We know that planning your first trekking adventure in Nepal can be a little daunting.
There’s plenty of things you need to get sorted long before you get on the plane. Getting fit, clothing, equipment, your visa and immunisations just to name a few. But what about when you actually get to Nepal. How much will you need to take care of when you arrive? Who’s looking after you when you land in Kathmandu and when you’re out on the trail.
The inclusions that matter
Pretty well every company running treks in Nepal says they’ll look after you. Most have a nice brochure and a flashy website. We want you to pay particular attention to your trip inclusions. Not just the things like “airport transfers” and “trekking permits” but the things that really count. Things like these:
- Accommodation in Kathmandu (pre and post trek) at a good quality hotel. Lots of cheaper options available but staying healthy before your trek begins should be your main priority. A hotel like The Radisson is a great place to begin.
- All meals, hot drinks and safe drinking water while on your trek. Nutritious meals and good hydration are critical to a safe acclimatisation schedule. Organising your meals while trekking at altitude is not something you should be trying to manage yourself – especially if it’s your first time trekking in Nepal. If you don’t get your food and hydration right, it’s highly unlikely you’ll safely complete your trek.
- Very experienced trip leaders and guides. Most companies claim this so how can you be sure? Ask questions about the guides that will be leading you. What experience do they have? Are they trained in first aid? If something goes wrong do they have the skills to respond? Ask for their name and maybe even a question about their family. Be sure the company you choose to travel with knows its people well.
- Plan B, C and D. Fact is, in Nepal, plenty of things can disrupt the best-laid plans. Weather will commonly cause flight cancellations and delays. Weather can also cause delays to your itinerary once you get going. Illness or fatigue may cause you to need an extra day or two on the trail. Be sure your itinerary includes contingency days to allow for delays because they will happen.
- GPS tracking of your trip. A valuable safety feature is GPS live tracking of your trip. It’s also a great interactive tool that allows your family and friends to follow your progress in the mountains in real-time. Peace of mind 24/7 for people that care about you while you’re away.
- A Gamow bag. Plenty of trekking expeditions don’t include this but they all should. A Gamow bag is an inflatable pressure bag used to relieve the symptoms of altitude mountain sickness (AMS). It provides another level of safety that you should insist on for any trek venturing higher than 3500m.
- An unblemished safety record. Yes, no serious incidents and no near misses. The good operators will want to tell you about their safety record in the mountains.
- A local person you can speak to 24/7. Better still, a person your friends and family can contact should they ever need to get an urgent message to you in the event you are uncontactable in the mountains. Reputable companies will have 24/7 access to their trip leaders via satellite phone communication.
- Nepalese guide and porter insurance. The fact that many of the local trekking companies in Nepal don’t provide this for their poorer workers is disgraceful. Choose a company that takes pride in caring for the safety and wellbeing of its staff.
- Company insurance. More than 90% of the companies running trekking and climbing expeditions in Nepal DO NOT have public liability insurance. Not surprising because it’s hard to obtain and insurance companies won’t touch the dodgy operators.
Most advertised trekking holidays in Nepal will include airport transfers, welcome dinner and drinks, trekking permits, hire down jacket and sleeping bag, kit bag and probably even a sightseeing tour. We call these basic inclusions. But the inclusions that matter (or lack of them) will often determine the success or otherwise of your trip. They will most certainly affect the enjoyment of your trip and when it comes to safety, can you afford to be without them?