Yijun Liu | July 31, 2016
Otherwise known as the “birth-place” of trekking, it comes as no surprise that thousands of travellers flock to Nepal for the most authentic experience of conquering a mountain. Home to the world’s highest peak and spectacular treks, there is definitely space for everyone here in Nepal, right where the mountains echo.
However, you might then ask – how does one then decide on the best route to take? Given the plethora of Nepal trekking choices available, it is easy to be swayed and overwhelmed.
Hence, in order to help you with your decision making process, we have compiled some of the most commonly asked questions about trekking in Nepal and answered them with our own insights!
Firstly, you will have to ask yourself this (much dreaded) question. What is your physical condition like? Do you exercise on a regular basis or….. have you succumbed completely to the couch potato regime?
Before you go off thinking that this is an advertisement for a gym membership – hold your horses and let us explain!
A mountain expedition is certainly something that you have to prepare your body for. You have to be reasonably fit to do so. Other than the fact that it will be physically demanding, the conditions in the mountains are very different from what we are normally accustomed to. Thus, one simply cannot rush into nepal trekking without sufficient training.
Hence, one should definitely do a combination of strength training as well as aerobic workouts. Although the list is not exhaustive, this could include climbing stairs, trail running, swimming and hiking on hills (yes, it is time to explore the trail walks we have here in Singapore!). These exercises would certainly help to build up your stamina, endurance as well as strengthen the main muscles you need for the trek.
On top of that, while you are running up the stairs and exploring the nature walks available in Singapore, you might also want to add a few weights inside your backpack. This will help to better simulate the actual environment you will experience in Nepal, thus helping your body to adapt faster to it.
TIP: While you are doing these exercises, use the same backpack you plan to bring to Nepal to put your weights in. This will help you adjust yourself better to your backpack and prevent it from weighing you down during your trek.
The duration of each trek definitely varies accordingly to the trek you chose to embark on. For example, for the Ghorepani Poon Hill trek, which is extremely popular among beginners, it takes up an approximate of 5D4N while more challenging treks such as the Annapurna Circuit Trek and the Manaslu Base Camp Trek can take up to three weeks to complete.
The reason why I am asking you this is because – the longer the trek, the more components such as cost, transport, accommodation and equipment involved. As temperatures fluctuate greatly in the mountains, a longer trek would also mean that one has to pack more warm clothes and thermals. Even though it can be argued that the difficulty and duration of a trek are closely interlinked, there are still exceptions where short treks can be equally strenuous.
Hence, in order to thoroughly enjoy the nepal trekking process, it is paramount that one does his/her research and select a trek best suited for your own abilities.
Even though I still stand by my very first statement that Nepal has room for every type of trekkers – all the way from beginners to the experienced ones, I need you to know that there are some factors that might make certain mountains harder to ascend than the rest.
Firstly, A for Altitude. .
Altitude poses a potential string of problems because the higher one goes above sea level, the thinner the air and the lesser the amount of oxygen left in the atmosphere. The risk of Altitude Mountain Sickness (AMS), kicks in the moment one is 2000m above sea level. Symptoms may include fatigue, nausea, dizziness and a lack of appetite.
Once you find yourself experiencing the symptoms of AMS, it is crucial to listen to your body and slow down – or even stop and come down to a lower altitude. AMS can impede your judgement and put yourself in severe danger. If serious, it can even turn in High Altitude Cerebral Oedema (HACE), which is potentially life threatening.
This goes back to the last chapter – find a trek that is suitable for your needs! AMS can kick in if you did not have sufficient time to acclimatise, so do not cut days out of your trek just for the sake of your budget. Moreover, it is essential that you hydrate regularly and obtain enough rest each night to prevent the onset of it.
Secondly, different mountains in Nepal also have different terrains. For more advanced treks such as the Annapurna Circuit Trek or even the Everest Base Camp, they might require technical mountaineering skills and equipment along the way (eg. ice axes). One may need to be certified for such skills, thus making it paramount that you understand the requirement of each trek before heading off.
The best time for Nepal trekking is definitely between the months of October – December. The Monsoon Season (which lasts between June to September) would have passed, thus minimising the occurrence of landslides. Moreover, the skies would have cleared, thus offering you an unforgettable view of both the mountains and the stars above.
Furthermore, it is more cooling in the morning, thus making trekking more enjoyable. However, it is important to note that it is also colder at night, and if you’re lucky, it might even snow! So, be prepared!
You can easily hire guides in major cities such as Kathmandu or Pokhara (which is definitely cheaper than hiring them online), but please request to check their certifications before engaging their services. Usually, the guides will also help you arrange for accommodations in the guesthouses along the way, which might offer you meals. Last but not least, you will also have to check what is included for their prices – some companies will include the price of a trekking permit as well as insurance but some will not.
The average cost of hiring a guide for a day runs between USD$15-USD$20 (assuming that you hire them locally). You can also request for the guide to help you hire a group of porters if you require additional assistance in carrying your belongings. Note that the guide will not help you do so.
I will share with you a list of what I personally believe to be essentials but it is definitely not exhaustive!
– Warm clothes (i.e gloves, long sleeves shirt, beanie, windproof jacket) and thermals.
As temperature changes throughout the day and goes down to negative at night, layering becomes an important component of keeping yourself warm. A base layer would be a thermal, and you can top it up with a dry-fit T-shirt in the morning. But once the weather turns colder, be sure to add on a layer of fleece or even a down jacket.
– A good pair of hiking boots and socks
Make sure to wear it before hand and break into the shoes. This will definitely help to prevent your feet from turning sore.
– Personal Medication, especially if you do have existing conditions
– Lightweight trekking pants.
– Sunglasses: It might be glaring in the day
– Lip Balm: Extremely drying with the cold winds
– Water bottles and ziplocked bags
– Insect Repellents
– Your camera
DO NOT pack
– Tablets, laptops, PC: There is hardly any connection and it would simply weigh you down
Well, this is all I have for you now. I hope this gave you some insights into hiking in Nepal and served as additional motivation to encourage you to do so. Till then, may the wanderlust keep you going.
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