"The Hidden Valley"
Tsum Valley- 20 days
In the Ganesh Himal's lap.
Walking through this isolated valley transmits a lot of peace and at the same time getting the sense of spirituality and knowledge of an ancient culture.
The route begins the same as the Manaslu trekking, but during the third day we deviate towards a beautiful and remote valley located under the Ganesh Himal mountain range 7,140m. From there we enter a world of ancestral tradition and Buddhist rituals that have been maintained over time, thanks to the isolation that this area has experienced. It was only in 2008 that they opened the trekking route to tourism.
We will cross beautiful forests and beautiful traditional villages with their ancient temples and gumpas.
We can go up to the base camp of the Ganesh Himal 4,200m, from where we have wonderful views of Manaslu 8,153m, Ganesh Himal 7,140m, Shringi Himal, Himalchuli 7,893m, Boudha Himal and more …
An incredible and remote place where time has stood still.
You can add your route with the Manaslu trek, extending your trip for one more week …
Of course, we will visit Kathmandu and its monuments declared as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.
Casi no hay riesgo de sufrir mal de altura, ya que el ascenso va a ser muy progresivo y con tiempo suficiente para aclimatar. Las jornadas de trekking suelen ser de unas 5 horas y caminas de 10 a 15Km/día, aunque hay días más duros que otros.
The Tsum Valley is located in the Manaslu area which opened the trekking route to tourism in 2008, and still maintains its unique culture as it did centuries ago. This is largely due to the fact that it is a pilgrimage area for Buddhist culture and also because it is a fairly isolated area, hidden behind the Ganesh Himal mountain range. It can only be entered through a narrow canyon and on the other side it has the border with Tibet through two hills of more than 5,000 m (historical trade routes of the yak caravans).
The local population is mainly of Tibetan origin and speak a unique dialect. They are hospitable and humble, and have lived harmoniously with the environment with very strict rules regarding the influence of the human being on nature.
They even went on to write these rules that were passed by the Nepalese government in 1972:
Don’t kill animals, don’t hunt, don’t collect honey, don’t sell animals to butchers, don’t cage animals, don’t trade meat, and don’t burn forests. Of course you can’t fish either.
It is believed that because of this there is an amazing abundance of wildlife, compared to other areas of Nepal. Apart from the typical yaks that graze on large plains, we can also see large flocks of blue sheep, horses, Thar (Himalayan goat), monkeys and various birds.
La ruta transcurre básicamente siguiendo el cauce del río Shear, que se origina en los glaciares del Ganesh Himal y Sringi Himal, y sube atravesando bosques de rododendros y preciosos pueblos rodeados de campos de cultivos. Conforme caminamos encontraremos muchos monasterios y gompas realmente antiguas, pero que no están descuidadas en absoluto. La tradición religiosa está fuertemente arraigada y en los monasterios viven monjes todo el año y hacen pujas y rituales de forma cotidiana a petición de la gente o cuando hay celebraciones…
Tienen varios festivales, bailes de máscaras y rituales durante todo el año en el valle de Tsum preservando así sus prácticas centenarias. Incluso en estos días, algunas familias practican la poliandria (o tener más de un esposo a la vez).
Podemos subir al campo base del Ganesh Himal (4.200m), desde donde veremos el Manaslu (8.153m ), Ganesh Himal (7.140m), Shringi Himal, Himalchuli (7.893m), Boudha Himal y más… Aunque las vistas son igualmente bellas durante todo el recorrido.
Tsum Valley es un paraje remoto por donde no ha pasado el tiempo.
One of those magical corners of Nepal that remains as it was centuries ago and lets you feel the excitement of being an explorer ...
Day 2: Visit Kathmandu
Arrival in Kathmandu in the morning. We accompany you to the hotel and after a break we will have a brief meeting so that you can meet your guide and clarify any doubts about the trekking. After lunch you can visit Kathmandu with its World Heritage Monuments and have dinner in one of the many restaurants in the area.
Day 3: From Kathmandu to Soti Khola
Early in the morning the journey begins by private transport (4×4). The route starts in the direction of Pokhara (the same as to go to Annapurna), but in Ghorka it deviates towards Arughat, and the road becomes very difficult, especially in the last section where there are usually many potholes and mud … They are only 135Km but due to the state of the roads and traffic it can take us about 8 hours to reach Soti Khola (710m).
Day 4: From Soti Khola to Machha Khola
This stage begins with a forest track and then becomes a wide trail, always following the Buti Gandaki river. During this day we will see spectacular waterfalls and a lot of green everywhere. We will also come across donkey caravans that go up and down with merchandise. We stop for lunch at Nauli Khola (920m). Then we will cross several suspension bridges until we reach Machha Khola (870m). It is very normal to see langurian monkeys during the days that we pass through wooded areas.
Info. In case you decide to go camping, from here it would be 4 days of sleeping outdoors.
Day 5: From Machha Khola to Jagat
This valley is quite a lot narrower than that of the Annapurna or Everest circuit, so there are many sections where you will walk flanked by impressive walls that will make you feel very small. Other times it widens a bit and we pass by some beautiful sandy beaches touching the river. It is a natural spectacle where the water falls everywhere in beautiful waterfalls and the vegetation is so abundant that sometimes you have to move the plants on the path to pass. We will also pass through several suspension bridges and cross villages of Gurung culture until we reach a beautiful river beach located at Jagat (1,340m). This is where the Manaslu conservation area begins and you must present the permits.
