9 hidden gems in Nepal for off-the-beaten-path travellers

Hidden gems in Nepal
Annapurna circuit trail
A file photo to represent hidden gems in Nepal for off-the-beaten-path travellers

Nepal being a trekkers’ paradise is an open secret. The country sees nearly 100,000 trekkers walking on trains like Everest base camp, Annapurna base camp, Langtang and Annapurna circuit every year. But apart from these commercial routes, the are many hidden gems in Nepal that will leave you wanting more.

These hidden gems stretch out from Kanchenjunga base camp in the east to Limi valley in the far west. These trails are untouched and are rarely trekked by many foreigners. It is remote and untouched by modern amenities as you go back in time living with basics. 

In most of these hidden gems in Nepal, you will have to take maps, tents and cooking utensils and preferably a guide (or a porter) too as these off-beaten paths might be tricky and chances of getting lost are quite high.

1. Panch Pokhari

Panch pokhari is a permit-free trekking destination
Panch Pokhari is a group of 5 holy lakes in the Sindhupalchok district of Nepal. It is the 9th highest altitude wetland in the world. The lake is a popular destination for Hindu and Buddhist pilgrims during Janaipurnima.

Nepal has multiple Panch Pokharis, which translates to five ponds. But Panch Pokhari in the Sindhupalchok district, east of Kathmandu, may be the prettiest one and one of the least explored hidden gems in Nepal. The trek is short and sweet, yet it takes you above the hills you see east of Kathmandu. The trek is quite raw and does not have many tea houses along the way and even the ones you find do not have single rooms as you will have to sleep in a dorm that usually caters to pilgrims that go there during Janaipurnima, a famous Hindu festival.

The view from Panch Pokahri is quite majestic. The Jugal Himal is right in your face, but what stands out the most is the sunrise seen from the top of the Panch Pokhari along with the evening sunset. The best time to get there is November.

2. Guerilla Trail

guerrilla trek trail dolpa
Many people who have done the guerrilla trek say they easily get lost on the way.

The guerrilla trek trail is one of the newly-discovered hidden gems in Nepal. This trekking route follows the path used by Maoist rebels during the armed conflict. The trail starts from Beni near Pokhara and ends in Jelbang in Rolpa.

The trek is not difficult but given its remoteness, it is tricky as you walk through places that you might get lost in. But that said, the trek takes you through remote villages, beautiful forests and stunning landscapes and you get to see sights the Maoist guerillas saw including their training camps.

As the trail is also relatively new, facilities like accommodation and food are not well developed in some places but if you like walking through the hidden gems in Nepal such as the trails not many have walked, this should be on your bucket list.

3. Tamang Heritage Trail

Gatlang before the 2015 earthquake. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

One of the hidden gems in Nepal, the Tamang heritage trail in Nepal is a popular beginner’s trek, yet not many people venture out into these villages in northern Rasuwa. The trek, as the name suggests, takes you to remote Tamang villages and offers a unique opportunity to experience the local culture and lifestyle of the Tamang people, who are known for their hospitality, rich cultural heritage, and traditional practices.

Along the way, you will visit several traditional Tamang villages, including Gatlang, Tatopani, Thuman, and Briddim, where you can experience their unique culture and lifestyle.

The Tamang heritage trail is best suited for those who want to see more than just mountains. This trek gives people a chance to experience people and their behaviour in the remote part of Nepal.

4. Upper Dolpo Trek

Shey Gompa, Dolpo
File: Shey Gompa, Dolpo

This is one the most remote and challenging treks in Nepal, hence of the greatest hidden gems in Nepal, that takes you to the remotest parts of western Nepal. Apart from the glorious views of mountains, hills and lakes, the trek also gives people a great opportunity to experience the local culture and lifestyle of people living there. The area is untouched but modern amenities make the experience of trekking there even more special as it takes you to traditional Dolpo villages, including Shey Gompa, which is home to a famous Tibetan monastery and a sacred crystal mountain.

