While thinking of traveling to Nepal during Summer, Summer/Monsoon treks in Nepal might not be the first thing that comes to a traveler’s mind, however, it offers a unique, adventurous, and captivating experience.
With the arrival of Monsoon clouds, Nepal undergoes a dramatic transformation showcasing its true beauty. The hills, once dry and brown, come alive with vibrant hues of green. The terraced fields and dense forests become lush and verdant, offering a picturesque landscape that is a treat for the eyes. Waterfalls cascade down the mountainsides, and rivers swell with newfound vigor, carving their way through the rugged terrain. This season typically spans from June to August.
Trekking in Nepal during Monsoon is generally less performed than in other peak seasons such as Spring and Autumn. This is because the arrival of the Monsoon means heavy rainfall that results in unstable trail conditions, delayed flights, landslides, limited access, and many more. But it does not mean the end of adventures in Nepal. Despite being a small country, it has a diverse geography that results in a kaleidoscope of climate patterns making Monsoon Trek absolutely possible and safe with no compromisation of thrilling experience and majestic views.
We experience a unique phenomenon known as the rain-shadow effect in the Trans-Himalayan region of Nepal. The rain-shadow area refers to the region that lies on the leeward side of a mountain range, where the rainfall is significantly reduced due to the mountains blocking the moisture-laden winds. This unique climate makes the Monsoon trek possible. Some of the popular rain-shadow destinations are Upper Mustang, Nar Phu Valley, Manang, Limi Valley, and Dolpa.
In this blog, we will delve into the grandeur of Monsoon Trekking in Nepal and the majestic destinations which require a timeframe of two weeks to a month and provide a unique experience to travelers unlike any other.
Top Monsoon Treks in Nepal
1. Upper Mustang Trek
Upper Mustang Trek is one of the most popular destinations for monsoon/summer trekking. It embarks you on the cultural and religious trek. Mustang lies in the northern part of the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri mountains. The trek passes through the Kali Gandaki Gorge, one of the deepest gorges in the world. This destination is perfect for a monsoon trek as it lies behind the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri ranges making it a rain-shadow zone.
The remoteness, landscape, and sociocultural assets are the highlights of this trek. You can experience the unique Tibetan-Buddhist culture and witness the ancient practice of the Lost Kingdom of the Himalayas. This 18 days trek takes you to the enchanting Kagbeni, the gateway to Upper Mustang, and the ancient walled city of Lo Manthang.
You can witness several mountains to your south and also visit the Nepal-Tibet border area. This beautiful valley tucked behind the Himalayas beholds mysteries that are beyond one’s imagination. The high sky caves, sandy dunes, rocky cliffs, and arid landscape is a truly majestic creations of Mother Nature. Likewise, it is one of the last places on earth where the ancient Bon religion and the practice of Sky Burial are still prevailing.
2. Nar-Phu Valley Trek
One of the best off-beaten trekking adventures during the Monsoon season is the Nar-Phu Valley Trek. Nar-Phu Valley is surrounded by the Himalayas on the three sides and the district of Mustang lies to the west. The ranging elevations and terrains make this journey fascinating and adventurous. This trek presents you with an enthralling experience in the preserved ancient culture, traditions, practices, and lifestyle of the highlanders unlike anywhere in the world.
It wasn’t until 2003 that this protected valley allowed non-locals to enter, and still, special permits are required to travel here. This hidden gem remains a rare wilderness allowing travelers to experience the protected ancient cultures and relish in the tranquility of pristine natural beauty.
The trek starts from the traditional village of Jagat and continues via the remote settlements of Meta, Phu Village, Nar Village, Kang La, and onwards. The mighty Annapurna and Kangaru Himalayan range, rugged paths, diverse landscapes, alpine valleys, and summer and winter settlements of the locals are the main highlights of this trek. The tribe here follows the Shamanic roots of the pre-Buddhist religion Bonpo or Bon in this region.
3. Phoksundo Lake Trek
Shey Phoksundo Lake is located in the Dolpo district of Western Nepal. It is considered one of the most beautiful and unique trekking locations in Nepal. Due to its remoteness, it is less popular and underrated but the uniqueness of this trek makes one believe that they are in a parallel universe.
This journey offers trekking through the rugged terrains with visible changes in the landscape from vibrant hills to rocky cliffs and high passes. Lying in the rain shadow zone of the Himalayas, it also is a suitable summer trek. This unique trek starts with a flight from Nepalgunj to Dunai. Dunai is the headquarter of Dolpo district and Juphal is the starting point of this trek. Along the way, you will be mesmerized by the mighty Mt. Kanjirowa.
