Nepal’s species variety can be attributed to the country’s extremely varied climate and topography. Flora and Fauna of Nepal have some 868 species of birds, including the Spiny Babbler (Turdoides nipalensis) found only in Nepal (a worthwhile website for Nepal bird-watchers is www.birdlife Nepal. org), more than 650 butterflies (as well as over 3,900 months), and about 6,500 flowering plants. Butterflies (putali) emerge in March and April, becoming abundant by May and June. There are at least six butterfly species endemic to Nepal, ie, believed to be found only in Nepal.
Between 1998 and 2008, 353 new species were reported in the Eastern Himalaya (comprising Nepal, Bhutan, northeastern India, northern Burma, and southern Tibet). The discoveries include 242 plants, 16 amphibians, 16 reptiles, 14 fish, 2 birds, 2 mammals, and 61 invertebrates. Of the birds, Sykes’ nightjar (Caprimulgus mahrattensis) was discovered in the Koshi Tappu Wildlife Preserve in January 2008.
In the lowlands, such as Chitwan National Park, there are subtropical forests, which support the greatest number of species. Here can be found some of the Indian subcontinent’s largest mammals, including the greater one-horned or Indian rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis), and tiger (Panthera tigris). The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) recently estimated that there are 121 adult tigers in four protected areas of the Terai.) Only small areas remain of the country’s lowland grasslands, and almost all lie within protected forest areas. They are important for a number of threatened animals, including the swamp deer, the greater one-horned rhinoceros and two of the world’s most endangered bustards, the Bengal and Lesser Florican.
At the other extreme towards the high peaks is the alpine zone which holds the smallest number of species. In spring and summer, alpine grasslands have a vibrant carpet of blooming flowers. A number of mammals, such as the bharal or blue sheep and common ghoral (an I nail ungulate that resembles both the goat and antelope) depend on high grasslands for grazing and in turn they are the vital prey of the rarely viewed and threatened snow leopard (Panthera uncia) with an estimated Nepal population of 300-400, about 10% of the world population (not including 600 in zoos). Unlike birds, wild mammals (jaanawar) are usually difficult to see in Nepal. Many of them are active only at night.
The Hindu Festivals of Nepal listed below follow the lunar cycle and therefore, no fixed yearly date but are determined by monthly phases of the moon.
Magh Sankranti (official government holiday)
mid-January, the first day of the Nepali month of Magh
Winter’s ending is heralded and the sun is honored as it continues approaching northward from the southern hemisphere. Sankranti means `sacred transition’ and people celebrate by taking ritual baths in rivers throughout the country. Devghat, just north of the city of Narayanghat where the Kali Gandaki and Narayani rivers flow together, sees some of the largest crowds. Patan’s Sankhamul Ghat, along the banks of the Bagmati River is Kathmandu Valley’s focal point for ablutions. Due to pollution of the Bagmati, most participants nowadays sprinkle a little water on themselves rather than fully submerging.
Sweets made of sesame and jaggery (unrefined brown sugar) are popular on this day, as is a dish named kitchari (rice and lentil mixture) and foods with ghee, molasses, and yam. Tharu people celebrate this day as their new year with feasts, traditional attire, and song and dance.
Basanta (Shree) Panchami
The birthday of Saraswati, Goddess of Education and Wisdom. This day is especially celebrated by students; they make a point to bathe, wear new clothes and pay respect at a Saraswati Temple. Parents will escort toddlers to a shrine to have them write requests in chalk on temple walls requesting Saraswati’s blessings. On this day, spring’s arrival is foretold at Kathmandu Hanuman Dhoka (and Vajrayana Buddhists take occasion to honor Manjushri, Slayer of Ignorance).
The new moon in February/March
A night consecrated to Shiva and celebrated the night before and day of the new moon in February/March with activities a few days before as well. All-night vigils with sacred bonfires are held at Shiva shrines, and the largest take place at the World Heritage Site of Pashupatinath Temple, which lies along the banks of the Bagmati River in eastern Kathmandu. Pashupati is actually another manifestation of Shiva considered the “protector of animals”. Shaivites and onlookers crowd into the Pashupatinath grounds where a hearty mix of Brahman priests, ash-smeared yogis, wandering ascetics, beggars, vendors, and sight-seers mingle. Rudraksha (seeds of Eleocarpus ganitrus), worn by many followers, are a sign of respect to Shiva.
Ardent Hindus consider it auspicious to visit Pashupatinath Temple at some point during the festival, and pilgrims travel from afar to take place in the rituals, which include fasting, singing, tabla, and sitar music, praying, chanting, reciting of holy text, and meditating, (along with conspicuous consumption of bhang, aka, cannabis, which is overlooked during this devotional time).
Although Pashupatinath is the focal point in Kathmandu, celebrations take place throughout the valley and country. Devotees around Nepal and India enjoy prasad, an offering of food that has been blessed and pays homage to Shiva by building sacred bonfires and holding vigils on this night.
Holi (also known as Fagun Purnima)
Countrywide trench warfare with water balloons. The festival heralds the arrival of spring and the legendary defeat of demoness Holika by Vishnu. Happy Holi or holy hell? Be thee fairly warned, exuberant groups of young people take over and roam about throwing water and brightly colored powder on everybody and bucketfuls of water and water balloons are launched from balconies above the streets.
Being feted with water and colored powder is meant to be an honor. Enjoy the fun or hideaway indoors until it’s over. If you join the raucous free-for-all, wear clothes that can be ruined by color stains and leave valuables in your room or cover them in plastic to keep them from being soaked. The commotion lasts only a day, whereas India undergoes a merciless multi-day event.
Originally a Newari event centered on Kathmandu’s Bhadrakali and Kankeshwari temples, it now showcases a military pageant with horse racing at Tundikhel Parade Ground. According to legend, the pounding of hooves keeps the demonic fiend Gurumaa hidden underground for another year. Other activities at Tundikhel include mounted mock warfare and acrobatics on horseback.