Day 6: From Jagat to Lokpa
First we descend to Sirdibas/Salleri (1,430m), we already see the Shringi Himal, a beautiful snowy peak of 7,151 meters. We will cross the longest suspension bridge in Nepal and then a steep climb to Philim (1590m), a village surrounded by rich fields of corn, potatoes and millet. We will cross the Budhi Gandaki several times until we reach Ekle Bhatti and Lokpa (2,240m) where we stop for the night. Right here comes the detour to Tsun Valley, an incredible area of great Buddhist tradition that runs along the Ganesh Himal.
Day 7: From Lokpa to Chumling
We enter the valley through a narrow and deep canyon and then we climb up a stone staircase to continue through pine and rhododendron forests until the path opens up and at last we see the Tsun Valley. We will descend a bit to go back up immediately crossing a wooden bridge over the Shiar River to reach Chumling (2,360m), a beautiful village of traditional houses with beautiful stone streets and orchards. You can also visit its ancient gompa (Buddhist temple).
Day 8: From Chumling to Chhokangparo
Today the climb will be calmer, along trails lined with chortens and mani walls made of thousands of stone slabs carved with prayers. From here we already have magnificent views of the Ganesh Himal mountain range (more than 7,000m). We will stop for lunch in Rainjham (2,400m) and then cross the Serpu River on a slightly exposed path towards the upper part of the valley until we reach Chhokangparo (3,030m), a town of beautiful stone houses located under the cliffs. From here we can also see the Himalchuli (7,893m).
Day 9: From Chhokangparo to Nile
In addition to the typical yak caravans, in this area we will see a great variety of animals, since hunting and fishing is prohibited in the entire Tsun Valley area (including collecting honey). So we can see large flocks of blue sheep, horses, Thar (Himalayan goat), monkeys and various birds. While we go up we can visit the Milarepa Cave (Piren Phu), where it is said that a sage who brought Buddhism from Tibet to Nepal stopped to meditate. We pass through a huge ornate door to reach Chhule (3347m), surrounded by fields of wheat, potato and mustard. The path ascends a small hill called Polgang, from which we will have spectacular views to the north and south of the Tsum Valley. Then we continue upstream until we reach Nile (3,361m).
Day 10: From Nile to Mu Gompa
We will leave early and cross yak pastures to climb up to Mu Gompa (3,700 m). It is a large monastery where more than 100 monks live and we can also visit a very old gompa. The views from here are spectacular, and if you have time you can go up to Kalung (3,820m), from where you can see the trails that go to the border with Tibet to the east and west crossing 5,000m altitude passes. We can stay overnight in the monastery of Mu Gompa.
Day 12: From Chhokangparo to Gumba Lungdang
We continue down until we reach a small gompa in Gho (2,485m), where we will take a detour that goes down to Dhumje (2,440m). From there, there is a steep climb through pines and rhododendrons until reaching Gumba Lungdang (3,200m), one of the oldest villages in the area, which has just over 15 houses distributed on terraces and inhabited mostly by nuns. We can sleep in the monastery.
Day 13: From Gumba Lungdang to Ganesh Himal Base Camp
It takes approximately 4 hours to reach the Ganesh Himal base camp (4200 m), so again we leave the backpack and take just enough for a day of trekking. We leave at dawn with lanterns and pass along trails that are not very well marked. We will cross some forests, but above all prairies where the yaks go up to graze in the summer (we will see several shepherd huts). It goes without saying that the views are magnificent from the Base Camp. Again we will spend the night in the Gumba Lungdang monastery.
Day 14: From Gumba Lungdang to Lokpa
Today is a long day, so we will start early to go down to the river and then go up some deep gorges and cross some suspension bridges to Ripchet (2,470m). From here we have wonderful views of the valley again. Then we descend some steep stairs until we cross the river at Ghumlong (2,130 m), where we passed six days ago. We go back up through the forest to Lokpa (2,240 m), where we recover the Manaslu route.
Info. If you have more vacation days you can extend your trip by doing the Manaslu trekking from here.
Included in the price
- Transportation from the airport to the hotel.
- Trekking permits and TIMS (Trekking Information Management System).
- English speaking guide and porters required.
- Salary, insurance, equipment and accommodation for the guide and porter.
- Food and tea during the trekking.
- Accommodation in Kathmandu.
- Transportation to Soti Khola (start point of trek).
- Accommodation during the trekking.
- First aid kit.
- Guided tour in Kathmandu and surroundings.
- Entrance to the main temples and monuments of the city.
- Transportation from the hotel to the airport.
- Farewell Dinner / Show.
Not included in the price
- International flight.
- Travel insurance.
- Lunch and dinner in Kathmandu.
- Personal expenses.
- Alcoholic beverages, soft drinks, snacks ...
- Boiled water or water bottles.
- Battery charging for mobile phones, cameras, etc …
One important thing before applying for a visa is to make sure that the passport is valid for at least 6 months.
The price of the visa varies according to the length of the stay:
15 days – $30
30 days – $50
90 days – $125
Info. Prices are indicated for 2020, but may vary thereafter as decided by the government of Nepal . If you do not want any surprises you can see the updated information in the following link.
To obtain the visa there are different possibilities:
1- The visa can be obtained upon arrival at Tribhuvan International Airport, in Kathmandu. You must fill out a form and re-enter the data on a screen that will also take your photo. Then you go to the counter to pay in cash (credit card is not accepted). If everything is correct, it usually takes half an hour between filling out the papers, queuing and paying.
