Nepal Trekking Tips

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You’ve been wearing the same clothes for nearly 10 days now. You aren’t sure the last time you’ve actually taken off your long underwear. Yesterday? Or maybe 3 days ago? What day is it anyway? It would be considered a crime to ask someone to smell your socks. The phrase “tatu pani” is a part of your every day vocabulary. Coconut cookies are a daily part of a healthy diet. You’re sweaty, dirty, and picking up a questionable chocolate habit. Welcome to being elbow deep in the mighty Himalayas.

Don’t Use a Single Bottle of Water

We did not use a single plastic bottle of water during our entire time in Nepal and you can too! We relied on our water filters: a SteriPEN (that broke), a Sawyer Squeeze bag filter, and iodine tablets that we never used. About 2/3rds of the way through the trek we simply used untreated, boiled water (available for a small fee) and never got sick. The joy of the boiled water is that it doubles as a sleeping bag warmer at night, keeping your toes toasty and happy!

In Kathmandu the hotel provided us with free treated water from a water cooler at no cost to us.

Tips for trekking

The Numbers

First, it’s important to understand that there is no infrastructure to recycle in Nepal. So how much are you wasting by using bottled water? According to the Nepal tourism board, 36,794 people visited the Everest Region in 2016. Say all of those people bought bottled water for the entirety of their journey. To keep numbers simple, say the average trek is 10 days (it’s usually longer). It is recommended that you drink a minimum of 1 liter a day at lower elevations and 2 liters a day at higher elevations. This number excludes things like brushing teeth, taking medicine, or any other reason to use potable water.

Water is sold in 1.5 liter bottles across the trek. Let’s assume that you use 1 bottle a day at lower elevations, and 2 at higher elevations. Again, conservative, I went through 2-3 liters a day. Furthermore, you also spend 1/2 your time at lower elevations and half at higher. That’s a total of 15 wasted plastic bottles for you (1 each for five days and 2 each for five days) and a whopping 551,910 bottles for a single year in the Everest region alone! Think about it, using conservative numbers, that’s over a half a million water bottles with nowhere to be disposed.

Nepal Trekking Tips

The Cost

There is not a single reason why anyone would need to purchase bottled water during their trek in Nepal. It’s ultra easy, and significantly cheaper to not use plastic. Let’s look at the cost of those 15 bottles. Starting out of Lukla a bottle will run you about $0.80 US or 80 Rupees. Up in Gokyo that same bottle of water will cost you $4.50-$5.00 US or 450-500 Rupees. For simplicity’s sake let’s say the average cost of a bottle of water is 250 Rupees. This really isn’t that outrageous considering you drink MORE at higher elevations and the price of water increases dramatically after your day 2 arrival at Namche. You would spend at a bare minimum, 3,750 Rupees or approximately $37.50 US on bottled water (15 x 250). The Sawyer Squeeze Filter costs much less than that on Amazon (at the time of this post the filter costs $27). Or, if you don’t want to buy a water filter, you can pick up iodine tablets in Kathmandu for less than $5 (500 Rupees).

With that being said, there simply isn’t a reason to use bottled water and contribute to the trash problem in Nepal. I would recommend taking a squeeze filter and iodine as a backup. We never encountered any problems with boiled water. One method that works well is to fill up a water bottle at night, snuggle up with it, pour it into a water bladder in the morning when it’s cooled and refill the bottle with more boiled water on the way out. This isn’t necessarily cost effective, but it’s a safe way to have drinking water and not use plastic should your other purification methods fail you.

Typical Water Source

Nepal Trekking Tips: Bathroom Adventures

Anyone who has traveled to Asia has at least one compelling bathroom story to tell. The same goes with Nepal. Quality varies wildly during the trek. From full on porcelain to a slat in the ground with a pile of pine needles. Either way, when you’ve gotta go on the trail, sometimes there’s no choice but “behind that lovely rock over there.” Toilet paper waste is unsightly and has difficulty decomposing at higher altitudes. Pee rags work wonders. What is this you ask? Well it’s awesome for us ladies! Use an old bandanna for all your number 1 needs. Tie it to the outside of your bag during the day and it will naturally sterilize in the sun. Plus, it beats the scratchy one-ply toilet paper you’re going to encounter in Nepal anyway.