Dasai is celebrated biannually. This much smaller version of the 10-day fall affair features a public ceremony at Kathmandu’s Durbar Square where goats and water buffalo are ceremonially decapitated by the Nepal Army. The rites begin around 8 am and end a few hours later when military banners are doused with sacrificial blood.
Rato (Red) Machhindranath
April/May, the first day of the Nepali month of Baisakh
Rato Machhindranath is considered a God of Rain and Crops and has ties to Tantric Buddhism. The idol is ritually bathed and put on a chariot and honored as it is pulled by manpower throughout the city of Patan. The chariot is three stories high and tremendously heavy, requiring up to a hundred or more people to move it. Music with drums and cymbals accompany the chariot which stops overnight at four symbolic locations. People offer plates of food to the icon, signifying gratefulness for harvest blessings. The festival is a vibrant jamboree with feasts and merrymaking. Kathmandu has a similar chariot procession, Seto (White) Machhindranath, presided over by Kumari, the living goddess who resides in Durbar Square.
Mostly a Newari festival for boys. Ancient in origin, it commemorates the victory over Ghantakarna, a demon that was vanquished by the natives of Kathmandu Valley. On this day, effigies of Ghantakarna are erected along walkways and roadsides and groups of boys take a toll from passersby for the demon’s mock funeral. In the evening, the figure is beaten and dragged to a river where it is burned and thrown into the water whereupon the boys sing and celebrate the victory on the way home.
The full moon of July/August
The name refers to a sacred thread worn by higher castes (Brahmin and Chhetri). A fresh thread is put on at this time, representing renewal and cleansing of body and mind. The cord is three-ply, with separate strands representing energies of Brahma (creative), Vishnu (preservative), and Shiva (destructive). People also wrap the thread around a wrist as protection from harm until Laxmi Puja (the third day of Tihaar, see below), when it is removed and, if possible, tied to the tail of a cow for good fortune. The thread was traditionally soaked overnight in 108 herbs by a priest. Nowadays, turmeric is used which turns the cord golden and has antiseptic properties.
At this time, many people take part in the celebrations and not just the high caste. Devotees make a pilgrimage to a sacred location, often a high altitude lake such as Gosainkunda (4,381 m, 14,374 ft) where one form of piety is to take a plunge into the chilly waters.
New moon of July/August
Usually falls on the first two days of the new moon of July/August and is marked by a procession from the palace squares of Kathmandu, Patan, and Bhaktapur. `Gai’ means ‘cow’ and `Jatra’ means ‘journey’. Gai Jatra is a celebration of cows (which represent the deity Laxmi) leading a procession to heaven for the deceased to follow. Entertainers paint their faces and join parades to amuse onlookers with satire, drama, and comedy. Some of the performers are hired by relatives of recently deceased people. They are joined by accomplices in masks and wearing unusual garments who represent departed souls in need of guidance by the celestial cows.
Krishna Janmashtami (also known as Krishnashtami)
A celebration of the birth of Krishna, a hero of the classic Mahabharata, and regarded as an avatar of Vishnu. He is often depicted with blue-hued skin, a reminder to followers that he is as unending as the blue sky above. Devotees celebrate by flocking to Patan’s Krishna Temple in Durbar Square (as well as Krishna temples across the nation) and sing hymns.
Teej (transliteration, tip (also known as Hari Talika)
According to legend, Parvat Raj, Lord of the Himalaya decreed that his daughter Parvati would join Vishnu in matrimony. Parvati’s heart was elsewhere and the night before her nuptials, friends spirited her away to a forest where Shiva was abiding. Shiva became enamored with her but only after trials to verify that the love was mutual.
Single women fast on this day in the hopes of being blessed with a suitable husband while married women also fast and wear red (the color of matrimony) saris. They pray and perform rites for marital harmony and the well-being of their families. Pashupatinath and other Shiva temples are especially crowded on Teej. It has become a modern tradition for female friends to get together and celebrate with each other just prior to Teej.
Ganesh Chaturthi or Chatha- Hindu Festivals of Nepal celebrate in mostly Terai Region
Celebrated as the birthday of Ganesh (“the elephant god”), son of Shiva and Parvati. Ganesh is beloved as a divinity auguring good luck and removing obstacles.
The King of the Gods, Indra, is celebrated by the raising of a victory banner in his honor (this happens in Kathmandu at Hanuman Dhoka temple). Among other duties, Indra is also considered the controller of rain and harvests and is especially important to people whose livelihood depends on a successful growing season. Indra is known to have gathered flowers in Kathmandu Valley for his mother and is a slayer of demons which represent natural disasters. The festival lasts eight days highlighted by appearances from the Living Goddess Kumari. The massive idol of Bhairav, a form of Shiva, in Kathmandu’s Durbar Square, also figures prominently in the proceedings which involve chariot processions, singing, and masked dancing.
Dashain (The main and popular Hindu festivals of Nepal)
Dashin is a Hindu festival that commemorates the legendary victory of the goddess Durga (Kali) over the demon-buffalo, Mahishasura and symbolizes the triumph of Good over Evil. This is Nepal’s grandest festival and generally coincides with the end of monsoon and is a time of family reunions. The holiday pervades the nation and lasts for ten days beginning in late September or early October depending on the lunar cycle. Schools, shops and government offices are closed for up to two weeks during Dashain, and all transportation is overcrowded and difficult to book. There is much feasting as friends and families unite, gifts are exchanged and blessings imparted. Bamboo swings are set up around the country and city skies are filled with kites.
The festival begins with Ghatasthapana, the ceremonial setting of a jar of water in a place of worship in one’s house, and symbolizes Shakti, the primordial force of femininity or Universal Mother. A prominent feature of Dashain is the ritual decapitating of buffaloes at the koT (fort) near Kathmandu Hanuman Dhoka in Durbar Square on the ninth day of the festival. Throughout the nation, goats and sheep are sacrificed and festive banquets are held.
The tenth day, called Vijaya Dasami, celebrates Durga’s victory, and Tikaa is given (a vermilion mark of religious as well as decorative significance placed on the forehead during the festival and generally at religious ceremonies and other occasions; giving someone Tikaa express good wishes, friendship, and honor). In rural areas, village leaders administer Tikaa to the public. On this occasion, before the monarchy was dismantled in 2008, the former King and Queen received citizens at the royal palace.