2- The best option if you do not want to queue on arrival is to advance the procedure via the internet, filling out the form and providing the photo in the following link.
Once the online procedure is completed, they will send you a receipt to your email and you must print it to present it at the arrival desk in Kathmandu along with your passport. They will charge you right there and put your visa in your passport.
IMPORTANT: The online form expires after 15 days, so do it a few days before leaving for Nepal.
3- You can also get the visa from a Nepalese consulate or embassy in your country of origin, although the price is a little more expensive for the management. In Spain the Embassy is in Madrid sp.nepalembassy.gov.np and the consulate in Barcelona www.consuladodenepal.org
4- You can also obtain the visa at the border entry points to Nepal by land:
-In Kakadvitta, Birgunj, Bhairahawa, Nepalgunj, Gaddachowki in the border between Nepal and India.
-In Kodari in the border between Nepal and China.
Once in Nepal you can extend your visa by visiting the Immigration Department.
It will be $20 for extending the visa 15 days and then $2 for every extra day.
A tourist can be in Nepal at most 5 months a year.
To enter the Natural Parks of Nepal or any trekking area it is mandatory to obtain a permit. The permits are different in each area, but most can be obtained in the Tourist Office in Kathmandu, near Ratna Park.
“A special permit is required to enter the Tsum Valley area and is issued directly by the Government of Nepal and can only be obtained through local official agencies.”
In addition, a minimum of 2 people is required to obtain the permit and it is mandatory to go with a guide.
– Tsun Valley Restricted Area Permit costs $ 40 the first week and then $ 7 per extra day (normally the first week is enough). From December to August it is cheaper.
Although you will only be in the Manaslu area for one day (from Jagat to Lokpa) you must also pay the 2 necessary permits for this area:
– Manaslu Restricted Area Permit: The trekking permit is $ 100 per person during the first week of trekking, and the nwill be added $ 15 / person for each extra day you spend in the region. From December to August it is cheaper.
– Manaslu Conservation Area Permit (3,000NRs, about € 30)
Info. Prices are indicated for 2020, but may vary thereafter as decided by the Nepal government. If you do not want any surprises you can see the updated information in the following links: Park Entry Fee and Trekking Permit.
Apart from the Park entry permit it is also obligatory to obtain a TIMS Card (Trekkers Information Management System) from the same office. In this document you must fill in your details, the approximate itinerary you are going to do and the approximate dates of your trekking. Also, you must enter your insurance details and the emergency number to call if necessary. You should also put a phone number of a contact in Nepal (it may be the hotel where you stay in Kathmandu).
All this is to be able to track each tourist in case of disappearance or accident, knowing more or less where you can be according to the itinerary you have marked and reviewing the records of the checkpoints during your route.
There are 2 types of TIMS card:
-The green one is for the hiker who goes alone and the price is 2,000 NRs (about € 20).
-The blue one is for the hiker who goes with a guide and costs 1,000 NRs (about € 10).
Info. Prices are indicated for 2020, but may vary thereafter as decided by the Nepal government. If you want to see the updated information, you can enter the official website of the Nepal Tourism Office at following link.
Autumn and spring are the best times to travel to Nepal.
- Autumn (September, October and November) – HIGH SEASON
After the Monsoon rains, in this period you will find clear skies and very good views. It is the most pleasant season for trekking since the days are not too hot. The only drawback is perhaps the large influx of tourists …
- Winter (December, January and February) – MIDDLE SEASON
It is the coldest season, especially in the high mountains, but you will find the skies very clear and the best views of the mountain.
It is also the best time to visit the tropical lowlands, such as the Chitwan or Bardia reserve.
- Spring (March, April and May) – MIDDLE SEASON
It is the second best time to travel and trek. The days are getting warmer and in May flowers and rhododendrons bloom. Fog and clouds are rare. At this time, after the cold of Winter, you will have the opportunity to coincide with many festivals in Nepal.
- Summer (June, July and August) – LOW SEASON
During the pre-monsoon, in June, visitors will have the benefit of flowering plants, but visibility is sometimes reduced with foggy conditions and some rain.
July and August in Nepal are marked above all by the monsoon (rainy season).
It is a time of heavy intermittent rains that cause landslides, floods, road cuts … All this, coupled with poor visibility, mud on the roads and leeches in the lower areas, make trips during this period very unpredictable.
On the other hand, it is a time that offers fabulous days, where each part of the hill and the forests are lush green. You will also see the rice plantations at their best. And another advantage is that the hotels offer great discounts and during the trek you will not have problems with accommodation.
Seasonality affects different parts of Nepal in varied way due to the great variety of altitude and landscape (it is not the same in the mountains as in the jungle).
Keep in mind that climate change is affecting normal seasonality patterns, so you should always be prepared for unexpected changes.
Info. It is recommended to consult the weather forecasts before making any road trip and start a hiking route. Government of Nepal Meteorological Forecasting Division
Are you going to Nepal only to do a mountain trek? Or are you going to visit the jungle area of Terai? Are you going to India, or will you come from there? Do you volunteer at a school, orphanage, health center? Do you collaborate working on any NGO project in rural areas? Will you be traveling for a long time or is it a short stay? Could you have sex during your trip? You love animals?
They are important questions to know what type of vaccines are recommended in each case, although finally no vaccine is mandatory for travel to Nepal.
Info. In any case, it is best to go to an international vaccination center and be properly informed there. Information in Spain.
The vaccines that the traveler should take into consideration are:
Diphtheria and tetanus- It is spread through wounds.