Pack Snacks

Before leaving Kathmandu, load up on a few goodies! They are cheaper in town than on the trek and the selection is usually wider. We went one step further and brought some cheese crackers from home. Don’t forget, sharing is caring! It was fun to share our snacks with our guide, porter, and anyone else who was hanging about. We loved Nepal’s mixed, dried tropical fruit and coconut cookies!

Nepal Trekking Tips

Not a bad place for a snack break! Passing around cookies to other guides and porters.

Nepal Trekking Tips: Battery Saver!

A lot of people spent a pretty penny charging up their electronics every day. In the 11 days we spent trekking, we charged up once. Here’s the secret: batteries hate the cold. Don’t leave any batteries (phone included) out at night. A good secret is to stuff them in the clothes you plan to wear the next day, wad them up, and snuggle with them at night to keep you warm. Not only will you have warm clothes to put on, but your batteries will maintain a charge. You can also pack them next to a bottle of boiled water at night for the same result.

Lessons in Mountain Hygiene

For those of you thinking that a hot shower will be waiting for you around every corner, think again. Yes showers will be available, but not only are they expensive; if there hasn’t been sun, the solar showers don’t work. Furthermore, it’s quite difficult to coax yourself out of your clothes when the temps are 20 deg F (-7C). I took one hot shower the entire trek on day 9. Day 7 I purchased hot water for washing to give my essentials a good scrub after a particularly tough day. Lastly, I never bothered washing my hair. Wet hair and cold air don’t mix.

Nepal Trekking Tips

I didn’t mind being a bit dirty with scenery like this!

Whether it’s baby wipes or hot water and a wash cloth be sure to hit the essentials every day. Your face, pits, crotch, and bum will be thankful!

Learn Some Nepali

Pick up a language book and learn some Nepali! We had a lot of fun trying out our Nepali skills. The locals appreciated are attempts at trying to communicate and we had a good time playing with words. Of course, by day one our guide called us Fox (Piyauri) and Squirrel (Lokharke). Our trail names got quite the laugh from the local community.

Treat Your Feet

I have 3 words for this: silk sock liners. I wore mine every day. In fact, I’d recommend having 2 pairs, I longed for a clean pair on the trek! They keep your socks fresh and help your feet breathe, which prevents blisters. Also bring a blister kit in case you do get a little cut up. I am a personal fan moleskin, but others swear by the liquid stuff. Address ANY issues immediately. If you’re feeling a hot spot on your feet, pull over and take care of business before any problems occur.

Nepal Trekking Tips

Happy feet make for a happy summit! Taking it all in at 17,775′ (5,400m)

Have a change of shoes for the tea houses. We had closed toe sandals and they worked ok. I ended up purchasing down booties in Namche. My feet resemble icicles so some down lovin’ was the perfect way to end a long day trekking. I’d also recommend packing a pair of thick wooly socks for any cold days.

You’re Going to be Cold – Get Used to It

We trekked in early March and it was COLD. There was an unusual spring storm that rolled through and sent temperatures to 0 deg F (-18 C) once the sun went down. Even I wasn’t prepared to deal with it. There were definitely times where it was tough to cope with the cold, especially if the sun wasn’t out or it was windy.

Nepal Trekking Tips

The feeling of the first light up Gokyo Ri is simply magic. Temps quickly went from 0F to nearly 30 in a matter of minutes!

Once you arrived at the teahouse we discovered that the best course of action was to hang out in the main area near the stove and not huddled in your sleeping bag. First, change out of your sweaty clothes. A rough rule of thumb is to have a set of clothes for trekking and a set of clothes for the tea houses. It feels good to put on relatively clean clothes after hiking all day. Fresher clothes feel warmer. The tea house common areas were usually warmed by the sun and the fires were lit by 4pm unless there was crummy weather.

My last piece of advice: remain positive. Complaining isn’t going to change your situation so the best course of action is to focus on something different and bundle up. You’re in middle of the most stunning mountain range in the world!

nepal trekking tips

Nepal Trekking Tips: Take it All in

Enjoy it. Every minute of it. The uphill grinds leave you with a deep sense of satisfaction. Sleepless nights at high altitude greet you with a breath taking mountain sunrise. Stop caring about your dirty hair. Savor that Himalayan hot tea. Embrace the camaraderie by communal stove. Nepal breathes beauty in each moment.

Trekking through the unmatched beauty of Nepal offers rewards beyond words! Make the most of your trekking experience with these trekking tips. They are sure to make your Himalayan hike magic!