Tihaar (aka, Diwali, Deepawali, Bhai Tikka, and Laxmi Puja)
Tihaar is a five-day ‘festival of lights’ in late October or November. The lights represent Knowledge and its victory over Ignorance. During the five days of Tihaar special rites are performed and during days one to four, certain animals receive worship and positive attention with special offerings of food and sometimes flower garlands and Tikaa.
Day 1: crows, messengers of Yama Raj, King of the Dead
Day 2: dogs, general protectors and especially guardians of homes; also the vehicle of Bhairav, an emanation of Shiva revered by the Valley’s Newars
Day 3: cows, divine representations of Laxmi
Day 4: bulls, sacred animals for many reasons in Hinduism, chiefly as Nandi, Shiva’s transport and foremost devotee. Nandi is also guardian at Shiva and Parvati’s abode.
Day 5: The final day, Bhai Tikka. Sisters ceremonially give younger brothers Tikaa and wish them prosperity and long life, and brothers offer a gift in return, usually money or clothing.
The third day of this festival is also known as Laxmi Puja, dedicated to Laxmi, goddess of wealth. Houses and shops are given a thorough cleaning. Buildings are trimmed with marigold flowers, and hundreds of tiny oil lamps and candles light up Kathmandu as dusk falls with the hopes that Laxmi herself will visit the cleanest and brightest homes. During Tihaar, public gambling is condoned, and crowds gather around groups of juwaa (cowry shell) players or card players. Among the Newar community, Tihaar marks the beginning of the New Year.
Kirat Prabh (Ubhauli Parba)
This festival is celebrated by Limbu and Rai ethnic groups, mainly in eastern Nepal to express gratefulness for harvest blessings. The term Udhauli means a migration of birds between climes, and Udhauli is also celebrated during the planting season in May/April.
Full moon in December
Yomari is a Newar delicacy and the word simply means “pastry that is liked”. In this event, the delicious confection is prepared with rice flour and the standard filling is khuwa, a milk product, brown sugar and sesame seeds. The dumpling is steamed and an offering is made to the goddess of harvests.
Additionally, yomari are important in Newari culture on the birthday of youngsters. A garland is made with the number of yomari in the necklet representing the child’s age especially important for the second birthday.
Trekking is more successful if the participants are prepared and have an idea of what to expect. Foremost, Nepal trek planning to be flexible and make the best of all circumstances. Trekking is essentially hiking extended routes that generally have facilities for room and board. During a trek, travelers spend nights in well-furnished hotels, simple lodges, camp or stay in the homes of local people. In Nepal, walking is the usual means of reaching most rural destinations and the road network is one of the lowest in the world relative to area and population, but a rapid increase in road building is changing things quickly.
Do not travel alone, especially on lesser-used routes, and especially as a female (unfortunately, double standards exist). Find a trustworthy travel companion. Sexual harassment is not uncommon. Foreign pornographic media is wrongly attributed to all foreigners. Dressing as conservatively as Nepalese will gain cultural acceptance. Those trekking alone would be wise to hire a guide or a porter, especially on trails with few tourists.
Please keep in mind that rare attacks on trekkers have occurred in remote areas and usually to people traveling alone. Although lawlessness is on the rise, particularly in the southern plains, due to a succession of weak administrations, travel in Nepal is relatively safer than most modernized countries. However, there are instances of assaults, theft and harassment, and foreigners have gone missing.
Many special-interest activities are available these days with themes of art, flora and fauna, health, meditation, natural history, religion, yoga and more. Adventure sports include rock climbing, mountain biking, rafting, canyoning, kayaking, paragliding and parahawking, bungee jumping, and more. Peregrine Treks easily arrange these activities.
Certain areas, including the regions around Kangchenjunga, Upper Mustang, Manaslu and Tsum Valley, Humla and Mugu (northeastern Nepal), Dolpo, Naar and Phu (within ACAP), are only open to trekkers by booking with an agency. This is supposed to be an attempt by the government to lessen the environmental impact; however, financial reasons play an important role, too. Regulations are in flux, and there is pressure to make these areas more accessible to all tourists. Such a change would help to spread the wealth to the local economy rather than non-local trekking agencies. Until then, these areas are considered “restricted” by the government and require not the only involvement of an agency, but a minimum of two customers and supplementary permits from the Immigration Department.
Restricted areas notwithstanding, most of Nepal is open for trekking. Outside of the publicized and regulated trekking routes, are areas not covered in guidebooks and worth exploring including much of the mid-hills or Pahaad, the heartland of Nepal. This broad belt of hills and fertile valleys stretching from east to west lies between the lowland plains and the Himalaya. Most visitors will discover that areas without the choicest mountain views are at least as enjoyable as the famous destinations, culturally rich and well-endowed with natural scenery. However, before venturing into some of the more remote, less popular or unpublicized areas, a guidebook trek is recommended, and hopefully, the trails herein described will be your introduction. Proverbially speaking, the rest is up to you to discover.
When to trekking
The most popular trekking season is autumn when the rains have washed the skies and weather and views are unrivalled, followed by spring and then winter. Generally, people avoid trekking in the monsoon season which typically begins in early June and finishes by the beginning of October, but frequently drags on for much of that month. Notwithstanding late storms, views are usually clearest in October and November and thus, the busiest months for trekking. December and January are coldest but offer clear vistas, too, although haze often sits in valleys and reaches the upper heights, too, diminishing clarity of views. Much of the air pollution arises from the northern plains of India, one of the most densely populated regions on the planet. Haze drifts north from fires there and in Nepal for winter warmth, cooking, the burning of fields, and the incineration of rubbish, a common practice in greater Asia. The problem is exacerbated by vehicle emissions and general industrial output, especially brick making. February and March bring warmer weather and occasional storms but generally, it is the dry season. Toward the end of March, the airborne dust and pollution can obscure distant views. At this time, it is much warmer in regions below 3000 feet (1000 m) while April and May are hottest and haziest.
