Trekking in Nepal: The ULTIMATE guide

Hiking in Nepal is a chance to get up close to huge mountains -- all while experiencing unique cultures.

Trekking in Nepal is high on the bucket list of many outdoor adventurers. It’s the perfect way to experience the world’s highest mountain range. The views are incredible. It’s culturally fascinating. And completing a trek comes with a huge sense of accomplishment.

 

But planning a Nepal trek can be daunting. After all, many folks who hit Nepal’s trails have never done a trek of longer than a couple days — let alone the week-plus required for most of the best Himalaya treks.

 

The good news is, Nepal is extremely well-set-up for backpackers — even those who have little experience in remote mountain ranges. With a little preparation, even newbie trekkers can get out on the trails quickly, safely, and comfortably.

 

To help you prepare for your once-in-a-lifetime Nepal trip, I put together the ULTIMATE guide to trekking in Nepal. I’ll cover literally everything you need to know before you arrive. (Take a deep breath — it’s a long one!) Once you finish reading, you’ll be ready to pack your bags and get walking!

 

(Are you interested in traveling in Nepal, but don’t want to trek? Read my budget travel guide to Nepal here.)

 

Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you decide to purchase through these links, I receive a percentage of the sale at no additional cost to you, which helps me keep this site up and running. 

 

Choosing a trek

 

It can be hard to choose just one trek on your Nepal trip -- they're all so beautiful.
Without a doubt, the Manaslu Circuit is one of the best treks in Nepal

 

The most important decision you’ll make on your Nepal adventure is which trek you choose. Do you want something short and sweet, with epic mountain views? Would you prefer a low-altitude trek? Is your heart set on seeing Everest? How off-the-beaten-path do you want to be? These are just a few questions to ask yourself before deciding.

 

Once you know what you want out of a trek, you can start doing research to determine which trek best matches your interests. Below is an outline of some of the most popular treks, and the pros and cons:

 

Everest Base Camp/Everest + Gokyo

 

Pros: Everest Base Camp is the trek most people coming to Nepal dream about. It’s a chance to catch a glimpse (or several) of the world’s highest mountain. The high-altitude views are incredible all along the way. You’ll get to experience Sherpa culture firsthand. The tea houses are luxurious. You can trek independently. And you can choose between the 12-day EBC trek, or tack on another few days to add the Gokyo region — often said to be one of the best views in the entire Himalayas.

 

Cons: As the trek most people dream about, Everest Base Camp is extremely crowded. In peak season, you may even have to call ahead to reserve tea houses so you’re not left sleeping on the floors of dining rooms! Altitude sickness is a real concern — you fly in (through Lukla, one of the world’s most dangerous airports) and go over 3,000 meters almost immediately. Finally, unless you add Gokyo, this is an out-and-back trek — you cover the same path twice.

 

More information: Check out The Planet D’s guide to EBC.

 

Annapurna Circuit

 

Pros: The Annapurna Circuit Trek has long been Nepal’s most popular trek — and for good reason. The trek starts in the near-tropical jungles around Pokhara. It climbs up through rhododendron fields. Finally, it crosses one of the highest trekking passes in the world — the 5,400-meter Thorong La. Along the way, you pass through dozens of Gurung villages, where you have ample opportunity to experience this unique culture. And you can do it all independently.

 

Cons: Crowded, crowded, crowded. Unless you trek in off-season, you’ll be constantly surrounded by other trekkers. The 5,400-meter pass is no joke — altitude sickness is a risk. Plus, road construction is eating away at the edges of this trek, and fast. What was once a 21-day trek can now be done in as little as 5-7 days. (Most trekkers still take about two weeks by using the trails that run alongside the roads.)

 

More information: Check out Be My Travel Muse’s account of her independent trek around Annapurna.

 

Annapurna Base Camp

 

Pros: Also known as the Annapurna Sanctuary, this trek gets you right up to the base of one of the world’s most dangerous mountains to climb. The views in the final days are some of the best in the entire Himalayas. Better yet, this trek is short — most travelers complete it in 7 days. It’s also very accessible from Pokhara.

 

Cons: The ABC trek is known for being one of the most difficult treks in Nepal. It’s very steep and you must be in pretty good shape to complete it. While it’s less crowded than the Annapurna Circuit and Everest Base Camp, it still sees thousands of trekkers each year and you definitely won’t be alone. It’s also an out-and-back trek, and the views in the earlier days are known for being kind of meh.

