Have you considered doing trekking in Nepal? Until now, all those travelers who have experienced it have returned with the satisfaction of achieving a challenge of self-improvement. And, step on the Himalayas, is treading a mountain range system that hosts record summits, such as Everest, the highest altitude in the world, or Annapurna, one of the most difficult for climbers.
Traveling to Nepal for trekking is not only a unique opportunity to improve yourself but also to enjoy vast mountain landscapes; It will also allow you to learn from the local community, the Sherpas, whose experience will be essential to complete your adventure successfully.
In this travel guide, you will be able to solve doubts and get all the information about the different requirements and guidance. Keep in mind that the Himalayan season runs from April to November, although the best months are October and November. Between June and September, the region is under the influence of monsoon and rainfall is frequent in the low and middle zones.
Langtang National Park
It is the most affordable of the trekking zones of the country; both by the average difficulty of their journeys (the maximum height is around 4,700 meters above sea level) and by the physical level that is required when completing the different routes that ascend through this valley located a short distance from Kathmandu.
But this is Nepal, and it is not a place to make country trips. Flirting with the middle and high mountains always require caution and good physical condition. But there is no doubt that simpler routes can be found here, ranging from three days to three weeks. One of the strengths of this area is, beyond enjoying the overwhelming Nepalese nature, is to explore the Langtang Valley, one of the most important cultural and ethnographic centers of the country and territory of the Tamang people.
In this National Park, there are three main routes. That of the Langtang Valley is covered in about 6 or 7 days; the climb up to the Sacred Lake of Goisakunda demands six days of walking, while trekking the lower slopes (Gosaikund – Helambu), where the epicenter of the Sherpa culture is, takes about 12 or 13 days of walking.
NECESSARY PERMITS: TIMS (Trekking Information Management System), which is a register of walkers. It costs 2,000 rupees and to get it out it is necessary to present (for each one), a photocopy of the passport, two passport photos and a photocopy of the medical insurance contracted to make the trip. The permits are taken out in Kathmandu and are immediate delivery.
IS A GUIDE NECESSARY?: It is not necessary
Ascent to the Rara Lake
One of the least exploited areas from the tourist point of view and, at the same time, more affordable from the technical and physical point of view. The trekking to the Queen of the lagoons begins in the city of Jumla and demands about 10 days of crossing in round trip.
The circulars say that in the environment of the lake, the largest in Nepal, you can find more species of birds than the number of walkers that arrive each year to its shores. The fauna is one of the strong points of this route in which you can see the famous Himalayan monal, the country’s national bird.
But beyond the landscapes, the route allows knowing picturesque villages and extensive forest areas in a continuous slide of ascents and descents that culminates in the 2.990 meters of the Rare Lake. The Lake itself is surrounded by dense forests of pine and local cedars and from its shores can be seen breathtaking views of the snow-capped peaks.
PERMITS NECESSARY: None
IS A GUIDE NECESSARY?: Yes, it is essential to be able to enter this natural place.
Climbing up to the Secret Kingdom of Mustang
For us the best trekking that can be done in Nepal. Not because of its difficulty or because of the mountain passes it crosses, but because it means exploring a secret territory that until 1992 was closed to foreign visitors.
A kind of hidden kingdom that accentuates the feeling of adventure. The routes, always guided, depart and arrive at the small town of Jomsom, in the middle of the National Park of the Annapurnas, on trips that, at least, require 10 days of crossing ( there are trekkings of up to 20 days) and that rise up to 4,230 meters above sea level.
The reward that awaits the adventurers is one of the most authentic corners of the Cordillera. The trip enters the ancient tributary kingdom of Nepal through the routes that served to bring salt from Tibet and discover a rosary of small towns and temples practically intact. A marvel in which the most authentic Tibetan culture survives.
NECESSARY PERMITS: The ACAP (Annapurna Conservation Area Project), which serves as an entrance fee to the Annapurnas National Park. It is processed in Kathmandu or Pokhara, and its delivery is immediate. To apply, you must present two passport photos, a photocopy of the passport and another one of the travel insurance. It also requires the payment of an entry fee that is satisfied when hiring the trekking.
IS A GUIDE NECESSARY?: This trekking can only be done with a guide.
Complete Circuit of Annapurna
The classic among the classics. The traditional route is 250 kilometers long, starting in the town of Besisahar and ending in NayaPul, although it is possible to shorten the route by public transport or private 4×4 that can be rented in the main towns. The normal thing is that a mid-level hiker with a good physical preparation can complete the entire journey in a period ranging between 12 and 15 days with daily stages between 16 and 24 kilometers.
As we say, the level of physical demand is not very high, but we must have a physical capacity capable of facing stages of the true high mountain. The classic route includes the ascent to the mythical Alto de Thorung (5,416 meters above sea level) which requires good physical condition and tolerance to altitude (more than 60% of walkers suffer from some symptom of altitude sickness).
But you do not have to be professional mountaineers experts to be able to enjoy one of the most spectacular trekkings in the world. The route includes high mountain passages, with impressive views over the Himalayan peaks, Tibetan villages, and numerous temples and shrines. A real joy.
