Great Himalayan Trail Overview

Stretching across the entirety of northern Nepal, the Great Himalaya Trail is one of the world’s longest trekking trails. 

Starting from either the eastern or western border of the country, participants can opt to take the high route (1,700 kilometres/1,000 miles) or the slightly shorter low route (1,500 kilometres/900 miles). 

Regardless of the route that is taken, the trail is subdivided into four main sections: Kanchenjunga, Makalu Barun, Everest and Rolwaling and Rara and Jumla. 

Along the way, participants trek through a variety of different climate zones and get the chance to visit many of the country’s most isolated and traditional villages. Part of the government’s goal in formally inaugurating the trail was to increase tourism to more remote parts of the country.

Quick Facts about the Great Himalaya Trail

  • While there are four main sections of the trail, these are further subdivided into 10 smaller sections. Many trekkers opt to take on one or more of these sections if they do not have enough time to hike the whole trail.
  • Hiking the Great Himalaya Trail is a great way to experience some of Nepal’s immense biodiversity. Along the way, there is the chance to see black bears, leopard cats and red pandas,among many others. More than 3,000 flowering species of plant may be found along the trail too.  
  • The Great Himalaya Trail provides a unique cultural experience as well. The path leads through some of the most isolated cultures on Earth, including that of the Thami people, who are indigenous to Rolwaling Himal.

History of the Great Himalaya Trail

The Great Himalaya Trail was formally inaugurated in 2002, after the Nepalese government lifted some of the travel restrictions it had previously imposed on tourists heading to certain regions. 

However, prior to this formalisation of the trail, there had been plenty of efforts to hike from one end of the Himalayas to the other. The first notable one came in 1981 when Peter Hillary (the son of Sir Edmund Hilary), Chhewang Tashi and Graeme Dingle trekked from Sikkim, on India’s northwestern border with Tibet (China) to Karakoram, in Pakistan. 

Since then plenty of others have repeated the feat as well. In fact, there are ongoing efforts by regional governments to create a 4,500-kilometre (2,800-mile) formal trekking trail from Pakistan to Tibet (China), which would cross the entirety of the Himalayas en route.

Experience Required for Hiking the Great Himalaya Trail

Regardless of which route is taken, any trekker heading on the Great Himalaya Trail should be in excellent physical conditions. 

Participants will be required to hike at least 10 kilometres (6.2 miles) a day, with many trips requiring slightly more. Even on the low elevation route, participants will need to haul some of their own gear and make various ascents and descents throughout the foothills.

On the high elevation route, participants will hike at least 11 kilometres (6.8 miles) a day and also need to use some technical mountaineering skills. Parts of the trail cross glaciers and more exposed ridge lines at higher altitude. While a high level of mountaineering experience is not required, some previous experience is.  

Main Routes of the Great Himalaya Trail

There are two main routes of the Great Himalaya Trail: a higher elevation route and a lower elevation one.

The high route is more physically challenging and requires some mountaineering skills as well. The majority of the route is spent traversing high-elevation mountain landscapes with stops in various ancient and remote villages along the way. The highest elevation reached is 6,146 metres (20,200 feet).

The low route mainly sticks to the Himalayan foothills, but still provides plenty of incredible views of the valleys and the most iconic peaks in the range. The trek is less difficult than the high route and no mountaineering skills are required. The highest elevation reached is 4,519 metres (14,826 feet).er to the individual guides expeditions for more information.

Useful information abou the Great Himalayan Trail

Length: 1,700 km (1,000 mi)

Weather: During the climbing season, temperatures are generally warm in the valleys, but cool off considerably at higher elevations. The spring and autumn months are the driest in the country, but due to the length of the trek, some of the route must be traversed during the water-logged monsoon season.

Peak Trekking Season: March to November

Average Expedition Length: 4 to 5 months

Accepted Currencies: Nepalese rupee (NPR)

Language: Nepali

How To Get To the Great Himalaya Trail

Any trip to the Great Himalaya Trail will begin with a flight into Tribhuvan International Airport (KTM), in Kathmandu. Most guides will opt to meet you here and arrange for transportation to either Kanchenjunga Base Camp (in the east) or Hilsa (in the west).

Your travel route will vary depending on the expedition you choose. Please refer to the individual guides expeditions for more information.

Great HImalayan Trail Equipment List coming soon

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Great Himalaya Trail