How to Prepare for a Trek – Nepal

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So I’ve got a confession to make. It’s a pretty big one too…

I haven’t left the country in nearly 2 years. To some this may sound snobby, but to me – someone who has made their life’s mission to explore and travel throughout this stunning planet – this was a significant sacrifice. I did it for 2 reasons. Number 1 to get my professional license. I’m an architect by day and the testing process for my license took me a year and half to complete, amounting to an 11 1/2 year process. Reason number 2 was to save, save, save so I could travel how I want, when I want, and wherever I want for the indefinite future. The journey seemed to drag on forever and these last 6 months have left me in fits of angst and anticipation, but the end is in sight.

Prepare for a Trek My last time abroad

Can’t wait to jump back into international travel. See what I did there?!

As my time out from international ventures comes to a close I can successfully say that I have completed my mission. The break from international travel left me with a deep appreciation for the beauty and adventure that lies in my backyard of Colorado. My energy for international adventures was pumped full-force into outdoor activities here at home. Consistently, every weekend I am out there seeing what lies beyond the next ridge, around the next bend, at the top of every mountain.

Prepare for a trek - mountains!

Just because I’m not overseas doesn’t mean I’m not out exploring.

The culmination of these activities have lead me to my next destination: trekking through the wild Himalaya of Nepal. As the anticipation builds and my departure date draws near I want to share with you some tips on preparing for a trek.

Choose a Destination

The first step to prepare for a trek is quite obvious: pick your dream destination! To be completely honest Squirrel and I could not decide between Nepal and Patagonia. We went to some extremes here; Facebook polls, pro con lists, hell even rock, paper, scissors. However, Nepal prevailed in the end. Simply put, I’ve been dreaming of the Himalaya since I was 10 and now feels like the best time to make that dream a reality.

There are countless routes to trek in the Himalaya. Surprisingly choosing a route came naturally. Gokyo Ri – true to my style it is the path less traveled, but still offers glorious views of the world’s highest peaks, including Everest.

Planning a Trek - Brown Gal Trekker

Image courtesy of Marinel over at Brown Gal Trekker. Check her out on Facebook!

Decide on a Guide

This is, of course, optional. However I decided to go to Nepal on a guided experience for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, it’s dangerous.  This will be the highest altitude I’ve ever been exposed to. I’m a DIY girl at heart, but trekking without a guide in Nepal struck me as asinine. As many of you know, I nearly died in Mongolia and that experience taught me a few things. A guide offers local insight, knowledge, and priceless help in an emergency. The second reason is Nepal depends on tourism and what better way to show your support for rebuilding a nation than using a service that the country so heavily depends on.

Search high and low for the perfect trekking company. Make sure they are registered with Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal (TAAN). TAAN has requirements and standards for safety and training. Email companies. Ask all kinds of questions. Be bold and shop around. Don’t just go for the lowest bidder. In my experience, you will get what you pay for. After endless research I chose to trek with Trekking Planner Nepal. Dipak, the man behind the company, has been extremely flexible with all the changes that kept happening. For example, Fly Dubai thought it would be fun to cancel our flight – no problems for Trekking Planner Nepal. Furthermore, the itinerary included an extra day for acclimatizing. I’m headed to an astounding 18,000′ – acclimatization is critical. Why rush through the experience of a lifetime?

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Yet another awesome image of Gokyo taken by Marinel at Brown Gal Trekker.

Training for the Trek

This is the fun part! Be sure to stay fit by going on hikes with a heavier pack. Get out there, explore! Remind yourself why you are paying to go walking for days on end. Be familiar with your gear (ie break in those boots!), your bag, your style. If you can, go up and down in altitude. Knowing how your body reacts in high altitude is priceless information. However, if that’s not possible, it’s ok, just try to remain active and be able to walk the distances spelled out in your trek. No hiking nearby? No problem! Nothing will get you in shape quicker than getting on a Stairmaster with a loaded backpack for 30 mins a few times a week. This, combined with indoor climbing, and hiking/snowboarding/snowshoeing once a week is how I train for all my mountain exploits.

prepare for a trek - training

Training certainly doesn’t have to suck. Wandering around the summit of Mt. Guyot after a hard climb.

Getting the Gear

You may need gear for any journey, not just a trek. Gear is expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. As soon as you decide to trek make a list of the things you’ll be missing. Maybe it’s a secondary water filter, some base layers, or heck, even a pack. If it’s something you know you’ll use more than a handful of times, buy it. If not, Kathmandu has a plethora of outdoor gear on the cheap. Shop around and wait. Stuff always goes on sale. We picked up most of the things we needed to trek in the off season. This saved us countless dollars on high quality stuff that would have otherwise made this trip quite tough on the wallet.

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I picked up quite a bit of gear this year, but having it all organized is the best part!

Buying that Pesky Plane Ticket

Admittedly, I’m a nerd for plane tickets. I track flights to all of my favorite destinations all the time and I constantly hunt for deals. What can I say? It’s my form of daydreaming. Momondo is my go-to site for the absolute best deals on flights. I’ve tried them all, Skyscanner, Hopper, you name it. Momondo consistently finds me the best deals period. Look 6 months out. That is about the max time that airlines know their schedules and flights are consistently the cheapest at this time when bought in the middle of the week.

Prepare for a trek - hike

Knowing how your body reacts at altitude is always helpful. We spent quite a bit of time above 14,000′ this year.