Nepal Trek Planning in Monsoon
Trekking in the monsoon (June through the end of September) can be undertaken by enthusiastic trekkers who are not troubled by getting wet. Rain and fog can be expected almost daily, making the air more oxygen-rich than it would otherwise be, and clouds part occasionally to give spectacularly evocative views of the mountains and surroundings. Generally, more rain falls in the east of Nepal as the monsoon arrives from the Bay of Bengal and moves westward. Flora is usually at its most colorful, and mid-elevation meadows are swarming with flowers and dancing with butterflies. Waterfalls are roaring at this time, too. Although clouds cloak the mountain vistas, it is undeniably a beautiful time of year—a season when the haze of pollution is absent. Be advised that there will be occasional downpours throughout the day.
When a deluge arrives, find the nearest shelter and wait it out, as cloudbursts usually do not last long—although some last for several days. The negative side of trekking during the monsoon is that you and your gear will likely get wet. Trails can be muddy and treacherously slippery. It will be hot and humid. Roads, trails, and bridges may wash out, necessitating time-consuming and difficult detours. Travel sometimes involves wading through streams or even rivers. To make matters worse, hordes of leeches tyrannize the forests above 4000 feet (1200 m) while mosquitoes are a menace at lower elevations. Certain items of equipment are essential: a waterproof cover for your pack, sheets of plastic for covering porter loads, an umbrella, a hat with a brim, a walking stick or ski pole, and footwear with good traction
Maps are an integral tool for travel in Nepal and provide vital route information and terrain characteristics. Especially important are features of elevation and settlement locations. Nepal produced, elaborate maps are available at bookstores in Nepal, especially in Thamel, Kathmandu, and Lakeside, Pokhara. Trails, villages, and some contours are shown on most of them although not always accurately; some maps have been drawn by people who have not traveled in the region. Himalayan Map House produces excellent maps of the trekking regions. Additionally, Pilgrims Books of Thamel and Patan have a wide supply of maps. Some maps of Nepal are also available at online stores; Peregrine Treks provides maps of related trekking area in free of cost for each trekker.
Daily costs on popular routes, depending on the amount spent on food, accommodation, and extras. Rates commonly increase with elevation and remoteness. If you are traveling without porters or guides and eating food locally, $25—$30 USD per person per day might take care of necessities, although on popular routes you may need at least $30—$40 USD per day. (With a porter, add at least another $18 a day and $20 for a guide, if you hire them independent of an agency). In the Annapurna and Khumbu regions, there are more stylish hotels, and you can spend a great deal more. Carry enough funds for contingencies. There are also national park and conservation area permit costs; for example, entry into Sagarmatha National Park is 3390 NRS and ACAP 2000 NRS. Restricted areas cost much more. Additionally, since March 2010, TIMS card fees are $20 USD per person per trek ($10 for trekkers on an agency trek).
Off the main routes, daily costs will be lower. Eat locally grown food, buy locally produced crafts, and limit purchase and use of imported products (packaged foods, bottled drinks and sauces and other items brought from Kathmandu and beyond) to save costs, support the local economy and reduce unmanageable waste. You are highly recommended to take a full package from the government authorized trekking agency for cost efficiency. Hotels and lodges provide good rates for a guide rather than free individual trekkers. Also, trekking agencies provide good tea houses during trekking at the peak season too and hold the room in an advance for you. So, you can trek in the hassles free mode.
Nepal Trek Planning Schedule
In the hills, people generally rise at dawn, usually followed by a cup of milk tea and then work until a mid-morning meal around 10 AM. Work continues until late afternoon and is followed by a second meal in the evening. A light snack in the early afternoon is common. Until recently, activities coincided with periods of daylight, and people tended to retire indoors soon after sunset; however, with solar power lighting available in much of Nepal, activity patterns are changing.
Most trekkers stop before 5 PM regardless of the season and usually depart mid-morning, after a warm drink and breakfast. Schedules are more affected by altitude and place to stay than by length of the day, which has less variation from season to season than more northerly climes. Nepal is roughly at the latitude of Florida, USA and northern Egypt. In areas where there are plenty of trekker-oriented hotels, travelers can structure the day as they wish. Along the popular routes, lodges can be comfortable yet crowded during the high season. No effort has been made to evaluate the quality of lodges and services. Not only do travelers have widely ranging sensibilities, but standards, reliability, and ratings cannot be counted on in rural Nepal.
Food and Drink
Busy trailside hotels often hire staff from outside the region and offer extensive ‘international’ menus. Travelers can choose local food, typically Daal Bhat Tarakaari (rice, lentil soup, and a vegetable dish, or sometimes roti, a flatbread, is substituted for rice), which is what the hotel employees usually eat and is more energy-efficient to cook or Westernized food. Daal Bhat uses local resources and although consisting of the same general ingredients, has a range of tastes depending on specific ingredients, seasonings and preparation from place to place and even day to day at the same location. It is the safest bet for a quality meal and nearly always satisfying with a delicious variety.
Unlimited quantities of bhaat (rice) are generally included in the meal, but the daal (lentils) and tarakaari (vegetables) are rationed. In the commercialized trekking areas, second helpings of each are usually offered but not more. The custom is to have it prepared fresh, and often quantities are misjudged prior to preparation and extra helpings might not be available. Fresh fruit is uncommon and rarely to never available in the alpine heights. Weekly markets occur in some towns and are a source of fresh food, general supplies, and entertainment. The type of food available in the hills varies depending on the place and the season.
Packaged, quick-cooking noodles have become more commonplace in shops and inns throughout much of the country. They are usually insufficient as a meal replacement, contain monosodium glutamate (MSG), and vegetarians will be keen to know that the flavor packets generally contain animal by-products). Often plastic packaging is tossed away indiscriminately or burned and adds to pollution problems.
Western processed and packaged foods are available in large “supermarkets” in Kathmandu that caters mainly to tourists, expatriates, and wealthy Nepalese. You may want to bring dried fruit and nuts as a supplement, and combined with a bit of chocolate you will have a nutritious energy boost. Sealable containers are convenient to carry snacks, too.
