Getting To and Around Nepal
The main airport in Kathmandu is Tribhuvan International airport, and it is located about six kilometers from the city center. A number of airlines serve Nepal; Hong Kong, Singapore and Bangkok are common transit stops for international travelers.
Getting AroundThe easiest way to get around Nepal is by domestic flight. Because of the nature of our terrain and unpredictable weather - flights are often delayed or cancelled. In the event of a cancellation, airlines will rebook you on the next available flight. The easiest way to book domestic flights is through a travel agent. There is a departure tax of 200 Nepali Rupees for Domestic Flights. It is also possible get around Nepal by bus. Travel agencies run a number of useful bus services to popular tourist destinations, leaving from the Tourist Bus Park in Pokhara and the Thamel end of Kantipath in Kathmandu.
When to Trek
We have four main seasons in Nepal:
- Summer is from April to September, and is referred to as monsoon season. The weather gets hot and rain showers are common. Monsoons can cause landslides, which present risks in all over Nepal.
- Fall is from September to November. This is the high season in Nepal and the best time to trek on the GHT, because the weather makes it perfect for trekking. The mountains are at their most visible, although prices are at their peak as well.
- Winter is from December and January, and it is fiercely cold along the GHT. Many accommodation providers will shut down during this season. However, the skies are very clear and those who brave the cold will be rewarded with spectacular views.
- Spring is from February to April, and is a popular time to trek the GHT as the days are longer and warmer. However, the skies are not always clear. Though, as its spring, the flowers in the hills will be blossoming.
What to Pack
The recommended pack weight that a trekker should carry is 10 to 12 kg. If you have a pack that is heavier than that, it is wise to hire a Sherpa to support you and to avoid unnecessary physical strain in severe mountain conditions. Here is a list of recommended items to pack for a trip on the GHT:
- Sunscreen and lip balm
- Camera (Dust proof bags for your camera if you have one)
- Battery pack to charge your camera
- A good day pack
- A good pair of hiking boots
- Warm clothes
- Rain gear
- Several good pairs of quick dry socks
- A sarong for bathing
- A first aid kit
- Wet wipes
- Headlamp or torch
- Quick dry towel
- Wet wipes / toilet paper /
- Disinfectant gel
- Maps / GPS / Compass
The currency in Nepal is the Nepali Rupee. ATMs are easily found or travelers can exchange money at banks or money changer. Credit cards are widely accepted.
Travelers require a visa to enter Nepal. These can be obtained upon arrival at Tribhuvan International airport or at a Nepali embassy in your home country. Your passport must be valid for six months following the date of entry to Nepal and you must have at least one blank page in your passport. The price of the visa depends on your length of stay:
- 15 days - $25 USD
- 30 days - $40 USD
- 90 days - $90 USD
Tap water in Nepal is not potable. It is best to drink filtered water.
When washing along the trail, its important to be modest and cover yourself appropriately. Use a sarong to cover yourself while bathing, whether with a bucket or in a stream.
Nepali people are welcoming and hospitable and a kind smile and respectful attitude will go along way in building relationships with your hosts. Here are a few additional tips of how to act respectfully in Nepali culture:
- Greeting: Nepalis greet each other by placing both hands in prayer and saying 'Namaste.' This is a universal greeting that will be reciprocated all along the GHT.
- Never use your left hand to eat or pass objects. In Nepal, people mostly eat with their right hand, and the left is considered unclean.
- If you take a sip from someone else's water bottle or cup, don't let it touch your lips.
- Don't eat off someone else's plate or offer food after you have taken a bit.
- Dress: Nepalis are fairly conservative in their dress and while visiting the country, you should try to do the same. It is especially important to dress appropriately when visiting a sacred place. For men, it is necessary to wear a shirt and long trousers. For women, shoulders and legs should be covered.
- Do not point your feet at anyone. They are regarded as the most unclean part of the body.
- The forehead is regarded as the most sacred part of the body and it is taboo to touch an adult on the head.
