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Nepal Treks for Beginners and Families

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Things to know and places to go for a more moderate Nepal trekking experience

If you love the idea of trekking in the Himalayas but you’re not sure where to start, read on!

Trekking in Nepal isn’t all about high altitude mountain passes or 3-week expeditions, so if you’re looking for something a little gentler to get you started then there are plenty of options to look at. Nepal has a huge range of trekking regions and routes, each presenting a different challenge. What never changes is those Himalayan views and that glorious feeling you get from escaping the everyday.

In this guide, we’ll be looking at what to expect on a trek in Nepal, what level of fitness you need, and some of the easier treks you might want to consider if this is your first trekking adventure, you’re trekking with kids, or if you just fancy something a little more leisurely this time around.

These kinds of treks are ideal for families too, depending on the age of your kids. We know that the fascination of new landscapes and cultures only lasts a certain time, especially if your child or teenager is walking up a mountain!

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Trekkers on their way to Machhapuchhre Base Camp

What to expect when trekking in Nepal

First things first, trekking is never easy, especially in a landscape like the Himalayas where it’s anything but flat. Slopes will need to be climbed and descended, and even the easier treks may have days where you’re walking for 4 or 5 hours.

Depending on the season, it can also get hot, or cold, or rainy, and the weather can switch with barely any warning. Of course, if you come at the right time of year then you can improve your chances of good weather immeasurably, but nothing is ever guaranteed in the mountains!

You’ll also need to deal with a different level of comfort than you’d expect on a typical holiday, whether that be in a local teahouse, homestay, or even a tent. And you won’t have much choice when it comes to dinner either.

But that’s only one way of looking at it. The food (usually a classic Dal Bat at most teahouses and homestays) is delicious, hearty, and everything you need after a trek. And there’s no comfier bed in the world than whatever mattress or camping mat you end up on after full day walking through the mountains. Trekking in the Himalayas for a few days changes your perspective on what you actually need, and makes you appreciate the simple things like never before.

Nepali meal looking over hills

Personal hygiene

Other priorities from your daily life gradually take a back seat and become an inconvenience, like showering. Don’t worry, there are showers available at almost all homestays, teahouses and lodges. Some are better than others of course, but you can usually have an OK shower most days if you want to. But it’s a bit of a hassle, you’ll have to put most of the same clothes back on anyway, and wouldn’t your time be better spent enjoying a drink and staring out across the mountains?

The truth is that most trekkers very quickly stop caring what their face, hair, or anything else looks like. And unless you’re starting to actually smell, often a quick wet wipe “shower” seems the best option. It’s kind of liberating, but probably not a habit you should take back home with you!

*PLEASE use the biodegradable type of wet wipes, the normal ones do all sorts of damage to the environment.

What to wear for trekking

It’s nice to set out on a trek looking good, but that’s now a secondary consideration. Can you feel your sock seams on your toes? Change the socks. Can you feel the logo on your t-shirt over your nipple? Leave that shirt at home. Boots feel a little tight? Invest in some new ones. These miniscule annoyances can be vastly amplified after a few days walking, and can end up putting a real downer on your experience.

Most people agree that those zip-off quick-dry trouser-shorts with 10,000 different pockets should not be worn to weddings, parties, and any other type of social occasion, but in the Himalayas they’re the best possible choice.

The point is, think practical! Think about it suddenly getting a bit cold, then 10 minutes later the sun is beating down on you, then there’s a heavy rain shower, then the weather is just perfect, then it rains again, and gets cold…..

You need to be prepared, and to make it easy to switch outfits whenever you need to. But you also need to pack light. The secret is layers – thermal ones, lightweight ones, woollen ones, waterproof ones – that are compact enough to carry in your day bag.

Want to know more? Check out our full Nepal packing list.

Guides and porters

A good trekking team is essential, especially on longer treks or if it’s your first time. You’re going to want a qualified guide who’s super-familiar with the route you’re taking and knows how to deal with the challenges the Himalayas throw up. Professional guides are used to leading groups and individuals of all abilities, and they can spot very quickly if someone’s struggling with tiredness or altitude sickness. They’ve seen it before and they know what to do about it.

