I had the opportunity recently to meet with Mim Hamal, Team Leader for The Great Himalaya Trail Development Programme, who was in the United States attending the Appalachian Trail Conservancy Biennial Conference. He is responsible for building and promoting The Great Himalaya Trail (GHT) in Nepal, the highest walking trail in the world, which stretches the entire length of the Himalayas in Nepal. The 1700 km trail has two routes, a cultural route, and a more challenging route through the high mountains.
Mim Hamal Photo courtesy Mim Hamal
One of the primary purposes of this trail is to attract tourists to some of the Nepal’s most beautiful areas, but also some of its poorest. There are ten sections to the trail, each offering different challenges and opportunities.
The Great Himalaya Trail in Nepal Photo Courtesy of the The Great Himalaya Trail Development Programme
The GHT is a network of existing paths and trails linking established trekking regions with new and recently explored trails aside the beaten track of commercial trekking tourism in new and exciting destinations from East to West Nepal. It comprises 10 sections: each a destination within itself and its own unique blend of spectacular scenery and local culture. Each GHT section offers a separately marketable trek along the main and cultural route of the GHT of 2-3 weeks length. In addition, there are many side-treks; some short, some long, some teahouse-style, some camping treks
The main route is winding beneath the world’s highest peaks at an altitude of 3000-5000m. The lower, cultural route brings tourists to some of the most remote communities on earth and provides an opportunity to learn about the diverse cultures and traditions of the Himalayas. Less than 10 people have completed the entire mountain section of the trail.
The Great Himalaya Trail Photo courtesy of The Great Himalaya Trail Development Programme
According to Hamal, the GHT will also help Nepal, one of the poorest countries on Earth, develop its economy. Eco-tourism destinations are very popular because of the beauty of the natural settings, and the health benefits they offer. In Nepal, they are also fostering the development of environmentally sustainable and socially responsible business. There is also a focus on promoting responsible tourism best practices to boost employment and increase demand for locally-produced goods and services at the destinations.
Sunrise at Rara Lake, Western Nepal Photo courtesy of The Great Himalaya Trail Development Programme
The GHT provides incredible opportunities to experience the awe-inspiring beauty of untouched nature in the Himalayas were few people have trekked before. Trails such as the GHT provide destinations for people to really challenge themselves mentally and physically, and as a result of the experience, find that they discover who they truly are. In a world cluttered with distractions, noise and stress, this is the type of challenge many people need.