Trekking in Nepal: The Definite Guide
Every year thousands of travelers opt for ultimate adventure of trekking in Nepal. Home to some of the highest mountains in the world, Nepal is a paradise for all kinds of trekkers.
From easy to a strenuous grade and trek to the lap of the highest peaks offer you the best memories.
The best part of trekking in Nepal is the breathtaking and ever-changing landscapes. The combination of exotic flora and fauna with the taste of authentic Nepali lifestyle adds sheer pleasure while walking.
Plus, the pristine lakes, waterfalls, hot springs, glaciers and high mountains entice many. With many things on hold, Nepal is the ultimate destination for trekkers.
Due to the Gorkha earthquake, the number of trekkers decreased significantly in past years. So, different advertisements conveyed the message that “Nepal is safe for trekking”.
Almost three years after the earthquake, many trekkers have started to come to Nepal for travel and trekking. Trekking in Nepal is no problem at all. The infrastructures, tea houses, and roads are rebuilt and are safe for visits.
Table of Content
What are the best seasons to go trekking in Nepal?
September- November, and March-May mark the peak season for trekking in Nepal. The temperature is bearable with the stable weather during these seasons. So, it is the best time to go trekking in Nepal.
There is no need to wait for the peak seasons though. Because of Nepal’s diverse geography and changing climates, trekking in Nepal is possible throughout the year. You may not exactly go where you want to trek, but good options are available all year long.
Trekking in Autumn Season (September to November)
Autumn is the best season to trek in Nepal.
Most of the trekkers come to Nepal to trek to the high mountains. Especially when the weather is good and the views are awesome. Such is the time of Autumn season.
Most of these trekkers go to Annapurna and Everest. Recently, people trekking to Manaslu has increased as well. This is also the time to trek to Kanchenjunga, Langtang, Ganesh Himal and Makalu.
Any trekking that takes you over snowy passes at an altitude of 4000/5000m or more is doable during the dry and temperate season of autumn and spring.
Also, the main attraction of these treks is the majestic Himalayas. And the clear sky of this time accommodates a spectacular view of the Himalayas.
Even in autumn, October is the busiest.
Trekking in Spring Season (March to May)
Spring is another best time to go trekking in Nepal.
It starts to get hot and hazy late in May. Still, not a bad time. At other times, the cloudless sky offers a clear view. The dry and moderate temperature of this season makes trekking to high altitude possible.
Thus, treks like Annapurna Base Camp Trek, Manaslu Circuit Trek, Everest Three Passes Trekking, Tsum Valley Trekking etc. are possible during this time.
The best part about Spring trekking are the colorful flowers that cover the hills and roadways. They make walking a very pleasant experience.
The number of trekkers is highest in March. It starts to dwindle by May and only a few trekker treks during early monsoon. In comparison to autumn, spring sees lesser trekkers.
Trekking in Summer/ Monsoon Season (June to August)
Monsoon means rain and clouds. Not a good time if you want to see the mountains. The paths will be muddy, slippery and landslides and avalanches may occur. Leeches fall on you from trees as well.
So, where to trek in Nepal during the summer/ monsoon?
The description above is true for most of the trails. However, the rain shadow areas at north can are trek-able throughout the year. These places receive very less to no rainfall.
Humla, Jumla, Simikot, Nar Phu Valley, Dolpo, Mustang are some regions or places in Nepal that you can trek during monsoon.
Actually, summer is the best time to trek to these places as the temperature is most pleasant and moderate.
Trek to Muktinath, Jomsom is also possible during monsoon. It remains dry in all seasons except in winter. Snow falls in winter.
Another good option is to trek to Tibet. Many Travel Agencies in Nepal offer treks to Tibet as well.
Trekking in Winter Season (December to February)
Winter is not really a bad time for trekking. The air is dry and the sky is clear. The only problem is the cold.
Higher altitude trekking becomes difficult by the cold, snow and snow storms. Treks that contains passing over high passes are not recommended.
In winter, one can trek to lower regions. The northern part of Nepal like Dolpo, Mustang, Humla, and others are accessible too.
A temperature at higher altitude is much colder during winter than any other season. This is why people trek during spring and autumn instead when the temperature is tolerable.
Even then, because of its popularity, Annapurna and Everest receive a handful of trekkers. And because of this, some lodges remain open. Though, lodges at Gorak Shep may be completely closed. So, it is good to pre-book for accommodation and food before you begin the trek.
A straight trek to Everest Base Camp and back is doable, instead of Three Passes or other trails that go around. Trekking in Annapurna region during winter is possible but the high passes like Thorang La Pass may not be possible to pass due to heavy snow.
If you must trek to these places in winter, consult with locals first. You might require some climbing skills. Crossing passes can become a little technical in winter.
What Fitness and Experience do I require?
How fit and experienced you need to depends on the difficulty level of the trek.
Nepal offers a variety of trek routes. Some of them are easy while some of them may require prior experience and great physical condition.
Fitness and experience requirements for trekking in Nepal actually depends on your choice of the trek and its difficulty.
Let’s understand the grading of trekking routes and the fitness level required for each.
Grade A: Easy Treks
Easy treks involve walking 5 hours per day on average. It is doable to most people, even those without previous experience.
It involves no difficult ascents and no high altitude trekking. There are ups and down but they are rarely steep. The trails are good, well-defined trails and involve 4 to 10 days of trekking under 4000m.
Some easy treks in Nepal are Ghorepani/ Poon Hill Trekking, Muktinath-Jomsom Trekking, Shivapuri Trek, Royal Trekking, Panchase Trekking, Helambu Trek etc.
Even though short and easy, these trails combine the natural and cultural beauty of Nepal, including spectacular view of the mountains.
Grade B: Moderate
Moderate trails take you over 4000m. It contains more and longer ups and downs. Steep exposed paths and snow at higher elevation are very common.
