Even the mere mention of “Nepal” is enough to make any trekker’s feet itch with excitement, which should come as no surprise. The South Asian country is one of the most attractive trekking destinations in the world due to the diversity in its terrain. However, any avid hiker or trekker should consider the weather before embarking on any peak-conquering adventures.
Nepal’s climate can be roughly be divided into dry and monsoon seasons. While many trekkers shy away from hiking during the wet season due to increased risk of landslides and slippery terrain, exploring Nepali mountains during the rainy months doesn’t have to be a subpar affair. A number of treks tucked away in the “rain shadow” area prove that discovering Nepal’s natural canvas during monsoon months is not only safe but also an incredibly rewarding trekking experience!
Facts About the Monsoon Season in Nepal
- Monsoon months: June to mid-September
- Rainfall: 129 – 239 mm
- Average temperature: 63-84°F / 17-29°C (in Kathmandu)
The Best Treks in Nepal During Monsoon
Annapurna Circuit Trail
The Annapurna Circuit Trail remains popular regardless of the season. It trails through the Annapurna mountain range, which lies in the rain shadow, making it ideal for trekking during the monsoon season. This trek is a favourite among trekkers because of its dynamic and diverse terrain that will keep you on your toes, as well as the majestic Thorong La, the world’s widest mountain pass that represents the highest point of the Circuit at 5,416 m.
If you are looking a more remote, yet equally stunning alternative to Annapurna Circuit, then the increasingly popular Manaslu Trek might be right up your alley. This scenic trek stretches for about 250 kilometres around Manaslu, the world’s eight tallest mountain. It reaches the highest altitude while crossing the Larke Pass at 5,220 m. A good portion of the path is tucked away in the rain shadow, making it ideal for exploration during the wet season. Be aware, however, that some construction is currently going on at the Manaslu trek.
Upper Mustang Trek
Pursuing this trek will allow you to discover the Upper Mustang, one of the most fascinating and culture-riddled regions in Nepal. This exciting trek, which was closed off to the public until 1992, passes through the former Kingdom of Lo, which managed to preserve centuries of civilization due to its isolated location. Its rich heritage is embodied in age-old Buddhist monasteries, cave paintings and fascinating rock formations.
Due to its positioning in the rain shadow of the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri mountains, this trek makes for a perfect monsoon-time undertaking. Since it first opened to foreign tourists, the Upper Mustang Trek has been notably developed. Today, you will find a number of tea houses along the way which provide accommodation and meals for passing hikers. The maximum altitude that this trek reaches is 4,200 m.
Everest Base Camp Trek
The Everest Base Camp Trek is one of the most famed outdoor pursuits in Nepal. It involves tracing the footsteps of many famous mountaineers of the past who set off from this very point to conquer Mount Everest — that’s not where the magic of this trail ends. The trek to Everest Base Camp will also guide you along breath-taking natural landscapes: serene Himalayan valleys, enchanting forests and ethereal glaciers. And the grand finale of this exciting showcase of nature is when you get to stand face-to-face with Mount Everest – the tallest mountain on Earth.
Elsewhere, hiking this trail will allow you to get up close and personal with the Sherpa community, who have been calling the Himalayan mountains their home for hundreds of years. As one of the most sought-after destinations in Nepal, the Everest Base Camp Trek can get quite busy during peak tourist months. However, if you chose to hike this trail during the monsoon season, you can rest assured crowds won’t be as overwhelming. When it comes to weather, rain can be expected during the first few days of the trek, but the air gets more arid once you get past 3,200 m, and since this trek starts at 2,800 meters from Lukla Airport, it’s mainly the first 2-3 days where you normally get rain (as well as the last couple of days on the way back).
Poonhill is an excellent trekking choice for hikers who are pressed for time or would simply prefer to do a shorter trail while in Nepal. Despite its relative lack of length, the Poonhill Trek still manages to pack a punch, both in terms of nature and culture.
The trail passes through Ghandruk, a picturesque village perched on the mountainside where you can get to know the Gurung community. When it comes to flora and fauna, Poonhill is a treasure trove of enchanting waterfalls, forests covered in rhododendron flower and a number of rare wildlife species. Visitors who decide to embark on this trek will also be treated to spectacular views of the Annapurna range stretching in the background. Finally, Poonhill viewpoint is considered to be one of the prime spots in the country for watching the sunrise.
Waterproof gear is a must. This includes rainproof jacket and pants, an umbrella, as well as fast-drying socks.
Make sure to protect your accessories, too: put any valuables in zip-lock bags and cover your backpack with waterproof protection.
Rainy weather means slippery terrain, so arm yourself with a pair of quality fast-drying boots that offer good support.
Since insects thrive in hot and humid weather, make sure to always have your bug repellent at hand.
Afternoons and evenings tend to be rainier than mornings, so make sure to get an early start when you know you’ll be hiking in wet weather.
If it for some reason becomes too rainy, the risk of landslides will increase so please do make sure to speak with the locals and keep an eye on the weather forecast. Be aware, however, that the locals are probably better predictors of weather, rather than a weather forecast, unless it’s provided by a local weather station, as the weather in the Himalayas is generally hard to predict for the international weather stations.
Trekking the jaw-dropping mountains in Nepal during rainy months is nothing to be worried about, as long as you pick the right trek and make all the necessary preparations in advance. Who knows maybe the increased challenge and quiet atmosphere will make you end up favoring the monsoon season even more for exploring Nepal’s immense natural canvas. Check the best time to visit Nepal for further information.
Post written by guest contributor to Lifestyle Travel Kit.