General Trek Information
General Trek Information that’s imperative to know when Trekking in Nepal
The theme of your trip
It will be walking at your pace at different altitudes. Your hiking should be evenly paced, especially as you go higher up the mountains, in order to get familiar with the thin air above the timberline.
The Holiday dossier
Once you’ve booked a holiday with us we send you a comprehensive holiday dossier that gives you all the information you need to prepare for your trip including: visa requirements, information on medical matters, suggested equipment and clothing lists, advice on physical preparation, tips on responsible travel, & how to get the best prices for your outdoor gears and a relevant reading list.
Physical requirements for the mountains
In its physical rating, Annapurna Travel advises on a lot of heart-pumping adventure with plenty of challenges and some extreme conditions. We generally suggest that you be seriously fit for all trips exceeding altitude levels of 3000m and above.
For treks above 4000m, the general rule is you will need to be very fit, and the more preparation you have done for it the more you will enjoy it. You will be walking at altitudes of up to approximately 5545 metres above sea level and it will be tough trekking. You will be walking with your day pack, with the possibility of extreme variations in temperature. We recommend that you undertake regular aerobic exercise in the months before you travel, particularly if you are not in the habit of regular exercise. Doing mountain walks or climbing long stair cases with a pack is good preparation (try putting a few bricks in your pack for real training). Walking, jogging, swimming or riding a bike are all good ways to increase your aerobic fitness, which will allow you to enjoy the trek to its fullest.
Trek options & your crew
All Annapurna Travel group trips are accompanied by one of our group ‘Sirdars’ (Leader). The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects.
Our primary aim is to keep your trek free of any unwanted hassles so that you can enjoy your venture top the hilt. Some of the interesting occasions of your trek are the moments spent getting to know your trekking crew who were born and brought up in these remote mountain villages. The ratio of both Sherpa guides and kitchen crew to group members is generally 1:4 and the ratio of porters to group members is around 3:1 at the beginning of the trek, but this decreases as food is eaten and loads become lesser. For bathroom facilities we carry toilet tents, your camping staff dig a deep hole in the ground for excrement and cover the hole with soil after everyone has answered nature’s call.
Your day on a Camping Trek
A typical day begins with the chirping of birds that generally wake you up & a hot cup of tea brought to your tent at about 6am, followed by a bowl of luke warm water for washing. After packing our bags and enjoying a sumptuous breakfast, we set off for the hike of the day. All you need to carry is a small day pack containing water bottle, camera, sun cream, hat, rain jacket and a warm jumper, just in case. The porters will carry the rest of your gear for you. After walking for 3-4 hours we stop for lunch at around midday. The afternoon's walk is generally shorter and we arrive at camp in time for high noon tea. The remainder of the afternoon can be spent exploring the nearby villages, doing a bit of washing or simply relaxing with your favorite book. On some days, we will arrive at camp by lunchtime and the entire afternoon will be free.
Supper is usually served between 6 and 7pm. After dinner, its story-telling time & the evenings are often spent playing cards and talking with the crew, or perhaps even joining in some singing and dancing, before heading off to the tent for a well-earned sleep.
Meals & drinking water when camping above the tree-line
We provide three tasty, plentiful and nutritious meals daily with a variety of local and Western dishes. To start the day, breakfast consists of a choice of porridge, muesli and cereal followed by omelet, fried or scrambled eggs with chapattis or bread. Lunch is generally a selection of salad, cooked vegetable dishes, pasta and traditional breads.
After a long day on the trail, dinner is a hearty 3 course meal - soup, followed by a variety of vegetable, meat, rice and pasta dishes and wrapped up with a simple dessert. Tea, coffee and hot chocolate are also provided at all meals. We use as much fresh produce as possible and special diets are regularly catered for. The leaders are able to maintain very tight controls on health and hygiene in the kitchen with respect to general cleanliness and food preparation and also within the group with respect to personal hygiene.
This has helped us maintain well monitored high standards of health over many years of trek organization - and maintaining good health is vital to an enjoyable and successful trek and climb. All foods are well cooked and vegetables are treated by potassium permanganate or iodine. Boiled water is served for drinking. Antiseptic soaps and potassium or iodine treated water are provided for washing. Special dietary requirements can always be catered for.
Your day on a typical Teahouse Lodge Trek
This is another trek option that you have. Some of the popular trekking routes in Everest, Annapurna & Langtang are served by lodges making it possible for you to stay at local Tea house (mountain huts pretty well built) during your trek. Whilst we endeavor to stay in the best possible accommodation along the way, you should be aware that most teahouses, particularly in the smaller villages, are quite basic. The bedrooms are usually very small, the shared bathroom facilities are often outside and meals are served in a communal dining hall. Although simple, the teahouses do provide shelter and warmth and are normally run by friendly local families. In some places, teahouses don't have access to electricity, depending on solar powered lighting instead. In more remote regions, teahouses don't have running water and toilets can mean just a hole in the ground. Hot shower facilities are available in some teahouses for a price but in most of the places, a hot shower means a bucket of hot water, barely enough to wash your body. But then, what more can be expected on some of the most rugged places on earth. Perhaps, this is why Tea house treks are less expensive than Camping treks and are largely suitable for small groups. Usually during busy seasons, if private rooms in smaller villages are fully occupied you might have to sleep in a dormitory. These teahouse lodges are also very cosy & represents the true spirit of adventure, given the geographical circumstances.
