6 of the best 'teahouse' treks in Nepal, including Everest Base Camp

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Nepal now is fully open, and home to some of the finest trekking in the world. Here are six of the very best “teahouse” treks for you to stride for.

There’s nowhere else on earth that can match Nepal for dramatic Himalayan scenery and accessible trekking routes. With the country now fully open to visitors and with relatively low numbers of trekkers out there it’s a great time to take on that hike of a lifetime.

Many of the classic Nepalese treks are teahouse based, meaning that you will find basic accommodation all along their routes, so you do not need to carry camping and cooking gear, and most teahouses offer rooms for a just a few Rupees, or even for free if you eat there.

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With most trails being well marked, those with a decent level of fitness and outdoor awareness are also able to tackle them without the need for a guide, although it’s always well worth considering hiring a local guide or porter to keep life simple, and to help the local economy.

From mid Sep to early May is trekking season, with the fringes of this being the quietest time, and with Dec to Jan being very cold and possibly snowy at altitude.

You will need to arrange a TIMS card locally before hitting the trails, and some treks also require conservation permits (which you can also arrange in Kathmandu and Pokhara).

Here are 6 of the finest teahouse treks in Nepal

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Everest Base Camp

14 to 18 days.

Tough.

Maximum altitude 5,364 metres.

Start and finish in Lukla (airport).

The trail leading from Lukla to Everest Base Camp is probably the best known, and one of the most trekked routes in the World.

From the get-go, the only way is up, and along the way the route climbs through the Sherpa inhabited Khumbu region along yak trails, through ravines and ultimately to the foot of the World’s highest peak, which is a humbling sight and achievement for all. From here it’s all downhill.

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Everest Three Passes

18 to 21 days.

Tough.

Maximum altitude 5,535 metres (Kongma La pass).

Starts and finishes in Lukla (airport).

With three 5,000 metre passes and a backdrop of the highest peaks in the Himalayas, this makes for a tough but extremely rewarding alternative to the well-trodden EBC trek.

Although the length of the trek can seem daunting, it is possible to skip one of the passes and shorten the route if you do find the going too tough.

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Lantang

7 to 10 days.

Easy-Medium grade.

Maximum altitude 3,800 metres (Kyanjin Gompa).

Starts and finishes Syabru Besi (7-hour drive from Kathmandu).

Lantang was devastated during the 2015 earthquake, and reminders of Mother Nature’s wrath can be seen all along the way.

Taking around a week to complete and with relatively easier terrain than many of the classic treks this is an ideal introduction to trekking in Nepal, and you do still get those epic mountain views and experiences in with it.

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Manaslu Circuit

14 to 16 days.

Tough.

Maximum altitude 5,106 meters (Larkya La pass).

Starts at Arughat and finishes at Besisahar (around 5 to 8 hours drive from Kathmandu)

This trek is restricted to conservation areas and you must have at least two people plus a guide. You need to book through a local agent to get the relevant permits.

It’s only been in the last dozen or so years that the Manaslu Circuit trek has started to open up to teahouse style trekking, although these are still comparatively basic and sparse in places.

With epic views on Manaslu, which at 8,156 metres is the eighth highest mountain on earth this is one of the gems of Nepalese trekking, and will lead you through some very remote terrain.

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Annapurna Circuit

12 to14 days.

Tough.

Maximum altitude 5,416 metres (Thorong La pass).

Starts at Besisahar (2-hours from Pokhara) and ends in Jomsom (airport).

As one of Nepal’s most famed treks this tough and spectacular circuit of the Annapurna Massif is well-trodden, and with good reason. With plenty of great teahouses along the way, it’s a relatively easy route to follow, with the often snow-covered trek over the Throng La pass being the final big slog.

Most trekkers descend Throng La into Lower Mustang and finish their trip in the windy outpost of Jomson.

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Annapurna Base Camp

8 to 12 days.

Medium grade.

Maximum altitude 4,130 metres.

Starts and finishes in Nayapul (2 hours from Pokhara).

Also known as the Annapurna Sanctuary Trek this is one of the shortest and most popular of the major teahouse treks.

The route follows the Modi Khola Gorge out and back for much of the way, which means you have a steep-sided outlook until you reach the higher ground (which you do fast on this trek).

Once you reach the Annapurna Base Camp you’re surrounded by 10 of the most dramatic and highest peaks in the world, almost as if it were nature’s own arena of greats. You soon realise why it’s known as the sanctuary.

This article was first published in South China Morning Post.

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