- Sushant Lama
Nepal is a beautiful country with abundant Natural resources, Mountains, Hills, Lakes, rivers, culture, and traditions. It is endowed with many beautiful trekking areas. However, some of them were restricted for outsiders to travel through.
Some of the remote areas of Nepal in the Himalayan region bordering China were restricted to tourists for trekking until 1991 AD. Now they are called Government controlled areas and special permits are required to trek in these areas. Trekking permits in these restricted areas are comparatively expensive than other trekking areas. The government has primarily taken this step to protect the environment, culture, and traditions of these remote areas and peoples and to provide security and safety to both trekkers and local peoples.
Some of the restricted areas in Nepal are Upper Mustang, Upper Dolpo, Lower Dolpo, Rara Lake, Manaslu, Upper Rolwaling, Nar Phu valley, Damodar Kunda, etc.
Restricted areas are like paradise in Nepal. They are full of natural beauty hidden valleys and are rich in local traditions and cultures. Very few outsiders visit this part of the country making their culture and traditions pure and not influenced by others. These restricted trekking areas in Nepal are the most remote trekking trails in the world which offers majestic views of mountains, lake, rivers, glaciers, local ethnic settlements, and cultures. These trekking are very different from ordinary trekking. So, the demand for trekking in these areas is increasing day by day. The following are some of the major restricted trekking areas.
Major restricted areas
Upper Mustang also called ‘The Forbidden Kingdom’ in the past is one of the most popular and demanded Trekking areas in Nepal. It falls under the restricted zone. The landscapes of the upper Mustang are full of natural wonders, unique culture, tradition and history. It is the perfect place to visit for those who want extra fun in life. Upper Mustang consists of two distinct regions: the southern part and the northern where the languages, culture, and traditions are alike similar to the Tibetan people. The whole area has an isolated and mystical feel to it, inspiring many visitors to visit this region.
There is the presence of barren hills, rivers, creeks, caves, and metamorphic rocks which are an important subject of study for anthropologists. We can also observe unspoiled Tibetan culture, beautiful monasteries of Manthang, majestic views of red cliffs and small unspoiled villages. These regions are also called deserts of Nepal. Now due to the presence of roads, transportation is possible.
Dolpo or Dolpa is the largest district of Nepal. It is an isolated district northwest of Dhaulagiri and bordering Tibet. The western half is Shey-Phoksundo National Park which is Nepal’s biggest National Park. Dolpo region is full of spectacular regions of deep valleys, unclimbed peaks, remote Buddhist monasteries, and rare birds, Flora and Fauna.
Shey-Phoksundo Lake which is the largest lake in Nepal is also located here. It was opened for trekking in 1989 by the government of Nepal and for the second time, under special consideration, this region has been reopened carefully by the government. To protect the trans-Himalayan ecosystem, it was previously restricted to foreign visitors. Trekking to the Dolpo region is an adventurous journey of a lifetime. It will give you exposure to snowy peaks, isolated villages, rich wildlife, wonderful lakes, and people with warm-hearted culture and traditions which will melt your hearts.
Manaslu Trekking is one of the most sought after trekking in Nepal but is less explored by visitors. It lies east of the Annapurna Region and shares a border with Tibet in the North.
Mt.Manaslu which is the eighth highest peak is located here. Manaslu area is rich in Tibetan cultural heritage and Biological Diversity. This is the mainland of Kagyupa Buddhists as great Miloropa had meditated in this area. It was opened to trekkers recently in 1992. The eye-catching beauty of Mt. Manaslu, rich mixture of Nepali and Tibetan culture, beautiful valleys, rocky mountainous landscapes, exotic species of plants and animals, blue-green glaciers offers trekkers the adventure they will never forget.
Previously camp trekking was only done but now tea house trekking is also possible. The route to Manaslu Larkya La pass is considered one of the world’s most adventurous passes.
