Winter has crept in and a new year is on the horizon, bringing with it new goals and travel wish lists for 2019. For many adventurers, Himalayan treks represent the ultimate bucket-list hiking expedition, whether you’ve got your sights set on Everest or something a little more off-grid, the incredible variety of terrain and scenery offered by the Himalayas is unparalleled.
We spoke to the guys at Mountain Kingdoms, specialists in worldwide small group and tailor-made walking and trekking adventures to some of the world’s most incredible destinations, to find out what they believe are the top five Himalayan treks to consider in 2019.
Everest Base Camp, Nepal
An oldie, but still a classic, the Everest Base Camp trek remains as popular as ever, drawing trekkers from all over the world to marvel at the world’s highest peak and take on the challenging hike to base camp, the legendary starting point for climbers hoping to reach the summit. It’s a pilgrimage of mountaineering legend, where you’ll be traversing challenging terrain and battling high altitudes alongside a backdrop of some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world.
The trip begins with a spectacular flight to Lukla, the dramatically located airstrip in the Everest region where trekking begins. The following days will see you trekking through the most remarkable scenery, acclimatising to the high altitude and overnighting in traditional Nepalese tea houses. If it wasn’t already on your bucket list, it is now.
Annapurna Sanctuary Trek, Nepal
A great choice for those looking to undertake one of their first Himalayan treks, the Sanctuary trek offers sensational views of the soaring Himalayan mountains, but without the more extreme altitudes. The Annapurna Circuit has long been a firm favourite among hikers, but the Sanctuary trek has been catching up in recent years – a slightly shorter and less challenging trek, it still offers the same panoramic views of the Annapurna massif and a great sense of achievement.
You’ll head north from the charming lakeside town of Pokhara right into the heart of the glacial basin, named Annapurna Sanctuary for its outstanding natural beauty and spiritual significance. This trek also gets you to Annapurna Base Camp, encircled by an awesome ring of 11 of the world’s highest peaks. If you’re considering the Annapurnas in 2019, this should be a serious contender on your list.
Markha Valley Trek, India
Photo: Balachandran Chandrasekharan
If the Indian Himalayas are your goal, then the Markha Valley is a celebrated trek that comprises some of the best scenery in the region, together with atmospheric monasteries, ancient ruins perched atop jagged cliffs and insights into the timeless local culture. After plenty of time to acclimatise in Leh, the vibrant capital of Ladakh, you’ll begin the week-long trek through the immense cliff-lined valley, with river crossings and welcoming villages along the way.
You’ll also ascend the mighty Kongmaru La pass (5,216m), where on a clear day K2 can be spotted in the distance among other Himalayan giants. Keep an eye out for playful Himalayan marmots, white-tailed hares and blue sheep on your travels, and if you’re travelling in July, don’t miss a stop off at the incredible Ladakhi Hemis or Phyang festivals, where you can see stunning costumes and sacred dance rituals. It’s a fantastic way to experience this intriguing culture and celebrate the beauty of your surroundings.
K2 Base Camp Trek, Pakistan
Another classic trek that needs little introduction, this expedition to the foot of the world’s second tallest mountain is back on the cards for 2019 after a recent change in Foreign Office travel advice opening trekking routes in the Karakoram once again. The trek begins in the oasis of Askole, where you’ll set off on the traditional route steeped in mountaineering legend, traversing the imposing Baltoro Glacier to enter a hauntingly beautiful landscape of glacial scars and towering granite peaks.
Experience the mind-blowing vistas from Concordia – otherwise known as the ‘Throne of the Mountain Gods’ – where K2 towers overhead alongside six other equally impressive snow-clad peaks. Finally, upon reaching the legendary base camp, you’ll have the chance to chat to climbers hoping to make the summit, before heading back through the breathtaking scenery of the Karakoram, into civilisation.
Druk Path Trek, Bhutan
Photo: Nick McCooke
Experience the ancient landscapes of Bhutan on a tranquil trek through virgin forest, glistening mountain lakes and remote Buddhist settlements. The Druk Path is an ancient trail used by the Bhutanese for centuries, linking the Paro Valley with Thimphu, the modern-day capital of the Thunder Dragon Kingdom. You’ll get the chance to follow in the footsteps of Bhutanese kings as you depart your trek from Paro, with the chance to visit the spectacular Taktsang Monastery before you set off.
Five days of sensational trekking are to follow, through incredible Himalayan foothills draped in forests of pine, bamboo and rhododendron, passing by ancient monasteries and temples steeped in myth and legend. Dramatic mountain views will frame your trek, with the most scenic of camping locations bookending each day. You’ll arrive in Thimphu, with an incredible sense of achievement and a chance to drink in the sights and sounds of this cultural and colourful capital, with its attractive small-town vibe.
Himalayan treks: How to do it yourself
Always dreamed of trekking the Himalayas but feel a little overwhelmed? The best way to experience the majesty of these Himalayan treks is by booking with a reputable tour company like Mountain Kingdoms. The tour company can organise your entire trip, complete with flights from London, leaving you with more time to enjoy your once-in-a-lifetime expedition, without the worry and hassle of the organisation. You’ll only have to carry a daysack and you’ll be accompanied by an English-speaking trekking guide, who can offer unique insights and local tips that you might not have found on your own.