Home to Mount Everest and more than half of the planet’s other 8,000m-plus mountains, Nepal stakes a strong claim as the trekking capital of the world.

Nepal was closed to outsiders and most foreign influences for the first half of the 20th century, and when the first western mountaineers and trekkers arrived in the 1950s they were enchanted by what they discovered. The country was living in a medieval time warp and even the capital, Kathmandu, was little more than a collection of temples, shrines, palaces, markets and red brick townhouses. There were almost no roads in the country and those first mountaineers and trekkers had to walk from Kathmandu’s Durbar Square to Everest and the other big peaks.

Things have come on a long way since then. Kathmandu is now a sprawling mega-city, the ever-expanding road network fans out across much of the lower and flatter parts of the country and the Nepal trekking industry is second to none. One thing that hasn’t changed though is the magnificence of the mountains, the sheer beauty of the countryside, and the unending warmth of welcome displayed by the Nepalese people. These are what continue to make Nepal such an attractive trekking destination.

Ready to go? Read on for our in-depth guide to trekking in Nepal.

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Tharepati on the Gosainkund trek in Nepal's Lantang region

Trekking in Nepal

Essential guide to trekking in Nepal

Nepal has one of the most developed trekking industries on earth, which means there are lots of options! First, decide which region you want to visit, then decide how; either independently or on an organised trek. Read on for our essential tips on planning a Nepal trek.

Nepal trekking regions

For the purpose of this guide we've split up Nepal into nine trekking regions, each with their own allures and potential pitfalls, depending on what sort of trek you're looking for.

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Everest basecamp ranks among the top Nepal trekking highlights

Everest region

Mount Everest, (8,848m) the highest mountain on Earth, exerts a magnetic pull on trekkers, mountaineers and armchair adventurers alike. The main trekking routes around Mount Everest – most obviously Everest Basecamp (EBC) – can be busy and over commercialised, but for sheer awe nothing comes close to the trails threading through the Khumbu, the area around Everest.

The Everest region has long been the most popular trekking area in Nepal. The trails are well-developed, the trekking lodges excellent (there are a growing number of genuinely luxurious places to stay), the variety of food impressive and the organisation and information as good as it gets.

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The Annapurna range from Poon Hill, Nepal's classic trekking vista

Annapurna region

There’s a huge variety of Annapurna trekking routes, from simple walks in the flowery foothills, to legendary hidden valleys that feel like Tibet and require special permits to visit.

But whatever trek you choose, one thing is for sure: the mountain scenery will blow you away. Standing in the heart of the cirque at the end of the Annapurna Sanctuary trek could move you to tears, and the wilderness around Tilicho Lake will probably be the best mountain scenery you’ll ever lay eyes on.

And then there’s the Annapurna Circuit, the classic walk of Nepal, and one that for many years was hyped as the single best trek on the planet.

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Trekking Nepal's Mustang region is as much a cultural than scenic experience

Upper Mustang region

North, beyond the highest Himalayan peaks, is Upper Mustang. Long shrouded in mystery and closed to outsiders until 1992, the Kingdom of Mustang (the much-loved last king sadly died in December 2016) is a high-altitude desert of multi-hued gorges, green oases, fairy-tale gompas, prayer flags and blood red fortified monasteries.

It’s worth noting that Mustang doesn’t have the same awe-inspiring close-up views of the mountains as many of the other main Nepalese trek areas and that walking here is as much a cultural experience as a mountain one.

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The Langtang Valley, just a stone's throw from the chaos of Kathmandu

Langtang Valley

Often visible from Kathmandu city centre, the Langtang range offers the most accessible trekking in Nepal. If the city pollution and traffic wasn’t so off-putting, you could start walking from your guesthouse straight to the mountains.

This accessibility, easy-to-follow trails and lots of lodges has meant the Langtang Valley has always been, alongside Everest and Annapurna, one of the big three independent trekking areas.

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Steamy lowland trekking in Manaslu

Manaslu region

The trails around mighty Manaslu (8,156m), the world’s eighth-highest mountain, have it all. Steamy lowland valleys and fields of rice give way to ice-coated passes haunted by leopards and much more.