Trekking days make up 7-16 days of the itinerary. Walking hours are longer (4-7hrs per day) as well.
Any reasonably fit person can do this trek. It is not impossible for a person without experience but you must have a strong will to do it.
Annapurna Base Camp (ABC) Trekking, Annapurna Dhaulagiri Panorama Trek, Trek to Mustang, Ganesh Himal Trek, Trek to Rara Lake, Trek to Gosaikunda Lake are some of the moderate treks of Nepal.
Grade C: Strenuous
As the name suggests, Grade C treks are physically very demanding. It is usually non-technical but consists of long steep ascents and descents with steep exposed paths. And you traverse snow-covered passes over 5000m in altitude.
Everest Base Camp (EBC), Annapurna Circuit, Manaslu Circuit, Upper Dolpo, Upper Mustang, long treks to Langtang region, Makalu Base Camp etc. are Grade C treks.
Only a fit person with considerable willpower should attempt strenuous treks.
This trek demands previous experience of long hour walking and good preparation. However, many amateurs also complete the popular treks like EBC, Annapurna Circuit and treks to Langtang successfully. For this, mental preparation and will is the key.
These treks are usually almost or a little more than 3 weeks long. This is only the trekking days, minus the arrival, departure, leisure and other days in the itinerary.
You will be walking for 5-8 hours per day.
Grade D: Challenging
Challenging treks are more difficult than strenuous. It is almost an expedition. These are for the adventurous and determined people.
These treks can be 3 weeks to a month long. It can require camping in some remote, wild part of Nepal and some climbing experience.
Trails that include peak climbing like Island Peak climbing or Mera Peak climbing are also Grade D trekking.
Steep climbs that may need rope climbing, exposed paths, high passes and glacier crossing demand high physical fitness and mental preparedness.
To name, Dhaulagiri Circuit Trek, Kanchenjunga, Ganja La Pass Trekking, Everest Three Passes, Everest Base Camp with Island Peak are some of the Grade D treks.
Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)
Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) or Altitude sickness is one of the challenges faced by trekkers. It can happen to anyone, irrespective of their age, gender, and physical fitness.
People traveling above 2400m are susceptible to AMS.
However, many people are not aware of this and lose their lives over what is easily preventable. So, know and tell others about AMS. Particularly, to those who love to trek or ski.
What is AMS?
AMS is the problem one faces when at high altitudes. It is how our body reacts to the lower air pressure and lower concentration of oxygen at high altitude.
If your head hurts along with one of the other symptoms like nausea, lethargy, loss of appetite, quick breathing and increase in pulse, then know that you are suffering from AMS.
AMS can turn into more serious High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE) and High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE).
If not treated immediately, it may take your life as well.
What to do when you get AMS?
Prevention is better than cure. So, when travelling to high altitude, take precautions.
If you do suffer from AMS, here is what to do.
The first thing to do is to descent. Turn back and go down as fast as possible.
DO NOT climb higher at any cost.
You could be dizzy. Get someone to go with you. This is one of the reasons why trekking with a partner is always better than trekking solo.
- Take acetazolamide (Diamox)
This can help if you have to stay at the same elevation. Diamox help to ease the symptoms of AMS. If home remedies like garlic or cloves do not work, then go for medicines.
Taking Diamox does not mean you can climb higher.
Rest at the same elevation to let your body recover. It could take from 1 to 4 days. Drinking enough water and eating properly for a quick recovery.
If the symptoms continue to worsen, evacuate immediately. There are helicopter evacuation facilities available that we will discuss shortly.
If the person gets an extreme headache, vomits and starts to act unsteady or a little out of sorts then suspect HACE.
If their heart rate and temperature increase, they become breathless even at rest and their lip start to turn blue, suspect HAPE.
Evacuate immediately at both cases.
How to prevent AMS?
Preventing AMS is better than trying to cure it later. Especially, in the remote areas of Nepal at the height of 4000/5000m where your only option is to rescue by helicopter.
So, what are the preventive measures of AMS?
Climb gradually. The severity of AMS relates to how fast and how high you go.
Avoid flying directly to high altitude. Avoid covering much height in a day. Rather, walk slow and ascend gradually.
Acclimatizing is the process of adjusting to one’s changing environment. Our body too will adjust to the adverse conditions of high altitude but it needs time.
Trek itineraries contain acclimatization or rest days. Usually, you spend 1 day and 2 nights on the same elevation to let your body acclimatize. Some people may need more than one day.
If you are trekking solo, check out a few itineraries to know where to take an acclimatization day.
It is best to take a first rest day at somewhere between 2400 and 3000m. Then the next one after over 300 to 500m ascent.
Climb High, Sleep low
The rest day is not exactly for resting.
You spend the time climbing somewhere higher and then coming back to the same elevation to sleep in. This helps with acclimatizing and minimizes risks of AMS.
Water, Food, and Medicine
Staying well hydrated and eating foods high in carbohydrate helps prevent the risks of AMS.
Medicine like Diamox eases the effects of altitude as well.
We should keep in mind that these are some precautions that we can take. Like, taking Diamox can help lessen AMS symptoms. It will not ‘certainly’ stop AMS.
So, it is not okay to ascent without acclimatization just because you have taken a Diamox. For more tips on AMS, read how to avoid AMS.
Helicopter Rescue and Insurance
Trekkers planning to trek in Nepal must insure themselves. This is for your personal safety.
In case of injury, illness or severe AMS, you might need helicopter evacuation. This can cost you up to $5000. Helicopter rescue service will come to your aid only if you can pay the cash upfront or somehow prove that you can.
When traveling with an agency, they make pre-arrangements in Kathmandu. Someone will make the initial payments and claim it from you after the rescue. This is one reason to hire a trekking company.
