Blood. Sweat. Tears. These are what it literally takes to trek some of the highest peaks in the world, about half of which are found in Nepal. It’s no wonder then that when you think of trekking, you immediately think of the sacrifices to be made just to take the great Himalayan trail. Ideally, of course, you take advantage of this, the fact that Nepal can offer you the highest peaks in the world. But if for some reason, you can’t or don’t want to take these routes, don’t fret. Nepal has a hundred and one hiking trails perfect for any trekker. While Nepal is best known for heights, there are also a lot of friendly, one-day treks that will still satiate the beginner climber in all of us. So if you want a relaxing day out of Kathmandu or Pokhara, here are some areas that offer you fulfilling short hikes:
1. Meet a semi-nomadic tribe at Chepang Hill
Just north of Chitwan National Park is a trekking route that offers a great view of the Himalayan peaks including Dorje Lakpa, Langtang, the Manaslu Range, the Annapurna Range and Dhaulagiri. But more than this, the trek also takes you through the experience of meeting the Chepang people - a hunting, gathering, and fishing semi-nomadic tribe. The Chepangs have been isolated for a time and most of their culture has been preserved well. They still speak their own language. The young ones still know the songs, dances, and crafts passed on to them from generation to generation. You don’t have to go far to meet them though. The trek is quite easy and ideal for beginners as it is only 3 hours from Pokhara’s highway.
Chepang Hill Trek
Address: Subarnapur 44200, Nepal
Website: Chepang Hill Trek
2. The land of the Gurkhas, Ghalegaun
Before the earthquake, Ghalegaun seemed to be one of those villages that were awkwardly stuck in the middle of big cities. It’s 205 kilometers (127 miles) northwest of Kathmandu and 125 kilometers (78 miles) northeast of Pokhara. But this colorful village has been rejuvenated lately with residents now opening lodges and commercial centers. Ghalegaun is the residents of one of the legendary Gurkhas of Western Nepal. It also has a close-up view of the Macchapuchare, Annapurna, Annapurna II and IV, Lamjung Himal, Bouddha Himal and Himalchuli. You can drive or take the bus from Kathmandu to Besisahar, and from Besisahar, go on a four-hour trek to Ghalegaun.
Address: 205 kilometers (127 miles) northwest of Kathmandu and 125 kilometers (78 miles) northeast of Pokhara
Website: Ghalegaun Tour
3. Going on foot to Ghandruk
Ghandruk is the second biggest village in Annapurna, famous for its easy trails and accessible accommodation. But getting there is another thing. You’ll be passing by Pokhara but will be traveling by foot all the way to the village. On the way, you’ll pass by overwhelming views of the Macchapuchre and Southern Annapurna. The Ghandruk village is an agricultural town and you’ll be enamored with the different produce that grows in complex rows. The most common are wheat and barley. You should also see the Traditional Gurung Museum and the temple, about 700 steps from the center of the village.
Address: Kaski District in the Gandaki Zone of northern-central Nepal
Website: Ghandruk Tour
4. The Little Annapurna, Ghorepani Poon Hill
Ghorepani Poon is also known as the Little Annapurna. It’s designed for people who don’t have the time to finish the 18 to 21-day trek to complete the Annapurna Circuit. The Ghorepani Poon Trek only takes about four to five days around a teahouse trek. However, it still allows you the same majestic views without the altitude sickness. Its highest elevation point is at 3,210 meters (10,0531 feet). There are also convenient teahouses and lodges all over, so you won’t have to bring too much gear other than a daypack. The whole trek is for the moderately fit. You’ll be climbing a lot of stone steps and dirt roads. You’ll have to take a bus from Kathmandu to Pokhara for the jump off point of the trek.
5. A pleasant hike to Shivapuri village
Just 25 kilometers (16 miles) from Kathmandu is Shivapuri village. The tourism industry is already quite well-established here, and there are ready packages that allow you to go trekking, mountain biking, bird watching, go on a yoga or meditation session, camping, or just plain relaxing. Just 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) uphill is the Tibetan nunnery, Nagi Gompa, with around 100 nuns as residents. You can get there in about one and a half hours. Further up is Shivapuri Peak, the source of the Holy Bagmati River pour. This takes another seven hours to reach.
Address: Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park, Samundradevi 44900, Nepal
Website: Shivapuri village
6. A short day trek to Chisapani
Make a day out of it and take a short day trek to Chisapani. This is one of the shortest treks to take coming from Kathmandu. You don’t have to go far, although the elevation is already quite high at 2,140 meters (7,021 feet). So, you’ll still be able to see spectacular views of the mountains and the greens of the Nepali villages and the Kathmandu Valley below. You’ll be able to pass the small village of Mulkharka as well as wildlife hiding in the dense forest around it, covered in rhododendron and brown oak.
Chisapani Village Trek
Address: Chisapani, Gandaki, Syangja District, Gandaki Zone of central Nepal
Website: Chisapani Village Trek
7. The rivers and magnolias of Balthali village
Not a lot of people venture off and trek to other accessible areas in Kathmandu, opting instead to reserve their energy for the more magnanimous Annapurna Circuit. However, if you have some time to spare on your stint in the capital, a reachable, undemanding trek is to the small settlement of Balthali village, around 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Kathmandu. So much of the village still has that rural charm to it, even if it is quite near the capital. There are rice fields and farm houses, rivers, and magnolias. You’ll also be able to catch a glimpse of Langtang and Dorjee Lhakpa on good days. You can also visit some of the monasteries in the area such as Indreshwar Mahadev Temple, Brahmayani Temple, and Namo Buddha.
Balthali village Trek
Address: Balthali 45216, Nepal
Website: Balthali village Trek
Nature and culture
These hiking destinations are perfect for families, beginners, the elderly, or those who don’t have the time to take a long hike. You don’t have to physically strain yourself or go too far just to catch a glimpse of village life. Alongside the hardest trails in the world also happen to be the easiest. Nepal really is quite blessed.