6 Ways to Get Off the Beaten Path in Nepal

Trekkers, hikers and adventurers of all calibre are sure to find something to tickle their fancy in Nepal. Find out how to get off the tourist track with these 6 lesser-known locations.

Ideally located in beautiful South Asia and nestled comfortably between China and India, Nepal offers some of the most incredible natural terrain and unique culture on earth. From the soaring peaks of Mt. Everest to glacier filled lakes, deep geysers, and wide open plains, there is a little bit of everything in this one amazing location. 

Adventure lovers delight in the endless outdoor activities while those seeking rest, relaxation and rejuvenation come to commune with nature at its most magnificent. One of the best features of Nepal is the ability it affords to travelers who are looking for non-traditional experiences. Here are a few options to bring you off the beaten path, and into the heart of Nepal.

Manaslu Trek

Manaslu is a beautiful region of Nepal that is amazingly pristine and virtually untouched. Trekking this region offers a unique opportunity, particularly since few people venture there. The area has only been open to trekking since 1991, and since that time has hosted organized groups with special permits to enter the region and experience spectacular beauty, especially along where Nepal borders Tibet. The environment in Manaslu is exceptionally rich in bio-diversity, with the towering Himalayan mountain ranges, glacier lakes and plentiful flora and fauna. A trek through this region offers a unique and rare chance to experience some of Nepal’s most incredible natural beauty.

Upper Dolpo Trek - Mysterious Land

Just beyond the Himalaya lies Dolpo, a land that conjures up visions of mysterious monasteries, elusive snow leopards and unusual blue sheep. It remains one of Nepal’s most remote regions. Until recently the isolation of the area has made it strictly off-limits, adding to its air of mystery and intrigue. This protection from the outside world also helped the ancient traditions and age-old way of life in the area to remain intact over generations of time. Trekking routes pass enormous mountain ranges such as the Annapurna, Dhaulagiri and Kanjiroba and through Lower Dolpo, once its own small kingdom.  The lack of popularity among other trekking groups gives this journey a sense of wild remoteness. 

As breathtaking and mesmerizing as the stunning mountain scenery is to behold, meeting the people who call this region home is equally as moving. These friendly locals number only into the hundreds and with some villages located higher than 4,300 meters are among the highest dwellers in the world. Isolated for generations, they still practice the pre-Buddhist religion Bon Po, which was almost completely replaced by modern Buddhist doctrine in the 9th century. The area was somewhat made known by writers Peter Matthiessen and David Snellgrove, who visited and wrote books about their journeys. A trek through Dolpo provides the distinct feeling of being a true mountain dweller and is sure to enchant and inspire anyone who follows its mysterious route.

Upper Mustang

Trekking into Upper Mustang provides a rare and privileged opportunity to experience the true life of the real mountain people of Nepal.  Unlike other parts of the country, Mustang has an almost treeless and barren landscape with a countryside similar to the Tibetan plateau, but where happiness flourishes, in spite of hardship. Until the 1830’s, Mustang was part of the Tibetan Kingdom of Gungthang. The fabled medieval wall city of Lo Monthang, the unofficial capital of Mustang, still remains a kingdom within a kingdom, full of fascinating culture and religious heritage. The early history of Lo Monthang is shrouded in mystery and legend, lending to its intrigue and appeal to visitors. So deep-routed are the traditions in this unique region that the king of Lo Monthang still retains his title and he has been given the honorary rank of Colonel in the Nepalese Army. In many ways, trekking into the Upper Mustang Area is similar to trekking in to Tibet.

Want to know more about Nepal? Head to our Stories section to delve a little deeper.

Kanchenjunga

This massive mountain gets its name from "Kang-chen-zod-nga", meaning "Five Great Treasuries of the Snow", although oddly enough, it actually has seven major summits. The third highest mountain in the world, reaching an impressive height of 8,585m Kanchenjunga is revered by the locals as an abode of gods who bestow goodwill and prosperity upon them. Make no mistake, however, this mountain is powerful enough to create some of the most dangerous and destructive avalanches in the world. Still, it’s a challenging and exhilarating climb for those daring enough.  Since the first successful climb and as a matter of respect, treks to the top stop short of the summit since the locals worship the mountain. The mountain offers remote climbs with spectacular natural views, filled with beautiful flora and fauna and a unique, colorful local culture.

Royal Trek

Named after a route once taken by Prince Charles, this short yet fascinating trek commences in Pokhara, following a short drive to Bijaypur Khola and passes through the Annaupurna region.  It’s perfect for the adventure lover that doesn’t have a long stretch of time to devote to such an exploration. Don’t let its short stint fool you – the views of the Annapurna range are simply spectacular. Add to this the surrounding peaks, like the Machapuchre, Lamjung Himal and Dhaulagiri, and you’ve got an unforgettable journey with sights that will take your breath away. This trek also allows an interesting glimpse into the Nepali village life. Keep in mind, though, that travelers of this route must be completely self-sufficient and properly equipped for camping as there are no hotels or lodges along the way.

Annapurna Circuit Mountain Biking

Cycling enthusiasts delight in this extraordinary trip which runs along some of the most exotic and stunningly beautiful bike routes in all of Nepal and passes through some incredibly diverse landscapes, from rainforest to fields and valleys, from wooden alpine to arid deserts. Riders experience not only Nepal’s incredible bio-diversity, but get to meet and commune with some of the fascinating local hill tribes.  Enjoy amazing views of surrounding mountain peaks, visit lowland villages and ride through dense forests, alongside deep gorges and tiny communities to the welcoming mountain foothills. Rest beside the banks of the Tilicho Lake, one of the world’s highest altitude fresh water lakes and gear up again for an incredible ride across the Thorong La Pass, a challenging ascent surrounded by amazing mountain scenery and panoramic views. Due to the demanding rugged terrain, this trip is designed for more experienced riders. Rest assured, as hard as it is, it’s worth every minute.

Nepal, with its incredibly natural landscape, rich history and unique culture offers an exotic and memorable journey sure to delight even the most intrepid traveler. And the diverse terrain, from rugged mountain ranges to vivid lakes to dry desert plains, provides the unique opportunity to experience a little bit of everything in this fascinating and beautiful country. These special treks and tours allow visitors to travel off the beaten path and experience even deeper exploration to discover what hidden mysteries and treasures Nepal has to offer.

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