 

More information: This guide by Travels of a Bookpacker covers everything you need to know to take on ABC.

 

Langtang Trek

 

Pros: This trek is great for people who aren’t ready to fully commit to a serious trek or who have limited time, but still want amazing Himalayan views. It’s low-altitude — max 3,800 meters — easy, and relatively short, at 7-8 days. It’s also very close to Kathmandu, so you don’t have to tolerate long bus trips or sketchy flights.

 

Cons: For many people, the Langtang trek lacks the number-one thing they come to Nepal for — high-altitude views. You’ll get some snow-capped peaks, but compared to other treks in the country, it’s just not as amazing. The region was also severely damaged by the 2015 earthquake.

 

More information: The Adventure Junkies have a good overview of the Langtang Trek.

 

Manaslu Circuit

 

Pros: Increasingly known as Nepal’s best tea house trek, the Manaslu Circuit has it all. The itinerary is similar to the Annapurna Circuit — start in the jungle, climb up along the banks of a stunning river, cross a 5,200-meter high pass, and descend. The trek takes you up on the Tibetan plateau — to within 10 km of the Tibetan border — and the culture of the region is predominantly Tibetan. Still, for all its amazing-ness, the Manaslu Circuit still sees barely any trekkers. No crowds here!

 

Cons: The Manaslu region is a restricted region, so you must arrange permits through a trekking agency and hire a guide. That makes it quite a bit more expensive than the other treks on this list. Plus, as a more remote and less touristic trek, the accommodation and food is much more basic. You even have to spend one very cold night in tents at high altitude (but it’s really not as bad as it sounds).

 

More information: Read my post on trekking the Manaslu Circuit.

 

Seasons and weather

 

The best time of year for trekking in Nepal is Oct-Dec, with March-May a close second.
In April, you’ll encounter snow on the high passes and cloudy afternoons, but beautiful blue skies and clear weather in the mornings.

 

There are two peak seasons for trekking in Nepal. These seasons bring large crowds to the trails — but also near-perfect weather.

 

The best season for trekking is October-December. At this time of year you’ll have clear views at both high and low altitude. You’re unlikely to get much precipitation, and high pass crossings, while they may still be snow-covered, are generally safe. However, this season is also extremely crowded.

 

The second-best option is March-May. You’ll get some haze at lower altitude and lots of clouds in the afternoons up high. You may also get some rain and snow. But it won’t be enough to disrupt your trip. Crowds are fewer than in the fall, and you’ll get to see the incredible spring rhododendron blooms in the Annapurna and Manaslu regions. This is also expedition time at Everest — so you may meet folks attempting the summit!

 

Popular trails stay open in the wet seasons of May-September and January-March, but some more remote trails shut down completely. Tea houses and restaurants also close up shop. If you choose to trek during these seasons, be prepared for very wet and muddy conditions at low altitude, and very cold, snowy, and potentially dangerous conditions at high altitude. Generally these seasons are best avoided.

 

Keep in mind that the mountains of Nepal are unpredictable, and even if you travel when the weather is “supposed to be” good, disasters happen. The infamous Thorong La blizzard of 2014 that killed over a dozen people hit in October — totally out of season. Always stay tuned and ask about local weather conditions, especially as you get up high.

 

Permits

 

Trekking in the Nepal Himalaya requires purchasing a few permits.
At a minimum, you’ll need a TIMS card and probably at least one more permit when you trek in Nepal.

 

No matter where you go trekking in Nepal, you will need to arrange at least one — and probably several — permits. It’s easiest to do this in Kathmandu, but you also can obtain some permits in Pokhara, Besi Sehar, and even at the trailheads themselves (for an additional fee).

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Most trekkers will at a minimum be required to purchase a TIMS card (Trekkers Information Management System). This allows the government to track trekkers and ensure they make it off the trails — if you go missing, it makes the search and rescue efforts easier. You will be required to show your TIMS card at points along the trail. You can arrange it at the Nepal Tourism Boards in Kathmandu and Pokhara. You’ll need your passport, two passport photos, and 2,000 rupees (US $20) in cash.

 

You will also need a slew of conservation area and national park permits, depending on which trek you choose. The most common ones are the Annapurna Conservation Area permit (2,000 rupees) and the Everest National Park permit (3,000 rupees). A full list of permits needed for each trekking region is listed here. Most of them require passport photos — get a set of them in Thamel in Kathmandu for about $3.

