A small landlocked country in South Asia is gifted with some of the highest mountains in the world and along with awe striking landscapes and cultures. Despite being a smaller nation with limited accessibility to remote regions in the country, Nepal boasts natural wonders equal to Switzerland and India.
“Chasing angels or fleeing demons, go to the mountains (Nepal).”
~Jeffrey Rasley (Author)
Trekking in Nepal has been a popular activity among many adventure seekers and holidaymakers for almost last 3 decades. Commercially viable, many of the scenic locations in northern region of Nepal have been opened for trekking and exploring; popular treks comprising of Everest Base Camp, Annapurna Base Camp/Circuit, Manaslu Circuit and Langtang.
The major selling points of Nepal are its exotic lifestyles, Himalaya, scenic landscapes and ethnic cultures. Despite being a Tourist area, inflow of tourists in many scenic regions are still restricted and highly regulated by the officials.
If restricted areas are to be opened, locales can get a chance to earn for living and also ensure better promotion for local tourism scenes.
List of Restricted Areas in Nepal
Inflow of international tourists in these regions is highly regulated, whereas, trekking permits are provided to only handfuls in a year. Booking such trips from recognized trek agencies can save time, money and hassles.
The Department of Immigration of Nepal issued total of only 10,560 trekking permits for the restricted areas in the year 2012, whereas, Annapurna alone receives more than 70,000 trekkers.
People in restricted area are very poor compared to other areas in the Country (Nepal). We can provide them alternative source for income […] For that to happen, the government should open restricted area.
~Ang Tshering Sherpa, Former President (NMA)
Trekking in Northern Nepal is done during two different seasons; Pre-monsoon (March-June) and Post-monsoon (September-November).
#1 Manaslu Circuit
Trekking in Manaslu region is primarily done in the circuit. It is considered an alternative to Annapurna Circuit trek. However, due to strict government regulations and lack of tea-houses in the region, the numbers of trekkers opting for Manaslu is lesser. (Total of only 3,319 people trekked in 2012).
Manaslu Circuit Trek is one of the popular treks enjoyed in the Himalaya. Primarily, located in the historical Gorkha district, the sightings of high mountains, snow and ice, exotic flora and fauna and ethnic villages and monasteries is common. Read more >>Manaslu Circuit Trek
A minimum of 2 trekkers is needed for a group to trek in Manaslu.
- Permit fee for Manaslu: USD $10 p. day.
In addition, there are entry fees needed to be paid:
- Manaslu Conservation Area Project fee = Rs. 2000 (Approx. USD $21)
- ACAP (Annapurna Conservation Area Project) fee = Rs. 2000 (Approx. USD $21), since the trek ends inside the Annapurna Conservation Area.
#2 Tsum Valley (Gorkha)
Tsum valley in Gorkha district was opened for International tourists only in 2007, making it one of the recent places to be opened for commercial treks in Nepal. The valley comprises two remote villages, Chumchet and Chhekampar. The name ‘Tsum’ came from the Tibetan word called ‘Tsombo,’ meaning “vivid”.
The trek trail passes through the wild and unexplored country of ‘Tsumbas,’ which mainly comprises of ethnic Gurung inhabitants. The interesting fact about this place is that most of the locales claimed to have seen or encountered ‘Yeti’ in the region. It also has a long history of Buddhism, and is believed that the Buddhist saint Milarepa meditated in the caves among the mountains.
The influx of tourists is highly regulated by the officials, therefore, it is least known to the outside world, leaving many religious and archaeological relics still untouched and unexplored throughout the valley. Read more on >>Tsum Valley Trek
- From Sep to Nov = USD $35 for first 8 days
- From Dec to Aug = USD $25 for first 8 days [per day after this unknown!]
#3 Kanchenjunga Base Camp
The rudimentary campsite of Kanchenjunga 8,586 m (28,169 ft), 3rd highest mountain in the world, make up for a trek leading up to the far eastern mountain range of Nepal and up to the elevation of 5,100 m (16,732 ft).
The trek passes through the Kanchenjunga Conservation Area Project (KCAP), managed by local communities in partnership with WWF. Sub-tropical forests, alpine meadows and high altitude wetlands are home to some of the endangered species of Snow Leopard, Red Panda, Himalayan Black Bear, Clouded Leopard and Assamese Macaque. Read more on >>Kanchenjunga Base Camp Trek
- Kanchenjunga (Areas of Olangchunggola, Lelep, Papung and Yamphudin VDC) Entry Fee = USD $10 p.week
- Kanchenjunga Conservation Area Project (KCAP) Permit Fee = Rs. 2,000 (Approx. USD $21)
#4 Makalu Base Camp
The trek offers outstanding scenery of lush tropical greens of Arun Valley and high-altitude ice fields of Makalu, including Kumbhakarna mountain range.
It offers an opportunity to explore high-altitude terrains and ethnic Himalayan villages, populated mainly by the Tibetan Sherpa inhabitants. One can enjoy the majestic vistas of Kanchenjunga massif, Everest, Lhotse, Baruntse, Chamlang and the rarely seen Kangshung face of Everest from the base camp. Read more on >>Makalu Base Camp Trek
Permit Fee required to enter Makalu Barun National Park Conservation Area.
- SAARC Nationals – Rs. 1,500 p. person (Approx. USD $15)
- Other than SAARC Nationals – Rs. 3,000 p. person (Approx. USD $30)
#5 Upper Mustang
Upper Mustang was once an independent kingdom ruled by a monarch. It was annexed to mainland Nepal only in the 18th Century. Also known as “The Forbidden City,” access for foreigners in the region was permitted only in 1992.
The inflow of tourists is highly monitored by officials and allowing only handful of permits in a year. Lo Manthang is the capital of Upper Mustang and home to the last monarch “Raja Jigme Dorje Palabar Bista.”
Rich in ancient and exotic culture and artifacts, trekking in Upper Mustang offers receiving direct blessings from the last monarch, exploring primitive caves used for burying dead and traversing the vast barren land on a mule. Read more on >>Upper Mustang Trek
- Upper Mustang Entry Permit = USD $500 p. person for 10 days (Each additional day costs USD $50)
#6 Upper Dolpo
Upper Dolpo is a high-altitude region in the western Himalaya of Nepal. The inhabitants of Dolpo are mainly Tibetans, therefore, the region is rich in ethnic Buddhist culture and arts. The abundance of Himalayan wildlife, including; Musk Deer, Himalayan Blue Sheep and endangered species of Snow Leopard, makes trek an unforgettable experience.
Part of Dolpo lies inside Shey Phoksundo National Park. The region popularized by Eric Valli in his 1999 Oscar nominated film “Himalaya” or ”Caravan” offers authentic sighting of Yak Caravans trailing in the high hills.
The trek trail passes though numerous gigantic mountain ranges, over the Numa La pass (5,190 m/ 17,028 ft), till one reaches Phoksundo lake at Ringmo village inside the Phoksundo National Park. After a day rest, one can continue on the trail crossing different passes to Jumla -where the trek concedes. Read more on >>Upper Dolpo Trek
- Lower Dolpo Permit Fee = USD $10 person p. week
- Upper Dolpo Permit Fee = USD $500 person p. 10 days (Each additional day cost $50)