Trekking in Nepal is glorious! An experience I recommend to everyone who expresses an interest in travelling there. I am not an avid walker or outdoors fanatic but over the years have really appreciated getting out of Kathmandu and up into the Himalayas.
My first trip was up to Annapurna Base Camp in 2003, when I went last minute with some friends whilst volunteering there, nonchalantly saying I would trek as far as I felt like and turn back when I was done – preferring to spend my break chilling by the lake in Pokhara. But once I saw the snowy peaks in the distance, I had to get to the base camp! In recent years, I have been back to Annapurna Base Camp, trekked most of the Annapurna Circuit (unfortunately not the Thorong La Pass in the middle – one day!) and last year went to Gokyo lake and peak in the Everest region.
Don't go anywhere without your Map!!
With teahouses along the way, you are able to trek on your own with a map following the well-trodden route, or with porters and a guide, or with a group. It is such a great experience to stay in the teahouses, run by local families who provide basic accommodation and a lovely warm dining room for home cooked Daal Baht in the evenings.
Read on for advice and tips for your next trip hiking!
I would recommend finding a local guide or trekking company in Kathmandu or Pokhara to help arrange everything for you. Gopal at Trekking Mart (www.trekkingmart.com) is very helpful!
The general rule is not to ascend more than 400m in one day, and also to ‘hike high, sleep low’ trekking higher and then sleeping at a lower altitude if possible. Altitude sickness can affect people above 3000m and can be very serious so must be taken into consideration. It is best to be aware of the signs incase you or someone in your group begins to suffer from it - you will have to descend if the symptoms persists. Diamox tablets (can be bought in Kathmandu) are advisable to take with you to help with symptoms. Luckily I haven’t had this problem so far but always good to be aware of it and take the advice of the acclimatisation days needed on trekking schedules. Being in Kathmandu (at around 1200m) for a bit helps your body to adjust also.
I have definitely been badly equipped on treks before in my 20s, so here is my list of essentials for trekking in Nepal at higher altitude, from my experience.
- Thermals and warm layers – especially for the evenings but it can be sunny during the day!
- Rain mac and waterproof trousers as well as worn in trekking boots (and plasters in case!)
- Sunglasses, suncream, a torch, some loo roll and granola bars are also essential in my backpack, which I usually make sure is less than 10kg and has a waist belt to take strain off my shoulders.
- Water bottle and water purification tablets - There is so much waste up on the mountain, so best to get water from drinking water points (usually marked on the map).
- Sleeping bag liner – if you are packing light, just take a liner, and you will get blankets and quilts in the teahouses – you can ask for extra!
- Phone charging – I know a lot of people would do without in the great outdoors, but as a business owner, I can never keep too far from work and I also use it as my camera.
- A book for the evenings, though also nice to chat to everyone else in the teahouse and get some much needed early nights and trek early morning to get the great views incase it clouds over during the day!
Look at these views from the Helicopter!!
For the Everest region, you have to fly up to Lukla either by plane or helicopter which is exciting in itself!- Book the earliest flights possible as they can often be delayed or cancelled later on in the day if the clouds come in which affects runway visibility – helicopters do not have this problem and are super exciting to travel in as you can see everything (not for the faint hearted), so I got one back from Lukla last year. For routes in Langtang and Annapurna, you can get a local bus or tourist bus I think to the start trek points.
For the permits, you need passport photos (which you need on arrival for Nepali visa anyway, so keep some for trekking permits), and copy of your passport and nepali visa page. Last year, I didn’t get a permit before getting to Lukla and got the permits at the beginning of the route, but make sure you bring enough rupees with you.
Anyway, that is all the basic tips for trekking, I’ve got lots of stories involving donkeys, yaks, hot springs, apple cider, rides on diggers, marathon runners, and rickety foot bridges! If anyone needs any specific advice, give me a shout – if I can’t help, I will know someone who can!
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