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Nepal Trekking Reference Guide

Our Trekking Reference page should get you jump started on all the information you'll need to know about trekking in Nepal. If we've missed anything, just send an inquiry to our Trekking Sponsors.

General Information
Full-Service (Camping) Treks
Tea-House Treks
Equipment & What to Bring
Flights to Remote Areas
Medical Matters and Advice
Physical Fitness
Altitude Sickness
Rescue Service
Trekking Arrangements
Money Matters
Mountaineering Adventure for Non-Climbers
Tips and Suggestions
Information Centers

general information

The best way to experience Nepal’s unbeatable combination of natural beauty and cultural riches is to walk through them. The immense contrasts in altitudes and climates found here support an equally spectacular mix of lifestyles, vegetation types and wildlife.

Trekking in the mountains of Nepal is more a cultural experience than a wilderness expedition. You will be passing through picturesque villages inhabited by diverse ethnic groups. You will see Chhetri farmers working in their fields and Tamang herders grazing their animals on the steep slopes. You will meet Gurkha soldiers home on leave and come across Sherpa yak drivers transporting goods over the high mountain passes. And always in the background, the icy pinnacles of the Himalaya loom over the scenery.


You don’t need to be a mountaineer with rippling muscles to enjoy trekking. If you are reasonably fit, have a spirit of adventure and are not afraid of walking, you qualify. There are excellent trekking agencies who offer Full-Service (Camping) Treks and will take care of all the details like government permits, air/bus tickets, guides, cooks, porters, food, tents, and equipment. All you have to do on the trail is concentrate on putting one foot before the other. On many popular trekking trails, you can also go on what is known as Tea-House Treks - eating and staying in the many lodges on the way.

A day on the trail usually consists of four to five hours of walking broken by a lunch stop. You trek to enjoy the scenery on the trail, not to get to a destination in a hurry. The main precaution to be taken while trekking is not to go up too high too fast. The body should be given plenty of time to acclimatize. See Altitude Mountain Sickness below for more information.

full service (camping) treks

Breaking out of the norm, traveling with a group, traveling to remote or restricted areas, enjoying camp-side banter and serene surroundings are just a few of the reasons to opt for a Full-Service Camping Trek. You will have more control over where you go, how long you stay and even food choices if an agency puts you on one of these expeditions. A buckert of hot washing-water will await at your tent door each morning before you head off for a hot cup of chia and a trip to the toilet-tent.

tea-house treks

Tea-House trekking is an easy way to go. These are treks along the most popular treking routes and seldom will you be away from a bottle of Coca-Cola or cozy lodge. You can almost do it without an agent, but you will want a recommended porter even if you do not have need for a guide. Any agency can refer one. Stays at Tea-Houses are even cheaper than staying in a Kathmandu based guest house.

You will find Nepali-ized western food and solar powered hot-water showers in many places. Although broken-English is a norm along these trails, you'll definitely enhance you experience by merging with the culture by carrying a Nepali Phrase book.

Off the Record: Consider bringing a recommended cook along to break up the monotony of set Tea-House menus. This could also guarantee a healthy journey for your stomach as they'll be able to provide hygiene control in Tea-House kitchens.

equipment & what to bring

Your trekking agency will provide equipment like sleeping bags, foam mattresses and tents. All you need to bring is your personal gear. We've seen porters make in through mountain passes in flip-flop sandals while carrying loads for two travelers. Nevertheless, we want you to enjoy your journey so use the lists (and your porters' muscles) below as guides.

Minimal Requirements

  • Lightweight walking boots. "Walk them in" prior to arrival in Nepal to avoid blisters.
  • A pair of lightweight/heavyweight trousers are useful higher up in the mountains in the morning and at night.
  • 1-2 pair of loose fitting long shorts/skirts.
  • 2-4 cotton T-shirts.
  • 1 lightweight long sleeved-shirt is particularly suitable for avoiding sun burn.
  • A sunhat and ensure it has wide brim to cover the face and neck.
  • 2 pairs of thin and 2 pairs of thick woolen socks.
  • Underwear: normal quantity
  • Swimming suit
  • Water Bottle
  • Sunglasses and strap
  • Toiletries with large and small towels. Toilet paper can be bought in Kathmandu and some village in the mountains.
  • Small headlamp and/or flashlight/torch with spare batteries
  • Personal medical supplies - don't forget band-aids and twizzers
  • Army-knife and sewing kit
  • Sun-screen, sunblock, sun-tan lotion, zinc-oxide... get the picture? This is essential in the Winter when skys are clearest.

