Beyond Everest Base Camp: 5 sublime treks to get you off the beaten path

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From the pahar (mid-hills) to the himal (high ranges), the Nepalese Himalaya has been attracting travellers since the early 1950s who are charmed by the unique isolation and the opportunity to trek among the most stunning peaks in the world. The Everest and Annapurna regions have evolved to become the most popular to trek.

While the famous trail to Everest Base Camp is the first trek that comes to most people’s minds when they think about a trek in Nepal, there are many other routes that get away from the well-trodden tourist trails to showcase the region’s cultural and geographical diversity.

Over several decades, World Expeditions has finessed the most comprehensive and exciting selection of treks in Nepal. Our passion has been to design treks that venture into areas of the country where mass tourism is absent and where our trekkers find total inspiration in having these small wedges of the Himalaya virtually to themselves. These five special treks highlight that philosophy perfectly.

Gokyo and the Renjo La

Grade: moderate to challenging

The traditional Everest Base Camp trekking route is as popular as ever and although a fantastic trek, its popularity can make it quite busy at times. The Gokyo and Renjo La route is the perfect trail for those wanting to trek the unhindered trails of the Everest region. Less than ten percent of Everest region trekkers decide to hike up the Gokyo Valley, a high alpine area that delivers alternative angles of the world’s highest peak, Mt Everest. But it isn’t until you reach Gokyo Ri, where you are greeted with probably with not one, not two, but four of the world’s 14 8,000 metre peaks that you realise why many people consider it to be Nepal’s best trekking destination.

Stunning vista views from Gokyo Ri. Photo: Ayla Rowe

From north to south, you can look out to a vista of summits, including Mt Everest, Lhotse, Makalu, Nuptse and Cho Oyu – just to name a few. Marvel at Nepal’s longest glacier, Ngozumpa Glacier, which sits beneath your feet and stretches far and wide across the valley, while pockets of azure lakes complete the picture.

The day long trek crossing the Renjo La is both exciting and challenging. You’ll be sharing the trails of an ancient trading route, meaning you may have the chance to meet Tibetan traders on the journey – many of whom travel with caravans of woolly laden yaks. Yet, the experience is not complete until your descent to a sanctuary of natural beauty and peacefulness in the Thame Valley, which feature remarkable monasteries and jagged peaks

This 17-day expedition will bring you to a world away from home, only to leave you wanting to return for more.

RELATED: Top of Nepal: The Favourite Trips of Our Team

Best of Annapurna Dhaulagiri

Grade: moderate

The Annapurna Circuit trek is a popular pick for trekkers mainly for the great viewpoints throughout the journey. While still delving into the heart of the region, the Annapurna Dhaulagiri route is an alternative way to enjoy the beauty of the area at a relatively close range, yet at a distance from other trekkers.

Traverse the high pastures above Kopra Ridge beneath Annapurna South, where ancient pilgrim trails lead to the sacred Khayer Lake. The views of the world’s seventh highest mountain, Dhaulagiri, are uninterrupted from Kopra Ridge, and the descent route is one of the most exquisite trails in the region dotted with small authentic villages visited by few others.

Capture picturesque angles of Annapurna South and Machapuchare. Photo: Brad Atwal.

The itinerary is created to avoid crowds, so rather than rising before the sun to make the hike to the populous viewpoint of Poon Hill, the adjacent location of our eco lodge allows you to sleep soundly and awake in the morning to dramatic views of Dhaulagiri before ascending to a secluded view point that rival those from Poon Hill. Travellers will still head to the summit of Poon Hill during the afternoon where there are less people, so you get the best of both worlds.

Another highlight is the trek along the ridge of Bharmakot Dhanda, which affords spellbinding views of Annapurna South, Machapuchare, Hiunchuli and the Manaslu ranges. Our private eco camps give trekkers the chance to enter memorable villages, such as Ghibrang, which is largely untouched by western influences – a great opportunity to meet locals and experience a genuine cultural exchange.

Annapurna Machapuchare

Grade: introductory to moderate

Another way to explore the Annapurna region is via the seldom travelled trail to Machapuchare Base Camp which will take you down quieter trails.

After driving from Pokhara past a Tibetan Refuge Camp, you immediately leave the main road. Here, your trek begins; ascending steep points to reach the ridge that offer mesmerising views of the adjacent peaks of Machapuchare, Hiunchuli and Annapurna South.

