Humla is the most remote district in Nepal, and one of the poorest. There are few tourists, and those you meet will most likely be headed to the border town of Hilsa, a stepping-stone to Mount Kailash in Tibet.

From the district capital of Simikot, spread across a ridge at 2900m, the Great Himalaya Trail follows the old salt trading route to Tibet. The trail threads along towering green cliffs above the roaring Karnali, the longest river in Nepal. You’ll pass clusters of flat-roofed mud houses, encountering Thakuri women wearing heavy gold and silver jewellery, and Thakuri men leading flocks of long-haired goats up and down the muddy trail to Tibet.

As you approach Hilsa and the northwestern border, the landscape becomes drier, and the context, Buddhist. It’s possible to turn southeast into the Limi Valley’s incredible red rockscapes and mediaeval stone villages. Beyond lies aglacial valley below the 5000m Nyalu pass, with the aquamarine Tshom Tsho Lake providing remarkable contrast with the burnt sienna of the treeless expanses.
The Humli people, like Nepalis across the country, are incredibly diverse. About 85% of the 56,000 people who live in this sparsely populated district are Hindu. Buddhists, some of whom practice polyandry, occupy the highlands. According to anthropologist Carol Dunham:

Humla is one of the most culturally fascinating places in all of Nepal, a cultural tapestry woven from ancient Khasa kingdoms, ancestors of the grand Zhangzhung kingdom of the north, with Rajput and Thakuri blended into the mix.

Top 3 Treks

Limi Valley Trek – 17 days

Step into the hidden Limi Valley and enter a world seemingly frozen in time. Experience authentic Tibetan Buddhist culture interwoven with ancient shamanistic traditions.  Trekking Style: Camping (basic teahouses in some villages)


Short return trek from Humla’s district headquarter in Simikot: hike to the remote and unknown Nyinba Valley famous for its Buddhist monastery Raling Gompa, one of the most important historic and religious sites in Humla. Trekking Style: Camping and homestay

Humla Exploration Trek – 12 days

The Humla Exploration Trek follows the ancient salt trading and pilgrimage route to the border of Nepal and China. From the lush banks of the Karnali river to the arid plains that expand into Tibet, this remote part of the Himalayas catches the eye with every bend of the trail.

Explore more treks in Humla

Fast Facts

  • Humla is often known as the ‘Hidden Himalaya’ due to its remoteness
  • The highest mountains of the region are Mt Api (7132m) and Mount Saipal (7031m)
  • Hilsa is the gateway to Tibet’s sacred Mount Kailash, which pilgrims from across faiths have visited for thousands of years. The northern landscape of Humla is part of a sacred Buddhist mandala. It has its centre at Mt Kailash and points in the surrounding landscape, stretching for hundreds of kilometres, corresponding to spiritual concepts.
  • The ancient salt trade has traditionally been carried on goats rather than Yaks or mules as in other parts of Nepal.
  • The inhabitants of the three villages of remote Limi Valley are snowed in for six months a year. When the passes open up in spring they head to Tibet to trade their famous wooden bowls for household goods.

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