Winter Requirements

  • Warm jacket. Fiberfill or down should be adequate. This is especially necessary during winter from December to February.
  • Sleeping bag to -15 C or sleep sheet (if renting or agency supplied)
  • Woolen shirts and thick sweaters. During winter months, December through February, These items are essential. Thick sweaters can be purchased in Kathmandu.
  • Windproof/Waterproof trousers. Necessity on all treks going above 3,000 meters.
  • Thermal underwear. These are excellent to sleep in at night. In the winter months thermal underwear are quite invaluable.
  • A woolen hat to wear in the morning and at night. During winter it is an essential item.
  • A pair of gloves. Leather with lining and woolen are best.
  • Snow Glasses and strap
  • Snow gaiters can be essential

Some nice add-ons

  • Camera & Film
  • A pair of slip-on shoes or sandals. To wear in the camp, in bathroom and toilet tent or when the boots are wet.
  • A rain-proof jacket with hood or a poncho. Get the one that is guaranteed waterproof.
  • A sweat-suit. Useful for wearing in camp and in the tent.
  • Duffel bag or kit bag to carry gear while trekking.
  • Daypack. This is a small backpack to carry personal requirement for the day e.g., to toilet items, camera, film, towel, soap, a book etc.
    Spare boot laces.
  • 2-4 large plastic bags to separate clean clothes from dirty ones. 6-10 smaller plastic bags to dispose garbage.
  • Wallet and/or money belt with compartment for coins.
  • Spare flashlight bulbs, candles and lighter to burn toilet paper.
  • An umbrella is quite useful as a walking stick, a sunshade and for rain.
  • Reading materials, game items, music, note book, rubber band, pen and pencil envelopes, a diary, a calendar, a pocket knife, binoculars (optional), A small pillow or headrest (optional) Thermarest (optional) - an inflatable sleeping mat, trekking map, adequate quantities of passport photographs.
  • Duct-tape, superglue and small mirror can be handy
  • Travel locks and chain to secure luggage and lodge door
  • Hot-water bottle - unless your mate's comin' along

Unnecessary Items - reminder...

  • Cell-phone, Pager, Lap-top computer, PDA, etc
  • Radio, TV, magazines, newspapers, etc

Please Note: North Face and Pategonia type companies own the market in the USA, but many of the above mentioned items can be purchased/rented in Kathmandu and Pokhara. These high-tech companies and there products can make for a dreamy trekking experience when you learn what all thoughs pockets and fancy fabrics are really designed for.

Beware: Virtually all the brand name items in Nepal are Korean knock-offs. Shoes and sox are the essential items to bring from outside the country, if your in the Bigfoot category.

flights to remote areas

Flights by plane and helicopter into and out of the remote areas and airports are prone to cancellations and delays due to inclement weather. It is advisable to allow some layover days while planning a flight out of airports other than Kathmandu and Pokhara. When these flights are considered in the itinerary, it is also recommended to carry extra money to buy food and accommodations in case of delays. Agencies will not be responsible for these additional expenses or costs incurred from lost connections, so plan accordingly.

medical matters and advice

Trekking in Nepal need not be considered a risky affair as far as your health is concerned. Nevertheless, preventive measures such as a thorough medical check-ups and inoculations before you start trekking can save you from unexpected hazards. Since the remote places of Nepal are not supplied with necessities that are essential for modern medical facilities, and as the rescue and evacuation are measured in days, it is imperative to make a comprehensive First Aid kit consisting of basic drugs and accessories as part of the paraphernalia for trekking.

Various trekking guide books and the pamphlet published by the Himalayan Rescue Association give you detailed information on a complete list of medical supplies. These guide books are easily available in the bookshops of Kathmandu. In case of serious illness or injury, prompt evacuation to Kathmandu is the best remedy.

Modern dentistry is unknown in the hills of Nepal, so it is advised to have a checkup before departure from home. Tooth fillings sometimes loosen in cold temperatures and at high altitudes, so it is recommended to have them checked.

physical fitness

All trekking demands a level of fitness that will enable one to put in a good day's walking, up hill and down. Most treks should not be taken to gain more than 500 meters in one day above 3,000 meters. There should be plenty of time during the day to cover this distance, so the physical exertion though quite strenuous at times, is not sustained. The best preparation for trekking is cycling, swimming, jogging, squash, tennis and long walks involving up and down hills. Good physical conditioning will certainly help maximize your enjoyment of your treks.

altitude sickness

Altitude Sickness, often known as Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), is a particularly important medical consideration while trekking in Nepal. Altitude Sickness means the effect of altitude on those who ascend too rapidly to elevations above 3,000 meters. Anyone may be effected by AMS reguardless of strength or physical fitness. The initial symptoms of AMS are as following:

  • Nausea/Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Insomnia/Sleeplessness
  • Persistent headache
  • Dizziness, light heaviness, confusion, disorientation, drunken gait
  • Weakness, fatigue, lassitude, heavy legs
  • Slight swelling of hands and face
  • Breathlessness and breathing irregularity
  • Reduced urine output

These symptoms are to be taken very seriously. In case of appearance of any of the above symptoms any further ascent should be reconsidered. More serious problems can occur which can even cause death sometimes within a few hours. The main cure for the Altitude Sickness is to descend to a lower elevations immediately. Acclimatization by ascending to no more than 300 to 500 meters per day above 3,000 meters and the proper amount of rest are the best methods for prevention of AMS.