NECESSARY PERMITS: You have to take out two permits that you will be asked when entering the National Park and at different points of control of the route. Both are necessary and not having them means the payment of fines. The ACAP (Annapurna Conservation Area Project), which serves as an entrance fee to the National Park, and the TIMS (Trekking Information Management System), which is a register of hikers.
Each one costs 2,000 rupees and to get them it is necessary to present (for each one), a photocopy of the passport, two passport photos and a photocopy of the medical insurance contracted to make the trip. Permits are issued in Kathmandu or Pokhara and are immediate delivery.
IS A GUIDE NECESSARY?: No. If you feel safer with a guide there is no problem, but this route is well signposted and is very busy so with a good map (it is easy to buy them in Pokhara or Besisahar) and with caution, you can do everything without the need to hire a guide. Eye with the weight of the backpack (ideal never exceed 10% of your weight). Excess luggage can be left at Besisahar.
Trekking of the Annapurna Base Camp (Annapurna Sanctuary)
A good way to feel first hand many of the sensations experienced by the great climbers. The usual thing is to do this route, which adds about 110 kilometers on the way back and forth, in about eight or nine days starting from NayaPul with daily averages between 15 and 20 kilometers.
For the adventurers, there is the possibility of taking, better on the way out, the more than recommended variant of Poon Hill (with one of the most beautiful views of the area), which will allow you to diversify round trip although this supposes adding about 40 kilometers to the path. This route is, just, spectacular. The road leaves from NayaPul following the noisy channel of the Modi River and progressively ascending from the rainforests and the villages flanked by terraces of rice to the high mountain in a progressive way.
One of the strong points of this trail are the hot springs of Jhinudanda and the feeling of reaching the Annapurna’s feet through its spectacular glacier. The unevenness of this route is very high with maximum levels of 4,130 meters above sea level, so, although it is not necessary to be a professional mountaineer. If you require experience in the mountains, a lot of common sense and an excellent physical shape.
NECESSARY PERMITS: As with the Annapurna Circuit, the required permits are the ACAP and the TIMS.
IS A GUIDE NECESSARY?: No. The route is perfectly marked, and it is effortless to follow with a good map.
Ascending to Everest Base Camp and the three steps
Being able to reach the foot of the highest mountain in the world is one of the great challenges for any hiker. The short version starts from the mythical city of Lukla (which has what is considered the most dangerous airport in the world) and covers just over 63 kilometers with a brutal drop of 2,400 meters that require between five and six days of travel ( returns in three).
The other option covers the distance between Jiri and Lukla passing through Everest Base Camp in 21 days of walking that follows the steps of the historical expeditions that tried to climb the mythical mother of all the mountains in 228 kilometers that, in addition to the challenge of reaching the most famous Base Camp in the world, save the dreaded three steps: Kongma La(5,528 m), Cho La (5,330 m) and Renjo La (5,345 m).
To do this route requires a high physical preparation although the technical requirements are low. It is one of the hardest routes in the Himalayas.
NECESSARY PERMITS: TIMS, a register of hikers that is managed in Kathmandu.
IS A GUIDE NECESSARY ?: On the short route from Lukla to Everest Base Camp, it is not necessary to have the assistance of a guide, although we must take into account that we are on a high mountain route. On the route from Jiri and the three steps, it is convenient to have a guide or hire an organized route.
What should not be missing from your trekking equipment in Nepal?
The clothing and equipment depend on the type of trekking you want to perform. The Himalayan trails always reach high altitudes, and the temperatures can be very harsh, especially at night. It is also good to wear clothes suitable for the hours of maximum temperature.
Indispensable in the backpack is the windbreaker, with hat, trekking boots, wool socks, windbreaker pants, polar, technical hiking shirt, sunglasses, sunscreen, Sleeping bag, and flashlight. For most routes, you do not need gaiters, crampons, ropes, and harnesses. Therefore, it is good to consult the specifications of your course very well before traveling.
Altitude sickness and trekking in Nepal
One of the risks of high altitude mountain sports, such as trekking in Nepal, is altitude sickness, a disease caused by the body’s lack of adaptation to a high altitude. It can take more or less severe forms and, if left untreated, can even be lethal.
Altitude sickness can start around 2500 meters, but worrying symptoms usually occur around 3500 meters. The symptoms of altitude sickness are traditionally headaches, vomiting, nausea, exhaustion, shortness of breath, numbness, and difficulty sleeping.
These conditions tend to disappear in a few hours or a day, returning to lower altitudes. Ignoring these early symptoms and not receiving adequate medical attention, or continuing to exert efforts in the ascent, can aggravate the disease and cause irreversible effects.
Trekking insurance in Nepal: Is it mandatory?
Nepal does not require travel medical insurance to tourists, but if you’re going to do trekking in the country, there are many reasons to say that hiring a safe to travel to Nepal is essential, not only for altitude sickness or the diseases from the state.
The trekking insurance will allow you to be rescued in the mountains, transported by ambulance or even repatriation to your country in case of accident or death. Not all travel insurance covers high altitudes. Check that yours cover the expected maximum altitude of your trekking route.