TRAVELLING IN NEPAL - GENERAL
Nepal opened its international borders to visitors in 1951 after almost a century and a half of complete isolation from the outside world. For an adventure destination, Nepal is hard to beat. With ancient history, fascinating cultures and the great scar of the Himalayas dominating the skyline, few can deny the overwhelming allure of this enchanting Kingdom.
Nepal’s population is extremely diverse. Culturally, it is almost impossible to pigeon-hole the enormous mosaic of ethnic groups in Nepal. Isolated villages have developed unique practices and traditions over the centuries which distinguish them from villages of similar clans. The cultural make-up can however be broken down into two very broad camps – people of Tibeto-Burmese origin from the Himalayas, and those of Indo-Aryan origin from the Indian subcontinent, represented by the Buddhist and Hindu religions respectively.
With magnificent mountain vistas and enormous cultural diversity, Trekking in Nepal really is a unique experience. Nepalis are an incredibly friendly people, and their special hospitality is an endearing feature of travel in this culturally diverse Kingdom.
Bear in mind that Nepal is a developing country, and travelling in this unique country often throws up unusual or frustrating surprises. Above all, you need to maintain a flexible and tolerant attitude, and view the unpredictability with a good sense of humour and a relaxed approach. The unpredictability of Nepal is one of its many fascinating and enduring charms. Whilst we have taken great care to plan a trip of a lifetime for you, this unpredictability means that the best-laid plans are from time to time frustrated. Planes can be cancelled, buses break down, and impromptu strikes occur. If this is something that you cannot accept, you might wish to reconsider your travel plans before booking with us.
Where we have to alter the trip arrangements as a result of these inconveniences, we shall of course consult with you before making any necessary changes to the itinerary.
Some of our trekking holidays use mountain lodge accommodation, particularly in the Annapurna regions. In recent years the quality of this type of lodging has improved dramatically - the lodges are comfortable and have excellent facilities. Staying in these lodges will bring us into contact with the locals, and often we will be accommodated in family homes. Lodges may vary from simple double rooms to fairly basic dormitories, depending on altitude and our trekking route. Staying in lodges is warmer than camping during the winter months, when temperatures can drop well below zero.
Some of our trips, particularly in the more remote areas, may be camping only and on these trips, we use only the best quality camping equipment. Camping is on a shared basis, and single supplements will apply where individual tents are requested. All meals are included on our camping treks; we will all eat together in the mess tent. Our experienced cooks provide a delicious and varied diet to meet any dietary needs, providing a balance between western and Nepali cuisine. Camping is a unique way of experiencing Nepal’s mountain regions.
Leader & crew
All of our trekking trips are accompanied by a local tour guide. Your luggage will be carried by porters. All you have to carry is what you need for the day: waterproofs, fleece, hat, camera, water bottle etc..
WEATHER AND CLIMATE
The climate in Nepal is governed by the monsoon which comes up from the Bay of Bengal. The monsoon lasts from June through to mid-September. We do not operate any treks in this period, mostly because the humidity and the leeches make for uncomfortable trekking conditions! There are two main trekking periods in Nepal. The post-monsoon period of October to December, and the pre-monsoon period of March to May.
October - December
In this period, the weather is invariably mild with classic blue sky days giving excellent views of the mountains, although the nights can be chilly, especially at altitudes. Daytime temperatures reach between 22 - 30° at the lower altitudes and decrease as you gain height. Into November, it gets progressively colder and the days shorter as the winter approaches. Up high at the snow line, temperatures can drop sharply at night, from 0 to -10 or -15.
March - May
In March the cold, dry winter season begins to give way to warmer, wetter spring conditions. Mornings are usually clear, although invariably the cloud cover builds in the afternoon and there may be the occasional rain shower. Although the build up of cloud can obscure views of the mountains, there is an explosion of colour at ground level as a multitude of wildflowers and rhododendrons come into bloom. As always, high up in the mountains, temperatures can drop dramatically, particularly above the snow line.
EQUIPMENT AND CLOTHING
Below is a general list of gear for trekking in Nepal, with specifications for winter months (Dec-Feb). Try to keep the weight and bulk to a minimum by bringing clothes made from lightweight material. Don't pack too much clothing; one or two changes will be all you need. However, as the weather conditions in the Himalayas are often unpredictable, be prepared for all eventualities, be it rain, unseasonable cold or heat. Good walking boots/shoes with ankle support that are well broken-in (this means worn frequently prior to travel because new boots invariably equal blisters and discomfort).
