Great Himalaya Trail

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

The Great Himalaya Trail is a network of trails traversing parts of Nepal and Tibet that includes a total of roughly 1,700 kilometers of foot paths. The trail is currently operated as a guided trek by the World Expeditions tour company.[1] There is a proposed trail of more than 4,500 kilometres (2,800 mi) stretching the length of the Greater Himalaya range from Nanga Parbat in Jammu & Kashmir to Namche Barwa in Tibet thus passing through Kashmir, India, Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet. Although an actual continuous route is currently only a concept, if completed it would be the longest and highest alpine hiking track in the world.[citation needed]

As of November 2014, cross-country hikes of Nepal and Bhutan sections have been undertaken and documented by a well-funded international non-governmental organization intent on making this concept into a reality. Research is ongoing[citation needed].

Winding beneath the world’s highest peaks and visiting some of the most remote communities on earth, it would pass through the diverse landscapes found in the region including valleys, plateaus and landscapes. Nepal’s proposed GHT has 10 sections comprising a network of upper and lower routes.

The GHT (so-called upper and lower) currently can be roughly mapped out through existing routes, but these routes may not provide a continuous and uninterrupted trail. The ‘Controversy’ section below provides more details on the disagreement over the actual existence of contiguous routes.


The proposed Trail would link together a range of the less explored tourism destinations and products of Nepal’s mountain region with a view to create an iconic tourism product with a global profile and appeal that will attract increased numbers of new and repeat visitors to Nepal.[2]

The stated objective is to create a trekking route that crosses both well-known areas as well as other lesser-known sites that are very poor but have enormous tourism potential. The purpose of developing the trail was also to promote socioeconomic benefits to mountain communities.The Great Himalaya Trail covers 16 districts, ranging from Dolpa that connects with the Tibetan plateau, to Darchula, which borders India.Trekking in Nepal is a major attraction for tourists, but popular destinations have been limited to the regions of Solukhumbu, Everest, Annapurna and Langtang.

The proposed route offers diversity in terms of landscapes, flora and fauna, people and culture: from snow leopards to red pandas; from sub-tropical jungle to fragile high-altitude eco-systems; from the famous Sherpas, to Shamanism, to the ancient Bön Buddhist culture found still in Dolpa.

Winding beneath the world’s highest peaks and visiting some of the most remote communities on earth, it would pass through green valleys, high plateaus and landscapes. Nepal’s GHT theoretically has 10 sections comprising a network of upper and lower routes each offering something different, be it adventure and exploration, authentic cultural experiences, or simply spectacular Himalayan nature.[3]


The formation of a trail along the Greater Himalaya Range was precluded by access restrictions to certain areas in Nepal, Tibet and Bhutan requiring detours into the mid-hills away from the Greater Himalaya Range. With time these access restrictions were eased or lifted, and in 2002, with further restrictions being lifted in border areas of Nepal, it became feasible for the first time. Many expeditions have walked great distances across the Himalaya including:

  • 1981 Peter Hillary (son of Sir Edmund), Chhewang Tashi and Graeme Dingle walked from Sikkim to the Karakoram.
  • 1981–82 Hugh Swift and Arlene Blum completed a nine-month traverse from Bhutan to Ladakh in India.
  • 1983 British brothers Richard and Adrian Crane ran the Himalayas, from before Kanchenjunga to beyond Nanga Parbat in less than 100 days. The route required a large deviation from the Great Himalaya Range to cross the Nepal-India border.
  • 1990 Sorrell Wilby and Chris Ciantar, made a traverse from Kashmir to Arunachal Pradesh.
  • 1992 Brandon Wilson and Cheryl Wilson trekked 1,000 km. independently with their pack horse Sadhu from Lhasa, Tibet to Kathmandu, Nepal over 40 days. The Tibet border re-opened to independent travelers just one day before their journey began. Their adventure/peace trek is documented in the book Yak Butter Blues.[4]
  • 1994. In autumn 1994, from October 21 to December 1, the French runners Paul-Eric Bonneau and Bruno Poirier clocked up 2,100 km and 55,000 meters of vertical gain, crossing from East to West, from Pashupatinagar to Mahakali, traversing in sometimes difficult weather conditions.
  • 1997 Alexandre Poussin and Sylvain Tesson walked a 5,000 km route from Bhutan to Tajikistan. They completed it in about six months.
  • 2003 Rosie Swale-Pope ran the length of Nepal in the mid-hills and Great Himalaya range, with a support team, covering an estimated 1,700 km in 68 days to raise money for the charity.[5]
  • 2007 Dr Gillian Holdsworth walked across Nepal with guide, Sonam Sherpa, to raise money for the Britain Nepal Medical Trust. [1] [2]
  • 2008–09 Nepal's Great Himalaya Trail route was first walked, following five years of research treks, over two seasons by a team led by Robin Boustead. The walk took a total of 162 days and is documented in a book of the same title.[3] [4]. In acknowledgements to this book, the author mentions a team of three Sherpa guiding him "every step of the way."
  • 2010 Sean Burch, multiple Guinness World record holder and hailed by CNN as one of the most extreme adventurers on the planet, set an official world record by crossing an outlined idea of the Great Himalaya Trail in an astonishing 49 days, 6 hours and 8 minutes.
  • 2010 three young travelers Dipesh Joshi, Surose Dangol, Raju Maharjan from a group named The Pathfinders completed the proposed idea of Nepal's great Himalayan Trail section in one go.
  • 2011 Justin Lichter and Shawn Forry at the time of writing are attempting to walk '8000 m East to 8000 m West' from Kanchenjunga to Nanga Parbat [5]
  • In 2011 Sunil Tamang solo-hiked an outlined idea of the Great Himalaya Trail from Kanchenjunga in east to Rara Lake in west Nepal in 128 days on his own route starting on his 20th birthday making him the youngest person to thru-hike the so-called trail although Rara lake is still a long way off of the western border of Nepal.[6] [7] [8]
  • In 2012 Gerda Maria Pauler (partly accompanied by Temba Bhoti and a small group of porters) followed the Great Himalaya Trail High Route concept 1700 km across Nepal (Kanchenjunga BC to Hilsa)to raise funds for Autism Care Nepal.
  • In 2012 Paribesh Pradhan trekked a conceptual version of the Great Himalaya Trail from Kanchenjunga to Darchula in 98 days as a part of his project "The Great Himalaya Trail - My Climate Initiative".
  • In 2014 John Fiddler, Kathleen Egan, and Seth Wolpin traversed the proposed high route of the GHT and became the first team to cross all five technical passes without porter support. They trekked from Taplejung to Hilsa and finished in 87 days. Kathleen became the first woman to thru hike the high route self-supported. [9]



Trekking in Bhutan is organised into official routes that you can combine to traverse the country. Robin Boustead summarises the route as: “After arriving in Paro, head to Shana and Drugyal Dzong and the beginning of the Jhomolhari Trek. Continue around over the Nyele Pass to join and then follow the Ghasa Hot Springs trail to Thanza and the Snowman Trek. From the high lakes descend to Ungar on the Gankar Punsum route before following the Rhodang La Trek to Trashi Yangtse in the east. This route takes about 40 days depending on fitness.” [10]


As of September 2010 only Robin Boustead and his team (Pema Tsiring Sherpa, Lakpa Sherpa and Karma Sherpa) have claimed to have hiked a trail that links each himal from Kanchenjunga to Api.The upper route passes from East to West through established trekking areas of Kanchenjunga to Makalu Barun, Solukhumbu, Rolwaling Himal, Helambu, Langtang, Ganesh Himal, Manaslu, Annapurna, Dolpa, Rara Lake and Humla finishing on the border with Tibet at Hilsa.

Clusters of The Great Himalaya Trail Nepal[edit]



Kanchenjunga, at 8,586 metres (28,169 ft) is the world’s third highest mountain and lies on the border with Sikkim. Eastern Nepal is generally more developed than western Nepal and more prosperous. This is due in part to the more favourable climate with its higher rainfall and in part to the employment of many Rai and Limbu people in the Gorkha regiments and the income and ideas such experiences bring in. Rugged terrain however means that mountain areas are especially remote.

