Pre-Departure Tips for Nepal with Secrets of the Himalaya

The following are a few of Secrets of the Himalaya's suggestions on items to bring for making the most of your journeys in the Himalaya:

  • Obtain Medical Insurance. Does your coverage apply overseas and does it include rescue insurance or will you need to arrange supplemental coverage before visiting Nepal?
  • Scan a copy of your passport and itinerary into your email account and make hard photocopies of your passport, itinerary and important documents and leave them with friends or family back home as well as keeping a set for yourself.
  • Register with you embassy upon arrival along with your itinerary. They can help find you and notify you if needed for emergency purposes and to notify friends and family should the rare need arise.
  • If you are presently taking medication, bring a copy of your prescription with you and keep all medicines that you bring with you in their original containers.
  • Let your credit card companies know that you will be traveling overseas and bring their contact phone numbers, too.
  • Nepal’s trails are steep and every addition to your load counts! Review your gear list, and pare down items beforehand if you can.
  • Water Heater: At high altitudes, fill a water bottle with hot water and wrap it in clothing for a source of heat that can be kept close to the body and even placed in a sleeping bag to add warmth during the cool night temperatures.
  • Clothing: You can pick up a lot of trekking clothing and gear in Thamel, tourist hive of Kathmandu. Check quality and especially inspect the seams. Some vendors even have leftover gear from expeditions that can be purchased at bargain rates.
  • Bring easily donned and doffed clothing layers. Hiking Nepal’s steep terrain can cause a swift build-up of body heat, especially carrying a loaded pack on a sun-drenched hill. In high altitude areas, the temperature drops rapidly, particularly in the shaded areas of the mighty Himalaya, when the sun is behind the clouds or has set, and more so if clothing is wet and cold from sweat. It is vital to have the ability to remove or add items to adjust quickly to conditions.
  • Bring a headlamp and/or flashlight, especially useful when regularly scheduled blackouts occur in Kathmandu and Pokhara (although this is now much less of a problem than it once was, blackouts do still occur...the longest during winter and spring months when electricity supply is especially outstripped by demand).
  • Earplugs (more than one pair as they are easily lost). Homes, lodges, and tents can have remarkably thin walls, and buses/vehicles often have blaring stereos and horns.
  • Bright a colored duffel bag: Equipment and supplies that porters carry can be packed in sturdy, bright-colored (for recognizability) duffel bags, with a small lock for the zipper.
  • Sunglasses should absorb ultraviolet light. If you wear eyeglasses or contact lenses, bring a spare pair and copy of the prescription for replacements if needed.
  • A Leatherman or Swiss Army Knife gadget combination can be useful but unnecessarily heavy unless the multi-function tools are actually needed. Often a simple pocket knife will do if anything at all.
  • Umbrellas can be used not only against rainfall but to guard against the sunlight on hot days and even for privacy cover while answering nature’s call.
  • Collapsible ski poles and walking sticks (lauro in Nepali language), often made of lightweight bamboo, can help ease the load and impact on the knees and are available in tourist/trekking shops in the Thamel section of Kathmandu and in Pokhara, too.
  • Bring several handkerchiefs or bandannas. A bandanna can be useful as a makeshift face mask in windy, dusty areas and during vehicle travel, and can be used to dry cups, plates, and hands. You can keep a separate bandana for the usual runny nose that accompanies colds and upper-respiratory infections, not uncommon in the highlands—or learn to blow your nose rural style, covering each nostril in turn and blowing out the other.
  • Petroleum jelly, Chap Stick, and lip balm are good for cold and dry weather protection and to prevent and treat chafing.
  • Bring a universal adapter. Electricity averages 220 volts/50 cycle in Nepal. As Nepal becomes increasingly electrified, there are more and more places along the popular routes to recharge. It is considered environmentally ethical to bring spent battery cells back to your home country for proper disposal.
  • A supply of duct tape can often serve as an all-purpose, temporary fix for various situations. Several feet of tape can be conveniently wound around a flashlight handle or water bottle to store for future needs in the field rather than carrying a roll of tape.
  • If you play a portable musical instrument, consider bringing it along. A harmonica, recorder, or flute can quickly ease communication and social barriers. Consider other social and entertainment skills that you might share, for example, portrait drawing or simple magic tricks.
  • Most trekkers carry reading and writing materials, and hotels along the popular routes often have paperbacks to sell or trade. A pack of cards and miniature versions of popular board games (such as Scrabble) are a friendly way to pass time and liven up a restaurant while you get to know fellow trekkers.
  • It’s a good idea to have a particle mask, to protect yourself from dust and fumes in cities and on vehicle journeys along dusty highways. Masks can be found in Kathmandu pharmacies.
  • Bring sunscreen. At high altitude the sun’s rays are especially strong.
  • We also suggest having your own water purfication materials, too, as a backup, and especially recommend iodine tablets above other methods for purifying water.

If you miss anything in the list above and more, then don't worry and keep in mind that most, if not all can be picked up in Kathmandu and other tourist areas of Nepal, although selection will be reduced. We are looking forward to your upcoming visit and hopefully these pre-departure tips for visiting Nepal come in handy.

Nepal's Best Treks

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