Trekking in the Everest region is not just about Everest. Here are a few things to consider on a trek in this part of the Himalaya.
A journey does not start with your passport being checked at the border, nor does it end on your return home. It begins with an idea, followed by much research and planning. Radek Kucharski.
Where can I trek in Nepal?
While it is an obvious attraction, Everest is by no means the only thing a trip to the region will be remembered for. From extraordinary landscapes and wildlife to a rich culture and diverse people – there is much in the region to offer the keen traveller. From the fertile plains of the Terai along the Indian border in the south, to the Great Himalaya Range with the highest peak on Earth, there’s a wide variety of landscapes and environments.
Apart from the wonderful Everest Base Camp trek, you can choose to walk along quieter trails from Jiri or Lukla, taking in rural Nepal. Namche Bazaar, a tourist hotspot, can also be the startpoint of a trek to Gokyo, passing the longest glacier in Nepal. The classic Three Passes Trek also begins in Namche Bazaar. Several treks can be linked together or you can start at different points - there really are a great number of options.
How do I get around Nepal?
In Nepal there is little more than 50km of railways, so the only real choice for travellers within the country is between air and road transport. Nepal has no motorways. Mountain roads are narrow, usually very rough and winding, and a journey by either bus or car may be considered challenging and an adventure in itself. Taxis are the regular choice but make sure you negotiate the rate before the trip.
Do I need a guide?
You do not need a guide to go trekking in the Everest region. However, there are many benefits to doing so. Trekking with porters or a guide, either on an organised group trek or on a trek arranged independently, provides a great opportunity to learn more about Nepal and its people. They also provide further experience, security and company.
Do I need a visa to visit Nepal?
Foreign tourists visiting Nepal need a visa to enter the country. Apart from citizens of some African and Middle-Eastern countries, these may be obtained on arrival at Kathmandu airport or at one of the land crossing points.
Did you know?
The very summit of Everest is grey limestone – rock that was formed in the bed of an ocean!
When is the trekking season?
Although trekking may be possible at any time of the year in the Everest region, there are generally considered to be two main seasons: the pre-monsoon period (spring), and the more popular post-monsoon months before winter sets in. However, these periods receive a great many tourists and the number of visitors has been rapidly growing in recent years. Therefore, you might want to consider other seasons to avoid the crowds.
How fit do you have to be to go trekking in the Everest region?
You do not need to be extremely fit to go trekking in the Everest region. The range of possible styles of trek, the length and flexibility of stages and the diversity of routes make trekking available to people of different ages and levels of physical strength.
Trekking is a matter of walking – you don’t need any particular skills to do it. However, trekking inevitably means spending days in the mountains, changing your routine, abandoning home comforts, and stepping beyond your comfort zone. It means long hours of constant walking, possibly with a heavy rucksack, usually steeply up or down at altitude, often with unpleasant weather as a close companion. You need to be able to cope with a full day’s activity in mountainous terrain, so what you need to practise before the trek is walking. Regular running or any other physical activity will of course help, but walking is most important. Familiarity with mountain walking is especially useful, given the ascents and descents involved, but if you do not live near mountains simply go on frequent long walks in your neighbourhood.
Altitude sickness can be a reality for those trekking in the Everest region and the risk should not be ignored or underestimated. If not treated properly, severe forms of the illness can rapidly become fatal.
Make sure you understand the process of proper acclimatisation and that you are able to recognise the various symptoms of altitude sickness. Never ignore any symptoms. If you feel unwell at altitude, assume it is altitude-related unless an alternative explanation is obvious. Observe your condition and that of those travelling with you, including porters and guides. Remember that anyone can become ill, no matter their number of visits, their age, or fitness.
Trekking at altitude as high as this in the Everest region, you need to drink a lot. Dehydration puts you at risk of health problems – strength is lost very fast, you may suffer cold, the acclimatisation process is disturbed. It is said that at altitude you should drink 4–5 litres a day (as well as water taken in food). Figures aside, you simply need to observe your body. Do not let yourself become too thirsty – if you do, you are probably dehydrated already. You should be urinating a few times each day, and note that the liquid should be light in colour. If it is dark you’re not drinking enough. Be prepared to drink at night by having a bottle of water near your bed. Alcohol must be avoided at altitude.
The use of water from small streams, or tap water at lodges (which is taken directly from small streams) is strongly recommended. This water, however, must be treated before it is safe to drink.
The 2015 Earthquake
On 25 April 2015, Nepal was hit by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake, followed by a number of significant aftershocks over subsequent months. About 9000 people were killed and more than 22,000 injured. Around 600,000 houses were destroyed and something like 950 hospitals and clinics were damaged. A large number of heritage monuments in Kathmandu were also either destroyed or damaged. It is estimated that 700,000 people were driven into poverty, but with international aid and the resilience of the local Nepalis, the country is being restored. Much of the infrastructure has been rebuilt, some of the monuments have already been renovated, and other works are in progress. Nepal is recovering, and from a visitor’s point of view, tourist-related infrastructure and services are back to normal. Open for business once more, the country needs visitors, not only for the income they bring to thousands of local people, but also for the show of solidarity which gives strength and confidence.