Tag Archives: trekking

Day 4: Trekking in the Annapurna Conservation Area from Tadapani to Chomorong and Jhihu Springs

Darkness enclosed the surrounding landscape, with only the muted outline of shapes discernible to the eye. A hazy orange glow, the size of a  appeared to the side of the teahouse, casting a pale light on the craggy outcrops on the side of Macchupuchare. The clouds transformed into a ghostly mist, hovering just below the mountain peaks. The light edged forwards, casting a dazzling shine on the snow capped peaks and rivers of sliver from the waterfalls that crashed down its side. The gloomy pall of night began to retreat, until the entire village of Tadapani was cast with the warming light of dawn. Sitting down  on the edge of the hill, I stopped taking photos momentarily and studied how different the mountains and village looked in the sunshine, when a small guffaw behind me distracted my attention.

 

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“What’s so funny?” I asked.

“Just got a great photo of the sunrise behind a marijuana-looking plant out back,” said one from my group, with a bemused expression on his face. We all had a little laugh, and as the sun began to cast its full rays on the mountains, we swiftly returned indoors to grab our gear and begin that day’s trek.

A few hours later, half of our group stood waiting ahead on a rocky platform in the middle of a muddy patch of ground. Narendra walked a little further ahead of us, approaching the group in long strides and calling out, “Don’t stand in one spot for too long, you’ve gotta keep moving!”

“But why? We’re on schedule to make it to the next place!” someone from the group called.

“No, not that, the leeches!” Narendra answered. At that point one of the ladies standing on the platform let out a shriek and began an erratic jig on the spot.

Leeches. The one thing many people seem to forget to tell you about when trekking in Nepal. When the mountains experience heavy rain showers, the leeches come to the surface and wait near waterways, muddy patches, or even on the edge of leaves, wait to tumble into a hiker’s shoe and feast. Unlike the leeches seen in films, Nepal’s leeches are small, thin and black, and possess the ability to stretch themselves needle thin to penetrate the seam of hiking boots, fabric and even rucksacks. Although they’re not dangerous, simply seeing one squiggling its way into the seam of your leather boot is enough to jerk anyone’s reflexes, which is exactly what was happening to our group now.

After calmly helping everyone inspect their boots for any sign of the leeches, Nerandra picked one of them up by his fingertips, as if to prove its harmlessness. With surprising agility and speed, the leech latched onto his finger and with a yelp Narendra furiously tugged him off his index finger. The porters and everyone suppressing a giggle, Narendra composed himself and turn back towards us all.

“They won’t hurt you,” he explained, “but they can be annoying, and can cause some unsightly blood stains after they’ve had their fill and drop off. They release a chemical that prevents your blood from clotting as readily as usual around the bite area, so just be prepared that the bite might look worse than it really is!

“Try to keep on stoned areas; they can’t camouflage themselves as well on that, and don’t stand in one place for too long! They can be fast and even leap small distances to enter your shoes. The best thing to do is forget about them and just enjoy your trek, you don’t want them to ruin it!”

With wary eyes keeping a watchful surveillance on the ground, we continued along the route in single file, this time careful to keep on the stone path.

 

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The trail eventually led to an open grassy field on the top of a large hill, where a large wooden teahouse sat perched atop. The rain from earlier that morning had been burned away by the sun’s rays, leaving the surrounding landscape in a harsh, clear haze of light. The hilltop afforded the best vantage point to view the surrounding hills, rivers and waterfalls. The hills were thickly covered in green forest, and the river running between two hills brightly reflected the sun. Pausing to enjoy the view, I laid my bag down and noticed another, more rudimentary bag next to mine. The main body constructed of wicker, with braided straps of twine forming two big loops, the basket was filled to the brim with plants and herbs. A small, stooped Nepalese woman came trudging over, and slipped one strap around her forehead, another her stomach, and began her precarious tottering down the side of the hill. Fearing she might fall at any minute, I kept a watchful eye until she disappeared under the cover of the trees.

“Well, I’m not gonna complain about my rucksack straps anymore,” I said aloud, “that lady can show me up any day, and that’s only using her head!”

Our group headed down the hill, with all the previous thoughts of leeches gone and instead replaced with discussions about the estimations of the extreme weights the sherpas and Nepalese people carry up the mountains.

