Best Monsoon Treks in Nepal

While the fall season may have the clearest skies, trekking during the monsoon has its own advantages. Some treks should be avoided, but for certain regions it's a great time to visit Nepal: the trails are less crowded, the villages are full of life and the valleys are in bloom.

Understanding the Monsoon season

Starting around mid-June, peaking in July and August, and winding down in early September, the monsoon brings rain, humidity and an increase in temperatures to most of Nepal. True - mountain views are often obscured by cloud, temperatures get uncomfortable, and it rains daily. And yes, there are leeches. But thanks to the sheer height of the Himalaya, many of the best treks lie in the Himalayan rain shadow that stretches across northern Nepal. Even in the upper reaches of the Everest region, you'll see far less precipitation than the lower regions of Nepal.

Chart showing annual precipitation in Nepal
Precipitation chart for Nepal

The advantage of trekking in the monsoon is that you have the trails to yourself, the full attention of the local teahouses, and a more intimate overall experience with the local people and culture. Also, the rivers are surging, the fields are green and spring is in bloom.

Below, we've listed treks that are great options if you're heading to Nepal in the monsoon.

Annapurna Circuit Trek — 6-8 days

The upper section of the Annapurna Circuit trek lies in the rain shadow, making this a great time of year to avoid the crowds. Consider doing a 'shortened' Annapurna Circuit, from Bhulbhule to Jomsom. You could drive into Bhulbhule and then fly out of Jomsom (or take a bus or jeep to Pokhara). It's also a great time to include the Tilicho Lake side trip.

Annapurna valley in monsoon
Approaching Muktinath in the monsoon
Annapurna mountains shrouded by cloud
Heading to Thorung Phedi from Manang
Annapurna mountains shrouded by cloud
A view of Annapurna II during monsoon
Annapurna valley in monsoon
Farm field near Manang in the monsoon

Expert tips from local Nepal expert, Mads Mathiasen

  • When starting your trek (counter clockwise), drive in as far as possible to get behind the mountains
  • Ideal trekking areas include Nar Phu, Manang, and Tilicho Lake; all in the rain shadow
  • Ending your trek, it's best to have a two-day buffer before any departure flight
  • If your flight is delayed out of Jomsom, you can catch ground transport to Beni easily enough, although you'll have to switch vehicles a couple times
  • There are two places (between Tatopani and Galeswhor) where road gets blocked at times but they are quick on fixing this given it's high tourist season for Indians heading to Muktinath
  • There is also a large waterfall, Rupse Falls, which can stop traffic but there is a walking bridge where people coming up swap cars with people going down and everyone is on the move again
  • For lower elevations, often an umbrella works great because it's quite warm (even the best shells will be too hot)
  • At higher elevations, proper rain gear is important, such as a breathable waterproof shell
  • You need a shell higher up in the rain shadow, as it will rain there also!

Upper Mustang Trek — 10-12 days

A more expensive alternative to the Annapurna Circuit, the region of Upper Mustang lies entirely in the rain shadow, completely sheltered from the rain. You can fly in and out of Jomsom (avoiding the roads), and practically avoid the rain completely. This is a great time of year to visit Upper Mustang, when the valleys are in bloom.

Upper Mustang
The desert landscape of Upper Mustang, the former kingdom of Lo
Upper Mustang
Chhuksang village (2980m)
Upper Mustang
Kagbeni, start of your trek
Upper Mustang
Looking down on Ghame village

Nar Phu Valley Trek — 9-12 days

A beautiful trekking destinatoin in themselves, the Nar & Phu valleys lie in the northeast section of the Annapurna region and are accessed by branching off the Annapurna Circuit. Roads permitting, you can drive as far north as Koto Uppar, and begin your trek from there. You have the option of returning the same way, or - better yet - following the Annapurna Circuit over the Thorung La to Jomsom, and flyig back to Pokhara from there.

Everest Base Camp Trek — 12-14 days

Expect rain during the first few days of the Everest Base Camp trek, then the weather will continue to improve as you reach higher elevations. One of the busiest treks in Nepal, you'll have almost the entire place to yourself.

Mt. Everest
The view of Mt. Everest and Nuptse from Kala Patthar
Namche Bazaar
Namche Bazaar
Lukla airport
Lukla airport
Everest Base Camp
Arriving at Everest Base Camp

What to expect during the monsoon

Expect around 3-4 hours of rain each day, generally around the same time of day. When trekking in the forests and lower altitudes, there's often a build-up of dense fog and clouds which clears occassionaly to reveal the views.

Monsoon in Annapurna
Monsoon landscape in the lower Annapurna region

Trekking tips for the monsoon

Start your day early. Often, it only rains in the afternoon. Especially if it's rained the night before, the morning will lkely be clear for fantastic views. Get to know the general weather pattern each day and adapt your plans accordingly.

Recommended gear for the monsoon

For lower elevations, an umbrella is best, as even the highest quality waterproof shells can be too hot. Clothes that are light and quick-drying are ideal, given that humidity is often high. At higher elevations, humidity drops off and temperatures are much more pleasant, but it still can rain and you'll want to have a waterproof shell.

Transport during the monsoon

The main challenge of trekking during the monsoon is getting to the trailhead, as poor visibility can delay your flights and roads can get too muddy (or worse, blocked by landslide). Still, there's a good chance your flight will get out and you just need to inquire in advance to make sure the roads are open.

Still, it's best to factor in transport delays to your plans and give yourself a safe buffer to avoid any complications. Flights are often delayed, and road transport can be halted by landslades along Nepal's major highways.

Recent Trip Reviews

Related trips planned by kimkim specialists

Everest region monsoon trek, Nepal - Jul 6 - Jul 22, 2016

Traveler: Anita P. - Local specialist: Raj Gyawali

Kimkim made this such an easy trip to book. I could log into kimkim and ask questions about anything and everything whenever they came to mind. Things related to trekking or Nepal in general. Kimkim would respond within 24 hours with great information. They were attentive to catering the trekking to what I wanted to do and see, kimkim worked with my budget and time frame to make sure I was getting the best deal possible.

Raj and everyone at social tours was super welcoming! They went out of... read more

Kimkim made this such an easy trip to book. I could log into kimkim and ask questions about anything and everything whenever they came to mind. Things related to trekking or Nepal in general. Kimkim would respond within 24 hours with great information. They were attentive to catering the trekking to what I wanted to do and see, kimkim worked with my budget and time frame to make sure I was getting the best deal possible.

Raj and everyone at social tours was super welcoming! They went out of their way to make sure things ran smoothly and that I was properly prepared for the trek. They checked in with me during the trek to make sure everything was ok. Once back in Kathmandu they were still very helpful and made sure I had everything I needed. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Raj and his team to other travellers looking to come to Nepal. Even if you just wanted to stay in Kathmandu, these guy have so many options for things to go and see and they really put the effort in to making sure you feel welcome and have an awesome stay in Nepal.