Dolpo is one of the least explored and most protected regions that allows only 250 foreign visitors per year. Shey Phoksundo National Park and Shey Phoksundo Lake is the major highlight of this trek. The Shey Phoksundo Lake is a sacred Buddhist pilgrimage site and an alpine freshwater lake located at an altitude of 3,611 meters. The reflection of Kanjirowa seen in the lake is absolutely breathtaking. Experience the unique Bon and Buddhist religions here in the Tibetan plateau-like geography. The trek of 12 days is guaranteed to give you a lifetime experience.
4. Lower Dolpo Trek
Lower Dolpo Trek is a challenging journey in the wilderness of Western Nepal. It takes you through the steep hills and rugged terrains. This trek provides you with an excellent view of Kugung La and the Khyung La Pass along with an extraordinary view of Mt. Dhaulagiri (8167m).
The journey of 14 days begins with a flight to Juphal from Kathmandu via Nepalgunj airport. The trek passes through Numa La (5360m), the highest point in the journey, and through the villages and settlements with the caravan of yaks and sheep herding in large numbers. The Tibetan culture, food, and the excellent view of various high mountains are the major highlights of this trek.
Lower Dolpo remains one of the least explored areas protected by its remoteness. Being a rain-shadow zone, this region hosts an arid landscape with pine, fir, and birch forests. It also is home to the elusive snow leopard, rare Himalayan black bear, blue sheep, ghoral, tahr, and other endangered species. Likewise, it seems like time stops ticking in this magical destination as it offers us a glimpse of a remote lifestyle back in time.
5. Humla Limi Valley Trek
The Humla Limi Valley Trek is one of the most unique and off-the-beaten treks of Nepal. Due to its remoteness and limited accessibility to the other parts of the country, this area remains far from modernization. Geographically similar to Tibet, the weather experienced here is of the Trans-Himalayan region with very low to no rainfall at all.
The dry, rugged terrains present a very unique landscape that seems like a magical world straight out of a fairytale. The 20 days trek starts with a flight from Nepalgunj Airport to Simikot Airport. Simikot serves as the administrative headquarters of the Humla district and is the starting point of the trek. The trail follows the Karnali River, one of the major rivers of Nepal, and passes through various settlements of Humla. Rich in flora and fauna, this trek will provide you with an excellent opportunity to explore the pristine nature of a beautiful part of Western Nepal.
This trekking trail opened to foreign travelers in 2002 and experiences a very less number of visitors. This isolated region reflects a true enigma of spiritual and natural beauty. The centuries-old Bonpo religion, animism, shamanism, and unique funeral rite of Sky Burial where the deceased body is left for the birds to devour in order to preserve the ecosystem is still prevailing here. The travelers will get to walk in the ancient salt trade route as well.
6. Jomsom Muktinath Trek
Jomsom Muktinath trek can be a great option for people wanting a short trek during their summer vacation without compromising the authentic experience in the Himalayas. This short trip allows perfect opportunities to explore the local area and learn about the local culture and lifestyle of diverse tribes.
Trekking to Muktinath from Jomson is also popular among the Hindu, Buddhist, Bon, and Jain Pilgrims due to the significant Muktinath Temple. Muktinath Temple is a holy religious site, and legend has it that one who visits with pure devotion and realization of their sins can wash it away in the 118 Muktidhara and attain Moksha (liberation).
This 13 days journey provides you the perfect opportunity to roam around the town of Jomsom and Marpha where you can taste the world-famous apples and apple wine, explore the village lifestyle, learn about the Tibetan Buddhist culture, and visit other shrines, monuments, and monasteries. Likewise, you can also relish in the beautiful landscape of Kagbeni and look for Shaligrams (fossil stones) on the river banks. This trekking journey also includes Dhumba Lake and passes through various high points.
7. Manang Trek
Manang Trek is an exciting adventure that takes you to the valley nestled beyond the Himalayas. The trail weaves its way through captivating landscapes, enchanting villages, ancient monasteries, and pristine alpine meadows leaving every traveler awestruck by its sheer beauty. The view of the simmering snow-clad Annapurna, Dhaulagiri, Tilicho, Pisang, and several other mountains is the highlight of this trip.
The attractions of Manang are Bhojo Gompa, Milarepa cave, Gongopurna glacier, and ancient Manang, Braga, and Khangsar villages. The beauty of this region is in the rustic stone houses with intricate wooden carvings that showcase their rich cultural heritage. The smiley faces of rosy-cheeked locals as they greet you and provide you with warm hospitality truly make you feel at home.