 

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Arriving early at the teahouse where we were supposed to spend the night, we quickly found our rooms and dumped our luggage. Earlier Narendra had told everyone about visiting Jhihu Springs, a natural thermal hot springs next to the rapids where apparently monkeys also joined for a warm soak as well as humans. Following the slippery stone path downhill, narrowly dodging branches and tree roots, we eventually made it to the entrance. While we were sad to see the monkeys were not in their makeshift hot tub, on the bright side our group had a corner of the springs to ourselves. On the bad side, the leeches had made a return.

While they were repelled by the hot waters, the muddy warm areas by the entrance to the springs was perfect conditions for them. We watched as people hopped rapidly to the entrance of the springs, as if they were walking on hot coals, to avoid the jumping leeches, then took our turns rushing through the entrance. After four days of trekking, we all eased our tired legs and shoulders into the waters and immediately ‘ahhhh’ sounds were heard all round. A good hour was spent splashing water at one another, chatting and looking around at the surrounding trees and rapids, hoping that the odd monkey would make an appearance. As the day drew to a close and darkness began to dim the sky, we reluctantly dragged ourselves out of the hot springs and made the quick jig over the entrance and back along the path.

 

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I spent 12 days on Earthbound Expeditions’ Nepal Mountain and Tiger Tour, with our guide Narendra Timalsina, whom I would highly recommend. For more information about the tour, please click here.

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Day 3 of Trekking in the Annapurna Conservation Area: Ghorepani, Poon Hill and Macchupuchare and Tadapani

 

Thunder crashed violently outside, causing the window to shake and jolt me out of my sleep. Checking the clock, 4:30am, I peered outside into the grey gloom as raindrops pelted the window like bullets and the trees swayed precariously in the wind. My hopes sank as I stared at the torrential storm outside, silently wishing it would die down soon. Determined not to let it get me down, I struggled in the dark to yank on my hiking clothes and boots and made my way downstairs, where a few others had also congregated.

“Unfortunately the weather is too bad for us to leave on time; we will need to wait awhile and hope it clears up. For now, I don’t know whether we will be able to make it to Poon Hill now, but the best thing to do for now is catch up on some sleep, and as soon as I think it’s safe to go outside I’ll let everyone know,” Narendra said.

My hopes sank a little lower as I resignedly trudged back to bed, praying to myself that the weather would clear up in a couple of hours as I snuggled under the sheets.

 

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Two hours later I stood outside, my prayers and wishes answered as I gazed up at the cloudy skyline of the Himalaya range. Although they were still partially shrouded in cloud, it was possible to discern the outline of the different mountains and their peaks. Although images of the Himalyan range of littered everywhere, from stores to street vendors and tourist agencies in Kathmandu, none of it prepares you for the actual enormity and expanse of the mountains. It wasn’t enough to simply look at them from a particular point; they stretched so far into the distance, that one had to walk  along in order just to catch a glimpse as the range continued to stretch further in the distance. My eyes scanned each and every ridge, in efforts to memorise it in my head, when a yelp on the ground below dragged my attention away.

“Oomphf!” down below, a young man that had spent the night camped in a tent slipped in a puddle, half of his side covered in mud. An entire school group had spent the night camped through the storm; by morning, their neon orange triangular tents had been blown into misshapen, feeble positions that forced the students to drag themselves out by their elbows. Watching as a thin line of them stomped and trudged through the mud to the toilets, it was amusing to watch as them as they stopped suddenly, their angry mutterings over their misfortunes the night before momentarily subsided as they stopped to appreciate the panoramic views laid out before them. Following their gaze upwards, I resumed my long fixation at the mountains until Narendra’s voice called us to begin our trek up the mountains.

 

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Any morose I might have felt at not reaching Poon Hill vanished as we reached the hilltop; with the weather rapidly clearing, every crag and overhang on the mountains were  clearly visible. Earlier Narendra had broken the news to us that our late start due to the weather meant a detour up Poon Hill was impossible; but he promised to take us up another hill just along our path that had equally good views of the Himalaya range. True to his word, we scrambled to the top and exchanged excited words with one another, as well as other groups and out porters. Tangles of prayer flags billowed as the wind blew fiercely, and yellow, white and purple wildflowers dotted the hillside below. Undulating mounds of green were crowded against one another on one side of the hill, whilst on the opposite side snow-capped peaks pierced through the stubborn remains of clouds from last night’s storm.