 

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40 thoughts on “Nepal Trekking Tips

  1. Flo

    These are some great tips, Meg! Half a million plastic bottles is an insane number of plastic, and I just read that almost no plastic bottles are recycled. Pee rags sound…interesting! But I guess you gotta do what you gotta do, right? What an incredible experience to get away the comforts of everyday life.

    Reply
    1. foxintheforest Post author

      Absolutely! It is a crazy amount of plastic – and the locals don’t use the plastic bottles which is the disturbing part. Filtered water is the way to go!

      Reply
  2. Bhushavali

    Oh my!!! More than calling them tips, you could call them reality check!!! That many plastic bottles are lying there in the Himalayas, thanks to tourism???!!!! That’s just too bad!
    Thanks for that tip about the silk sock liners and battery saving by snuggling the battery!!!
    I’m just astonished and in awe about your awesome trek!

    Reply
    1. foxintheforest Post author

      Not everyone uses plastic bottles there – I’d say about 80% do though. There definitely is trash lying around, but I believe they just simply take the bottles down somewhere and burn them, which is worse. We saw a few fires belching black smoke, which is an indicator of burning plastic. They literally have no where to put them. Even if they hauled them back to Kathmandu – it’s poisoning the capital city’s water source too! As a tourist you should do your part and be conscious of these things.

      Reply
  3. Kate

    You are so much more adventurous than I. I thought pee pads were just for puppies! I can’t even imagine having a stanky rag tied to my pack wandering through nature. I guess you all become a team and things like this no longer bother anyone, right?

    Reply
    1. foxintheforest Post author

      HAHAHA OMG puppies! The rag actually doesn’t really smell unless you put your face in it. It’s just to wipe, not to pee on ;). This was the first time I tried this method, but it worked brilliantly. Either way, everyone does become a team, and honestly after 9 days without a shower you don’t really smell each other anymore, I just wouldn’t want to be someone fresh and clean walking up to us haha. I really love being in nature and getting dirty. At first, you notice, then you just…don’t. It’s freeing. And that shower you finally get to take? SIMPLY GLORIOUS!!

      Reply
    1. foxintheforest Post author

      My SteriPEN is great. It broke 1/2 way through my journey but I’ve had it for about 6 years so I wasn’t too surprised. However, they back up their stuff, they are fixing it for free!

      Reply
  4. Aysha

    Great advice, love the pee rag tip! I definitely intend to buy a water filter for our trip to Asia, better for the environment and saves money.

    Reply
  5. Ania

    This is such an awesome and informative post! I real gives some excellent tips for dealing with some of the challenges people may face when trekking in the Himalayas. The boiled water tip is absolutely essential – at least for someone who is always freezing…AKA me.

    Reply
  6. ada

    Those are amazing tips and such an enjoyable post to read! I am definelty summer person so its gonna take a while to convince me to ever go to Nepal! But I am sure its worth for all those amazing views! Saving this post for later ! Thank you for sharing and amazing photos!

    Reply
    1. foxintheforest Post author

      Nepal is much warmer in the middle of May and middle of November – we were there in March. It was cold, and I hate cold, but I didn’t care because the views were so amazing.

      Reply
  7. Stella the Travelerette

    These were useful tips! I went camping in the Sahara and it was quite cold. When I woke up, I noticed my battery was dead. I didn’t realize it was because of the cold! Makes total sense. I also like the tips to avoid using water bottles.

    Reply
  8. Joy Generoso

    Trekking isn’t on my list for now, especially in a cold places due to some health issues. I’m sure it would be a lot of fun to experience it. Hopefully one day. Great tips, by the way. 🙂

    Reply
  9. Melanie

    These are great tips!! And your writing made me feel like I was right there!! 10 day old clothes?! Yes, please!! And that boiled water bottle for cold toes AND drinking, love the resourcefulness!! This all made me want to go trekking in Nepal, like yesterday!

    Reply
    1. foxintheforest Post author

      Haha awesome Melanie! I’m glad I have you inspired! That’s the purpose of this blog after all! I’m always dirty in one way shape or form – but I can’t say that I wasn’t thankful when the opportunity to do laundry showed up! Nothing like scrubbing clothes against rocks haha.

