Nepal is one of the world’s premier destinations for first-time and experienced trekkers. For those with little time to spend in Nepal there are half-day hikes from Kathmandu to witness breadthtaking Himalayan views otherwise trek for weeks over stunning challenging mountain passes.
Up to the mid 1960s only a few trekkers had generally visited Nepal and back then as part of groups of expidition foloowers. many of the big expeditions of the day encouraged trekkers to sign up in an attempt to help balance the funding. Most of the trekkers used to do the camping trek. Trekking in Nepal is completely different to that of the 1960s. In all the main trekking areas, the National Prks and Conservation Areas lodges have been established where trekkers can find accomodation, food and meet other trekkers and locals along the way. The majority of the trails are well maintained and in many cases are sign-posted. The lodges are well appointed and have facilities for charging batteriess and the larger villages often have email facilities. the length, the difficulty and timing of the treks vary greatly and to add to that once outside of the main trekking areas transport becomes more problematic and often involves at least two journeys made on domestic scheduled flights.
The diversity of trekking in nepal cannot be found in any other region of the world, the lowest point in Nepal is 59m above sea-level in the Terai region while the higest point is Everest, 8848 m above sea-level, the two points are, in straight line , only 200 kilometers apart.
Nepal has six distinct and diverse vegetation zones ranging from Tropical below a 1000m through Sub-tropical 100m -200m, Lower temperate 1700m-2700m, Upper Temperate 2400m-3000m, Subalpine 3000m-4000m and Alpine 4000m to the snowline above the snowline it is a Himalaya tudra like wilderness. Each of these zones is well populated with the appropriate flora and fauna, although sometimes the rarer examples might be hard to find.
The majority of visitors to Nepal come in via the Tribuvan International Airport, Kathmandu. It is in Kathmandu that trekkers need to acquire their permits and other documentation, either from a trekking Agent or from the appropriate offices, these documents will be checked along the trekking route.
The three main trekking areas and therefore the most easily accessible are the Everest region, Langtang and the Annapurna, Dolpo, and the Far West areas of Nepal, however all these are subjected to weather conditions and the trekker must be prepared for all eventualities.
Several days of trekking are required to reach the higher mountain areas from the local centres of population and administration. Annapurna and Langtang have slight advantage in so much that they can be reached via road advantage in so much that they can be reached via road connections. Domestic flights generally occur early morning and so if two domestic flights are required to reach the start of the trek appropriate timing should be allowed.
Although the popular treks in Kanchenjunga, Everest, Manaslu, Annapurna are able to provide lodge accommodation the less frequented trek in those areas and also in other areas west of Annapurna will generally require camping style trek support.
The prevailing weather conditions and the source of the monsoon is from the Bay of Bengal so consequently the southern areas of the Himalaya receive precipitation, however there are mountains deep inside the Nepalese border regions and these create rain-shadow areas, namely Mustang to the north of Annapurna and Manaslu, Dolpo to the north of Dhaulagiri and the far west of Nepal to the north of Saipal Himal.
The popular trekking seasons are pre monsoon but the weather could be affected by the incoming monsoon in which case the visibility could be hazy, post monsoon the weather tends to be clearer, winter is good but colder with shorter days, spring if too early could be affected by seasonal rain and snow storms and the july to early September period is generally regarded as the monsoon season.
However, as previously mentioned, Nepal is not to be written off during this period, the rains are not continuous for 24 hours a day and of course the rains bring the flowers to life, but also there is great trekking to be had in the rain shadow areas of the Himalaya, these areas are much closely, in geographical terms related to the barren Tibetan type scenery as opposed to the greenness of Nepal.
The main income generating activity of the people from the hill regions is tourism and in particular they earn a wage acting as a trekking porter or guide. Hiring a porter does not mean that you are weak, it means you value the Nepali culture, you are providing an extended Nepalese family with an income and at the same time you are making a friend and trekking with a local person who is well versed in the local cultures, festival and all the other issues that can turn a good trek into an outstanding experience of a life time.
It is obviously possible to trek alone or without a Nepalese guide, but would you know what to do in a major storm, zero visibility and temperatures and at possibly 5000 m? Make sure you have all the correct permits as required by the Nepal Tourism Act, and be environmentally and culturally aware.