Chiyaa, or tea with milk and sugar, is the traditional beverage. Per request, lodge owners along popular routes will make it without milk or sugar. In the higher territory, Tibetan salt-butter tea (solja) is available, although an acquired taste. You might simply ask for boiled water (umaaleko paani). Local alcoholic drinks include Chyaang (Tibetan), Jad and Raksi (Nepali) and Tongbaa (Tibetan and Limbu). Chyaang and Jaad are fermented but not distilled and the water used will not have been purified and might be unsafe to drink. Raksi is distilled however it is often then diluted with untreated water to increase volume. Tongbaa is a drink made by pouring hot water into an individual vessel (the Tongbaa is actually the name of the container itself but has become the common name of the drink, too) of fermented millet and the liquid is traditionally im bibed through a bamboo or aluminium straw, whereas nowadays plastic is used. Hot water is refilled as needed. Commercially produced spirits are available at higher prices.
Homestay can be the most memorable way of traveling and might be able to be the highlight of a journey. It will offer an insider’s view into the culture and lifestyle of your hosts, often untouched by modern amenities.
Always be sure to remove footwear before entering a home. Visitors will likely be shown where to sit and offered a drink and perhaps a light snack to begin with and something more substantial at mealtime. Otherwise, try to eat when and what the family eats. You will probably be plied with questions. A private room might be offered for sleeping or you will end up on a carpet on the floor. Relax and enjoy!
Ask whether the family has a charpi (toilet) or if there is a communal latrine. In much of Nepal, there are no latrines whatsoever, and you will have to use the great outdoors. Nepalese are somehow able to time this to dawn or pre-dawn in a place near the village, and they carry a loTaa, or small container of water for necessities. Find a corner of a field or other sheltered spot away from running water and bury the “meadow muffin” at least 6 inches (15 cm), or at least cover it with stones. If you are using toilet paper (or sanitary supplies), carry a cigarette lighter or matches and burn the used paper at once. At the high altitude where there is no soil, overlaying the excreta on an out-of-sight rock is best for the environment. Whatever you do, be sure to exercise appropriate modesty and stay out of view.
If at any time you are unsure how to behave in a certain situation, follow the lead of your hosts on how to proceed. After all, is said and done, when intentions are in the right place, actions will follow accordingly and mistakes, should they be made, will be easily overlooked. When departing, the amount of payment will often be up to you.
Camping along the Way
Those with gear can camp along the way. Tents and stoves will certainly attract a crowd in places that have not seen much camping equipment. National parks and conservation areas will have designated fee sites. Peregrine Treks will arrange these by the agency. On your own, look near villages for campsites on terraces that are harvested or fallow or clearings in the forest.
Guides and Porters
There is a saying among independent trekkers, “No porters, no guides, no hassles!” Having a poor guide can sometimes cause needless conflict and tension and turn the journey into a struggle. That said, having an informed guide can make all the difference on a venture into the Himalaya. A guide will keep you on the correct trials and may sometimes carry a load. He or she can share a wealth of knowledge and insight on the route and culture, assist in arranging food and accommodation, and generally help to ensure your well-being. The experience can be an extraordinary introduction to Nepal.
Traveling with a porter, hired to carry a load, can also be a tremendous opportunity to get to know Nepal and its people. Porters can often be found when necessary along the trail or hired in Kathmandu before starting a trek. However, some tourists might be uncomfortable with the idea of allowing another person to carry one’s gear. In reality, having a porter is a mutually beneficial arrangement, providing a decent wage in a land with a dearth of employment. The tourist will have more freedom and ease to experience the sights and sounds and the journey will be enhanced in many ways. Not only will the trek be more comfortable, but often long-lasting friendships are made. In any event, trekkers are indirect recipients of porter labor carrying up food and goods purchased along routes. Hiring someone to carry gear will likely be a large pay increase overhauling other goods.
Porters use a conical basket called a Doko available throughout much of Nepal with a cover of plastic to keep the load dry when it rains. They carry these baskets using a wide band that goes around the forehead called a Naamlo. Even with a modern pack to carry, most porters disregard the straps and waist belt in favor of a tumpline. Items carried by porters often receive rough treatment. It is best to carry fragile items yourself. All bags carried by porters should be locked to prevent pilfering and possible recriminations. Small locks and cheap duffel bags are available in Kathmandu.
Generally, there is a two-tiered pricing system and Nepalese receive a cut-rate for rooms and food. However, you may want to set a limit for the daily costs. The pay rate for guides and porters varies depending on where they are hired, the destination, the time of year, experience and language capabilities and whether the trekker provides food. It is best to have a guide who is actually from the specific area that you will be visiting. Peregrine Treks will provide experienced and well-trained guides and porters who have extensive knowledge about the trekking area, culture, flora, and fauna.
Nowadays, women, as well as men, are available as porters and guides. In order to eliminate the potential for harassment, female travelers and families with children might be especially interested in hiring the female crew.
It is no secret that in Asia, women are often given a lower status, perhaps an especially striking prejudice in the motherlands of Buddhism and Yoga, considered major pathways to liberation from ignorance. Females face disadvantages in school enrollment, control over household income and work burden, employment and earnings disparities and representation in government and policymaking. Some women, particularly in western Nepal, are kicked out of the household during monthly menses and forced to live in a shed to face hypothermia, hunger and insect and animal bites.
Peregrine Treks is ready to provide well trained and experienced trekking crew member for female travelers upon their request. Our female crew members are physically and mentally sound to serve trekkers. You need to ask a female crew member at the time of Nepal trek planning because of the limited female trekking crew member.
It is usual for a human being to get excited about the trip and carry almost everything. We believe it’s in human nature. Still, you should be considerate of what you take for your trekking trip. There is weight limitation on domestic flights and porter. Hence, we suggest you read the Nepal Trekking Equipment and Gear List below and carry things that are very important for the entire trip.
Important documents and items
Passport has to be valid for at least six months, extra passport size photos, proper air tickets.
Xerox copies of passport, visa application, and insurance papers.
Cash of any currency for a visa and other activities
Valid credit card; Cash/ ATM cards of International Standard Banks.
