Every year several hundred thousands of travellers 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 grade A to strenuous grade D and to the base camp of the highest mountain, Everest; whatever sounds good to you.
The best part of trekking in Nepal is the breathtaking and ever changing landscapes combined with exotic flora and fauna, taste of authentic Nepali lifestyle and the sheer pleasure of walking itself.
Add to it the pristine lakes, waterfalls, hot springs, glaciers and high mountains. Nepal is the ultimate destination for trekkers.
Due to the recent earthquake, however, the number of trekkers have decreased significantly. Despite all the advertising about how Nepal is as safe as ever, people, understandably, did not want to risk it.
Table of Content
- So, is it Safe to Trek to Nepal after the Earthquake of 2015?
- Trek Routes after the Earthquake
- What are the best seasons to go trekking in Nepal ?
- What Fitness and Experience do I require?
- Grade D: Challenging
- All about Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)
- Helicopter Rescue and Insurance
- Hire a travel guide/company or do independent trekking in Nepal ?
- What Documents/ Permits are required to trek in Nepal?
- Permits required for trekking in Nepal
- Permits for Restricted Areas
- What trekking equipment should I pack for Nepal?
- Buy trekking equipment at home or in Nepal? And, where in Nepal can I buy trekking gears?
- Food and Accommodation while teahouse trekking in Nepal
- Some of the Popular Treks of Nepal
- Short Treks in Nepal
- Restricted Area Trekking in Nepal
- Luxury Trekking in Nepal
- Trekking in Nepal Cost
- How much to tip when trekking in Nepal
- Trekking Companies in Nepal
- Some Tips for Trekkers
So, is it Safe to Trek to Nepal after the Earthquake of 2015?
Yes. As safe as it used to be and ever will be.
There is no denying that Nepal is prone to earthquake. It lies exactly where Indian plate meets Eurasian plate. And experts say, according to the past records, Nepalese can expect two earthquakes of over 7.5 on the Richter scale every forty years.
Does this mean Nepal is now the safest for next forty years?
In average, it gets 20 earthquakes per year but that of below 4 Richter scale. People here do not even notice it. It was never damaging.
Here are some of the other concerns of tourists regarding Nepal post-earthquake.
a) Nepal is all rubble.
No. It is not. Most buildings stand, including hotels, restaurants and most of the trek routes and trekking agencies. Only 14 out of 75 districts were hit by the earthquake.
b) Is there scarcity of food, water and other supplies?
No, there is no scarcity of anything unless it was never available in the first place.
c) Epidemic breakout?
None so far. People have returned to their homes. Risk of an epidemic are as it was before the earthquake and as anywhere else.
d) Increase in crimes?
Just the opposite. People have come together at this time of need and are helping each other stand. This is not to say that crimes do not occur at all. Be careful. Bad people exist in every corner of the world.
Nepal is now as safe and unsafe as it normally is. Like, be wary of pickpockets in the touristy areas like Thamel, Chitwan, Pokhara, Annapurna etc. Be wary of scams and do not agree to carry back things for people living abroad. Know the general price. Bargain to avoid a rip-off.
Just be careful. There is no need to be afraid.
Nepal is, relatively, a safe country for tourists. It is safer post-earthquake.
Trek Routes after the Earthquake
About the accessibility of the trails, most of them were safe from the effects of the earthquake. This includes Dolpo, Jumla, Humla, Limi Valley and Rara Lake in the west and Makalu and Kanchenjunga in the east.
The famous Annapurna and Everest region were among the partially affected. Both were already up and running this trekking season just like other least affected trails. For more information, here is the damage assessment report of Annapurna and Everest region.
Manaslu and Langtang, regions that were greatly damaged by the earthquake, also saw quite a few trekkers. It will be completely open in the spring of 2016.
Trek to Upper Mustang is also possible. The suspension bridges here are in good condition. However, different heritage and other structures suffered big cracks. This region is accessible throughout the year.
People are continually rebuilding and fixing all the affected area.
What are the best seasons to go trekking in Nepal ?
The most popular season for trekking, September to November, is almost over for this year (2015). Next peak season is in spring of 2016. Hopefully, the number of trekkers will go back to normal that year onward.
Manaslu and Langtang, too, will be completely open by then.
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. Maybe not exactly 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. Only two seasons, spring and autumn, are good for trekking to the mountains. Therefore, Nepal sees thousands of trekkers this time around. In fact, number of trekkers are highest in autumn.
Most of these trekkers go to Annapurna or 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 should be done during the dry and temperate season of autumn and spring. Also, the main attraction of these treks are 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. Dry and moderate temperature of this season makes trekking to high altitude possible. Therefore, treks like Annapurna Base Camp Trek, Manaslu Circuit Trek, Everest Three Passes Trekking, Tsum Valley Trekking etc. can be done.