 

If you’re trekking with a guide, they will arrange your permits for you. Be sure to arrive in Kathmandu at least two days before you want to start trekking to leave enough time. Note that the permit offices are closed on Saturdays.

 

Guides, porters, and trekking agencies

 

Choose the right trekking guide in Nepal and they can add a lot to your trip.
Your guide in Nepal will become like family.

 

Another important thing to consider before trekking in Nepal is whether you want to hire a guide (someone to show you the way and provide you with information), a porter (someone to carry your big backpack), or a trekking agency (an all-inclusive package).

 

Many treks in Nepal — including Everest Base Camp, Annapurna Circuit, and Annapurna Base Camp — do not require guides or porters. If you’re strong enough to carry your own backpack, you can set out on these trails completely on your own. Be sure to bring a good map and let someone know your itinerary.

 

If you’re not sure you want to carry your own bag, you can hire a porter for $5-10 a day. Porters don’t often speak great English and won’t usually socialize with you. You should arrange porters through a trekking agency and ensure they have insurance and proper clothing.

 

A guide can add a lot to your experience trekking in Nepal. Most guides are extremely knowledgeable about the trails and the cultures of the people you’ll encounter on them. They serve as companions, translators, and health and safety experts. You can hire a guide for $15-20 a day. Again, check that they have insurance, although exploitative labor practices are far less common in the guide industry compared to the porter industry.

 

If you want to make things logistically easy on yourself, you can also arrange your entire trek through a trekking agency. This is mandatory for restricted region treks — you can’t even get the required permits any other way. Generally you’ll pay a package rate that includes all food, accommodation, guides, porters, permits, and transportation. It works out to about the same price, if not a little cheaper, than paying for everything as you go. I trekked with Nepal Eco Adventures and had a generally positive experience with them.

 

Not sure if hiring a guide is right for you? Check out my post about how to choose.

 

Money and costs on the trails

 

Whether you choose the hike to Everest Base Camp or a more remote trail, you won't spend much money on a day-to-day basis.
Being one of only a handful of trekkers in the restricted Manaslu region comes with inflated prices. Still, totally worth it.

 

Trekking in Nepal is not an extraordinarily expensive endeavor. Once you reach the trails, your only costs will be food, shelter, and a guide or porter if you hired them.

 

Costs rise with the altitude. While you can get away with a budget of about $10 a day in the lowlands at the start of the Annapurna treks, you’ll be lucky to escape the tea houses just before high passes spending less than $25.

 

Accommodation itself is very cheap — usually $3-5 for a room. But tea houses expect you to eat at their restaurants. This is where things can get quite expensive. A meal typically runs at least $5 without drinks. Tea and coffee add another $1 to your bill. Soft drinks are even more expensive.

 

The more remote the trail, the more expensive your trek will be. Restricted region treks in particular cost quite a lot, between the high permit fees and the inflated accommodation and food prices. You will have to arrange these treks through an agency. Bank on a minimum of $1,000 for a two-week trek around Manaslu, Mustang, or Kanchenjunga.

 

If you hire guides and porters, be sure to budget enough for their tips. A fair estimate for good service is $15 per day from the whole group for guides, and $5 a day from the whole group for porters. This article provides more detail about how to determine a fair tip.

 

Trek difficulty and training for your Nepal trek

 

The best time to visit Nepal and attempt a trek is when you're in decent shape and after you've trained a bit.
Trekking in the Himalayas is hard work, but not so hard that you can’t do it with a little training.

 

Nepal’s treks aren’t a walk in the park — this is the world’s highest mountain range, after all. But if you’re in moderately decent shape, you will have no trouble taking on a trek in Nepal. However, the better shape you’re in, the more you’ll enjoy it.

 

On most treks, the first few days and the last few days are the longest and steepest portions. You’ll walk for 5-7 hours a day, with constant ascents and descents. However, once you get up to around 3,000 meters, most trails flatten out considerably. And in order to properly acclimatize to the altitude, you’ll have to take things slower — most days involve only 2-3 hours of trekking.

 

I firmly believe that the single biggest factor in whether you complete the trek is not your fitness — it’s you’re willingness to keep going when you’re a little uncomfortable. You will at some point be either too hot, too cold, sick from food poisoning, sick from altitude, have an upper respiratory infection, be dirty, have sore muscles, have achy joints, and/or be operating on far too little sleep. If you’re the kind of person who can suck it up and keep going, you’ll be fine. If these things really drag you down, you’ll be miserable.

