From Bhutan to Pakistan and all points in-between, these Himalayan trips reveal the best these might mountains have to offer and unique insight into the lives of people who call them home
Namche Bazaar, Nepal (Dreamstime)
This trek will take you through the heart of ethnic Sherpa country, where fields are ploughed with oxen, villagers rise and rest with the sun as they've always done, Buddhist temples rest on summits, and prayer wheels and flags are seen beside the paths. There, accompanying you every step of the way, are the jagged peaks of the world’s most famous mountain range: the Himalaya.
The names of some of the mountains may not be familiar – Lhotse, Makalu – but the views are everything you hoped for and more. Your first view of Everest will be something to tell the grandchildren about, as will your encounters with the locals in the teahouses and on the trails. By walking, you’ll gain an unique insight into the lives they lead in these starkly beautiful surroundings and experience the best of Nepal.
When: 13 Oct, 2017
How long: 14 nights
How much: From £2,750 (inc. flights)
Paro Tsechu Festival, Bhutan (Dreamstime)
Flying parallel with the Himalaya, over terraced and forested foothills, you’ll start your adventure in Bumthang, located at the heart of quieter eastern region of this isolated realm. Here, you’ll discover the beauty of the Phobjika Valley, visit the rare Black-necked Crane at Gangtey and trek along the Mangde Chu river towards Gangkhar Puensum, the world's highest unclimbed peak.
Next, the Royal Orchid Trek will into an area known as ‘the last Shangri La’ an isolated area, cut off from the rest of the world where rural life continues as it has for centuries.
Back in Paro, you’ll hike up to the iconic, cliff-hanging Tigers’ Nest monastery before a farewell dinner and return to Kathmandu.
Who: KE Adventures
When: 28 Oct, 2017
How long: 15 days
How much: From £3,295 (exc. flights)
Tibetan family (Dreamstime)
The vast Tibetan Plateau, often called the ‘Roof of the World’, sits several miles above sea level, and its remote location has made it one of the most spiritual and untouched places on earth.
This comprehensive tour covers the most significant monasteries around Lhasa and the provincial towns of Gyantse and Shigatse, and also ventures to wilderness areas to explore Lake Namtso, the hot springs of Tidrum, hermit caves & remote nunneries.
From here you’ll continue west to the high Himalayas, with an overnight stay at Everest Base Camp for unforgettable views of the world’s highest peak. The trip finishes with the dramatic descent from the Tibetan Plateau to the lush tropical Kathmandu Valley in Nepal.
Who: Bamboo Travel
When: Daily departures between late April and October
How long: 18 days
How much: From £4,495 (inc. flights)
Pakistani truck on the Karakorum Highway (Dreamstime)
Travelling in open top Jeeps, staying in basic hotels and bouncing along some of the most spectacular and hair-raising roads in the world, this is a real adventure through one of the world’s great frontiers: Northern Pakistan.
Your journey from Islamabad up the Karakorum highway will take you past the junction of the Himalaya, Karakorum and Hindu Kush mountain ranges with 7000m peaks above and beside you. Every hairpin bend reveals a jaw dropping vista.
Trek to Nanga Parbat base camp and visit the vast Deosai Plains. Hike to Passu Glacier and walk over the death-defying suspension bridge before heading backdown the original Karakorum Highway to Islamabad. One thing is for certain: Pakistan is sure to stay in your memory forever.
Who: Oasis Overland
When: 1, 22 Jul, 12 Aug, 2, 23 Sep & 14 Oct 2017
How long: 15 days
How much: From £1,785 (exc. flights)
Mountain peaks in Ladakh (Dreamstime)
If conquering one Himalayan summit isn’t enough of a challenge for you, try three peaks and five high passes, high in the isolated Indian Himalaya region of Ladakh.
After acclimatisation time in Leh (3500m), you’ll begin your mountain trek from Mankarmo. Here, the trail ascends a spectacular gorge to reach a high altitude plain at Nimaling, inhabited by Ladakhi shepherds and their huge flocks of sheep, goats and yaks.
Vatseri Peak (5640m) is a good warm up before summiting your highest peak, Dzo Jongo East (6040m), which offers breathtaking views over the Karakorum and Indian Himalaya. The climb is tough, but technically easy. You’ll then trek out via the third peak, Konga Ri (5680m).
When: 13 Jul & 11 Aug 2017
How long: 18 days
How much: From £1,799 (exc. flights)
Mani piles on Mt Kailash (Dreamstime)
In a land that remains secretive and unknown, the ancient route west through Tibet, along the top of the Himalaya from Lhasa to the desert of Kashgar, is even more of an enigma. Rarely travelled beyond Mount Kailash, and long forbidden after the high plateau was annexed by China from India, it is now open to travellers. You can be amongst the first to travel it.
After joining local pilgrims on a 3-day circumambulation of the scared mountain of Kailash, you’ll cross the desolate Aksai Chin, an ancient kingdom where herds of wild ass (Kiang) roam and eagles soar high above the immense landscape that is waiting to be explored.
Who: Wild Frontiers
When: 28 Au 2017
How long: 22 days
How much: From £5,995 (exc. flights)
The view from Tokyo Ri (Dreamstime)
Surround yourself with the greatest mountain scenery in the world with an unrivalled trek to Everest Base Camp. You’ll feel an incredible sense of accomplishment amongst some of the most awe-inspiring landscape in the world.
After soaking up the medieval atmosphere of Kathmandu, you’ll fly to Lukla and explore the trails, villages and peaks that lie on the road to Base Camp. Meet Sherpas, monks, farmers and more and end each day with new achievements and new mountain memories. Become one of the few to stand halfway to the top of the world. This is truly what adventures are made of.
When: 24 Apr, 2 Oct, 6 Nov, 4 Dec 2017
How long: 16 days
How much: From £1,520 (exc. flights)
Nanda Devi (Dreamstime)
The little known region of Kumaon, in the Indian state of Utterakhand, is arguably the centrepiece of the Indian Himalaya, dominated as it is by the awe-inspiring Nanda Devi. The region is often overlooked by trekkers, yet it offers wild unspoiled landscapes and wonderful trekking.
Starting in the village of Munsiyari, you’ll trek through small villages and pristine forests as you follow the Gori Ganga River to the historic settlement of Milam, which, before 1962, was a thriving village trading with Tibet.
From here, you’ll trek to the Milam Glacier, with impressive views of Tirsuli and Hardeol, and then on to Nanda Devi East Base Camp, a land alpine meadows, overlooked by the brooding peak of Nanda Devi.
When: 27 Sep & 11 Oct 2017
How long: 19 days
How much: From £2,269 (inc. flights)
A monk in Bhutan (Dreamstime)
Bicycles and Bhutan are a perfect fit. The Land of the Thunder Dragon is compact, with good paved roads, and packed with forests, glacial rivers, mountain scenery and cultural sights. Even the shortest ride will add to your own personal GNH (Gross National Happiness).
Your ride will take you from Paro in the west to Bumthang in central Bhutan. You’ll visit the remote Haa Valley and the capital, Thimpu, crossing several passes over 3000m and enjoring spectacular views of the Himalaya.
A side trip to the beautiful Gangtay Valley and Punakha Dzong are added highlights, especially when there is a masked dance festival. There are plenty of long mountain climbs and exhilarating descents, so a good level of cycling fitness is required.
When: 27 Apr, 24 Sep & 20 Oct 2017
How long: 15 days
How much: From £4,699 (exc. flights)
Main image: Trekker arriving at Everest Base Camp (Dreamstime)