Meals and drinking water on a teahouse trek
On our lodge based treks we provide standard breakfast, lunch and a three course dinner, tea or coffee will also be included with each meal. Your guide will help with menu selection and ensure that you get the best value meals possible. Although the food is usually plentiful and delicious, you should be aware that the menu is not normally extensive. Most teahouses offer a variety of rice and noodle dishes, as well as soup and seasonal vegetables. A variety of cereals, bread and egg dishes are generally available for breakfast. There will also be plenty of snacks available such as biscuits, chocolate and soft drinks and in some areas you will find fresh fruit in season. You can buy packaged water (bottled mineral water) from local lodge and shop en route or you can also ask your guide to fill your water bottle with boiled water and treat with water purification pills. It’s pretty easy on teahouse lodge treks & there’s not much to carry.
However, there are those who prefer the great outdoors and sleep on a comfortable 2 person tent in a camp. This type of holiday is always the original way to appreciate nature and feel closer to the environment. It is a great way to have a deeper appreciation of the things around you. It's also a good bonding moment for families and couples looking for a more active getaway that come with thrills in the wild. It's important to go to a camp where there are professional trekking guides that can teach and show you the essential knowledge and skills that come with camping.
Typical days on teahouse lodge treks are similar to camping treks where you go through the same routines; accept that on camping treks more time is taken for camps to be set up and loads are obviously heavier and the pace is slower, but then this is good for the altitudes. However, with teahouse lodge treks, it’s but naturally different as you have the teahouse lodges that are ready to welcome you & there’s a lot of camaraderie & cosiness. But you won’t have the privacy you’d get on camping treks.
We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller: At Annapurna Travel & Tours, we are extremely aware of the environment at all times and aim to minimize our impact as much as possible. As deforestation is one of the greatest environmental threats, we do not encourage campfires and use kerosene for cooking as an alternative fuel to wood. We also discourage trekkers from using wood-fuelled hot showers in lodges along the way. Many lodges, however, now provide solar hot showers, a far more eco-friendly alternative.
Garbage disposal is another major problem and some of the busier trails can, at times, appear strewn with litter. Our mountain crews are well motivated towards Eco-friendly practices. We carry out all our garbage, apart from that which can be safely and easily burnt at the campsite. Our aim is to help protect and preserve this beautiful environment for future generations of trekkers to enjoy. Most of the environments you walk in on the Himalayas of Nepal are some of the last naturally preserved mountain ecosystems in the world. They are not artificial but naturally beautiful & this is why they are extremely fragile & dangerous if we are not careful. We need to love these mountains as much as we love ourselves…
Dress standards are conservative throughout Asia, especially outside major cities. To respect this and for your own comfort, we strongly recommend modest clothing. This means clothing that covers your shoulders and knees. Loose, lightweight, long clothing is both respectful and cool in areas of predominantly hot climate. In many rural areas women will need to wear modest clothing even to swim. Singlets, tank tops and topless sun bathing are all unacceptable. When visiting religious sites men often need to wear long trousers and women a long skirt or sarong.
Trek with a group or do a private trip
As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part.
Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure.
Cost of the trips
Cost and its inclusions and exclusions for our ‘fixed group departure’ trips are mentioned in each trip dossier. Nevertheless, cost for private trips are fixed on the basis of group size, the trek area, duration and the type of trek you prefer; prices will be negotiable.
Culture shock and adapting
Visitors to any part of the Himalayas should comprehend with the facts that the comforts of home are not the way you would imagine it. English isn't common and the food will be quite different to what you are used to at home. It's important to jell in with some of the local customs and not hurt anyone’s feelings. Many of the locals’ standards of living may be confronting and beyond the imaginations…differences may be few or many, but these are our fellow beings and we must learn to accept their ways of life…
Itinerary manipulation if and when necessary
Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to reshape improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research in the field. Our itineraries are practical and give trekkers a lot of space to move at their own space which also allows for proper acclimatisation. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. Please note that while we operate successful trips in all the major trek regions throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route. In the event of any changes, after consulting with the group, the Sirdar or trek leader will make the final decision for the overall good of the group.
Staying in touch with your world during the trek
While trekking in the remote parts of the Himalayas you may not have any access to telephone facilities for some days or weeks, however, on your route there are few places where telephones are likely to be in working condition but then these telephone facilities may also be out of order sometimes due to the harsh climates that prevail in these regions; If it is most necessary for you to keep in contact with your associates, families, the workplace etc Annapurna Travel can provide you a mobile satellite phone with rental charges of US $60 a week plus call charges which will be extra.
Your luggage issue during the trek
Please note, you do not need to take all your gear with you while trekking - we can leave luggage behind at the hotel and collect it at the end of the trek. What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, and which region you are travelling to. It’s always wise to pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage which is just a duffel bag because you will be required to walk long distances in the mountains with your luggage (sometimes 3-6 hrs a day), we recommend keeping the weight under 10kg / 22lb.
Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips. Weight allowance at Nepal’s domestic airlines is 15 Kgs; excess weight is chargeable at USD 1 or more per Kilo depending on sectors.
Parts of your trip go above 2800 metres / 9200 feet where it is common for travellers to experience some adverse health effects due to the altitude - regardless of your age, gender and fitness. Don’t be surprised, it even happened to Sir Edmund Hillary!
Before your trip:
Some pre-existing medical conditions are known to severely worsen at high altitude and be difficult to adequately treat on the ground, leading to more serious consequences. It is imperative that you discuss your pre-existing medical condition/s with your doctor.
We understand certain medications are reported to aid acclimatizing to high altitude. Please discuss these options with your doctor before you leave your country of origin.
