Preparing for a Trek in Nepal
Hindsight is a wonderful thing. What you pack now is not always what you’ll need tomorrow. Throw in something like a trek in Nepal and you’ll suddenly find out that it’s a whole new ball game when in comes to preparation.
My maxima culpa when taking on the Everest Base Camp trek in winter was going with bad boots. In hindsight there was little I could have done about it really. Good boots are hard to find in South East Asia. However everything else I prepared for went to plan. I’m sharing this with you now.
If you’ve ever thought of traveling to Nepal to do some trekking (which you should seriously consider) this should help you our in your preparation. There’s also a lot more to do in Nepal than just trek, but I’ll save that for later!
Some of the content below will have a link to more detailed information on dedicated pages I’ve written up on specific topics. All content has been written by me and there are no external links: enjoy.
When is the best time to go to Nepal for trekking?
Although climate change is having an impact on Nepal, there are still several distinct trekking seasons you should be aware of when preparing for a trek in Nepal:
October – November/December: this is Nepal’s peak and best time to go trekking. The monsoon rains have cleared the sky of dust and the views are often spectacular.
December to January/February: the skies are as clear but it can get very cold (this is when I go trekking, not recommend for those new to trekking or those who want a leisurely trek)
February-March-April: this is the end of the dry season and the second best time of year to go trekking. Visibility in the mountains can be hazy if there is a lot of dust in the air.
May – June: This is Nepal’s hot season, and it can get very warm indeed. Mountain views are now obscured by haze from the dust.
June – September: this is Monsoon season and the least popular time to go trekking in Nepal.
For more precise details on the above please refer to my Best time to go trekking in Nepal section
How hard is a trek in Nepal?
Depends on the trek, the time of year you go, and your level of fitness.
Treks range from 2-3 days to several weeks at a time. In peak season the weather is very manageable with many people around. In the off-season there are fewer people and the weather can be against you thus making it more difficult.
The best way to measure the difficulty of a trek is to work out the amount of time you have to trek, type of trek you wish to do, the time of year and your fitness level. Then balance it out with additional adjustments and supplement in things like porters to help you out.
How do I arrange a trek in Nepal?
A lot of people book tours and treks online. It’s not a bad idea if you are stuck for time, or have ample cash. In general it’s considerably more expensive than arranging one yourself within Nepal.
The reality is that once in Nepal you can usually arrange a trek the day before you set off. Trekking agencies, tour guides and private companies are available just about everywhere in Kathmandu and Pokhara (the two main cities in Nepal).
Also be aware that for some regions a trekking permit is needed. Some can be bought en-route but others need to be bought before hand. See below for more details.
Those without experience in trekking should have an idea about what trek they want to do before arriving in Nepal. See my list of treks in Nepal for some popular treks to choose from.
This way you’ll have a better idea of the time you’ll need for trekking, what to expect, and what to bring, and what you need to prepare for.
Here’s a head start on: Everything you need to know about the Everest Base Camp Trek
Do I need to hire a guide to go trekking in Nepal?
Again this depends on your ability as a trekker and where you want to go. If you’ve never trekked before and want to know more about the region etc,. then yes I would thoroughly recommend hiring a good qualified guide.
If you are trekking alone in the off-season and have experience in trekking I would again suggest you hire a guide for safety reasons (snow, injuries etc,.)
If you have experience in trekking elsewhere and are very competent and can read a map etc,. then you should know that most of the treks in Nepal are well-marked out.
Where do I find a guide in Nepal? I’ve written up an article about how to hire a guide in Nepal. I won’t go into recommending trekking agencies on this or any other article (nor will they be allowed in the comments due to spam). I do advise you to choose a well experienced and qualified guide if you’ve never been trekking in Nepal before. They can make the difference in a good trek and a great trek. If you are looking for a personal recommendation then you can contact me directly.
Do I need porter? If you are carrying a lot, yes. If not, only if you can afford it or don’t want to carry your own gear. If you are trekking to enjoy the views and want things leisurely then a porter is a good idea.
What equipment do I need to bring for trekking in Nepal?
Surprisingly little! Let’s keep this relevant. This is about trekking and not mountain climbing. A trek to Poon Hill, APC or even Everest Base Camp is not the same as climbing Mount Everest! I ‘ve seen so many people go out and buy lots of new equipment for their great trek only to struggle under the weight of too much equipment and look foolish carrying it all around.
In peak season it’s actually quite hot out when out trekking during the day! Even in the winter when the sun is shining it’s warm. The wind is often the biggest culprit for making things feel cold.
I’ve a dedicated page on all the equipment you’ll need, and not need for trekking in Nepal that’s a lot more informative than this post can allow. Keep in mind trekking in the winter versus trekking in the summer or monsoon seasons all mean different needs. Likewise a lot depends on what trek you intend on taking.
Take a read and see what I recommend to take and what you can buy in Nepal for a lot less than abroad: Equipment and gear for trekking in Nepal
Bonus tip: A reader asked me on twitter about what type of camera to bring to Nepal.
Any camera will do. Just be aware of the following. An SLR has moving parts that can be affected by extreme cold. Likewise, and more commonly, batteries suffer terribly in cold weather. Bring lots of spares and keep them close to your body for warmth. But be cautious of condensation building up on your camera lens as you move from warm to cold environments!
If people would like more on this just let me know in the comments and I’ll write-up a dedicated article on the subject. (update: lots asked so here are my camera recommendations for trekking in Nepal)
Where to find accommodation, food and water on a trek:
It’s all available! Unless you are really going off the beaten path and camping (which this article does not cover), there are tea houses and guesthouses all along the main trekking routes in Nepal. Yes, even at 18,000 feet!
Accommodation: There’s everything available from dorm rooms to heated private rooms available. The most common type of accommodation is a twin bed room with shared bathroom. Thick blankets are available, but scarce in peak season. Accommodation rates range from $1 to several $100. The most common price is around 400 rupees. But again the price is relevant to the trek, quality of accommodation and the time of year.
Food on a trek: All guesthouses serve food. In fact it’s a bit of rule that if you stay in one guesthouse you must eat there or pay a higher rate for your bed. The truth is most guesthouses make their money on food and not accommodation. Food ranges from the national staple of Dal Bhat, to steak & chips.
Water on a trek: You can buy bottled water from all guesthouses. The price starts at around 80 rupees, and can go up to a whopping 400 rupees per liter. Many people opt to bring a water treatment solution for both ecological and/or monetary reasons. Such treatments include iodine, chlorine or a steripen.
Personally, I worked out that with my daily consumption of water the cost of a steripen equaled that of buying 12 days of bottled water.
Keep in mind that a steripen is not a total solution as it does not filter out heavy pollutants etc,. Boiled water is also available from all guesthouses.
Trekking in Nepal is easier than it sounds
Not to deflate egos here, but trekking in Nepal is generally a lot easier than the idea that often crosses people minds about it. The hardest part for many people is just arranging to take enough time off work to enjoy a full trek. And, acclimatization which I advise everyone to read up on.
It’s better to take your time and go slowly on a trek than spoil everything by rushing through and getting altitude sickness which can be lethal
Trekking in Nepal is a fantastic experience offering some of the most incredible views on earth when planned out well. An often once in a lifetime experience that will fill all your senses with the rapture of life itself.
If you get the opportunity don’t miss out on trekking in Nepal!
A list of detailed trekking in Nepal articles mentioned within this post and available on this website:
More preparation and trekking articles can be found in my Nepal travel guide section
This is an additional article about trekking in Nepal