 

I would strongly recommend training for your trek in Nepal. You can start as little as a month in advance. Do some intense cardio (I like spin classes) a few times a week, and try to hike at least once a week. Add in strength training if you can. If you don’t plan to hire a porter, you should also train with hikes where you carry a weighted backpack.

 

For more details on how to prepare, check out my trek training plan.

 

What to pack

 

If you do the Annapurna Circuit Trek or EBC trek without a guide, bring as little as possible -- you'll have to carry it all!
The cardinal rule in Nepal is to bring as little as possible.

 

Packing for a trek is a complicated topic — in fact, I wrote a whole post about it here. However, the short and sweet version is to bring as little as possible, while still bringing enough clothing to cover you in all climate conditions.

 

I highly recommend investing in some high-quality Merino wool clothing. Yes, it’s expensive, but nothing works better for keeping you comfortable on the trail. It wicks moisture, keeps you warm when it’s cold and cool when it’s hot, dries quickly, and doesn’t smell. A t-shirt, long-sleeved shirt, and fleece should keep you covered.

 

Your boots are maybe the single most important item you’ll bring on the trails, so buy them in advance and break them in. You can’t go wrong with these Merrells.

 

You’ll need a down sleeping bag, down jacket, and trekking poles, but you can usually rent or borrow these from a trekking agency in Kathmandu. (They’re extremely expensive to purchase in advance.)

 

Finally, bring some sort of water purification device. I personally prefer the Steri Pen — a small U/V light that purifies a liter of water in 90 seconds. It’s rechargeable, and it doesn’t affect the taste of the water. However, since it is battery-operated, I’d recommend also bringing a backup option like purification tablets.

 

Cultures you’ll encounter while trekking in Nepal

 

You'll encounter many unique cultures when you trek the Himalayas.
Watching an archery festival in a Tibetan village at 3,800 meters, in a snowstorm.

 

Trekking in Nepal isn’t only about the amazing scenery. It’s also about the opportunity to connect with cultures wildly different from your own. In fact, as beautiful as the Himalayas are, this may be the best aspect of your trip.

 

In the Annapurna region, you’ll mostly encounter Gurung people. They practice a Hindu-Buddhist blend — technically associating with Tibetan Buddhism, but also accepting many Hindu deities.

 

In addition to being famous for the world’s highest mountain, the Everest region is also known for its Sherpa culture. One of the most iconic experiences in the Himalayas is visiting the remote Tengboche Monastery as part of an Everest Base Camp trek, where you can see Sherpa culture and religious practices up close.

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The Manaslu region is practically an extension of Tibet, and the culture is heavily Tibetan. You can see one of Nepal’s oldest monasteries as a side trip from the Manaslu Circuit. Say “tashi delek” instead of “namaste” to greet people in this region.

 

Possibly the most culturally interesting treks in Nepal are through Inner Dolpo and the Mustang region. The people of Mustang have long been isolated from the outside world, and have developed totally unique customs and traditions. Meanwhile, Inner Dolpo treks take you to the remote Shey Gompa, as immortalized in the book The Snow Leopard.

 

No matter where you trek in Nepal, remember to always walk to the left of the many mani walls you will pass, and always walk clockwise around gompas, gates, memorials, and other Buddhist relics. You should also remove your shoes before entering monasteries, and never step over anyone sitting on the floor or point your feet at them.

 

Staying healthy and safe on the trail

 

To avoid getting sick on your Nepal vacation, mind the symptoms of altitude illness and bring plenty of hand sanitizer!
With mountains like these, altitude sickness, landslides, and avalanches are all risks to contend with — on top of the usual food poisoning!

 

Nepal’s mountains pose a multitude of risks. And the second you step out on the trail, you’ll realize just how remote you are — and how difficult it would be to get medical attention if you need it.

 

I don’t want to scare you too much. The vast majority of trekkers in Nepal have nothing more than minor health issues. But unfortunately, a small minority of backpackers still trek with little sense of the risks involved. Don’t let it be you.

 

The most common problem you’ll encounter on the trail is minor food- and water-borne illness. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, really. You’ll eat foods you’re unfamiliar with for days on end, all while staying in places where sanitation is not what you’re accustomed to at home. There isn’t much you can do to prevent this besides bringing some Pepto and/or antibiotics.

 

The biggest safety-related risk you’ll face is avalanches and landslides. The Annapurna Base Camp trek in particular crosses a high-risk avalanche zone, as do some of the side trips from the Annapurna Circuit. To avoid getting caught up in it, always cross these regions in a group of at least three (so you can see above you), and try to traverse them before 9 am.

