Swiss Family Treks Blog Posting
For anyone yearning to break away from the fast-paced metropolitan lifestyle, the Western region of Nepal is a great destination. Western Nepal is a goldmine for those who want to explore different cultures that have not been touched by modern development.
The few who have experienced the beauty of this region have described it as “other-worldly.” It provides a challenging journey with an unforgettable reward.
1. Rara Lake Trek
The Rara Lake trek is a two-week-long trek that takes trekkers to the remote district, Mugu, in northwest Nepal. It is a relatively easy trek to complete that does not require any previous training. The tranquil and off-beaten trail leaves trekkers with a fresh state of mind. This provides an excellent opportunity to explore traditional and ancient culture as the trail passes through various traditional villages like Goru Singha and Sija.
The major attraction of the trek is the Rara Lake itself. It is the biggest freshwater lake in Nepal, with an area of 9.8 km square. It is located in Rara National Park. Trekkers require an entry permit to enter the national park. Situated at an elevation of 2,990m, views of snow-capped mountains accompany the light of the lake surrounded by lush-green alpine trees and meadows. March-May and September-November are the best months to get the most unobstructed view. As trekkers enter the Rara National Park, they also enjoy the diverse and rare flora and fauna.
2. Phoksundo Lake Trek
The Phoksundo Lake trek is a short trek that takes an average of 11 days. Trekkers require a Restricted Area Trekking Permit for Lower Dolpo and a permit to enter the Shey Phoksundo National Park. The trek allows people to experience the beauty of the Dolpo region in a short amount of time. One of the major attractions is the Phoksundo Lake, which is the deepest lake located within the Shey Phoksundo National Park. Trekkers can see the reflection of the Kanjirowa massif in the clear water of the lake, which adds to the beauty of the place.
The Phoksundo Lake trek is considered relatively moderately difficult and less crowded. Trekkers learn more about the culture and lifestyle of the region. The traditional-style houses and the Bon Po religion is unique to this region. There are also monasteries like the Tshowa monastery, including others in the area. Trekkers can also enjoy the biodiversity of Shey Phoksundo National Park. Some lucky trekkers have even reported catching a glimpse of the very rare snow leopard among other animals.
3. Lower Dolpo Trek
The Lower Dolpo trek is one of the most challenging treks of western Nepal with a maximum altitude of 5300m. It takes an average of 18 days to complete. Trekkers need a Restricted Area Permit for Lower Dolpo. The region is located in a rain shadow area and has a half-dessert-like topography. However, trekkers also pass through dense rhododendron and juniper forests. As trekkers need to traverse through two high passes, this trek is not suitable for beginners.
Trekkers can experience the Bon Po religion, which is older than Buddhism, and bask in breathtaking views of the Dhaulagiri, Kugung La, and Khyung La. The region also has various monasteries and Bon Po shrines. Trekkers can also spot multiple rare plants and animals in the vicinity. The trail also takes trekkers to the Shey Phoksundo National Park.
4. Inner Dolpo Trek
The Inner Dolpo Trek takes an average of 24 days to complete and is located in mid-western Nepal. It is one of the most strenuous treks as trekkers have to cross three passes: Kang La (5350m), Jeng La (5110m), and Shey La (5000m). This trek is not recommended for first-timers. The Inner Dolpo is a highly restricted area. Every year, only a maximum of 250 trekkers are allowed to enter this region.
The Inner Dolpo is very isolated and untouched. Trekkers go beyond the Phoksundo Lake to explore the ancient Tibetan trade routes and Tibetan village settlements with unique culture and religion. After exploring flora and fauna in the Shey Phoksundo National Park, trekkers visit the Shey Gompa located at the bottom of the Crystal Mountain. Known as the spiritual heart of Inner Dolpo, thousands of pilgrims visit Shey Gompa every year.
5. Upper Dolpo Trek
About 31 days long, the Upper Dolpo Trek is for the ones with adventurous hearts. Located near the Tibetan border, it is a highly restricted area. The air of mystery surrounding the Upper Dolpo region adds to the adventurous environment that trekkers yearn for. This region requires a special permit and does not permit individual trekkers.
