Nepal is known for many things, one of them being trekking. The terrain of the country offers everything from causal strolls to moderate climbs to Everest. If you are interested in trekking around Nepal, here are some things I think you should know before you slap on your backpack.
Unless you are a some extraordinary MacGyver or Grizzly Adams type, go with a guide. As a foreigner, you don’t know the customs and cultures and you certainly don’t know the terrain. Guides don’t have to be expensive, so don’t waste your breath on that argument.
There are three easy ways to hire a guide in Nepal.
- Go through a tour operator in Kathmandu. There are multiple tour operators in Kathmandu that will arrange for a guide to accompany you through your trek or meet you at a specific destination prior to your hike.
- Go through an operator or store at your trek destination. When you arrive at your base village before your trek, there will be several supply and gear stores. These stores almost always employ or refer customers to guides.
- Word of mouth. Ask your host for the name of a good, reputable guide.
In my case, my host in Nepal went with a combination of number one and three above. I flew solo to Lukla and my guide met me at tiny restaurant/hostel.
But honestly, before you hire a guide consider your fitness level and the type of trek that appeals to you. My host took multiple strolls throughout Nepal, overnighting in Tea Houses. To this day, she is in significantly better shape than I will ever be, but that was her idea of perfect. She wanted to enjoy the country with her toddler. Anything in the Everest region would have been a miserable, and potentially dangerous, experience for both of them.
After much consideration, i decided i wanted a moderate trek in the Everest area. I was comfortable physically exerting myself and being away from my base in Kathmandu for 3-4 days.
I cannot stress the importance of this process enough. Seriously, spend a day doing some soul-searching. How long can you rough it or go without a hot shower? The answers will help shape your adventure and make sure it meets your own expectations and desires.
This was my first time trekking and i immediately fell in love with the entire experience. However, i do wish i packed smarter. So another strong recommendation: pack smart. What you need clothing wise:
- Short sleeve dry weave shirts,
- Long sleeve pull overs,
- Converter pants,
- Rain poncho or jacket,
- Socks, other unmentionables and
- Most importantly (for me anyway) a separate warm, dry outfit to put on when you finish for the day.
What you don’t need: your latest Lucky magazine “on trend” outfit. In my opinion this includes jeans, yoga pants or short shorts. Why? Jeans aren’t practical and if it rains you’ll be soaked and your jeans won’t dry until you hit the states again. Yoga pants are too fashionable and typically too long in the Mountains. You’ll be covered in mud. Short shorts are just disrespectful. Think more along the lines of converter pants from REI or LLBean.
Please don’t mistake packing smart as a strategy for abusing your porter or guide. In most cases they will carry your pack. My list is a guide of what you need but don’t load up on crap that just makes your bag needlessly heavy for the porter.
And the best two things my host told me before i left for my adventure. First, always make the guide show you at least two places to sleep for the night. In many cases, they steer trekkers towards hostels and guest houses with showers. If you want a shower, make sure it meets your needs and you are clear on costs. Her point was that if a hot shower is not critical, you can get a better overall guest house and negotiate your own price.
Second, make sure everything you eat is fried. Deep fried. Sounds counter intuitive but as she explained it, our stomachs are not accustomed to Nepali cooking. Fried food kills any parasites that will cause problems later on in your trek. So go with friend rice or dumplings.
More questions? Message me, i am happy to share all that i know.