10 Best base camps trekking in Nepal
Trekking in Nepal, commercially started in the 1960s when Col Jimmy Roberts organized the first trek to Everest Base Camp with six American women. In the following six decades, trekking around various Himalayan peaks of Nepal, either to the summit or to their respective base camps, has been popular among both national and international tourists.
The country has a unique and rich blend of geographical, natural, and cultural diversity to support tourism. Also, in the mesmerizing Himalayan trails, one can experience all kinds of local lifestyles, languages, food habits, culture, and people. Trekking can be done in all seasons in Nepal. However, autumn (September to December) and spring (March to May) are more preferred times.
Nepal boasts eight peaks taller than 8,000 metres, and over 1,300 peaks above 6,000 meters, giving ample opportunities for trekking, both to the summits and to their respective base camps. Everest Base Camp and Annapurna Base Camp are the two most famous base camps of Nepal, but there are many similar base camps, less popular but equally worth visiting. Why don’t you try visiting one or some of these base camps on your next vacation?
1. Everest Base Camp
Experience astounding mountain views, get glimpses of the world highest peak Mt. Everest. The Everest Base Camp (EBC) trek is a spectacular high-altitude trek in the mountains of Nepal.
The journey to Everest Base Camp, begins with a dramatic flight from Kathmandu to Lukla, after which you hike up the Everest region to reach your destination in the Himalayas. However, for die-hard lovers of trekking, there is another switchback starting from Jiri through the mid-hills of Solu, an ethnically diverse and flora-rich section of the trek.
Taking a flight is a time-saver, while trekking from Jiri gives you the opportunity to enjoy each tiny detail of the trek, with more time to interact with the charming people along the route and you get to see the rich flora and fauna on the trail. You get the added benefit of natural acclimatization as you go up and down the cliffs and valleys. The option from Jiri will roughly add 10 days to your trip to the famous Sherpa village, Namche Bazaar (3,500m). The Sagarmatha National Park in which Mt. Everest lies is one of the few places on earth with the rarest bio-diversity and the highest mountains in the world.
For those with sufficient time, a 10–12-day trek through Solu to the Khumbu and the Sagarmatha National Park is an excellent itinerary both in terms of acclimatization and to observe the changing customs, traditions, and lifestyles as you pass through lower altitude settlements to those in the higher altitudes.
A part of the Himalayan ecological zone, the park was added to the list of UNESCO Natural World Heritage Sites in 1979. The park has three of the world's highest mountains: Everest, Lhotse, and Cho Oyu besides countless other peaks that rise above 6,000 meters from sea level.
Climbers and trekkers continue to trek to Everest Base Camp and not surprisingly the "Roof of the World" continues to be the world' top attractions for hardened mountaineers, a haven for alpine enthusiasts and in the bucket list of adventurers from around the world.
Best time to travel: March, April, May, mid of September to December
Price: USD 1,600 per person (approx.)
Preferred route: Kathmandu-Lukla-Phakding-Namche-Tengboche –Dingboche-Lobuche-Everest Base Camp
2. Annapurna Base Camp
Annapurna region is a well-known trekking area. Trek to the Base Camp of Annapurna is easy and rewarding. The close-up views of mountain peaks like Annapurna l, Gangapurna, Hiunchuli, Fang, Annapurna South, Machhapuchhre, and Annapurna II and III will keep you occupied. The picturesque landscape of nature is also very captivating.
As the travelers stroll within the premises of Annapurna, they get lost in the prodigious forest of Rhododendrons, Pine, Oak, and other trees. During the trek, you also explore the unique Gurung and Magar ethnicity. You can interact with the locals and learn about their traditions and lifestyle. The region is ideal for adventure seekers, cultural learners, and nature explorers. The trek takes us to a famous tourist destination such as Poonhill which offers stunning sunrise views.
The journey to the Annapurna Base Camp in Nepal commences with a drive to Pokhara. Then you trek towards Ghorepani, Poonhill, Chhomrong, and Himalaya before you finally land at Annapurna Base camp.
Best time to travel: March-May and September-January
Price: USD 1,180 per person (approx)
Preferred route: Kathmandu-Pokhara-Ghandruk-Chhomrong-Dovan-Annapurna Base Camp
3. Kanchenjunga Base Camp
Kanchenjunga is the third highest mountain in the world with an altitude of 8,586 m. Kanchenjunga Base Camp is located in the eastern part of Nepal at 5,143 m. A trek to this camp is one of the longest treks in Nepal whereas the camp located off the beaten track remains one of the most underrated base camps.
Kanchenjunga Conservation Area is the main highlight of this camp which is the least densely populated area. The trekking route passes through the famous Arun valley that is considered to be very beautiful for trekkers.