There are trekking lodges all along the standard routes in Manaslu but for now, they are a lot more primitive than those on the Everest and Annapurna treks. Getting to the trailheads in this area is easy and cheap with frequent public transport from Kathmandu and Pokhara.

Dolpo caravan

Trekking caravan through Nepal's remote Dolpo region

Dolpo region

A vast and little-known area of western Nepal, Dolpo is a magical region of frozen desert, piercing blue skies and unnamed peaks. There are hidden monasteries stashed with treasures, yak caravans passing along the old salt trade routes to Tibet, high passes where the air is so thin it pierces the lungs, snow leopard tracks and stone walled villages seeming to blend into the mountain slopes.

There are, however, a few things to remember. Getting there, nearly always by small twin-prop plane, is difficult, expensive and unreliable. Most of the walks are demanding, long and high with no creature comforts and must be undertaken with an organised camping group. Lastly, permits are complicated and expensive to obtain. But if you have the stamina, patience and finances, Dolpo will leave you enchanted.

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Daunting Mt Makalu, 8,463m

Makalu region

One of the great forgotten trekking routes of Nepal, the strenuous two-week march straight to the base camp of the world’s fifth-highest mountain, the daunting Mt Makalu (8,463m) will delight those who revel in tranquil mountain trails, a sense of being off the beaten path and, most importantly, awesome mountain views.

A combination of logistical problems, the difficulty of the trekking and the lack of side routes and connecting trails means that only a few hardy groups come out this way. Most leave with the smug smile of people who’ve just experienced the magic of an older, more dramatic corner of Nepal. This is definitely a trek for the discerning walker.

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Scenic Kanchenjunga

Kanchenjunga region

Way out in the east of Nepal a wall of rock and ice rises up over eight and half kilometres into the sky. This is Kanchenjunga and at 8,586m it’s the third highest mountain on Earth. The hike to the base camp of this daunting peak is one of the most exciting treks in Nepal.

The distance from Kathmandu and the unrelenting up and down terrain means that very few people trek out here, although it is becoming more popular. Between October and November and March to April, very basic herders’ teahouses and village homestays are available along most of the route. At other times, most tend to be closed and you will need to be fully self-sufficient with camping gear and food.

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Trekking to Rara Lake in the true wilderness of Nepal's Far West

Far Western Nepal

In terms of development, the far west of Nepal comes at the bottom of almost every list, but for adventure and wonder, the region is near the top of the class. This is a landscape of deep, dank forests, sparkling sheets of water, lonely ice and snow-covered mountains, narrow canyons and ancient villages.

For a trekker, western Nepal offers many challenges and logistical nightmares, but the payback is a vast swathe of untouched mountainous country waiting to be explored. You need patience and to be on a fully supported camping trek, but if you’re looking for something truly different then the far west of Nepal will probably suit.

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Nepal Treks

Nepal's best treks and hikes

The mighty Himalaya have occupied a special place in the imaginations of adventurers and intrepid travellers for generations. And nowhere more so than the nation of Nepal: land of the Sherpa and home of Mount Everest (plus eight of the world’s other 10 tallest peaks!) A country that embodies the allure and romance of these unimaginably vast mountains.

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Organised vs independent treks

There are two categories of trekker in Nepal: Those hiking independently and those on an organised trek, and there are pros and cons to both.

If the idea of an organised trek makes you shudder with thoughts of package tour-style walking, fear not. An organised trek can mean a party of just you, a guide and a porter, or even just a porter-guide. Typically though, an organised trekking team will be made up of you and your trekking partners (the group could be assembled by you or by the trekking company), a guide and sometimes a western trek leader, a cook, kitchen assistants and any number of porters.

A fully organised trek is often a camping trek (as opposed to staying in teahouses/homestays), which allows freedom in deciding where to stop for the night and allowing you to avoid the busy overnight lodges used by most independent trekkers.

An organised trek also means security. Your guide and porters should know the route and they will know about problems up ahead that an independent trekker might be oblivious to. Having porters means you only need to walk with a light day bag. Other advantages are a more diverse range of food and having a cultural and language translator at hand.