With trails taking trekkers through high passes, only very skilled trekkers should opt for this trek. It makes an excellent summer trek. It is highly rewarding for nature lovers with panoramic mountain views, high-altitude lakes like Phoksundo Lake, rare Himalayan animals, and alpine forests. Trekkers also visit the isolated village of Ringmo, centuries-old monasteries like the Shey Gompa, and observe the unique and untouched lifestyle of the locals.
6. Humla Chang-La Valley Trek
Humla Chang-La Valley trek is one of the most underrated treks that takes trekkers through the ancient Tibetan trade routes. This trek was opened to foreigners only in 2002, and trekkers require a restricted area permit. The government allows only a limited number of people to enter this region to protect the ecosystem. This trek is not for beginners as trekkers need to traverse through high passes. Also, this trek is not suitable in winters.
The trail passes through medicinal forests where one can spot rare species of birds and animals. The trail further leads trekkers to the untouched Limi Valley, where people still lead a ancient and traditional lifestyle. The whole trek is accompanied by scenic views of pristine lakes, various mountains, and peaks like Chang La (6900m).
7. Simikot Hilsa Limi Valley Trek
Simikot Hilsa Limi Valley Trek takes an average of 20 days to complete and takes trekkers to remote and rarely explored districts in the Trans-Himalayan region. Lying in a restricted area, trekkers require a Restricted Area Permit for this trek. This trek is available throughout the year. However, winter is not recommended due to harsh weather conditions in high altitudes.
This trek is a perfect blend of culture and nature. Limi valley is one of the most remote areas of Nepal and is accessible only on foot. This has also helped to maintain its unique culture and ancient religion. There are many old monasteries (Halji Rinchenling Monastery), with some of them being 800 years old. Trekkers visit many traditional villages. They also need to traverse through the high passes (Na Ra La Pass and Nyalu Pass) that give them a beautiful view of the mountains and valleys.
8. Beni to Dolpo Trek via Dhorpatan
The Beni to Dolpo trek is a very strenuous trek that takes about a month to complete. With trekkers having to walk for extended periods and cross high passes over 5000m, this trek is only for experienced people. This trek takes trekkers to the untouched region of Dolpo. The government issues a limited number of permits every year. Many consider it a privilege to be able to visit this area.
Dolpo has preserved its ancient Tibetan culture very well that many foreigners love to learn about. They also visit the Bon monastery that welcomes many pilgrims every year. The locals still follow their traditional way of life. This is also a beautiful trek for nature lovers with trekkers visiting Shey Phoksundo Lake, various high-altitude caves, and Dhorpatan hunting reserve (the only hunting reserve one in Nepal).
9. Jumla to Dunai Trek via Kagmara-La Pass
The Jumla to Dunai trek is one of the most challenging treks in Nepal. With breathtaking views and creamy cultural treats, this trek takes about 25 days. This trek requires trekkers to traverse through high passes that are over 5000m, such as the Kagmara-La Pass (5115m), Baga-La (5182m), and Numa-La (5190m). Kagmara-La gives trekkers a breathtaking panoramic view of the Kanjirowa Range along with many other surrounding mountains.
The trek covers Jumla and Dolpo, where people live a traditional life. Their lifestyle and culture have sustained over the years because these are highly restricted areas that require a special permit.
10. Saipal Himal Base Camp Trek
Mount Saipal (7031m) is the second-highest mountain in western Nepal. This is the main attraction of the trek. It is an adventurous trek that one can enjoy the best from mid-October to November. This trek does not require traversing through high passes. It takes about 18 days, and trekkers require a permit for Humla.
The Saipal Himal Base Camp trek offers both wilderness and culture. The trail passes through various Thakuri and Bhotia settlements, and trekkers get to experience their unique way of life. The trek also provides magnificent mountain views of Thado Dhunga Tuppa (5368m), Api Himal (7132m), Rajramba (6537m), Mt. Nandadevi (7817m) and many more. Trekkers can also catch a glimpse of various rare animals found in the region.
Being quite a distance far from the major cities, western Nepal feels like a breath of fresh air. The region has quite a lot of underrated treks that call out to all adventure lovers. Western Nepal takes you close to nature and the well-preserved culture that one cannot find anywhere else. It is a great place to visit for some adrenaline rush to clear one’s mind and make lifelong memories.