The best part about trekking in spring are the colorful flowers that cover the hills and mountains. They make walking a very pleasant experience.
The number of trekkers are highest in March. It starts to dwindle by May and only a few trekker are seen 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 summer/ monsoon?
The description above is true for most of the trails. However, the rain shadow areas at north can be trekked 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 can be trekked during monsoon.
Actually, summer/ monsoon is the best time to trek to these places as temperature is most pleasant this time around.
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. 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 is made 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. Northern part of Nepal like Dolpo, Mustang, Humla and others are accessible too.
Temperature at higher altitude is much, much colder during winter than any other season. This is why people trek during spring and autumn instead, when temperature is more 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.
A straight trek to Everest Base Camp and back is suggested instead of Three Passes or other trails that goes 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 people first. You might require some climbing skills. Crossing passes can become a little technical in winter. Then again, could be global warming, seasons have shifted a little and become unpredictable.
What Fitness and Experience do I require?
How fit and experienced you need to be depends on the difficulty level of where you are trekking.
Nepal offers 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 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 can be done by most people, even those without previous experience.
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 combines the natural and cultural beauty of Nepal, including view of the spectacular 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 to be expected.
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 person without experience but will.
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, steep exposed paths and traversing 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.
Previous experience of long hour walking and good preparation are required. However, many amateurs too have successfully completed the popular treks like EBC, Annapurna Circuit and treks to Langtang. 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 graded treks are more difficult than strenuous. It is almost an expedition. These are for the really adventurous minded, determined people.
These treks can be 3 weeks to a month long. It can require camping in some remote, wild part of Nepal and/ or some climbing experience.
Trails that include peak trekking 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 4 treks.
All about 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 travelling above 2400m are susceptible to AMS.
However, many people are not aware of this and lose their lives over what is easily preventable. Therefore, know and tell others about AMS. Particularly, to those who love to trek or ski.
What is AMS?
AMS 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 other symptoms like nausea, lethargy, loss of appetite, quick breathing (despite no physical exertion) and/ or increase in pulse, then know that you are suffering from AMS.
If not treated immediately, it can kill.
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 and carefully
DO NOT climb higher at any cost.
You could be dizzy. Get someone to accompany 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 is known to help ease the symptoms of AMS. Do not depend on other unproved home remedies such as garlic.
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 helps with the recovery.
If the symptoms continue to worsen, evacuate immediately. There are helicopter evacuation facilities available that we will discuss about shortly.
If the person gets 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 rescue by helicopter.
So, what are the preventive measures of AMS?
1. Slow Ascent
Climb gradually. The severity of AMS is related to how fast and how high you go.
Avoid flying in directly to high altitude. Avoid covering a lot, height wise, in one day.
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 what is called an acclimatization day or rest day. Usually, 1 day and 2 nights are spent on the same elevation to let our body acclimatize. Some people might 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 suggested that first rest day be somewhere between 2400 and 3000m. Then the next one after ever 300 to 500m ascent.
3. Climb High, Sleep low
The rest day is not exactly for resting.
It is spent climbing somewhere higher and then coming back to the same elevation to sleep in. This helps with acclimatizing and minimizes risks of AMS.
4. Water, Food and Medicine
Staying well hydrated and eating foods high in carbohydrate are known to alleviate symptoms of AMS. Medicine like Diamox eases the effects of altitude as well.
We should keep in mind that these are just some precautions that we can take. Like, taking Diamox can help lessen AMS symptoms. It will not ‘certainly’ stop AMS. Therefore, 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 are advised to insure themselves.
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 travelling 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 like, 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 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.
For information, there are Himalayan Rescue Association operated health posts in Pheriche of Everest Region and Manang of Annpurna Circuit.
There is also a Khunde Hospital, not a big one, in Everest. It is staffed by western doctors. These facilities may be closed during off season.
If you are travelling through an agency, the guide provided is most probably capable of dealing with AMS and smaller health problems. Check with the agency.
Other than this, a travel insurance that covers cancellation, injury, theft, medical expenses and death would be best for Nepal.
Maybe, when doing an easy Grade A treks like Ghorepani Poon Hill, Trek to Phulchoki, Chisapani, Shivapuri etc., you could ditch both a guide and a trekking company.
This is if you know how and where to go, how safe the area is for tourists, where to go in case of an emergency and such. Research well.
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.
It is advised to go through a trekking company when trekking to remote areas of Nepal that require camping. You probably agree.
The question, really, applies to the popular Everest, Annapurna and Langtang regions.
