Pikey Peak 

Panoramic views from the top of Pikey Peak. 

The best 3-day trek in Nepal? Probably.

Trekking in Nepal is usually associated with big peaks, icy terrain and high altitude. The big names of Everest and Annapurna draw huge numbers every year, but there are other opportunities to get away from the busy tea houses and cold nights to explore Nepal’s lower topography, which widely gets missed.

Nepal’s mid-hills offer some of the most culturally rich and richly intact trekking regions in the Himalayas. Hillsides sculpted with terraces for growing rice, wheat and barley. Overgrown trails winding through forests, past chortens and beneath waterfalls. Traditional little villages perched on mountainsides and jaw-dropping views of the Himalayan range that stretch from one end of the country to the other. This is the real Nepal, and people are missing it.

There are many possibilities to get out and explore these trails. Some regions you can reach directly from Kathmandu, such as Helambu which connects the Gosainkund and Langtang regions. I recently had the opportunity to visit the district hospital of Okhaldhunga in eastern Nepal to photograph rural healthcare. Photography was also required from Jiri, the district hospital of Solukhumbu. So rather than travel by jeep for two long days between them I decided to take the direct route by foot which passes by Pikey Peak (pronounced Peekay). In the seven years I’ve been coming to Nepal I’d only ever met one person who’s been up it, and he’s been talking about it ever since.

Nepal’s topography can be described in three simple horizontal bands splitting the country. The farthest south is the Terai which is the flat lowlands bordering India. The Farthest north is the high Himalayas bordering China, home to eight of the world’s fourteen 8000m peaks. But what about the strip in-between? This is the mid-hills which encompasses most of what makes Nepal tick, including Kathmandu. Generally roads are small and difficult to navigate, many places are only reachable by foot and accommodation options are limited, so few tourists make it here.

Okhaldhunga, Solukhumbu and Dolkha districts were some of the most devastated by the earthquake. Of the 3200 households in Okhaldhunga, 1900 were either destroyed or deemed unsafe and beyond economic repair. Due to the lengthy ongoing fuel embargo from India and travel challenges in general to these regions, recovery is a painfully slow process. 

Every village I passed had suffered extensive damage. Virtually every house was cracked badly or destroyed completely. Many people are still living in temporary shelter made of tarps or tin roofing. Some have been put precariously close to the building which threatens collapse. It’s a tragic and oftentimes saddening sight to walk through. Yet Nepal’s endless resilience and ingenuity keeps things going. Farmers are in the fields, children are in school (even if it’s a temporary one) and life goes on. There’s no better time than now to visit these wonderfully traditional parts of Nepal. Just your being there with bring much needed western dollars and also spread the word of awareness wider. 

The view from Pikey Peak may be the best view in Nepal. That’s a bold statement indeed, but Edmund Hillary himself claimed it his favourite view of Everest and I’m inclined to agree with him. The advantage of being slightly further away from the big peaks is the views stretch further and encompass more. In fact on a clear day (which I was lucky to have) it’s possible to see Dhaulagiri (in the far west) all the way to Kanchenjunga, which borders India in the far east. And everything in-between. It is a truly breathtaking sight taking in countless giant peaks to the north and deep valleys dropping away into the clouds to the south.

Alex Treadway

Trek itinerary
Sigane to Jiri
3/4 days

Map - Sigane to Jiri 4-day trek via Pikey Peak

Day 1 – 3hrs drive / 7 hrs walking / Elevation gain 700m

The biggest town in the district is Okhaldhunga, with the best options for guest houses. It’s about a 3-hour drive from the trailhead at Sigane. The road from Okhaldhunga is a good black top road that climbs from 1560m at Okhaldhunga up to 2800m at Sigane. The mountains coming into view near the end of the drive from the ridge are Number Himal. It’s important to start early because it’s a pretty long day walking (7-8hrs). 

The trail from Sigane follows a road under construction for the first couple of hours. The first village is called Jahpre (2920m). It’s perched above a deep valley with nice views of Everest and the Number Himal. There’s a pretty little Gompa and Stupa here. The best bet for good Dal Bhat is a lodge called Himalayan Lama Guest House.

After Jahpre, the trail climbs up to a grassy ridge at Bhulbhule. There’s one lodge with no name on the left side. Nice views of the Everest range from here.

Soon after Bhulbhule the trail splits. Turn right to Pikey Peak. You’ll pass some old yak houses and a long Mani Stone wall. The trail then contours the hillside below Taklung Danda and goes through a beautiful forested trail. There’s many Rhododendrons here along a level path. As you leave the forest it’s not far to Pikey Peak base camp, about 2 hrs away.

There’s one lodge called Pikey Lodge (3640m) with four draughty rooms in a separate building. It’s a short climb in the morning to the summit at 4065m. Unless there’s an unusually clear evening it’s better to climb for sunrise. 

Day 2 – Pikey Peak summit (1-2 hrs) and then 6-7 hrs to Chaulakharka (4-day itinerary). 8-10 hrs to Bhandar (3-day itinerary). 

The trail to the top of Pikey Peak starts from behind the lodge and follows a gradual slope to a summit strewn with prayer flags. The views from the top are breathtaking. It’s important to start just before dawn to reach the top for sunrise.

It’s a quick decent back to the lodge for breakfast and then hit the trail without too much delay, it’s a long day to Bhandar (if walking the 3-day itinerary). 

You’ll leave Pikey base camp past a Mani Wall and then the trail goes down to the left and stays on a high contour through trees. It’s a beautiful trail with stunning mountain views. The route bends around the valley and descends through pretty forest. Eventually you’ll pass a cheese factory on the left which marks the beginning of Ngaur. Ngaur is a very pretty cluster of houses on an outcrop. There’s bad earthquake damage here, the Gompa is ruined. There’s a small new prayer wheel building next to it.

The trail goes into a steep descent through forest to Kosinasa which local people are now calling Lamane (2872m). There’s a place here for Daal Bhat. The trail follows the hillside to Gumba, climbing slightly up to 2980m. Gumba is a pretty place of about a dozen houses on the hillside and a newish looking Gompa. There's significant earthquake damage here. At Gumba the trail turns right and drops steeply through forest down to Namkheli. Leaving the forest the trail carries on all the way to the river (Likhu Kola) at 1535m. 

The next section is a 750m ascent to Bhandar. It’s a fairly steep climb sometimes on a new tractor track. The best lodge in Bhandar is Shobha Lodge by far. Menus! There’s a good hot shower and nice clean rooms upstairs. My favourite trekking brekkie is a Chapati and an omelette rolled up with chilli sauce which is perfect here.

Day 3 – Bhandar to Jiri (8-10 hrs)

The trail climbs up to the Deurali pass at 3700m. On the east side of the pass there’s great views over the valley and river back towards Pikey Peak. On the west side sits the little village of Deurali. Langtang comes into view here. There’s some damaged teas houses nestled together around rows of Mani Walls. 

The trail drops steeply at first and then levels out all the way down to Shivalaya, which is quite a big village on the river, devastated by the earthquake. The trail descends steadily all the way down to Jiri through small villages and terraced fields.


Want to go?

If you're interested in trekking to Pikey Peak, Lost Earth Adventures can help you.