Many people come to Nepal each year for the trekking which is among the finest and most challenging in the world. This is one of the best ways to get close to the Himalayas and to experience a journey through spectacular landscapes. Getting it right in terms of preparation and choice is essential in order to make the most of the experience of a lifetime.
Choosing a Trek
Nepal has a number of classic treks to do from a three week walk to Everest Base Camp to a shorter hike in the Annapurna Range. It is very important to be realistic about your own ability and consider whether you can tolerate walking at altitude for up to eight hours a day. Check out the briefing on the type of terrain, the altitude and any specific requirements regarding ability of the trek participants such as using crampons. If you are someone who cannot be without luxury accommodation and do not want to experience very basic conditions then trekking in Nepal is probably not for you. On the other hand if you are looking for the experience of a lifetime amongst some of the most welcoming people in the world a trek in Nepal could be just the thing.
When choosing a trek it is very important to ensure you travel with a reputable company who has a good Sherpa team and who is trained in leading treks.
Preparation is Essential
Trekking is not something to do to get fit or lose weight, even though the experience will probably achieve both of these. It is vitally important to train and prepare beforehand, and if you have not exercised for a long time or have a medical condition it is essential to visit your family doctor for an examination. Exercise should include walking on hills before departing for Nepal. Walking in Nepal is not a race and most people need time to adapt. If you take the time to prepare and get fit before you go you will enjoy the experience a whole lot more.
Having the correct equipment is another essential aspect in preparing for a trek. The most important piece of kit is a well -worn pair of walking boots. Preparing for changes in the weather by having warm and waterproof clothing is also essential. A water bottle is vital and whilst trekking it is important to drink at least three litres of fluids daily. Other essentials are sunscreen, a sun hat, sunglasses, and your camera. Travel light as everything has to be carried up the trail.
There are no flushing toilets in the Himalayas and no trash cans or bin collections. It is really important not to throw litter on the trails and to pick up any trash and retain it in a nappy sack until the end of the walking day when it can be disposed of properly. Keeping your hands clean is vital to avoid gut infections.
Getting acclimatised is a vital part of preparing for a trek at altitude and there will probably be a rest day somewhere along the route. Popular places include the small town of Namche Bazar in the Everest Region. Trekkers often sleep at a lower altitude than the highest part of the walk of the day which helps with acclimatisation.
Getting to Know the Team
Treks have a Sherpa team that you will get to know. The Sirdar leads the group and is responsible for setting the pace of walking. They will also decide whether someone should descend if they are unwell and their word is final. Other members of the team are the cooking Sherpas who manage to create delicious meals at the end of a trek, not forgetting the famous Sherpa tea. There are porters who carry equipment and bags, and also walk with the trekkers. Yaks are sometimes used to carry bags. Along the higher routes it is very common to encounter yaks as they go up and down the mountains. Never get between a yak and the edge of a mountain because the yak does not stop and can knock people off the side.
A typical day will see an early morning start to walk in clearer weather and to get good views. Most of the trek is usually covered before a lunch stop. The remainder of the afternoon is geared towards getting to the overnight accommodation which is either a tea house or a camp site.
The Best Treks
There are so many treks to choose from and set at different abilities. Any trek at altitude is hard work and very tough no matter how fit you may be. The majority of trekkers choose between the Everest or Khumbu Region in the East of Nepal and the Annapurna Range in the West of the country. In the Everest Region there is a higher altitude and very rocky terrain. This is the home of the very welcoming Sherpa people and it is a real delight to walk through the villages en route. The Annapurna Region is a slightly lower altitude with a varied terrain of forests, farmlands and villages, and in spring the rhododendrons are spectacular. There are also lesser known areas to trek in Nepal which include Mustang and Manaslu. Some treks for experienced climbers offer the opportunity to climb a small mountain such as Island peak.
The opportunity to trek in Nepal is one that anyone with the ability to do so should take. There are short and longer routes and the scenery is breathtaking. To be able to say that you have seen Mount Everest, or Macchapuchhare, the fishtail, is something very special indeed, let alone walked where many famous mountaineers have trodden. With good preparation a trek in Nepal is a challenge but easier to achieve than you may think.