10 Things No One Told You About Trekking In Nepal: Part 2
Last time I started to share with you the 10 Things No One Told You About Trekking in Nepal. It was a pretty in-depth view of some things I have learned during my time trekking and living in Nepal, so I thought it best to break it down into two separate posts. Today you can enjoy reading the final five tips I have to share, and start getting yourself ready for that trip of a lifetime!
6. It’s more expensive than you think!
If you’re thinking of trekking in Nepal, you may be aware that Nepal is considered a least developed country by the United Nations. It is a very low income country which faces “severe structural impediments to sustainable development”. And as a result, it seems that tourists believe that everything in Nepal should be cheap. And while it is true that the cost of living in Nepal is much cheaper than it is in our countries, trekking in Nepal is a lot more expensive than you think.
The problem is that Nepal doesn’t have the same kind of infrastructure that we’re used to. Which is especially noticeable when you start trekking. The higher you go, the more expensive things become. Without roads to transport goods to the higher parts of the mountains, the locals must rely on porters and mules to transport goods (including food and gas for cooking). If you’re trekking with us, you don’t really need to worry because our treks are almost all-inclusive and we take care of everything for you. But you should be prepared to pay more than you’d expect for a Snickers bar!
You should also take a moment to think about what is reasonable to tip your trekking staff (and any other service staff along the way). Yes, we are a socially conscious company that ensures our guides and porters are paid above the industry average, and yes the cost of living in Nepal is quite low. But remember, these people are spending weeks away from their families, walking hundreds of kilometres carrying your bags and waiting on you to ensure you have the most amazing adventure of a lifetime. And as in most Asian countries, tipping is a cultural expectation. So it is definitely something you need to work into your budget! Don’t be like that pair of tourists I travelled with who insisted that together they could only afford to pay our three porters $10USD for 15 days of service. It was the equivalent of tipping each of them 22 cents per day!
7. You can hire or buy your gear in Nepal!
Remember how I said I spent all that money buying all my gear on sale from local adventure stores before I set out on my first trek in Nepal? Well it turns out that wasn’t all that necessary because you can hire or buy a lot of it in Nepal! While we do recommend that you purchase your boots new before you leave home, and give yourself time to wear them in before you depart, things like your down jacket, sleeping bag, and backpacks can be hired in Nepal. We provide you with a waterproof duffel bag for your main bag, which makes it easier for our porters to carry, which means you’ll only need to hire your daypack.
Of course, there’s more gear that you’ll need than that, but you can buy everything you need rather cheaply in Kathmandu, depending on where you go and how good you are at haggling. We actually make it a priority in our itinerary to take you shopping so you can buy the gear you need before we depart. And we’ll send you a packing list early on so that you can be sure to know what you will bring from home and what you need to get in Nepal. It makes it easier for us to coordinate the shopping trip, and negotiate discounts in advance!.
8. Bring your own toilet paper
Okay, so it’s actually really easy to buy toilet paper in Nepal. You can buy it pretty much anywhere, even higher up the mountains. And unlike everything else, the price still remains pretty cheap. However, you don’t want to be caught out when you first arrive, needing to go to the toilet and not having any toilet paper with you, because most places (except some of the better hotels in Kathmandu) will not provide it for you. Don’t go crazy and bring every roll you think you will need with you. This just takes up precious room in your bag. But do always make sure you have 1-2 rolls in your backpack at all times.
And while we’re on this topic, it’s probably important to remind you to bring menstrual supplies with you too. Even if you think you’re not due while you’re trekking, you certainly don’t want to be caught out while trekking through remote parts of Nepal. Most women in these areas don’t use disposable sanitary products, so you might not find anything available. And if you do, the quality and comfort of them is a lot less than you’re probably used to!
We also advise having a small, personal first aid kit with you. While Sahasi Mahila Treks always carries a group kit, with at least one staff member who has a current First Aid Certificate, you might find it more reassuring to know you can take care of any minor problems that come up. Especially blisters or insect bites!
9. It’s not all mountains and snow
Have you seen all of the beautiful photos out there of the Himalaya mountains of Nepal? You know, the ones with snow capped peaks and rocky outcrops? While this is definitely one sight you will see while trekking, the terrain that you trek through is incredibly diverse and ever changing. While trekking the Annapurna Circuit you’ll start off down in the low lands, closer to sea level, where it’s almost tropical. Even in winter! With people growing bananas and rice on the banks of the jade green river.
And as you slowly ascend, you’ll notice the terrain change drastically as you enter more wooded forests of pine and fir and weave your way through green, bushy mountains. As you make your way up to higher altitudes, vegetation slowly starts to become scarcer. A lot of trees have more trouble growing at these altitudes, and what is there is harvested for domestic use.
As you cross the pass, which may or may not be covered with snow, depending on the time of year, and start to make your way down through Muktinath, you’ll notice the stark difference as the land is completely barren with what looks like small caves carved into the mountains in the distance. And once again, as you descend even lower, you start to encounter trees and forests again, before ending in lush rhododendron forests.
It really is quite remarkable!
10. Flat isn’t flat!
After spending your first few hours trekking up and up and up, you might start to long for a flat stretch of path. You hear your guide tell you it isn’t much longer (maybe 30 minutes), and then it will be flat again. You heave a sigh of relief!
There’s two things wrong with this.
1. There is no such thing as flat when trekking through the mountains of Nepal! Afterall, you’re in the Himalaya Mountains!! Often you will hear your guide say “a little up, a little down”. And sure, for people who are used to living in the mountains, it’s no big deal. But you will begin to wonder if you’re going crazy or aren’t cut out for this, because it sure seems like “a little up, a little down”, is a whole heap of slowly dragging yourself up mountains, and hardly ever going down anything.
2. Nepalis seem to measure time differently to what you’re used to. When you hear you only have to walk for 30 minutes, or 2 hours, maybe double the time or add an extra hour or two to it. Again, these people are used to living and walking through the mountains. They’ve been doing it their entire lives! You’ll find you’re a little bit slower than them, and that’s okay. Just take plenty of time to look around at where you are, and appreciate the opportunity you have to take this adventure!
No matter how long it takes you to walk each day, no matter how hard you find the ups and downs of the trail, on your final day of trekking, you’re going to look back with awe at what you have achieved. This is going to be the hardest and most amazing thing you have ever done, and you’re not going to regret a second of it!
There’s probably so much more I could share on this topic, but knowing these 10 things should have you adequately prepared for your upcoming trekking adventures in Nepal. And learning your own lessons along the way is half the fun of travel, right?! But I hope that these tips will help you in your preparations.
I’d love to hear from you if you have any questions, or if you’d like to share your own tips for trekking in Nepal.