Nepal is home to eight of the top ten highest summits in the world and its breathtaking landscapes which are only accessible by foot make it one of the most unique experiences Asia has to offer. Trekking is by far the most popular activity in this country with world renowned treks such as Mount Everest Base Camp, Gokyo Lakes and the Annapurna Circuit attracting hundreds of thousands of adventure seekers every year.
While you could spend months planning expeditions and treks, you could also land yourself in Kathmandu with no plans and be out in the mountains within a few days as the streets of the city are flooded with trekking gear for sale or rent and organised tours ready for immediate departure. This trekking hub offers a huge variety of options for travellers and no matter what your budget is, there’s something to suit everyone of all ages and capabilities.
Getting to Nepal
Kathmandu is Nepal’s international airport and direct flights are available from many places however the cheapest flights are mostly from Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia so have a look at flying through there to get the best deals available!
When to go
The best seasons for trekking are March-June and September-November. These are the dryer and warmer seasons in Nepal and the temperatures are bearable. You can choose to trek out of season, however the rainy season is from May- June and the winter months are insanely cold. Many passes and trails are also closed during the winter months.
Kathmandu and Pokhara are the main two resting points for hikers about to begin their treks or those who have completed a journey. There are tons of different accommodation options for any type of budget with a dorm bed for a backpacker going for just $2 US a night!!
Check out the usual suspects: booking.com, Airbnb and Hostelworld for more info!
Accommodation during your treks is also easy to find. Tea houses ( lodges) are scattered along the hiking trails and situated at the common resting points. It’s common for many of the simple lodges to offer free accommodation in exchange for you purchasing all of your meals there but if you want something a little nicer with the chance of a hot shower, it’s also possible to book these on the spot.
Note that these lodges can get quite cold at night so i would personally recommend bringing a sleeping bag for extra warmth. Camping is also an option with fully guided camping treks available. Be sure to do your research and see what type of accommodation is provided for the trek you’re about to embark on.
What to bring on your treks
Trust me when i say take only what you need and leave the rest behind. Your needs while trekking will be pretty simple and i can tell you from personal experience that hiking up a mountain with 20kg of equipment will have your body screaming in all the wrong places. It’s possible to buy or rent everything you need in Kathmandu and Pokhara, although i would recommend using footwear that is already broken in. You can find a good bargain on fleeces and down jackets and even sell them back to other travellers and backpackers once you’re done with them. The main essentials to bring are:
Warm inner jacket
First aid kit with altitude sickness and other medication.
Reusable water bottle
Be sure to get one of the blue covered maps as they provide detailed distances and charts that will help you along the way and if you are attempting a more difficult trek involving mountaineering then crampons and ice axes may be required so do your research before you leave!
Popular trekking routes have supplies along the way such as toiletries, snacks, chocolate bars etc but can rise heavily in price as you go higher in elevation so try and stock up with small lightweight snacks before you leave. Coconut cookies are the best!
Guided or unguided tours?
This will depend on the difficulty of the trek, your budget, safety concerns and time efficiency. There’s lots of different tour companies out there all providing different types of services according to your budget and if deciding to go with a tour, you will most likely be carrying just a day pack with porters carrying the other supplies up. If hiring staff independently and without an agency, be mindful of your responsibilities to ensure that your guide is suitably equipped for the job.
You can generally pick up an independent guide for around $20- $30 US per day. Choosing this option will not only support the local community, but you will no doubt learn a lot about the culture and history of Nepal.
Independent trekking is quite easy in the main trekking areas but if you don’t have time to make your permit yourself it’s better to check out an agency in Kathmandu.
A TIMS card is a basic trekking permit that is required for all treks in Nepal ( Traffic Information Management System card ).
You may also need other permits depending on the region you choose to go to such as the Annapurna region.
The most convenient place to apply for these permits is at the Nepal Tourism Board Office in Kathmandu.
Before you apply for these permits, you will need to know the following information:
Trekking entry and exit dates, can be estimate
Trekking entry and exit points
Emergency contact info for Nepal (can use a tour agency as a contact)
Emergency contact info for someone in your home country
Your insurance policy number, their phone number, and what your policy covers
You also need the following documents:
Copy of your passport
2 passport-sized photos
For more information on the TIMS card, check out the website of the Nepal Tourism Board.
Mount Everest Region
Located on the north-east of Nepal, Everest region is not only famous as a tourist destination for its scenic views of Mount Everest, but also for many other mountains that stretch across the region. Throughout the region, trekkers can encounter unbelievable views of some of the world’s highest peaks and experience mountain life passing by and staying in local villages occupied by indigenous mountain people. The trek to Everest base camp will have you pass through rugged rocky valleys, alpine forests, Sherpa villages, glaciers and ice falls.
The common starting point for hikes in this region is Lukla where you can fly direct to and from Kathmandu.This airport is also considered the most dangerous airport in the world as the runway is carved into the side of a mountain and is extremely short.
However if you are feeling extra energetic and adventurous, you can make the extra 5-7 day journey through the mountains starting in Jiri. This option isn’t for the faint hearted as it will take you to elevation points of 2600m before descending back down and repeating the process over the 5-7 days. From Lukla you can expect to make it to Everest Base Camp in 6-8 days depending on the route you take.