Insurance, Doctor’s Visits, and All the Fun Bits

Don’t forget this! Especially when trekking. Get insurance that will cover you at the elevation and location you are going. I use the standard World Nomads Travel Insurance. I spoke with a representative to describe the details of my trip to insure that I’d be covered. About 3 months prior to your departure see a travel doctor. This is almost ritual for me. If there’s a travel vaccine for it I’ve had it. The nice part is if you travel frequently you only need to get serious work done once every 5 years or so. 3 months allows for the vaccine to build up an immunity in your system. Also some shots take a few months so the sooner the better.

Lastly, but certainly not least educate yourself about where you are going. What are cultural no-no’s? What is expected in terms of tipping? As a rule of thumb always know how to say hi, bye, please, and thank you at the very least. Rarely do I travel without knowing how to count, ask for a doctor, toilet, food, and water. A phrase book is a great idea – as apps can malfunction or you may not get service. A little cultural know-how will get you much further than going in blind. Google around for your destination and learn what is polite and what is not.

prepare for a trek

The mountains are calling

The Mountains are Calling!

Have you been on a trek? How do you prepare? Let me know in the comments below!

**I want to give a special thanks to Marinel over at Brown Gal Trekker for providing me with some sexy images of those beautiful Himalayas! Brown Gal Trekker is an awesome hub for all things trekking. She’s one kick ass lady who fully supports solo female trekking and women’s voices in the mountains. She’s a hell of a writer and her website is chalk full of all sorts of information so check it out.

Brown Gal Trekker on Facebook
Brown Gal Trekker on Twitter

Tips for preparing for a Trek. Follow me as I prepare for a trek to Nepal! Tips for domestic thru-hikes to long distance international treks.

Happy adventuring,

Fox

 

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21 thoughts on “How to Prepare for a Trek – Nepal

  1. Ricci - wheninmyjourneys

    I haven’t tried trekking before and I would sure love to do it. I just can’t imagine how much preparation one must do to be ready for such a thing. But better be safe than sorry. Wishing you all the best as you push through with this endeavor.

    Reply
  2. Mohit

    Wow…that’s a great prep guide you’ve put up and I specially liked that you’ve mentioned all the links which could help people directly connect t the right person..also Brown Girl trekker is absolutely amazing as far as I have visited her site quite a few times..

    Reply
  3. neha

    Nepal is a very beautiful pick for a trek. However some treks here are quiet tough and you need special trainers to get yourself prepared before you can take them on. Your post happens to make the preparation seem really easy for a novice.

    Reply
    1. foxintheforest Post author

      Hi Neha,

      This is a very good point. People should choose a trek that compliments to their ability. I would not advise someone who doesn’t know what they are doing to try and climb a big mountain or do a technical climb. There are plenty of gentle treks in Nepal that are suited for more novice hikers. I hike and climb mountains practically every weekend and live at altitude. I do not consider myself a novice hiker. It is by no means easy to climb a mountain and I’m not trying to say that it is. But with the right attitude and proper level of fitness trekking is an enjoyable activity. Those who choose to do it like the challenge it presents. I chose a trek that is well within my ability as a climber and hiker. I am very comfortable with my decision. I could have picked something more challenging and still been fine, but I chose this particular route because it’s a good balance between having a challenge and being able to relax and enjoy myself. The point is to make sure your safety is taken care of and prepare according to the difficulty of trek you have chosen.

      Reply
  4. Ami Bhat

    This is an amazing guide for those mountains. It is not often that people realise that mountain trekking is different from your regular ones….the strength and the challenges are quite something else. Your guide will hopefully not just make them realise it but prepare for it.

    Reply
  5. Izzy

    Congratulations on getting your architecture license! That’s something to be so proud of and makes so much sense that you’ve had to sacrifice a bit of traveling! Well on you! I was in Nepal two years ago for three weeks and I swear, I was the only person who didn’t go trekking. But I did a homestay! Great tip on practicing with a pack. A lot of people go under prepared. Also I’m a total nerd for booking flights too! It’s a hobby of mine for sure 😛

    Reply
    1. foxintheforest Post author

      Thanks Izzy! It seemed like it took forever – but I’m glad it’s done. A Nepalese homestay sounds like an AMAZING experience! Probably more unique than a trek. Haha I love looking at flights. When I’m diligent I keep a running list of what destinations cost what haha. But I’ve been lazy with that as of late.

      Reply
  6. Ana Rose | Roads and Pages

    I loved your post. It is very helpful most especially to those people who have same interest as you. All that are listed here are true and serve as a great reminder before someone embarks on a journey to a different country. Good luck on your trip and may you bring home more wonderful experiences from Nepal.

    Reply
  7. Janine

    A very thorough preparation guide for a trek! The training part is what will be difficult for me, but I would love to get to the point where I could choose a destination and head up 18,000 feet. I am keeping this handy for when I plan a trip to Nepal which hopefully won’t be too long from now.

    Reply
  8. Andreea Bujor

    Now this is a post that i like reading. You did an amazing thing after the pause of those 2 years that you had, even me after traveling for almost 5 years (as a cabin crew) i’m now in a current break from travelling. I went to Nepal in the past but i had a very short stay i would have loved to try trekking but i have to do training first as you were saying for at least 30 min few times per day. I didn t knew about this website Momondo i might take a look at it. Thanks for a great post !

    Reply
    1. foxintheforest Post author

      Thank you so much Andreea. Not traveling definitely was a hard thing for me mentally. I’m looking forward to being able to have some freedom again after all that hard work, but sometimes, life dictates a break! Definitely check out Momondo – it’s an amazing tool!

      Reply

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