Quick tips for trekking the GHT
- Never walk alone - go with a friend or guide
- Always carry warm clothes and rain gear with you
- Always carry a first aid kid - and know the basics of first aid
- Carry enough water and snacks; make sure you know when you can restock
- Always carry a torch / headlamp and spare batteries
- If possible, try to get information about the weather forecast
- You will regularly encounter (caravans of) mules or yaks during your treks in the Himalayas: stay on the mountain side while you wait for them to pass. The animals usually carry heavy and wide loads and they might kick you off the mountain if you don’t watch out!
- In warm weather, the principle hazards are sunburn, windburn and dehydration. Sunhats, sun cream, and ample water can prevent serious sunburn or heatstroke.
- Make sure you have a map and compass and/or GPS and know how to use it (especially if you go without a porter/guide)
- As far as possible register yourself in the guesthouse/homestay where you stay and/or tell where you are going next
How to prepare for a GHT Trek
First rule of the mountains: always be prepared! Here are some tips for ensuring you're ready:
- Read about the destination you are going to and make sure you know the details of your trek
- Make sure you have proper clothing for all weather conditions (warm clothes, rain gear and hat, scarf and gloves)
- Make sure you have the necessary mountain equipment suitable for the specific terrain
- Be prepared for challenging weather conditions, especially if you go trekking in high altitude areas (above 3000m / 10,000ft). "Wind Chill," the combined effect of high winds and cold air can dramatically lower the body temperature. This is dangerous and potentially fatal. It is therefore very important to be properly equipped when walking high up in the mountains in bad weather.
- If you go trekking at altitudes above 3000m (10,000ft), read up about altitude sickness.
- Make sure someone (who is not accompanying you) knows your trekking itinerary and when you are supposed to return from your trek
- Make sure you have the right insurance and that you have all details with you - especially the emergency numbers. Leave these details with someone at home as well.
- Take your mobile phone with you, if you are going to very remote places, you may consider getting a satellite phone too.
- Carry a whistle with you - its easier to get attention if you get lost
- Make sure you know the basics of first aid
It is very important to take the time to acclimatize if you are hiking along the GHT. Acclimatization is the process by which a human body adapts physiologically to different environment conditions. High altitude environments includes cold, low humidity, increased ultraviolet radiation and decreased air pressure – this is most likely a very different environment than the one you are used to and it is imperative to take the time to acclimatize. Depending upon the altitude level and your current fitness level, there could be different approaches to acclimatize high altitude conditions. The altitude acclimatization is necessary for almost all the popular trekking routes in Nepal. Here are some of the general do's and don'ts tips during altitude variations and a successful acclimatization: Dos:
- Increase altitude gradually: If you are planning to hike around at high altitude, it is important that you get used to such a climate for few weeks. An overnight stay at every 300-400 meters higher than your previous overnight stay is recommended.
- Consume liquids: Dry mountain air and an increased respiratory rate can cause dehydration. Tt is recommended to drink at least 3-4 liters of liquid a day, including juice, soup and clean water.
- Dress warmly:Ensure that the clothing you choose while trekking is enough to prevent your body in the cold and windy atmosphere. Layers are key!
- Use preventive medicines: There are a range of mountain medicines which improves altitude acclimatization process, the most popular one is Diamox, or Acetazolamide. One of the best natural recipes for acclimatization recommended by trekking guides in Nepal is garlic soup, which is widely found in teahouses and trekking lodges.
- Don’t drink alcohol, smoke or take sleeping tablets: The oxygen concentration at high altitude is reduced and the consumption of sedatives artificially reduces the flow of oxygen to the brain. Similarly, alcohol causes dehydration and it is undesirable while trekking in the Himalayas.
- Don’t over do it! Overexertion from carrying heavy rucksacks or other strenuous activity while trekking is not recommended: The average recommended weight that a trekker should carry is around 10-12 kg. If the luggage is more than that, it is wise to hire a Sherpa to carry your bags to avoid unnecessary physical strain in severe mountain conditions.
- Don't trek alone: Always take a guide with you, who can help you all times.
- Don't climb higher even if you are only suffering from mild symptoms of altitude sickness: The symptoms of acute mountain sickness are headache, nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite, insomnia, listlessness and dizziness. If these symptoms are seen, descend immediately and if you see some person catching such symptoms, don't leave him alone.