- Don’t go on an organised tour group and don’t bother paying the mark up to use a Western travel agency. Get a recommendation for a local agency/guide from someone you know and use that. Trust me. For teahouse treks, a guide is less about actual ‘guiding’ and more about sorting out little things e.g. picking lodges and giving you the menu at lodges
- Bring as many powerbanks as you can. Get a SIM card if you want internet – it will only maybe work at low altitudes though.
- You really don’t need that much stuff – there are a lot of suggested packing lists online but essentially one set of walking clothes and one set of lodge clothes should suffice a trek of any length. Layering is key.
Which Trek Should I Do?
- Everest Base Camp: you have a burning desire to ‘reach’ this point. No jaw-dropping views from there and you’ll go back down the same way you came up which means a lot of traffic on the trail. The lodges are all well run and probably the best in Nepal. Not a difficult trek provided you acclimatise well
- 3 Passes Trek: you want a challenge. I don’t think there’s another trek in the world you could do teahouse style and stay at high altitude for that long
The good thing about the Everest Region is that it’s unlikely a road will be built through it as there is so much tourism. The starting point at Lukla is 2800m, definitely fly at least one of it to experience the joy/adrenaline of the flight and if it’s your only trek and you have time, you could consider walking the other way (I didn’t do it but apparently it is harder than it looks, common with a lot of trekking in the lower-middle Himalayas, but would also be good preparation and acclimatisation for later on)
- Poon Hill: controversial but I just don’t think this trek is worth it. I would suggest Khopra Ridge or ABC/Mardi Himal as an alternative. There are now roads that make the latter 2 doable in a week or less.
- Manaslu Circuit: what the Annapurna Circuit would have been like 20 years ago, but I personally think the views are better on the Annapurna Circuit. If being a little bit more remote/rustic and less ‘touristy’ is important to you, then it’s a good option. More challening than Annapurna, Larke La is definitely harder than Thorung La. Note that road is also eating away at this trail (and apparently the Tsum Valley add on) and the road to the trailhead at Soti Khola isn’t fantastic
- Annapurna Circuit: if you don’t think you can hack the 3 passes, this is a great option. Lots of side day trips, huge variety in scenergy, great lodges along the way which means the only truly challening day is the Thorung La day. Pretty much everyone is going in an anticlockwise direction so the trail itself feels less busy as there’s no 2 way traffic. Yes, there is road eating away at the trail, especially the Lower Mustang side, which is a downside.
- Khopra Ride: an alternative to Poon Hill. Lots of different options in how to get there with some great initiatvies in the form of community (albeit more simple than Poon Hill) lodges. Really great views at Khopra
- Annapurna Base Camp: amazing views at ABC itself, probably the best ones you could get on a short trek but extremely busy due to lodge size limits and the two way traffic. Also, the ascent up there is not that inspiring with quite a lot of ascents/descents. Have heard Mardi Himal is the new ABC but also faces some of the same problems
The treks on either side of the Annapurnas and below them are the most popular trekking region in Nepal and for good reason. Relatively easy to access from Pokhara and standardised lodging throughout. Cheaper than Everest if you’re on a tight budget and it’s cheaper as well (often free) to get access to comforts like electricity and WiFi. It’s not uncommon to get free accomodation on the Annapurna Circuit trail out of peak season (bar the lodges at Thorung Phedi/High Camp and Tilicho Base Camp) provided you eat your meals there – there’s that much competition.
- Kathmandu Valley: you have a short amount of time in Nepal. No close up mountain views but nice vistas, low elevation, comfortable lodges and easy and really quick to get transport to/from the trailhead
- Yakety Yak Hostel in Kathmandu. By far the best shower of anywhere I stayed in Nepal. After I returned from the 3 Passes/Everest region, this hostel became my hub and I stayed there on at least 4-5 separate occasions