We have attempted to answer all your most pressing trekking questions in this blog post as we get tons of queries everyday from Ghumante of all level. We have also included some other questions which you didn’t ask but we felt should be answered.
What should I wear? What kind of clothes I need for trekking?
It is best to invest in light, quick dry and moisture wicking clothes. You should avoid jeans, cotton and other heavy materials which are heavy to carry, and in case they get wet by sweat or rain they are slower to dry. Thamel is a good place to buy trekking clothes but if you can, over time, you should collect sturdy and high quality clothes. As they are expensive, one may not be able to buy them all at once. But as you start collecting, they will last you a lifetime.
Often while we trek, we will encounter places in higher elevation where it gets very cold. The secret to protecting oneself from cold is not one thick cloth but layering. You should have 3-4 layers of clothes for cold region. Do not wear tons of layers while walking though. A windcheater is advisable at all times while walking. Also make sure to buy quality socks meant for athletic activities or trekking. They will prevent excessive sweating as well as smelling of the feet.
Clothes to carry: dri fit light athletic t-shirts with moisture wick capacity (most in no. as they will have to be changed frequently in case of sweating), long sleeve inners with similar characteristics, fleece, windcheater, rain coat, down jacket, quick dry trekking pants, inner trousers to wear inside pants in cold climates, gloves, socks etc.
So what about shoes and bags?
Shoes are one of the most essential part of your travel gear specially if you are going for a long trek. Invest in good trekking shoes with good grip and comfortable soles. Even though they may break the bank one time, good shoes will last you forever.
The same goes for backpack. Invest in a good one with adjustable chest and waist support straps, and also shoulder straps if possible. Without these straps, your shoulder will be doing majority of carrying, the bag will move around and it will cause your body pain and exhaustion. Your load will also seem heavier than they are.
Learn to adjust backpack straps according to your size. Ideally your backpack should fit your back like a glove, and be stable without moving parts once your straps are fitted.
What other essential items should I carry?
Heat resistant bottles such as this not only works as hot water packs at night, they can also help you store holy water to take home as JB is doing. He has collected water from all 5 lakes of Panchpokhari in his water bottle.
Depending upon the length of your trip, and the remoteness: torch or head light, spare batteries, power backup, trekking poles, sunscreen (even for men), water bottle (we advise nalgene heat resistant water bottles. At night, you can fill these with hot water and they will act as hot water bottles to keep you warm in cold places. In the morning, the water is still warm to drink or wash your faces), small hand towel, hat to block the sun, cap to protect you from cold, UV protective sunglasses, hand sanitizer, toilet papers, tissues etc. Wherever possible, be sure to choose small sized ones and light as you probably might be carrying this all for days on end.
You should also always carry a small emergency medical kit containing essential medicines for fever, headache, cold, pain or sprain, stomach ache, diarrhea, indigestion and gastritis. Bandages, handiplasts and also some antiseptic in case of wounds.
Esp for ladies,
We also recommend carrying wet tissues meant for your private parts. In many of the trekking routes, it is hard to take regular showers or clean yourself. So, carrying some vaginal wet tissues can do wonders to keep you fresh and healthy.
What about food?
If you’ve seen our videos, you know that we are a fan of chiura and chauchau the forever Nepali staple. Those items are more to satisfy our piro nunilo nepali tongue. One should actually carry small food items which can provide instant energy during arduous stretches of trek. We generally carry granola bars, chocolate bars, a mix of dry fruits, Digestive or other similar fiber based nutritious biscuits, and of course the occasional instant noodles or dalmoth to satisfy our junk food craving. Granola bars and dry fruits go a long way in providing us energy all throughout the day. You can carry other food items also depending upon the nature of the route. And again, remember that you are probably going to be carrying most of these items yourself so focus on low volume/weight/size but high performance.
Nothing beats local fresh dishes though.
How much money should I carry?
Of course this varies for every trekking route but generally, we have found that 1000-1500 Nrs per day is enough for most trails for lodging and food excluding bus fares and others. For some such as Everest Base Camp, this might be too inexpensive a figure while for some other newer routes, this might be more than enough. But for most of the trails, the average expense comes out to be in the range of Nrs 1000-1500 per day. It is almost always cheaper to go in a group as the costs of lodges etc. can be divided equally. Tea house owners are also often willing to provide some sort of consideration for groups.
What should I keep in mind while going to places in higher elevation? Should I fear altitude sickness?