      Reply
  10. Brown Gal Trekker

    Very thoroughly written set of tips! I agree that the bottle situation can get out of hand and taking some measures to avoid buying and using bottles would help. I would never recommend steripen for high altitude – my clients via my trekking company have reported multiple times how it malfunctions at high altitude. Also, though boiling most of the time can be good enough, I still advise my clients to take some iodine /purification tablets as extra precaution. Water is something the each person must decide upon on how far he/she wishes to go in terms of precaution. But it’s better safe than sorry as stomach issues in the Himalayas can be such a dreadful experience. I never thought about the pee rag idea which certainly would beat using TP excessively!

    Reply
    1. foxintheforest Post author

      Hey BGT,

      Interesting stuff regarding the pen. My SteriPEN actually broke while I was up there and never recovered (thankfully SteriPEN will fix it for free). I thought it was because it’s old and well-used, but perhaps it’s the altitude. Either way I think you should always have a back up to filter water – and I had three methods. I’d argue against being super worried about the boiled water – it’s the same water they serve you tea/hot lemon/hot orange with. So unless you’re adding iodine to every cup of tea you’re still at risk. A tea bag certainly won’t kill Giardia. It usually sits and boils for nearly 10 mins on the stove and you watch it so your chances of getting sick from that are slim to none. We started filtering boiled water, but then stopped because it seemed rather pointless. Once you’re isolated enough (ie aren’t in a bigger settlement like Namche or Lukla) they source the water from fast running streams and rivers just like you would in the back country. I’ve certainly had water filter problems out backpacking and had to use the boiling method. I’ve had to do that from significantly more suspect water sources than a rushing glacial river. The way I see it is if you treat it like you would in the back country you’ll be good. If you get sick that is simply awful luck. Plus, that’s why you’re required to carry traveler’s insurance.

      Pee rags are great though – just like the Diva Cup I’m never going back!

      Reply
  11. Taiss

    I would hope that maybe they get the message out to visitors not to use plastic bottles since they can’t recycle. Maybe even ban them and force people to use other solutions like you mention. Sounds like boiling water is the best way. I like how that also keeps your toes warm at night!

    Reply
    1. foxintheforest Post author

      I would be THRILLED if Nepal banned the use of plastic bottles. However, the government over there is essentially useless – so I figure I’d rather do my part and spread the word!

      Reply
  12. Sierra

    Yikes – that’s scary thinking about all the waste that must be accumulated by trekkers and visitors! I’m on the opposite end of the adventurous spectrum (not super outdoorsy – I know – so lame!) but I really genuinely enjoyed reading through this post and imagining how thrilling it must be to visit Nepal and do these climbs!

    Reply
  13. Katie

    Sounds liken incredible journey and experience! I hope we are able to do a trek like this one day – fitness goals! Thank you for such a thorough guide!

    Reply
  14. Punita

    Managing with pee rags, makeshift loos and no bath days…not everyone’s cup of tea, is it. Admirable that you pulled off all that so well. Fresh water tastes so good, right?

    Reply
  15. Milijana

    Several of my friends visited Nepal and all of them pointed out the trash problem. I am glad you have written an informative and educative post about it! I appreciate much your honesty!

    Reply
    1. foxintheforest Post author

      Jean,

      They are AMAZING! I wear them all the time. They keep the stink at bay. The sock liners are made to help prevent blisters. I was a total skeptic, but my boyfriend swears by them so he convinced me to give them a try. I’ll never go back! They dry quick and keep moisture away from the feet, which is a major cause of blisters. If you have tootsie troubles and get blisters I’d highly recommend trying a pair.

      Reply
  16. Karin

    I thought it was hot weather that drained batteries faster? Maybe it’s both. I carry a water filter, but i rarely use it, i’m in a region where tap water is safe. Great tips!

    Reply
  17. C-Ludik

    The problem with rubbish in Nepal isn’t monumental, but it is an issue for sure. Tourists have to eat as the locals do : eat the rice, the lentils, the fresh fruit & vegetables. Of course, we tend to bring with us plastic water bottles, packets of crisps and chocolate bars for energy, so without thinking, we are adding to the rubbish problem and the Nepalese are picking up on this ! Regarding the packing tips for trekking in Nepal: definitively, layers are the way to go as opposed to big jackets (a couple of lighter fleeces and long sleeved tops) 🙂

    Reply
  18. Christina

    This was really great! Thank you for sharing. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Nepal and how I can be really smart with a trip there. I had no idea about the recycling situation and how I could reduce my impact. That truly was incredible.

    Reply
  19. Bonita

    Just from a hike and I can really relate. I dislike the plastic bottle pollution scenerio in such places. Nice post and great tips!

    Reply

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