Both tetanus and diphtheria are infections caused by bacteria. Diphtheria is spread from one person to another by coughing or sneezing.
The tetanus-causing bacteria enters the body through cuts, scrapes, or wounds.
Vaccine: After an initial administration of three injections, usually in childhood, boosters are required every 10 years.
Hepatitis A: It is the inflammation (irritation and swelling) of the liver due to a virus.
You can get hepatitis A if you:
- Eat or drink food or water that has been contaminated by feces that contains the hepatitis A virus. Unpeeled fruits, raw vegetables and seafood, ice, and water are common sources of the disease.
- You come into contact with the stool or blood of a person who currently has the disease.
- A person with hepatitis A passes the virus to an object or food due to poor hand washing after using the toilet.
- Participate in sexual practices that involve oral and anal contact.
Vaccine: After an initial injection and a booster at 6 or 12 months, it offers immunity, probably for life.
Hepatitis B: Hepatitis B is a serious liver infection caused by a virus. Having chronic hepatitis B increases the risk of liver failure, liver cancer, or cirrhosis, a disease that causes permanent scarring of the liver.
Frequent forms of transmission of the hepatitis B virus are:
- Sexual contact. You can get hepatitis B if you have unprotected sex with an infected person. The person can transmit the virus to you if blood, saliva, semen, or vaginal secretions enter the body.
- Sharing needles. The hepatitis B virus is easily transmitted through needles and syringes contaminated with infected blood. Sharing intravenous drug paraphernalia increases the risk of getting hepatitis B.
- Accidental needle sticks. Hepatitis B is a concern for health care workers and for all who are in contact with human blood.
- From mother to son. Pregnant women infected with the hepatitis B virus can pass the virus to their babies during delivery. However, it is possible to vaccinate the newborn to prevent infection in almost all cases. Talk to your doctor about testing for hepatitis B if you are pregnant or want to be.
Vaccine: It consists of three injections, the second after three weeks and a final one after 12 months.
Flu: It is considered one of the most preventable conditions thanks to its vaccine.
Vaccine: It is annual.
Japanese encephalitis: It is a viral encephalitis caused by a mosquito (it lives in the Terai and, sometimes, in the Kathmandu valley), especially during the monsoon (from July to October). It is only recommended for long stays in the Terai (especially in the west) or in the Kathmandu Valley.
Vaccine: Consists of three injections within three to four weeks and one booster after three years.
Meningococcal meningitis: The bacteria is transmitted from person to person through droplets from respiratory secretions or from the throat. The spread of the disease is facilitated by close and prolonged contact (kissing, sneezing, coughing, dormitories, shared dishes and cutlery) with an infected person.
Only recommended for individuals exposed to high risk and for residents.
Vaccine: A single dose with a booster every three to five years.
Polio: Serious disease with easy transmission, still present in Nepal.
Vaccine: Usually inoculated in childhood and requires a booster at age 10.
Rabies: Serious disease with easy transmission, still present in Nepal.
Vaccine: Usually inoculated in childhood and requires a booster at age 10.
Vaccine: Three injections within 21 to 28 days. If an animal bites or scratches a vaccinated animal, it will only need two injections, while the unvaccinated will have to receive quite a few more. Boosters are usually given after three years.
Typhoid fever: It is transmitted by ingesting food or water contaminated by faeces (rarely through urine) of patients or carriers of the infection.
The beverages and foods that can most often be contaminated by the bacteria are milk, cheese, ice cream and other dairy products, shellfish that grow in places near sewage removal points, vegetables irrigated with water faeces, eggs, some meats and water.
It is a systemic infectious disease caused by the Salmonella typhi bacteria. It is resistant to drugs and is becoming an increasing problem in Nepal, especially in the Terai.
Vaccine: Can be administered as a single injection or as pills (consult your doctor).
Yellow fever: Yellow fever is an acute, hemorrhagic viral disease transmitted by infected mosquitoes. It is not endemic in Nepal and its vaccine is only required if it comes from an infected area.
Vaccine: Confer immunity for 10 years.
Altitude sickness is a failure of the body due to lack of oxygen at altitude. It usually occurs when climbing to a high altitude without adequate acclimatization. It usually occurs from 2,400 meters and affects, above all, people who are not accustomed to living in high-altitude areas, usually below 900 meters above sea level.
In most cases, the symptoms of altitude sickness are temporary and decrease as the person acclimatizes to the altitude.
The symptoms of altitude sickness usually are:
- Dizziness or vomiting
- Weakness or tiredness
- Lack of appetite
- Sleep disorders: drowsiness, insomnia or episodes of sudden nocturnal dyspnea, that is, waking up suddenly with a feeling of suffocation.
If you are at high altitude, there may be swelling of the hands, feet and face, increased heart rate, or difficulty seeing or walking.
The most serious consequences of altitude sickness are altitude pulmonary edema and altitude cerebral edema. In these cases, the result can be fatal if you do not descend to lower altitudes quickly.
How to prevent altitude sickness:
The main way to prevent or avoid altitude sickness is acclimatization, that is, progressive ascension to adapt slowly to altitude. Even so, it is necessary to know that no matter how much an acclimatization calendar is followed, it is possible that symptoms of altitude sickness occur. A rule stated by the International Union of Mountaineering Associations (UIAA) is that the maximum daily altitude increase is 500 meters once 3,000 meters above sea level are reached, taking a rest day without ascending every 3 or 4 days.
