There are two major
factors to weigh as you decide when to go to Nepal:
crowds and weather. As a general rule, the better
the weather, the more people come to Nepal to
go trekking. During the high tourist season in
October and November, Travel Ticketingand hotels
are fully booked and hotels and trails in the
hills can be horrendously busy.
During autumn the
nights are cold in the mountains, but the bright
sun makes for pleasant day temperatures - in the
high 20s° C, falling to 5° C at night,
between 1000 metres and 3500 metres. At higher
altitudes temperatures range from about 20°
C down to -10° C. Mornings are usually clear
with clouds building up during the afternoon,
disappearing at night to reveal spectacular starry
skies. During winter it is about 10 degrees colder.
Early December usually
has a lull, but this is also a good trekking season.
The Christmas period is cold, but this is the
holiday season in Japan and Australia and these
nationalities dominate Travel Ticketingand hotels.
High passes, especially Thorung La on the Around
Annapurna trek and Laurabina Pass on the Gosainkund
trek are usually closed from late November to
Marchrs. February is still cold, though less so
as the spring trekking season of March and April
approaches. The Middle Hills, especially around
Pokhara, are full of dust and haze in April and
May, but the high country is usually clear. Trekking
tapers off in the heat of May except at high elevations.
The monsoon is a
good time to visit Kathmandu, but there are few
trekkers among those who come. A monsoon trek
is possible if you are willing to put up with
the rain, leeches, slippery trails and lousy mountain
views. Travel Ticketingoperate throughout the
monsoon to Lukla, Jumla and Jomsom, so it is possible
to fly in and trek above the leech line.
Many of the new
treks to recently opened restricted areas are
good summer treks. Mustang and Simikot are partially
in the Himalayan rain shadow, so trekking conditions
are good throughout the monsoon season. Most of
the restricted area treks are impossible during
the winter season.
Nepal has four distinct seasons. Spring, from
March to May, is warm and dusty with rain showers.
Summer, from June to August, is the monsoon season
when the hills turn lush and green. Autumn, from
September to November, is cool with clear skies,
and is the most popular trekking season. In winter,
from December to February, it is cold at night
and can be foggy in the early morning, but afternoons
are usually clear and pleasant, though there is
occasional snow in the mountains.
Because Nepal is
quite far south (at the same latitude as Miami
and Cairo) the weather is warmer and winter is
much milder at lower elevations, including Kathmandu
at 1400 metres. It rarely snows below 2000 metres.
The monsoon in the
Bay of Bengal governs the weather pattern. The
monsoon creates a rainy season from the middle
of June to the middle of September. It is hot
during the monsoon and it rains almost every day,
but it is a considerate rain, limiting itself
mostly to the night. During this season, trekking
in most of Nepal is difficult and uncomfortable.
Clouds usually hide the mountains and the trails
are muddy and infested with leeches.
It usually does
not rain for more than one or two days during
the entire autumn season from mid-October to mid-December.
During winter and spring there may be a week or
so of rainy evenings and occasional thunderstorms
blanket the hills with snow. The Himalaya makes
its own localised weather, which varies significantly
over a distance of a few km. Despite the sanguine
assurances of Radio Nepal that the weather will
be "...mainly fair throughout the kingdom",
always expect clouds in the afternoon and be prepared
for occasional rain.
Most of the precipitation
in the Himalaya occurs during the summer monsoon.
There is less snow on the mountains and on many
of the high trails during winter. Everest itself
is black rock during the trekking season, becoming
snow-covered only during summer. There are always
exceptions to this weather pattern, so be prepared
for extremes. Winter snowstorms in December and
January may make an early spring pass crossing
difficult and can present an avalanche danger,
especially on the approach to the Annapurna Sanctuary.
In Kathmandu, spring
and autumn days are comfortable and the evenings
are cool, usually requiring a light jacket or
pullover. Winter in Kathmandu brings cold foggy
mornings and clear evenings, but pleasant day
temperatures with brilliant sunshine most days
after the morning fog has lifted. It never snows
in Kathmandu, though there is frost on cold nights
in January and February. The hottest month is
May, just before the rains start.