Trekking in Nepal Guide – 2014

Trekking in Nepal guide Infographics

Every year around 210,000 tourists spend their holidays trekking in Nepal. In this Guide for Trekking in Nepal, we will guide you through 7 preparatory steps which answers the most common questions that we receive from people who are coming to Nepal for trekking. The overall aim? To help you get a fantastic trekking experience in Nepal!

If you are going trekking in Nepal, you are very likely to go through most, if not all, of the following steps during your planning phase (you can click at each of the links to quickly jump to a favourite section of yours):

Step 1: Selecting the right trek

Step 2: Solo trekking in Nepal? Or, find trekking partners?

Step 3: Go with a trekking company and be guided, or not?

Step 4: Hiring the Right trekking company, online trek booking, or not?

Step 5: Best season for trekking in Nepal?

Step 6: What trekking equipment do you need?

Step 7: Is it recommend to purchase trekking equipment in Nepal, or at home?

After having read through each of the above sections you should have gained sufficient knowledge to get a fantastic trekking experience in Nepal. We are, however, providing a few more bonus tips in Step 8: Ready for trekking!

Step 1: Selecting the Right Trek

Nepal offers a myriad of treks that vary in both duration and difficulty. According to your previous trekking experience, preferences, and time available, you might want to make a careful selection of the trek that would best suit you. Moreover, you can also base your choice of trek on whether you want a cultural experience or a natural one. There are also treks that offer a nice combination of the two. Of course, some treks are busier than others, and your choice may also be affected by whether you prefer walking with the crowds or wandering in serene solitude.

Please note the following correlations when selecting trek:

Price correlates with the number of trekkers in Nepal
While everybody speaks about how crowded the Everest region is, the Annapurna region actually receives 3 times as many trekkers annually – around 110,000 trekkers in 2013, compared with Everest’s approx. 36,000. The primary reason probably being that the Annapurna region is reachable by bus and is thereby considerably cheaper. A trek like Upper Mustang only receives around 2,000 trekkers a year, the primary reason being its high price.

Number of trekkers correlates with the quality of the Guesthouses
The busiest trekking regions in Nepal – the Everest and Annapurna regions – both offer the most comfortable lodges and guesthouses. The Everest region inter alia contains the hotel chain Yeti Mountain homes, which are Luxury lodges!

Price correlates with the remoteness of the treks
The more remote a trekking region is, the higher the price. The primary reason is that remote treks are often camping treks, necessitating much more trekking gear and equipment; and they are likely to require Restricted Trekking Permits as well, which are expensive.

Please visit the following links for great treks in Nepal.

Step 2: Solo trekking in Nepal? Or find trekking partners?

Group of trekkers on EBC

Admittedly, there is a certain sense of adventure and seclusion when trekking in the Himalayas alone. However, there are also risks that come with it. Solo trekking in Nepal is still legal, despite talks in 2013 about banning it. So, if you want to go alone into the embrace of the Himalayas, you will have no problems getting a permit.

However, on certain difficult treks, going alone would entail a risk. A simple twisted ankle might prove fatal in harsh high-altitude conditions. The main advantages in having trekking partners are safety and a sharing of travel costs. Moreover, on certain treks such as Upper Mustang, Upper Dolpo, Manaslu, Makalu Base Camp and Kanchenjunga, solo trekking is not allowed at all. These treks can therefore only be done if you are at least two trekkers.

At Bookmundi, we highly recommend having trekking partners whenever you go trekking in Nepal. 

Step 3: Go with a Trekking Company and be guided, or not?

Whether you want a guide or not, is probably an individual decision. We’ll therefore dwell upon the pros and cons of it, enabling you to make an informed decision:

Pros of having a guide

  • You do not need to worry about arranging trekking permits, transport etc. All arrangements and preparations necessary will be carried out by the trekking company.
  • Prior the trek starting date the guide and trekking company will brief you about the necessary safety pre-cautions, making sure that you are properly prepared, and ready to embrace a great trekking in Nepal experience!
  • Altitude sickness, an inherent risk for most of the trekking destinations in Nepal, is less likely when accompanied by a guide. A guide will know how to avoid it, and how to treat it, in case you get altitude sickness. And please note, every year altitude sickness claims 1 or more lives in the Himalayas. 
  • In case of accidents, the guide will be able to assist you. Worst case, the guide and trekking company can arrange an emergency helicopter evacuation, as they have a direct contact with the helicopter companies (if you select the right trekking agency)
  • A guide can be very useful in finding the trails, and taking the right path when crossing a pass, a glacier and other (beautiful) hazards.

Cons of having a guide

  • Let’s face it – the main con of bringing a guide is that it will cost more. Since we are taking about trekking in Nepal, guide costs are normally not significant. However, if you are on a tight budget, every penny counts!

Leaving aside the pros and cons of hiring a guide while trekking in Nepal, if you’re coming to Nepal for climbing, please always hire a reputable climbing company. Also, we would always advise you to hire a trekking guide if it’s your first time trekking in Nepal!

Should you be a very experienced trekker, you may consider going alone on the more popular trekking routes. For the remote trekking regions requiring, among others, your own food supplies and camping gear, we strongly encourage you to hire a trekking agency. Per the following link please find some of Nepal’s best trekking and climbing agencies, all of which have been carefully screened and handpicked.