Claiming money from your insurance is most probably up to you. So, make sure that your insurance covers all the activities you plan to do in Nepal, in this case, trekking and climbing.
Even if you will not be climbing, let’s not make room for an argument.
Make sure it specifies paying for emergency ambulance/ helicopter rescue and that this is true for over 5000m altitude.
Most insurances may cover only up to 4,500m. But most of the popular treks like Annapurna Circuit, Everest Base Camp, Manaslu Circuit etc. goes over 5000m.
There are some small clinics in the popular regions like Annapurna, Everest, and Langtang.
Accidents, however, have a knack for occurring at secluded sections of the trek. It might not be possible for people to carry you down to the health post or for you to trek all the way back. During such emergencies, travel insurance is a must.
For assistance, there are Himalayan Rescue Association operated health posts in Pheriche of Everest Region and Manang of Annapurna Circuit.
There is also a Khunde Hospital, not a big one, in Everest. It has western doctors. However, they may be absent during the offseason.
If you are traveling through an agency, the guide provided will be capable of dealing with AMS and smaller health problems.
Besides, choose a travel insurance that covers flight cancellation, injury, theft, medical expenses, and death.
Whether to Hire a travel guide/company or do independent trekking in Nepal?
When doing an easy Grade A treks like Ghorepani Poon Hill, Trek to Phulchoki, Chisapani, Shivapuri etc, you can go on your own. These treks are short and easy, so you may not need guides or agencies.
For restricted areas such as Manaslu, Kanchenjunga, Upper Mustang, Upper Dolpo etc, there is no other option. Rules dictate that you take a registered guide with you.
We advise you to go through a trekking company when trekking to remote areas of Nepal that require camping.
In high altitudes, weather change, and missing the trails are very common. So, if you travel with guides, you have the least chance of losing the way. Also, they help you communicate with the locals.
The question applies to the popular Everest and Annapurna.
There is no rule that states guides are a must. There are lots and lots of information on the internet. Trails are well marked. So, do you still need to go through an agency?
Yes. That is our suggestion.
Even if you do not want a guide or a company, at least do not travel alone. Solo travelers may miss the way. They are also an easy target for criminals.
Though Nepal is relatively a safe country for tourists, it is always better to be careful. A few bad apples can be anywhere in the world.
So, please travel in a group of two or more. After all, trekking partners or guides can be a big help in time of an emergency. They can support you in many ways.
Mountains are unpredictable. You could get sprain in ankle or fall ill. You may suffer from AMS. Genuine guides help you recognize symptoms and immediate measures against AMS.
Being alone in such a condition at such a place is risky.
But then, they can affect your whole experience. So, choose a compatible partner or a guide.
Hiring a trekking agency can be convenient for some. Especially, for those who are visiting Nepal for the first time.
It can also be costly. Then again, as mentioned in the Helicopter Rescue and Insurance section, trekking agency can be a big help in case of an emergency.
They can manage Helicopter rescue for you.
Check out 6 Reasons Not to Hire a Trekking Agency in Nepal.
7 Reasons to Hire a Trekking Agency in Nepal
9 Steps to find Best Trekking Agencies in Nepal
If it is your first time in Nepal and you want to travel independently, get a good, experienced guide fluent in English. They might cost you a little more but for what could be a once in a lifetime, do not cheap out.
Normally, guides cost $20- $30 per day.
What Documents/ Permits to carry to trek in Nepal?
Some documents required to trek in Nepal.
- Few passports sized photos
- Insurance papers, depending on the agency and where you will be traveling to.
All nationals except for that of India should get aVisa to enter Nepal. It is easy to get a Nepali visa.
Some nationals can get a visa on arrival or when entering Nepal at one of the border entry points. Check which nationals can get visa on arrival or consult with the embassy.
Fee structure for visa is as follows.
US $25 for 15 days
US $40 for 30 days
US $100 for 90 days
For extension, fee structure is as:
US $30 for 15 days extension
US $50 for 30 days extension
US $2 per day after first extension
Visa Details for Indian Nationals
Indian nationals do not need a visa. However, they should carry documents that identify them as an Indian citizen. It involves:
- A valid Indian Passport
- Photo identity card issued by the Government of India. Or, issued by any State Government or Union Territory Administration in India, or the Election Commission of India.
- Emergency Certificate issued by the Embassy of India in Nepal.
Visa Details for SAARC nationals
Trekkers from SAARC countries get a gratis visa, which means free visa, for up to 30 days.
In a year, one can only stay a total of 150 days.
Permits required for trekking in Nepal
Most of the trekking regions in Nepal fall under a certain conservation project or is a restricted area.
Therefore, every trekker, whether independent or trekking through a travel agency, need to get a few permits. You must show these permits at entrance point, exit point, and en route.
Always carry your permits and a photocopy of your passport.
For permits, you will need 2 or more passport-sized photo and a photocopy of your passport. If you are trekking with an agency, they will manage all the permits for you.
Permit fees are normally included in the package.
US $1= Nrs.100 (roughly). (Check the current exchange rate.) You need to pay for permits in Nepali rupees.
- Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) permit: Nrs.2000 per person ($20)
- Manaslu Conservation Area Project (MCAP) permit: Nrs.2000 per person ($20)
- Sagarmatha National Park permit (Everest region): Nrs.1000 per person ($10)
- Langtang National Park permit: Nrs.1000 per person ($10)
- Makalu Barun Conservation Area permit: Nrs.2000 per person ($20)
- Shey Phoksundo National Park permit: Nrs.1000 per person ($10)
Along with the regional permits, one needs to obtain Trekkers Information Management System (TIMS) card before entering the trekking area. It costs Nrs.2000 per person. As a group, you can take a blue TIMS card that costs Nrs.1000 per person.
You can get TIMS card from Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) office or Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal (TAAN) office.