There is no rule that states guides are a must. There are lots and lots of information in 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 have gone missing before. 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 simply sprain an ankle or fall seriously ill. You could suffer from AMS. Genuine guides are trained in recognizing symptoms of and in taking immediate measures against AMS.
Being alone in such a condition at such a place is not good.
But then, they can greatly affect your experience, positively or negatively. Therefore, choose a compatible partner and/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. You might need it. You might not. Check out 6 Reasons Not to Hire a Trekking Agency in Nepal.
If it is your first time in Nepal and you want to travel independently, do at least get a good, experienced guide with good 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 $15 – $30 per day.
What Documents/ Permits are required to trek in Nepal?
These are the Documents required to trek in Nepal.
- Few passport sized photos
- Maybe insurance papers, depending on the agency and where you will be travelling to.
All nationals except for that of India should get a Visa to enter Nepal. It is easy to get a Nepali visa.
Some nationals can get 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 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 identifies them as an Indian citizen. It could be:
- A Valid Indian Passport
- Photo identity card issued by the Government of India, or any State Government or Union Territory Administration in India, or the Election Commission of India or,
- Emergency Certificate issued by the Embassy of India in Nepal.
Visa Details for SAARC nationals
nationals are granted 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 and/or is a restricted area.
Therefore, every trekker, whether independent or trekking through a government authorized agency, need to obtain a few permits. These permits are checked 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. Permits will be paid for 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 blue TIMS card that costs Nrs.1000 per person in the group.
Permits for Restricted Areas
To trek to restricted areas, one need 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 off season.
For Manaslu Circuit trek, you need MCAP and ACAP permit and RAP of Manaslu. TIMS card is not required for restricted areas.
Restricted Area Permit can be obtained 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, is it a teahouse trekking or camp trekking?
Most treks in Nepal can be done as a teahouse trek and when done during the peak seasons, your backpack will be most light.
Packing the right gears is essential for a satisfying trip. Not packing right can result in anything between ruined mood, discontent 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 that it is comfortable to walk in.
- A pair of sandals or anything you can just slip in. Closed ones like crocks would be better. This is so you wouldn’t 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 and warmer, thicker ones for higher altitude. Two pairs of each would be good.
- Crampons are not really necessary unless you will trekking over high passes during winter or late November. It is important for peak trekking though. For peak trekking, crampons will most probably be provided by the agency.
- Two pairs of gloves. A light one and a really warm one. You could bring only the warm pair too. They should be windproof.
- Full sleeved t-shirts. Full sleeved so as 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. Should be comfortable, easy to move in. Layer up for warmth at higher elevation. You could buy a down pant. Or, just layer up over a thermal pant.
- Few underwear. You could buy thermal underwear. If you will be trekking 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. Maybe those that can be packed into a really small packet.
- 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 makes conducting your business easier, 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 could bring other things you use like maybe 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 and batteries?
- 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 really 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 which means that most of the camping gears, a guide and even a cook will be provided by the agency.
Check what is included and what is not.
Buy trekking equipment at home or in Nepal? And, where in Nepal can I buy trekking gears?
Being a trekker’s paradise, you’d think there are many branded stores to buy trekking equipment from.
There are indeed many shops in Kathmandu and Pokhara that sell all the trekking gears. However, most of them are fakes with a fake label of a real brand. Or, they belong to companies you have never heard of.
This does not say anything about their quality though. They could be really good stuffs and you are getting it for cheap. And, they could be the ones that just break and fall apart. Be the judge.
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. Maybe you are just being ripped off.
If you want real branded stuffs, then there are stores like The North Face and Mountain Hardwear in Tridevi Marg, Kathmandu that sell 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 will be trekking this one time only, you could just rent some of the gears such as down jackets and pants, sleeping bag etc. 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.
Things will be rented out for about $1 more or less per day.
When it really comes down to deciding on buying things at home vs. at Nepal, our suggestions are:
- Usually, things that you really need to depend on the performance of should be bought at home or in shops like the ones mentioned above and not in the fake market.
If you need climbing gears, like Carabiners and ropes (the tools), bring from home, unless the trekking agency is providing. They usually do.
- Down jackets, down pants and sleeping bags can be bought 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 should be bought in home where they can guarantee this or that much of breathability.
There are windproof and waterproof jackets in Nepal which might actually not be so. If they really work, they can lack in breathability.
Raincoats can be bought in Nepal. May lack in 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 should most definitely be bought at home.
- Trekking underwear and trekking socks should be bought at home. Normal ones can be found in Nepal.
- If you are a professional trekker and want a very good quality Trekking Pole, buy in home. If you will not be using it later, buy an okay one in Nepal.