 

Nepali people are generally extremely honest and Nepal is a very low-crime country. However, things do happen. To avoid being robbed or worse, don’t trek alone, especially as a solo woman. Several solo trekkers have disappeared in the Annapurna and Langtang regions recently.

 

Altitude sickness

 

One risk of trekking in Nepal deserves special mention — the risk of altitude sickness when you go above 2,800 meters.

 

Most of the best treks in Nepal take you to very high altitudes. If you aren’t careful, you could experience Acute Mountain Sickness. At its most mild, altitude-related problems are a minor nuisance and discomfort. But AMS can quickly escalate to a life-threatening illness if you don’t take mild symptoms seriously. A handful of trekkers die each year from AMS.

 

All you have to do to prevent this is avoid going too high too fast. Once you cross 3,000 meters, you should not sleep more than 1,000 meters higher the next night. You should take a rest day at the same altitude at least once between 3,000 and 5,000 meters. Trekking higher during the day than you sleep at night is also thought to help with acclimatization.

 

Once you’re up high, you’ll probably start experiencing some mild symptoms like a headache, nausea, and shortness of breath. These tend to be worse at night. At this point, you should stop ascending until the symptoms subside. If they worsen to an intolerable headache and/or vomiting, you should seriously consider descending.

 

If you start to experience dizziness, the inability to catch your breath after 10 minutes at rest, or disorientation (measured as inability to walk in a straight line), you must descend immediately, even if it’s the middle of the night. This is a sign that your life may be in danger unless you lose a significant amount of altitude (i.e. lower than where you slept the previous night).

 

When you can’t descend fast enough, you may need to be evacuated by helicopter. This is shockingly common on the Everest Base Camp and Gokyo treks in particular.

 

To reiterate — there is absolutely no reason for anyone to die due to the altitude in Nepal. You can trek this high totally safely and comfortably. I’m mainly emphasizing this because you do need to stay aware of how you’re feeling (and check in on your trekking buddies).

 

Travel insurance

 

Because of the risk of altitude-related illness, you should not attempt trekking in Nepal without a comprehensive travel insurance plan that includes high-altitude hiking.

 

If you get very sick at high altitudes, as I mentioned above, you may need a helicopter evacuation. At a minimum, you’ll pay $3-5,000 for a chopper lift to Kathmandu. But in more serious cases, you may need to go all the way to Bangkok — which can run up a bill of $25,000 or more!

 

World Nomads’ basic insurance plan covers these types of trips. It’s affordable, at around $100 for a two-week trek.

 

If you hire guides and/or porters, you have a moral obligation to ensure that they are protected as well. (Most anyone you hire through a trekking agency will be.) Some people believe that because many Nepali people are born at high altitude, they’re better adapted to it — but this isn’t necessarily true of your particular staff. Porters and guides regularly die or are seriously injured on treks and expeditions. Spend the extra few bucks to hire a porter through an agency with insurance rather than someone off the street who may not realize what a big risk they’re taking.

 

For more information on altitude sickness and other health and safety risks on a trek in Nepal, check out this post.

 

Transportation: To the start of the trail and on the trek

 

Travel in Nepal is always slow going.
Plan on at least a day or two of buffer time before and after your trek, just in case your bus gets stuck in the mud or your flight gets delayed.

 

Part of the appeal of trekking in Nepal is getting far, far away from the roads. That means that most treks require a long, and sometimes painful, journey to the trail heads. And once you hit the trail, often the only ways out are on foot — or by helicopter.

 

The Annapurna, Langtang, and Manaslu regions are all accessible by local or tourist bus from Kathmandu and/or Pokhara in dry season. In rainy season, you can get to Annapurna and Langtang, but not Manaslu. Bank on bus trips taking at least three hours longer than planned.

 

Additionally, the Annapurna region is criss-crossed by very sketchy dirt/rock roads that only 4×4 jeeps can traverse. If you want to cut a few days of walking along the road off your Annapurna Circuit trek, you’ll have to endure an excruciatingly painful ride on one of these jeeps. (You can now get as far as Manang by road.)

 

The Everest region and most restricted regions are only accessible by domestic flight (or by stringing together additional treks.) The most famous of these flights are the ones into Lukla, known as the “world’s most dangerous airport.” Pilots can only land in near-perfect weather conditions, they can’t rely on radar, they have to deal with an extremely short airstrip, and if they miss it, they can’t turn around.