Permits for Restricted Areas
To trek to restricted areas, one needs to get a Restricted Area Permit (RAP) along with the conservation area permit of that place. TIMS card is not required if you have RAP.
Restricted areas of Nepal and their permit fees are:
- Manaslu: US $70 per person for 1 week and US $10 per day after one week
- Upper Mustang: US $500 per person for first 10 days and US $50 per day after the 10th day
- Upper Dolpo: US $500 per person for first 10 days and US $50 per day after the 10th day
- Lower Dolpo: US $10 per person per week
- Kanchenjunga: US $10 per person per week
Price may fall for offseason.
For Manaslu Circuit trek, you need MCAP and ACAP permit and RAP of Manaslu. TIMS card is not required for restricted areas.
You can get Restricted Area Permit through government registered trekking companies only. It is also compulsory to take along a licensed guide and one more trekker to trek to these areas. Trekking solo is not permitted.
What trekking equipment should I pack for Nepal?
What trekking equipment to pack depends on when and where you are trekking and on you.
Another question is, whether it a teahouse trekking or camp trekking?
You can do most of the treks in Nepal as a teahouse trek. You will find many tea houses and lodges en route the trekking trails except in peak seasons.
Packing the right gears is essential for a satisfying trip. Shortage of necessaries can result in anything from ruined mood to illness/injury. So, make sure to bring the following.
- A good pair of hiking boots. Nothing fancy. It should be lightweight, fitting and broken in. A new pair can be a real pain. Unless it is one of those soft ones. What matters is whether it is comfortable to walk in or not.
- A pair of sandals or anything you can just slip in. Closed ones like crocks would be better. Wearing this you do not have to lace your boots every time you exit your room. Especially useful to visit toilets at night.
- Two types of socks. Thinner running or linear socks for lower elevation. While warmer, thicker ones for higher altitude. Two pairs of each would be good.
- Crampons are not necessary unless you trek over high passes during winter. It is important for peak trekking though. For peak trekking, the agency provides crampons.
- Two pairs of gloves. A light one and the other warmer. You can bring only the warm pair too. They should be windproof.
- Full sleeved t-shirts. Full sleeved to save your skin from the sun and the wind. Three t-shirts are good enough. It depends on you and the duration of the trek. Packing light is always a good idea.
- Trousers. They should be comfortable, easy to move in. Layer up for warmth at a higher elevation. You can buy a down pant. Or, just layer up over a thermal pant.
- Few underwear. You can buy thermal underwear. If you will trek more in the future or you exercise or run every day, spending on ‘hiking underwear’ is a good idea.
- A down jacket for higher elevation.
- A lightweight water and wind resistant jacket. If possible select one that fits your pocket or pouch.
- A light sleeping bag could turn out to be useful. Sometimes, you may not get a room. You could sleep in some corner of the lodge in a sleeping bag. The lodge could run out of blankets or a blanket will not be enough to keep you warm and you could use the sleeping bag. This is for high altitude trekking.
- A woolen hat for warmth.
- A torchlight. A head torchlight would be better. Head torchlight leaves your hands free. This helps you walk in nights and helpful especially in toilets.
- Sunglasses for the intense sun and the bright white snow at the top.
- Sunscreen, moisturizer and lip balm to protect yourself from the harsh sun and wind.
- A small first aid kit with the essentials. Add Diamox for possible AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) and water purifiers. Also, add 2/3 packets of Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) for possible diarrhea.
- Trekking Poles for treks that involves steep descents. Recommended for strenuous Grade D treks.
- Toiletries – Toilet papers, baby wipes, hand sanitizer, a towel, toothbrush, and toothpaste. Paper soap or just a normal bar of soap. You can bring other things you use like a face wash. Do not pack the whole cabinet though.
- A camera. You would definitely want to capture some memories. If you are a professional photographer trekking specifically to take pictures, you would know more on what else to bring. A tripod, spare batteries, and extra CF cards do a lot to you in such treks.
- Some of your favorite snacks and favorite time pass can be therapeutic. It will make it easier to spend some 2 to 4 weeks in the less facilitated parts of the trail.
- A map of the trek. It shouldn’t cost much. Around $1 or lesser.
Some things in this list can be unnecessary if you are doing a short Grade A trek. It depends on where you are going. The list is true for most of the treks in Nepal like treks to Everest, Annapurna, Langtang, Manaslu etc.
Areas that require camping are usually restricted areas. This means you will have to go through a registered agency. If so, they provide most of the camping gears, a guide, and even a cook. A bonus to you.
Buy trekking equipment at home or in Nepal? And, where in Nepal can I buy trekking gears?
Being a trekker’s paradise, there are many branded stores in Nepal to buy trekking equipment.
There are many shops in Kathmandu and Pokhara that sell all the trekking gears. But you have to be careful with the fake brand names and costly items.
Things to check when buying are material and stitches. Give a good tug to see if it will hold.
Also, expensive might not mean better quality. Careful as you buy!
If you want real branded stuff, then there are stores like The North Face and Mountain Hardwear in Tridevi Marg, Kathmandu that sells genuine western brands. But their price tags are as genuine.
It will not cost you much less than at home. But at home, you might have a better range of choices on design.
Sherpa Adventure Gear is another store in Tridevi Marg that sells top quality gears. It is a Nepali brand and is as good as any other brands.
If you are planning for this only trek, you can rent some of the gears such as down jackets and pants, sleeping bag etc. You can hire for a specific time.
Shona’s Alpine Rental in Thamel is one of them. There are many other good shops.
Quite a few other stores have popped up that either sell real things or sell locally made good quality trekking gears. Everest Hardwear, Hi Himal, Black Yak etc. are other recommendations.
You can rent gears for about $1 more or less per day.