- Good quality thermals can be bought in Nepal. Again, check the material.
- Things like t-shirts, pants, water purifiers, Oral Rehydration Salts, moisturizer and others can be bought anywhere in Nepal.
- Of course, trek map should be bought in Nepal.
Warm caps can be bought in Nepal too. Thing to be careful about is that the material 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 the ones that cost more, you cannot really say. It is a hit and misses.
In short, anything technical should be bought in home.
But, because Nepal is cheaper, depending on your ability to tell a good product from a bad one, how much you will be using it in the future and how much you need to depend on its performance, trekking gears can be bought 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 travelling in group.
Walls of the lodges are thin and sounds carry. Therefore, if you are a light sleeper, you should bring a pair of ear plugs. In some places, walls are just ply.
Accommodation turns more basic with 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 do.
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 higher elevation.
Usually, toilet papers are not provided. Water is. 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.
You are expected 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, staple food of the Nepalese. It is filling, inexpensive and carbohydrate 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 are shorter as well.
A range of drinks are available. From 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 could 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 can be limited up there. It will cost you more too.
In fact, prices of everything increase with 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.
The reason people suggest to bring water purifiers is also this. A bottle of water that cost NRs. 20 in the valley can reach Nrs.200+ up in the Himalayas.
Instead of mineral water, you could just fill your bottles with boiled water from the lodge. Waters are well boiled but you could double purify it by adding purifiers. Just in case. Being ill is bad. Being ill up there is worse. Doing this is both economical 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 be asked 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 gaining in popularity.
Even in these regions, it is 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 that is something that cannot be done anywhere else in the world.
There are the colorful culture of Sherpas and others 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 start 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 you can enjoy the view of Everest from.
Best of all is the Kalapatar, the vantage point. Funnily, EBC is not one of the points.
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 comparatively easy trail that has been completed by 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, view of Annapurna and other peaks, traditional villages and natural hot springs!
Nothing is better than soaking your aching body in the hot spring rumored to have healing effects.
Ghorepani Poon hill, a vantage point for sunset/sunrise and view of a range of mountains falls 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 been voted one of the best trails in the world.
As the name suggests, the trail goes around Annapurna, covering all the possible best parts of Annapurna region including places like Ghorepani Poon hill, Manang, Kagbeni, Jomsom and others.
Due to road construction deep into the region, the overall experience is said to have decreased. 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 makes this trek the best.
To cut the road part, you could take the New Annapurna Trekking Trail (NATT) marked by Prem Rai and Andrees 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.
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 Annapaurna are still intact. Yet Manaslu Circuit Trek has blossomed as a great alternative to Annapurna Circuit.
Opened to trekking in 1991, it slowly gained in popularity and just about 5 years ago and in 2010, teahouse trekking Manaslu all the way became possible.
It is still a restricted area and provisions are more basic in comparison to Annapurna and Everest.
Mount Manaslu is the eight 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 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 Tahr. 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 of numerous glacier lakes such as Gosaikunda, Parvatikunda, Dudhkunda and others. These lakes are considered 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 glacier 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 diverse culture of the Tamangas, 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 will not be crowded like Annapurna or Everest. Therefore 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 pressed on time 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 Cap and Circuit trails go past Poon Hill as well for this is a vantage 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 longer trek in Annapurna region, you could just trek up to Poon Hill. You will not need a guide and it is inexpensive.
You could extend this trek by a day by trekking to Tatopani. Tatopani literally means hot water. Here, you can enjoy a natural hot springs. Then you can ride back to Pokhara.
You could 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 could shorten it by taking a flight from Pokhara to Jomsom.
Then it can be done in 7/8 days but that would be costlier. One way ticket costs a little over $100 for adult and a little under 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 up close views of mountains of this region including Annapurna and the deepest gorge, Kali Gandaki, keeps you company. This is one of the best short treks in Nepal.
In Muktinath there is a small temple of, well, Muktinath. Muktinath spells Freedom Lord 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 Annapurna region. It was named Royal Trek because this was the path taken by Prince Charles when he came to explore Nepal in the eighties.
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 that can be done by children and by the old. It is 6 to 8 days long.
After returning to Pokhara, if you have time, you can take a short hike to 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, black bear etc. 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.
Maybe, you too would 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 just for you. You fly to Everest and trek to Phakding to Namche Bazzar and to Tengboche over a four days time. Acclimatiztion day in Namche Bazzar.
Tengboche is one of the best points to view Mt. Everest along with others like Lhotse, Ama Dablam, Thamserku, Nuptse etc. 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 restricted 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 thicker, warmer, comfy bed. The rooms are comparatively bigger. Hot water runs twenty-four-seven in the attached bathroom. Toilets are western flush style.