Literature and pamphlet published by Himalayan Rescue Association (see Rescue Service below) consists of detailed information on AMS. The Central Immigration Office and all trekking agencies in Kathmandu distribute this pamphlet free of cost. Since these documents also give information on the list of suggested medical supplies for trekkers, it is a compulsory item for every trekkers' medical kit.

rescue service

Himalayan Rescue Association

HRA is a voluntary Nepalese organization registered with His Majesty's Government to run a mountain rescue service in the mountain tourist areas. The Association's major role is the prevention and treatment of mountain sickness. The association's medical research work is undertaken by a team of foreign doctors at present.

The Kathmandu office and Information Center of the HRA is located in Thamel. The HRA Information Center has expert and up to date information on all aspects of altitude sickness. All those intending to trek above 3,000m (10,000ft) are advised to visit the Information Center. Two Trekker's Aid Posts are listed.

Everest Area

At Pheriche on the main trail to Everest Base Camp, one day north of Thyanboche. This Aid Post is well equipped and staffed by two Western doctors during the main trekking season. Trekkers intending to go to Kala Patthar and Everest Base Camp are advised to contact the Pheriche Aid Post.

Manang Area

At Manang village in Manang. The Aid Post is well noticeable and has a sign posted. Regular talks on dangers of altitude sickness are given here every alternate day during trekking season. The Aid Post is staffed by a Western doctor. Trekkers intending to cross Thorong La Pass and visiting the surrounding areas are advised to contact the HRA aid post either at Chindi or at Manang.

Medical Rescue and Transport Communication Facilities

1. Everest and Kanchenjunga Treks

A small hospital and airstrip at Jiri, Phaplu and Khunde (Syangboche). Similarly a medical facility operated by HRA is situated at Pheriche. There are also radio station at Chainpur, Khandhari, Taplejung, Phidim, Bhojpur, Terhathum, Dhankuta, Dharan, Illam, Chandra-gadhi, Jiri, Namche Bazaar, Thayangboche, Pheriche, Lobuche and Salleri,

2. Helambu, Gosaikunda, and Langtang Treks

Modern medical facilities are not available in the Helambu area. For Gosaikunda and Langtang, there is a government hospital at Trishuli Bazaar and a dispensary at Dhunche. There is also radio and telephone link to Kathmandu at Trishuli Bazaar. An airstrip is located near Kyangjin in Langtang Valley. The other two radio stations are on the Bhote Koshi at Rasuwa Gadhi on the Tibetan Border and in Dhunche.

3. Around Pokhara, Lamjung, Jompsom, Muktinath and Nanang

Pokhara has an all weather airport, telecommunication network and a modern hospital. District hospitals are located in Baglung, Bensishar, and Jomosom. There is a Trekker's Aid post run by the Himalayan Rescue Association in Manang. Additionally a small government dispensary at Hongde and Chame, the headquarter of Manang district, also serve both foreigners & locals. Airstrips are located at Jomosom, Hongde and Balewa of Baglung. There are radio stations at Chame, Kusma, Baglung, Beni and Jomosom.

There are also radio stations at Gorkha and Besisahar. A government hospital is located in Gorkha. The united Mission to Nepal runs a hospital at Ampipal of Gorkha.

4. Jumla and Rara

Airstrips are located in Dhorpatan, Jumla and Simikot. There is a government hospital and a radio station Jumla. A dispensary is run at Gumgadi.

trekking arrangements

There are different approaches to trekking in Nepal and the choice depends on time, budget, experience and personal preference.

Agencies provide essential logistical arrangement including porters, guide, cook, food tents, sleeping bags, mattresses, transport to and from trekking starting points, flight arrangement, permits, staff insurance and so on. These agents also provide a choice of itineraries and necessary information on trekking health care etc.

The cost of an all inclusive trek ranges from about US$ 25.00 to US$ 150.00 per person per day depending upon the quality of service, number of days and number of persons in the package. This style of trekking is relatively expensive compared to that of backpacking but a few extra dollars guarantees comfort and security, eliminates time consuming ordeal of organization and ensures a trouble free holiday. There are limited areas where a backpacking type of trek can be undertaken by an individual.