For what felt like hours we sat and stared at the mountains, appreciating how varied the landscape was in such a small pocket of the world.

 

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Eventually, after much goading and promises of more stunning scenery below, Narendra managed to convince our group to head down the hill and once again through the dense layer of trees. Just before I entered the forest, I turned around quickly for one last glance at the Himalayas before they slipped from view.

Once again, Nerendra’s hype had lived up to his promise. Small waterfalls tumbled off the nearby cliffs, eventually diverting into small droplets that fell off the petals of purple wildflowers that were rooted into the side of the cliff. Rapids and small stacks of stones, offerings to the various spirits that dwelled there, skirted along our neighbouring path, and shafts of sunlight dazzled brilliantly against the fresh, invigorating backdrop of foliage as we climbed down the never-ending stairs. Every few metres we stopped, taking photos or simply admiring and appreciating the sunshine that had been absent from the morning and night before. Soon the path began to rise again as we left the forest and another flight of steep stone staircases led up the mountain.

 

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“Narendra!” someone from our group gasped in between breaths, “I thought you said earlier that the rest of the trail today would be flat!”

 

“But this is flat, it’s Nepali flat! A little bit up, a little bit down!” Narendra exclaimed, while making snaking movements with his hands. With laughter all round, we continued to huff and puff up the mountain, wondering and discussing what other alternative Nepalese definitions existed.

Entering a clearing at the top of the staircase we all shuffled into the centre and suddenly, the Himalayas reappeared into view. Nearby was our accommodation, which although very basic, provided us with the best views of Macchupuchare, or Fishtail Mountain.  It is believed this mountain to be particularly sacred to the god Shiva, and as a result it is forbidden for mountaineers to summit or climb it.

With the sun out full blaze, everyone quickly assembled onto the front yard, the porters playing a Nepalese board game, Narendra flitting about and chatting to everyone and the rest drinking beer, playing cards and taking photos., occasionally stopping to admire the towering backdrop of the Himalayas. As the day drew to a close and we moved inside, Narendra organised a group huddle and explained, “Tomorrow morning, you will get the best sunrise views of the mountains, so make sure you’re up early, say 4:30am, if you want to take photos. I’ll be up to knock on doors if you like!”

Excited at the prospect of sunrise views, we all made note to rise early, and then resumed our babble around the table over steaming portions of dinner as the sun slipped from view.

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I spent 12 days on Earthbound Expeditions’ Nepal Mountain and Tiger Tour, with our guide Narendra Timalsina, whom I would highly recommend. For more information about the tour, please click here.

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Day 1: Trekking from Pokhara to Laxmi

 

We had been walking for several hours, but my enthusiasm had yet to die down. Like many others, I had spent years dreaming of visiting Nepal, only my visions of mountainous scenery were met with an altogether different scene when I exited Kathmandu airport. While the first few days in Nepal were met with a little trepidation that the entire country would match the hectic traffic and pollution of Kathmandu, the subsequent drive to Pokhara and our eventual stopping point allayed my fears. Instead, I spied from my window waterfalls thundering down gorges, with mountains in the purest shades of green towering over them. Rice paddy fields were hewn into the side of the cliff, as though they were a series of stairs that could tumble down the side at any moment. Lorries bedecked in every colour imaginable with tassels and other decorations normally reserved for ball gowns chugged past.

 

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Safe to say, by the time we had reached our starting point, I was bouncing on the spot in my eagerness to get hiking. And while I was revving to hike up the mountains, my pace had slowed considerably to stop and take photos of every waterfall and flower I saw. It was exactly this eagerness, and that of my fellow hikers, that our group’s guide Narendra was trying to tame.

 

“Guys, save your camera battery, there is scenery much better than this further up the mountains! Plus, we’re close to our lunch spot….” he called out. The promise of food and unimaginably breathtaking scenery instantly focused our efforts, and within a short interval we made it to our spot.

 

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One of the things travel companies forget to tell visitors to Nepal is the abundance of oxen and yak that inhabit the Himalayas. Every settlement we trekked through contained several, and near the end of our first day we happened across our first yak/oxen. This being the first time myself and several of our group had seen one, we leaned in closer to the fence to take a photo.