A good way to prevent altitude sickness is to be hydrated by drinking at least 4 or 5 liters of water a day and to maintain a varied and carbohydrate-rich diet. It is advisable to avoid alcohol and tobacco and very large meals.
Another effective method to help to prevent altitude sickness is to rest. Sleep at least 8 hours and do not try to make great physical efforts.
There is a saying that goes: “Drink before you are thirsty, eat before you are hungry, wrap yourself before you are cold and rest before exhaustion”.Follow it strictly to prevent altitude sickness.
In the event that you notice symptoms of altitude sickness, do not continue ascending, especially to sleep. You can take some pain relief for your headache, but if your symptoms get worse, you should go down and rest until they go away, or, if possible, visit a doctor.
For travelers, the main health problem associated with eating contaminated food and water is traveler’s diarrhea, which can be caused by different infectious agents.
When you are traveling and you have everything planned, nobody likes to have to be locked up for a couple of days in the toilet, especially in the latrines of Nepal.
Nothing has to happen…, but always prevention is better than cure.
- Eat only properly cooked food that is still hot.
- Avoid cooked food kept at room temperature for several hours.
- Avoid consuming raw fish, shellfish or other raw foods, except fruits that you have previously peeled yourself.
- Avoid fruits with damaged skin. Do not eat raw vegetables, pay special attention to salads.
- Avoid dishes containing raw or undercooked eggs.
- Boil unpasteurized milk before consuming it.
- Avoid ice cream and confectionery of uncontrolled origin, including those from street stalls.
- Avoid food from street stalls.
- Drink only bottled water. Boil it, disinfect it with chlorine or iodine, if its safety is doubtful, or use drinking tablets.
- Hot drinks like tea or coffee are safe.
- Cold bottled or packaged drinks (fruit juices, carbonated water, wine, beer …) that are sealed or in tetra-brick can generally be consumed.
- Avoid ice.
- Avoid brushing your teeth with tap water.
- Always consume peeled or cooked food.
Personally whenever I travel to Nepal I usually eat at street stalls, and once I am in the mountains I usually drink the same water that locals drink from their natural sources, and I also drink freshly milked yak milk and cheeses made by mountain shepherds.
This is because I usually stay a long time, and if I have diarrhea at any time, it will not bother me. But people who go on a very short trip should not risk it.
In town I always drink bottled water, tea or soft drinks without ice. Kathmandu water I wouldn’t dare drink without boiling it first.
In Nepal there are pharmacies and they have everything, but once you start trekking it is more difficult to find a health center, so it is better to take everything you need. You only need one small basic kit per group of people.
- Compeed bandages for blisters on the feet.
- Sticking plaster.
- Some gauze.
- 1 normal bandage.
- 1 compression bandage (elastic).
- 1 disinfectant. Crystalline or iodine.
- 1 Voltaren. Cream for areas of muscle pain, or impacts.
- 1 Vick inhaler To help to breathe well in case of a cold or to sleep at height.
- Analgesics. Paracetamol type. For headache or lower fever.
- Antibiotic. Optional, in case there is a small bacterial infection, pus, toothache, etc …
- Fortasec to cut diarrhea. It does not cure, but it stops it for a few days so that you can finish your trekking in peace. Once you reach a large population, you should go to a pharmacy, where they are very used to prescribing pills to kill viruses and bacteria.
- Antihistamine cream. To treat insect bites or skin allergies. There are no mosquitoes in the mountains, but in Pokhara, near the lake you can find some.
- Oral serum. To rehydrate after diarrhea, you must drink serum. They are powders to mix with water in your canteen as if it were an isotonic drink.
- Antacid. Almax type for indigestion. I have never needed it.
- Water purification tablets or Chlorine drops (faster). The pills should wait an hour from when you put them in the water.
For the trekking you will need a medium backpack, 30 liters. I usually carry a larger one (60 Liters) although I don’t fill it, because it is more comfortable for me to put things in and take things out and rummage through my backpack. In the 30-liter bag you are going to carry it all very compactly and every time you look for something you must take it all out and put it back in a tightly folded state so that it takes up little space.
The backpack should have a plastic protector for rain and for bus trips.
The most convenient thing is to put at the bottom the warm clothes, the sleeping bag, the thermal blankets… and put on top the clothes that you are going to wear every day.
Rolled up shirts and underwear and socks in separate pockets are more practical to find easily without having to disassemble the backpack every time you look for something.
Having the water bottle close at hand will help to keep you hydrated.
The rest of the clothing or anything else that you have brought for your trip in general, and that you are not going to take with you for trekking, can stay in the large backpack that will be kept in the Kathmandu hotel until you return.
It is important to wear technical mountain clothing. It takes less space, weighs less and works better. But you shouldn’t spend a lot of money on expensive brands, since you are not going to climb to the top of Everest. I have always gone with basic Decathlon clothes and it has worked perfectly.
You don’t have to wear a lot of clothes, the less weight the better to be able to walk calmly. So it is better to wash clothes on the way, once you have arrived at the lodge where you are going to sleep. If it is still wet in the morning you can hang it from your backpack and dry it in the sun. The technical shirts are super easy to wash, just to remove the sweat odor, and they dry very quickly.
- 5 underpants.
- 4 normal trekking socks. They must be comfortable for walking in boots. They should not be fat, since while you walk your feet will be hot.
- 2 thick trekking socks. For the colder days and for when you are in the lodge and to sleep.
