Do you consider yourself an active kind of person? Or do you like to walk, run and travel outdoors? Do you like trekking? Well, we have something for you that might just be the greatest, and most challenging, the experience of your entire life…The Great Himalaya Trail.
What is the Great Himalaya Trail?
The Great Himalaya Trail is a work in progress trekking route that is planned to go from the mountain of Nanga Parbat, Pakistan, all the way through India, Bhutan and Nepal and onto Namche Barwa in Tibet. The route will be 4500km, taking in some of the world’s most beautiful sites. What’s more, the trek will pass no less than eight of the world’s fourteen 8000+ metre peaks, with the trek itself reaching heights of 6000m.
Where will the trek go through?
Fundamentally the trek goes through Pakistan, India, Bhutan, Nepal and Tibet.
Though as you can see in the image above, travellers like to break the journey into 9 distinct sections.
These are the Far West, Humla, Rara and Jumla, Dolpa, Annapurna & Mustang, Manaslu & Ganesh, Langtang & Helambu, Rowlaling & Everest, Makulu Barun and Kanchenjunga.
High Route Versus Low Route
There are two distinct Himalayan Trail routes, the high route and the low route.
High route: This route is 1700km long, stretching from just north of the Kanchenjunga Base Camp to Hilsa at Nepal’s border with Tibet in the district of Humla. This route has altitudes of over 6000m and requires appropriate trekking and mountaineering equipment for completion. Even the most experienced trekkers usually still take the assistance of a paid local mountain guide for certain sections of the route. It isn’t just the challenge that attracts people to this route, though. The heights offer breathtaking views and the route brings you into contact with remote villages and people living as we did centuries ago.
Low Route: This route is 1500km long, running close to the High Route but going mainly through the countries’ mid hills at an average altitude of 2000m. Don’t be fooled into thinking the route is easy. There are areas such as Jang La, which can reach heights of just over 4500m. This route requires less equipment, with lots of travel being through hills, pastures and farmlands. The route is often referred to as the cultural route due to the many villages, towns and peoples you will meet along the way.
How long will the full route take?
Although the full trek is yet to be officially organised, various travellers have taken it upon themselves to bridge the gaps and complete the whole route.
One such group is Kathleen Egan, John Fiddler and Seth Wolpin, who completed the trial in 2014 and recorded their journey with detailed notes at greathimalayatraverse.org. The full route took them 87 days, though they were obviously highly skilled at what they were doing.
Similarly in 2012 Paribesh Pradhan trekked a concept version of the trail from Kanchenjunga to Darchula, which took him 98 days.
However, since both of these examples were highly skilled and experienced travellers we have to think of their trek times as ‘best case scenarios’. Most travel sites estimate 150 days for completion of the full high route.
Due to the ‘low’ route being slightly shorter and involving less overall ascent, most travel sites estimate completion of the full route 100 days.
Can you do shorter routes?
The good news is that plenty of shorter routes are available. The Great Himalaya trial recently rebranded itself as the Great Himalayan Trials (note the S on trials). This was done to emphasise the wide variety of routes. The rebranding was designed to encourage more people to explore the route. Hence, bringing more sustainable tourism and business to small local towns and villages.
Great Himalayan Trials.Com has a ‘find a trek’ page, where you can narrow down your options according to the length of trek, area and difficulty. Trek’s range from less than 7 days to over 21 days. You can find all of this info at www.greathimalayatrails.com.
Why should you do it?
- The route is designed in cooperation with local councils and national governments to promote tourism and socioeconomic benefits for lesser known areas and regions.
- The route offers access to unique flora and fauna exclusive to these regions of the world.
- Some of the rarest animals on earth can be seen in the region. Such as the red panda, snow leopard, black bear and leopard cat.
- The route gives you the chance to meet a huge variety of different cultures, people and traditions. From Sherpas to Shamanism and onto the Bön Buddhist culture of Dolpa.
- It might just be one of the best fitness challenges of your life.
The Great Himalayan Trail(s) are a once in a lifetime kind of travel opportunity. The trip will push you to your limits mentally and physically. It comes with huge walking distances on a daily basis for weeks on end. It’s certainly no holiday. You’ll also have to overcome obstacles, read maps, adapt to geographic events and changes. Moreover, you will have to be prepared to sleep in a tent, in the cold, for days on end. Yet through all of this, you’ll meet new people, experience new cultures and see some of the most beautiful natural sites on the planet. You’ll overcome one of the greatest challenges of your life. There’s no way that that kind of experience won’t change you as a person.