As you trek through the rhododendron forests, en route to the wilderness Machapuchare camps, make sure to greet villagers with “Namaste”. But what makes this trek most memorable is the fact that our travellers are camping at the ridge-top in Guhe, located right alongside the impressive sacred mountain of Machapuchare, and with the Annapurna massif also up close. This makes our alpine campsites the perfect place to savour spectacular views, as well as provide opportunities to capture picturesque sunrises and sunsets.

Machapuchare’s fluted peaks are a spectacular backdrop from our Guhe camp below. Photo: David Tatnell.

RELATED: When to go trekking in Nepal

Ama Dablam Base Camp

Grade: moderate

Set your sights high and wide on a pioneering route that takes you to 360-degree views of Everest and surrounding peaks. With that in mind, it’s hard to argue the fact that the Ama Dablam Base Camp Trek is one of our most popular introductory treks in the Sagarmartha National Park.

What makes this trek rewarding is that it gives you the chance to immerse in the Sherpa culture, and there is no better place to do this than at the Sherpa’s vibrant ‘capital’, Namche Bazaar. As you head to Namche Bazaar along the route that trekkers to Everest Base Camp will also take, the steep ascent through pine forests is rewarded with vantage points and your first view of Mt Everest.

Our route follows a sheltered valley leading to Base Camp for commanding views of the sacred Ama Dablam – one to add to the photo albums. The mountain itself means “mother’s necklace” where the long ridges of the peak’s sides resemble that of a mother’s arm protecting her child, and the hanging glacier is like the double-pendant (containing pictures of the gods) traditionally worn by Sherpa women.

Resting at our overnight private eco campsite in Deboche will ready you for a comfortable day’s walk to Portse Tenga, which offer outstanding views of Everest, Lhotse and Nuptse at the head of the valley. Explore the stunningly situated monastery of Thyangboche, and a visit to the Sherpa villages of Khunde and Khumjung – where some of Sir Edmund Hillary’s projects were established through the Himalayan Trust – adds further dimensions to this fantastic trek.

Views of Ama Dablam from the Thyangboche Monastery. Photo: Peter Walton.

The Great Himalaya Trail

Grade: intermediate mountaineering expedition (the full traverse), smaller stages can vary from entry level mountaineering to challenging

As one of the most challenging yet inspiring alpine walking tracks in the world, the Great Himalaya Trail (GHT) is a once in a lifetime experience, and one that very few have undertaken. The full 152-day traverse, exclusive to World Expeditions, explores the hidden gems of the Himalaya region for sublime, unparalleled views.

The first stage of the GHT begins at Kanchengjunga then westward to Makalu where you will cross the West Col (6,190m). Trekkers then follow the traditional approach to Everest from Lukla and Namche Bazaar where you will set your eyes on unsurpassed views of a panorama of peaks.

Admiring the scene on the way down from the challenging Cho La Pass. Photo: Marcelle Barnett.

Following the Rolwaling traverse, trekkers trace the popular pilgrim trail to Panch Pokhari Lakes where a vista of peaks and glacial lakes await. The next stage of the trail takes explorers through Langtang, to the largely untrekked area of Manaslu as well as the popular Annapurna region; and then, staying relatively high in altitude, you enter the heart of Dolpo – close to Tibet – toward the turquoise blue Phoksumdo Lake.

At the final stages, visit Rara National Park home to the largest lake in the Himalaya, Rara Lake. Sit in awe of the area’s natural beauty where the lake reflects mountainous backdrops to deliver remarkable views for the ultimate selfie, one that you can almost bet none of your friends will have.

After crossing the Great Himalaya Range, this trail takes travellers to Nepal’s far west where they step back in time in the idyllic areas of the Yari Valley. It’s clear that the 1,700km traverse from the east to west of Nepal is one epic journey and only an impressive 18 World Expedition trekkers have completed the full GHT!

READ MORE: Meet the 2018 GHT trekkers

Entering high altitudes; progressing through cold, winter conditions; and crossing rough, high passes means that to take on the full GHT you’ll require intermediate mountaineering experience. However, you can still experience the GHT in shorter sections with World Expeditions offering treks to each of the GHT’s seven stages, varying between 18 to 34 days. Perhaps enlist on easier, more manageable routes at first, such as the Upper Dolpo Traverse, before moving up to more advanced treks that take you to more challenging areas.

Be inspired by the greatest mountain sceneries in the world and journey on our many Himalayan treks to take the path less travelled that’s rare to explore.

Which part of Nepal are you keen to explore on foot? Let us know in the comments below.

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