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.

NEW – TOP 10 day hikes worldwide

Each of our top 10 day hikes is unique. And unforgettable.

Top-10#1 Harder Ridge, Switzerland
#2 Zion Narrows, Utah USA
#3 Besseggen Ridge, Norway
#4 Laguna de los Tres, Argentina
#5 Reinebringen, Lofoten, Norway
#6 Alpine Circuit, Lake O’Hara, Canada
#7 Caminito del Rey, Spain
#8 The Wave, Arizona USA
#9 Puez-Odle Altopiano, Dolomites, Italy
#10 Göreme, Cappadocia, Turkey

Leave a comment if your own personal favourite is not included here.

Related – MORE top 10 lists:

Top 10 multi-day hikes
Top 10 hiking regions
Top 10 hiking towns
Top 10 coastal hikes
Top 10 trekking peaks

top 10 hikes – Harder Ridge, Switzerland

Our #1 day hike in the world.

Harder Ridge

Also known as Hardergrat

(… grat is ridge in German)

  • walk to your accommodation in the hiking mecca of Interlaken
  • 24km total … about 18km on a sharp ridge
  • 10+ hours. Physically and psychologically challenging.
  • no water available. Carry all you need.
  • not an official trail, but it’s easy to follow in good visibility
  • about 1500m above the lake
  • permits not required
  • it’s popular with trail runners who do about 35km entirely on foot. They start at either end.

Why We Like This Hike

  • in good weather, views of the Jungfrau’s big peaks; Eiger, Mönch, Jungfrau, Schreckhorn,  Finsteraarhorn
  • the advantage of being able to get transport both up and down
  • on the same trip, hike nearby Lauterbrunnen, Grindelwald, Schynige Platte and more
  • many see Ibex up here

Click PLAY or watch Jackson Groves on YouTube.

Click over to our Harder Ridge information page for details on how you can organize this adventure for yourself.

top 10 hikes – Zion Narrows, Utah

One of our top 10 day hikes in the world

Zion Narrows Top-Down

Photo Steven Shattuck 2017

AT A GLANCE

  • in Utah’s Zion National Park
  • 16 miles (25 km) from Chamberlain’s Ranch to Temple of Sinawava
  • June through October best months
  • in places chasm up to 1,968 ft deep and 20 ft wide
  • walk in water about half the time
  • 9 – 13 hours. Confirm the time of the last shuttle out of the park!
  • a long, tiring day or you can camp overnight. Be aware that there are only 12 campsites available and they book quickly. Start as early as possible if you are doing it in a day.
  • Permit is required
  • water walking shoes, long hiking stick and dry gear recommended
  • National Park Service closes the hike when flow rate is over 150 cubic feet per second (cfs). And might close it at any time in case of Flash Flood Warning.

Read more on our Zion Narrows Information page.

 

top 10 hikes – Besseggen Ridge, Norway

One of our top 10 day hikes in the world

Besseggen Ridge

In Norway’s most popular National Park – Jotunheimen

Home of the Giants“.

AT A GLANCE

  • Jotunheimen National Park has most of the highest mountains in Norway
  • Besseggen … or Besseggi … in Jotunheimen, is a thrilling ridge walk with alpine lakes on either side:  Gjende and Bessvatnet.
  • recommended from the end of June to mid-September
  • 13.3km (8.25mi) plus one-way ferry
  • 6-9 hours
  • 950m elevation gain
  • highest point, Veslfjellet (1743m)
  • dogs on leash allowed
  • trail runners enjoy it

Check our Besseggen Ridge information page for details.

top 10 hikes – Laguna de los Tres, Fitzroy, Argentina

One of our top 10 day hikes in the world

Laguna de los Tres

El Chaltén, Argentina

by Katie Wheeler

AT A GLANCE

  • granite spires of Mount Fitz Roy, Poincenot and Cerro Torre
  • stunning blue waters, most likely with icebergs

  • the nearest airport is El Calafate
  • November – March are the best months. You might have snow on the trail in November or March, however.
  • 8+ hours round trip depending on route
  • elevation gain 2,300 ft. (700m)
  • option to tent near the lake
  • infamous for bad weather. Be prepared for extreme wind.
El Chaltén

Check our Laguna de los Tres information page for details.

top 10 hikes – Reinebringen, Lofoten, Norway

Reopened 2019 with sherpa-built steps.

Now much safer and easier.

Summit of Reinebringen, Moskenesoy, Lofoten Islands, Norway – photo by Cody Duncan

AT A GLANCE

  • Reinebringen is on the island of Moskenesøya , one of the Lofoten islands in Norway, north of the Arctic Circle
  • infamous for wind and rainy weather
  • famed for dramatic scenery,  rugged peaks, open sea vistas past sheltered bays
  • about 448 meters (1470 feet) above sea level
  • over 1500 stone steps
  • about 2 hours up
  • It’s crowded. Over a thousand people a day in high season if the weather is good.
  • permits not required
  • photographers come for the rugged geography and unique Arctic light
photo by Cody Duncan – 68 North

For details click over to our Reinebringen information page.