Trekking in this rugged and tranquil landscape feels like stepping into Shangri-La. Being a protected area, this region hosts limited travelers, hence, you can truly enjoy walking on the serene paths, observing the beautiful creation of Mother Nature.
The rain-shadow areas are perfect for Summer/Monsoon treks in Nepal. But there are also some other trekking destinations in Nepal that require a short duration and receive comparatively less rainfall and offer mesmerizing views. These treks are for those enthusiastic hikers who do not mind a little shower en route and have the ultimate goal of witnessing the majestic views that are totally rewarding.
Week Long Monsoon Treks in Nepal
1. Mardi Himal
The Mardi Himal Trek is the treasure of the Annapurna region. This newly opened route takes you to the lap of Mardi Himal and Mt. Fishtail. It is relatively less crowded compared to other treks in this region offering mesmerizing views of Annapurna Massif, including Mt. Machhapuchhre (Fishtail), Mardi Himal, and Annapurna South.
Passing through the lush Rhododendron forests, enchanting waterfalls, ancient monasteries, and beautiful villages, as you listen to the sounds of birds chirping and prayer flags fluttering in the mountain breeze, is an astounding experience.
2. Ghorepani Poonhill
The Ghorepani Poonhill Trek is a harmonious fusion of natural wonders, unique culture, and soft adventure. This trek offers travelers a glimpse into the vibrant local traditions and lifestyles as they traverse through villages inhabited by warm and welcoming Gurung and Magar communities.
And as you move further with the trek through dense forests and beautiful villages, you will reach the much-awaited Poon Hill. As the first golden rays of the sun emerge casting their warm embrace upon the towering Fishtail, Annapurna, and Dhaulagiri ranges and illuminating them with the hues of pink, orange, and gold, your trip becomes worth it.
3. Chisapani Nagarkot
Chisapani Nagarkot Trek is a short trek of 3 days perfect for travelers with a limited timeframe. This trail is located on the outskirts of Kathmandu Valley and offers a mesmerizing blend of pristine forests, lively villages, and panoramic Himalayan vistas.
The journey starts with a two-hour drive to Sundarijal and then a 4-5 hours hike to Chisapani. The path meanders along stone-paved trails connecting beautiful villages. And on the second day, travelers will hike for 6-7 hours to reach Nagarkot, a destination popular for its sunrise and sunset views. The trail passes through Shivapuri National Park where you will get a chance to witness floras and faunas.
Helambu Trek is a short trekking destination in the Langtang region of Nepal. It takes you to a picturesque village witnessing beautiful natural wonders, cultural immersions, and breathtaking mountain views along the way. The trek begins from Sundarijal as you enter the emerald green forests, and pass through cascading waterfalls and streams. As each day unfolds on this journey, you are treated to an ever-changing landscape from lush hills to alpine meadows and high passes. You will get to visit the Gosaikunda Lake, Tharepati Pass, and Kyangjin Ri. Aside from the mesmerizing natural beauty, the highlight of this trek is that you will get to witness and experience the unique culture, warm hospitality, and lifestyle of the Hyolmo tribe, the natives of Helambu.
Tips for Monsoon/Summer Trekking in Nepal
•Choose the Right Regions:
Some trekking destinations are more suitable for monsoon trekking than others. It is important to consult with an expert and choose the safe destinations. Rain-shadow areas are the best options but travelers can also opt. for shorter-duration treks in places that receive comparatively less rainfall.
•Be Prepared for Rain:
It is important to pack good-quality rain gear, including raincoats, waterproof jackets, backpack covers, pants, and an umbrella. Quick-drying clothes will be of great help as well. Invest in sturdy, waterproof hiking boots as the trails could be muddy and slippery.
•Plan for Delays:
Mountain weather is unpredictable and we cannot always rely on weather forecasts, so we suggest you plan a few extra days that could be helpful in case of flight delays or trail closures.
Consider using trekking poles for additional stability that could be of great assistance during steep and slippery sections of the trek. Even while trekking in the rain shadow areas, we recommend trekking poles as they not only provide extra support but also reduce the strain on your knees while descending.
•Trek with Authorized Trekking Guide:
Most of these places are protected areas where traveling with an authorized guide is mandatory. But even in other regions, we highly suggest traveling with an experienced guide because they are knowledgeable and skilled in their fields, know the way, and are trained to take immediate decisions in case of emergencies.
•Leech Protection and Mosquito Repellent:
Leeches are common during the monsoon season, especially in humid areas. You could use leech socks or leech repellent to deter them. If leech latches onto your skin then applying salt will detach them. Likewise, the monsoon is in summer in Nepal so mosquitos are prone in most places except high-altitude regions. So, it helps if you apply mosquito repellent while trekking.