We traversed Nepal from the East to the West, following the high route of the Great Himalaya Trail with the exception of two detours. Our starting point was Taplejung and our finish point was Hilsa. Detailed route descriptions and embedded maps are available on this website. We crossed all five technical passes without expedition support. In thru-hiker fashion, we never left the trail during the 87 days we were on it. We had one full rest day and two half rest days. We did not measure distances as we did not have enough GPS battery power, but estimate the total distance at over 1,200 miles based on other published figures. 99% of our journey was recorded by a Delorme Satellite Transponder which recorded a way point every 10 minutes. This represents the most complete track of the GHT done to date and is embedded in the map below (however we encourage you to look at each section of the trail that we have documented where we include additional GPS files and route notes). We invite feedback and notes for these pages and will happily provide credit.
GPS tracks are often from 10 minute increments created by a satellite transponder. In some cases we have more detailed tracks, and alternative routes. We recommend you download them from our file repository (new window). You can also download tracks on pages that detail specific routes, the embedded maps will lead you to a GPS file. But these are limited to 25 way points and you will miss out on possible alternative tracks.
Please use files at your own risk and do not redistribute without permission.Note that these files cannot be used to approximate distance as you rarely walk in a straight line for 10 minutes in the Himalaya. Most locals will also refer to distance in hours walking. We found it helpful to ask them for two estimates – a fast walk and a slow walk. In a few cases we do substitute much more precise GPS measures/tracks because we either had plentiful battery power to run a GPS full time, or else we recorded tracks on another trip or someone passed them on to us. (We encourage readers to send their GPS tracks so we can add this info, we will thank you).
Many of the way points were collected by Robin Boustead from his explorations and he also collected many from different people (Shawn Forrey, Bob Rosenbaum, Jamie McGuinness, Richard Bull, and others). These are usually suffixed ‘RB’ in our files. Our tracks, and waypoints themselves are often suffixed ‘RFB’ for ‘Run for the Border’ which was our team name. Seth integrated these removed duplicates, sometimes translated names from German, and otherwise cleaned things up and integrated into our tracks. For distance estimations, trail narrative and more precise planning, we refer you to Robin Boustead’s book.
If any of this is helpful, we ask that you make a small donation to www.wideopenvistas.org, or to your favorite Nepal focused charity and/or consider contracting with Seth and Dorjee for logistical support.
We carried no GPS baselayers. Stuart Bilby (2014) reported success with using Backcountry Navigator on his Android phone and some of the base layers. And this site looks interesting for commercial base layers for certain areas: http://www.nepalgpsmap.com/en/shop/garmin/
We carried maps from the Himalayan Map House. These are often 1:100,000 which makes them very difficult to use for fine navigating. We would appreciate notes from others on higher resolution maps they have been able to find.
Other online Maps
There are also online maps hosted by www.thegreathimalayatrail.org, these embedded maps are powered by google but you can not download the GPS tracks. Seth obtained a copy of the GPS tracks from Neha and they are sometimes represented on our pages but the provenance of these tracks (hand drawn?), fragmentation, and discrepancies against the Himalayan Map House maps and our own experience raise serious concerns. We have documented these discrepancies within this site and also reported them to Neha Shrestha who is the principal contact for the NGO (www.samarthnepal.com) managing www.thegreathimalayatrail.org. It is Seth’s understanding that much of this site was originally built by Richard Bull and Robin Boustead but is now in the hands of the NGO mentioned above. And email on Nov 28th, 2014, from Neha indicates the website is currently being redesigned and updated.
We owe a big debt to Doc McKerr who thru hiked in 2013 and was kind enough to give us way points automatically recorded by his satellite transponder every two hours of walking. We carried these with us, and it helped us from time to time, but we had no other GPS data with us on the trip, including no named way points. The vast majority of GPS data on this site was generated during our trip and/or compiled after; given the amount of navigation difficulty that we had, we think these finer tracks and waypoints published here will be of significant help to future thru-hikers. We hope so.
Updated: January 23rd, 2015 by SW