alayan region is also incredibly diverse culturally. For those who want to combine great walking with gaining an insight into how people live in such extraordinary terrain, there is a wide range of holidays offering treks combined with other activities.
Wild Frontiers, known for its stylish approach to adventure travel, is one of the few companies that will take you trekking in Kashmir, a wonderful place to walk in the summer, and then pamper you on a houseboat on Dal Lake. It also runs an amazing 17-day trip to the Hindu Kush that mixes a visit to the Kalash area with trekking on the Pakistan-Afghan border, along the Wakhan Corridor.
At the other end of the Himalayas, far to the east, Mountain Kingdoms offers a 20- day trek in northern Myanmar through pristine jungle and along rocky outcrops to reach the snow-capped Mount Phongun Razi. Trekking here combines the jungle appeal of parts of Southeast Asia with the high drama of the Himalayas and the opportunity to explore Yangon and the temples of Bagan.
And if you’re looking for something a bit less strenuous, there is an alternative itinerary that passes through the foothills. Although tourism in the Himalayas is changing fast, it’s still possible to do a big trek in the wildest landscape on earth. These really are for the hardier trekker, with weeks of camping, and require a tolerance for serious walking and high altitude.
In Pakistan’s spectacular Karakoram mountain range, there are fewer villages in the high mountains, and treks feel remote and exploratory.
The jewel in the crown is the trek to K2’s base camp, taking you past some of the most beautiful peaks you’ve probably never heard of, such as the Trango Towers and Masherbrum, before reaching Concordia, the confluence of two mighty glaciers with spectacular views of K2. It takes about 15 days, walking 13km a day, to reach the base camp and leave via the Gondogoro La, a pass at more than 5400m, into the very beautiful Hushe Valley. Previous trekking experience is essential. KE Adventure offers a 22-day itinerary.
Although the Annapurna massif is as beautiful as ever, the construction of a road up the Kali Gandaki, the world’s deepest gorge, to link Pokhara with the Tibetan border, has abruptly terminated interest in trekking the well-established Annapurna circuit. No one wants to trek beside a road. A new road is also being built on the eastern side of the massif, towards the village of Manang.
Luckily for Nepal’s trekking industry, the long and arduous trek around Manaslu, higher than Annapurna and just to its east, is plugging this selfinflicted wound.
Mountain Kingdoms offers a slightly different route in the early part of this increasingly popular trek that makes each of the 18 days it takes to loop around the Manaslu circuit’s remote north side as culturally fascinating as it is spectacular. The trip is the perfect introduction to the wilder side of Himalayan trekking.
If those two aren’t enough for you, then consider the Great Himalayan Trail, which traverses the length of Nepal’s high mountains, broken down into 10 sections, each of which takes two to three weeks. The Mountain Company is offering the first section, between the third-highest mountain in the world, Kanchenjunga, and Makalu, this October. keadventure.com wildfrontiers.com mountainkingdoms.com
Shakti 360 Leti in India’s Kumaon mountains
m left, est; ns near age nd up of kers