Sorry Jack, took me a little time to get back to email land. I have started putting more info on the site in response to a bunch of questions from people both in Nepal and o/s.
I think there is a huge potential for independent walkers along the GHT and the more people start to voice a desire to walk the trail this way the more trekking agencies will listen. I feel like there is a plot to homogenise trekking into package tours to a few ‘profit centres’ like Everest, Annapurna and Langtang. Yes, these are all great areas, but there are many others equal to them that can provide some wonderful hikes – Phuksumdo is an example where for a US$10 permit you can tea-house trek to perhaps the most beautiful place in the Himalaya!
The GHT follows local village-to-village trails across most of the country, with only the big passes Sherpani and West Col, Amphu Labsta, Tashi Labsta and Tilman requiring Sherpa support. There are also a few genuine wilderness areas that you would be unwise to trek alone, like the Lumbha Sambha and the Dolpo-Mugu traverse. These areas constitute less than 40% of the total trail in Nepal, so there is about 1,000km that could be trekked independently.
Beyond Nepal, East Tibet has lots of restrictions, and Bhutan is not prepared to allow any independent hiking. Much of Sikkim can be trekked by individuals, in fact, this was the first place I hiked in the Himalaya with my sister for company. And nearly all of the trails in northwest India are roadhead-to-roadhead so the issue there is how to avoid potential resupply points.
For my traverse of Nepal, I had 5 re-supply points – Chhukung in Everest, Last Resort (Arniko Highway), Syabru Besi (Langtang/Ganesh Himal), Jomsom (before Dolpo) and Gamgadhi (Rara). This meant frugal dinning for much of the time – just chapatti, rice and potato with the occasional chicken or goat meat - I lost a lot of weight!
What I love about the GHT is that it is a personal challenge, there is no right or best way to go. I have completed the ‘extreme’ route to highlight the variety Nepal has to offer – the lowest point of the extreme route is 970m, and more than 30% of trails are under 3,000m, the highest point being 6,190m. It’s a trail network that can add value to regions that previously where thought to offer little, I hope to have helped prove that wrong.