When it comes down to deciding on buying things at home vs. in Nepal, our suggestions are:
- You can buy the primary necessaries in your home if you do not want to feel cheated by fake brands.
If you need climbing gears, like Carabiners and ropes (the tools), bring from home, unless the trekking agency is providing.
- You can buy down jackets, down pants and sleeping bags in Nepal. Western brands cost as much as anywhere in the world. Nepali ones are 2/3 times cheaper in comparison and as good in quality. They might not be as compact.
- Anything waterproof or windproof, you can buy at home where they guarantee breathability.
There are windproof and waterproof jackets in Nepal which might actually not be so. If they really work, they can lack proper breathability.
You can buy Raincoats in Nepal. Although, they may lack fancy designs.
- It is better to buy hiking boots in your home country. Especially, if you want it to be waterproof.
You can find good ones in Nepal as well. But, you should be able to tell the difference.
If you are not a frequent trekker, then there is no use spending on real, professional hiking boots. A good pair bought in Nepal, that is much cheaper, will hold out a trek or two or longer.
- Sunglasses carry along as you leave home.
- Trekking underwear and trekking socks are best to bring from home. Normal ones are also available in Nepal.
- If you are a professional trekker and want a very good quality Trekking Pole, buy in a home. If you are not using it later, buy an okay one in Nepal.
- Buy good quality thermals in Nepal. But, check the material.
- You can buy things like t-shirts, pants, water purifiers, Oral Rehydration Salts, moisturizer and others anywhere in Nepal.
- Of course, you must buy a trekking map in Nepal.
- Warm woolen caps are special in Nepal. A thing to be careful about is the material which is really warm and is not a plastic one that only looks like wool.
- A good water bottle is better bought at home. Cheap ones bought in Nepal may break, leak or scrunch up when introduced with hot water. Even about the ones that cost more, you cannot really say. It is a hit and misses.
In short, for anything technical buy at home.
Nepal is cheaper so, it depends on your ability to differentiate a good product from a bad one. How much you will be using it in the future and how much you need it depends on its performance.
If you can choose the best one, branded, and effective, buy them in Nepal.
Food and Accommodation while teahouse trekking in Nepal
Teahouse trekking is to trek while lodging in the teahouses for the night. You move from one to other teahouse and eat and sleep in these lodges.
It is a cheaper way of trekking.
The popular trekking regions Everest, Langtang, Manaslu, and Annapurna are teahouse treks.
Accommodation en-route is pretty basic.
Lodges offer simple tidy little rooms with twin beds. They provide a pillow, covers and a quilt/blanket. Ask for a blanket if it is not already put in the room. You may find that the quilt is not as clean as you would like.
They have dorm rooms that can fit 5-6 sleepers if you are traveling in a group.
Walls of the lodges are thin and sounds carry. Therefore, if you are a light sleeper, you should bring a pair of earplugs. In some places, walls are just plied.
Accommodation turns more basic with a gain in altitude. It gets colder as well and the blanket provided will not be enough to keep you warm. So, bring a Sleeping bag and add the blanket over it.
A 3 season sleeping bag will be the best option.
Toilets and bathrooms are often separate and shared with other guests. In some teahouses, they have one or two rooms with attached bathroom. In some, toilets are outside the lodge.
Toilets may be western sitting styled with a flushing facility or squat style. Expect squat- style toilets at a higher elevation.
Usually, toilet papers are not provided. Water is also scarce and cold. So, always carry toilet papers.
Many lodges offer hot shower and battery charging facility but for some fee. Hot water can cost from $1 to $5 and charging battery can cost about $2.
Lodges have one common room which is also the dining room. It is usually kept warm by a burning stove. This is where you can meet and interact with other trekkers.
Lodge owners expect you to eat where you stay.
Food and Water
The menu is surprisingly extensive. You can choose anything from local, national and international cuisines.
You must try Dal Bhaat Tarkari, a staple food of the Nepalese. It is filling, inexpensive and rich in carbohydrate which is good against AMS.
Other foods available are chappati, Tibetan bread, Muesli and other cereals with milk, pie, pancakes, porridge, momo (dumplings), chowmein, packet noodle, pasta, eggs, and potatoes etc.
Dal Bhat is not available at higher altitude. Menu is shorter as well.
A range of drinks is available. From the flavored hot water, green tea, lemon tea, Nepali tea, coffee, butter tea (at higher settlement) to beer and wines.
Alcohol is not recommended for trekkers as alcohol dehydrates and makes you susceptible to AMS. But, if you want, you can try a little of local alcohol. Just for a taste.
Shops sell snacks such as chocolates, biscuits and packed noodles. You can find some chips as well. Better to stalk up on your favorite snacks in the valley as options limits up there. It will cost you more too.
In fact, prices of everything increase with a gain in altitude. This is because it costs them to bring these products to their shops on the back of a mule.
Higher you go, more you pay for the exact same thing.
This is the reason people suggest to bring water purifiers. A bottle of water that costs NRs. 20 in the valley can reach Nrs.200+ up in the Himalayas.
Instead of mineral water, you can just fill your bottles with boiled water from the lodge. Waters are well boiled but you can double purify it by adding purifiers. Being ill up there is worse. Doing this is both economic and ecological.
Fill in the bottles at night. You could do it in the morning but do it before checking out if you do not want to pay for it. Sometimes, you might need to pay just for a glass of hot water. It is not fixed.
Food and accommodation in Manaslu region can be more basic compared to Annapurna, Everest, and Langtang.
Some of the Popular Treks of Nepal
Among the many wonderful trails of Nepal, it is the trekking regions like Annapurna, Everest, and Langtang that see most of the trekkers.
Manaslu is another region that is novel and gaining popularity.
Here are the following trails that are most popular.
Everest Base Camp Trek
Undoubtedly, Everest Base Camp (EBC) trek is one of the most popular treks. It takes you to the base camp of the highest mountain in the world.