During your trip:
While our leaders have basic first aid training and are aware of the closest medical facilities, it is very important that you are aware of the cause and effects of travelling at altitude, monitor your health and seek assistance accordingly.
SOME MORE VITAL DETAILS just make sure you read them before doing a trip to the Himalayas:
The importance of Acclimatization and avoiding altitude sickness…
AMS - Acute Mountain Sickness
Commonly called altitude sickness, this has the potential to affect all trekkers from 2500m and higher. Your body needs days to adjust to smaller quantities of oxygen in the air - at 5500m/18,044ft the air pressure is approximately half that of sea level, i.e. there is half the amount of oxygen (and nitrogen). This is approximately equivalent to the top of Kala Pattar, in the Everest region, and the top of the Thorung La on the Annapurna Circuit. For treks below an altitude of about 3000m/10,000ft it is not normally a problem. AMS is caused by going up high too fast and can be fatal if all the warning signals are ignored. Its vital to Note, that it is not the actual altitude, but the speed at which you reach higher altitudes that causes the problems. This is why we always advise to hike at a slow pace.
Altitude sickness is preventable. Go up slowly, giving your body enough time to adjust. These are the 'safe' rates for the majority of trekkers: spend 2-3 nights between 2000m/6562ft and 3000m/10,000ft before going higher. From 3000m sleep an average of 300m/1000ft higher each night with a rest day every 900-1000m/3000ft. ultimately it is up to you to recognise the symptoms, and only ascend if you are relatively symptom-free.
Normal symptoms at altitude
Don't expect to feel perfect at altitudes of more than 3000m. These are the normal altitude symptoms that you should expect BUT NOT worry about. Every trekker will experience some or all of these, no matter how slowly they ascend:
Periods of sleeplessness
The needs for more sleep than normal, often 10 hours or more
Occasional loss of appetite
Vivid, wild dreams at around 2500-3800m in altitude
Unexpected momentary shortness of breath, day and night
Periodic breathing that wakes you occasionally - consider taking Diamox
The need to rest/catch your breath frequently while trekking, especially above 4000m
Your nose turning into a full-time snot factory
Increased urination - many trekkers have to go once during the night (a good sign that your body is acclimatizing:
You only need to get one of the symptoms to be getting altitude sickness, not all of them:
Headaches - common among trekkers - Often a headache comes on during the evening and nearly always worsens during the night. Raising your head and shoulders while trying to sleep sometimes offers partial relief. If it is bad you may want to try taking a painkiller: aspirin (dispirin), paracetamol, Ibuprofen (Aduil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol). Never take sleeping tablets. You could also take Diamox: see below. Headaches arise from many causes, for example, dehydration, but if you develop a headache assume it is from the altitude.
Nausea (feeling sick) - can occur without other symptoms, but often nausea will develop with a bad headache. If you are better in the morning take a rest day, or if you still feel bad then descend.
Dizziness (mild) - if this occurs while walking, step out of the sun and have a rest and drink. Stay at the closest teahouse.
Lack of appetite or generally feeling bad – this is common at altitudes due too rapid ascending.
Painful cough or a dry raspy cough.
In other words anything other than diarrhoea or a sore throat could be altitude sickness. Assume it is, because if you have a headache from dehydration, ascending further is not dangerous, but if it’s due to AMS, the consequences could be very serious. You cannot tell the difference, so caution is the safest course.
Do not try to deceive yourself and accept that you body needs more time to adapt.
The Basic rule: NEVER GO HIGHER WITH MILD SYMPTOMS
If you find mild symptoms developing while walking, stop and relax with your head out of the sun and drink some fluids. If the symptoms do not go away completely then stay at same altitude. Or if symptoms get worse, GO DOWN. A small loss of elevation (100-300m/328-984ft) can make a big difference to how you feel and how you sleep - descend to the last place where you felt good. If symptoms develop at night then, unless they rapidly get worse, wait them out and see how you feel in the morning. If the symptoms have not gone after breakfast then have a rest day or descend. If they have gone, consider having a rest day or an easy days walking anyway.
Continued ascent is likely to bring back the symptoms. Altitude sickness should be reacted to, when symptoms are mild - going higher will definitely make it worse. You trek to enjoy, not feeling sick.
Note also that there is a time lag between arriving at altitude and the onset of symptoms and in fact it is common to suffer mild symptoms on the second night at a set altitude rather than the first night.
Persistent, severe headache
Ataxia - loss of co-ordination, cannot walk in a straight line, looks drunk
Losing consciousness - cannot stay awake or understand things very well
Liquid sounds in the lungs
Very persistent cough
Real difficulty breathing
Rapid breathing or feeling breathless at rest
Coughing blood or pink goo or lots of clear fluid
Marked blueness of face and lips
High resting heart beat - over 120 beats per minute
Severe lethargy and drowsiness
Mild symptoms rapidly getting worse
Ataxia is the single most important sign for recognising the progression from mild to severe. This is easily tested by trying to walk a straight line, heel to toe. Compare with somebody who has no symptoms. 24 hours after the onset of ataxia a coma is possible, followed by death, unless you descend.
The Basic Rule: IMMEDIATE AND FAST DESCENT WITH SEVERE SYMPTOMS
Go as far down as possible, even if it is during the night - (In the Everest region: if you are above Pheriche, go down to the HRA post there. From Thorung Phedi or nearby: take to the Manang HRA post.) The patient must be supported by several people or carried by a porter - his/her condition may get worse before getting better. Later the patient must rest and see a doctor. People with severe symptoms may not be able to think for themselves and may say they feel OK. They are not.
