7 Popular Hiking Routes in the Himalayas

Some of the world’s tallest mountains form part of the Himalayas. It is home to over 110 peaks rising to over 7,300 meters (24,000 feet) above sea level. Mount Everest, the world’s tallest peak at 29,032 feet, is one of such summits.

Although Nepal, India, and Bhutan share sovereignty over the majority of the Himalayas, China and Pakistan hold portions of them. These massive peaks serve as a converging spot for three of the world’s dominant religions: Tibetan Buddhism in the north, Hinduism in the south, and Islam in the west.

Hiking in  the Himalayas
Hiking in the Himalayas

In Sanskrit, a standardized language of Old Indo-Aryan, and among the oldest Indo-European dialects, Himalaya means abode of snow. Perhaps the purity of these high peaks is what attracts mountaineers and monks alike.

Suppose you really like beautiful mountain scenery and trekking but lack advanced mountaineering capabilities. So, there are quite a number of paths in the region that will provide you with a wonderful Himalayan experience even without the daunting task of climbing these mountains. Here are some of the popular hiking routes along these high mountains:

1. Everest Northern Base Camp

Located in Tibet, this camp stands at 5,150 meters tall. However, visa requirements to Tibet may be restrictive, but don’t let that limit you. There’s the Everest South Base Camp in Nepal which stands at 5,364 meters high.

While Mount Everest, the world’s tallest mountain, at an altitude of 8,850 meters is what you are looking for, don’t underestimate the altitude of the Base Camp. It’ll take you approximately eleven to fourteen days to complete the excursion. Most trekking expeditions require an average of twenty days to complete.

Camping in the Northern Base Camp of Mount Everest from Tibet
Camping in the Northern Base Camp of Mount Everest from Tibet

You’ll enjoy great views of Mount Everest from this peak and enjoy a good trail during which you will get to view three of the world’s tallest peaks. Other than Everest, these include Lhotse, which stands at 8,516 meters, and Cho Oyu, whose peak is 8,201 meters.

This peak is suitable for travel between September and June. However, it gets pretty cold during December and January, although an ideal moment for solitude as it is less populated then. If you prefer to trek during the quieter period, it would be best not to hike on your own for safety purposes.

2. Annapurna Circuit

Located in Nepal, the highest peak stands above 5,400 meters and is best accessed through the Thorong La Pass route. The circuit is accessible either clockwise or anti-clockwise and will take about fourteen to twenty-one days to complete.

The total distance is 220 kilometers from Besi Sahar to Pokhara. To reduce altitude sickness issues, most people prefer to cover the trail counter-clockwise. This way, the direction provides a more manageable and gradual rise in altitude.

Trekking along the magnificent Annapurna Circuit
Trekking along the magnificent Annapurna Circuit

This trail is popular due to the breathtaking views experienced beneath high mountains, some of which are among the highest globally. For instance, the south face of Annapurna I, the world’s tenth tallest peak, standing at 8,091 meters, is visible from this circuit.

Along the trail, you’ll get to observe magnificent views of Machapuchare’s (6,993 meters) sheer cliff face and hanging glaciers.

3. Manaslu Circuit Trek

Manaslu is the 18th highest peak worldwide. Although it is stunning at 8,163 meters, it is less frequented than Annapurna and Everest and would take about twenty-one days to complete (sometimes up to a month). It is located on the eastern side of Annapurna in Nepal. This trail provides variations of climate and landscapes, requiring a well-thought-out plan before disembarking.

Glimpse of Manaslu Circuit Trek

You’ll experience a considerable amount of snow, thick green forests, and blooming, open countryside. The highest, most strenuous part is at Larkya La Pass. Nevertheless, it is a route often traveled. This is a difficult 180-kilometer trek.

4. Gangotri Glacier Trek

This is one of India’s greatest treks, a six-to-nine-day pilgrimage. Gangotri, a temple town, provides the start of the trail as you hike 18 kilometers to Gomukh (meaning cow’s mouth). This trek will lead you to India’s most sacred river, the Ganges River, a water source for about 450 million people. You will experience one of the Himalayas’ largest glaciers as you enjoy spectacular views of the Bhagirathi mountains and Mount Shivling.

Kedar Lake in Gangotri Glacier
Kedar Lake in Gangotri Glacier

The variations of this route include Tapovan (4,463 meters), Gomukh (3,890 meters), and Bhojwassa (3,792 meters). It is common for trekkers to stop for a dip in the sacred river waters, a refreshing adage to the strenuous hiking inclines.

5. Makalu Base Camp

Makalu Base Camp is at 4,900 metres. This difficult climb leads up to the base of one of the world’s most challenging mountains. Located in Nepal, on the southeastern side of Mount Everest, Makalu’s peak stands at 8,463 meters, the fifth tallest in the world, and would take you anything between sixteen to twenty-three days to trek from Tumlingtar and back.

Makalu Base Camp

It takes you through the lush green valley floor, undulating through glacial valleys, rare wildflowers, cascading waterfalls, and granite ridgelines. The trek has barely any flat sections, with the better part offering you great variety in strenuous rises and falls over the valley. The most popular route is the one passing Shipton La, at an altitude of 4,216 meters.

6. Kailash Circuit

Hindus see the mountain as Lord Shiva’s home, and it is physically and culturally eminent as the source of India’s great rivers, including the Indus and Brahmaputra. Commonly known for its pilgrims and dating back thousands of years, it is among some of the most stunning and sacred areas of the Himalayas.

View of the stunning Mount Kailash; one of the 7 most popular treks in the himalayas
View of the stunning Mount Kailash

Interestingly, the circuit is made in two directions: counterclockwise by the Bönpo and Jain religions and clockwise by Buddhists and Hindus. Located in Tibet, the most preferable travel time is between May and September.

7. K2 Base Camp Trek

Located in Pakistan, with an altitude of 5,117 meters, this 100-kilometer trek will take you approximately eight to thirteen days to complete. If you’re looking for a spine-chilling adventure, this is it. There are variations to this hike, like the Gondogoro Pass or the Broad Peak Base Camp. Alternatively, you can wrack your nerves on the Baltoro glacier trail and fully enjoy the entire roller coaster ride.

Approaching Mount K2 Base Camp; one of the 7 most popular treks in the himalayas
Approaching Mount K2 Base Camp (By Zacharie Grossen – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0)

Standing at 8,611 meters tall, K2 is the 2nd highest peak of the Karakoram Range, home to some of the highest and most challenging peaks worldwide. K2 is the most perilous. From the K2 Base Camp trail, you will get panoramic views of Cathedral Peak, Trango Towers, Muztagh Tower, Concordia, and Gasherbrum Peaks, among several others.

Discover the amazing treks along the Himalayas and plan a trip that best suits your need to explore these beautiful destinations in your way.

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