“Ahh no, I wouldn’t get to close to them. These aren’t like cows, they’re vicious, they attack humans and have been known to kill people, ” Narendra explained, and proceeded to tell all of us a story of one of his fellow guides who ventured too close to an ox, only to be chased down the path by it. Just as Narendra was mimicking his friend jumping in the air as the ox’s horns pricked his bum, the oxen standing before us let out a hoarse cough, turned to us with a wide stare and propped his ears up, as if to hear the punchline. Chuckling, we continued down the path, lest we suffered the same fate as Narendra’s friend.

 

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After a refreshing dip in a nearby waterfall, which was deceptively fast and caused several of us to fall over (myself multiple times, erasing any gracefulness I might have had) our group settled around a large table on the front porch of the Laxmi Guesthouse, drinking Everest beer, listening to music and chatting frequently, stopping only to watch the odd horse or group of pack mules wander past. With nightfall descending we joined our sherpas and Narendra inside, where we all sang and danced to Nepalese music; despite everyone’s best efforts no one could beat Narendra’s ‘chicken dance’.

After a third round of drinks Narenda warned us, “Make sure you don’t drink too much, you’ve all got a hard day tomorrow, and the last thing you want when climbing those stairs is a hangover!”

The thought of dragging ourselves up a never-ending series of steps up the mountainside while acclimatising to the altitude was warning enough for us. Well, most of us, as we found out the next morning.

 

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I spent 12 days on Earthbound Expeditions’ Nepal Mountain and Tiger Tour, with our guide Narendra Timalsina, whom I would highly recommend. For more information about the tour, please click here.

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Product Review: Women’s Asolo Stynger GTX Boot

As outdoor brands continue to compete against one another in producing boots with versatility at the forefront of design, this offering from the Italian brand Asolo is a definite contender on the market.

Technology

The upper part of the boot is made from water-resistant suede leather, with a rubber-reinforced toe to protect the front of the boot on rocky terrain and where boot deterioration would be most prone. Not only that, but the boot also contains the Gore-Tex Performancce membrane, making it waterproof and breathable. The sole of the shoe is constructed of Asolo’s own Duo AsoFlex, which the company claims provides anti-torsion and anti-pronation support while maintaining flexibility and anti-shock capabilities. Similar to the toe box, the heel of the boot is reinforced with a rubber material to protect it from wear and tear.

Overall, the boot is constructed of a mixture of high-tenacity nylon and suede leather that makes it light enough for day trips, yet sturdy enough for multi-treks in the mountains. In particular, the snug, well-cushioned ankle support makes it a good choice for hikes with rocky terrain or varying inclines.

Suitability

One of the biggest complaints about the Asolo Stynger is that it attempts to market itself as a mountaineering boot while only possessing features suitable for hiking or trekking. In regards to this, I would strongly recommend not using this boot for any mountaineering expeditions. The Stynger cannot accommodate crampons and does not provide an adequate amount of insulation for extremely snowy or icy conditions.

In regards to versatility however, the Asolo Stynger succeeds in this aspect. Whether you are conducting multi-day treks with high inclines or declines, walking in flat, snowy conditions in urban areas, or simply going on a day hike, the Stynger is light enough for short walks yet possesses the right amount of durability and waterproofing for more taxing expeditions.

Fit

Like many Italian shoe brands, the Asolo Stynger has a narrow fit; those with especially narrow feet are recommended to try this boot, as it also has a narrow foot volume and close-fitting heel in addition to narrow width. Hikers with wide feet and/or ankles will most likely find these too tight.

Given that I myself have very narrow feet and bony ankles that are prone to sprains without support, the fit of this boot was ideal. My foot was supported around the ankle without constricting it, and the ankle provided enough support but still gave me enough freedom of movement. However, I have tried fitting these boots on dozens of people, and would not recommend these boots for individuals with very wide feet; in most cases I found many customers with wide feet were unable to completely pull slide their foot into the shoe.

Terrain and Feel

For the past year, I have tested these boots in a variety of conditions. From snowy London walks, to rainy English coastal walks with steep inclines and declines, to multi-day treks around the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal and day hikes in tropical conditions in Pakistan, the Asolo Stynger managed to keep my foot warm in the higher elevations of Nepal’s Himalaya region while also keeping it cool in Pakistan’s autumnal heat. In particular, I must praise the boot on its lightweight capabilities, which makes it a good choice for backpackers that must adhere to weight requirements. In addition to this, the boot’s flexibility and comfort meant they required minimal time to wear in, and so far I have suffered no blisters or foot injuries when wearing them.

