The advice we are giving in this article is based mostly on things we wish we knew before we started our first trek. As you can read in our article Our Everest Base Camp Trek, we were not prepared at all. A trek shouldn’t be underestimated and can be quite hard. How difficult it is depends on multiple factors, such as the length of the trek, the place, the weather and how much weight you are carrying. In this article we have gathered some tips how you can best prepare for your trek in Nepal. It is mostly focused on longer trek in Nepal. Of course, you can still use this guide for shorter treks and treks outside of Nepal.
How to prepare for a trek in Nepal: A 9 step guide
1. When to go on your trek in Nepal
First of all, timing is everything! There are different times you can go on a trek in Nepal and the weather can really vary.
December to February: Overall, this is not the best time to go on a trek in Nepal. It can get super cold in Nepal in the winter time. However, it is certainly possible and you’ll get clear blue skies and the mountains almost all to yourself. It is recommended for people that are experienced in trekking and not for beginners.
February – April: This is a good time to go trekking, as it is the end of the dry season. Visibility is a bit less than in October – November.
May – June: During this period it is very hot in Nepal. The mountain views can get very hazy because of the dust – even harder to see than during the previous period.
June – September: This is the least popular time to go trekking in Nepal and we don’t recommend it. During this period it’s Monsoon period.
October – November: This is peak season in Nepal and the best time to go trekking (and it’s when we went!). It will be a lot busier as well, naturally. The rains of the monsoon will have cleared the sky and there is often high visibility.
2. Where to trek in Nepal
After you have decided on a period to do your trek, it’s time for the destination. Most likely you heard about popular trekking destinations such as Everest Base Camp or various treks in Annapurna. Nepal is really a heaven for trekkers and there are countless of treks you can go on, either in popular and touristic areas or unknown, unbeaten treks. For instance, we went on a trek to Rara Lake and were the only foreigners there.
There is really something for everyone in Nepal. Short treks, long treks, difficult treks and easy treks. Some can be done without encountering another soul, while others are enjoyed with the company of many. While we really enjoyed our Everest Base Camp trek, we want you to know that there are really so much more awesome destinations.
For some trekking inspiration in Nepal, check out this awesome list by TrekkingPartners with the 12 best treks in Nepal. We can’t wait to go back and do another one!
3. Book a tour or plan your own trek in Nepal
You first have to decide whether you will go on a guided tour or if you’ll follow your own path. It is possible to book your trek online or in Nepal at one of the trekking agencies. It is possible to set foot in one of the agencies the day before you want to start, and they’ll arrange everything right away. Guided treks can be done in groups or private.
The advantage of a guided trek is that a lot is taken care off, such as the permits, accommodation, certain necessities and well – they know where to go. It is a good idea to go on a guided trek if you’re inexperienced and you’re planning to do a trek that is difficult.
For our very first long trek we decided to contact an agency, as we literally had no clue what to expect. We went with Adventure Mountain Explore and had lots of contact with Tika before our trek. He was super helpful and decided on Rishi as our tour guide, who we were happy with as guide. If you’re looking for a tour agency, we recommend contacting them for information.
Lots of treks in Nepal are certainly possible to do without a guide. A lot of commercial treks are easy to follow, because they are filled with tourists that are going the same way. It really depends on your skills as a trekker and the difficulty of the trek whether you’ll need a guide. If you have experience in trekking and have a good orientation/can read a map, it is certainly possible to go without a guide.
The advantage of going without a guide is that you fully get to decide the amount of days you’ll use for your trek. It’s a lot cheaper too.
4. Work out before you go on your trek in Nepal
A trek is a great way to stay fit, but you already have to be in shape before you go. Don’t worry, you don’t have to have a six-pack or be super slim and muscled, but you should have a good condition. We wouldn’t recommend going on a very intense trek in Nepal if you are already out of breath after walking up some stairs.
Now, we really say this out of our own experience. Before we went on our trek to Everest Base Camp we both had a normal and healthy condition. But we basically didn’t train before we went. This doesn’t mean that we had massive problems, or suffered all along the way. We did however both agree that it would have been a lot easier for us if we had trained before. A trek is all done by foot, and you are relying on your level of fitness and health.
Weeks or even months before your trek, you should plan your fitness routine, start walking as much as possible and grab your bicycle instead of your car. We found these useful guidelines by Trekking Nepal Himalaya.
Be aware though that even you should work out before, don’t make a race out of the trek. The most common problem trekkers get in Nepal is altitude sickness due to the amazingly high mountain areas.
