Monday, June 2, 2008

Trekking In Nepal: Selecting the Right Trek and Equipment, Itinerary

A trek in Nepal is a unique and unforgettable experience for a whole lot of reasons. Trekking in Nepal is a special and rewarding mountain holiday. In fact, it is usually a thoroughly memorable and positive experience. Eight out of ten highest mountains in the world are in Nepal like Mt. Everest (8848m), Mt. Kanchangunga (8598m), Mt. Lhotse (8501m), Mt. Makalu (8475m) etc, and if you want to see these for close up you must walk. While trekking you see far more than the mountains- you can walk from the tropical lowlands to alpine meadows and glacial moraines while in the spring Nepal's brilliant rhododendron will be in bloom and you may see rare species of birds. Not only is scenery interesting and ever changing but also it can be seen in relative safety. Theft, robbery, assault all the problems of western civilization and many Asian countries are still relatively unknown in Nepal. Nepal is a country of contrasts and this extends to the people as well as landscape. Trekkers pass through picturesque villages inhabited by Sherpas, Magars, Gurungs and Tamangs in the highlands and Brahmins, Chhetris and Newars in the lower altitudes. These are among the many ethnic groups that exist in Nepal.

Nepalese cultures respect Natural features:

  • Respect religious sites by passing them clockwise. Never take cultural objects from shrines, homes or the trailside.
  • In Buddhist Gompas, take off your shoes and hats. Ask before taking pictures inside. Never smoke in temples. Donation is used to maintain the temples.
  • Be modest while bathing; never be nude
  • Respect individuals' privacy when taking photos.

Trekkers are always impressed be the friendliness of the people they meet along the local trails, which are in constant use and humming with activity. This is a totally different experience from hiking along the often-uninhabited trails in the US rockies, European Alps or Australian Bushlands. There was a time till the seventies when no household in a village would turn away a weary traveller arriving late in the evening . There are still possibilities of staying in Nepali homes -especially along the less frequented trails. A trek can last half a day or over a month. A short walk up to Nagarkot to see the sunrise takes three to four hours from Bhaktapur While the walk to Everest Base Camp will take atleast two weeks. Make sure you enjoy walking before setting out on a long trek. Trekking is not mountaineering but it is as well to remember that the Himalayas begin where other mountains finish. An average trek will oscillate between 1000 meters and 3000 meters but the trek to Everest Base Camp will reach 5545 meters. Most of the times you will remain within the altitude range 1500 to 2000 meters. It is important to remember that 4000 meters in Nepal is not the same as in Europe or North America as the country is much closer to the Equator.

A day On the Trail:

Trekking usually consists of a series of ascents and descents walking five or six hours in a day. To ensure good acclimatization in high altitudes it is wise to halt for the night at a lower level than the high point reached during the day. A long mid-day meal stops are usually made and the night can be spent in village tea shop, camp or one of many lodges which have opened along more popular trails depending on whether you are on your own or with an organized trekking agency.

When to Trek:

The best trekking season is in October and November just after the monsoon: visibility will be clear and h weather mild. March and April is the next best season and has the added bonus of the rhodendrodons and other flowers. Trekking can be done during December, January and February but it can get very cold particularly at night at higher altitudes. April and May are good months for high altitude treks. Trekking is not advisable between mid - June and early September when the monsoon rains make the trail slippery and leeches come out to make walking measurable. Some travellers do trek it even at this season. During monsoon, it does not mean that it will rain everyday. Besides, some of the most frequented trails will not be crowded and some people like it that way. It can actually be enjoyed in the upper part of the Annapurna Circuit around Marfa, Jomsom and Muktinath as the monsoon does not get in this trans-himalayan area.

If you are with an organized trekking group, everything is taken care of you and you'll sleep mainly in tents set up by the porters. On the other hand, if you are trekking independently, you stay either in teahouses, lodges and sometimes in private homes in the villages.


If you do not already have good equipment, it can be bought and rented from trekking shops in Nepal. The equipment is often top quality. There are many trekking shops so it can be easily rented the trekking equipment. But if you go through some trekking agencies, you needn't worry about it because all the equipment will be provided by such agencies.

The excluding things when you go through trekking agencies are:
Medicine Personal expenditures like - beers, chocolates, cigarettes, sleeping bags.

Selecting the right trek:

If you had couple of weeks time and wanted to trek in Nepal, which trek would you select? It all depends on what you're looking for and your budget. Some off the beaten track treks such as Kanchenjunga or Dolpa are only open to organized trekking which means expensive trekking. Some recently open treks to Mustang are even more expensive as trekking permit fee is higher.

It also depends on your physical fitness. While some of the shorter treks and those around Pokhara are relatively easy, there are many, which could be very strenuous. Along some trekking trails, you have to cross passed above 5000 meters.

If you are liking for diversity in both landscape and people the best trek is Annapurna Circuit or parts of it such as Pokhara-Jomsom or Pokhara-Ghandruk-Ghorepani. It is also relatively easy unless you go to Manang and cross the Thorungla Pass. You can also have apple pie and beat on the trek. If you continue to manang across the main Himalayas you will also walk through the Tibetan culture milieu which is also briefly visible at Kagbeni and Muktinath.

The Everest Trek, well known because of the name Everest gives you a chance of viewing the highest mountains and essentially one ethnic group of Nepal - The sherpas - specially if you fly to Lukla and a trek from there. You'll actually be flying high and staying high. There will be less variety of foods compared to Annapurna area. Unlike in Annapurna circuit, where you'll be going around the peaks and be in Tibetan plateau, you'll remain on the southern slope of he main Himalayan Range.

Langtang and Helambu situated just north of Kathmandu are easily accessible from Kathmandu. The views of the Himalayan Peaks from Langtang are also excellent. However, you will remain in he southern side of the Himalayas unlike in the Annapurna Circuit of Dolpa. The recently opened treks to Kanchenjunga, Dolpa and Mustang are not easy ones and he food is not easily available along the trail. This is perhaps one of the reasons why traveling independently is not allowed at this time. There are also more rewarding. Few westerns have visited these places.

Trekking Itinerary

Short And Easy Treks:DurationAltitude Varies.
1. Doing the Khumbu10 Days2650m- 3875m
2. Pokhara to Ghandrung8 Days850m- 1950m
3. North Bound Helambu via Panchkhal8 Days848m- 2450m
4. Dhampus and Naudanda5 Days850m- 1800m
5. Machhapuchre Trek8 Days850m- 3682m

Stretch Treks:DurationAltitude Varies.
1. Everest Base Camp Trek15 days2250m- 4930m
2. Langtang And Gosainkunda Lakes14 days1970m- 4300m
3. Annapurna Santuary 15 days850m - 3690m
4. The Lake: Rara Jumla 13 days2434m - 3100m
5. Jomsom to Muktinath 14 days850m- 3802m
6. Gorepani : Poon Hill Trek11 days850m- 2823m
7. Mystery Mustang Trek14 days2713m- 3722m

Strenuous Treks:DurationAltitude Varies.
01. Around Everest:
a. KTM / Jiri - Classical Everest Trek23 days2650m- 4930m
b. Gokyo and Everest - Chola Pass Trek21 days
02. Around Annapurna : Throngla 23 days
03. Exploring Dhaulagiri 21 days850m- 5240m
04. Around Manasulu24 days490m- 5220m
05. Kanchenjunga Trek23 days
06. Makalu Base Camp19 days
07. Mustang Exploration22 days850m- 3820m
08. Ganesh Himal Trek19 days
09. Rupi Nala Trek20 days
10. Discovering Dolpa 26 days850m- 4230m

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