They can also tell you things like which mountains you’re looking at, and make excellent translators too! Almost all qualified guides in Nepal speak good English and sometimes, French, German, and other languages too.

On the majority of multi-day treks in Nepal, porters will be included to carry things like food supplies and camping equipment for the group. Additional porters are sometimes included or are available to hire for an extra fee (and usually quite small one by western standards). They’ll generally carry your bulkier items like sleeping bags, evening clothes or anything else you don’t need while you’re walking. Porters are often younger men from the area you’re visiting, and they may be keen to become a guide themselves one day.

The recommended weight maximum is 15kg per porter, which is already quite a lot, and heavier loads risk serious injury. Your trek operator will give you more specific advice before you set off, but as a rule of thumb one porter between two trekkers is more than enough. You can empty out one of your large backpacks and share the space.

These guys do a tough job for not much money, so tips are appreciated. To read about how to treat porters, wildlife and the environment responsibly in Nepal, click here.

Nepal trekking accommodation

Although camping is common in Nepal, most of the more accessible treks give you a proper roof over your head every night. This will often come in the form of teahouse accommodation. Teahouses are remote lodges that have sprung up along trails specifically for trekkers. You’ll usually have a small, basic, twin-share room (although sometimes more), and can get a nice hot meal and warm place to watch the sun go down.

Alternatively, community homestays mean you’ll sleep in a village along the route, hosted by a local family. It’s an experience we highly recommend as it gives you an insight into life in the mountains and a chance to connect with the people who live there. You’ll get a home-cooked meal, a friendly welcome, and a spare room in somebody’s home for the night (usually with its own separate entrance and keys).

the dining area at Nagarkot Community Homestay
The dining area at Nagarkot Community Homestay.

So then, what trek should I do?

We spoke to our partners at Royal Mountain Travel in Kathmandu about the best treks in Nepal for beginners and families with different aged kids. Age limits aren’t set in stone but provide a useful guideline. You know your kids best, and ultimately it’s your decision. We’d recommend checking in with your doctor before you set off on a trek for the first time, and this is pretty much essential to do if you’re taking your kids along.

Easier Nepal Treks for Beginners or Older Kids

You don’t have to be a first timer or a teenager to enjoy these treks, but slightly shorter walks, slightly simpler terrain, and more moderate altitudes make these ideal for anyone wanting a less daunting challenge.

Annapurna Foothills Trek (4 day/3 night)
Wonderful views, local villages, and max 2000m altitude
View trek (external link)

Annapurna Community Trek (5 day/4 night)
A beautiful shorter route in the Annapurna Range, mainly staying in Community Homestays. Max 3300m altitude
View trek (external link)

Ghorepani Poon Hill Trek (5 day/4 night)
Follow ancient trails through forests and villages, and get one of finest views in the Annapurna region. Tea house trek, max altitude 3210m.
View trek (external link)

Pikey Peak Trek (7 day/6 night)
A great way to see Everest close-up and explore the stunning foothills and communities. Simple homestay accommodation, max altitude 4065m.
View trek (external link)

Langtang Gosaikunda Trek (12 day/11 night)
An epic but manageable trek into one of Nepal’s most stunning valleys and the lakes of Gosaikunda. Tea house trek, max altitude 4400m
View trek (external link)

A great trek for younger kids

Kathmandu Valley Rim Hike (5 day/4 night)
Easy travel, low altitudes, views of famous mountains, and great insight into local life in the valley. Homestay accommodation, and suitable for kids aged 6+. Max altitude 2800m.
View trek (external link)

A perfect Nepal hoiday package for families

Central Nepal with Family (13 day/ 12 night)
A great mix of cities, culture, and wildlife, with a little trekking in there too. Basically everything you could want for a holiday with kids in Nepal!
View tour (external link)

Want to talk to an expert?

For many people, a holiday to Nepal is a once-in-a-lifetime thing, so you want to get it just right.

You can spend hours, days even, trawling through articles to try and decide where to go and what to do in Nepal. Or you can make your life a bit easier and talk to an expert (and one that has access to good local rates too!).

Just send us a message and we’ll put you in touch with a local, English-speaking Travel Expert who’ll make planning your Nepal holiday a breeze!

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