A companion/guide is helpful in the remote wilderness and is enjoyable to talk to on the trail. It is strongly advised to be overly cautious of free-lance guides or the services of any agency not recognized by government.

money matters

It is generally not possible to change foreign currency/travelers checks except in bigger cities like Kathmandu, Pokhara, Namche Bazaar, Jompsom, Salleri, and Okhaldunga. Consequently, when your in the mountains, cash is king. Change money in the city before your trek starts. Make sure to ask for small denominations (ones, twos, fives, twenties, fifties and hundreds - a 500 or 1,000 note will be useless).

Careful: Torn banknotes seem to be a superstitious item. Village people, and even people from the village that have moved into the city, refuse them. Use them for tips or donations to holy-pilgrims.

mountaineering adventure for non-climbers

For the more adventurous traveler, there are many minor peaks open for Alpine climbing under the Nepal Mountaineering Association. The climbing of these peaks is controlled under the rules and regulations formulated by this Association.

Most of these peaks require snow and ice climbing experience. Trekking Agents provide qualified and trained climbing guides to take non-climbers for convenience, safety and expected successes. By Himalayan standards, these are considered minor peaks, but in fact some of them provide relatively challenging snow and ice climbing of high standard, and more so in Winter.

The royalty for these peaks ranges from US $150 to US $300 depending on the particular peak for up to a 9 member climbing team.

See's Trekking: Areas: Trekking Peaks for a list of those currently open. For complete details about Peak Trekking, Mountaineering and Expeditions, visit our sponsor Adventure Thirdpole Treks and Expeditions.

tips and suggestions

During your trekking sojourn in the hills and the mountains of Nepal you should be aware and remember that you are traveling back in time and into the wilderness not usually frequented by many foreigners and away from normal policing. Although the people of the hills of Nepal are exceptionally hospitable, honest and friendly by any standards, the possibilities of some trekkers encountering bad elements who take advantage of foreigners cannot be eliminated. It would be wise to exercise the following basic rules as regards. Security and safety during your trekking:

  • Trekking organized through recognized Trekking Agent ensures comfort and convenience, safety and security and greatly affords the unique experience. This approach to trekking not only prevents you from any unforeseen hazards and accidents but also provide educational information and rewarding experiences on the mountains, people and in rural Nepal.
  • All foreign nationals are required by law to pay their hotel, travel, and trekking agents bill in foreign currency. Exchange your money through authorized banks/money changers only. Insist on a receipt when exchanging your money and retain all exchange receipts with you.
  • Littering mars the purity of environment. Avoid the use of non-biodegradable items as mush as possible. Your attempts to burn oddments and carry out the unburnable ones will be a great help in the efforts to conserve the environment.
  • Avoid dispute with local people, most particularly when you are alone. Avoid drunkards and lunatics.
  • Do not encourage beggars by giving them money or other articles.
  • Be most economical with all fuel. Avoid hot showers which use firewood and discourage campfires. Avoid lodges using firewood and insist on use of kerosene for cooking to Trekking Agents.
  • We strongly recommend that you take out a personal travel insurance to cover against illness, accidents, loss and theft of items and materials, travel alterations and deviations, rescues and evacuations.
  • It is recommended not to travel alone in the remote areas while traveling in Nepal particularly in the case of females. If you do not have a fellow trekker as companion, you should not engage a guide/porter except through a third party who has responsibility for the person engaged.
  • All the information mentioned here is subject to change, so do not forget to do your own homework.

information centers

  • Department of Tourism, Tripureswor (near the national stadium), Kathmandu
  • Nepal Tourism Board - NTB is a national organization established in 1998 and promote and market Nepal as an attractive tourist destination. NTB's office is located at Bhrikuti Mandap, Kathmandu, Ph: 4256909 or 4256229.
  • Kathmandu Environmental Education Project Trekker's Information Center, P.O.Box 495, Tridevi Marg , Kathmandu
  • Nepal Association of Travels Agents - NATA, Lal Durbar, Yak & Yeti Plaza, Kathmandu, Ph: 4228787.
  • Trekking Agents Association of Nepal - TAAN, Ganeshthan, Maligaun, Kathmandu, Ph: 4440920 or 4440921.
  • Kathmandu Environmental Education Project - KEEP provides trekkers with information about responsible trekking and also has a travelers' information center in Thamel. Through slide shows, lectures, videos, and other activities staff and volunteers provide trekkers with information about promoting positive environmental and cultural interactions when trekking.KEEP is located at the Potala Tourist Home, off Tridevi Marg, and is open from 10 am to 5 PM daily expect Saturdays and major holidays Ph: 4410303

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Trekking Area & Permits
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