Polypro shirts (1 half sleeve and two long sleeves)
Light and portable thermal tops
Fleece windcheater jacket
Waterproof shell jacket
Gore-Tex jacket with hood
One pair of lightweight gloves of any material (probably waterproof)
Mittens consist of Gore-Tex over mitt matched with a hot polar-fleece mitt liner (one each-seasonal)
Hiking shorts and trousers (one pair each)
Lightweight thermal bottoms (one pair-seasonal)
Fleece or woolen trousers or waterproof shell pants, breathable fabric.
Thin, lightweight inner socks, and heavy poly or wool socks and cotton socks( one pair each)
Hiking boots with spare laces and ankle support (sturdy soles, water-resistant, ankle support, “broken-in”)- one pair
Trainers or running shoes and sandals (one pair)
Gaiters (to walk on snow terrain-winter only), optional, “low” ankle high version
One sleeping bag (good to -10 degrees C or 14 degrees F)*
Fleece sleeping bag liner (optional)
Rucksack and Travel Bags
A medium rucksack (50-70 liters/3000-4500 cubic inches, can be used for an airplane carryon)
One large duffel bag
A small daypack/backpack with good shoulder padding for carrying your valuables
Small padlocks for duffel-kit bags
Two sizeable waterproof rucksack covers (optional)
Handy, personal first-aid kit
Aspirin, first-aid tape, and plasters
Skin-blister repair kit
Anti-diarrhea and anti-headache pills
Anti-cough/ cold medicine
AMS prevention pills: Diamox or Acetazolamide
Stomach antibiotic: Ciprofloxacin, etc. Warning: do not bring sleeping pills as they are respiratory depressants.
Water purification tablets or the water filter
A set of earplugs
Extra pair of sunglass, prescription glasses, contact lens supplies
Small roll of repair tape/duct tape, sewing-repair kit (one each)
Cigarette lighter, a small box of matches (one each)
Alarm clock/watch (one each)
A digital camera with extra cards and batteries
Two reusable water bottles (one liter each)
Four large, waterproof, disposable rubbish sacks
One compass or GPS(optional)
A medium-sized quick-drying towel
Toothbrush and paste Multi-purpose soap (preferably biodegradable)
Face and body moisturizer
Female hygiene products
Wet wipes (baby wipes) Tissue /toilet roll
Anti-bacterial hand wash or sanitizer
Trail map/guide book
Journal/ notebook, pen and music player
Portable travel game, i.e., chess, backgammon, scrabble, playing cards (to help you pass the time at teahouses or camps)
A modest swimsuit
Lightweight pillowcase or stuffed neck pillow
This equipment and gear list help you to arrange the trekking equipment for the Nepal Trekking. If you have an additional query, please feel free to contact us or call us at +977 98510 52413.
Nepal’s trails are steep and every addition to your load counts! Review your Nepal Trekking gear list, and pare down items beforehand.
Second-hand camping and mountaineering equipment used by other trekkers and climbers on Himalayan expeditions are often available for sale or rent in Kathmandu, Pokhara, Namche Bazaar, and waypoints along popular routes. You may even find new gear that went unused on expeditions. The road forming the southern border of Thamel in Kathmandu has shops with expedition kit, and do not be surprised if the owner of the shop with whom you are bargaining is a prolific climber.
Prices vary from cheap to outrageous, and quality is not uniform. Some trekkers sell equipment using notice boards in restaurants, hotels, and at KEEP. Packs, jackets, and other items are locally manufactured and often carry a counterfeit label. Such gear might only last one trek if that, but some are more durable. There are now good outlet stores along Tridevi Marg in Thamel and Durbar Marg, the road that leads from the former royal palace, now the Narayanhiti National Museum. Some people can pick up everything they need in the city, but it is safer to arrive at least minimally prepared. If buying or renting in Nepal, be aware that quality is variable and a sleeping bag with an advertised rating of —20°C will not likely match expectations.
Hiking Nepal’s steep terrain can cause a swift buildup of body heat, especially carrying a loaded pack up a sun-drenched hill. Conversely, in high altitude areas, the temperature will drop rapidly, especially in the shade of the mighty Himalaya, when the sun has set or is behind the clouds, and moil so if your clothes are wet and cold from sweat. It is essential to have the ability to remove or add items to adjust quickly to conditions. Clothes made of an all-cotton material, though comfortable, are not the best choice as cotton absorbs and holds moisture. The first layer of clothing should keep you dry by wicking moisture away from the skin to the next layer. There are many brand specialties in this area. Long thermal underwear is necessary at higher altitudes, especially during the winter months. Thermals made of polypropylene, a petroleum-based synthetic, might be a functional inner layer, although it has a reputation for quickly becoming foul-smelling. Nylon is durable. Silk is lightweight yet needs extra care and might soon come apart at the seams. (There are now silks on the market that do not rely on the mass killing of production caterpillars. These include ahimsa silk, also known as peace silk and vegetarian silk, and tussah or wild silk.)
The next layer should provide warmth. Wool clothing is traditionally chosen for the cold because it stays warm when wet. A sweater or synthetic fiber-insulated fleece (pile) jacket works well in wet weather and also dries quickly. Underarm “pit zips” allow ventilation if not the removal of entire sleeves. The outer layer should add warmth and keep you dry as well. A waterproof, breathable shell that is soft and light works well. Aim for something either with a zip-out liner or large enough to cover a sweater or fleece jacket. Check to ensure that the seams have been adequately sealed.
Many well-designed packs are available. Choose one that feels comfortable when loaded allows easy access and can expand capacity when necessary. Carry a spare plastic buckle at least for the waistband (keep fasteners engaged while not wearing the pack to protect them from being stepped on and possibly broken). Equipment and supplies that porters carry can be packed in sturdy, bright-colored (for recognizability) duffel bags, preferably ones that can be locked.