5. Prepare mentally for your trek in Nepal
A trek in Nepal can be pretty extreme. It is not a hike for one day that ends with a nice warm bath and bubbles. For instance, the trek to the Base Camp is a very commercial one and is easy for experienced trekkers. For us, however, it was more challenging than we anticipated. Especially the altitude hit us harder than we thought it would – maybe because we come from a very flat land? We don’t know exactly why, but it’s good to prepare mentally for what is to come.
With that we don’t mean that you should worry, because that only makes it worse. You should just be aware what is possible. Read blogs, books and talk with other trekkers about their experiences. Know what can happen and how they dealt with it. If you are going on a very long trek, know what to expect and be prepared for the worst without freaking out.
It is possible to get ill, you might have a hard time to fall asleep or other stressful occurrences can happen. Before the trek, be aware that it’s all a part of the journey. At the end of the trek, you’ll realize that it’s all part of the adventure. Prepare to keep a positive state of mind and make sure you can handle every difficult situation with a smile.
It is also recommended to trek with more people. That way you share all the highs and lows, and it makes it easier to reflect. In addition, it makes it less scary to go on the trek. Nowadays it is so much easier to find companions online (e.g. on Facebook groups) that can join you or have the same plans.
6. Bring the right gear for your trek in Nepal
If you are going with a trekking agency, they’ll sent you a list with your itinerary and provide you with some essentials. However, chances are that you’re not going on a guided tour. Here is a list with essentials during your trek in Nepal.
Please note that in both a guided trek and non-guided trek your backpack shouldn’t be too heavy. You are only making it hard for you or your porter. We recommend a backpack of 10 kilo or less.
What to pack for your trek in Nepal
- Hiking boots
- Long-sleeved shirt
- Fleece sweater/vest
- Thermal shirts/underwear/nightwear
- Rain jacket
- Down jacket
- Trekking pants
- Wind pants
- Trekking socks
- Decent sleeping bag
- Re-usable water bottle
- Lip sunscreen
- Sun/warm hat
- Basic first-aid kit
- Basic toiletries
- Water purification
- Trekking poles
- Diamox (against altitude sickness)
- Tent latern
This is a basic list and it varies with season and the location of your trek in Nepal. During touristic treks such as the Everest Base Camp you can still buy most necessities along the way. Also, the amount of clothing you take also depends on how long the trek will be.
7. Learn about the culture in Nepal
There are different cultures in the mountains of Nepal. For instance, in the Himalayas one can find different tribes with different cultures, habits and religions.
It is recommended to know a thing or two about the culture in the destination you are trekking. For instance, if you have a porter, it’s not necessarily a Sherpa. They could come from another Nepali ethnic group. Westerners have made a connection with the name Sherpa – which is an ethnic group in Nepal, and porters.
It is also nice to know how to say certain things, such as a basic hello (“namasté”). Here is a list of basic Nepali phrases to get you around.
8. Get the right vaccines and medicines for Nepal
Certain vaccinations are necessary for your trip to Nepal. Go to your doctor and get advice in which vaccinations are recommended based on the places you’ll visit. Here we share a list of recommended vaccinations and medicines for Nepal in general.
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Typhoid Fever
- Japanese Encephalitis
- Malaria (in certain areas)
- Meningococcal Meningitis
We decided not to take the Rabies or Japanese Encephalitis, as it was very expensive and only recommended. Also, we never take malaria pills, as we don’t like the side effects. These decisions all come with risks of course.
- Norfloxacin or Ciprofloxacin (for bacterial diarrhea)
- Diamox (for altitude sickness)
9. Prepare for possible altitude sickness or other illnesses
We already mentioned that you should prepare mentally for your trek and take different medicines with you. Unfortunately it is possible that you get sick during your trek, something we endured too. Even if you’re healthy, the height and different conditions can make you sick.
One thing we learned is that altitude sickness can happen to everybody. It has nothing to do with age, fitness level or health.
Here are some symptoms of altitude sickness:
- Loss of appetite
- Fatigue/no energy
Here are some basic tips to prevent altitude sickness:
- Drink lots of water. High altitude means dry air, so you should drink a lot more water than you usually do.
- Don’t drink alcohol.
- Eat a lot. Even if you’re not hungry; your body needs the energy.
- Go slow. It takes time for your body to adjust to the altitude. This is the most common mistake people make while trekking. If you go fast, you have a higher chance of getting altitude sickness.
- Acclimate. Following from the previous point, sometimes you need some days of acclimatizing to the new altitude. If you feel that you are getting sick, please don’t move forward, but go lower. During an acclimatization day you often go higher and then lower again.
- Protect yourself from the sun.
We hope you find this article useful for your trek in Nepal. Most important thing is that you have fun and stay safe!
Let us know if you have any comments or questions by commenting below or e-mail us using the contact form. Any other good recommendations to prepare well for a trek in Nepal is always welcome.
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