Now, this is something you can not do anywhere else in the world.
There are the colorful culture of Sherpas and the beautiful nature. But it is the Everest, it is about being part of a legacy that attracts most people.
Any trek in Everest starts from Lukla. One can trek all the way from Jiri too, but most people choose the short, most scenic flight to Lukla. From there, you follow the trail to EBC.
Namche is the first place you see the Everest. From there onwards, there are a number of places from where you can enjoy the view of Everest.
Best of all is the Kalapatthar, the vantage point. The secret is that you can not see Everest fro the Base Camp. So, you need to ascend to Kala Patthar to get the best view of the Everest.
Along with Everest, you can enjoy the view of other high peaks such as Lhotse, Cho Oyu, Nuptse etc.
Annapurna Base Camp Trek
Annapurna Base Camp (ABC) trek is one of the famous trails of Annapurna region. It is a short and much easy trail that allures millions of avid and amateur trekkers.
The trek starts from the beautiful lake city Pokhara.
Also Read: Fun things to do in Pokhara
Highlights of this trek are the terraced farmlands, forests of pine and rhododendrons. Along with the view of Annapurna and other peaks, traditional villages, and natural hot springs.
Ghorepani Poon hill, a vantage point for sunset/sunrise and view of a range of mountains fall on the trail.
Then, finally, from the base camp of the tenth highest mountain in the world, you can enjoy the view of many sparkling peaks.
Annapurna Circuit Trek
Not only in Nepal, but Annapurna Circuit Trek has is among the best trails in the world.
As the name suggests, the trail goes around Annapurna, covering all the possible best parts of Annapurna region. It includes places like Ghorepani Poon hill, Manang, Kagbeni, Jomsom, and others.
Due to road construction in the region, you may not find the trail as expected. But it is still, without a doubt, an exotic trail that is worth every drop of your sweat.
Spectacular views of mountains like Dhaulagiri, Machhapuchhre, Manaslu, Gangapurana etc, beautiful lakes, waterfalls, glacier, hot springs and the mix of different ethnic groups make this trek the best.
To cut the road part, you can take the New Annapurna Trekking Trail (NATT) marked by Prem Rai and Andreas De Ruiter.
Trek normally starts from Besisahar and goes round the massif in anti-clock direction. You could take NATT or get a good idea of general direction through many itineraries.
Better yet, see what places there are in this region to visit and you could tailor in some good side trips.
The road might not be a completely bad thing. Thanks to that, you can shorten your trip if pressed on time.
Manaslu Circuit Trek
All the charms of Annapurna are still intact. Yet, Manaslu Circuit Trek has blossomed as a great alternative to Annapurna Circuit.
Opened to trekking in 1991, it is slowly gaining popularity. And just about 5 years ago in 2010, teahouse trekking in Manaslu became possible.
It is still a restricted area and provisions are more basic in comparison to Annapurna and Everest.
Mount Manaslu is the eighth highest mountain in the world. You cannot get so close to any other Eight thousanders like you can to Mt. Manaslu.
Diverse in culture and nature, Manaslu Circuit Trek offers a close view of Manaslu, Annapurna, and Ganesh Himal. It traverses through many villages of different ethnic settlements like Gurung, Tamang, Tibetan, Siar etc.
It is a chance to see Blue Sheep and Himalayan Thar. You may spot snow leopard, musk deer or grey wolf too.
This trek is a bit challenging. The ultimate challenge is passing Larkya La Pass at 5,106m.
Manaslu Circuit trek goes around Mt. Manaslu in a clockwise direction to make this assent possible. It is a relatively remote area where you can enjoy a crowd-free trek.
Langtang Valley Trek
Langtang Valley Trek is also known as glacier trek as it boasts numerous glacier lakes such as Gosaikunda, Parvatikunda, Dudhkunda, and others. These lakes are holy and therefore, it is also a pilgrimage trekking.
This region does not have any eight thousanders but the trail is no less pleasant.
Numerous glacial lakes aside, the pretty little streams, waterfalls, meadows and exotic flora and fauna make this a very gratifying trek.
Here, you can visit the oldest cheese factory and experience the diverse culture of the Tamang, Yolmos, Bhotiyas, and Tibetans as well.
Langtang region is close to the capital city Kathmandu. So, the region is easily accessible.
The trek itself is relatively easy. Though a popular trail, it is less crowded like Annapurna or Everest. So, you can enjoy Langtang Valley Trekking in a quieter, remote setting.
These were some the popular treks in Nepal. This does not mean that other trails are less pretty. They are less traveled because permits and rules of restricted areas can be a bit of a hassle.
ALSO READ: 10 Best Treks in Nepal
Short Treks in Nepal
If you are time bound or not much of a trekker but still want to see the Himalayas, here are some of the shorter treks that you can do when in Nepal.
Ghorepani Poon Hill Trek
Ghorepani Poon Hill trek is a popular short trek in Annapurna region. Annapurna Base Camp and Circuit trails go past Poon Hill for this is a vintage for an amazing sunset and sunrise.
That is not all. You can enjoy a great view of mountains such as Annapurna, Dhaulagiri, Machhapuchhre, Himchuli and many others.
If you do not have time to do a longer trek in the Annapurna region, you can trek up to Poon Hill. You will not need a guide and it is less expensive than other treks.
You can extend a day in this trek by walking to Tatopani. Tatopani means hot water. Here, you can enjoy a natural hot spring. Then you can ride back to Pokhara.
If you have enough time, you can do a 8/9 day Ghorepani/ Ghandruk trek as well.
Trekking to Poon Hill takes only 4/5 days. It is an easy trek.
Trek to Muktinath
Jomsom Muktinath trekking is a little longer. It takes about 12 days to complete this trek. You can shorten it by taking a flight from Pokhara to Jomsom.