 

Despite the odds, there are remarkably few accidents. But there are frequent — and seemingly endless — flight delays. You should always leave at least a three-day buffer after an Everest trek to get back to Kathmandu before your international flight home.

 

Once you finally reach your trail, say goodbye to all forms of motorized transport until the end of your trek. The only “vehicles” from here on out are the donkey and yak trains that carry goods up and down the mountains. Always walk to the inside of the trail (away from the edge) when they’re passing to avoid being pushed off, and never try to pass them on a suspension bridge.

 

Tea Houses

 

You can visit Nepal and do a long trek without ever having to camp -- there are tea houses everywhere!
Hanging out on a tea house balcony, enjoying masala tea and an epic view of Manaslu.

 

Unlike most of the world’s epic trekking destinations, you can trek for months in Nepal and never have to camp. Every couple hours along the most popular trails, you’ll find “tea houses” — small lodges that offer beds and food to hungry and tired trekkers.

 

The accommodation

 

Your rooms will be as small as it can possibly be while still fitting two beds inside. The walls may or may not go all the way to the ceiling. You’ll have no insulation from the cold or ventilation from the heat. Bedding is not provided, and your mattress will be hard as a rock and paper-thin. It may sound uncomfortable, but you’ll be too tired to care.

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Rooms in tea houses always have shared bathrooms. The toilets are sometimes Western, but more often Asian-style squat toilets. Bring your own toilet paper. Sometimes you’ll have running water, but often you’ll have to walk outside to fill up a bucket to bring back and flush the toilet.

 

Showers are usually separate from toilets. You usually have to pay for hot showers, at increasingly ridiculous prices as you gain altitude. On the low end, figure on 1-200 rupees. This goes up to 700 rupees at 3,800 meters. Sometimes you’ll have a proper shower head, but often it’s just a bucket.

 

The dining rooms

 

If the tea houses don’t sound too appealing so far, don’t worry — it gets better. The true charm of Nepali tea houses are the cozy dining rooms where trekkers gather at the end of a long day on the trails.

 

At low altitude, dining areas are usually outside. But as you get higher and the weather gets colder, you’ll find more places with indoor dining rooms. They’re usually wood-paneled, reasonably small, and directly connected to the heated kitchen. At 3,000 meters and above, they also usually have wood stoves that the staff lights every evening at 5 pm.

 

Amenities

 

Believe it or not, you can maintain a pretty luxurious lifestyle while trekking in Nepal. Many tea houses have everything you need to stay comfortable.

 

You can charge your electronics at most tea houses for a small fee (usually 2-300 rupees for an hour, or 500-800 for unlimited use for the night). You’ll get access to a solar charger that can fit one device at a time. Don’t ever run your batteries so low that you’re dependent on this, as some tea houses still don’t have it.

 

An increasing number of tea houses now have WiFi, as well. It’s expensive — 500+ rupees for an hour — and very slow, but if you absolutely must connect with friends and family back home, you can. It’s fairly common on Everest and Annapurna, but you’ll only find it every 3-4 days on Manaslu.

 

All tea houses have somewhere for you to do laundry and hang your clothes to dry. This won’t usually involve hot water, but your stuff will get clean enough to wear for another day of trekking.

 

If you’re desperate, you can even buy snacks and toiletries at tea houses. They’re extremely expensive, but if you really, really want a can of Pringles or need an extra roll of toilet paper, the tea house owners have your back.

 

Prices for a room at tea houses are very low (and non-negotiable — don’t be a jerk and try to bargain). At low altitude, a room is just 1-200 rupees. At higher altitude, you might pay 600. The expectation is that you will eat at the place where you sleep, and food is where the lodges really make their money.

 

During peak trekking season on popular trails, you should call tea houses in advance to reserve a room. (You can find ads with phone numbers for tea houses at upcoming towns in the towns before them.) If you don’t, you may end up sleeping on the floor of a dining room.

 

Food and drinks

 

You'll fall in love with masala tea on your Nepal backpacking trip
Masala tea is difficult to resist when it’s freezing out

 

Another big perk of trekking in Nepal is you don’t have to carry your food with you. Since nearly every small village has at least one tea house, you can always find a place to stop for lunch. And of course, you’ll eat at your accommodation for breakfast and dinner.

 

Most tea houses have virtually identical menus, with options becoming more limited as you get higher. In short, the food is every imaginable variation of pasta, potatoes, bread, and rice. On popular treks you can get meat all along the way, but on treks like the Manaslu Circuit, it’s vegetarian-only.

