Arriving in Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal, there will be time to explore the city and get a glimpse of the Nepalese way of life. The first trekking day starts with a short scenic flight by twin-otter plane to Lukla and the first chance to see the majestic peaks of Cho Oyu (8,153m/26,748ft), Lhotse (8,516m/27,939ft), Gauri Shankar (7,145m/23,441ft), and Menlungtse (7,181m/23,559ft).
As Lukla is a mountain airport, it is subject to weather fronts that can lead to flight delays or cancellations for safety reasons. This all adds to the adventure! But to ensure your flight home is not impacted, it is a good idea to give yourself a few days flexibility after you are due to return from Lukla to Kathmandu.
Altitude and Climate
This trek visits high altitudes! You will be spending at least five or six nights at or above 4,000m/13,123ft which is serious altitude. The Nepalese sherpas are well versed in looking after visitors, but it is important that you are properly acclimatised not only to have a safe trek, but also an enjoyable one as altitude sickness has the capacity to make you feel very miserable! All along the way you will find warnings about ascending too quickly. If you show signs of altitude sickness, appropriate measures (i.e. descent) must be taken. Learn as much as possible about this issue before you go in order to have an understanding of how you may be affected and ask lots of questions of our local experts too. Keep your guide informed regarding how you are feeling during the trek. The climate during your trip will vary between warm in Kathmandu (20-30oC), to relatively warm on the lower trekking trails (15-25oC daytime) to cold at the higher elevations (0-5oC daytime). Night-time temperatures at Gorak Shep and Base Camp can be as low as -15oC during the trekking season with snow. Generally it should be dry, but this cannot always be relied upon and expect strong winds. On average the temperature falls by 1oC every 200m in altitude gained and whatever the season, mountainous weather is always unpredictable and can change very quickly, be prepared for wind, rain, sun and snow. One thing’s for sure, it will be an adventure!
Visas and Vaccinations
You will need:
- A Valid Passport: Your passport will need to be valid for at least 6 months after your return date. Please bring a photocopy of your passport with you.
- Entry Visa: All British nationals require a visa for entry into Nepal. You need to arrange this prior to departure and tourist visas can be purchased online via the Government of Nepal Department of Immigration or Embassy of Nepal, London websites. If you are not a British national then you will need to contact the embassy to enquire about visa requirements.
- Relevant Vaccinations: For medical and inoculations advice contact your GP and visit the Foreign & Commonwealth Office website before you travel. Do this in good time (at least 3 months) as many injections/treatments must be given a certain time apart.
- Relevant Travel Insurance: You will need to make sure your insurance includes an element of trekking up to 6,000m/19,685ft.
Guides and Porters
Our Nepalese leaders are certified, accredited and English speaking. Some of our clients however do prefer to have a UK guide and are happy to pay a little extra for that service. Should you prefer a UK guide then please do contact us. Our scheduled events are led by our Nepalese leaders. Either way, you will, of course, have the backup of a great local team to help you along.
The guide’s responsibility is to ensure your safety on the trip, select the lodge accommodation and organise the porter crew. You will be amazed how much easier having a local guide makes the dealings with lodges, etc. Evening meals and drinks miraculously appear and you have many less chores during the day. You will miss them when you are back in the UK!
We adhere to the guidelines laid down by the International Porter Protection Group. This organisation works to improve the working conditions of mountain porters in the tourism industry worldwide. Therefore we do not ask our porters to carry more than 30kg per load (this is advised by the IPPG). In view of these guidelines, we request that you limit the equipment you ask your porter to carry to a maximum of 15kg. Many ‘Westerners’ feel uncomfortable seeing a local ‘carrying their bags’ but guiding and portering are recognised professions in Nepal, so remember that for them this is a job and often forms a vital part of a family’s income. They will enrich your holiday experience immensely by being a source of information about local cultures and traditions.
To participate in this trip you will need to be physically fit and prepared for ‘lodge-living’ whilst on trek. An often used phrase in Nepal is ‘Nepali flat’. Your guide will surely say this to you a few times. This means the trail is about to ‘undulate’ quite considerably. Distances are not measured in conventional metres, kms or even miles on the trails in Nepal, but in walking times. This is because the trails go uphill or downhill but seemingly never flat. Therefore it is best to arrive in Nepal suitably conditioned and if you have not done so already then start getting fit! Visit your local gym or go for regular bike rides. However you achieve it, if you arrive there suitably fit, you will enjoy the trip so much more. You should be able to walk for 4 to 6 hrs in a day on undulating terrain (going up and down hill) and not feel exhausted! There are also a few steep hills to negotiate (takes about 2hrs) and so you should be ready for these.
We recommend that you follow a fitness plan in preparation for your challenge, an example of which will be sent to you when you have confirmed your booking.
Although the fitness plan we will send to you has been devised by a fitness professional, this is only provided as a guide and you should seek professional advice before starting your own fitness regime.
The accommodation is in en-suite, twin rooms in a Kathmandu hotel (single rooms are subject to availability). The hotel boasts all the facilities you would expect. Each room has air conditioning, 24hr room service, multi-channel TV, etc. The lodges we use on the trek are of the higher standard but are walkers’ lodges so are obviously more basic than the accommodation in Kathmandu. The rooms are singles, doubles or triples shared as part of the group; there are hot showers (water has to be heated in advance), toilets (sometimes flushable) and they are fully catered. Many have 24hr electricity. The general rule is the higher you go, the more rudimentary they become.
The Nepalese Rupee is the local currency. You can exchange pounds, dollars and traveller’s cheques at the airport and at exchange stores throughout Kathmandu. There are also ATMs in Kathmandu. In the hotel in Kathmandu you will be able to pay for your extras by credit card. Shops and other restaurants in Kathmandu accept rupees.
Once you have left Kathmandu you will only be able to change money in Lukla and Namche Bazaar on your trek. When exchanging money remember to take an official exchange receipt. Once on the trek, low denomination rupee notes are necessary. Your extras (drinks/lunch/evening meal etc.) in Kathmandu should be approximately £20 per day.
The days of zero crime in Nepal are gone; however Nepal still has a very non-aggressive society, especially towards foreigners. Nonetheless you should exercise the usual common sense precautions to avoid becoming a victim of crime. Don’t flash your valuables (camera, watch, money etc.) around, and don’t act ostentatiously! For an official British Government view on this issue please visit the Foreign Office website