Nepal has long established itself as a superb trekking and hiking destination. In fact, so many tourists from all over the world flock to the country for trekking and hiking, prompting the government of Nepal to put in place regulations for various trekking and hiking activities.
Despite the popularity of Nepal as a trekking and hiking destination, however, first-timers might still find the idea of embarking on a trek in Nepal to be quite intimidating. But just because you are unfamiliar with Nepal does not mean that you should refrain from trekking or hiking there. In this article, we will discuss everything you need top know about trekking and hiking in Nepal to get you ready for your much-awaited adventure.
When should you go hiking or trekking in Nepal?
Before you prepare anything, you should first determine the date for your hike or trek. You can go hiking or trekking in Nepal any time of the year, but for first-timers, it is recommended to visit the country during the peak seasons. There are two peak hiking seasons in Nepal – fall and spring. Fall is October to November and it is the most popular season for trekkers in Nepal. During this time, the mountain views are clear and it is generally sunny in the country with mild temperatures and very little rain.
Meanwhile, spring is March to April and is the second most popular season for trekkers. Rhododendron trees are in full bloom, the temperatures are mild, and you will have a great time viewing wildlife.
Of course, visiting Nepal during the peak seasons has its downsides. In particular, these times of the year tend to be very crowded, so be prepared to find packed trails. Prices also tend to go up during peak seasons, so you should be ready to spend a little more.
Hiking off peak can save you from the busy crowd and from price hikes, but the weather conditions are not exactly beginner-friendly. Unless you have previous experience when it comes to hiking or trekking, it will be better to go during the peak seasons. Regardless of your experience, it is greatly advised to stay away during the monsoon months of May to September.
Should you trek on your own or with a guide?
After you have decided when to go hiking or trekking in Nepal, the next step is to determine whether to embark on a solo trekking trip or avail of the services of a guide. Of course, the answer depends on a number of factors including your budget, experience, and personal preference.
Experienced trekkers who are planning to hike or trek along popular routes of minimal to moderate difficulty should do just fine even without a guide. Regardless of your experience, however, availing of the services of a guide will certainly be beneficial if you want to learn more about local culture. A good guide can also help you in meeting locals and in finding other tourist spots which are worth visiting.
Popular hiking trails in Annapurna and Everest are accessible to hikers of various experience levels and typically do not require guides. As long as you stick to these areas, you should be fine, especially since the trails are clearly marked and you will definitely be around a lot of other hikers. You just have to make sure to plan your itinerary carefully and to secure the necessary permits. Make sure to bring along a good map and a comprehensive hiking guide to help you. However, if you are planning to visit restricted hiking areas, you will definitely be required to avail of the services of a professional guide.
If you are a beginner in hiking or if you have apprehensions with regard to hiking or trekking by yourself, then you would greatly benefit from the help of a hiking guide.
How much does hiring a guide or a porter cost?
To put it simply, a guide is someone who will give you information about the trek, ensure your safety, and take care of logistics. A porter, on the other hand, is someone who can carry heavy gear for you. If you are planning to lug along a lot of equipment, then you might want to consider hiring the services of a porter.
Should you decide on hiring a guide or porter for the duration of your trek, then it would be wise to have a fair idea of how much such services will set you back. Guides and porters abound hiking and trekking sites, so you do not have to worry about the difficulty of finding one.
Although the rates will vary from one area to another and depending on the season, generally, a hiking or trekking guide will set you back by around $25 to $30 per day while a porter will cost you around $10 to $15 per day. If budget allows, try to tip at least 15% of the total fees to your guide or porter. A generous tip will go a long way in establishing goodwill especially if you intend to return to the trail in question.
What is Teahouse trekking?
If you want to experience trekking in Nepal but are not ready for a task so physically taxing, you might want to venture into teahouse trekking first. Teahouses refer to small mountain lodges which can be found along hiking trails. You will typically pass by a treehouse every hour or so and such places are great for resting, eating home-cooked meals, and meeting other travelers. You can also spend the night in teahouses, so you do not have to camp out for the night.
Trekking and hiking in a foreign country might seem intimidating at first, but with proper research and preparation, you should have no problem during your adventure. Hiking in Nepal is especially convenient since it is not difficult to find guides and trekking companies which are ready to provide all imaginable services you might need to make your hike or trek as enjoyable and smooth-sailing as possible.