 

The most common and popular dish among trekkers is dal bhat. This traditional Nepali meal consists of rice, soupy lentils, vegetable curry (usually potatoes, with a small chance of carrots or kale being thrown in), boiled greens, pickles, and a thin piece of fried dough. It will fill you up and help you recover from a long day of trekking, and better yet, you can get unlimited refills for the price of one.

 

Other typical foods are fried noodles, fried rice, spaghetti with tomato sauce, fried potatoes and veggies, momos, garlic soup, chapati, eggs any way you like, and even pizza. For dessert, you can have apple pie, apple dumplings, or — something you would only ever consider eating on a trek — a deep-fried Snickers or Mars bar.

 

Typical beverages are black tea, ginger tea, lemon tea, coffee, and masala tea. You can order by cup or by pot. Most tea houses stock (expensive) soft drinks as well. You can always buy beer and, in Tibetan areas, warm millet beer, but you should seriously reconsider drinking alcohol at altitude.

 

Meals generally run $3-4 at low altitude, and $6-8 at higher altitude. Order breakfast the night before and pick a time to eat it. Food generally takes at least an hour to prepare.

 

Stock up on snacks for your trek at a grocery store in Kathmandu. Dried fruits, nuts, and Snickers bars make good options. You can also purchase yak cheese in villages at high altitudes to help power you through the day. (It’s pretty tasty, with a similar texture to Parmesan.)

 

A typical day on the trail while trekking in Nepal

 

Trekking in Nepal is truly one of the greatest adventures you can have.
Celebrating a short day — only two hours of walking!

 

So now you know just about everything there is to know about trekking in Nepal. But you may still be wondering — what does it look like in practice?

 

On a typical morning, you’ll wake up around 6 am as the sun comes up. At low altitude, you’ll be thankful for the cool temperatures. As you get higher, you’ll enjoy the clearest mountain views first thing in the morning.

 

You’ll have breakfast at your tea house — usually eggs and chapati, or maybe muesli with milk and apples, and a coffee or tea. You’ll fill up and purify your water bottles, pack up your belongings, and be on the trails by about 7:30 am.

 

Mornings involve roughly four hours of walking. You’ll keep a relatively slow pace to allow you to stop for photos and enjoy the scenery. Nepalis are big believers in walking “bistari, bistari” (“slowly, slowly”) to preserve energy. You may stop once after about two hours to refill water bottles or just take a 10-minute break.

 

You’ll stop for an early lunch between 11:30 and 12:30. This is another chance to refill water bottles while you refuel. Lunch stops typically take about an hour. At higher altitudes, you’ll check into a tea house at your lunch stop.

 

Then, you’re back on the trail for the afternoon. At low altitude, you may walk for an additional 4 hours in the afternoon. Above 3,000 meters, you’ll leave your big backpack at your tea house and do a day hike for a couple hours, usually to a viewpoint, monastery, or other cultural landmark.

 

You’ll finish walking for the day around 4:30 pm. This is the perfect time to enjoy a masala tea, take a hot shower, and wash some clothes. You’ll order dinner and maybe have some time to read a book or write in your journal.

 

Dinner is usually around 6:30. You’ll eat with all the other trekkers at your tea house that evening while you socialize and swap stories. Then you’ll hang around the dining area — the only place with light and heat — for another couple hours.

 

Trekking is exhausting, so on most days you’ll be in bed by 8:30-9 pm. That gives you plenty of time to sleep before getting an early start again the next day — and doing it all again!

 

As you can probably tell, trekking in Nepal is one of the most amazing travel experiences you can have. You will never forget the feeling of accomplishment after crossing a high pass and coming down the other side. You’ll make friends for life with your guides, porters, and trekking buddies. And you’ll do it all while enjoying one of the most beautiful places in the world.

 

Have you been trekking in Nepal? Did I leave anything out that you want to know as you’re planning a trek? Leave a comment!

 

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Trekking in Nepal is an amazing experience -- but planning a trek can be daunting. This ULTIMATE GUIDE to Nepal treks has everything you need to know to help you prepare... #travel #Nepal #hiking

 

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Jade
4 years ago

Truly epic post! Nepal is huge on my list as I LOVE trekking. Im just waiting for my kids to get a bit older so I can bring them along. Pinned this for future reference!

