With serene mountains, rusty villages and breathtaking views, Nepal is trekkers’ paradise whether it’s for popular trekking regions of Annapurna and Everest or off the beat paths. Though, there are certain restricted trekking routes that exist in Nepal like the Walunchung Gola, Rolwaling and the route to Nangpa La in Khumbu. The reasons of restriction are either ecological, to avoid both cultural and environmental degradation, security or political in nature.
It’s really important to know two things here. First, they’re not literally ‘restricted’ but ‘difficult to get an access to’ routes. And second, you can get an access to these areas but the application process demands a lot of hard work.
Payment, application process, specific provisions might differ from route to route. But, the challenges are almost the same in most of the cases.
The concept of solo trekking doesn’t exist here so, the permit is only meant for groups. The trek should be properly organized through a registered trekking company. There should be enough support staffs such as porters, cooks, guides and in addition, a policeman and an environment officer will be assigned. All these people would accompany the trekkers throughout the trip.
On top of that, it’s pretty expensive and may cost from US$70 to US$ 90 per day. The agency takes care of the documentation but it requires minimum two weeks and the process can start only 21 days before the arrival of the trekking party. Few routes have a provision of only a limited number of trekkers per season, sounds ridiculous but there are chances of seats getting over, which you should be aware of before making your way here. The key is keeping oneself updated either from a trekking agency or the central immigration office.
So, for those who are willing to surpass restraints, I have made my list of five trekking routes in Nepal still restricted to foreigners.
Mustang, once a complete kingdom in itself, with its own capital city and king, seems to have been entirely abandoned by time.
Just a stone throw away from the border of Tibet, this less visited region has retained most of its original culture, architecture and historic heritage, making it a fascinating place to visit.
The weather is gloomy most of the times with strong wind howling in the afternoon. The landscapes are barren as it receives less rainfall. There’s snowfall in winter and at times, a layer of 30- 40 cm of snow accumulates on the ground. The best time to trek here is from late March to Early November.
There are trekking packages ranging from 18 days to 24 days and more. And most of them connect places like Jomsom, Kagbeni, Lo and Muktinath, a popular Hindu pilgrimage site.
The legendary hidden land of Dolpo opened to trekkers only in 1989 and since then the legions of trekkers have walked via its narrow and steep trails.
The entire region is surrounded by mountains. The land is barren and unproductive and there’s very less humidity in the air. It receives very less rainfall during monsoon i.e. only about 500 mm. Though, there are plenty of high passes, beautiful lakes, ancient villages and monasteries here.
Depending on the trekking package, the duration may differ from 18 days to 28 days or more. The place is connected to the rest of Nepal through Juphal airport and treks usually start from here. The best time to come to this place is from October to May.
Designed for special trekkers, Manaslu circuit opened for trekking only in 1991. The walk here is via some of the toughest trails in the Himalayan region but despite its isolation and toughness, the trek is becoming more and more popular.
There is variation in vegetation depending upon the altitude. The place above 5000 m has a snow line most of the times in a year. Precipitation is maintained due to snowfall and rain. There are 110 species of birds in this region.
The trekking route is around 177 km long along the Budhi Gandhaki river. It’s the same trail that was once used to trade salt. The highest point covered by this route is Larkya La that elevates to 5235 m. The best time for trekking in this route is September to November and March to May. The duration may range from 20 days to 24 days.
Jumla to Rara Lake Trek
One of the main attractions of the trek is Rara Lake, the largest lake of Nepal, which elevates to 3062 m from sea level. The trek offers the sight of snow clapped Himalayas, pine and spruce forests, even animals and birds, 236 species.
The place receives rainfall during monsoon and snowfall during winter. The sides of the lake often get covered with snow. The trek is made for you, if you are seeking solitude and wilderness.
The best time to trek in this region is September to December and February to May. The duration may differ from 12 days to 16 days depending on the trekking package and company.
One of the treks filled with wilderness! It passes through technical route in Tashi Lepcha Pass. The continuous ascend of many days via pristine glaciers, high passes and snow fed lakes finally takes you to Rolwaling valley- the remote valley of eastern region which is believed to be the home of Yeti -abominable snowman.
The temperature is mostly low throughout the year. There’s little rainfall in summer and snowfall in winter. Despite the dry weather, it’s not that barren. There could be afternoon fogs and even storms at times. It offers the view of Mt. Gauri Shankar, Mt. Langtang, Mt. Jugal and Mt. Everest.
The duration may range from 18 to 20 days depending on the package. The best time to visit the place is September to December and February to June.
The routes are meant for the people who find Annapurna and Everest too touristy and wish to walk on the untouched tracks in the foothills of the Himalayas.
The application process will drive you nuts; the challenges during the trek will test you but remember, the best places are meant for the best people. So get along the tracks, you have somewhere new to go!
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