4 season sleeping bag
Socks, several pairs, wool blend and thin cotton. Bring extra during winter month (Dec - Feb)
Sneakers or sandals, for wearing around tea houses or camp
Waterproof, thigh-length jacket of GoreTex or similar material
Wool jumper / sweater / fleece: lightweight. 1 heavyweight or 2 lightweight during winter months
Pants: lightweight long trousers, a pair of long shorts, tracksuit pants to wear around tea houses or camp. Warmer trousers during winter months. Jeans are not suitable
T-shirts/shirts: 2 or 3 short sleeve, 1 long sleeve to protect from sun
Hat: Sun hat or cap for day wear. Wool hat or beanie covering the ears during the winter months
Towel: lightweight medium size and/or sarong
Thermal underwear as they are light and easily washable
Swimsuit: to relax in hot springs or swim in rivers. A sarong is also useful while bathing, and can be bought cheaply in Nepal
Water bottle and purification tablets
Basic toiletries and toilet paper
Hygenic hand wipes
Torch / flashlight
Penknife, Swiss Army style
First Aid kit
Plastic/waterproof bags to use as rubbish bag while trekking & to keep clothing dry
Waterproof pack cover
You must ensure that you have adequate personal insurance cover for your trip. It is a compulsory requirement for all of our trips in Nepal and it is your responsibility to take out a suitable policy. This must include personal accident, medical expenses, and repatriation to your country of residence. For treks in the Himalaya, the policy must include a provision for helicopter rescue. We also recommend that your policy covers cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects. Please note that free insurance cover offered by some credit cards does not cover repatriation expenses.
All nationalities except Indians require a visa for Nepal. Visas are obtained either from the embassy in your home country or on arrival at Kathmandu's Tribhuvan airport. If getting the visa at Kathmandu airport, be prepared for a long queue!. You will also need to provide one passport sized photo and the following fees Visa fees at arrival points: 15 days = $25, 30 days = $40, 90 days = $100. Please ensure that you have USD.
Above 3,000m, because the air is thinner, and the pressure lower, there is less oxygen available in the atmosphere. On all treks above this altitude, we have allowed for acclimatization so that our bodies can adapt to these changing conditions. Not everyone acclimatizes at the same rate. During the acclimatization process, you may experience symptoms such as headache, tiredness, disturbed sleep, shortness of breath and swelling of the hands and face. Suffering from these symptoms does not necessarily mean that you will be unable to continue with the trip. You should however notify your trip leader as soon as you become aware of these symptoms. If you are concerned about altitude problems, please consult us for further information.
We recommend tipping to trek staff as a gesture of goodwill in thanks for their tireless efforts. As a guide, allow 100-150NR (approx US$2) per day to be handed to each of the staff at the end of the trip.
You should allow for the following:
• Where food and drinks are not included in the price and fizzy/alcoholic drinks on trek/excursions.
• Cost of single entry visa - about $25
• Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$150 as an 'emergency' fund, to be used when circumstances outside our control (e.g. a natural disaster) necessitate a change to our planned route
• Shopping and optional activities not included in the trip.
HEALTH AND FITNESS
Please bear in mind that despite the best of intentions, standards of hygiene in Nepal are generally lower than we expect in Western Europe or North America. Similarly, medical facilities and methods can often appear to be below the standards we would expect at home. Nonetheless, with the right attitude and careful planning, any health risks are minimised. We recommend that you have a medical and dental check-up before departure, particularly for the remote destinations. Medical treatment is expensive at Western travellers' clinics but in most cases should be covered by your travel insurance. Healthcare is poor in most places outside Kathmandu valley and Pokhara. For medical and inoculations advice, contact your GP before travel.
Immunisations & Vaccinations
Needed - Typhoid, Hepatitis A
Recommended - Diphtheria, Hepatitis, Tuberculosis, Rabies, Japanese B encephalitis, Meningococcal
Malaria has been eradicated from the areas we will be in.
For trekking, the general rule is that you will need to be fit and the more preparation you have done for it, the more you will enjoy it. You will be walking with your day pack, with the possibility of extreme variations in temperature. We recommend that you undertake regular aerobic exercise in the months before you travel, particularly if you are not in the habit of regular exercise. Doing mountain walks or climbing long stair cases with a pack is good preparation. Walking, jogging, swimming or riding a bike are all good ways to increase your aerobic fitness, which will allow you to enjoy the trek to its fullest.
Nepal’s environment is fragile. We are strongly committed to positive impact tourism. Wherever possible, we try to minimise the negative impacts of tourism on local cultures and the environment. There are a number of ways to minimise your impact of local cultures and the environment in Nepal. Please refer to the section on responsible travel for further information.
FOREIGN & COMMONWEALTH OFFICE, GOVERNMENT AND EMBASSY INFORMATION