- 1 thermal base layer (shirt and pants). Essential for sleeping at height in cold weather and for when the body cools down after walking, in the lodge. In theory they are not for walking, since they are very hot and do not perspire well, but in case of very cold they can be used perfectly.
- 2 short-sleeved breathable T-shirts, for walking in low heat areas. They are easy to wash and dry very quickly.
- 2 breathable long-sleeved shirts. To walk when it is a little colder or to protect your arms from the sun. They are easy to wash and dry very quickly.
- 1 long-sleeved shirt for cold.
- 1 pair of shorts for walking and bathing in the river or hot springs.
- 1 pair of trekking pants. They are comfortable, a little elastic and with reinforcement in the knees, ass and especially in the boot area. Breathable and slightly waterproof (they are not usually totally waterproof, but they work well).
- 1 Jacket + fleece lining. Although some models can go together with a zipper, 2 different pieces are personally more comfortable for me. I usually wear the fleece for the cold, but if it rains or is very windy, then I put on the windstopper and waterproof jacket. It is the perfect combination and for me it has always been enough protection.
There are people who like to wear a down jacket. Really for the cold it is the best and it is very comfortable to wear since it compresses taking up very little space and weighs very little.
- 1 Waterproof jacket. This only if you go in times of heavy rain, although it never hurts to take it just in case (it hardly takes up space).
- Cap with sun visor
- Hat for the cold (that covers the ears too).
- Winter gloves. Surely you will only use them for 3 days, but it is very important.
- Neck brief.
- Slippers to be comfortable in the lodge.
- Mid-calf boots. It is very important that they are not new when you go trekking, you have to walk with them before so that there are no scratches or blisters. They must not be rigid snow boots, they must be comfortable hiking boots, but it is important that they are waterproof (goretex).
- Sleeping bag. A compact -10 degree bag is sufficient. Everywhere you go to sleep they give you blankets, but sometimes they are dirty or smell strong, and there are people who prefer to sleep in their sleeping bag. Besides, the 2 days you sleep at height it is possible that with the blankets it is not enough and the bag saves you from being cold.
- Microfiber towel. They are towels that take up very little space and absorb water very well. They dry quickly.
- 1 litre water bottle
- Photo / video camera with enough batteries or charger. In the cold the batteries wear out very quickly.
- Headlamp and batteries. A headlamp is better to put on your head, so you have free hands to look inside your backpack or anything.
- Multipurpose knife with nail clippers.
- Notepad and pen.
- Map. Even if you go with a guide, it is interesting to take your map and see the route of the next day and to be able to mark what you have been doing, to be able to see the name of the mountains that surround you, etc …
- Passport and permits- You have to keep them well, in a plastic bag, but keep it handy during the beginning and end of the trekking, since you are going to pass various controls where you must show them. It is convenient to carry passport-size photos, they can be requested for any document.
- Insurance papers and emergency number. It is convenient to carry it by hand, along with the passport and permits. In the event of an emergency your guide or anyone can see that you are insured and call the emergency number without problem.
- Cash. Even if you have the trip paid and you are not going to have big extra expenses, you always have to carry cash. You never know when you are going to need it, or if you want to have a beer or give some tips, etc…
- A couple of plastic bags are always useful for anything.
- A pair of safety pins or clips to hang the washed clothes from your backpack, and to dry while you walk.
During the trekking you have to take advantage of the rivers and the springs to wash a little, as the locals do.
At the beginning of each trek, in the low areas, you sweat a lot due to the heat and when you arrive at the lodge you want to take a shower and wash your clothes. Normally there is hot water with solar panels, or gas heater, or you will heat a bucket on the fire directly. But as you get to high altitude areas it is more difficult to find hot water, although you do not sweat as much and especially, with the cold and snow, you will not feel like showering.
As you walk, hygiene takes second place… Nobody dies from spending a couple of days without showering.
Although wet wipes are very useful at any given time, they are waste that must be left somewhere, and you really are not sure if they are going to burn it, or throw it in the river, or what they are going to do with it …
You don’t have to wear a lot of clothes, the less weight the better to be able to walk calmly. So it is better to wash clothes on the way, once you have arrived at the lodge where you are going to sleep. If it is still wet in the morning you can hang it from your backpack and dry it in the sun. The technical shirts are super easy to wash, just to remove the sweat odor, and they dry very quickly.
- Toothbrush and toothpaste..
- Deodorant stick- Deodorant spray is dangerous at height due to pressure change, and the roll freezes and the ball is blocked, they do not work well. That’s why stick deodorant is better.
- Shampoo. A small bottle of shampoo is sufficient. No need to carry body gel.
- Laundry soap. One pill is sufficient.
- Lip balm so that the lips do not crack in the cold.
- Strong sun protection cream.
- Tweezers. You never know if you can get a splinter, which can be very annoying, and very difficult to remove without tweezers.
To make any ascent to summits of more than 6,000m altitude, it is mandatory to hire a guide and porters are usually needed to carry the expedition’s materials, food and tents. On the other hand, when trekking on any classic route up to 6,000m altitude, it is not mandatory to hire any guide or porter, but it is recommended for several factors and depending on each person and their circumstances …
A good guide is not just someone who knows the trail, as the trails in Nepal are relatively easy to follow if you have a bit of mountain experience and ask the locals.
A good guide will make everything easier for you, so you can enjoy your trip without having to deal with logistical or communication problems, apart from managing possibly dangerous situations during the trip.
Your guide will help and advise you on anything you need while leaving you space to enjoy yourself.