Makalu Barun[edit]

The region is named after Mt Makalu, which at 8,463 metres (27,766 ft) is the world’s 5th highest mountain. It’s home to more than 3000 species of flowering plants, including 25 species of rhododendron and hundreds of varieties of orchids

Everest and Rolwaling[edit]

Everest is also known as Sagarmatha in Nepal and Chomolungma in Tibet; the Everest region is known locally as the Khumbu. Its home to three of the highest peaks in the world: Everest 8,848 metres (29,029 ft); Lhotse, 4th highest at 8,516 metres (27,940 ft); and Cho Oyu, 6th highest at 8,201 metres (26,906 ft).

Rolwaling Himal is home to Tamang, Sherpa, eastern Gurung and the indigenous Thami people. While Rolwaling Himal has no formally protected areas it is rich in plant and bird species and wildlife including red panda, black bear and leopard cat!

Langtang and Helambu[edit]

Manaslu and Ganesh[edit]

Sunrise, Manaslu

Annapurna and Mustang[edit]


Rara and Jumla[edit]

Trail starts from Jumla bazar and heads from here to Mugu district. It takes 2 days to complete the trail. Day 1 : starts from Jumla bazar 2300 m to Nauri-ghat. One has to cross KTS (Karnali Technical School) and head towards Daphe lekh which is at a height of about 4500 m. The first half of the day is very hectic as one has to climb 200 meters within 4 hours and I suggest you complete this uphill climb before the sun hits down on you which makes matters worse and also remember that some people have altitide sickness while climbing this.From then onwards it is all downhill up to Nauri Ghat. Day 2: starts from Nauri Ghat and one has to ascend for 2 hours after which it is all downhill till you reach Mugu headquarters. On the way is a village called Bhulbhele which is around 7 hours from Nauri ghat where we have 2 options in which one can choose to reach Rara lake taking on the left side or walk to Gamgadi which is the district headquartered of Mugu district. Both take 4 hours to reach from Bhulbhele.

Far West Nepal[edit]

Routes of The Great Himalaya Trail[edit]

Trekkers can choose between two route philosophies, the GHT high route, also called the extreme route, and the low route, also called the cultural route.

High Route[edit]

Trekking along the GHT high route makes for an unforgettable adventure and the trip of a lifetime.

The proposed trail would stretch over a distance of about 1,700 km and passes through spectacular, high altitude mountain landscapes, visiting some of the most remote villages on earth, where life remains as it was centuries back.

Trekking along the GHT high route requires to cross high passes with altitudes up to 6,146 m and the whole trek takes about 150 days on average. Proper trekking gear and mountaineering equipment is needed and anyone attempting this trek should be physically fit and have trekking and ideally some mountaineering experience. For safety, a local mountain guide who knows the terrain is definitely recommended especially in high altitudes. Due to the remoteness of the proposed route, camping is required for most parts of the adventure therefore a tent, food and cooking equipment is necessary.

Nepal’s high route starts north of the Kanchenjunga Base Camp and ends in Hilsa at Nepal’s Tibetan border in the Western district of Humla.

Low Route[edit]

The GHT low route – also called the cultural route – winds through the country’s mid hills with an average altitude of 2000m. However, there are many passes to cross with the highest being the Jang La at 4519 m between Dhorpatan and Dolpa in West-Nepal.

Trekking along the proposed GHT low route means walking through beautiful lush forests, pastures, green rice terraces and fertile agricultural land, providing the basis for Nepal’s rich culture and civilization. You will come across local settlements of many different cultural groups, giving you the chance to see what authentic Nepali village life is all about.

For most parts of the trek, you’ll be able to stay in small guesthouses or homestays, but make sure to still take your tent for some of the more remote sections of the route. With lots of local restaurants around, trekkers will find a place to eat almost everywhere and so will not necessarily need to carry large amounts of food. Shorter than the high route, the GHT low route stretches over a distance of 1,500 km and the whole trek will roughly take around 100 days.


  1. ^ Douglas, Ed (2010-03-11). "Great Himalayan Trail: trekking's holy grail". the Guardian. Retrieved 2016-06-13. 
  2. ^ "The Great Himalaya Trail in Nepal". UNWTO. SNV Nepal. Retrieved 9 November 2013. 
  3. ^ "GHT trail in Nepal". travelbiznews. Communication Nepal Pvt. Ltd. Retrieved 9 November 2013. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ Nepal Trust

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]