The Great Himalaya Trail (GHT) was launched in 2011, most fittingly, on the occasion of the 32nd World Tourism Day. This most challenging 2,800-km trail of many different interconnecting trails goes across Nepal, India, China (Tibet), Bhutan, and Myanmar—quite the international route! Completing the trail means you get to see all of the world’s ‘eight-thousanders’, that is, all fourteen of the highest peaks in the world. These are: Mount Everest (8,848 m), K2 (8,611 m), Kanchenjunga (8,586 m), Lhotse (8,516 m), Makalu (8,462 m), Cho Oyu (8,201 m), Dhaulagiri (8,167 m), Manaslu (8,163 m), Nanga Parbat (8,126 m), Annapurna (8,091 m), Gasherbrum I (8,080 m), Broad Peak (8,051 m), Gasherbrum II (8, 035 m), and Shishapangma (8,027 m). Eight of these peaks are in Nepal, including of course, Everest, five are in Pakistan, and one is in China. The Nepal section of the GHT is some 1,700 km long, begins near Kanchenjunga in eastern Nepal, and carries on west along the shadows of the country’s eight eight-thousanders (ranging from Makalu to Everest). It is indeed a long stretch by any means, and all the more grueling because of the high altitude, but you get to witness fantastic diversity, both ecologically and culturally, along the route. It takes you to places like Taplejung in far-east Nepal to Humla and Darchula in the far-west. Needless to say, you’ll be amazed at the many different kinds of culture and lifestyle you see on the way, since Nepal has a hundred and more ethnicities and a similar number of languages! No doubt, rare is the individual who can complete this trail at one go; thus, the Nepal GHT is divided into ten connecting treks, meaning, you can trek one or more at a time. Your fitness level, the time at your disposal, and of course, your desire, are the deciding factors. On average, one can complete a section in about two to three weeks, and you also have a choice between the high route (traversing 3,000 to 5,000 m) and the lower route. The latter brings you up-close with villages and their inhabitants, which means experiencing first-hand local lifestyles of various ethnic groups. An outstanding highlight of your trek will certainly be the great views on the way as you trek through areas like the Kanchenjunga Conservation Area, with its alpine meadows, pristine forests, and high-altitude wetlands, and towering over all, the majestic Kanchenjunga, the third highest peak in the world. Rich in flora that includes over 2,000 plant species, if you are there around April, you’ll see the hills turn red with the blossoming of the rhododendron, Nepal’s national flower. Starting from Tumlingtar, you’ll be passing through villages of the Rai and Limbu clans, who are renowned for their martial prowess, followed by Sherpa, Tamang, and Bhutia villages. Another outstanding area is the Makalu Barun National Park, where the climate ranges from tropical to alpine zones, thus promising great diversity in its ecology, including its forests. There are 25 rhododendron and 47 orchid species to be found here, along with 75 animal species and 440 kinds of birds. This is the habitat of the rare red panda, the clouded leopard, and the Asian golden cat, so keep a sharp eye out! The Sagarmatha National Park is, of course, one of the most exciting areas you will be trekking through; it is after all the highest national park in the world! And, a World Heritage Site, too! You’ll be meeting a lot of Sherpas, so famous for their fantastic climbing skills that no Himalayan expedition is complete without their guidance. This is where you will also see the tallest peak on Earth—Mount Everest, of course! In addition to all these riches, the park has tranquil turquoise lakes and exotic monasteries. And, now, on to the region of sacred valleys and holy lakes, meaning Helambu, one among the 108 beyuls (sacred valleys) of the Himalayas. You get to visit Langtang National Park, and you get awesome views of the vast Tibetan plateau from the Tilman Pass (5,308 m). On the way, you’ll get a chance to take holy dips in a number of sacred lakes, Gosainkunda being the most sacred. It is a really popular pilgrimage destination for Nepalis and foreigners alike, and you’ll find them in their thousands there during the full moon of August, a day when Brahmins change their janai (sacred thread). A holy bath beforehand is, of course, called for, and what could be holier than a dip in Gosainkunda? Paanch Pokhari (Five Lakes) is a group of lakes that are also in this area, and sacred, too. The GHT also entails a visit to the Tsum Valley, where a strict code of non-violence is followed by its inhabitants; no animals can be killed. Among the villages in this area is one that provides great succor to tired muscles, that is, Tatopani (‘Hot Water’), which is famous for its hot spring water gushing out from stone spouts. This is predominantly Tamang country. Another great region is where you will be walking on one of the world’s most popular treks, the Annapurna Circuit. The views are stupendous, and include large glaciers and deep valleys and the mysterious kingdom of Lo Manthang in Mustang. You’ll also see the Kali Gandaki Valley, which is said to be the deepest gorge in the world.