Trekking in Nepal doesn’t need to be an uncomfortable experience. Sure, you won’t have easy access to the same things you have at home, but that’s part of the point right? Be prepared for your big trek with these useful trekking tips for Nepal designed to help you maximize your enjoyment in this fantastic country.
About Trekking in Nepal
When it comes to trekking in Nepal, there are seemingly countless options out there. You can trek in a wide range of elevations, environments, durations, and difficulty levels. Each Nepal trekking route is unique and offers something a little different. Check out this list for some of the best treks in Nepal.
What to Know Before Visiting Nepal
Nepal is an astonishingly diverse country, especially when you consider how small it is compared to its neighbors, India and China. With so much diversity, there is a lot to know before you visit Nepal.
The most important thing to understand is that there is much more to Nepal than just trekking. In fact, it would be a dis-service to your visit to Nepal if you didn’t spend some time doing other activities during your trip.
Related: The Comprehensive Guide to Travel in Nepal (coming soon)
When is the Best Time to Go Trekking in the Nepal Himalayas?
There are two distinct trekking seasons in Nepal, spring and fall. During the spring months (March to May) you can trek in Nepal and experience the climbers’ season, where many mountaineers tackle the world’s highest peaks. Trekking to Nepal’s Everest Base Camp is exciting in the month of May because you’ll see Everest Base Camp in full swing.
Weather is relatively clear during the morning and early afternoon and the temperatures are cooler in the spring season. Snow isn’t uncommon, as we found out when we were caught in a massive snowstorm! However, you can still hike and the trails are very beautiful when dusted in snow.
The fall (September through November) is trekking season in Nepal’s Himalaya. Trails are typically busy with hikers and accommodation is often full. Trekking in Nepal in November offers the best weather, with clear skies and warmer temperatures.
How Much Does Trekking in Nepal Cost?
The cost of trekking in Nepal depends on several factors. On average, if you go with a local Nepal trekking guide, you’ll spend about $80 a day. This typically includes the following:
- All of your meals during your trek. This excludes meals in Kathmandu or other towns and cities.
- Accommodation throughout your trek and city stay (extra days cost a little more).
- A guided tour of Kathmandu’s famous cultural sites
- Your guide’s fees. Make sure that the guide and porter lodging and food is included too! Many guides get taken advantage of, so hiring a reputable local Nepal trekking guide is essential.
- Porter fee (one porter for two people)
- In-country transportation, including airport drop off and pick up
- All trekking permits
- Sleeping bag, porter duffel, and puffy jacket rental
It does not typically include tips, travel insurance (which you should for sure have), helicpoter evacuation (this is covered with your insurance), international flights, drinks, extra snacks or any additional things you may purchase or need. Going with an international company, or indulging in a luxury trek will cost substaintially more.
An Overview of Nepal Trekking Tips
When it comes to trekkin in the Himalayas, there are a few handy trekking tips to keep in mind. These tips for trekking in Nepal are perfect for any type of trek. From a multi-week epic trek to Everest Base Camp, all the way to a few days spent hiking to the top of Poon Hill in the Annapurna region, you’ll find these tips make your Nepal trekking experience more enjoyable.
1. Have Traveler’s Insurance
This is HUGE. Most Nepal trekking companies, including local and international guides, require you to purchase helicopter evacuation insurance. Without this insurance, you could be charged 10’s of thousands of dollars in the event of an emergency. Be sure to go with a company like World Nomads, which specializes in adventure travel. You’ll also want to make sure you’re covered for the maximum elevation you’ll be trekking to.
2. Avoid Buying Bottled Water
If there is one trekking tip you take away from this post, avoid contributing to the trash problem in Nepal. 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, but upon returning home I was sent a new one, for free), 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.
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 while trekking in Nepal. 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 of.
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 while trekking 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.
Get ready for your trip to Nepal with these handy resources:
- How (and why) to hire a guide
- Training for your trip to Everest Base Camp
- An inside look at an amazing, budget-friendly private guide service
3. Hire a Local Trekking Guide in Nepal
Tourism is the biggest driver of Nepal’s economy. Can you trek in Nepal without a guide? Sure, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Instead, opt to hire a local guide (see How to Hire a Local Trekking Guide).
As an expert hiker, backpacker, climber, and mountaineer, I still hired a local guide for my trek in Nepal because it was a sign of respect in their culture. I also hired a porter for not that much additional cost. With a guide, you’ll have plenty of added benefits including better acommodation, better overall pricing, better service and the chance to get to know the local Nepali community.
4. Come Prepared – What to Pack for a Trek in Nepal
Instead of spending the night in a tent, Nepal offers charming teahouse accommodation. The quality varies (usually depending on how close you are to the nearest big village), but the concept remains the same. You’ll be given a room (without AC or heat), bathrooms are typically shared, and there is a common area with a central stove.
Since you’ll be spending a lot of time either on the trail or in a non-conditioned space, it’s important to come prepared with the right supplies and right clothing. But don’t worry, you’ll also be able to have room for a few luxuries. This comprehensive packing list works perfectly for most of Nepal’s most popular treks.
5. Toilet Conditions While Trekking in Nepal
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.
For an in-depth look at what conditions are like on your Nepal trek, check out this inside look at what to expect on your Nepal trekking experience.
6. Should You Pack Snacks on Your Himalaya Trek?
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!
7. How to Save Your Phone Battery on a Trek
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.
8. Staying Clean While Trekking in Nepal
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.
A great trekking tip for Nepal is to be sure to hit the essentials every day using a face cloth with some hot water or baby wipes. Your face, pits, crotch, and bum will be thankful!
9. 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.
Nepal has a lot to offer. Consider spending time in Kathmandu before and after your trek.
10. Take it Slow and Adjust to the Altitude
Trekking in Nepal isn’t about achieving the FKT (fastest known time) to your destination. In fact, doing so may leave you with a helicopter evacuation and high hospital bill. Pick a mellow itinerary that leaves plenty of room for proper adjustment to the high altitude.
Ideally, you should only cover 1,500 feet of vertical elevation gain in a day. Opt to hike to a higher point above your teahouse each and every day to get a better night’s rest in the evenings.
11. How to Prevent Blisters While Trekking in Nepal
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 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.
Have a change of shoes for the tea houses. We had closed-toed 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.
12. How to Stay Warm on a Himalaya Trek
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.
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 4 pm 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 the middle of the most stunning mountain range in the world!
13. Book Extra Fluff Days
The weather in the mountains can turn on a dime, causing serious delays not only in your trekking itinerary, but also on any flights you may need to take. It is common for flights out of the Lukla airport to be grounded for days at a time, so don’t plan on flying home immediately after your trek. Build in a day or two to account for emergencies.
Enjoy your trekking adventure in Nepal. Every minute of it. The uphill grinds leave you with a deep sense of satisfaction. Sleepless nights at high altitude greet you with a breathtaking mountain sunrise. Stop caring about your dirty hair. Savor that Himalayan hot tea. Embrace the camaraderie by a communal stove. Nepal breathes beauty in each moment.