- Hire porters to carry small children
- Kids will love the animals in Nepal
- Nepalis are fond of children and will treat them kindly
- Horse treks can lighten the burden to the legs, and provide an extra dimension of fun
It’s unlikely that you’d consider hiring someone to carry your child while trekking anywhere else, but this is entirely possible in Nepal. Horse treks are also an option in certain areas. Plus, Nepalis are very welcoming of children. Your kids will likely remember the friendly people as much as the scenery.
Trekking in Nepal with children certainly requires some special planning, as some routes are far from roads and medical facilities. But while some hard-core trekkers have mourned the spread of roads into the mountains, this means many places are better connected — physically and in terms of emergency communication — than they once were.
Great day hikes for families
If you’re short on time, have very young children, or are unsure how older children will enjoy a multi-day trek, it’s best to opt for day hikes. Basing yourself in Pokhara or Kathmandu will allow you to explore places close to the city that have great views and fresh air, but still allow you to return to the comfort of a hotel at night.
Here are a few great options to choose from:
Shivapuri National Park
To the north of Kathmandu, has day-hiking trails, a monastery to drop in on, views over the city and lots of fresh air. Although there are some steep stone steps, many of the paths in the park are gentle and very peaceful. The cheeky monkeys hanging around the monastery will amuse the children.
Sanga to Panauti Community Hike
This new easy, ten-kilometer trail passes through Tamang villages and ends at Panauti. In this pretty historic town you can find a welcoming Community Homestay Initiative, providing home comforts for solo or family travellers.
The easiest short hike around Pokhara is up to the Shanti Stupa above the town. Start the hike by boating across the lake, and then walk up through the woods.
For a higher lookout point, hike all the way up to Sarangkot, where the paragliders take off from. The views stretch both ways, over the lake and city as well as the Annapurna Himalaya on the other side.
Family treks in the Annapurna Region
The Poon Hill Trek (3-5 days) (max. elevation 3210 meters) is one of the most popular treks in Nepal because of its incredible views and accessibility from Pokhara, with good infrastructure along the way. Although there are some steep steps, it is not an incredibly demanding trek. There are comfortable (though basic) lodges the whole way, with a variety of meals to choose from in the teahouses. The trek itself is pleasant, taking you through local villages and rhododendron forest.
A similar, less touristed route is the Annapurna Community Homestay trek, which peaks at Mohare Danda (3320 meters). It has almost the same views, landscape and culture, but without the crowds. A network of homestays and community lodges ensure homely comforts. The trek is not too physically challenging, and can be done in around five days.
The Royal Trek (so named because Prince Charles walked this route in the 1980s) is an alternative that doesn’t climb so high (1700 meters). The three-four day trek starts to the north of the Pokhara Valley, and passes through Gurung villages. There are views of the Annapurnas en route, and the trek ends at Begnas Lake, a peaceful alternative to Pokhara’s more developed lakeside.
To learn about the experience of a family trekking with a young child in the Annapurnas, read this recent article on Kimkim.
Family treks in the Everest region
There is a wider range of accommodation options in the Everest region than in many other parts of Nepal. If you want a higher level of comfort for your family, this is available here, with luxury lodges such as Yeti Mountain Home or Everest Summit Lodges.
Although the full Everest Base Camp trek is challenging, other shorter options still enable you to trek in the Sagarmatha National Park, learn about Sherpa culture and marvel at the highest mountains in the world. For example, the Namche Bazaar to Thame trek takes five days, and the trek to Tengboche takes seven. Both treks stay below 4000 meters.
To prevent little legs from getting worn out, consider a horse trek.
Mustang is a popular place to go horse trekking. The region lies in the rain shadow of the Himalaya, so the land is barren and dry, and the culture Tibetan. Fly from Pokhara to Jomsom, the gateway to Lower Mustang. From here, horse treks of around 17 days are standard. The goal is to reach Lo Manthang, an ancient walled city in the restricted area of Upper Mustang.
Traditionally, packs of several hundred horses were taken to and from Lo Manthang every year before the onset of winter. The steep, rocky terrain is more manageable with the four-legged creatures. Lo Manthang is at an altitude of 3780 meters.
For a shorter, lower-altitude horse trek, consider the Langtang area instead, which is closer to Kathmandu. While the mountains here are not as high as in some parts of the country (around the 6000 and 7000 meter mark) they are still impressive, especially as the Langtang Valley opens up. Children will enjoy spotting yaks.
Best advice for trekking with children
Hire a guide. Even if you’re a proudly independent traveller, it’s generally not worth the risk of trekking without a guide. On top of that, guides are very affordable compared to the overall cost of your trip.
Choose the right trek. Children under four may be easily carried, and older children may be able to walk long distances (perhaps faster than you!), but those between four and eight may have the hardest time. They are too big to be carried, but too small to walk far. (Consider a horse trek in such cases.)
Consider your own abilities. If you plan to carry your child, will this leave you too exhausted to enjoy yourself? You can hire a porter to do this.
Bring extra supplies. When trekking with kids, it’s always a good idea to bring extra snacks, lots of water (camel packs are great), and other things such as sun protection. Cards, travel games and pens and paper for evenings in the lodges are fun to bring, as well. Remember, there are no TVs in these places! (Which is kind of the point anyway).
Equipment. Make sure your child’s boots are well worn in so they don’t develop blisters.