High Altitude Cerebral Oedema (HACE) - this is a build-up of fluid around the brain. It causes the first 4 symptoms of the mild, and the severe symptom lists.
High Altitude Pulmonary Oedema (HAPE) - this is an accumulation of fluid in the lungs, and since you are not a fish, this is serious. It is responsible for all the other mild and serious symptoms.
Periodic breathing - the altitude affects the body's breathing mechanism. While at rest or sleeping your body feels the need to breathe less and less, to the point where suddenly you require some deep breaths to recover. This cycle can be a few breaths long, where after a couple breaths you miss a breath completely, to being a gradual cycle over a few minutes, appearing as if the breathing rate simply goes up and down regularly. It is experienced by most trekkers at Namche, although many people are unaware of it while sleeping. At 5000m/16,404ft virtually all trekkers experience it although it is troublesome only for a few. Studies have so far found no direct link to AMS.
Swelling of the hands, feet, face and lower abdomen - remove rings. An HRA study showed that about 18% of trekkers have some swelling, usually minor. Females are definitely more susceptible. It is not a cause for concern unless the swelling is severe, so continuing ascent is OK.
Altitude immune suppression - at base camp altitude cuts and infections heal very slowly so for serious infections descent to Namche level is recommended. The reasons are not well understood.
Drugs you can take - Diamox (Acetazolamide)
This is a mild diuretic (makes you pee a lot) that acidifies the blood which stimulates breathing. Previously it was not recommended to take it as a prophylactic (i.e. to prevent it, before you get it) unless you ascend rapidly, unavoidably (e.g. flying to Lhasa or rescue missions), or have experienced undue altitude problems previously.
However, now some doctors are coming around to the idea that many people trekking above 3500m should take it using the logic that it has the potential to reduce the number of serious cases of AMS: the benefits may outweigh the risks. This topic still requires in depth research. Diamox is a sulfa drug derivative, and people allergic to this class of drugs should not take Diamox. People with renal (kidney) problems should avoid it too. (It also apparently ruins the taste of beer and soft drinks). The side effects are peeing a lot, tingling lips, fingers or toes but these symptoms are not an indication to stop the drug.
The older accepted recommendations are to carry it and consider using it if you experience mild but annoying symptoms, especially periodic breathing that continually wakes you up. The dosage is 125 to 250 mg (half to a whole tablet) every 12 hours. Diamox actually helps the root of the problem; so if you feel better, you are better. It does not simply hide the problem. However this does not mean that you can ascend at a faster rate than normal, or ignore altitude sickness symptoms - it is quite possible still to develop AMS while taking it. Note that it was recommended to start taking the drug before ascending for it to be most effective. This is not necessary, but it does help.
Doctors Notes – HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
HACE - can occur in 12 hours but normally 1-3 days. At first sign of ataxia begin descent. If it is developed try 4mg of dexamethazone 6 hourly, Diamox 250mg 12 hourly and 2-4l/min O2 or a Gamow bag (if available).
HAPE - descend, Diamox 250mg 12 hourly, Nifed orally, 10mg 8 hourly and 2-4l/min O2 or a Gamow bag.
Oxygen - supplementary O2 does not immediately reverse all the symptoms although it does help significantly. Descent in conjunction with O2 is more effective.
Gamow bag/PAC bag/CERTEC bag - the latest devices to assist with severe AMS Basically it is a plastic tube that the patient is zipped into. A pump is used to raise the pressure inside the bag simulating going to a lower altitude. It is very effective.
HAF - high altitude farts - slang for HAFE.
HAFE - high altitude flatulence emission - The cure - let it rip! You're not a balloon that needs blowing up.
Rates of acclimatization
Individual rates of acclimatization vary enormously but ascending very rapidly and staying there will ALWAYS result in problems. Even Sherpas who live in Kathmandu upon returning to the Khumbu occasionally get AMS. Studies have shown that people who live at moderate altitudes (1000-2000m/3281-6562ft are acclimatized to those altitudes. They are much less susceptible to AMS when ascending to around 3000m/9842ft (i.e. going to Namche).
However the benefits decrease once higher and they should follow the same acclimatization program as others. This has implications for people who have spent a week or two in Kathmandu (at an altitude of 1400m/4593ft): they are becoming acclimatized to that altitude. For trekkers that fly from sea level to Kathmandu then almost immediately walk to Namche, they have no advantage and are more likely to suffer AMS. Unfortunately it is usually these people who are in a hurry to go higher. This is perhaps why it appears that group trekkers are initially more susceptible to troublesome AMS than individual trekkers, who often walk from Jiri or spend time in Kathmandu beforehand.
The acclimatization Process
In a matter of hours your body quickly realises that there is less oxygen available and it first reaction is to breathe more - hyperventilate. This means more oxygen (O2) in but also more carbon dioxide (CO2) is breathed out and with the O2-CO2 balance upset the pH of the blood is altered.
Your body determines how deeply to breathe by the pH level (mainly the dissolved CO2 in your blood) - at sea level a high level of exertion means your muscles produce a lot of CO2 so you breathe hard and fast. While resting, your body is using little energy so little CO2 is produced, demonstrating that you only need to breathe shallowly.
The problem is at altitude this balance is upset and your body often believes that it can breathe less than its real requirements. Over several days your body tries to correct this imbalance by disposing of bicarbonate (CO2 in water) in the urine to compensate, hence the need to drink a lot because it is not very soluble.