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 Everest and Annapurna region.
Trekking in Nepal Cost
We cannot say exactly that this trail costs this much but booking online is definitely going to be expensive. It can be convenient if your time is limited. Then, you can just come, trek and return. Everything will be prepared.
Else, come to Nepal first and visit different trekking agencies. Check what is included in the price.
In general, cost of trekking in Nepal varies according to the region you are travelling to and how luxuriously you would like to travel.
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. For necessary permits and their cost, go to restricted trekking area permit section.
Among the popular unrestricted regions of Annapurna, Langtang and Everest, Everest is the most expensive while Langtang is the cheapest.
First, prices are mentioned in US dollar for your convenience. For a general calculation, US $1 roughly translates to Nrs.100.
All the transactions will be done in Nepali rupees.
In 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 between Kathmandu and Lukla costs from $160 to $180. For a porter or a guide, it is $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. Not only will the inside of the bus be packed but there will be a lot of people on the roof as well. This is one reason for bus accidents in Nepal.
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 could bring your own food too.
This pricing is for long roads. When travelling within a city, bus fare cost from Nrs.15 to Nrs.25 only.
I have seen drivers say 50 or 100 when travelling within Kathmandu. Do not be fooled.
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 cost a little extra depending on the choice of meat. We suggest you 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 only more expensive in comparison to how filling they are. Packet noodle are cheaper. Not a very healthy choice though. Most dishes start from $2.
Cost for hot drinks can start from Nrs.50 and can reach a little over $2. Hard drinks are on a different level entirely. You could 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. It is recommended to fill you bottles in the lodge instead 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, price of everything increases with increase in height.
Cost of Accommodation
Rooms normally cost $2 per night. If you are a group, you could book a dorm room. It will cost you less when splitting the bill.
Normally, you are expected to eat where you sleep. If you eat both dinner and breakfast there, they could waver the price or give it for free even, maybe not in the peak season but you could try.
Hot showers during trek is 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, voltage used is 220-240. Outlets are usually round. 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 stuffs.
Price of porters start from $12 and can go up to $20 per day. They carry 30kg maximum. Anything more would be cruel. 30kg is a limit rather than target weight. Unnecessary stuffs can be left 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, from Pokhara.
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 10% service charge included in the bill. You do not need to tip staffs in Teahouses.
How much you tip guides and porters really depends on your satisfaction. Tipping is a newly accepted custom of Nepal and there is no minimum/maximum range for tips.
However, if you are happy with their services but worrying you might under or over tip the guide and porter, then 15% of the total pay is a good tip.
It is the mostly used and suggested tipping amount. Responders were previous trekkers who have trekked in Nepal quite a few times.
For example, if your guides pay is $20 for 10 days, then 15% of $200 is $30 which is a good amount. It roughly translates to Nrs.3000.
Now you could pay Nrs.2500 or Nrs.4000. It depends on your satisfaction and budget.
They will be happy with whatever you give them.
Trekking Companies in Nepal
There are thousands and thousands of trekking companies in Nepal, all claiming to be the best of all there is.
In all this, how to know what trekking company is good for you? How to choose the best trekking company?
Here are some tips.
- Registration: First, make sure that it is a government registered trekking company.
Sometimes, the license may have expired. So, make sure that is currently licensed. It should be registered with Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) and TAAN as well.
If it offers climbing like Mera or Island peak climbing, then it should be registered with Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA) as well.
- Staff insurance and quality:
The guides and the porters they will be providing for your trip, are they 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 does 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? That is, what are included in the package? Do they rent out gears like 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. Maybe one company is slightly more expensive than the other but their guide is better. But then the other guide is not bad and that is good enough for you?
Some Tips for Trekkers
In case you missed it in this long, long post, here are some tips or suggestions in list form so that it will be easy for you.
- Bring enough cash. There are ATM facilities in popular regions but they might not always work for various regions.
- AMS is life threatening. Know all about AMS before heading out to the trek.
- When you fill 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 Everest region. Flight to and from Lukla can be canceled 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. Travelling 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. Imagine.
- 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 conservatively.
- Public display of affection makes locals super uncomfortable. It is strictly forbidden.
- When greeting people, do not try to hug and kiss them.
- If you will be trekking this one time only, it is better to just 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. Beef in Nepal is buffalo meat.
We hope this guide was helpful in answering any queries you may have about trekking in Nepal. If not, you could comment or email us your questions. We are always happy to help.
If you find any information in this article to be incorrect, please let us know by commenting or by email. We thank you for your time.