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Vanessa’s Top Tips for trekking in Nepal

I’m Vanessa Douglas and I work in the KE Customer Sales & Support Team. I was delighted to join a spring departure of our Annapurna Sanctuary ... Read more
Vanessa’s Top Tips for trekking in Nepal

I’m Vanessa Douglas and I work in the KE Customer Sales & Support Team. I was delighted to join a spring departure of our Annapurna Sanctuary & Poon Hill trek and it’s a pleasure to share my experience with you.

Trekking in Nepal is close to my heart having trekked via the Gokyo Lakes to Everest Base Camp many years ago, followed by a high altitude remote camping trip around Dhaulagiri Base Camp and now a huge tick, making it into the Annapurna Sanctuary and to Annapurna Base camp.

Working in a customer facing role, we receive many questions over the practicality of trekking in Nepal, the specifics of the services throughout a trip and all in all what to expect. I certainly felt nervous after 3 years of no long-haul travel, having not been anywhere quite as ‘remote’ as trekking in the Annapurna region of Nepal since 2019.

It's a big undertaking for many, travelling to an unknown country, taking long-haul flights, checking entry requirements, and arriving generally tired or jet lagged. Hopefully within this blog I can dispel your worries and reassure you that this is one of the finest destinations to travel to and trek in and that this trip is a brilliant option for a first-timer (or returner like me). I'll also share some practicalities, tips and hints on what you can expect while undertaking this incredible adventure.



Visa on Arrival & Kathmandu Airport

I couldn’t have wished for a smoother experience. It took about 5 minutes to complete the on-arrival visa application form at home. You do not pay any money at this stage, and do not need to complete any further personal detail than that which is contained in your passport. There is no requirement for a passport photograph either at this stage. You can only complete this form within 15 days of departure date. I did mine 4 days before.

After submitting the information I was provided with an email receipt which is then presented on arrival into Kathmandu Airport. You carry the email receipt with you and then after disembarking you make your way to the visa connection centre desk. You show the email and then pay for your visa, based on the duration of your stay in Nepal. I paid in GBP (other currencies possible, EUR / USD). There is a currency exchange point in this specific area too. When I was given my change, it was in NPR (Nepalese Rupees). You then proceed to one of the many visa on arrival desks with your paid for receipt.

Here your photo and thumb print are taken, before issuing you with a visa in your passport. You then collect your bag and work your way through the small terminal down to the arrivals hall, passing a number of currency exchange bureaus, and Local SIM card operators. Remember that on return, the departures terminal after passport control is very small but has toilets, a coffee/snack shop and gift shop. You can use your Nepalese Rupees here and it's worth remembering that NPR is a closed currency, meaning you can’t exchange it when you get back home.



Airport Transfer & Traffic

I had two extra nights pre-trip and a pre-arranged transfer on arrival which is part of the KE package. This is a huge relief after 24+ hours of travelling. I see my guide wearing KE branded clothing and a KE sign in the arrivals hall, which falls after meandering past the Bureau de Exchange and telecom shops. It can get very busy here and if you don’t see a KE person, then you should just keep on walking until you do. They will be waiting and wearing KE branding. It takes around 45 minutes to travel to our hotel, close to the Thamel area. On return it took less than 30! All depends on traffic, the time of day and the day of the week. You’ll see why once in country.

There are lots of motorbikes, scooters and cars cramming into every available space of the road or the side streets. There are occasional pavements and not much lighting but drivers do seem to be really considerate. Takes some getting used to but what an achievement when you successfully cross the road for the first time!



Kathmandu – treat yourself to an extra day.

Before heading out on any Nepalese trek I would always opt for an extra day on arrival into Kathmandu. I find it a fascinating place and although I have visited twice previously, it never fails to disappoint. It can also be cost-effective to travel a day earlier or a day later than the holiday itinerary too. The benefits are massive!