Diamox assists by allowing the kidneys to do this more efficiently therefore enhancing some peoples ability to acclimatize. In addition, after a day or two, the body moves some fluid out of the blood effectively increasing the hemoglobin concentration. After 4-5 days more new red blood cells are released than normal.
Individual rates of acclimatization are essentially dependent on how fast your body reacts to compensate the altered pH level of the blood. For slow starters Diamox can provide a kick-start but for people already adapting well the effect often less noticeable.
If you stay at altitude for several weeks there are more changes, your muscles' mitochondria (the energy converters in the muscle) multiply, a denser network of capillaries develop and your maximum work rate increases slowly with these changes. Expeditions have often run medical programs with some interesting results.
Climbers who experience periodic breathing (the majority) at base camp never shake it off and have great difficulty maintaining their normal body weight. Muscles will strengthen and stamina is increased but not the muscle bulk. Interestingly, Sherpas who have always lived at altitude, never experience periodic breathing and can actually put on weight with enough food.
How long does acclimatization last?
It varies, but if you were at altitude for a month or more your improved work rates can persist for weeks meaning you still feel fit upon returning to altitude. You still should not ascend faster than normal if you return to sea level for a few days, otherwise you are susceptible to HAPE.
If you have been to 5000m/16,404ft then go down to 3500m/11,483ft for a few days, returning rapidly to 5000m/16,404ft should cause no problems, i.e. having been to Lobuche and Kala Pattar, and then rested for two days in Namche you should be able to ascend to Gokyo quickly without problems.
Sleeping at altitude
Many people have trouble sleeping in a new environment, especially if it changes every day. Altitude adds to the problems. The decrease of oxygen means that some people experience wild dreams with this often happening at around 3000m. Compound this with a few people suffering from headaches or nausea, a couple of toilet visits, a few snorers and periodic breathers, and it takes someone who sleeps like the proverbial log (or very tired trekker) to ignore all the goings on at night in a large dormitory. Smaller rooms are a definite improvement, and tents, although not soundproof are still found to be relatively peaceful.
Some people lose appetite and do not enjoy eating. Sometimes equally worrying, although it is a good sign is a huge appetite. Your energy consumption, even at rest is significantly higher than normal because your body is generating heat to combat the constant cold, especially while sleeping. Energetic trekkers, no matter how much they eat will often be unable to replace the huge quantities of energy used.
Day trips and what to do if...
The normal accepted recommendations are to go high during the day and sleep low at night, the sleeping altitude being the most important. This is fine for trekkers experiencing no AMS symptoms whatsoever, and will probably aid the acclimatization process, for example in the Everest region, going up to Chukhung from Dingboche or Pheriche, or visiting Thame from Namche. However if you are experiencing mild or even very mild AMS then this is not the best advice. Instead your body is already having trouble coping so it doesn't need the additional stress of more altitude. Instead stay at the same elevation. Mild exercise is considered beneficial, rather than being a total sloth but take it as a rest day. If you have troublesome mild symptoms then descent for a few hours may even be more beneficial. Hence, the bottom-line is your instincts, listen to your inner voices…AND LISTEN TO YOUR BODY…THEY WILL ALWAYS TELL YOU WHAT’S RIGHT…OR WRONG.
What you should take with you before your trek:
Trekking gears and Equipment
The clothing you will require for both the warmth of the days and the chill of the nights. While trekking during the day at lower altitudes, lightweight trekking trousers and T-shirts are recommended. It's always a good idea to carry a waterproof jacket and some warmer clothing with you though as mountain weather is notoriously unpredictable. For the cold nights, thermal underwear, a warm fleece jacket and even a down jacket will help to keep you warm.
Kitbag (duffel bag / duffle bag)
For all the treks your gear that is carried by the porters or yaks is best packed in a strong kitbag. A simple design without wheels and without foldable handles is best. You can buy in Kathmandu, although they are not as tough as say the North Face Base Camp Duffel.
Sleeping bags for Trekking – without this you are in deep trouble
Down-filled bags are better. Beg, borrow or steal a good one (i.e. 4-5 season) because high altitude nights will be cold. Good down is fluffy, light and thick. A muff (an extra section around the neck) makes a big difference to the overall warmth of a bag. Reasonable sleeping bags are cheaply available for rent in Kathmandu. Alternatively add a fleece sleeping bag liner to add warmth to a 3-4 season bag.
Sleeping bag liner
Cotton, silk or fleece. Saves washing your sleeping bag and adds warmth. Cotton or silk ones can be made in Kathmandu but are more easily bought from home. Fleece ones are readily available in Kathmandu and cost around $15.
Daypack - Backopack
This should be comfortable and a good waist band that transfers some of the weight to the hips is most important. It needs to be big enough to take a jacket, fleece, water, camera and odds and ends.
These boots are not meant for dancing…BUT WALKING THROUGH SOME OF THE MOST RUGGED TERRITORY ON PLANET EARTH
For a happy trek you need comfortable feet. Good boots have: good ankle support, plenty of toe room for long descents, a stiff sole to lessen twisting torsion, and are light because with every step you lift your boot up. Look at the inner lining - leather is good and Cambrelle is even better, a material that eats smelly feet bacteria. Good lightweight trekking boots or light all leather boots are perfect. Boots must be lightly worn in before trekking and this should include some steep hills to show up trouble spots. The longer the trek, the better the boots you need.
In the low country your feet will be warm or even hot while walking so quality cotton mix sports socks are best. Three to four pairs are enough. Thick trekking socks are better for higher up and cool evenings, four pairs. Mostly modern trekking boots fit snugly so wearing two pairs of socks at the same time is impractical.