Along the route, you also pass through traditional villages like Ghunsa, Khambachen, Panama, among others. The inhabitants of this region are Sherpas, Rais, Limbus, and Gurungs, with whom the trekkers can enjoy the local people’s hospitality, culture, food, and lifestyle. In this trek, you get the scenic view of massive mountain peaks such as Lhotse, Everest, Makalu, and many others. One can also explore the varied wildlife species such as blue sheep, musk deer, snow leopard, and black bear.
This base camp trek begins from Taplejung, for which you first have to take a 45-minute flight from Kathmandu to Bhadrapur of Jhapa followed by a jeep ride to Birtamod and then a bus ride to Taplejung.
Best time to travel: April-May to early June, October-November to early December
Price: USD 3,000 per person (approx)
Preferred route: Kathmandu-Bhadrapur-Ilam-Taplejung-Mitlung-Chiruwa-Sukathum-Amjilosa-Gyabla-Ghunsa-Khangpachen-Lhonak-Kanchenjunga Base Camp
4. Dhaulagiri Base Camp
Dhaulagiri Base Camp is an adventurous, challenging trek destination located north-west of Pokhara in western Nepal and south of the Tibet and Nepal border. Dhaulagiri is the seventh-highest Himalayan peak (8,167 m) whereas its base camp is a bit above 4,750 m.
The best feature of this trek is that it crosses two high passes named French pass (5,360 m) and Thapa pass (6,012 m). Moreover, trekkers experience snow and glacier walking especially around the Italian Base Camp and Dhaulagiri North Base Camp along with mesmerising views of Rhododendron forest and Dhaulagiri, Thorong peak, Annapurna, and Kali Gandaki river where the world’s deepest gorge also lies.
Semi-wild herds of yaks and mountain sheep can also be encountered on the trail. Besides this, the trekkers can enjoy teahouses, local shops, lifestyles, customs, traditions, rituals, and beliefs of Nepal’s ethnic people such as Gurungs, Chhetris, and Magars, which leaves an unforgettable impression on one’s mind.
Best time to travel: March, June, September, November
Price: USD 2,000-2,500 per person (approx)
Preferred route: Kathmandu-Pokhara-Beni-Babichaur-Dharapani-Muri-Boghara-Dhoban-Italian Base Camp-Glacier Camp-Dhaulagiri Base Camp
5. Manaslu Base Camp
The Manaslu Base Camp trek is a very fascinating and challenging route of 18 days up to an altitude of 4,800 m. The camp is located close to Nepal-Tibet border. In this trek, one can visit three peaks of Manaslu, also known as “Japanese peaks”.
Mt. Manaslu (8,163 m) known for its conical shape is the eighth-highest peak in the world. Manaslu Base Camp provides an amazing view of Manaslu Himal, Ganesh Himal, Shringi Himal, and Himal Chuli.
This trekking starts from and ends at Sotikhola Bazar, and it passes through huge steep valleys. This trek is less touristy and less crowded but is known as the best classical trek among all base camps in Nepal. Also, most of the parts in this trek are restricted, and a special permit may be required to explore those areas.
On the way, trekkers come across sacred monasteries as inhabitants of this camp are mostly Tibetans who reflect their lifestyle, culture, people, festival, and system. There come various teahouses that serve organic and hygienic Nepali dal-bhat.
Best time to travel: March, April, May, end of September to mid-December
Price: USD 1,700 per person (approx)
Preferred route: Kathmandu-Arughat-Sotikhola-Maccha Khola-Dhoban-Philim-Lokpa-Chumling-Deng-Namrung-Lho-Sama Gaon-Manaslu Base Camp
6. Makalu Base Camp
The Makalu Base Camp is one of the most popular treks to base camps in Nepal among solitary trekkers. The base camp of the fifth-highest peak of Nepal (8,485) is located at an altitude of 4870 m.
The main attraction of this trek is Makalu Barun National Park in Solukhumbu and Sankhuwasabha districts. This national park is home to 3,000 species of flowering plants, 440 species of birds, and 75 species of mammals including snow leopards, red pandas, musk deers, wild boars, wild yaks, and Himalayan thars.
However, this trek is a less frequented route due to its relative isolation and remote setting. Major inhabitants in this area are Gurungs, Rais, and Sherpas who can help the trekkers get a chance to explore their beautiful villages, tasty food, their lifestyle, and culture.
Also, trekkers get to see Mt Everest, Mt Makalu, Mt Kanchenjunga, Lhotse, Baruntse, Chamlang, and the other Himalayas after climbing the Makalu camp. During the trek, trekkers come across the two remotest parts of the country, namely: Arun valley and Barun valley, which give them an idea of the struggle of living in this area.
