Top 5 Short Treks in Nepal
With eight of the world’s highest summits within its borders, Nepal is an irresistible draw for trekkers and outdoor enthusiasts. Mystical Hindu and Buddhist monuments, medieval cities and Himalayan vistas provide the stunning backdrop for some world-class trekking trails.
You do not have to embark on an epic multi-week trek to see the majestic Himalayan panoramas for yourself. We highlight what we consider to be the top 5 short treks in Nepal which can be completed in six days or under.
Poon Hill trek (Nayapul – Ghandruk trail)
Highest altitude: 3,210m
Highlights: Epic sunrise from Poon Hill
Difficulty: Moderate (4-5 hours average daily walking)
There are several routes to follow on this spectacular multi-day trek in the Annapurna Conservation Area north of Pokhara. The four day and three-night route from Nayapul to Ghandruk is the perfect option for keen walkers wanting to get within touching distance of the Himalaya’s loftiest peaks.
Beginning in an area of lowland farmsteads the hike passes through dense rhododendron and cloud forest to the mountain village of Ghorepani. The stunning Poon Hill viewpoint is a 45-minute uphill trek from Ghorepani and at 3,193 metres is the highest point of the trail. Sunrise from the Poon Hill vantage point reveals a panorama of Himalayan peaks including Dhaulagiri, Nilgiri, Tukuche, and the Annapurna range.
This trek is relatively easy for anybody with a moderate level of fitness. There are sections of steep climb up uneven trails, such as the climb to the Poon Hill viewpoint. The route is an excellent introduction to hiking in the Himalaya thanks to the comfortable teahouses and restaurants run by welcoming locals which line the trail.
Lower Mustang trek
Highest altitude: 2,810m
Highlights: Visit Muktinath Temple, experience the Tibetan Buddhist culture of the local Gurung people
Difficulty: Easy to moderate (3-4 hours average daily walking)
The Lower Mustang region of Nepal sits on the classic Annapurna Circuit but is often overlooked for the mysterious, but difficult to reach, Upper Mustang. Spending four days to a week here opens a dramatic region best explored on foot. Hiking in this area takes you through a land of dry landscape in the shadow of the Himalayas rich with Tibetan Buddhist culture.
The Mustang region’s remoteness means it’s best accessed by domestic flight. The beautifully clear Dhumba Lake lies just a 5.5km trek from Jomsom airport and serves as the starting point of this trail. The route passes several traditional villages before arriving at Muktinath Temple on day three. Sacred to both Buddhists and Hindus, Muktinath Temple sits in an incredibly scenic area at the base of the Thorong La mountain pass. The trail finishes in Tiri Village home to a small monastery with great views of snow-capped Himalayan peaks and the Upper Mustang range in the distance.
This trek largely utilizes narrow off-road single tracks which can be uneven and a little rough in places. There are no steep climbs, and the incline is gentle, but a good level of fitness is still required to embark on this trek.
Mardi Himal trek
Highest altitude: 4,100m
Highlights: Quieter trails, awe-inspiring views from the trek’s highest point, High Camp
Difficulty: Challenging to experienced (5-6 hours average daily walking)
Mardi Himal is a 5,587 metre peak consisting of a long rising ridge beneath the iconic Mount Machapuchare, or Fishtail mountain, in the Annapurna region. This trek was opened in 2012 and offers the opportunity to escape Nepal’s busier trails and venture to the deep forests and roam the high alpine pastures that flank the Annapurna range. The route passes through traditional villages and cloud forests before reaching the highest point, High Camp on day four. The views from High Camp are breathtaking with Fishtail Mountain seeming to be within touching distance.
This route involves several sections of steep climbs and much of the trek is uphill gaining altitude to High Camp. A high level of fitness is required for this trek and is only recommended for experienced trekkers who are looking for a quieter trail in Nepal.
Phedi to Kande trek
Highest altitude: 2,165m
Highlights: Sunrise from Australian Base Camp
Difficulty: Easy to moderate (2-3 hours average daily walking)
The shortest trek on our list, this is one of the easiest to be combined with a cultural or wildlife tour of Nepal. The route is gently paced with short hiking every day ensuring plenty of time at leisure to enjoy the views from comfortable local tea houses.
The trek begins in Phedi, just an hour’s drive from Pokhara, and continues to the picturesque Dhampus Village, a maze of houses and stone wall alleyways. There are magnificent views of the mountains from the village and on the walk leading to the Australian Base camp, the highest point of the trek.
The most difficult section of this trek is the initial uphill walk from Phedi which involves a steep climb lasting around an hour. The trek then becomes less steep and the pacing quite leisurely, although this can be tailored for those looking for more of a challenge. Its relative ease and short duration make this an excellent option for beginners or those short on time but looking to enjoy a Himalayan trekking experience.
Highest altitude: 2,012m
Highlights: Views of the Annapurnas and Pokhara Valley
Difficulty: Easy to moderate (3-4 hours average daily walking)
An excellent route for beginners or those who may struggle with the higher altitudes of other treks. The Ghandruk trail uncovers the small villages nestled in the foothills of the Annapurnas never straying too far from scenic Pokhara. Overnight accommodation is provided by the Ker & Downey Lodges, which provide more comfort without sacrificing the charm of the traditional Himalayan teahouse.
This trek largely follows the Modi River Valley passing several scenic viewpoints including magnificent views of the sacred Fishtail Mountain. An overnight stay near the village of Ghandruk, one of the most appealing villages in the whole Annapurna region, is a highlight. Ghandruk is Gurkha country, and it is not uncommon to see donkey and mule trains conveying goods to and from the surrounding Gurkha settlements.
The low altitude, gentle route and comfortable lodge options make this an ideal starting point for those with an interest in trekking in the Himalaya.
Nepal really is a must visit destination for lovers of the great outdoors or those with a passion for walking and natural landscapes. Our selections are condensed versions of much longer treks and can easily fit into a wider itinerary exploring the highlights of this mountain kingdom. Our Adventures in Nepal tour has been designed to showcase the best outdoor activities in Nepal. But we can tailor any itinerary to include a much longer trekking experience for those seeking a greater challenge.