One might consider themselves a trekker and accomplished many great things, but paying pilgrimage with a trek to Nepal changes everything. Many think of Mount Everest when they think of Nepal, but it is home to 8 of the tallest peaks in the world. There are numerous summits in the world that can provide you with an awesome view, but the Himalayas inspire awe on their own.
Since that is something which is virtually impossible to put into words, I thought I’d put together a list of the lessons I learned from my recent trek pilgrimage to Nepal. That way, when you plan your first-time trek in Nepal, you’ll be ready for some of the experiences you may encounter.
1. Chaos in the streets
If you’ve ever watched the movie, Everest, then pay close attention to the first scene of the movie. The chaos you see in the streets is 100% accurate. Vehicles blaring their horns. People shout at each other from across the street. Musical instruments are playing in the background the entire time. Vendors need to make a living, so if you show any interest – real or perceived – in their wares, then expect to be hassled for a sale for at least an hour.
2. You can shop locally
You really can grab all of the equipment you need for your trek in Nepal in Kathmandu or Pokhara. The quality of the equipment is surprisingly high, many shops are selling imitation brand gear (at a low price). You could fully equip yourself for $200 or less if you plan your shopping trips ahead of time.
3. The food in Nepal is absolutely amazing but…
You’ll find that Nepalese restaurants tend to dominate the region, but the culinary experience is more of a melting pot than one might expect. Because of its location along the Ancient Silk Road, you’ll find that Eastern and Western cuisine is readily available as well. There are also some East meets West fusion opportunities to enjoy. Think momo – or dumplings. You won’t find international brands very often, but you will find local versions.
During the trek (especially when you are on the higher altitudes), be prepared to eat lots of vegetables since many animals are considered sacred by this culture.
They serve mostly potatoes (a good source of energy) served in sauces or chow mee with vegs. The good news is that you can have spaghetti served in tomato sauce too!
4. The people you meet on the trail
Trekkers from many different nationalities can be found along the trekking routes in Nepal. You will also come across local people in the villagers. What is unique about meeting people on the trail here is that everyone has a specific purpose for being there. Something has inspired them and they are following that feeling. Why not be an encouragement and positive force with a greeting of “Namaste” when you come across one?
You will also likely be traveling with guides and/or porters. The Nepali guides are generally friendly and most are trained to communicate in foreign languages. Ask for someone who speaks your native language, especially if English is not your primary communication tool.
5. The pros and cons of guesthouses
There are guesthouses available on most parts of the popular trekking trails for the tired trekkers to spend the night. Most of these facilities come equipped with Wifi (R100 – R300 for unlimited usage) and hot shower facilities (R150 to R300). There is also the rental of power outlets for the charging of your phones and batteries (R100), but power outages are common in these areas. Be prepared to bathe in cold water when such occurrence happens or bring wet wipes.
Out on the trail around the guesthouses are vendors who sell homemade ornaments and practical items that can be useful during your trek. Prayer bowls, bracelets, or caps and gloves can often be found for a price that is lower than what you’ll find in town.
Local brands are often stocked as supplies at the guesthouses. If you want a Snickers bar, Pringles, or Nestle biscuits, you’ll want to pick those up in town before you leave. The same is true if you have a preferred brand of tobacco.
6. Expect many different terrain challenges
Snow-capped mountains aren’t the only thing you’ll find in Nepal. You’ll be passing through villages and settlements on open terrain. Forest treks happen before you get to the higher altitudes. Waterfalls and river vistas are the perfect places to linger so you can soak up everything which is offered to you.
Being a first-time trekker in Nepal can be somewhat intimidating, even if you are an experienced trekker with several summits under your belt. These are some of the lessons I’ve learned from my recent journey and my hope is that you’ll find them to be useful.
Have you had the privilege of trekking through Nepal? What advice would you have for someone trekking through Nepal for the first time? Leave us your comments about your experiences and what you learned from them.