“I want to kick off my Summer holidays with some trekking in Nepal. I have climbed Kilimanjaro in Africa a few years back and really enjoyed it. I basically was thinking something 10 days or less, then I want to head into India and spend a few weeks there. As far as trekking goes I don't really know what my best options are for that time frame and that time of year. I am ok with camping out - just need a few more options.”
Trip planning highlights
Summary of the trip planning conversation
In Nepal, almost all the popular treks are teahouse treks, meaning you stay in a basic lodging each night where you can also buy meals. Pretty affordable, and ideal because you don't have to carry much.
It'll be monsoon season in Nepal in July, but that doesn't mean you can't still go trekking but just that certain treks are better candidates than others to avoid the rain. For ten days, we could organize a trek in the Everest region (up to Tengboche, for example), which would still give you time to explore around Kathmandu. The benefit of the monsoon is that there's less people on the trails at this time, making it a great time to trek despite the chance of rain.
Answers to your other questions, below:
1) How big is the group I am trekking with?
You can either trek with your own guide (and porter, if needed) or if there is a group departing around the same time and same trek, you'll likely be able to join with them, as well. Groups sizes are often anywhere from 3-5 people. More than that, and you lose some of the atmosphere of the trek.
2) What is the language barrier like with the guides?
We only work with english-speaking guides who have been properly trained for safely trekking in the Himalaya, so no problems, there :) Most porters speak a little bit of English that they've picked up through their days on the trail.
3) What is the deal with tipping? Is it expected to tip the guides at the end? What about tipping at the tea houses??
It's normal practice to tip your guide and porter at the end, but you're not expected to tip at your teahouse. For the normal tipping amount, Raj, one of our local experts, will best be able to advise on this.
4) How many hours of trekking per day is expected? When I did Kilimanjaro some days we trekked for 10 hours (which was fine, I just want to make sure I'm prepared).
Because of the altitude in Nepal and that it's generally steeper terrain than most other treks in the world, most people don't trek more than 3-5 hours per day. At altitude, the recommended elevation gain each day is 300m, so it's not advised to have long days of trekking. Some days you'll trek longer, and some people are also faster walkers - so it also depends. We'll outline the length of each trekking day in your itinerary so you'll have an idea of this in advance.
5) What altitude will we ascend too?
For the 10-day Everest trek that I mentioned earlier, you'd reach a max. altitude of 3850m. at Tengboche. If you have until July 27, though, that leaves the option open for a longer trek and higher altitudes. You could go all the way to Everest Base Camp which would put you at 5350m, with the option of climbing up to Kala Patthar view point at 5600m... Quite high, but we'll ensure you're properly acclimatized by then.
6) Stupid question maybe - but I will have to carry all my own gear? What trekking gear is expected that I bring?
You won't need much, considering you're staying in teahouses along the way. You may want to bring your own sleeping bag liner for the beds, a rain jacket, and a few other items we'll recommend. If you're worried about the weight, you can also hire a porter at a fixed amount each day to help carry your gear.
7) If I decide to go straight into India etc from Nepal is there a secure place I could leave my luggage in Kathmandu while I went trekking and just pick it up when I got back?
You'll be able to safely leave your luggage at your hotel in Kathmandu - no problem.
8) At this stage I will be traveling on my own - how safe it is being a female on my own? If I want to spend a couple of days exploring Kathmandu after the trek do you think I would have any problems?
Generally, you have nothing to worry about. Like other major cities, it's wise not to be walking around Kathmandu late at night on your own, but you won't have any hassle touring the city as a single female. Trekking is safe, as well, but we always recommend have a guide with you.
Here we go... a little time this Sunday in between family duties to sitting down to write this down.
EBC during the monsoon can be quite nice, as the area is lush green because of the rains, and there are hardly travellers up there, so you get the best of services. However, the flights are very unsure, so its difficult to determine if you will actually fly to and out of Lukla. If you keep some time free before and after, this can be padded well and done anyways.
We also do the very interesting 5 x 5000 m trek up there (currently a 23 year old girl is doing it for charity, she started yesterday) which covers 5 high spots in the trek, Renjo La, Cho La, Gokyo Ri, Kalapatthar and Everest Base Camp. This takes 16 days.
Another option (just so that you have options) is to go into the Annapurna Circuit when you come, on a 14 - 16 day meander through the mountains, behind in the rain shadow, created because the clouds cannot go beyond the Annapurna Massif, which houses one peak over 8000 m and several over 7000 m... this creates this no rain (or very less rain) area behind the moutains, which is amazing... You will be targetting Manang, the highest fresh water lake in the world, the famous Thorong La Pass, and the Mustang area in Nepal...
Advantages, is that its accessible by road (a tough ride, but better than flights during the monsoon) and you also go into a rain shadow area...
I think you will like this... add some chill time in Pokhara at the end of it, and you will have wonderful time all in all.
But if EBC is stuck in your mind, we can do that too!
Thanks for the detailed reply... This is how I would do it...
1. Come into Nepal on the 6th or 7th, and give two nights before I fly into Lukla to start the trek... the padding is useful...
a. it will ensure that if there are delays, etc... you still do not miss your domestic flight to Lukla.
b. it will help us give you a detailed briefing, meet your guide, talk this over, buy some essentials if required (I will send you a gear list of course)
c. Its a chance to feel you have arrived... some sights and sounds makes you feel exactly that. We can even do a training hike, if you want, though I doubt you will need that.
2. The 16 day trek costs around 1500 USD... actually 1700 USD, including the over 320 USD that it costs to fly in and out of Lukla airport in the Everest Region... so all in all, a real great deal... !!
3. Post trek, there are tons of things to do, in Kathmandu, or around Kathmandu... mountain biking, learning to cook Nepali, even making your own souvenir, understanding Buddhism a bit deeper while talking with a monk, etc... I would say around three nights post trek in Kathmandu can be enough as a teaser... you could stay longer too of course... some people tend to get stuck here much much longer, of course.
The proper acclimatization really makes a difference from Kili treks, common to have altitude problems as they run up the mountain... local style... not safe... in Nepal we are more cautious and build in appropriate stops.
Ok Raj - lets go with the 16 day option for now. If you can send me a detailed cost breakdown of exactly what is and isn't included in the trip etc for me to look over, and we agree on all the details etc and I can budget accordingly then I am happy to lock this in as a done deal the next couple of days :)
Kimkim made this such an easy trip to book. I could log into kimkim and ask questions about anything and everything whenever they came to mind. Things related to trekking or Nepal in general. Kimkim would respond within 24 hours with great information. They were attentive to catering the trekking to what I wanted to do and see, kimkim worked with my budget and time frame to make sure I was getting the best deal possible.
Raj and everyone at social tours was super welcoming! They went out of their way to make sure things ran smoothly and that I was properly prepared for the trek. They checked in with me during the trek to make sure everything was ok. Once back in Kathmandu they were still very helpful and made sure I had everything I needed. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Raj and his team to other travellers looking to come to Nepal. Even if you just wanted to stay in Kathmandu, these guy have so many options for things to go and see and they really put the effort in to making sure you feel welcome and have an awesome stay in Nepal.