A guide should be a very experienced traveling companion, with whom you feel safe and free, who knows how to adapt to the rhythm you want to follow and makes it easier for you to interact with local people. They must be very empathetic and adapt to the circumstances that can arise during the trek.
Another advantage of having a local guide, apart from knowing the area well, is that they can explain all the customs and traditions of the place so that you better understand the people who live there and you can communicate with them and ask them anything you are curious about, thus fostering closeness to local people and their culture.
Many tourists go with just enough time for their trip and do not want to waste it on messy procedures that will not contribute anything to the enjoyment of their trip; getting the permits for the trekking, buying the transport tickets and investigating where the buses leave from and which one is really yours, negotiating prices in each hotel or restaurant… Traveling without worries and without stress is priceless.
One more reason to hire a guide or porter is to understand that doing so is helping the economy of many local families. In Nepal there is no big industry or source of jobs that can help the locals to advance and afford education for the children. People in the mountains who want to prosper depend directly or indirectly on tourism.
Go without a guide?
As already explained previously, going without a guide is totally feasible, since it is difficult to get lost, and if you have time you can go to get your permits yourself and take care of finding out the transport you must take. All this makes you much more attentive and more involved in the logistics of the trip. During the route there are sections where there may be doubts despite carrying a map, but you can ask other tourists and locals who cross your path to make sure you do not stray … in the end it is just a different adventure, it all depends on your attitude. You may feel a little stressed in some situations, but at the same time you will feel very good as you go forward and realize that everything goes well and you can solve any unforeseen circumstance that arises by yourself, it can be very rewarding.
There is a chance you could lose some interaction without a guide when approaching the locals to have a deeper conversation, since most do not speak English. But finally you can make yourself understood with gestures and good will.
Finally, whether or not to take a guide is a personal decision. Everyone knows themself and knows what kind of experience they want to live in each moment.
Brief history of the porters:
The distance between populations at high altitude forced their inhabitants to contact each other only by walking.
Any type of trade had to be done on foot, or with the help – not always possible – of animals such as yaks or the less common mules.
When tourism discovered the Himalayas and its incredible landscapes, and climbing one of its eight thousand metre peaks became a target each year for hundreds of people, the porters began to have more work. The influx of international expeditions and ‘trekking’ groups brought out shelters in each town to accommodate and feed thousands of tourists per season: huge quantities of provisions are carried daily on their shoulders to supply everyone’s needs.
In western eyes, the existence of porters is often misunderstood. The image of a tourist walking with his photo camera around his neck, followed by a Nepalese loaded with his belongings, is associated with an exploitation inheriting from the colonies, especially because many times they are very poorly paid and almost all the money is kept by the agencies.
But really the porters are essential for the expeditions and especially for the survival of the Himalayan people, since apart from sustainable agriculture and the management of hotels on tourist roads, many find this work their only paid job.
By hiring porters you are helping the economy of many local families. The important thing is that the interaction is fair, both in the kilos to be carried and in the price for their services.
Info. If you want to know more about the porters you can read this article from El Mundo.
In the city:
In tourist towns such as Kathmandu, Pokhara, Nagarkot, Bakthapur, Bandipur, etc … you will find accommodation of all kinds. You can stay in luxury hotels or in very cheap backpacker hotels … My recommendation is that you look for something in between, that you feel comfortable both with the place and with the staff. Sometimes to save € 3 you end up in a noisy and dirty place, with roaches, where there are power cuts and many times you do not have hot water. And you may find that when complaining about the conditions they do not pay much attention to you …
There are also youth hostels, Home Stay or apartments, almost anything …, you can even stay in a monastery if you like Buddhism and peace.
In the Mountains:
During mountain treks the accommodation you will find are usually Guest Houses run by local families. It is normal to find the children around the house helping with chores, the grandmother sitting near the fire peeling potatoes, the baby of the house on the living room floor on a blanket, and the animals outside …
But in the higher areas the accommodation is more of the mountain refuge type. They have been built specifically to host trekkers and are not managed by families, but by workers who live there seasonally. The prices are usually much higher due to the difficulty of raising anything to that height, and they must also pay rent to the real owners of that refuge that they manage (sometimes owned by the government). The general rule is that the higher you are, the more expensive it will be.
Despite the fact that they are already very adapted to tourism, sometimes you will find smaller Lodges, with the rooms separated only by a wooden plank, with small and hard beds, with a common latrine outside, and that to wash you will heat a bucket of water directly on the kitchen fire. Personally I am attracted to these humble places, but I understand that many times you arrive tired from walking and you need a more comfortable place and a good shower…
All the accommodation is usually very similar in terms of price, both for sleeping and for eating. The difference is in whether they are newer, or with the larger rooms, or if they have a hot shower and sink inside, etc …
To choose I usually go by the feeling that people who run the establishment give me, yes I have felt welcome and if I see that they have everything clean, even if it is humble.
Normally the price is not so important, in the end a couple of euros might not be worth the haggle … and if you liked the place you will end up giving them a tip.
Another thing to keep in mind in the mountains is to bring your light sleeping bag. Everywhere they will give you sheets and blankets, but they will not be changed with each use and they are washed by hand in the river when it is sunny to dry them.
All ascents to peaks over 6,000m altitude require a special permit. These permits are issued by the Nepal Mountaineers Association and by the Ministry of Tourism.
In the following links you can see the list of mountains managed by each entity:
It is mandatory to obtain these permits through a Nepal tourism agency. There is no possibility of taking them out on your own, as is done in the Tourist Office with trekking permits.