The only forewarning I give to those interested in trying this boot is to make sure you have enough space at the end of the toe box for declines. The reinforced upper toe is very sturdy, and if you haven’t given your toes enough space or cut your toenails before wearing them out for a hike, you will feel the reinforced upper reverberating against your feet on every declining step.

Verdict

For hikers with narrow feet or backpackers wanting a lightweight, versatile boot, I would strongly recommend the Asolo Stynger. The boot’s combination of nylon and suede leather provides enough support and resilience to ensure the boot will last, without making sacrifices in terms of bulkiness/weight or movement. The boot’s waterproofing properties, in addition to its balance between ankle support and freedom of movement, make it an especially strong candidate over other boots. Despite these factors however the Asolo does not provide hikers with the insulation or the support or durability required for mountaineering boots in snowy/icy conditions.

 

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Nepal Packing List for the Dry Season in September – November

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Possessing more UNESCO heritage sites than any other country and the infamous Himalaya range, it is obvious why Nepal is such a popular destination for backpackers. However its combination of various altitudes and seasonal weather makes deciding what to pack almost as difficult as deciding what sites to visit! Listed below is a packing guide for one of the most popular times to visit Nepal, its dry season, between September and November.

Luggage:

1 50-70-litre rucksack: If you plan on spending two weeks or more in Nepal, and plan on doing various activities like hiking, sightseeing, swimming, a safari, etc., then you will want an approximately 60-70 litre bag to comfortably contain everything, with extra space for souvenirs you want to take back home. If you are planning on staying for a shorter amount of time, or will be constricting yourself to city-based exploration or one sole activity, then you can get away with a smaller-sized bag.

1 20-30 litre day sack: Nearly all tour operators in Nepal hire porters for group treks, and even if you plan on trekking independently, Sherpas are available for hire as well. With tour groups the porters generally walk on ahead to deposit your luggage in your room before you arrive in the tea house, so pack your daily essentials like warm layers, snacks, camera, and water bottles in a day sack.

3-4 waterproof sacks: Nepal has the second largest water resources in the world; just spend one day in the mountains and you will see countless waterfalls, rivers, creeks…you get the idea. Not only are waterproof bags practical in that they protect your clothing and electronics, but they are helpful organisers too. Store your clothing, electronics, toiletries, etc. in separately coloured bags and it will reduce the amount of time you spend searching for items in your rucksack.

Rucksack raincover: It might be the dry season, but much like the fabled ‘Nepalese flat’ (a little bit up, little bit down), dry season actually means- little bit of sunshine, little bit (sometimes lots) of rain. If you don’t want your rucksack to be a soggy mess when you reach the teahouses, a raincover is a must!

Shoes and Socks:

1 pair of hiking boots: When choosing a pair of hiking boots, the most important factors to consider is whether they have waterproofing and ankle support. Even during the dry season Nepal experiences rainy weather, and in the mountains slippery rocks and crossing streams are just waiting to catch trekkers off-guard. If you are unsure of what hiking boots to choose, take a look at my tips for finding the right pair.

1 pair of sandals/relaxation shoes: After spending 6-8 hours hiking in stuffy boots, your feet need to breathe. A pair of sandals or breathable trainers are an ideal choice for relaxing in at the teahouse after a long day. When choosing sandals however, look for a pair that has a high sole for two reason; most toilets in Nepalese teahouses are located outside, and if nature calls at night the last thing you want is muddy feet. The proliferation of mule, donkey, and horse faeces around the mountains of Nepal is widespread, and additionally something else you probably don’t want stuck to your feet after hiking all day.

4-5 pairs of hiking socks: Look for hiking socks that provide thick cushioning around the toes, heel and ankle, but allows breathe-ability around the top and arch of your feet, which are prone to sweating more and don’t require as much cushioning. Look for socks made from merino wool or synthetic fibres, which wick the sweat away from your feet. Avoid cotton socks; these will just soak up the sweat and rub against your feet, causing blisters.

Clothing

2 pairs of walking trousers: Choose loose-fitting, lightweight trousers that pack down small and can dry quickly. It can be tempting to wear shorts, but just remember that leeches are drawn out after heavy rains in the mountains, and it is more difficult for them to penetrate loose trousers than none at all!

1 pair of relaxation trousers: Choose a pair that are rugged and, if you won’t have access to washing facilities, dark toned. If you plan on hiking up in high altitude in the mountains, choose something like jeans or thick trousers, as it can become very cold at higher altitude!

