This trek introduces you to one of the remotest regions of the country, and you’ll be hiking on some salt trade routes that are pretty ancient in origin, and on which you’ll see mules, many of them in caravans, heavy loads on their sturdy backs, yet managing to scamper down sure-footedly on steeply descending rocky trails and scrambling uphill, equally sure of foot. These are sights rarely seen in today’s world, and thus makes the Humla trek a novel one.
Humla is the country’s northernmost district. It is also the gateway to Mount Kailash, a very sacred site, the abode of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. Mount Saipal, at 7,031 meters, is the highest mountain in Humla. You’ll also find Limi Valley here, a virgin valley, as it were, with almost no signs of modernization around. Your trek starts at Simikot (2,190 m) which you reach by flight from Nepalgunj in about 50 minutes. Nepalgunj, on its part, is a one-hour flight from Kathmandu.
Once in Simikot, you hike on a salt trading trail to arrive at a town on the Nepal-China border known as Hilsa (3,720 m). You’ll be making many steep ascents and equally steep descents, which makes it a tough trek. The landscape is wild and rugged, and the awesome scenery is unbelievably beautiful—pine tree forests, terraced paddy fields, wonderful waterfalls, deep gorges, shimmering lakes, and many rock strewn trails all around. As you plod on, you’ll be in sight of the Karnali River most of the time, and on the horizon will be a number of snow-capped peaks. Add to all this, the sight of yaks grazing on the meadows and the sheep in caravans with 10-12 kg bags of salt on their backs, and yes, you will be transported back in time, no doubt about that!
On leaving Simikot, you’ll have to hike uphill most of the time on a salt route that goes along the valley wall. Waterfalls cascading down make for fantastic scenery. You’ll also encounter nomads on the trail, as well as some small villages around the hilltops above the gorge. Villages like Tumkot, Yalbang, Majhgaon, Kermi, etc. The descents are as trying as the ascents, and punish your legs equally. The foot of the Chongsa basin makes for a good campsite for the day, but the weather can be quite unpredictable here, so be prepared for rain.