Then you can complete it in 7/8 days but that would be costlier. One way ticket costs a little over $100 for adult and a little low for children.
Calculate food and lodging to decide whether you would like to opt for this.
Jomsom, Kagbeni, and Muktinath that this trail covers are one of the exotic places in Annapurna region. You will have close views of mountains including Annapurna and the deepest gorge, Kali Gandaki. This is one of the best short treks in Nepal.
In Muktinath, there is a small temple of Lord Bishnu- Muktinath. Muktinath spells “Lord of Salvation” in English and is one of the pilgrimage sites for both Hindus and Buddhists. This is a place to attain salvation if you would like.
Royal Trek is another short trek in the Annapurna region. It got its name Royal Trek because this was the path taken by Prince Charles when he came to explore Nepal in the eighties.
The best thing about this trek is that you can enjoy a view of peaks like Annapurna, Dhaulagiri, Machhapuchhre etc. from low altitude.
It also passes through ethnic villages of Gurung and Magars who still follow their old cultures and traditions. The trek then ends in the beautiful Begnas Lake.
Royal Trek is an easy trek suitable even for children and old. It is 6 to 8 days long.
After returning to Pokhara, if you have time, you can take a short hike to the Peace Pagoda.
Shivapuri Hill Trek
Shivapuri Hill Trek is a short trek near Kathmandu. It is a 4-day easy trek, good for children to old people.
You can say Shivapuri Hill Trek is a nature trek. It takes you through the protected area of Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park.
This park houses animals like leopards, deer, wild bores, monkeys, and black bear. It is home to numerous species of birds and rare orchids as well. This trek is best for bird watchers.
Other animals? You would be lucky to see deer. Monkeys are everywhere though.
Other than flora and fauna, there are places to see like Budhanilkantha, Bagdwar and Nagi Gompa. These places are of religious importance to both Buddhists and Hindus. Then, from the top of the Shivapuri hill, you can enjoy a view of Ganesh, Langtang and Jugal Himal.
It is a good trek to take your children to.
Everest Panorama Trek
Everest, the highest mountain in the world, is the desire of many.
Do you like to come as close as possible to Everest but not spend too much time or effort into going to the base camp?
Then, Everest Panorama Trek is best for you. You fly to Everest and trek to Phakding to Namche Bazaar and to Tengboche over a four days time. Acclimatization day in Namche Bazaar.
Tengboche is one of the best points to view Mt. Everest along with others like Lhotse, Ama Dablam, Thamserku, Nuptse, and many other. Other things to see is the Tengboche Monastery. Tengboche at 3,867m is the highest point in this trek.
You then take the same path back to Lukla and then fly back to Kathmandu. In total, it takes 7/8 days.
All the time frame of the short treks mentioned above is only the days you will be trekking. It does not count arrival day.
Restricted Area Trekking in Nepal
Trails in the Far Eastern and Far Western regions of Nepal are mostly restricted areas. They are on the list of restricted list for many reasons.
It could be to conserve the area from ecological and cultural degradation. It may be because it is not secure enough for a foreigner to just wander into. Or, because of its proximity to China border that was once not so welcoming.
Kanchenjunga, Makalu, Upper Dolpo, Upper Mustang, Manaslu, Rara National Park are some of the restricted areas of Nepal.
One cannot freely get a restricted area permit and needs to apply through a trekking agency. They need to have a guide and at least one more trekking partner to trek to the restricted areas.
Luxury Trekking in Nepal
Luxury trekking means luxury lodging. That is the only difference, albeit a great one.
These hotels offer a thicker, warmer, comfy bed. The rooms are much bigger. Hot water runs twenty-four-seven in the attached bathroom. Toilets are western flush styled.
Lounge rooms are warm and comfy. This is a heaven in such a difficult altitude. However, these lodges go only so high.
Luxury trekking is expensive and available in the Everest and Annapurna region.
Trekking in Nepal Cost
We cannot say exactly what this trail costs this much but booking online is quite expensive. It can be convenient if you have limited time. Then, you can just come, trek and return. Trekking agency keeps everything prepared for you.
Else, come to Nepal first and visit different trekking agencies. Check which suits you the most.
In general, the cost of trekking in Nepal varies according to the region you are traveling to. And how luxuriously you would like to travel determines your cost.
Like, restricted regions are more expensive due to their per day permit charge. Upper Dolpo and Mustang are the costly ones while Manaslu and Humla are on the cheaper side.
Among the popular unrestricted regions of Annapurna, Langtang, and Everest, Everest is the most expensive while Langtang is the cheapest.
While in Nepal, you do all the transactions Nepali rupees.
In the Everest region, you need to fly to Lukla. You could trek from Jiri to Lukla which adds about 7-10 days to your itinerary.
Depending on what airlines you choose, a one-way flight from Kathmandu and Lukla costs from $160 to $180. For a porter or a guide, it costs $90. You will have to pay that $90 for them when taking them from Kathmandu.
For long distance travel by bus, like Kathmandu to Pokhara, price starts from $2. It depends on whether you choose a local bus or a tourist bus.
It is better to take a tourist bus as a local bus will be too packed for your comfort. As local buses may carry excess passengers making the bus crowded.
Tourist bus can start from $5 for one way and more luxurious ones cost about $12 or over. It depends on the length of the road. The so-called luxurious bus should offer free snacks and pay for the lunch as well.
The normal one will stop for lunch too but you will have to pay for it. This is more profitable. Instead of eating at the stop you can bring your own food too.
This pricing is for long roads. When traveling within a city, bus fare cost from Nrs.15 to Nrs.25 only.
I have seen drivers say 50 or 100 when traveling within Kathmandu. Check the price before you hire them.
The fare for jeeps can go from $5 to $10 per head, depending on the length of the road and number of people to split the bill with.