Organised treks don’t have to be camping only. Even on more remote routes there is a growing number of wonderfully atmospheric homestays — Upper Mustang is especially good for this — and very basic trekking lodges aimed more at local herders. The Kanchenjunga trails are well endowed with these. It’s possible to tell your trekking company that you want to mix it up a bit with a combination of homestays, camping and basic trekking lodges. This gives you the best of all worlds.

The biggest advantage of an organised trek is that it allows you to explore huge swathes of upland Nepal that independent trekkers relying on lodges simply cannot reach. You can explore for longer in more remote, higher and, dare we say it, more exciting areas of Nepal.

The disadvantages of an organised trek are that your schedule can be tightly controlled, especially if you’ve joined a group put together by the trekking company and there can be fewer opportunities to meet villagers.

Life on an organised trek

Life on an organised trek starts at first light with a reviving cup of tea brought to you in bed. Often, you’ll also be brought a bowl of hot water and a flannel to wash. Breakfast will be served half an hour or so later and while you tuck into steaming bowls of tsampa (delicious Tibetan porridge) the camp staff will pack away the tents and gear.

You’ll then walk until lunchtime. The kitchen staff and porters will normally have reached the lunch halt long before you. A hot drink will be waiting followed by a big lunch. After walking for another couple of hours you’ll normally arrive at the night stop by mid to late afternoon. Tents will have been erected and a cup of tea and biscuits or other snacks will be ready for your arrival. A big dinner will be served shortly after nightfall and then it’s an early night.

Depending on the size of your group and the level of luxury you opted for, it’s common to sleep in small two-man tents and to eat in a larger, communal dining tent. Normally there will be tables and chairs and sometimes a toilet tent as well. If you’ve tried to keep costs down you might not have these luxuries.

If the idea of an organised trek makes you shudder with thoughts of package tour-style walking, fear not. An organised trek can mean a party of just you, a guide and a porter, or even just a porter-guide. Mostly though, an organised trekking team will be made up of you and your trekking partners (the group could be assembled by you or by the trekking company), a guide and sometimes a western trek leader as well, a cook, kitchen assistants and any number of porters.

A fully organised trek is often a camping trek (as opposed to staying in teahouses / homestays), which allows freedom in deciding where to stop for the night and allowing you to avoid the busy overnight halts used by most independent trekkers.

An organised trek also means security. Your guide and porters should know the route and they will know about problems up ahead that an independent trekker might be oblivious to. And having porters means you only need walk with a light day bag. Other advantages are an often more diverse range of food and having a cultural and language translator at hand.

Organised treks don’t have to be camping only. Even on the remoter routes there is a growing number of wonderfully atmospheric homestays – Upper Mustang is especially good for this – and very basic trekking lodges aimed more at local herders. The Kanchenjunga trails are well endowed with these. It’s possible to tell your trekking company that you want to mix it up a bit with a combination of homestays, camping and basic trekking lodges. This gives you the best of all worlds.

The biggest advantage of an organised trek is that it allows you to explore huge swathes of upland Nepal that independent trekkers relying on lodges simply cannot reach. You can explore for longer in remoter, higher and, dare we say it, more exciting areas of Nepal.

The disadvantages of an organised trek are that your schedule can be tightly controlled, especially if you’ve joined a group put together by the trekking company, and there can be fewer opportunities to meet villagers.

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The world-famous trek to Everest Basecamp

Can you trek in Nepal without a guide?

It's possible to trek without a guide in some of the more popular regions such as Everest, Annapurna and Langtang, where trekking lodges and teahouses are found all along the trails and routes are clear and easy to follow.

Independent trekking has a lot going for it — but it also has some very large downsides. It’s cheap, easy and a lot of fun. Trekking lodges — though normally far from luxurious — are often warmer and more comfortable than tents, and an increasing number now boast hot showers, varied menus and even wifi. With trekkers from across the globe congregating round the heater in the dining room at night, they are also social places.

Costs, even at the busiest times of year, are very low. Most lodges charge only a couple of hundred rupees (US $2-4) per person for a bed in a basic twin room and you are expected to eat in the lodge. If you choose to stay in one lodge but eat in another, expect to answer to an annoyed lodge owner. Because most food has to be carried in by porters, food costs more the further you walk from the trailheads. Even so, it’s still cheap on an international scale with dhal bhat (lentil curry and rice, Nepal’s national dish) costing around Rs 200-300 (US $2-3). Items such as steaks and beers (when available) cost much more.

