Frequently Asked Questions: Travelling to Nepal
There are numerous treks you can try when you are in Nepal depending on the time of the year, amount of time and money you have to spend, and the amount of experience you've had. For limited time and money, the best trekking routes would be the Langtang-Helambu trek just north of Kathmandu, and parts of the Annapurna region trek north of Pokhara. If you have more time, a trek in the Everest region or the full Annapurna circuit can be rewarding. A more difficult trek is the Kanchanjunga area trek in the far-eastern Nepal. A good trekking book is recommended if you want more details on treks. Check out Pilgrims Book House for more details.
A travel/trek guide book is best for more information. Maps are available in bookstores around Pokhara and Kathmandu.
While trekking alone can be a great way to get to know the country, deciding
to trek alone deserves a second thought. Safety-wise, it is generally okay
to trek alone on popular trekking route. Incidents involving
trekkers do occur occasionally (and probably is on the rise). But as a general
advice, you should team-up. Teaming-up can
also be of great help if you ever need some medical help. During the main
tourist season, you will run across other trekkers who will not mind you
joining them. Also, you can find posters in the main tourist areas of Kathmandu
and Pokhara looking for trekking partners. An option is also to hire a trek
guide or a porter to go along with you.
Trekking with an agency can be worthwhile for those who are very tight on
schedule but not on money. A trekking agency can organize a trek for you
for anywhere in the upwards of $25 a day depending upon the nature of your
trek. The deal normally comes with food, shelter, porters and guides. You
will be traveling with other similar trekkers. If you hire an agency in Kathmandu
or Pokhara, you get a much better bargain than hiring one in your home country.
While traveling with an agency offers you a degree of luxury that may
not be available if you go independently, it also has its own limitations.
You have to stick to the group schedule; you will not be able to design your
own plans; the trip is fairly expensive and your interaction with the local culture will be limited.
Hiring a porter and/or a guide can add greatly to your trek experience in
Nepal, especially if this is your first time, and if you are traveling on
less frequented trails, thus having to carry a heavy load (tents, food etc).
An independent porter costs about $2-$3 a day, and a guide costs about $4-$6.
Make sure you agree upon the wage before hiring one. You can ask your hotelier
or a local trekking agency in Kathmandu or Pokhara to find one for you. You
can also find them in bigger settlements along your trekking route.
If you decide to hire a porter and/or a guide, remember that you are their
employer and thus should take full responsibility. You must make sure they
have adequate clothes and other gear necessary for the trek. It is your
responsibility to rent the gear for them. It is also your responsibility
to take care of their medical requirements if they fall sick during the trek.
Remember that many porters hired in the lower lands of Kathmandu and Pokhara
may not be aware of the problems of trekking in high altitudes.
Except the trekking areas such as the Everest, the Annapurna and the Langtang, one requires trekking permit to visit other trekking areas. Your visa is not good enough. Trekking permits are issued very easily by the Department of Immigration Office in Kathmandu and Pokhara.You need your visa, trekking fee and two colored passport-sized pictures to get your trekking permit. Remember that you require different trekking permits to different trekking areas. Note, however, that a trekking permit does not allow you to go anywhere in the country either. If mountain-peak climbing is your desire, it falls under a whole different category, and will require
a different permit.
Nepal is conservative with clothes, and your reception by locals can vary
greatly on the way you dress. Men should always wear a shirt (don't go around
bare chested) and long pants. In view of local customs, men should try not
to wear shorts, and women should avoid them altogether. For women, a skirt
of mid-calf length is preferable to slacks or pants. Slacks with sarong or
skirt over them, and a (at least half-sleeved) blouse or shirt are probably
Besides the issue of culturally sensitive dressing, it is also important
for you to make sure you have appropriate clothing to meet your needs during
a trek. Good shoes are of great importance. You will be walking for up to
eight hours a day. They must be sturdy and comfortable. Bring along sneakers
--or if you have one, a well-broken-in pair of hiking boots-- they are sufficient
for most treks. For higher altitude treks where you may have to tread snow
for long hours, good boots are available for rent in Kathmandu.
Also bring along a couple of pairs of warm wool, corduroy or jeans pants
(for men), a warm sweater (you can also buy beautiful ones in Nepal for a
bargain) and a padded jacket, a couple of T-shirts and/or shirts. Thermal
underwear can be great especially between November and February. Bring plenty
of woolen and cotton socks.
Anything more specialized than all this can be easily rented or bought in
Nepal for a good price.
Most of what you need during a trek is available in Kathmandu, and you can
buy them or rent them once you are there. Most books on trekking will list
them, check one out before you embark on your trek. If you do not have a
book yet and plan to get one only once you are in Nepal, there are some things
you may want to bring from home. Bring ear-plugs to help you sleep in spite
of barking dogs. A battery operated short-wave radio can be helpful to listen
to weather reports or the news. Also bring along a pocket knife, sunscreen,
bug spray, sunglasses, photographic equipment, binoculars, a compass, a good
watch with possibly an altimeter, and a day pack. Others, you can buy or
rent in Kathmandu for reasonable price.
Generally your hotel or lodge will let you store your luggage with them for
some nominal or no fee. As long as you lock up your bags, they are normally
Get a good travel book to guide you on health matters. There are plenty available
in Kathmandu, if you can't find one in a bookstore near you. Stephen Bezruchka's
book called Trekking in Nepal addresses health issues in excellent detail.
Don't forget to take a first-aid kit: the details of which are also mentioned
in most trek books. All of what you will need to take along can be purchased
in Kathmandu, so don't bother carrying stuff from home. Read the health guidance
in Health and Insurance section and
Dining and Drinking section for more details.
Besides minor ailments stomach problems, blisters, cold and headaches, the
most important health problem you may run into is altitude sickness. You
will not have to worry about it in Kathmandu, Pokhara or other lower places.
But once you are on the trekking trails and above 3000m in altitude, watch
out for its symptoms. Refer to a good travel book for details on how to recognize
altitude sickness and what to do about it. As a suggestion for travel planning,
you may want to plan for "rest days" at about 3,700m - 4,300m altitude levels.
This means sleeping at the similar altitude for two nights. Also remember
that you should not try to climb too high too soon: about 450m per day is
the recommended amount.
Though in general, you are not likely to face any emergency, you can never
tell. Once again, a good book on trekking will give you details on what to
do in case of emergency. In cases of non-urgent situation, you may have to
be carried to the nearest health-post or airfield. If the situation is more
serious, send word to the nearest village with radio service for a helicopter
evacuation. It costs in the neighborhood of $1200 - $2000 for a helicopter
evacuation, and generally a guarantee for payment is required before the
helicopter actually takes off. Registering with your embassy can greatly
speed the process.