Updated May 2019
This is intended as a general introduction to the basics of life on the trail. Some of it may seem quite obvious especially with regard to the actual walking, but we would rather on the side of being pedantic than have any of our clients incapacitate through lack of sound advice. So here it goes.
Just take it easy-the young and male in particular, please take note: there is nothing to gain from a heroic start followed by an exhausted withdrawal after the first few days. Get there at your own pace. It does not really matter when. The acclimatization process will make you more than breathless on long uphill sections which are predominant on the outward trek. If you follow our advice you can minimize this. Keep the control slow, steady rhythm. Take steps half the size you think you can, breathe deliberately deeper even before you are breathless and do not be tempted to speed up as soon as you think you can! Find your own sustainable pace. Zigzag on the path to minimize gradient. Sherpas have learned this through their years of experience. Take many short breaks, rather than fewer long one. Enjoy the countryside!
Please take it very easy. Muscular ache from uphill will ease after a few stiff mornings but knee cartilage damage from jolting downhill can take weeks to mend – either ending your trek or making it very painful. Keep the brake on! Porters will bound downhill on rubber legs – please do not try to copy them, their training is very specialized. Try to minimize the jolting effect by keeping your weight on the back foot – ease yourself down, do not just drop. Stop and rest your knees regularly. Enjoy the scenery!
Finding Trekking Trial…..
In a typical group the Sherpa leader will stay with the center of the group for most of the time, so for most people there should be little problem. Anyone who does go out in front should only proceed if they are 100% certain of the route. Better to regularly let the others catch up. An assistant leader will inevitably bring up the rear; nobody has to feel they got to keep up with anyone else. Our Sherpas have uncanny shepherding instincts. Generally, the only people who get lost are those who proceed without waiting for clarification. Going past lunch or night stops are most common. Better wait for the leader.
If you are calmly aware of the realities of altitude (as explained in the section) you can enjoy your trek without worry. Our treks are very carefully planned to allow full natural adaptation for 99.9% of people, but everybody is likely to feel some effects of change in altitude while they adapt. The Common effects are: breathlessness particularly uphill, headaches that will respond to aspirin, some difficulty sleeping and a little loss of appetite. You may just feel a bit off – color for a few hours or overnight, especially after arrival at a new altitude. Only the lucky few will have none of these effects at all, and you should not be alarmed by a minor effect of any of them. A serious condition (Acute Mountain Sickness) can be recognized a persistent exaggeration of any or all these effects. Even at rest you are increasingly breathless, or severe headache will simply not respond to treatment. Sometimes this is accompanied by severe nausea and disorientation. Anything approaching these symptoms and you must tell someone immediately, preferably the trek leader directly. Never ever keep it to yourself for fear of disrupting the trek. You’ll do that much more if nobody is aware of your condition until it is too late.
Why do these effects, mild or severe, happen?
They are caused very simply by the gradual reduction of the oxygen available in each lung-full of air we breathe as we go higher. The body naturally compensates by producing more blood cells, which bring the oxygen level in the blood back to near normal. The acclimatization stages are planned to give the body the proper time for this process. It works for 99.9% of people. Sometimes an individual may adapt slower to a particular altitude, and really not feel up to continuing with the rest of the group. Don’t worry; our leaders are very experienced at reading such situations and under most circumstances can make contingency plans for splitting the group if necessary. An extra rest day is sometimes all it takes.
Of course, we must always be prepared for the worst case scenario, however unlikely, and for the very tiny percentage that may not adapt at all. This is where your communication is paramount, let the leader know immediately – he is trained to assess every individual situation and will know what to do. If he considers it serious, he may arrange for descent of the individual (assisted as necessary and with any who wish to go with them) immediately, day or night, until the symptoms desist.
The dos and don’ts to aid acclimatization:
Diamox, the common name for Acetazolamide originally developed as a diuretic, but pragmatically found to aid acclimatization available in Kathmandu pharmacies. Some people feel it is ‘cheating’, but as trekking at altitude is not a competition and you are here to enjoy it to altitude, not just mask the symptoms. It will make you pee more as intended, and possibly give you a tingly feeling in your fingers, but is understood to have no more serious side effects. Taking it is entirely down to personal choice, but if you do decide to use it as a preventative we have found that half a 250 mg tablet works just as well as a whole one and minimizes the side effects, each morning and evening, from the night before the trek through to the start of the descent from the highest point.
Despite the rise in numbers of foreign visitors over the past few decades, Nepal has retained its cultural integrity remarkably well. Here are some basic tips which we would recommend you follow to do your bit in keeping it so.
Environment and Eco-Tourism:
Basanta Adventure Treks & Expedition (BATE) follows the principle of Eco-Tourism and the entire program are designed accordingly. All staff are trained accordingly and instructed to follow guidelines of Eco-Tourism. We give top priority on using local resources as possible during the trekking. We highly recommend tea house trekking which not only benefit local people but also gives our valued clients an opportunity to experience and witness the local culture.
It is best to bring water filter bother which kills all bacteria including jardia or use iodine for any invisible bugs. You can add neutralizing tablets or ‘tang’ orange powder (available in Kathmandu) if you like, but only after the iodine has done its job (generally 1 iodine tablet or 5 drops of liquid takes half an hour).
