Friday, March 23, 2012

Trekking in Nepal for Dummies – Part 3

Folks, I hope you enjoyed reading Part 1 and Part 2. This (Part 3) is the last part.

Many people are worried about their safety. Is it safe to go to Nepal, they ask? Is it safe to trek? Will a yak kill me? Will I fall sick and die? Well, it all depends on what you do.

The crime rate in Nepal is relatively low. KL is probably a riskier place than Katmandu. There is little danger of getting mugged in Katmandu or any other Nepali town. Unless of course you walk around alone at 2 a.m., brandishing loads of cash and gold. The biggest danger in Katmandu and other towns would be the traffic – so watch how you walk along or cross roads.

Trekking itself is pretty safe on most of the established trails. Remember that these trails are also used by the locals daily. As long as you stick to the established trails and follow basic rules, no harm will befall you. Having said that, many trekkers suffer needless injuries due to carelessness. Stepping off the cliff while taking photographs, standing on the cliffside when encountering a yak/mule train, running down slopes, etc. You will also risk serious injuries if you decide to wrestle with a yak. BTW, you will not get mugged on the trek.

Do not pick a fight with a yak. You will not win.

On the longer, remote and higher altitude trek, there is ever-present danger of acute mountain sickness (AMS). Once you pass 3000m, you need to be conscious of the symptoms of AMS. There is plenty of literature on AMS, just google it. As you go higher up the mountains and as you encounter snow, you may need also to protect your eyes from the glare.

Medical facilities
There are limited medical facilities up in the mountains. Depending on where you are trekking, the nearest hospital could be 3 or 4 days of walking. Some of the larger villages will have a small clinic which might not be of help if you have serious illness.

It is advisable to bring along your own medical/first aid kit (and make sure you know how to use it). If you are really ill and unable to walk, your guide will be able to find a horse or pony to carry you.

On longer and high altitude trek, you should have insurance coverage that include emergency evacuation by helicopter. During my trek to EBC last year, there were people being brought down the mountain on helicopters and there were people carried down by horses.

So on long, high altitude treks, please make sure that your insurance coverage is comprehensive.

If you trek is mostly below 3000m and you are trekking during March – May and Sep – November, you do not have to worry too much about clothing. It will be cold in the morning and late evening, so you will need some fleece and windbreakers. During trekking, your body generates heat, so thick clothing won’t be necessary. I typically will wear a t-shirt (dry-fit) with a fleece on top with my trekking pants. But do keep your jacket in your backpack just in case the weather turns bad.

However if you are trekking above 3000m – 5000m, then you need to be careful about your clothing. Thermals and down-jacket are necessary. You may need a good goretex / mountain jacket. A good pair of gloves will be very useful high up in the mountains. When I trekked above 4500m, my typical clothing during trekking would be thermals, fleece and goretex jacket and pants.

BTW, you can buy all the clothes and trekking gears in Katmandu for a fraction of the price that you may pay in Malaysia.

At 5360m. Upper body : thermals, fleece, downjacket. Lower body : thermals, trekking pants, goretex pants. Others : two layer gloves, balakalava, sunglasses. Underwear hidden. Photo : Monyet King with Martin "the yak" Moguring. Note : trekking pole is very useful.

At 4400m. Upper body : thermals, fleece. Lower body : thermals, goretex pants. Others : fleece gloves, balakalava, sunglasses. Underwear hidden.

Don’t worry about doing your laundry. I never do any laundry and most people don’t. The water is too cold to wash any of your cloths and even if you wash, they might not dry. So it is okay keep wearing the same clothes day in day out. If you just trekking for 4 – 5 days, just one set of clothes should be enough (but you should have one set standby in case the other gets wet). On longer treks, you should have at least two sets of clothes.

What about underwear? I have always used disposable cotton underwear. They are pretty cheap and you can buy them in most large pharmacies.

To shower or not to shower
Most people never shower during the trekking, whether it is 2 day-trek or 14-day trek. It is not worth it. During our trip to the EBC last year, most of us did not shower for 14 days – it was alright. Although it is possible to find how shower or ask the lodges to provide you with a bucket of hot water, the hassle of showering is simply not worth it.

I would simply use the wet wipes to clean my face and underarms. You could also bring along the liquid sanitizers – that would be useful to quickly clean parts of your body.

Important things to bring along
In addition to what I have already mentioned in this and earlier articles, you will need the following :
  • sunblock lotion
  • sun glasses
  • lip balm
  • trekking pole
  • personal medication
For high altitude trekking, please consult with your guide as to what to bring.

This concludes the three part series on trekking in Nepal. What I have written is only an overview. You will need to read up a bit more on specific topics, particular those relating to acute mountain sickness. Read about diamox.
Trekking in Nepal is fun. You need to be reasonably fit but you do not have to be a fitness freak or run marathons in order to trek in Nepal. Even children can do it. Take it easy and go slow. It is not a race. Most importantly, you must enjoy the journey.

If you want to read them again, go here

Please also read my article lasytyear
Everest Base Camp Trek Part 6 : Dos and Don'ts


semuanya OK kot said...

I thought in this cold DRY climate, the clothes you manage to finish washing would dry out in a jiffy. Please clarify. Thanks.

Monyet King said...

SOK, I should have added that the clothes won't dry "in time". Most of the trekking days you arrive at your lodge late in the evening and depart early next morning. Night time here isn't exactly a goodtime to dry clothes. Although it is dry (but more humid at night), it is very cold. Evaporation requires heat energy.

Having said that, if you plan to stay put in one lodge for two days or more, then washing & drying clothes may work. But still, I personally see no need to wash any clothes, especially if I am on a short trek.

AA, CIMB said...

MK, Next time you go trekking in Nepal, please call me. I want to come along. Sounds like a lot of fun.

tours in pakistan said...

Last year I visit to Pakistan for trekking but that Himalaya have its own beauty. thanks for sharing.