You can relax, knowing that you have a full day to recover from your journey, and to relax before starting Day 2 of the trip itinerary which is always pretty early. You can just wander into Thamel (established tourist area) if you are looking for a more laid-back approach to your day, or you can venture further and explore this culturally rewarding city. I thoroughly enjoyed visiting Boudhanath Stupa which is an iconic Buddhist landmark and has lots of cafes and shops surrounding it, Swayambhunath complex (Monkey Temple) for its spectacular views across the city and over to the Valley Rim and Pashupatinath temple on the Bagmati River, which is the oldest Hindu temple in Kathmandu. Here you will observe from the terraces open cremations similar to Varanasi in India.



Local SIM Card / Wi-fi

All of the hotels and lodges on this Annapurna trek have access to Wi-Fi. Incredible! In the hotels it is free, and in one or two of the lodges on the trek it may be free of charge. Howveer, expect to pay between 100-300 NPR for the duration of your stay in a lodge (one night).

The alternative to purchasing daily Wi-Fi is to buy a local SIM card (Nepal Telecom is the one we opted for) at the airport on arrival. The operators are open to meet all flights. You will need to hand over your phone whilst they insert a SIM card and configure it your phone. You pay there and then via debit/credit card or in cash. The price was around 1000 NPR for a package with 25GB access. On this trek you’ll receive a mobile signal on almost all of the days, as well as data roaming with the exception of around the MBC/ANC basecamp areas! It means that if you do wish to walk and talk it’s possible.


Plug Type / Charging

This was an interesting topic as all of the information you read presents a variety of options, Type C, Type D and Type M. I took a Type C and found this to be the most multi-functional. It’s important to note that the lodges all have charging facilities in their dining rooms and they therefore have a multitude of plug types possible. UK, USB, Type C types worked in these charging points which were always plentiful. Charging was between 100-300 NPR per item. On rare occasions there would be a socket in the bedroom for which Type C worked well. Alternatively, take a power bank and reduce your reliance on the lodge while trekking through Nepal.



Water / Hot Drinks

Trekking is thirsty work. Luckily water is available, safe to drink throughout the trek and in plentiful supply. There are numerous ways that this is provided; filtered, boiled (and then cooled), untreated.

When in the cities of Kathmandu and Pokhara it is standard practice to already have a plastic bottle or two in the room, free. When these are empty, you must NOT drink from the taps nor use tap water for teeth cleaning. To reduce the need to purchase single use plastic for drinking and teeth washing, you should use water purification tablets, or an in-built water filtration system such as those made by Water2Go. I, on many occasion used the Water2Go (similar filtering bottles are available) direct from the tap in the hotels, and whilst on trek. The filter makes it safe to drink immediately. A water bladder is perfectly acceptable too, just remember they do not have a built in filter though.

Find out more about Water-to-Go bottles and purchase one here. KE offers a 12.5% discount on these bottles. 

You can buy already filtered or boiled water (which is then cooled, or provided hot if preferred) at all of the lodges at a very low cost, but for the price of a packet of tablets, you can save some pennies for wonderful Nepali Tea or Chai instead. Do try, it’s delicious. A milky version of breakfast tea which can be sweetened, Chai has cinnamon and spices. There are plentiful breaks on this holiday, and buying a cuppa is all part of the whole experience. Hydration is part of a successful acclimatisation process.



Dal Bhat Power 24 hour – Typical Meals

One of the biggest surprises on my first trek in Nepal was the food. You are rewarded with lots of choice from the menu and catering for all appetites. The portions do tend to be large particularly if you are looking at pasta or rice dishes. For me, I thoroughly enjoyed the variety of each lodges take on the local dish of Dal Bhat which for Nepalis is a staple diet every breakfast, lunch and evening meal!

