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Trekking during winter in Nepal

Trekking in Nepal during Winter

What if we say that trekking in Nepal during winter is a great experience too and it should not be dismissed out of the hand.

The clear weather, best mountain views, quieter trails and cool temperature which is great for trekking are some of the distinct highlights of trekking in Nepal during winter. The landscape totally changes and you get the views you’d never get in the Spring and Autumn. In general, Spring and Autumn are the two best seasons to visit Nepal be it for trekking, climbing or for just a leisure tour. Apart from these two seasons, Winter is also a great time to visit Nepal for trekking, hiking and leisure tours. Rather than hiding indoors this winter and letting your boots and gear thrown to the back of the closet, here we share with you the possibilities and options for trekking in Nepal during winter.

When is the winter in Nepal?

Winter in Nepal begins from December and continuous till February with the coldest month being January. Nepal has four (4) seasons climate (Spring, Autumn, Winter and Summer/Monsoon). Spring which is from March to May and Autumn which is from September to November are the two-favoured time to visit Nepal. During this time of year, the temperature will be at the lowest. As the sun rises up, the day time temperature will be perfect for trekking.

Lukla airport in winter

How cold it is during winter?

The temperature will drop as you ascend higher. Winter (Dec to Feb) is the coldest time of the year and at 3000m+ elevation the temperature will drop sub-zero. Day time will be cool making it a perfect for trekking but morning and night will remain cold.

Kathmandu temperature 
December: Maximum 18-21 Degree, Minimum 3-6 Degree 
January: Maximum 15-18 Degree, Minimum 0-3 Degree
February: Maximum 19-22 Degree, Minimum 4-7 Degree

Pokhara Temperature
December: Maximum 19-22 Degree, Minimum 6-8 Degree
January: Maximum 16-19 Degree, Minium 3-6 Degree
February: Maximum 20-22 Degree, Minimum 6-9 Degree

Lukla Temperature
December: Maximum 10-13 Degree, Minimum – 2 to 2 Degree
January: Maximum 6-8 Degree, Minimum -4 to 0 Degree
February: Maximum 9-12 Degree, Minimum 0 – 3 Degree

Ghorepani Temperature
December: Maximum 10-12 Degree, Minimum 0-3 Degree
January: Maximum 7-9 Degree, Minimum -5 to 0 Degree
February: Maximum 9-12 Degree, Minimum 2-5 Degree

Winter Trekking Conditions in Nepal:

Trail conditions
The trail conditions during winter are good with very slim chances of rain. The trails are dry with cool weather during day time at lower elevation are the perfect conditions for trekking in Nepal during winter. However, the higher elevation usually 3000m+ receives snowfall by the late December and it continues on and off till February. The high passes and trails are usually blocked by the snow during this time of year. For lower elevation treks such as Tengboche Monastery Trek, Annapurna Poonhill Trek and Langtang Valley Trek, the trail conditions are good with dry path and cool weather which is perfect for trekking.

Snow on trails
You are likely to encounter Snow on trails during winter treks in Nepal. Trekking at higher altitudes is not recommended during winter as the trails will be blocked with heavy snows. Finding traces of path is also difficult during winter. For trekking up to Tengboche Monastery in Everest region, Poonhill in Annapurna Region, Kyanjin Gompa in Langtang Region and other treks which don’t exceed 4000m are possible to do even during winter. We strongly recommend you to get Snow gaiters, Full hiking boots, Gore-Tex pant and jacket while trekking in Nepal during winter.

Lodges
Lodges on the trekking area in Nepal are still open and running during Winter season. In Everest, Annapurna, Langtang region the lodge owner takes a turn every winter to run the lodge to cater the visitors. Finding a room is much easier at this time of year although the choices will be limited. You may as well be invited to the kitchen to share the heat from the stove. Getting an upgrade to attached bathrooms on the teahouses/lodges are found at a great deal too.   

Crowds
You are likely to be trekking on your own during Winter as the number of visitor drops significantly at this time of year. If you prefer quieter trail and want the mountain all to yourself then Winter is the time. The local people also flee to the city at this time so the crowds will be very less. However, there will still be people on trial to cater to your needs.