The universal safety guideline to prevent altitude sickness is to gain altitude gradually. It takes people months to climb a mountain not because the actual climb is lengthy. They are giving their bodies time to get used to the altitude. This process is called acclimatization. Same goes for trekking. Especially if your body is not familiar with high elevations, you should be careful about how much elevation you are gaining on a day. These days jeeps can take us from 1000m to 3000m within hours. But you should be careful about how much you can push your body. It is necessary to listen to your body.
Another thing is to stay hydrated. Drink water frequently throughout the day. One of the main reasons people get nasty headaches in high altitude is because they are not drinking enough water. Rest frequently if you think your body needs it.
While going on high altitude treks, we suggest preparing in advance by doing physical exercises regularly at least a month before you head out.
Above all, it is imperative that you “get prepared physically as well as mentally” as put forward by our team member Khim Bahadur Chhetri. At any point in your journey, please do not panic if you feel any discomfort. Assess the situation, if drinking water, taking paracetamols, resting and taking long breaths don’t work, then your body is probably asking you to go to lower elevation or rest longer. Panicking can cause people to hyperventilate or go in shock. Your panic can cause others around to lose their heads as well.
Well, questions you did not ask but we are answering anyway
How should I behave while I am trekking?
Please be respectful of the place, people, culture and other fellow travelers.
When we say respectful to the place, it means preserving its environment and practices. We Nepali have a tendency to throw our trash wherever we like. Around most trails, we find that wherever there is a resting spot or chautara, it is surrounded by wrappers of noodles, biscuits, chocolates, chewing gums and even mineral water bottles. But as responsible trekkers, we should dispose of our trash correctly. If there is no trash bin at site, it is very easy to carry the wrappers with us and then throw them in appropriate places.
Trashes litter the beautiful tea garden of Kanyam.
Worldwide there have been disturbing social media posts of people posing in nude in front of sacred places, wading or walking or diving in lakes where it is not allowed, stepping in places where it is not allowed. A couple years ago, a local committee in Tilicho Lake had to fine two foreigners posing nude in front of Tilicho lake. When we are seeking thrill and adventure out there, we should always remember that those thrills do not have to come at the cost of harming the place and hurting local sentiments.
Similarly, picking up wild flowers, chasing away local wild animals and birds or feeding them junk food is frowned upon from larger conservation view point. In Nepal, we do not have the concept of “stewardship” of nature but this theory advocates that we humans who love nature should be its stewards – friends and protectors – too.
When we say respectful to people, we mean that we should always address the local people respectfully. Sometimes people make fun of different accent of people. But their accent means that they speak another language too – which you probably will not understand. So we should be grateful that they are bilingual and can help us in Nepali language too. We should also always ask for approval first before jumping them up with our front camera for selfies and even for portraits.
We should always be respectful of local culture. It is easy to do if we observe what is happening there and if we listen to locals. Sometimes, people step on sacred places or wear shoes inside holy premises etc. Just because you are unfamiliar with some culture does not mean that you cannot be respectful. Since you are going to a new place, isn’t it wonderful to learn something new apart from what you already know. So, we ask all fellow Ghumante to be aware about the difference in culture and give respect as much as we can.
When we say respectful to fellow travelers, it means not making loud noises, blocking the path, smoking in public areas, drinking and shouting until late at night disturbing all others and behaviors like that. It is one thing to shout in excitement when we see nature’s magic but quite another to talk in loud voices disturbing the peace of everybody. We know that many foreign travelers also display these behavior, but whoever does it, it is most unfair to their fellow travelers.
How to prepare for camping trips?
Please check your tents before leaving to make sure you have all the essential parts including the rain cover. Sleeping pads are a must. You should choose sleeping bag according to how cold it is going to get. There is no alternative to sleeping bag – blankets, shawls etc. are not going to keep you warm unless you carry 5 kilo sirak which is an impossibility. If at night you feel cold inside your tent and sleeping bag, you can line the sleeping bag with your clothes to keep warm. We included this answer because we recently encountered a big group in one of the trekking trails who had carried tents but no sleeping bags. They had these thin flimsy blankets. If there was no tea house to accommodate them in that high elevation, they would have frozen with cold at night.
Disclaimer: The tips and opinions given here are our own. We are not professional trekking guides. We have also learned many of the things we have said above through repeated trial and error and we understand that our suggestion may still be very limited or sometimes not practical. All of you can chime in on the comments section or message us if there is anything more you think needs to be said or if there are misconceptions that we are harboring.
And thank you to all of our followers who have trusted us enough to ask these questions through our various media platforms which prompted us to write this blog. We are in no way experts, but our small attempt to explore our country has taught us a few essential skills. Hope these will help you in some small way. Keep travelling.