Staying in trekking lodges means you don’t have to carry tents and cooking equipment. Many independent trekkers don’t bother to hire porters or guides and this also helps to reduce costs. A final, huge advantage of independent trekking is that you can change your schedule as you see fit — brilliant when someone you meet on the trail tells you about a beautiful side trip you really mustn’t miss.

However, there are a number of major drawbacks to independent trekking. The most obvious is that you are limited as to where and when you can trek. Attempt an unusual route and you could end up with nowhere to sleep and nothing to eat. On the busy routes, trekking lodges fill quickly. If you arrive late and find all the rooms taken, you might have to sleep on the floor of the dining room. That would never happen with an organised trek. In addition, in many parts of Nepal, independent trekking is actually forbidden.

Other drawbacks are that if you choose to trek without a guide and/or porter, you’ll have to carry all your own gear. A bag that feels light in a Kathmandu hotel feels very heavy indeed when you’re slogging your way up to a 5,000m pass. Trekking independently also increases the chances of getting lost, caught out in storms or making the wrong decisions when it comes to altitude-related difficulties. You might also encounter language problems without a guide.

Life on an independent trek

Partition walls in trekking lodges are very thin and you will be woken around dawn by other trekkers preparing to head out early. With everyone trying to leave at around the same time, there will be a wait for breakfast and for the shared bathrooms and toilets. Most people are on their way by 8.30am and will walk until around noon.

Lunch is taken at another trekking lodge and again there can be quite a wait for food. Another couple of hours’ walk normally follows after lunch before arriving at your night stop and choosing your lodge. There’s often time to explore the village and the area before gathering round the heater in the dining room for dinner, swapping stories and sharing experiences. This is when independent trekking is at its best. Most people head to their often draughty wooden rooms by 8 or 9pm.

When to go

October to April is the dry season and, overall, this is the best time to trek in most of Nepal. But within that, the ideal trekking time is really from October to early November when the skies are crystal clear and the visibility excellent. It’s warm in the valleys and cool to cold up high. However, this is also the busiest time on the main trails, and villages can be overwhelmed with trekkers.

In general avoid the monsoon season from May to September, when many trekking routes close and paths become dangerous. However, for some regions, such as Upper Mustang and Dolpo, this is actually a good time to trek.

How much does a Nepal trek cost?

A private trekking tour in Nepal with a reputable operator will typically cost between USD $1,700 and $2,500 per person, depending on the trip duration, location, route and other variables.

Organised treks are generally priced on an all-inclusive basis: virtually everything from arrival to departure will be factored into the price. This should include the services of a qualified guide and support team (assistant guides, porters, cooks, etc), all accommodation (either teahouses or camping), TIMS card and any other necessary permits, three full meals per day, all ground transfers, any internal flights, and 24/7 backup support. Certain equipment, such as sleeping bags and trekking poles, may be hired at an additional cost. Insurance will not be included, but will be a mandatory requirement.

Nepal trekking permits and paperwork

TIMS (Trekkers’ Information Management System)

All trekkers in Nepal must buy a TIMS card. The most convenient place to buy the card is at the Nepal Tourism Board office in either Kathmandu or Pokhara. Bring a copy of your passport and two passport-sized photos and be prepared to disclose your trekking route, entry and exit points and emergency contact information.

At the time of writing, free individual permits cost R 2,000 per trekking route per entry, while group trekkers pay R 1,000 per person.

A certain number of permits and other paperwork will be required for every trek in Nepal. All treks require you to get a TIMS (Trekkers Information Management System) card. The idea is that it allows the authorities to know where every foreign trekker is hiking and makes them easier to trace in an emergency. There are rumours that the cards will be done away with, but for now, they can be obtained quickly, cheaply and easily, in Kathmandu or Pokhara.