Rara lake is one of the most beautiful and deepest Lakes of Nepal. It one of the most popular trekking areas of the far western areas with mostly forested mountains which offers majestic glimpses of Himalayan Peaks, Lake, and Rivers. Rara Lake is located at an altitude of 2,990m from sea level at the heart of Rara National Park and has unique flora and fauna with rare species. The view it offers is truly majestic and one of a kind. It is home to the Himalayan black bear, Tahr, Ghorals, musk deer, and Red Panda. There are lodges in Jumla, Bunkhouse at the Lake, and on the way, there are few teahouses where tourists can stay but camping will be much reliable and comfortable.
Kanchenjunga trekking is the spectacular journey to the base camp of the World’s third highest Peak Mt.Kanchenjunga(8,586), one of the most unspoiled places in the country located on the border of Nepal and Sikkim(India). It takes your body to the extreme limits and the reward after completing the trek is just phenomenal. It is located in the eastern region of Nepal. It offers a variety of cultures, forests full of bamboo and rhododendron, beautiful views of mountains and valleys and the Tibetian village of Ghunsa and Kambachen.
There are lots of places to visit in the Kanchenjunga area like Jannu, Chang Himal, Tseram, Ramchaur, Ratong, Kabru Peaks which will give you wonderful views. People of this area are always surprised to see the tourists as they are not used to seeing them often. There are lots of obstacles due to the difficult landscapes varying weather condition and you need to be an experienced hiker if you wanna do trekking in this area. It is also rich in Biodiversity. Animals like Snow leopards, Himalayan black bear, musk deer, red panda birds like amphibian pheasant, the red-billed blue robin are some of the exotic species of the area.
Nar Phu Valley Trek
Nar Phu valley trekking is an exciting trekking route to the north region of Manang. It was closed to the tourists until 2002 and has been recently opened, thus it is uninfluenced by the modern world and one can experience the pure culture, traditions, and natural environment. It gives you a chance to experience beautiful Tibetan villages, spectacular cliffs, narrow canyons, old monasteries, glaciers, mesmerizing view of mountains, beautiful forests and Tibet like flavor in terms of culture and traditions.
Nar Phu valley has 300 native inhabitants whose main occupation is salt trading and yak rearing. It helps you learn about the lifestyles of local Bhote communities. Nepal Governments’ recent decision to open Nar Phu valley to the world has sparked little excitements in local people. Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) recently has extended its area to include Nar Phu Valley and is preparing a suitable tourism development plan for this undiscovered region. Nar Phu valley trek also allows access to Muktinath which is a major destination for Hindu pilgrimage.
Things to know before trekking to restricted areas
Restricted areas don’t mean that it is restricted to visitors. It means that special permit and various conditions are required for visiting these places. There are some conditions which should be fulfilled if you want to go trekking in these areas. You are required to get a restricted area permit either from Nepal Tourism Board or through authorized trekking company which obtains it through the immigration department.
Camping trek is the classic style generally preferred for visiting the restricted area. You are required to travel with assistance or guide. Groups must consist of a minimum of 2 trekkers and they should have their required staff. Trekkers have to register with the police and government offices while trekking in such a restricted route. The treks must be equipped with all support staff, tents, cooks, medicine, etc. Now due to an increase in the number of trekkers, some restricted trekking has teahouses to make trekking easier for people. However, some restricted areas do not allow a license for trekking and are not possible to visit. Some of the restricted areas and their permit fees are given below:
- Upper Mustang: US 500$ per person for 10 days and an extra 50$ per day per person for additional days.
- Manaslu Region: US 70$ per person per week and 10$ per additional days in September-November, US 50$ per person per week and 7$ per additional days in December-August
- Lower Dolpo: US 10$ per person per week
- Upper Dolpo: US 500$ per person for 10 days and the US 50$ per person per additional days.
- Kanchenjunga Region: US10$per person per week.
- Rara Lake: US 90 $ per person per week and US 15$ per person per additional days
- Nar Phu valley Trek: From September to November, the rate per person is US 100 $ for one week and between December to August, the cost is US 75$ for one week per person. Besides; you need ACAP (Annapurna Conservation Area permit) which costs US 30$.
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