Mo
Mo
4 years ago

Wow what a comprehensive post! Thank you for all your tips and information. Nepal is still on my bucket list but this one is getting book marked for my future trip 😉

Hannah
4 years ago

This is an incredibly comprehensive guide – so many great tips for trekking in Nepal. I’m not a hiker, but the Manaslu Circuit certainly seems like the most attainable to me. I love the little tea houses along the way – it certainly appeals to me more than camping!

Elaine Masters
4 years ago

Love doing all this vicariously with you. I can’t handle altitude but would love to visit Nepal and dip into the culture. What an amazing time you’ve had. It would truly be wonderful to traverse a mountain pass.

Mansoureh
4 years ago

Trekking in Nepal sounds so appealing to me. As you said, I need to be prepared and fit for that. To be honest, the prices you mentioned are not really high compare to other parts of the world. That is a good news we don’t need to carry our food on the trekking. I should add Nepal to my list

Janna
4 years ago

First of all I want to commend you for doing this trek. I heard that it’s one of the most grueling hikes and for you to accomplish it, is something else! I would love to do this but unfortunately I’m not that fit. Thanks for sharing your tips!

Ferna Mae Fernandez Scarce

I’ve heard and even read trek for Nepal but never as detailed as this. I’ve a friend who went there in 2014 and from that time on, this place has in my mind that’s why I’ve been reading about the place. I like how you categorize from those who just want a trek on low altitude and even sharing that altitude sickness, there are so many people like me needs more info about this and you got us covered. I am also thinking how does dal bhat tastes like and glad that there are more tea available. Very good article… Read more »

Indrani
4 years ago

Annapurna base camp is popular, glad to know about others in this post. Good info about the necessity of permits there. Food scene is expensive, guess that is where they make money. Very informative and helpful post.

Kirstie Saldo
4 years ago

I honestly dont think I will make it out of this hike alive but your post is really detailed. Thank you! Im not sure Im going for this but the tea houses look really inviting! =)

Ami Bhat
4 years ago

This is truly an ultimate guide for trekking in Nepal. I am so glad that you have addressed all the common issues at one shot. On how to prepare, what to carry, permits needed and where to get those…It just makes it so much more easier. Well done with this guide. Cheers

Medha Verma
4 years ago

I have been craving to visit Nepal for quite some time and I have a friend who is going there soon for the Everest Base Camp trek but I don’t think I will go because I really don’t think I am in a good enough shape for that trek. I have also heard a lot about the Annapurna Trek and I don’t think that would be my cup of tea either. From your description, it sounds like I might be able to enjoy the Langtang Trek. The scenery in Nepal is gorgeous!

Agness of eTramping
4 years ago

Wow! Such a great post, Carrie. Nepal is probably the best place on the planet for trekking. I enjoyed my trekking experience there and I hope I’ll get to go back there again and use your travel guide!

Anwesha Guha
4 years ago

Absolutely gorgeous!! Nepal has been on our bucket list for a long time and we will definitely try trekking.

Gwen Kleist
4 years ago

Wow, this is such a great guide. What an amazing trip! I love that you covered all bases, including things like altitude sickness staying healthy. So impressive 🙂

Amy Fujimoto
Amy Fujimoto
4 years ago

Awesome post! Your views in your photos are fantastic and I can only imagine how vast everything is!! Definitely need to put this on my to do list.

Ricarda Christina Hollweg
Ricarda Christina Hollweg
4 years ago

A very helpful guide. We went on a Community Trek in the Annapurna region some years ago. Apart from the great views and cultural experiences I often think about it because we got engaged there. I also wrote a blog post on my experiences. Really a life time experience!

Noemi
4 years ago

I hate it when people use the word ULTIMATE on their guide. I have to be honest, I rolled my eyes when I saw the title but having read the whole post – it is definitely ULTIMATE! You have every right to call it as such. I love the details and also the personal tips you’ve mentioned. I read everything and I’m not even a hiker. :p

Well done on this post!

adventureswithnienie
4 years ago

Looks like you had such an amazing journey! I would love to visit Nepal, I was surprised as how bad the altitude was in Cusco, so I can only image the altitude there. Glad you added tips about the altitude sickness.

Aimee horgan
4 years ago

Oh my gosh, such a detailed guide. This trek is so high on my bucket list but I feel I need to up my fitness levels before I attempt it. Will certainly be saving this for when I do eventually get to tick this off.

Mateja
4 years ago

You put together such a comprehensive guide (bookmarked it)! Nepal and hiking to some of these mountains have been on my list for a while now. Seems like you had an amazing experience 🙂

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