For the main trekking areas (Everest, Annapurna and Langtang) other paperwork required includes the relevant national park permits, which can be obtained in an hour or so in Kathmandu or Pokhara. For other treks, additional permits might be needed including Restricted Area Permits. In some cases, these permits are fairly cheap and fast to obtain (the Kanchenjunga area being a case in point), but in other areas such as Upper Mustang and Inner Dolpo they are very expensive (US$ 500 per person for 10 days and a minimum of two trekkers are required to get them). All Restricted Areas require you to be a part of an organised trek, but “organised” can be as low-key as you, a companion, a guide and porter or two.

If you’re on an organised trek your trekking agency will deal with all the required paperwork while you go sightseeing in Kathmandu. Independent trekkers will have to face Nepalese bureaucracy alone but in most cases, it’s pretty painless. You will need copies of your passport and a spare passport photo.

Unfortunately, none of the permits can be obtained at home before leaving for Nepal so it’s unlikely that you will be able to get off the plane and straight on to a bus to the trailhead. Allow at least a day to get the papers in order after you arrive.

Staying healthy on a Nepal trek

Trekking in the mountains of Nepal generally presents few health problems bar those of altitude and weather. Food poisoning and other tummy troubles aren’t as big an issue as they are in Kathmandu, Pokhara and the Terai lowlands. Be careful what you eat in those areas before going on a trek. The last thing you want is to start walking with a dodgy stomach.

Malaria and dengue fever, both of which are present in the Terai lowlands, are non-existent in the mountains. However, it’s important to be aware of problems brought on by altitude, or from getting too cold or hot.

Fitness and preparation

Many people worry that they won’t be fit and strong enough to trek in the Himalaya. In reality only moderate fitness is required on most of the standard trails (especially those open to independent trekkers). However, for a first time trek, it's best not to take on anything too long, high, or remote.

The more pre-departure training you can do the better, but aim to be comfortable walking several hours a day. Those short of fitness should opt for shorter and easier treks, and start walking at first light in order to give the maximum amount of daylight to cover the day’s walk.

Remember to break in new boots at home before using them on any trek.

Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)

By far the biggest threat in the higher (above about 3,000m) routes in Nepal is altitude sickness, or Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). This potentially fatal condition is caused by a combination of reduced oxygen and lower atmospheric pressure reacting with the body.

Almost everyone who treks above 3,000m will get very mild symptoms, such as light dizziness or headaches and difficulty sleeping. Normally it only lasts for a short time and is more a sign of your body adapting to the lower oxygen levels at altitude. Take it easy and drink lots of water or ginger tea, and it should pass.

If symptoms persist or get worse and a strong headache and vomiting start to occur, then it’s likely that moderate or severe altitude sickness is striking. The best thing to do is to descend to a lower elevation as fast as possible — even if it’s the middle of the night. A porter might have to be hired to help get the victim down the mountain fast. Ignoring AMS can quickly lead to severe problems and even death.

It’s not clear how or why AMS strikes. There have been cases of Sherpas who climbed Everest a number of times but got severe AMS at just 3,500m. And it doesn’t necessarily strike the old or unfit first. There is some evidence to suggest that young people get it more commonly than older people, although that might just be because younger people are more likely to be gung-ho about climbing higher and faster than recommended.

The golden rule with high mountain trekking is to go slowly and never ascend too high, too fast. Most experts agree that above 3,000m you shouldn’t ascend more than around 300-500m in a day and that you should allow for frequent rest days above 3,500m (a rest day doesn’t actually mean having a rest. On these days it’s wise to hike to a higher altitude and then descend back down again to sleep). Following these simple rules will greatly reduce the chances of AMS.

Hypothermia

Hypothermia is not as common as you might expect on a Nepal trek but it’s certainly a risk for the under-dressed and unprepared. Symptoms are pretty similar to those of AMS with slurred speech, loss of concentration and fatigue all being key signs. Get the victim into a warm place, wrap them in sleeping bags and use your own body heat if necessary, and give them hot drinks and food.

Sunstroke and heat stroke

Sunstroke and heat stroke are both common, especially when walking all day in bright sunlight through the hotter, lower valleys and slopes. At such times try to rest in the shade, drink lots of water, eat something salty and wear a wide-brimmed hat.

