Nepal, synonymous to the term “Himalayan Shangri-La”, is home to a crazy number of peaks. Whenever someone embarks on a trekking experience, there is one question that will inevitably follow: How high did you go? Although you may be tempted to go higher and higher, you will always have to keep the country’s difficult topography and altitude on your mind. Just the trekking trails in Nepal go further than the tallest peaks in Europe. However, if you are a true adventurer with a strong determination, here is our list of five high passes treks for guaranteed epic views in the Himalayans.
Everest Three High Passes Trek
Rarely does one get the chance to trek through not one, not two, but three high passes in the Himalayans during a single trek. And Everest Three High Passes trek offers you just that. Yes, you read that right. Moreover, this trek can be even dubbed as the Everest Circuit trek, as it completes the circle at Lukla, the gateway to the Everest.
The first pass you will cross is Kongma La pass (5,528m), when ascending from Lukla to Chhukung, to reach Lobuche. After that, you will cross the Cho La pass (5,430), and lastly, the Renjo La pass (5,345m) to reach Namche Bazaar via Thame. Although the altitudes of these passes are terrifying, these aren’t too technical or hard to complete. If the weather gods are happy, you won’t even need ropes, axes, and crampons to cross them.
Ganja La Pass Trek
Ganja La Pass trek is simply the most notorious, dangerous, and difficult trek in the Langtang region. Even the most difficult treks in the Annapurna and Everest region will have a hard time competing to it. However, for adrenaline junkies, crossing the incredibly unforgiving Ganja La Pass (5,160m) from the historic Kyanjin Gompa in Langtang to reach Take Ghyang in Helambu is a dream come true.
From the top point of the pass, you can have the most epic views of the tallest peak of the Langtang region, Langtang Lirung (7,234m) as well as other beautiful mountains. You will even have the rare opportunity to see the Tibetan eight-thousander called Shisha Pangma. But it all comes at a price. The crossing includes a very sharp section through an avalanche-prone valley. You will need a wide-ranging set of tools and equipment to cross it.
Thorung La Pass Trek
At the height of 5,416m, the Thorung La Pass is the highest and the most popular one in Western Nepal. However, the most appealing factor about this pass and the journey is that it connects two of the most beautiful and touristy Himalayan destinations of Nepal: Mustang and Manang. Trekkable both ways – straight and reverse – it consists of potential hazards as well.
Beginning from Jagat in Kaski or Besi Shahar in Lamjung, the climb up to the pass from Manang isn’t hard but painstakingly long at a high elevation. Plan your itinerary carefully to include ample acclimatization, because if anything goes wrong, you will have to return all the way down to Besi Shahar. However, on reaching the top of the pass, you will have surreal views of several peaks from the regal Annapurna and Dhaulagiri massifs.
Kangmara La Pass Trek
Located in the isolated Dolpo region, Kangmara La Pass is the least visited on our list of five high passes treks for guaranteed epic views. A very high trail to Dolpo will lead you across the difficult Kangmara La pass at a height of 5,115m. Crisscrossing from Jumla to Dolpo, this journey offers the utmost variety in landscape. It traverses from grasslands to jungles to rustic, desertic terrain. Even more, it will usher you to two of the most beautiful alpine lakes of Nepal: SheyPhoksundo and Rara.
The trek begins from Juphal in Dolpa and ends in Talcha, Mugu. The trek consists of very significant and dramatic altitude fluctuations. That’s why it is crucial to acclimatize generously. It is not trekkable in winter as the heavy snowfall shuts down the region.
Do Tarap Loop Trek
It is another one from the lesser-known but the incredibly beautiful Dolpo region. As the name suggests, it is a loop trek that will take you to the ultimate, hidden reserve of rich Tibetan culture. It quintessentially blends the natural, adventurous, and cultural elements in one journey. The trek involves crossing two difficult and adventurous passes.
It starts from Dunai or Jumla. Crossing the Numa La (5,360m) and Baga La (5,090m) can be incredibly challenging. However, with proper guidance and patience, you can conquer them without hassle. The passes are only accessible until late October. Although it is possible to trek in the monsoon months as the region receives little to no rainfall, the heavy snow makes it impossible to trek in winter.