Your route and preferred style dictate whether you need a tent. If you prefer to camp or desire privacy where there aren’t lodges, a tent is necessary. Generally, one large enough to sit up in and to house other people such as porters in an emergency is best. Weight, seasonality, and ease of setting up are factors to consider. A three-season tent with ventilation and rain fly over the openings is versatile enough for most trekkers. Make sure the seams are properly sealed. Check out setup instructions, and practice before you depart and do not forget a groundsheet to keep gear clean and dry and prevent dampness from being wicked up from the ground.
A lightweight “emergency blanket” (aluminized polyester), bivouac shelter, or plastic sheet can be carried for emergency shelter.
Gear is available in Kathmandu. Regulations require those trekkers and their porters, cooks, and guides are self-sufficient in national parks. Trekkers should use stoves powered by kerosene, propane, butane, or other fuel rather than wood, especially in high-altitude areas and conservation areas. Kerosene is the only fuel available in the hills, although some shops on popular routes may have mixed-fuel canisters (e.g., Primus) for sale. It is better to buy cartridges at trekking shops in Kathmandu that also sell stoves capable of using both portable canisters and kerosene. However, the kerosene available is often impure and clogs up most stoves necessitating frequent cleaning of the fuel jet. Become familiar with stove operation before the trek and carry spare parts of critical components.
A down or synthetic fiber sleeping bag is usually necessary for comfort at temperatures below freezing. Many lodges have quilts, comforters, and blankets, but you cannot always rely on their presence, adequacy, and cleanliness, especially during busy times.
Many trekkers along the popular routes manage without a sleeping bag, but going without one is not advised on high-altitude trekking trails. In lodges along popular trekking trails, mattresses and pillows are available, but not everywhere, especially during high season when late arrivers sometimes have to sleep in a dining hall. Although most lodges will have foam padding, those who are camping might need an air mattress, foam pad, or inflatable pad for a comfortable night’s sleep.
Sunglasses should absorb ultraviolet light and sunglasses that do not can do more harm than good by opening the pupil and exposing the eye to potentially damaging UV rays. A visor to shade the eyes from the sun is an ideal addition. If you wear eyeglasses or contact lenses, bring a spare pair and a copy of the prescription in the event, replacements are needed. If you wear contact lenses, do not neglect regular cleaning. Infections are more prevalent in Nepal. Use water that has been boiled. If you do not want to bother with cleaning, bring disposable extended-wear contact lenses with less risk of infection, although the packaging can be burdensome to carry out.
Perhaps some people will use Nepal’s trails as an opportunity to strengthen the eyes naturally by going without glasses and contacts, and training the eyes to focus alternately on things far and near and in differing light conditions. Keep in mind that of injuries and infrequent deaths of trekkers, falling off the trail is a leading cause.
Each person should have a water bottle of at least 1-quart (liter) capacity. Plastic and lightweight stainless-steel or aluminum containers can be found in trekking shops in Nepal. Stainless-steel or aluminum bottles can be ideal for storing water that has been boiled and is still hot. Encasing the bottle in a clean sock or hat or wrapping another item of clothing around it will make a source of heat that can be kept close to the body or even placed in a sleeping bag for added warmth.
Other Nepal Trekking Gear List
Footwear that supports the ankles is highly recommended as well as lightweight foam or rubber sandals that can be ideal for changing into at the end of the day.
A Leatherman or Swiss Army Knife gadget combination can be useful but unnecessarily burdensome unless the multi-functional tools are needed. Often a dull pocket knife will do if anything at all.
Umbrellas can be used not only against rainfall but to protect against the sun on hot days and for privacy while answering nature’s call. Collapsible ski poles and walking sticks (Lauro in Nepali), often made of lightweight bamboo, can help ease the load and impact on the knees.
Bring several handkerchiefs or bandannas. A bandanna can be useful as a makeshift face mask in windy, dusty areas and during vehicle travel, and to dry cups, plates, and hands. You can keep a separate bandana for a usual runny nose that accompanies colds and upper-respiratory infections—or learns to blow your Nepali nose style, covering each nostril in turn and blowing out the other. Petroleum jelly, ChapStick, and lip balm are good for cold-weather to prevent or treat chafing.
For women, a reusable menstrual cup (e.g., Mooncup) is an ecologically sound alternative to tampons and sanitary napkins, ideal for travel and lasts for years. It is recommended that you become familiar with using and cleaning before relying on it during a trek.
Pack biodegradable soap, a washcloth or towel, and a toothbrush. Bring a headlamp or small flashlight (torch) and spare batteries (lithium is best), especially to power the modern camera. Outside of the main trekking routes, good batteries will rarely be available in the hills. It is better to have rechargeable batteries and to carry extra charged battery packs. Make sure to bring a universal adapter — electricity averages 220 volts/50 cycles in Nepal. As Nepal becomes increasingly electrified, there are more and more places along the popular routes to recharge. Entrepreneurs might sometimes take a fee to charge batteries. Carry spares and keep in mind that less-frequented trails might offer only solar power without the accessories to fit recharging devices. There are no battery recycling facilities in Nepal, and it is considered environmentally ethical to bring spent cells back to your home country for proper disposal.
Consider earplugs (several pairs, as they are easily lost) for noisy hotels, buses, and the occasional loud dog in the depths of night. It is wise to have at least a Global Positioning System (GPS) device or compass for high mountain travel. A GPS can be unreliable in sections of Himalayan drainages where steep gorges diminish satellite reception.
Insects are not usually a problem in the high country, and malaria is very rare in trekkers to Nepal, but visitors traveling extensively in the lowlands during the warmer months or the monsoon might want to use insect repellent and a mosquito net while sleeping. Repellents with picaridin and DEET (or N, N-diethyl meta-toluamide) are effective against mosquitoes or try natural repellents such as citronella or eucalyptus oil-based repellents. Insecticide sprays and powders (those containing pyrethrins or permethrin are safest) may help in the sleeping bag and can be applied to the netting. Anti-leech oil can be found in some Kathmandu pharmacy shops for monsoon treks.
A supply of duct tape can serve as an all-purpose, temporary fix for various situations. Several feet of tape can be wound around a flashlight handle or water bottle to store for future needs.
