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How to get to the Nepalese Himalayas

Adventurous travellers around the world have long dreamed about the day they get to behold the Nepalese Himalayas for themselves. But how do you kick off a trip? How do you get to the Himalayas? Which airports should you fly into? How do you get around Nepal once you're there? Get all your questions answered by reading our guide and prepare yourself for an incredible adventure.

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How to get to the Nepalese Himalayas (including all entry points)

With the Himalayas stretching across Pakistan, India, Bhutan, Nepal, and China, one may think this mighty range offers multiple access points. In reality, however, most of the landscape is dominated by towering glaciers and jagged mountains that are not easily accessible. For most travellers, the Himalayas are often associated with Nepal, as this is where eight of the ten highest peaks in the world stand. Before you plan your once-in-a-lifetime adventure to the Nepalese Himalayas, there are a number of ways for you to reach the starting point of your trek that you can consider. There are multiple entry points along the Himalayas including:

  • Delhi, India
  • Islamabad, Pakistan
  • Lhasa, Tibet
  • Paro, Bhutan
  • Kathmandu, Nepal (main entry point for travellers starting their adventure in Nepal)

Best flights into Nepal

There is just one international airport in Nepal, Tribhuvan International Airport, which is located just outside of Kathmandu. When travelling from Australia, the UK, the USA, and most parts of the world outside of Asia or the Middle East, this journey will involve a stopover as there are very few direct long-distance flights that arrive into Kathmandu. 

Popular international airlines include Emirates, China Southern, Jet Airways, Cathay Pacific, Korean Air, Etihad Airways, and Sichuan Airlines. Travellers should be aware that flights to Kathmandu often fill up months in advance, which means that booking a last minute trip to Nepal is possible, but you will need to be aware of the limited options available. 

Best border crossings into Nepal

If you’re travelling from the other side of the world, spending some time in India before your trek is a popular option, as there are multiple overland border crossings that will transport you to lesser-known parts of Nepal. The most popular border crossings include Sonauli to Belahiya, Raxaul to Birgunj, Banbaasa to Mahendra Nagar, and Kakarbhitta which can be accessed from Darjeeling and Kolkata. Another option for travellers is to access Nepal from Tibet or from Bhutan.

How to get around Nepal

If overland travel into Nepal is not on your agenda and you decide to fly into Nepal via Kathmandu, the next step will be to select where your next internal stop will be. Pokhara and Lukla are two of the main trekking hubs and can be used as starting points for most treks in the Annapurna or Everest region.

If you are flying into Lukla, nervous flyers should be aware that this particular flight is often referred to as one of the most dangerous flights in the world. This is due to the airport's location and elevation of 2,895 metres (9,500 ft), the tiny runway that is just over 500 metres long (1,729 ft) and unpredictable weather which often causes turbulence or delays for most flights. Adding to that, the take-off from Lukla is described as sharing a similar sensation to being on a rollercoaster.

Fear not, as it might seem daunting but this airport is incredibly busy (the most popular domestic airport in Nepal) and there is an emergency helicopter service available if the flights are unable to take off. Before you book your internal flights, make sure it matches your intended travel plans as flying into Pokhara instead of Lukla will cause a few setbacks to the start of your itinerary if you end up at the wrong destination. 

If you’re looking for an alternative option to reach Lukla or Pokhara, there are a number of land options including transport by public bus or private transport.

Popular routes for trekking the Nepalese Himalayas

Poon Hill. Distance: 51 km, average duration: 4-5 days
Annapurna Base Camp. Distance: 110 km, average duration: 7-10 days
Everest Base Camp. Distance: 130 km, average duration: 12-16 days
Manaslu Circuit. Distance: 177 km, average duration: 13-17 days
Makalu Base Camp. Average duration: 18-22 days
Upper Mustang Trek. Average duration: 10-12 days 
Langtang Valley. Distance: 120 km, average duration: 7-11 days 
Three Passes Trek. Distance: 166 km, average duration: 18-20 days 

Facts and figures

Highest peak
Mount Everest
Ideal height gain per day
1,000 ft to 10,000 ft
Popular activities in Nepal
Mountaineering, paragliding, kayaking, mountain biking, rafting
Common greeting
Nasmaste or namaskar

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