Views
The views during the winter are the best with the clearer sky and less precipitation. With snows on the ground and clear views of the mountains at the backdrop, the views you get are likely not seen even during the peak season time. If you are a photographer, then this is time to get that perfect shot with clear views, snow and nature.

Winter high passes

What do I need to bring?

Trekking in Nepal during winter requires more packing than usual as the temperature will drop consistently as you go higher. Warm thermals, Good parka jacket, Gore-Tex pant and gear, Snow Gaiters, Full waterproof hiking boots, -20 rated Sleeping bag, Warm hat and gloves are essential items to bring for winter treks in Nepal. We advise you to know the region you are going to tread fully and pack accordingly. Feel free to contact us should you require any updated news/information on any trekking regions of Nepal for any time of the year.

Can I trek on my own during winter?

Trekking on your own during winter is not recommended. As we have said earlier, due to snows on trial finding traces of path will be difficult. You will need to pack more items than usual due to cold weather so having someone guide you and carry your gear is highly recommended. For shorter treks such as Poonhill, it is completely fine to trek on your own.

Highlights of trekking in Winter?

  • The views are clearer at this time of year with the sky being clear and precipitation at the lowest
  • You get the views you’d never get in Spring and Autumn
  • Enjoy the serenity as the trails will be quieter
  • Doesn’t require tremendous effort in terms of logistics (Accommodation, Flights, etc)

Where to go for winter trekking in Nepal?

For winter trekking in Nepal, high altitude treks consisting of 5000m elevation, high passes, camping treks are not recommended.

1. Tengboche Monastery Trek
This short trek up to Tengboche Monastery, the biggest monastery in Everest is a perfect holiday in Everest region for winter. The elevation doesn’t exceed 4000m and yet the views and experience are second to none. You are likely to encounter snow higher above from Namche but this adds to more fun and provides a unique experience of trekking in winter. Most of the teahouses will be open on this trek during the whole winter.

2. Annapurna Poonhill Trek
Another famous shorter duration trek to consider for winter is Annapurna Poonhill Trek. The trek goes up to an elevation of 3200m at the top of Poonhill. The views from Poonhill during winter is very unique and different providing views of fully snow-covered mountains and clearer sky.

3. Langtang Valley Trek
Langtang is the third most popular trekking region in Nepal after Everest and Annapurna. The trek up to Kyanjin Gompa, the last settlement of Langtang valley before the Tibetan border is doable in winter season too. However, higher above from Kyanjin Gompa, there will be more snow if you have planned on hiking till Kyanjin Ri or Tserko Ri.

4. Pikey Peak Trek
Another winter trek in Nepal to consider is the Pikey Peak Trek situated at the lower part of Everest region. Pikey Peak Trek goes up to an elevation of 4200m and provides a panoramic view of mountains from Annapurna Range till Kanchenjunga. The panoramic view from the top of Pikey Peak is likely not seen from anywhere and the view of Everest, Lhotse is astounding.

5. Annapurna Base Camp (December)
The trek to the south base camp of Mt. Annapurna is another trekking option for winter in Nepal. However, due to the geographical situation of the trail to Macchapuchre Base Camp, snow avalanches are of at high risk on this trek. Trekking during the early winter is fine and it should be avoided after Late December till March Mid as this region accumulates more snow and possess a high risk of an avalanche too. Winter 2018, Annapurna base camp was heavily affected by the huge snowfall leaving all the teahouses/lodges destroyed.

6. Kathmandu Valley Trek
If you prefer trekking in close proximity of Kathmandu valley and more luxury then Kathmandu Valley Trek will be a perfect pick for you. The trek covers major tourist places such as Chisopani, Nagarkot and Dhulikhel which all provides great mountain views.

Winter trekking in nepal

Useful tips for trekking in Nepal during winter

– Do not visit high altitude places and high passes during wintertime on your own as the trails will be fully covered in snow and it will be hard to navigate.
– Re-check your equipment list and make sure you have brought good winter gears.
– The days are shorter during winter so start your journey early.
– Bring a good thermos and a cover for your water bottles to keep the hot water last warm for a longer period.
– Pack extra batteries for your camera as the battery tends to deplete very quickly
– Get updated information about the region you are going to tread
– Pack extra socks and inner wears as it will take longer time than usual to dry your clothes after a wash.
– Check the weather forecast and plan accordingly. 

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