel; check to see whether these costs are included in the overall trip price.
GUIDE: The Nepal Trust, a local partner of the Dutch nonprofit SNV, leads 24-day journeys during which trekkers help with GHT research and development. The itineraries follow the author’s route along the Karnali River and into the remote Limi Valley ($4,200; nepaltrust.org).
Myriad outfitters, including Mountain Travel Sobek, guide trekkers on the 16-day Annapurna Circuit. But to mountain bike the GHT through the Kali Gandaki gorge, just fly to Jomosom. From there it’s all downhill to the lakeside town of Pokhara. Along the way, spend a night in Tatopani, where you can soak in hot springs, buy maps, or freshen up. Rooms at the Dhaulagiri Lodge are basic but clean, and the restaurant is considered the best in town. The trip takes four to five days.
GUIDE: To arrange the ride, contact Ranjan Rajbhandari at Nepal Mountain Bike Tours (bikehimalayas.com/index.php).
To see what veteran guide Jamie McGuinness calls “the best view in the Himalaya,” try the Cho La trek, a 12-to-14-day trip, starting with a flight from Kathmandu to the mountainside landing strip at Lukla.
GUIDE: Social Tours leads the Cho La trip ($60 a day; socialtours.com). For a more flexible itinerary, see page 50 for Journeys International’s latest Nepal offering, our pick for one of the best new trips of 2010.