Cost of Food
Food is where most of your trek money goes into.
In teahouses, depending on the region and altitude (increase with altitude), the staple food Dal Bhat Tarkari can start from $2 and reach over $6.
Dal Bhat Tarkari (steamed rice, pulse soup, veg curry) with meat costs a little extra depending on the choice of meat. You can order Nepali meal with/without meat than individually taking steamed rice and curry.
ALSO READ: 7 Foods to try other than Dal Bhat
Other meal choices are more expensive in comparison to how filling they are. Packet noodle is cheaper. Not a very healthy choice though. Most dishes start at $2.
Cost for hot drinks can start from Nrs.50 and can reach a little over $2. Hard drinks are on a different level. You can drink on your return trip but drinking on your climbing trip is not suggested.
Bottled water or mineral water costs from Nrs.50 to Nrs.200 in the heights. In Kathmandu, it is only Nrs.20. We recommend you to fill your bottles in the lodge and use purifiers.
So, depending on what and how much you would like to eat and drink, food will cost you from $10 (+/-) per day.
Remember, the price of everything increases with an increase in height.
Cost of Accommodation
Rooms normally cost $2 per night. If you are in a group, you can book a dorm room. It will cost you less when splitting the bill.
In most lodges, they expect you to eat where you sleep. If you eat both dinner and breakfast there, they could waver the price or give it for free.
Hot showers during trek are available. But you will have to pay up to $4/$5 per bath.
Charging battery during trek is also possible. Charging price is $2/$3 per hour. Normally, the voltage used is 220-240. Outlets are usually round. Or, they could be flat. Bring a pin converter just in case. It should cost like Nrs. 20/25 in the valley.
Cost of Guides and Porters
In average, Guides take $20/30 per day. Some guides take up to $50+ per day. They are the more expensive ones while some would do for $15 per day. It depends on your destination as well.
Guides will not carry your stuff.
Price of porters start from $12 and can go up to $20 per day. They carry as large as 30kg. Anything more would be cruel. 30kg is a limit rather than target weight. You can leave unnecessary stuff at the luggage storing facility of the lodge.
Porters doubling as guides can take about $20/25 per day.
IMPORTANT NOTE: You will have to pay for their travel but not for their food and lodge. Decide upon this with your guide and/or porter before hiring them. For regions near Kathmandu like Langtang and Manaslu, hire from Kathmandu. For Annapurna, hire from Pokhara.
It saves travel charge.
How much to tip when trekking in Nepal
You do not need to tip taxi drivers.
You do not need to tip staffs in fancy restaurants and cafes. They have a 10% service charge included in the bill. You do not need to tip staffs in Teahouses.
How much you tip guides and porters depends on your satisfaction. Tipping is a new custom in Nepal and there is no fixed range for tips.
However, if you are happy with their services, then 15% of the total pay is a good tip.
It is the most used and suggested tipping amount. Many trekkers share their tipping amount to be so.
They will be happy with whatever you give them.
Trekking Companies in Nepal
There are thousands of trekking companies in Nepal, all claiming to be the best of all.
In all this, how to know what trekking company is good for you? How to choose the best trekking company?
Here are some tips.
- First, make sure that it is a government registered trekking company.
Sometimes, the license may have expired. So, make sure that is currently licensed. Check if it has registrations in Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) and TAAN as well.
If it offers climbing like Mera or Island peak climbing, then it should have a license from Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA) as well.
- Staff insurance and quality
Check if the guides and the porters they provide for your trip are insured. How qualified is the guide? How good is their English, how well can he explain things to you? Is he trained to handle emergencies such as medical emergencies?
What do the previous clients have to say about their experience with this trekking company? Read a number of reviews to make up your mind. Client feedbacks are the best way to know about the company’s services.
- Cost and Facilities
Check out a number of agencies and compare their prices. In that pricing, what are they offering? Do they rent out gears like a sleeping bag and down jacket? Rather than the number of things included, calculate the price of the things included.
Taking in the whole picture, choose what works best for you. A company can be more expensive than the other but their guide could be better.
Some Tips for Trekker
In case you missed it in this long post, here are some tips or suggestions for you.
- Bring enough cash. There are ATM facilities in popular regions but they may not always work for various regions.
- AMS is life-threatening. Know all about AMS before heading out to the trek.
- When you feel ill or uncomfortable, tell your guide or trekking partner. Do not try to fight AMS or think it will pass if you bear on. It will only get worse and can kill you.
- Add contingency days. Especially, when trekking to the Everest region. Flight to and from Lukla can cancel anytime. You might need extra days to acclimatize. You could fall ill. Anything can happen.
- Partner up if you are not taking a guide and/or a porter. Traveling solo means you will be on your own at the time of illness and accident. This at the height of over 4000m, surrounded with snow.
- Insure yourself. If something were to happen to you at a difficult altitude, your only option is helicopter rescue. Helicopter rescue can cost up to $5000+ depending on distance and height.
- People in cities and touristy areas may have become accustomed to shorter clothes but not revealing clothes. In trekking areas, it is definitely advised to dress wisely.
- Public display of affection makes locals super uncomfortable. It is strictly forbidden.
- When greeting people, do not hug and kiss them. Instead, join your hands and bid ‘Namaste’.
- If you will be trekking at this time only, it is better to rent the more expensive gears.
- Take permission before clicking someone’s pictures. People are not part of sightseeing.
- Order food in teahouses at least half or an hour before you expect to eat. Especially Dal Bhat. Be patient.
- Killing cow is illegal in Nepal but some places do sell imported cow meat.
We hope this guide was helpful in answering any queries you may have about trekking in Nepal. If not, you can comment or email us your queries. We are always happy to help.
If you find any irrelevant information in this article, please let us know by commenting or by email. We thank you for your time.