This is a luxury for your feet at the end of the day. Sandals or running shoes - Flip-flops, available for cheap in Kathmandu, are a necessity for showers during the trek.
Most trekkers consider this essential, but alternatives are a thick thermal top or a light down jacket. In Kathmandu you can get almost any sort of fleece you need.
This is real necessary for the cool if not sometimes chilly evenings. If you don't already have a jacket, they are easily rented in Kathmandu for around $1 a day. A down jacket is the best option, although a vest can also be brought along.
This should be Waterproof and breathable. Plastic ponchos or non-breathable raincoats are not suitable. Gore-tex (or similar) jackets are recommended for treks over passes or climbing trips. Lighter jackets should be a second jacket, easy to throw in the daypack for warmer days.
Good thermals, both tops and bottoms, are one of the secrets to cold weather trekking comfort. Expedition-weight thermals are the most versatile and can be worn as your high altitude trekking top or under pants on extremely cold days. Zip-up tops are great for changeable weather.
Silk-weight is lightest and warm, mid-weight is perfect. Great for warm nights in the sleeping bag!
Great for the chilly evenings, thicker is better (except for when the stoves in the teahouses really heat up!). You can easily find them in Thamel.
T-shirts are popular but a cotton shirt or mixed yarn travel shirt is more versatile. The collar protects the back of your neck and the sleeves can be rolled up or down. Take two or three so you can swap damp for dry.
You will live in these. Light material, loose and dark-coloured is best. You can survive with only one pair, although two is better.
If your trekking pants are reasonably windproof then special wind pants are not needed. If you do bring a pair, it is not necessary to have Gore-tex. Similar, non-waterproof is quite OK.
4 to 7 pairs…keep it cool…and clean
These are Nice for the evenings, hats essential for cold trekking days. Some trek leaders brings at least 5 wool hats, you might get away with fewer!
For winter trekking they are really the best for staying warm!
Definitely useful, especially on steep, rough terrain, but if you are not used to using them you can survive without.
Suitable for snow, it’s bright up there, but specialised glacier glasses with side pieces are not needed. Contact lens wearers report very few problems except cleaning them in the conditions. Ski goggles are unnecessary.
A good pair of wind-proof gloves is essential. Available in Kathmandu for cheap if you don't have a pair.
Should be one liter or more in capacity, take boiling water and be leak-proof. Nalgene or a similar brand, or European fuel bottles, are best. You need AT LEAST 2 water bottles, or at least 1 water bottle IN ADDITION to a Camelback or hydration system. Naglene's are great, available in Kathmandu, real or fake, get one anyways!!
Very useful on cold nights! Can buy a cheap one in Kathmandu
Torch / Flashlight
Petzl Tikka's and other similar torches with LED bulbs rule. They are adequate for climbing although many people prefer a second torch. Most of the teahouses still don't have lights in the rooms, so headlamps are ideal for reading in bed. Also essential for trips to the toilet at night!
Toiletries and odds & ends
Essentials for the month only and available en route in Namche and most lodges. There are a surprising number of showers or buckets of hot water available. The smallest tube of toothpaste is perfect for a month. We provide toilet paper for expeditions; you bring or buy along the way for tea-house treks. Deodorant can spare you grief with your room mate/tent partner...
Bring only a small one trekking, or a camp towel. In Kathmandu the hotel supplies towels.
Sunscreen and lip balm with sunscreen
The sun is strong at altitude, especially after snow. Bring at least sunscreen and lip balm with SPF 15, and better still SPF 30+.
A small tube for sensitive or well cared for skins. The air is dry and the sun harsh.
A baseball cap is ideal. Bring 5, if you like to change colors every day like Joel does. A wide-brim sun hat is also good.
First aid kit
We carry one with aspirin, paracetamol, ibuprofen, decongestants, lozenges, various antibiotics for Nepalese varieties of diarrhoea and chests infections, Diamox (an acclimatizing aid drug), antiseptic, antihistamine cream, dehydration, bandages and band-aids, tough blister tape (but not moleskin).
You should bring any personal medicines that you need…DON’T FORGET THEM
A bottle of iodine tablets such as Potable Aqua, Polar Pur or Couglans. We mostly use to water from the lodges but occasionally take water from the streams. The use of mineral water is discouraged from an environmental point of view, but is available everywhere.
Camera and video camera
This is something we reckon you can’t do without. You are going to need them anyways if you want those sweet mementos plastered in your bedroom…
We reckon you ought to have one or two of your favorites with high swapability. Kathmandu has some great second-hand book shops…in THAMEL; as does Namche and Gokyo.
Most people find wearing one while trekking is a hassle and keep it buried in their kitbag or daypack. Most good hotels in Kathmandu have safety deposit boxes.
Not needed but if you have them, bring them.
Crampons and ice axe
Ask first…because you may not need them and if you don’t carrying them can be cumbersome
Additional gear for camping treks
Inflatable sleeping pad
Thermarest or similar - for expedition/climbing treks ONLY, not tea-house treks. We provide a sponge foam mattress and if necessary, a closed cell pad, but if you have your own Thermarest, bring it. We also have a few available for rent.
For Great for cool evenings - Available in thamel
Evening camp-wear (non-teahouse treks)
Around camp you can wear camp shoes, sandals (for non-winter treks) or leather boots. No matter what altitude and what season, it is cool to bloody freezing in the evenings. By far the best clothing is:
+ A down jacket, light or heavy. These are available for rent or for sale in Thamel.