The trek in this camp begins with a half-an-hour flight from Kathmandu to Tumlingtar of mid-eastern Nepal.
Best time to travel: March, April, May, September, October, November
Price: USD 1,900 per person (approx)
Preferred route: Kathmandu-Tumlingtar-Chichila-Num-Seduwa-Tashigaon-Khongma Dhanda-Dobate-Yangle Kharka-Langmale Kharka-Sherson-Makalu Base Camp
7. Mardi Himal Base Camp
Mardi Himal Base Camp is located to the east of the famous Annapurna Base Camp. This camp is perfect for a week-long trek for the trekkers who have limited time, making it one of the shortest treks to any base camps.
Located at an altitude of 4,450 m, this camp is a hidden gem of Nepal. On the route, trekkers get an amazing view of the ancient rhododendron forests, pines, oaks, and mountains like Hiunchuli, Machhapuchhre, Ganga Purna, Annapurna, and Mt Mardi (5,587 m). Also, the trek route also passes through ethnic villages and lush farmlands where local people are waiting for you with a warm meal and a cosy bed.
Also, there are alternative routes to go to the base camp. You can start from Kande or Ghandruk or Landruk and finish at Siding or Landruk.
Best time to travel: April and May
Days: 5-10 days
Price: USD 125-245 per person (approx)
Preferred route: Kathmandu-Ghandruk-Forest Camp-High Camp-Base Camp-High Camp-Landruk or Siding
8. Api Base Camp
The Api Base Camp trek is one of the most non-touristy and virgin treks of Nepal. Located at an altitude of 4,250 m, this treasure is protected by the Api Nampa Conservation Area that conserves the natural beauty and ecosystem of this region. It is named after the famous snow-capped mountain Mt Api (7,132 m) which lies in the far-western region of Nepal.
The trek might require you to camp outdoors frequently; because of the remoteness and the low frequency of tourists, lodging cannot be guaranteed. However, homestays are available. During the trek, trekkers get to see and enjoy the beautiful Mahakali valley, steep gorges, subtropical to alpine forest and vegetation, pastures, grasslands, waterfalls, lakes, streams, and birds which make the trekking more remarkable. This region is a mixture of both Hindus and Buddhists exhibiting their culture untouched by modernity.
The trek here begins from a scenic flight from Kathmandu to Dhangadhi, and then a drive to Latinath (starting point of the trek).
Best time to travel: Autumn and spring
Price: USD 3,000-3,500 per person (approx)
Preferred route: Kathmandu-Dhangadhi-Gokuleshwar-Latinath-Paribagar-Makarigaad-Siti-Domal-Dhaulo Odar-Api Base Camp
9. Cho Oyu Base Camp
Cho Oyu is the sixth-highest mountain in the world (8,201 m), which lies around 20 km west of Mt Everest on the border of Tibet and Nepal.
The trek to Cho Oyu Base Camp is a short journey of around weeks. Located at an altitude of 5,600 m, the camp can be accessible by jeep. That is why this base camp is usually crowded. In the west of Cho Oyu, there is Nangpa La, which is known as the major trade route between Khumbu and Tibet.
While trekking to this camp, trekkers pass through yak pastures, gigantic glaciers, mesmerizing scenery, stunning views of mountains such as Cho Oyu, Everest, Makalu, and Lhotse. Sherpas are the main inhabitants of this region who share intimate knowledge of their village and allow a glimpse of Tibetan culture.
The trip here begins from Kathmandu to Lhasa (Tibet) by air, but while returning, you can try a new road link inside Nepal.
Best time to travel: March to May and October to November
Days: 14 days
Price: USD 3,750 per person (approx)
Preferred route: Kathmandu-Lhasa-Shigatse-Shegar-Tingri-Cho Oyu Base Camp-Kyirong-Dunche
10. Ama Dablam Base Camp
Ama Dablam, which means “mother’s necklace”, is one of the most beautiful mountains of the world with an altitude of 6,812 metres. For the people who want a superb view of Mt Everest in a short span, a two-week trek to Ama Dablam Base Camp (4,600 m) can be suitable.
The trip begins with a 45-minute flight from Kathmandu to Lukla of the Everest region where Sherpas are the main inhabitants who reflect their Buddhist villages, culture, and their famous Thyangboche monastery.
Trekkers explore the panoramic Himalayas such as Everest, Nuptse, Lhoste, Amadablam, Kangtega, and Tawache during trekking. Also, Himalayan rivers, small rivers, and wild forests can be seen during this trek. The main feature of this trip is its capital, Namche Bazaar.
Best time to travel: March to May and September to November
Days: 14 days
Price: USD 2,650 per person (approx)
Preferred route: Kathmandu-Lukla-Phakding-Namchebazar-Pangboche-Ama Dablam Base Camp