That said, it takes nearly a month to trek this trail requires crossing high mountain passes, including Kang La Pass (5,360m) and Saldang La Pass (5,200m). Only opt for this if you are fit and have experience trekking in the wilderness before. 

5. Limi Valley Trek

This trek is probably the most remote and off-the-beaten-path trek on this list of hidden gems in Nepal. Not many people trek to the Limi valley, which is in the northwestern part of Nepal. The place is so remote many people fly there to catch glimpses of Mount Kailash where Hindus believe Lord Shiva lives.

The trek to Limi valley begins from Simikot and takes you through beautiful landscapes, including high mountain passes and deep valleys. You also walk past several ancient monasteries, including the Halji and Jhang monasteries, which are some of the oldest and most important monasteries in the region.

It takes around 20 days to complete this trek and you will have to camp almost the entire trek as there are no tea houses along the trail. The trek is challenging, but the rewards are well worth the effort of exploring hidden gems in Nepal.

6. Saipal Base Camp Trek

File: Mt Saipal range
File: Mt Saipal range

The Saipal base camp trek in Nepal is another remote and off-the-beaten-path trek that takes you through various hidden gems in Nepal around the beautiful Saipal Himal range in the far-western region.

Like the treks above, this too offers trekkers a chance to experience the natural beauty of the region while exploring traditional villages and enjoying stunning views of the snow-capped peaks along the way.

The trek begins at Chainpur and takes you through beautiful landscapes, including high mountain passes and stunning lakes. The trek takes you through places like Bajhang, Dandakot, and Saipal, which are known for their unique culture and lifestyle.

The trek takes nearly three weeks and makes you walk past Saipal La at 4,200 metres. This trek also requires people to camp most of the way as there are no tea houses.

7. Api Himal Base Camp Trek

Close to Saipal is Api Himal, which is again one of the remotest hidden gems in Nepal. The trek takes you to the base of Api Himal, the highest mountain in far-western Nepal. 

The trek begins from the town of Gokuleshwor and takes you through beautiful landscapes and past high mountain passes. The trek takes you through several traditional villages, including Choyo, Dharapani, and Ghusa, which are known for their unique culture and lifestyle.

With no tea houses, you have to camp along the trail and maybe that is what makes the trek stand out among other hidden gems in Nepal.

8. Badimalika 

This off-the-beaten-path trek takes you to the beautiful Badimalika region in far-western Nepal. The natural beauty of the place is unique as is its unique culture and lifestyle. The region is named after the Badimalika temple, which is a sacred Hindu pilgrimage site at an altitude of 4,400 metres.

The Badimalika region, as one of the hidden gems in Nepal, is also untouched by modernisation and offers a unique opportunity for trekkers to experience the remote and unspoiled beauty of the Himalayas. 

The region is also known for its wildlife, including snow leopards, Himalayan black bears, and musk deer, and is home to several rare and endangered plant species. Lush green post-monsoon, the colour of the region changes significantly during autumn and winter. The place is magical and is worth a visit.

9. Tsum Valley

Located in the Manaslu region, the Tsum valley trek takes you to an unspoiled and untouched region of Nepal. There is a certain mysticism to this trek as the culture and traditions found here are truly unique. 

The people living there are of Tibetan origin and are primarily Buddhists. That is why the region has several ancient monasteries and gompas, including the Rachen Gompa and Mu Gompa, which are important pilgrimage sites for Buddhists.

The trek takes you through beautiful landscapes, including lush forests, alpine meadows, and high mountain passes, offering stunning views of the surrounding snow-capped peaks. The trek also takes you through several traditional villages, where you can enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.

Trekking to the Tsum valley takes you close to the Ganesh Himal too and if you climb high, you can also see the Tibetan plateaus to the north. The trek also takes you through traditional villages like Chumling, Chhokangparo, and Nile, where you can experience the traditional culture of people living around hidden gems in Nepal.

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