1 dress/skirt: For anyone on an organised trek, many tour operators at some point include a nice dinner or evening out for travellers. Having a lightweight, packable dress or skirt is an easy way to dress up without losing vital space in your rucksack. For inspiration, Patagonia and Royal Robbins do a nice selection of outdoorsy dresses and skirts.

5 tees: Choose approximately three tops in merino wool or synthetic fabric for hiking/outdoor pursuits,  and two in cotton for sightseeing days or relaxing in the evening. Although merino wool takes longer to dry than synthetic fabric, its anti-odour properties make it an ideal choice for multi-day hikes when you don’t plan on washing clothes.

2 fleeces: Trekkers in high altitude will find the weather grows cold and misty once you head up into the clouds! Wearing layers is key to comfort in Nepal, as the weather is so changeable on a daily basis.

1 down/synthetic insulated jacket: For mornings and evenings that are particularly cold, you will appreciate bringing a coat when you are feeling warm and cosy after a long day’s hike or while you’re getting ready for the day. Feeling cold and tired before the day’s begun is a big hit to morale when hiking, and with so many lightweight, packable jackets available nowadays, there’s no reason why you can’t bring a jacket with you. Rab manufacture down jackets that stuff into its own pocket, and several Haglofs and Mountain Equipment jackets include small stuff sacks for coats as well.

1 raincoat: Despite September-November being the dry season in Nepal, storms are still frequent, and when it rains, it pours. Make sure you invest in a breathable jacket with a well-structured hood to ensure comfort while hiking.

1 peaked hat: Even on cloudy days the sun can emit an intense glare, so make sure you wear a hat that provides adequate protection to your face. You can buy hats very cheaply in Kathmandu and Pokhara if you forget.

1 buff: This should probably be listed as an optional item, but its benefits are so many that it should be on every list. Keep it around your neck at lower altitude to protect the back of your neck from the sun, soak it in water and wear it to keep cool in the heat, or turn it into a hat to wear as a beanie at higher altitudes.

7 pairs of underwear: Even if you don’t have washing facilities on a trek, these can easily be washed in the sink. Many outdoor companies make merino wool and synthetic pants specifically for trekking as well, as long as you don’t mind forking over £10+.

3 bras: Pack 1-2 for hiking purposes, such as sports bras, and one for everyday use when sightseeing.

1 pair of long johns: Most teahouses do not have heating, or if they do, they turn it off at night.

1 swimsuit: Whether you’re bathing with elephants in Chitwan, relaxing in the hot springs, or wading in one of Nepal’s many streams, a swimsuit is a must.

Trekking Kit

2-litre hydration system or two 1-litre bottles: It is commonly advised to drink between three and four litres of water a day when trekking in Nepal. If you are the type of person that struggles to drink the recommended allowance of water each day, water bottles might be preferable as they allow you to see how much water you’re drinking, but make sure it is a ruggedised version, such as Sigg bottles.

1 trekking towel: These lightweight pieces of cloth soak up water like a sponge, and are quick-drying too.

Headlamp or torch: Not all teahouses will have outdoor lighting to the toilets, and if you don’t want to wander off the mountain late at night, a headlamp is a small, lightweight piece of kit that will prove essential to your trip.

Swiss Army knife: This is one of those items that you think to yourself, “When am I ever going to need this?” and then you find yourself using it for everything from slicing fruit to picking splinters out or opening bags.

First aid kit: blisters, infected bug bites, and small cuts are all minor injuries that are expected on a trek, but without proper care can turn worse, especially in humid, tropical climates where a hospital isn’t nearby and hygiene standards aren’t necessarily at the top of your priorities when trekking.

Sunglasses: When choosing a pair, look for at least a category three lens, and remember that even up in the mountains on a cloudy day, the glare can cause even the most resilient pair of eyes to squint furiously.

Sleeping bag liner: While most teahouses provide blankets, if you are more susceptible to coldness or are a little picky about sleeping on blankets that have dubious stains on them, a sleeping bag liner is recommended.

Sleeping bag: If you plan on trekking in Nepal at the end of October or in November, the weather takes a turn for wintry temperatures, meaning a sleeping bag is a must. There are loads of choices out there, and if choosing one is leaving you confused, take a look at my advice feature for Go! Girl Guides on finding the right sleeping bag.