In addition to the permit, it is also mandatory to go with an official guide, and normally we will have to hire porters to carry the camp and food during the days of the ascent. Each member of the expedition must be insured.
To the budget of the ascent you must add the costs of the material (tent, ropes, harnesses, crampons, ice axes, etc …) and food.
Apart from all this you have to pay a deposit for waste management in the mountains. This is usually around € 500.
It is important to also add your mountain insurance in the country of origin, since with the normal travel insurance it would not cover a rescue in the high mountains.
All this means that climbing peaks of more than 6000m has a higher cost than any classic trekking in Nepal and many times this makes it unaffordable for any individual tourist (it works best if you mount an expedition and divide the costs).
It is not recommended to climb any summit without the corresponding permission, since you expose yourself to economic sanctions and even a ban on entering Nepal for 5 years…
Info. If you want more detailed information, you can read this article from the magazine Desnivel, specialized in mountain.
The price of the mountains in Nepal.
Info 2. You can also look at the official website of the NMA and the Ministry of Tourism, where they explain the regulations in detail:
Vegetables and rice are the basis of the Nepalese diet. Either out of conviction or out of necessity most Nepalese people are generally vegetarians.
The foods are usually very spicy and use highly seasoned sauces (masalas).
The star dish without a doubt is Dal Bhat. It is the basic food of the country and is prepared with rice and lentils. The dish contains white rice (bhat) and lentils (dal) served in soup form to mix with the rice. It is usually accompanied by a vegetable curry called tarkari (they are usually potatoes), a mixture of spicy vegetables (pickles) and vegetables like spinach or cauliflower (sak). Everything is served on a large metal plate separating each food in its compartment so that each diner mixes it to their liking.
The meal can be accompanied with poppadoms (crispy round fried bread) or roti (also called naan or chapati in India).
The momos are also very popular in the Nepalese diet. They are steamed dumplings filled with meat, vegetables or even cheese (similar to giant ravioli). The momos that are leftover from dinner are usually fried the next day for breakfast when they taste even better. They are usually served with tomato sauce, of course spicy.
Vermicelli (noodles) is the fast food of Nepal. They do them in a moment since you just have to take them out of the bag and boil them in water adding the sauce that comes with the pack itself. The thing is that in most places they dress it with potatoes, spinach and egg … thus giving it a homemade touch that makes them delicious. If you are in a hurry it is the fastest and cheapest that you will find on the menu. As a curiosity, the locals eat it directly from the bag without cooking, as if they were potato chips.
The Chowmein are basically fried spaghetti with a little onion, carrot, cabbage, and if you also want chicken or buffalo meat. All seasoned with spices that give it a mild curry flavor. If you like you can add hot or tomato sauce.
Thukpa is the name of a pasta soup that takes everything … In this case the pasta is usually handmade and has a very smooth texture. It is a dish that fills a lot and they usually eat in the mountains, especially in winter.
Chana. Cooked black chickpeas and later fried with onion, tomato and curry. They usually eat it with Tea Mommo, which is a tasty very soft steamed bread.
Samosa. The main base of the dough is made from white wheat flour mixed with water and oil or butter. It is placed in the shape of a cone and filled with potatoes with onion, lentils, ginger, chili, coriander, cumin and masala. Then fried in very hot oil.
Tibetan Bread. It is a slightly sweet and fluffy fried bread. It is perfect for dipping in tea or coffee in the morning, and you can pour honey on it.
Curd. It is curdled yogurt, perfect for breakfast in the morning with muesli. It is made from yak milk that is boiled in an iron pot along with cloves, cardamom, coconut, and cashew, and then slowly cools to a curd.
Tsampa porridge. This porridge is a Tibetan staple food made with barley flour mixed with honey, butter and milk or tea … It has all the qualities of a good, nutritious, quick and easy to prepare breakfast cereal.
Oat Porridge. This is oatmeal porridge. It is not a product that the nepalis eat, but it is perfect in the morning for breakfast and they have it in almost all places.
In Kathmandu and Pokhara, more used to tourism, they have almost anything. Pasta, pizza, sushi, hamburgers, grilled meat, fish, etc … but it is for tourists, since the locals will always prefer their Dal Bhat.
During the trekking you will have breakfast, lunch and dinner at the lodges and Guest Houses, therefore you should not need to carry food, or a gas stove for cooking, or kitchen utensils … The lighter you can walk the better.
These classic routes are fully prepared for tourism and have a good menu where you can choose what you want for a very affordable price, taking into account that everything you are going to eat has been carried up by porters on their backs which understandably increases the cost. The higher you are, the more expensive the food will be.
In the lodges they can also sell you soft drinks, chocolate bars and all kinds of snacks.
If you want you can bring something from your lodging to snack between meals. Muesli bars, dried fruits, chocolate, vacuum-packed sausage, … anything you might like when you stop to rest.
During the first stages of the trek you will be able to buy fruit, but higher up you will not find any.
In the mountains they make their own alcoholic beverages. Raksi is a very strong millet drink that is usually served hot (similar to white marc, or to Italian grappa).
You will also find Chyang or Chhaang. It is made from fermented rice and is therefore slightly cloudy in color and has a mild sour taste, much like a mild cider.
It is not advisable to drink when you are going to walk at height, but a glass by the fire at the end of the day does not feel bad.
In the case of making an expedition off the classic routes or an ascent to the top, you must bring your food, tent, material, etc … It would also be necessary to hire a guide and porters.