In case you’re going trekking without a trekking company, please note the following:

    1. You will need to get a TIMS (Trekkers’ Information Management System) card which can be obtained at Nepal Tourism Board which has offices both in Kathmandu and Pokhara. For more information about TIMS, please Click Here
    2. You cannot go to a trekking destination requiring ‘Restricted Trekking Permits’ as bringing a guide is mandatory for such destinations. The following link provides more information about Restricted Trekking Permits.
    3. You’ll have to arrange your own transport which is definitely possible, but please note that getting flight tickets to the Everest region is not easy, especially during high season (Oct-Nov and Mar-May).
    4. Please bring a well equipped first aid bag and make sure that you can somehow get in contact with help, in case of accidents.

Step 4:  Hiring the right trekking company – online trek booking, or not?

Trekking Agencies infographic

Assuming that you decided to hire a trekking company, let’s now look at the essentials of hiring the right trekking company. We say ‘right’ as price and quality are normally correlated. In other words, choosing the cheapest company is not likely to bring you the best trekking in Nepal experience.

The following article lists some of the best trekking agencies in Nepal and also informs about relevant factors to consider when identifying the ‘right’ trekking agency.

If you are not on a strict schedule and have a few extra days in Kathmandu, you can go to Thamel and book your trek in person. However, please consider the factors highlighted in the above article, as the risk of just wandering into Thamel without sufficient knowledge is that you pick the wrong company (having untrained guides) and paying too high a price for it (and we’re not just talking about money).

Booking your trek online has the following advantages:

  • You’ll save time!
  • Your seat and tour is confirmed! This is especially important during the high season as flight tickets can be very hard to obtain if not booked well in advance.
  • Booking online will give you a chance to compare prices, thereby making sure that you get the right price.
  • If you’re a solo trekker, a less obvious advantage of booking online is that you have the time and resources to easily find trekking partners for your adventure in Nepal.

Is booking your trek online more expensive than in the streets of Thamel? The answer is: it depends.

There will be trekking agencies that quote extremely high prices when booking online. There are also online booking sites that apply high commission rates.

Keep one thing in mind, though, when booking online via a booking engine / middleman – it is very likely to result in a professional guide! Why? Because the trekking agencies know you will review them afterwards when booking online, via e.g. bookmundi! It’s therefore in their best interest to provide you with their best guide as it will ensure that:

  1. You get a great trekking experience, and
  2. subsequently, they get a superior trekking review, by you

Step 5: Best season for Trekking in Nepal?

Although one can trek in Nepal at any time during the year, there are some months that are particularly well-suited for trekking in terms of weather.

The best months for trekking in Nepal are October and November. The autumn season has clear blue skies and very nice weather. Being the busiest season, you can expect a lot of fellow trekkers as well.

However, one can also opt for spring, that is, March to May. The Spring season is almost as good as the October/November season. One advantage during Spring is that the national flower of Nepal – the Rhododendron – will be in full bloom from April to late May (and yes, there are many Rhododendrons on the trekking trails J).
The worst months for trekking tend to be during the monsoon season, June to mid September. The constant rainfall makes it very difficult to climb and also mucks up the surrounding views. Naturally, trekking in rain is also less fun compared to a clear blue sky!

The winter season does have clear skies, but it can get very cold at high altitudes. Although trekking in winter is not impossible, you do need to be prepared to face the Himalayan chills, especially in the evenings and early mornings. Proper warm clothes and equipment is therefore a must.

If you need more information about the best seasons to trek in Nepal, visit this article that lists the average temperatures for each season.

Step 6: What trekking equipment do you need?

Camp Set up under a night skyThe following article covers the necessary trekking equipment for trekking in Nepal.

When deciding how much gear to pack and what to bring, it’s always recommended to try and pack as light as possible and bring multipurpose equipment and clothing items. A properly packed backpack should not weigh more than 13 kgs.

If you are trekking in Nepal during monsoon season, please remember to bring a good raincoat. During monsoon season trekking areas such as Upper Mustang and Manaslu are more favourable than others, as both treks are located in the Trans Himalayan Zone which receives comparatively less rain.

If you are trekking in Nepal during winter season, please make sure that you bring warm clothes. It is not fun to be on an adventure holiday of your dreams if you are constantly freezing. Worst case, not bringing sufficiently warm clothing gear and equipment could be life threatening.

Step 7: Is it recommended to purchase trekking equipment in Nepal, or abroad?

Nepal is known for trekking and climbing. It is also located between two of the largest countries – India and China – both of which these days produce a lot of decent trekking and climbing equipment, fake as well as original.

If you are going trekking in Nepal, we highly recommend buying all your gear in Nepal, as it will save you a lot of money. Should you primarily be interested in original gear, Kathmandu also hosts an original North Face Shop, the high quality brand Mountain Hard Wear, and the high quality and local brand, Sherpa Adventure Gear.

The following article will inform you more about where to purchase your trekking equipment.

Step 8: Ready for trekking? Here are a few bonus tips.

By now, you are basically 100% ready to get a wonderful trekking in Nepal experience. Let’s just provide you with a few more pieces of useful information, when coming to Nepal as a tourist:

  • Thamel is the prime tourist area in Kathmandu where you can find everything from hotels, restaurants and bars, to bookshops, bakeries and small supermarkets. In principle, once you hit Thamel, you won’t have to leave the area.
  • A decent place to stay overnight in Kathmandu can be acquired from USD 8-40 a day, pending the quality you’re after. Of course, the city also offers high quality hotels with our favourite being the Hyatt Hotel. It is located in Boudha which is half an hour’s drive away from Thamel.
  • You will not need to arrange visa in advance as Nepal has a Visa-Upon-Arrival service at Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport.
  • As a tourist you can stay in Nepal for 5 months a year.

We hope the above Guide for trekking in Nepal was useful, and we welcome any comments you may have.

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