Water and sanitation

The golden rule anywhere in Nepal is do NOT drink tap water without treating it first. The vast majority of trekkers carry packets of water purification tablets to treat their drinking water. In the Annapurna area many lodges have vats of pre-treated water and for a nominal fee you can fill up your own water bottles. Buying bottles of drinking water as you go is terrible for the environment at the best of times, but up in the Nepalese mountains with few recycling facilities it’s even worse.

Don’t expect much opportunity to wash while trekking. Showers, when available, are often cold which ain’t a lot of fun in the snow at 4,000m. On more popular routes hot, solar heated showers are sometimes available, but most people just wait until they get back to Kathmandu.

What to pack for a Nepal trek

The most important advice is – keep things light and minimal. When you’re slogging your way up to a mountain pass you will regret every extra kilo you’re carrying. The following is a list of recommended items, some of which are more essential than others.

Hiking boots

You’ll need boots. Not shoes or trail running shoes. Make sure they’re waterproof, very sturdy and above all, comfortable. Don’t buy a cheap pair, and make sure you break them in before leaving for Nepal. Whatever you do, don’t hire boots in Nepal as they probably won’t be up to scratch and will give you blisters. Nothing will ruin your trek more than blisters.

Winter jacket

A thick, warm, waterproof and breathable but lightweight jacket is another must. It needs to keep you warm as toast in sub-zero temperatures. These can be rented in Nepal but most are inferior knock-offs of respected brands. They’re okay for a one-off trip but if you’re likely to go mountain trekking again, it’s worth buying your own jacket.

Sleeping bag

It gets bitterly cold at night, even at comparatively low altitudes in winter, and the thin, gap-riddled walls of trekking lodge bedrooms provide little protection. Get the warmest yet lightest one you can afford. When a manufacturer says a sleeping bag can be used down to minus-10 degrees the reality is you won’t be comfortable in it below about plus-five. Aim for one that says it will keep you warm down to minus-20 or lower. A really good sleeping bag is expensive. Bags can be rented in Nepal but as with jackets, they’re very rarely of good quality.

Trekking Poles

If you’ve never trekked before then you might consider trekking poles as something that just old people use. Well trust us, if you don’t use them after a few days clambering up and down steep Himalayan slopes you’ll forever walk like an old person… Poles help save energy going up and take the strain off your legs on the way down. They also stop you falling and twisting ankles as much.

Water bottle

Take two of at least a litre each and refill whenever possible. Don’t rely on bottled mineral water. It’s often not available and it’s environmentally unfriendly, particularly up in the mountains where there’s little chance of recycling.

Water purification pills

Get enough to treat at least three litres of water a day. On more popular trekking routes some lodges provide pre-treated water but don’t rely on this always being available.

Thermals

Two or three thermal tops of different thickness and even a pair of thermal under-trousers are worth their weight in gold.

Fleeces

Two fleeces, one thin and one thick, are vital.

Walking trousers

Don’t try to skip around the Annapurna Circuit in a pair of jeans (yes, we’ve seen people try. And fail). Get some comfortable walking trousers. Two pairs should be sufficient for the longest treks.

T-shirts/shirts

Many people recommend specialist quick-dry shirts designed for trekking. However, we’ve used a combination of these and normal shirts and T-shirts and never noticed much difference. Don’t over pack. You probably won’t change your shirt more than once in a two-week trek!

Socks

Specialist hiking socks are supposed to reduce blisters and are worth buying. However, changing your socks frequently seems to reduce blisters as much as any clever equipment. Take at least three pairs for a two-week trek. Also pack a thick, warm pair of ski socks to keep warm when you arrive at camp.

Sandals

Most people appreciate being able to remove their boots at the end of the day and don some sandals (with or without thick ski socks, depending on how cold it is).

Hats

A sun hat is vital for hotter, lower elevations, and a winter hat or balaclava for up high.

Gloves

Take a thick warm pair of skiing gloves and a thin, cotton pair of under gloves. You won’t be able to use your camera or eat properly with thick gloves but you can with the thin ones, and they’ll keep your hands warm for a few minutes.

Sun glasses

An essential bit of kit at all elevations. The sun reflecting off the snow can quickly frazzle your eyes.

Suncream and sunblock

Slap on lots of sun cream no matter what the weather or elevation. Use total sunblock on lips, nose and ears.