You are only allowed 10 kg weight plus a hand luggage, on the domestic flights in Nepal. You’ll find this is plenty, about what will fit in your kitbag, without rock samples or libraries. If you have more\ you’ve got too much gear – leave it at the hotel in Kathmandu. Local domestic airport tax is currently Rs 200 (approx. US$ 2) but it is usually included in the airfare, please check with our staff before taking flight.
Electricity is mainly available in the Kathmandu Valley, where the current is 220 V/50 Cycles. Sockets have either three round pins or two thick round pins. If you are traveling with any electrical appliances, an international converter kit and a set of adapter plugs will be required. Alternatively, it is more practical to travel with battery-operated appliances where possible. While trekking, you can recharge your batteries in lodges power supply by solar panel. Also please check load shedding schedule (power cut) which takes around the year mostly in cities.
The unit of currency is the Nepalese rupee. There are coins but it has been least used these days. Paper notes come in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1000 rupees.
Major credit cards are accepted by most local hotels, but only accepted in some restaurants and shops Master and visa cards are the most widely accepted credit cards.
It is essential that you ask for an official exchange receipt while changing foreign currency which will enable you to exchange back any left over local money at the international airport while flying back home.
If you enjoy shopping, you may want to bring extra money as there are very good deals to be found both in Kathmandu and Pokhara (wall hangings, carvings, clothes etc.). You can spend anything from US$50 to US$3000. We urge travelers to carry their entire purchases home with them and not have anything shipped as much as possible unless you buy heavy items. For that we recommend using air cargo. Shipping can be unreliable and is a cause of great frustration. Keep some free space in your baggage for bringing back your purchases.
We urge our guests to purchase adequate trip cancellation, medical, baggage protection and rescue services by helicopter. Your insurance must cover all activities undertaken. Client must pay BATE all expenses if there is any rescue operation takes place and BATE provide all documentations to claim from the insurance back home.
There are 2 major Cell Phone company in Nepal Telecom ( Government owned) and Ncell ( privately owned) You can easily buy local sim card of cell phone, Ncell sim card is easier to buy in less than US$ 3 with some balance amount. There is free WI-FI available in most of the restaurant and hotel in big cities. There are email and phone services available from Namche Bazaar (Everest region) as well.
Regarding postage: Please give your postcards and the appropriate amount of rupees for stamps to your BATE staff who will be happy to mail it for you; this is more reliable than leaving them at the hotel reception.
The national language is Nepali, with distinct dialects spoken in different areas. All of our guides speak English, as do the porters at a more basic level. In the cities and towns, English is widely spoken, particularly among those serving tourists. But in villages and other more remote areas, the local people you encounter probably will not speak English.
Nepal is 15 minutes ahead of Indian Standard Time; 5 hours and 45 minutes ahead of Greenwich Mean Time; and 10 hours and 45 minutes ahead of Eastern US Standard Time. Therefore, when it is 12:00 noon (standard time) in New York, it is 10:45 PM in Nepal.
Accommodation, Food and Drink:
If meal and accommodation are included in your trekking arrangement you will need to bring budget for drinks and for any personal expenses such as taking shower, laundry, phone, extra meal etc. Accommodation during trek are usually simple and basic with 2 beds with proper bedding, lodge does provide extra blanket if required. But it is best to take your own sleeping bag for longer and higher altitude trekking. Toilet is usually outside the room to share with other travelers. Lodge restaurant serves simple breakfast; lunch and dinner. We recommend local meal which is available locally, we suggest you avoid meat, cheese product and soft drinks unless you are s100% sure it is not from old stock. You have choice.
We highly advise you to bring your own Snacks, such as trail mix, power bars, and dry foods etc for supplement food.
Budget on trekking:
It depend what you eat, if you eat and where you sleep. If you stay in simple Lodge and eat moderately simple meal cost US$ 25-30 per person per day which includes hot drinks. There is no problem of taking big bill of Rs. 1000 unlike before when you had to take smaller changes make it huge bundle of notes.
Tipping the trekking team:
We pay all the staff wages of course, but it is still traditional for the group to give a tip to the team at the end of the trek, as a sign of appreciation for their efforts. The tips, which you should have with you in trek along with your personal spending money. This is our suggestion of what is considered appropriate from the group in total, usually split equally between all the clients:
Trek Leader: about Rs. 55 per week of the trek
Assistant Leaders or cooks: about Rs. 45 per week each
Porters: about Rs. 30 per week, each
You will see that it works out a little more for each client in smaller groups. If you feel that any individual has been especially good, helpful or entertaining, you could raise this a bit for them. Also feel free to reduce it, or give nothing at all, to anyone who has not pulled his or her weight or has not behaved, as you would like. We believe in our teams as the very best in the Himalaya, and of course we wish to keep it that way. So we also believe in only giving the credit where it is due. Usually the Sherpa leader will arrange a get – together at the end of the trek, and the tips are handed out by a member of the group, in an envelope or just folded in paper. A bit of a party is inevitable and you might want to buy them some drinks.
So….have a really good trek! If you have any minor problems, do not let them detract from your enjoyment of it. Note them down, and tell us at the end if you like to share it. We are always happy to hear any ideas for improvements. And, please always ask your Sherpa leader if you have a problem you think can be sorted out on route, they are very resourceful and will always be willing to help.
Some useful tips on Dos and Don’ts…
The Nepalese people are friendly and hospitable by nature and the tourists in general will have no difficulty in adjustment. Here are few things to keep in mind.
THINGS TO REMEMBER:
Have a great time!!
Basanta Adventure Trekking & Expeditions (BATE) ©