Cicerone hiking books 50th Anniversary

Cam Honan:

Over the past five decades, UK-based Cicerone Press has established itself as the gold standard for hiking guidebooks.

I bought my first Cicerone guide in the mid-90’s, and since that time if I’ve been planning a walking trip in Britain or continental Europe, there’s a good chance I utilised one of their books.

Apart from hiking, Cicerone also publish cycling and mountaineering guides, and in recent times have begun to expand their coverage beyond Europe, and now increasingly feature other areas around the world such as the USA, the Himalaya, Andes and Atlas mountains.

The Hiking Life

Best INDEPENDENT hikes Nepal 2019

by BestHike editor Rick McCharles

I’m just back from Nepal, my first trip since 2014 where I hiked Langtang.

Around 9,000 people died during the Nepal earthquake of 25 April 2015.

One tiny village in the Langtang Valley accounted for 243 of them: 175 villagers, 27 local tourism staff (guides and porters), and 41 foreign trekkers.

Yet in the 2018-19 fiscal year, a record 21,945 tourists (16,386 foreigners and 5,559 Nepalis) visited Langtang National Park.

So far as I could see, Nepal trails are busier than ever. And easier than ever as you could connect to the internet almost everywhere with a Nepal Telecom (Namaste) SIM card in my mobile phone. I didn’t once have to pay for electricity in the mountains.

The big 3 trekking areas for those who want to hike independently are

        1. Sagarmatha National Park (Everest)

        2. Annapurna Conservation Area

        3. Langtang National Park

We love Nepal because it’s so easy and inexpensive to access many of the best hikes in the world.

Hiking other Himalayan nations is problematic for different reasons: Bhutan, China, Tibet, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan.

On the other hand, arriving in Kathmandu or Pokhara you are faced with a bewildering number of options.  😐

 

In this post we rank the very best hikes you can do independently in 2019.

Best independent hike – Sagarmatha Region

If you can only do one hike in Nepal it should be Everest Base Camp 3 Passes:

Kongma pass (5,535m)
Cho pass (5,380m)
Renjo pass (5,388m)

Plus Kala Pattar peak (5,545m) and Base Camp (5,380m).

Ideally you’d want 3 weeks. Two weeks would be risky in terms of rushed acclimatization.


Best independent hikes – Annapurna Region

The classic trek is the Annapurna Circuit. But but road construction has degraded the experience.

Though still popular in 2019, the Circuit now might be better for mountain biking than hiking.

Best of the alternatives is another classic:

Annapurna Sanctuary (ABC)

OTHER alternatives somewhat similar to ABC include:

Khopra Ridge (opened 2012)
Mardi Himal 

Annapurna Base Camp (ABC)

Ideally, we’d love to do one continuous hike:

Annapurna Dhaulagiri Community Trek starting Banskharka (Bans Kharka) to acclimatize → continuing on 1. Khopra Ridge → connecting to 2. Annapurna Sanctuary (ABC) → finishing with 3. Mardi Himal .

The 2-3 week adventure in green connecting those 3 hikes would be far more enjoyable than the Annapurna Circuit.

You can do all on the same permit.


Best independent hikes – Langtang Region

Our recommended route. Perhaps 14-16 days.

Drive to Syabrubesi, trekking Langtang first (top of the map). Then backtracking to the Gosainkund & Helambu trek, walking most of the way back to Kathmandu.

langtang_gosainkund_helambu_trek
map via NepalSanctuaryTreks.com
Our group atop Kyanjin Ri (4773m) Langtang
Laurebina Pass (4600m) on the Gosainkund & Helambu

This will be far less crowded than either Everest or Annapurna regions.


You can easily and inexpensively hire a guide and/or porters on any hike in Nepal for your whole trip … or short sections. But we’d recommend you do those listed above independently.

If we were to do a guided hike we’d choose areas of Nepal where guides are mandatory. For example:

Best GUIDED hike – Manaslu Circuit

The Manaslu Circuit (lodges open since 2010)  was fantastic and uncrowded before the 2015 earthquake. Reports are that it’s fantastic again in 2019.

The Tsum Valley sidetrip is still a recommended add-on in 2019. But  China is developing a road. It could be a dusty construction zone soon.

Manaslu finishes on the Annapurna Circuit. In 2013 I did Manaslu with a guide — then continued independently on the Circuit hiking & cycling.

Since I was acclimatized, the high pass on the Circuit seemed easy.

Questions? Suggestions? Leave a comment on this page.

support Inca Trail porters

American human rights activist and hiking guru Marinel de Jesus moved to Peru full-time.

Right now she’s fundraising to put together a documentary on mistreatment of porters on the Inca Trail.

KM 82 is the documentary that will tell the porters’ stories directly to the world and reveal the inequities behind the trekking tourism industry.

The women porters have recently become a part of the trekking industry and we want to support their voices to ensure that porter conditions improve and that they can work safely on the trails.

Details on indiegogo.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

The Inca Trail is one of the world’s best hikes. But this is one of many problems which makes us prefer the Salkantay Trek to Aguas Calientes followed by a visit to Machu Picchu. Salkantay can be done independently carrying your own backpack. For the Inca Trail you must be guided.

booking Lake O’Hara in the Canadian Rockies

Our favourite hiking destination in the Canadian Rockies is Lake O’Hara, Yoho National Park, B.C.

For decades we’ve had hikers hitting redial on the phone trying to get one of the precious reservations:

  • 32 day-use visitors
  • 90 campers / day

Some good news:

Overnight camping spots will now be offered through the Parks Canada reservation system on a first-come, first-served basis starting Jan. 24, 2020.

“Historically you phoned in,” …. “That creates some frustration for visitors because they get a busy signal. There was no way to see if sites were reserved.

This means we need be online at midnight on Jan 23rd.

Much easier.