Wash kit

Keep this minimal as you won’t get much chance to wash. A small lightweight travel towel isn’t a bad idea.

Torch

A head torch is a must.

Books

The evenings can be long. Bring a good book, not a tablet or Kindle as power sources can be erratic and batteries drain very fast at altitude. Don’t forget a guidebook. We recommend the Rough Guide to Nepal, which covers the country and gives details of the main treks. For specific trekking information try Lonely Planet’s Trekking in the Nepal Himalaya.

Camera

Even non-photographers will want photos of this stunning scenery.

Spare batteries

Bring spare torch, camera and phone batteries. Below a certain temperature and above a certain altitude (which vary from product to product), batteries drain very fast or don’t work at all. Above about 3,000m put the batteries in your sleeping bag at night to keep them warm and reduce drainage.

Snacks

A few biscuits and chocolate bars might give you the energy boost you need to get over that pass.

Backpack

To carry all this you’ll need a decent, comfortable trekking backpack. Don’t consider any other kind of bag. If you’re using a porter you’ll need a small backpack for your day gear and you’ll have to provide a bag for the porter to carry - a holdall is best.

Travel Insurance

You’d be utterly insane to go trekking in the Himalayas without a decent travel insurance policy. Make sure it covers trekking above a certain altitude and helicopter rescue.

Leave the gadgets at home

Don’t bother taking computers, tablets, etc. They get easily broken on the trail and the batteries probably won’t work at altitude. More importantly, most people don’t want to see fellow trekkers glued to their tablets in a lodge at night.

Nepal trekking FAQs

Will I need a visa to go trekking in Nepal?

Visas for most nationalities are available at major air and land borders on arrival. Prices for 15/30/90 days are US $25/40/100. You can pay in US dollars, euros, British pounds and some other major currencies. You can also apply online which, in theory at least, reduces time queuing on arrival in Kathmandu.

How much do treks in Nepal cost?

There are a few variables you’ll need to consider when budgeting for a trek in Nepal. Porters cost between US$ 10-25 per day. A guide will charge USD$ 30-40 per day. You’ll also need to factor in permit costs, depending on the region you choose to trek in.

How do I train for treks in the Himalayas?

Depending on where you choose to trek in the Himalayas, you can expect a significant physical challenge. The best way to prepare for a trek is to hike, trek or climb any mountains or hills near where you live. This will get your body used to walking uphill. Stamina is more important than speed, so train yourself to walk long distances at a pace that suits you.

How accessible is the internet and wifi?

In Kathmandu, Pokhara and other larger towns, almost every hotel offers free wifi. Internet cafes get fewer in number each year. On more popular trails such as some of the Annapurna and Everest routes, an increasing number of trekking lodges offer wifi. Sometimes it’s free, sometimes there’s a token payment. Connection speeds are better than you might expect. Elsewhere in the mountains internet is virtually non-existent, but in some larger towns such as Jomsom, Namche Bazaar and Manang it’s available.

Will ATMs accept my card and how do I get cash in Nepal?

Banks and ATMs accept foreign cards in all larger Nepalese towns and cities. Bigger banks will change cash (dollars and euros are best). Travellers’ cheques are rarely accepted now. The best way of accessing money is from an ATM. However, it’s wise to have some emergency cash with you in US dollars or euros. It’s harder to get cash once on the mountain trails. Some lodge owners might change dollars or euros, but don’t rely on it. Take more cash than you think you might need.

What time zone is Nepal in?

Nepal is 5hrs 45min ahead of GMT.

Will my mobile phone work?

Mobile phones are ubiquitous in Nepal. If your phone is unlocked, you can buy a cheap pre-pay Nepalese SIM card and a bundle of credit for talk time, text messages and internet. Take your passport with you to buy a SIM card. Reception is excellent in lowland areas and large towns and cities, but on the mountain trails you are highly unlikely to have a phone signal. Locals have phones that work but they use a special service not available to tourists.

Trekking In Nepal: An Essential Guide

Stuart Butler

Stuart is the author of Lonely Planet’s Trekking in Nepal, the Rough Guide to Nepal, the Tibet chapter of the Rough Guide to China and the Bradt guide to Kashmir & Ladakh. He also writes widely about East Africa and conservation issues.

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