+ Thick fleece pants
+ fleece hat and neck gaiter
+ Thick sox
Snacks and nutrition
You will feel real good and in high spirits with plenty of good food and keeping hydrated. We provide the food and the water. However you will also want wholesome snacks and vitamin tablets. Chocolate, chocolate bars, dried fruit bars and dried fruit are readily available in Kathmandu, but Cliff bars, Power bars and the like are not usually available.
CLIMBING GEAR FOR TREKKING PEAKS…if you are doing one…
You probably have all of this etc.
+ High quality sunglasses. Side pieces are not essential; we can always use tape for a day. Ski goggles are unnecessary.
+ Neck gaiter or balaclava; one or the other
+ New liner gloves (i.e. thin gloves)
+ fleece/wind stopper gloves
+ Windproof gloves/mittens if you don't have wind stopper ones.
+ Windproof pants/climbing bibs - these don't have to be fancy and you can buy in Kathmandu cheaply
+ Snow gaiters
+ Plastic boots/leather boots - see the discussion below
+ Leather boot waterproofing (snow seal etc)
+ Trekking pole
+ Ice axe, non-technical is generally better
+ Light harness (Black Diamond Alpine Body is perfect)
+ belay device: ATC or figure of 8 etc
+ Two locking carabiners, two ordinary ones
+ Two prussiks, one short, one longer
It is always sensible to climb with a helmet, but it is one more thing to carry and only use for a few hours. For the trekking peaks it is rare for climbers to use a helmet, but that is your decision. On Island Peak rock fall is possible but rare.
Expedition boots…these are different from the ones you would need for a trek.
If you have plastic boots, bring them. If you don't and you are not a climber, consider carefully whether you need to get them or not - you will only be using them for a single day... For Chulu Far East and Tengkoma good all leather boots are quite adequate. For Island Peak in Dec and Mera Peak any time, you need plastics - OR I have 4 sets of super-gaiters, i.e. full insulated over-boots, and with GOOD (i.e. stiff) leather boots, these are an alternative to plastics.
GEARS AVAILABLE IN KATHMANDU - THAMEL
It's not necessary to spend a lot of money buying extra equipment and clothing before your trip. Majority of these gears can be bough or hired at reasonable rates in Kathmandu. Explore Himalaya owns a gear shop in Kathmandu selling and renting out climbing and trekking gears, both Nepali made and original. Please check out www.trekkinggearsnepal.com
EQUIPMENT PROVIDED BY COMPANY
On all our Camping treks we provide all the tents, sometimes dome tents, sometimes sturdy A frames and normally people share one tent between two; a foam mattress each; all the cutlery and utensils, cooking pots, stoves; candles/kerosene lantern, tables and stools, kitchen tent, dining tent and toilet tent; all the main meals while trekking but not snacks. On Teahouse treks equipments are generally not required except for what’s necessary.
WHO CARRIES WHAT FOR THE CLIMB
You carry a day pack with your personal gear including down jacket, crampons, harness etc, so your pack can end up quite full. If anyone is struggling and the guides and/or Sherpa have space, they can lighten your load. It’s always best to come well prepared, some don’t but get through…with bad memories & an injury…prevention is always better than cure…
Tipping…when in NEPAL:
If you are happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it is of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is a deep-rooted feature of the tourism industry across many ANNAPURNA TRAVEL destinations. We recommend that any tips are given to the intended recipient by a member of your group, rather than collected and passed on by the group leader.
The following amounts are based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:
Hotel porters: NPR20-30 is adequate for porters that assist you with bags to your room.
Restaurants: Please check the bill and if there’s an addition of 10% service charge, there’s no requirement for tipping. Otherwise 5-10% of the total bill amount is appropriate.
Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest US$1-2 per person, per day for local guides. (Including city tour guides, jungle guides, rafting guides, assistant trek guides)
Porters: Throughout your trip you may at times have a porter in addition to your leader. We suggest US$1-2 per person, per day, per porter.
Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for
those more involved with the group however a base of US$1-2 per person, per day is generally appropriate.
Local transport: For a city tour we suggest US$1 per person, per day.
Your Group Leader: You may also consider tipping your leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however as a guideline US$2-3 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent services.
PLEASE NOTE: Please don't tip with coins or notes of or less than NPR1, or dirty and ripped or soiled notes. This is regarded culturally as an insult.
Tips are always appreciated by your support trek crew after the trip, and in addition to cash you can also present your old clothes or something that you don't use, to your guide as a gift. This sure takes them a long way…
Treks for single women
If none of our fixed group departure dates work for you and you do not have anyone to accompany you, you can still be able to make your preferred trip with us. You needn’t worry about doing a solo trip. We assign local guides, porters etc who you can trust your life with. But what we seriously advise against is never ever doing a solo trek all by yourself in any trek region of Nepal. Always make sure you are escorted by a guide or a companion.
Spending money on the trail
Your Money requirements depend largely on type of trek style, duration and trekking region you opt for.
If you are on Camping or Tea house trek all meals will be provide. You only need money for table drinks (alcoholic/non alcoholic beverages), snacks while walking (a few smaller shops are available along the trail in some areas) tips, souvenirs, hot shower (available in some places), domestic airport tax (usually 3 USD). For a two-week trek take about $100-150 worth in Nepalese rupees, more if you intend to buy souvenirs and drink lots of beer.
Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip. Before departing on your trek, make sure you have enough Nepalese currency to purchase meals and drinks during the trek - in the smallest denominations possible, as there are no ATM's and no one out there on those mountains would be able to change a NPR500 note!
Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$ 3-400, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances that may occur out of our control (e.g. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route. We must always hope for the best and be prepared for the worst, we’ll never be disappointed.
Insurance factors are vital before you set out for an adventure in the Himalayas. At Annapurna Travels and Tours, it’s mandatory for all our guests to come across with insurances, especially if you are doing a trek in the wild. Insurances policies are especially important for you in the event of any unpredictable disaster. We strongly advise that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We seriously recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects. Having some kind of insurance policy also helps you enjoy a holiday free of any psychological fears without one. Get yourself insured and enjoy the holiday of a lifetime.
PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY:
While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and we encourage you to walk together as a group and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance of your valuables going missing.
Necessary inoculations before travel and physical preparation for your trip are a vital process to the buildup of a great holiday. We will definitely ask you a number of medical questions covering general health and fitness after we ascertain the kind of trek you want to do and the choice of region. We also ask our clients to confirm their fitness to travel with a letter from their own doctor. If you are aged 70 years and over you will need to submit a letter from your doctor confirming your fitness to travel. Irrespective of the age, we recommend all of our ardent trekkers to do a medical with their doctors before embarking on an adventure in the wild; you should make this compulsory before going on holidays.
Security is important while Trekking
The general security of all our guests is of significant importance to us. All our guides and other support crew are carefully chosen for your trips and are licensed by the Government of Nepal. Our mountain crews are thoroughly loyal and you can trust them with your life; they will ensure that you do not have any feeling of insecurity throughout your trip.
If you are on ‘camping trek’ please do not leave your bags unattended at any time for your own safety. Take your main bag inside the tent once you reach campsite. At night, put all bags and belongings in the middle of the tent. Your guide assigns a Sherpa on turn-wise basis to guard the campsite throughout the night.
If you are on ‘Tea house or GAP trek’ arrangement, you will be sleeping in local tea houses. You must be sensible and aware of your surroundings at all times. Never leave your baggage unattended and keep your lodge room locked when you go out. More information on Nepal’s security assessment is always available at our ‘Safety updates’.
RESCUE/ and or EMERGENCY EVACUATION
In the case of a serious sickness or a casualty, which we believe will not happen; you shall be rescued by a helicopter. Since you are entirely liable for all the expenses incurred in evacuation please make sure that it is covered by your insurance before assigning for it or be prepared to pay on your own after getting back in Kathmandu. Ask your guide to arrange a runner to the nearest communication point and inform office about requirement of a helicopter. While asking for the helicopter, please send name of the sick person and give exact location from where helicopter can airlift you. Do not leave the place although you are getting better once you have ordered Helicopter.
These notes should always be kept in mind & entered into your personal diary:
Please bring 2 passport size photographs for your trekking permits at our group meetings and orientations.
EXTREME WEATHER and the Climate Change phenomenon:
Weather patterns in the Himalayas can change rapidly without any kind of warning and our group leader may be forced to change the trip itinerary accordingly. The months of January and February may see the base camp component of the trip delayed or even cancelled due to the inclement weather or heavy snowing. Alternative itineraries will apply if this is the case. Travellers need to be prepared for all weather conditions. For more information please read the 'What to Take' section of these Trip Notes.
NEPAL STRIKES and political instability:
Snap bandhs (strikes) can occur at any time in Nepal with very little notice, resulting in your itinerary having to be revised. Although we will go out of our way to minimise any additional costs incurred there may be occasions where travelers will need to cover trip changes, including flights, of which you will need to use your emergency funds and then claim the money on your travel insurance. When traveling out of home its always necessary to have contingency plans in place to avoid disappointments.
For most trips to the Himalayas, the minimum age level should be 16 and above.
The official currency of Nepal is the Nepali Rupee (NPR).
ATMs earlier were only found in Kathmandu, Pokhara and Bhaktapur, however, now, with ongoing development and banks opening branches all over the country, most major tourist areas will have ATMs available. Money exchange facilities are available in Kathmandu, Pokhara, Chitwan (only outside the park) and Bhaktapur.
The Government of Nepal has banned the import, export and use of 500 and 1000 Indian rupee notes in Nepal. You should ensure you are not carrying these notes on arrival in Nepal as they will be confiscated and you may be fined.
While travellers' cheques have security advantages exchanging them can be a lengthy process, commissions can be high (up to 10%) and they can be difficult to change in rural areas, on weekends and public holidays. If you choose to bring travellers' cheques, make sure they are a major brand and major currency.
Please note that most establishments in Asia will not accept foreign currency notes that are old, torn or faded and they can be very difficult to exchange or extra fees added when exchanging at banks. Please ensure that you have new, clean notes.
Accommodation in Kathmandu
For all our fixed departure trips, 3 nights accommodation is included at a conveniently located 3 star hotel in Kathmandu. If you already have your own hotel arranged in Kathmandu there will be some reduction on prices. We have specially negotiated rates for a range of hotels; we can offer the best deals to suit your budget and preferences. Please check ‘HOTEL BOOKER’ section on this website for price and availability. Remember, if you are traveling to Nepal during the peak season – September through November, its important that you let us know about your accommodation needs at least 2 months in advance prior to your trip because its very difficult to find accommodation in the peak season.
Meeting, greeting and dropping you to the airport
Once your booking is confirmed with us, you have to send us your flight details (name of Airlines arrival time and date). One of our Airport representatives and vehicle will be on standby at the airport to meet and greet you when you arrive; all our prices include meeting and airport transfers.