The best way to experience Nepals 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. More than 110,000 visitors go trekking every year.
You dont 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 that will take care of all the details. 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 trek in what is known as "tea house style" eating and staying in the many lodges and tea houses on the way instead of camping in tents.
Your trekking agency will provide equipment like sleeping bags, foam mattresses and tents. All you need to bring are your personal wear like walking boots and sandshoes, a water- and wind-proof jacket, woolen shirts, T-shirts, a thick pullover, shorts/skirts and trousers/track suit. Thermal underwear is necessary for high altitudes and cottons are best for lower and warmer altitudes. Also dont forget a water bottle, Swiss army knife, sewing kit, torch light with spare batteries, extra boot laces, sun glasses, sun cream and personal medical supplies.
Trekking is possible at any time of the year depending on where you are going. The most popular seasons are spring (February-May) and autumn (September-November). Winter is very cold above 4,000 m, and high mountain passes may be snowbound, but it is good for trekking at lower altitudes. During the monsoon season (June-August), you can trek in the rain-shadow areas north of the Himalaya like Mustang, Upper Manang and Dolpo. These places are out of reach of the rain clouds because of the high mountains and are unaffected by the monsoon.
You trek to enjoy the scenery on the trail, not to get to any place 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. Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) refers to the effects of the thin air at high altitudes which can be very dangerous and may even result in death. If you get initial symptoms like nausea, dizziness, swelling in the face and breathlessness, descend to a lower elevation immediately and seek medical help. Comprehensive travel insurance is advised to cover emergencies like helicopter rescue and medical treatment in case of accidents on the trail.
WHERE TO TREK
The entire length and breadth of the Kingdom is a paradise for trekkers. There are easy walks lasting a few days and there are strenuous expeditions that take several weeks. All of them have great scenery. Here are some popular destinations:
Annapurna. The most popular trekking route in Nepal, you will be walking through rhododendron forests over the foothills of the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri ranges. The Kali Gandaki Gorge, the deepest in the world, and Lake Tilicho (4,919 m), the highest lake, are located here. Treks to the Annapurna region start from the lake-side resort town of Pokhara. (Maximum elevation covered on the trek is 5,416 m.)
Everest. The highest mountain in the world continues to lure adventurers as ever. A hair-raising flight lands you at the airstrip of Lukla (2,850 m) from where you begin walking to the famous Sherpa village of Namche Bazaar and on to Tengboche monastery with the mesmerizing peak of Ama Dablam hovering in the sky. Then its over the glaciers to the foot of Everest for the view of a lifetime (maximum elevation 5,546 m).
Langtang. The third most popular trekking region in the Kingdom lies directly to the north of Kathmandu. The Gosaikund lakes situated here are a much-revered Hindu pilgrimage site. Langtang offers baffling extremes in topography and climate conditions. In just one day you can traverse five different vegetation zones trekking from the subtropics to timberline (maximum elevation 4,480 m).
Remote areas. For those who want to get off the beaten track, there is the trail to Mustang (maximum elevation 5,400 m) north of the Annapurna range which offers mind-boggling landscapes and mystical cultures. Manaslu in west-central Nepal (maximum elevation 5,213 m) offers a diverse range of pristine eco-systems. Makalu in the eastern part of the country (maximum elevation 5,350 m) takes you through isolated valleys and high mountain passes to the base of the fifth highest peak on earth. Dolpo in northwest Nepal (maximum elevation 4,500 m) captivates visitors with its Phoksundo Lake and unparalleled scenery.
All visitors require a trekking permit to visit Nepals interior regions not connected by major roads except the Annapurna, Everest and Langtang regions. Trekking permits are available from the Department of Immigration in Kathmandu (Tel: 494273) or Pokhara (Tel: 21167). Two photographs are required with the application. If you are trekking in more than one region, separate trekking permits are necessary for each region.
Trekking Permit Fees. The fee for a Trekking Permit is as follows:
Kanchenjunga and Lower Dolpo - US$ 10 per week for the first four weeks and US$ 20 per week thereafter; Upper Mustang and Upper Dolpo - US$ 700 for the first 10 days and US$ 70 per day thereafter; Manaslu - US$ 90 per week for trekking during September-November and US$ 75 per week during December-August; Humla (Simikot-Yari) - US$ 90 for the first seven days and US$ 15 per day thereafter.
National Park Fees. You need to pay a park fee of Rs. 650 to enter a National Park or Wildlife Reserve. The fee is payable at the park entrance. Trekkers going to the Annapurna Region, however, must pay a fee of Rs. 1,000 (Rs. 100 for SAARC nationals) which is payable in Kathmandu or Pokhara. For more information, contact Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP), Tel: 526571, 526573. The toll is utilized for environment conservation and maintenance of the area.
MD Publishing Co.
Tripureswor, P. O. Box 3525, Kathmandu, Nepal.
Tel: 260327, 256003 . Telex: 2611 EMC NP. Fax: 977-1-261159.
Design and Maintained by Amaa Network Consultant, Inc.
Last Updated: 24 July, 2000
Comments and Suggestions to: Webmaster