If you play a portable musical instrument, consider bringing it along. A harmonica, recorder, or flute can quickly ease communication barriers. Consider other social and entertainment skills that you might share, for example, portrait drawing or simple magic tricks. Most trekkers carry reading matter and writing materials, and hotels along the popular routes often have paperbacks to sell or trade. A pack of cards or miniature versions of popular board games (such as Scrabble) can be an excellent way to pass the time and liven up a restaurant as well as get to know fellow trekkers.
It’s a good idea to have a particle mask, to protect you from dust and fumes in cities and on bus journeys. They can be found in Kathmandu pharmacies.
LEAVE NO TRACE
Dispose of Waste Properly (Pack It In, Pack It Out)
Leave What You Find
Respect Farm Animals and Wildlife
Be Considerate of Others, Local Customs and Traditions
The Minimum Impact Code of conduct for model trekkers as suggested by ACAP and KEEP and includes the following suggestions:
Encourage lodges and trekking companies in their efforts to conserve environmental resources.
Campfires and hot showers are a luxury, primarily when locals use fuel only for cooking.
Use washing and toilet facilities provided, or, if none are available, make sure you are at least 30 meters (100 ft) from any water source. Bury excreta at least 15 cm (6 in) and use biodegradable toiletries.
Limit your use of non-biodegradable items and pack them out.
Respect religious shrines and artifacts.
Please don’t give money, sweets or other things to begging children.
Taking photographs is a privilege, not a right. Ask permission and respect people’s desire not to be photographed.
Dress modestly, in line with local customs and avoid outward displays of physical affection.
You are a representative of outside culture, and your impact lingers long after you return home.
Along with popular trekking trails, you might see garbage bins outside lodges and shops. Usually, the contents, including harmful plastics, are burned and metal discarded. Often, litter is pitched off the backsides lodges and shops or piled in a site nearby. Talk to the lodge owners and operators about your preferences for disposal. You can influence them because they want your business.
Here is some Nepal Trekking information which makes easy for the traveller:
Arrival at Tribhuvan International Airport
This is the only international airport in Nepal. After passing through the immigration gate there are two channels. The first one is the green channel, this channel can be used by those travellers who have not dutiable goods. The second one is Red Channel, If you have dutiable goods, you need to proceed through this channel.
Getting a Taxi
Peregrine Treks provides you with free pick-up and drop service. So, you need not be a worry to get a taxi. Our office representative or your guide welcomes you to the airport. Don’t forget to collect your belongings before leaving the taxi or car.
Respect basic Nepalese customs:
More than 80 percents Nepalese people are Hindu. They are open-hearted and each Nepalese people welcome you with their smile. Most of the Nepalese Ladies are shy nature, so never offer your hand first to ladies. Instead of a handshake, you can say Namaskar (folded palms) or Hello. You can give hands first to the male for a handshake.
Take off your shoes near the door before entering the Nepalese home and never leave your sandals or shoes upside down. To give gifts or money for anybody including a shopkeeper, use your right hand.
Visiting the temple
It is customary to take off your shoes or sandals before entering the temple or stupas. You need to walk around the temple by clockwise. You may take permission before entering the temples. For example, non-Hindus are not allowed to enter the Pashupatinath Temple. Smoking and taking hard drinks are strictly prohibited inside the temple.
You are allowed to take enough photograph outside the stupas or temples and during festival time. But you may take permission before taking photographs at normal time and inside the temple. So, you can ask for permission. Many people, especially women may not interested to take their photographs, so, take their permission before first.
Use formal dress while travelling outside of Kathmandu Valley and major city. If your clothes cover the knee, shoulders and back that is the highly suggested dress.
Traveller can easily exchange US Dollars and major other currencies in the banks or government authorised money changer. You can get 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, and 1000 notes and you are highly recommended to carry below than 500 notes for easy exchange your money. Surplus money can be return at the time of your departure, at that time you need to show encashment receipt.
Major restaurants, hotels will accept VISA, MASTER CARD, and AMERICAN EXPRESS CARD. They may take 3.5%-4% extra by paying via credit cards. You can withdraw Nepalese currency from the ATM Machine too. Peregrine Treks accepts major credit cards.
Dal, Bhat and Tarkari is the popular food of Nepal and Nepalese eat that food by their hands. Food that has eaten at the same plate is considered as impure so, don’t offer others to eat at the same plate. Hindus and Buddhist are not entertained beef because they worship the cow. But, you can get beef in restaurants and hotels.
Tipping is not mandatory but it is highly expected. In restaurants and hotels, they already add the 10% service charge on their service, it is not necessary to tip. Tipping for the guides, porters, and drivers is highly recommended. They will not get enough salary as per their work on the mountain so, you can give tips for them.
Safe Trekking (Nepal Trekking Information)
Trekking is not an easy task because of the rugged mountain and high altitudes. Don’t go too high too fast; this is the first precaution for the safe trekking. You need to give enough time for acclimatization for your body. You can get Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) during trekking. In the worst case, you may get HAPE and HACE.
AMS Sign: Headache, often with loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, tiredness, dizziness, disturbed sleep. At this time you need to acclimatize or take Diamox (250 mg every 12 hours)
HACE Sign: Severer Headache, loss of balance/coordination, staggering, irrational behaviour, confusion, drowsiness, coma, death (sometimes in a few hours). In this situation you must descend immediately, even at night, at least 1000 meters with your guide or porter, oxygen, Gamow bag, keep patient warm and immediate helicopter rescue.
HAPE Sign: Breathless (even at rest), dry cough/pink or rusty spit, blue lips/nails, very tired, low fever, gurgling breath, drowsy, comma, death. In this situation, you must descend immediately with your supporter, take oxygen, and rescue asap.
Helicopter rescue service is available but it is too much expensive. You need to pay around USD 5000 to rescue from Everest Base Camp, USD 4500 from Annapurna Base Camp. So, you are highly recommended to take travel insurance, which will cover helicopter rescue and medical treatment in an event of an accident.
The traveller must have Nepal Trekking Information before the trek to Nepal. This is very important for those persons, who are travelling the first time and have not proper Nepal Trekking Information. For more information, please click this link.
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