It does have sustenance for sure and there are small nuances of tastes, and volume throughout each serving which consists of a tray with small bowl of ‘lentil soup’, vegetable curry, a side of spicy paste, rice, and accompanied by either a popadom, a chapatti or piece of Gurung bread! Please note that meat does not feature heavily on lodge menus, only in the lower regions or in the cities. There are ALWAYS options without meat, and whilst in the Annapurna Sanctuary itself due to cultural beliefs, above Sinuwa, meat items are actually forbidden.

Top tip – you always get offered more of Dal Bhat! Also soup is a great alternative at lunch times if you prefer a lighter option, although I do thoroughly recommend Vegetable Tukkpa Soup – freshly made thick noodles added to soup. Breakfast – try the Gurung bread, a banana pancake, or the full Nepali breakfast for a trekkers appetite.



Typical Lodge

Wow wow wow! I was blown away by each of the locations selected by our crew, and the facilities of each lodge along the trails in Nepal. You have the option of a hot shower every evening which will either be solar powered, or gas powered depending on the lodge and on the weather (Solar won’t be an option if cloudy). A small charge of 200 NPR is the current going rate. A bucket of hot water is also available at some lodges with a rate of around 300 NPR. Showers are often in a separate block, normally 1-3 to choose from. A pair of flip flops came in handy for hygiene purposes.

In terms of toilets there were normally always two types available; flushing western and squat toilets, where a jug of water is used to flush. You won't find toilet roll in the lodges (only in the hotels) so you need to take your own or you can buy it in the lodges. It is available to buy at every lodge in the region of 250 NPR per roll. Always place used toilet roll in the basket/bin provided rather than down the toilet, whichever version it is that you are using. Only in extreme weather, such as at MBC or ABC will you be restricted to the squat toilet only as if its cold and freezing, the flush won’t work in the Western option.

Rooms are multi-bedded, meaning it’s not always possible for a twin room, sometimes four-five single beds in one room, shared by the group. The guide manages this and in conjunction with the group members. In the quieter trekking season in Nepal, such as I experienced, you’ll more than likely only be two to a room, with a spare third bed! At busy times, such as the peak of Spring or in the Autumn, it is highly likely you will sharing with more than one person from your group.

Each lodge has its own special view of the Annapurna rangeChhomrong was incredible and Chuile was simply stunning, amazing, rewarding and outstanding. Sunrise was always a special time and I highly recommend a dash to see which peaks you can spot in the early hours of the morning. 



Typical Terrain

Nepali flat is a phrase often used as there’s rarely an even patch of trail in Nepal. The terrain is undulating and with the steps thrown in, steep at times too. You’re forever moving upwards which is a great sense of achievement. You can only wonder what it must be like to live in these steep-sided villages.

Zam Zam’ or 'Let’s Go' is a phrase you will hear many times combined with ‘matti matti’ or ‘tola tola’ meaning 'up up', 'down down', often referring to those infamous Annapurna steps. It’s incredible to think how the trails have been built and the stone steps can at times feel relentless. But, there’s plenty of time in the itinerary for you to take your time and find your rhythm. The height between each stone step varies and it’s rare to have uniformity. Most of my group were used to walking with poles as these really can be handy to elevate and distribute weight, we recommend taking walking poles on all Nepal trekking holidays.



Why this trek in Nepal?

The beauty of this trekking holiday in Nepal, is that the scenery is incredibly diverse from the green terraced landscapes full of vegetables and rice paddies, to bamboo and rhododendron forests, through to high mountain trails with spectacular snowy peaks.

I really feel that I have experienced everything that a walking trip in Nepal can offer. From terrain to lodge life, from views to culture, from food to altitude, Nepal has it all!

Vanessa travelled on KE's Annapurna Sancturary and Poon Hill Trek. 

If you would you like to know more about any of KE's holidays, then give us a call on +01768 773966 or USA/Canada toll-free 1888 630 4415. You can email; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we can also organise a face-to-face zoom meeting on request. We offer trusted holidays with financial protection and flexible booking conditions.



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