Antibacterial hand gel: Keeping your hands clean when you eat is one of the easiest ways to prevent an upset stomach. However not all teahouses provide soap in the toilets, and if you are stopping in the middle of a trail for food, there might not be a toilet available. Bottles of antibacterial hand gel are lightweight, portable, and alot less hassle than constantly stopping on the trail to empty your stomach.

Water purification: Whether you choose tablets or a purification pen, you can save yourself a lot of time and money if you purchase these before arriving in Nepal. The higher up in the mountains you climb, the more expensive bottled water becomes; nearly all the bottled water in Nepal is treated with water purification tablets or purification pens anyway, and will state so on the label, so save your money for Everest beer and fill your bottles up at the tap. Confused about the technology and choices out there for water purification? Read my helpful guide to sourcing drinkable water.

Granola bars: If you find yourself flagging mid-hike, a quick energy boost with a granola bar or trail mix could be just the thing to keep you going.

Trekking poles: These are optional, but if you have had sports injuries in the past then it is worth investing in a pair.

Toiletries

1 roll of toilet paper: ESSENTIAL. YOU REALLY, REALLY NEED THIS. Most toilets in Nepali teahouses are what you would call squat toilets, and almost all of them do not provide toilet paper or bidets to clean off afterwards. Seriously, bring a roll of toilet paper and a plastic bag to stop it getting wet in your rucksack.

Shampoo bar/dry shampoo: Lush will be your best friend when it comes to Nepalese shower time; their shampoo bars come in lightweight small bars that are easy to pack and last a surprisingly long time. For days when you don’t feel like taking a cold shower early in the morning, dry shampoo should be close at hand to give you a quick refresh before hitting the trails.

Soap/bottled shower gel: Make sure you choose one that is eco-friendly, and leakproof.

Razor: This one is optional; some choose to embrace the arm and leg hair on their trek, others don’t feel clean without a good shave.

Toothbrush and toothpaste: This one goes without saying….

Deodorant: Be courteous to your trekmates and bring one along; it doesn’t weight much, it takes up minimal space in a bag, and it will prevent people from keeping a three-foot radius away from you.

Contraceptive pill / tampons / pads / mooncup: Some women choose to skip their period when trekking, but if you aren’t on the pill then the mooncup or plastic applicator tampons are your next best bet.

Sunscreen: Even on cloudy days, the sun’s glare can cause sunburn, so lather up!

Bug repellent spray: Nepal is a humid country, and its mountains are teeming with water: the ideal conditions for mosquitoes and midges to feast on people’s skin. The most effective forms of repellency are sprays containing DEET, but if you want alternative options take a look at my list.

Stomach medication: Your stomach might not have the enzymes needed to digest the Nepalese diet before arrival, so make sure you stock up on diarrhoea and indigestion pills to avoid sudden sprints to the toilet (or tree, if Mother Nature calls at a very inconvenient time).

Rehydration sachets: Stomach bugs and hiking can leave you feeling dehydrated, so make sure you bring a couple of these to mix with your water.

Technology

Mobile phone and charger: Many hotels in Kathmandu or major cities like Pokhara have free wifi for guests, and it is much easier sending a quick message home to family letting them know you’re okay on a phone than lugging a laptop around.

Plug adaptor: You will find a number of different plug sockets in Nepal; bring a universal adaptor to avoid any unnecessary hassle.

E-reader: Lighter than a library and more waterproof too, an e-reader is an ideal choice for relaxing in the evening or on the plane.

Camera (plus additional batteries for SLR versions) and charger: Your friends and family can’t be jealous of your travels if they can’t see where you went.

Documentation

Copy of passport: The more information you have on you, the easier it is for embassy officials to help you out of a scrape.

Travel insurance policy and contact details: Have the number and name of the first point of contact for your insurer, as some refuse to cover a policy if you do not notify them within a specific time limit of hospital admittance.

Details of next of kin: Not wanting to put a downer on the trip, but it is better they are properly notified than to find out through a passport shot on television news.

Details of any allergies or medical conditions: If for some reason you are unconscious and require medical treatment, having a list of any medication you are allergic to or any medical conditions you have will help the personnel properly treat you.

Details of flight and transportation: Keep track of your flight times and numbers so you don’t end up stranded at the airport!

 

Phew! Have I missed anything?

 

prayerwheels

 

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