Trekking in the Himalayas: If you are trekking for the first time around you will have many questions and even more doubts. What will be some of the requirements on your trek, what would be the essentials you should check on before you go ahead and confirm with your tour operator for your dream trek in the Himalayas. This section is a pointer to what facilities an ideal agency should be offering you on your trek and answers to some of the Frequently Asked Questions before starting the trek.
01: What sort of experience do your guides have?
A: Polar treks has some of the most dependable and experienced guides in Nepal. All of our guides have spent years exploring the mountains and countryside of Nepal. All guides speak English and have a deep knowledge of the various trekking routes. Our guides are trained in first aid and know how to react in any situation. And most importantly our guides are friendly and enjoyable and want to share with you the true beauty of Nepal.
02: What should I carry on my day packed ?
Packed for yourself and carry during the day:
03: Can you just tell me types of trekking you are running?
A: Currently we are running three type of trekking:
1. Tea House Trek: this is very budget oriented trip that just provides the essentials for trekking. We provide a guide and porter who show you the way and carry the gear. You stay and eat in local tea houses along the way.
2. Upgraded Lodge Treks: These treks also take advantage of the many lodges along the trail. We have chosen the nicest and cleanest lodges available and provide bed and pillow covers to all our clients. We also provide a personal cook to prepare all snacks and meals hygienically and with our own cookery. In addition to your experienced guide and porter we provide an extra porter to clean all bathroom facilities to the standards you expect. All trips run on the classic trekking routes are either tea house or upgraded lodge treks due to the lack of campsites and environmental impact in these areas.
3. Camping Treks: All of our off the beaten path treks require us to bring our own camping and kitchen facilities. We provide a guide, porters, a cook and a deep knowledge of all these unique areas. This is not a backpacking trip because we cook all meals, carry all the gear and pitch every camp. All camping spots have the best view possible of your surrounding environment.
04. What is the routine on the trek?
A: Trekkers normally start their walk early, after a hot breakfast, to enjoy the morning sun bathing the peaks. Carry a light sack for your camera, lunch box and your wind cheater. Ask the manager to arrange for porters beforehand, who can carry your other baggage and all equipment – leaving you free to enjoy the peace and beauty of the mountains and valleys. By late afternoon you could reach your new destination where a camp and the food is set up by the trek staff.
On a camping trek with group evenings generally tend to be lively with some porter entertaining you with his tribal song while his friends improvise musical instruments or just having a lively camp fire discussion of your own.
Early morning, a hand stretches out with a hot mug of tea followed by warm water for a wash. Cooked breakfast and off you go again to your new destination.
05. Is the country politically stable and safe?
A: Nepal is one of the new democratic countries in the world with many active political parties, ideas and leaders. As such there might be some disturbances in some parts of the country. But it does not affect the daily life of the residents in other parts. Life moves on as usual, unperturbed.
06. Are the trails crowded?
A: On a off the beaten treks, you may find no other foreigners apart from your group for days on end. At the peak season, you may probably see some other trekkers. Even on traditional treks there will be far less people than you would see on a normal walking trail at home.
07. Should I purchase a lot of expensive gear to go on a trek?
A: If necessary we will provide free the most expensive items – a sleeping bag, warm jacket and sleeping mat. You have to provide the other personal clothing items you need. This will involve some expense, although you will be amazed, by how much use you will be able to make out of clothing you already own.
08: What photographic equipment should I take?
A: Most trekkers would like to record their trip on film. Himalayan treks offer a wealth of photographic possibilities and carrying a little extra photography equipment can be worth its weight. Single reflex cameras with interchangeable lenses are most suitable for the situations that you will encounter. Lenses should include a wide angle (28-35 mm) for buildings and landscapes, a tele-photo (70-200 mm) for un-obtrusive portraits and close-ups of mountain peaks. A macro lens will help you photograph flowers of Himalaya. Carry plenty of film as you will probably end up taking more photographs than you planned (a roll a day should suffice). Make sure you have waterproof covering for your camera, equipment and extra batteries. You will need an ultra violet and polarising filter for high altitudes.
09. What about overnight accommodation?
A: Where possible most operators prefer to organise the stay in country side hotels or rest houses. For the major part of the trek, the accommodation would however be tend to be in tents on twin sharing basis. Bathroom and sanitation facilities are improvised and made as comfortable as possible.
10. How long a trek goes?
A: Generally the trek duration depends on your interest and location of trek. Your trek can last anywhere from 2-3 days to an entire month or longer if you wish. We can accommodate day hikes, cultural visits to local villages, and relaxing rest days on your trek. The decision is up to you.
11: How difficult are the treks ?
A: The difficulty of our treks depends on where you want to trek and how long you want to go. The shorter Treks tend to be easier while the longer ones require some physical fitness. Be prepared for some steep trails leading to amazing views. The pace at which you hike is up to you. We have friendly and dependable porters to assist you with your personal gear.
12: What is including on your tent/ lodge based Trekking?
A: Our lodge or camp based trek includes: 3 meals per day, guide, porters as needed (in general one for two trekkers), commendations, toilet paper (bring extra), washing water, etc. Showers are usually available but may not be available every day. Trekking price does not include any type of bottled beverage but does include boiled water and drinks (hot) with meals. All trekking services are included from here till the end of the trek. On our lodge-based trek, we always utilize the best lodge-accommodations available within the area. This can vary dramatically with each community. (Included flight/ transport/ and all trekking service.)
13: What are the Tea Houses like?
A: Tea houses are a way of life for almost all trekkers. They are the combination of guest house, restaurant, and social hang out. We encourage all trekkers along the Everest, Langtang, and Annapurna treks to try our tea house treks. Our many years of experience along these routes have helped us find the friendliest, cleanest, and most enjoyable tea houses with the best views. Most tea houses have running water. Many have hot water available for bathing. But we discourage our groups from using water heated by wood fires due to lack of firewood in most villages. Deforestation is a big environmental concern in Nepal They are also a great way help support local villages.
14: Will we have private rooms and bathrooms?
A: Private rooms are available in most tea houses except for those at very high altitudes. Most bathrooms are shared. On our lodge treks we also provide someone to clean all bathroom facilities for our groups. Our lodge treks also include bed and pillow covers.
15. What type of food is served on a trek?
Normally hot meals are served all along the trip, though at times packed lunches may be given when distances between stops do not permit cooking. A variety of nepali and continental dishes are prepared with fresh vegetables depend on place. Most of the trip have an accompanying cook to take care of the details.
16: How safe is the food ?
A: Food safety is always a big concern when visiting a foreign country. Which is why we do our best to choose tea houses and restaurants with clean and sanitary kitchens . On our lodge treks, we provide a cook to prepare safe and tasty meals with our own set of cookery as well as hygienic cleaning facilities. The food we serve on camping trips is completely safe.
17: Where do we get water during the trip ?
A: All tea houses have boiled water for trekkers. Your guide will provide you with all the water you need during your trek. We discourage the purchase of bottled water while on the trail. The plastic bottles are difficult to dispose off and have become an environmental problem.
18: Is the water safe to drink?
A: Your guide will be in charge of all your water needs. He will make sure all water is boiled and treat it with iodine. Iodine is 100% effective in killing the bacteria in water.
19: What clothes should I bring?
A: Choosing the right clothing is very important. You want to have enough clothes to stay warm or cool yet not over pack. Usually you will have warm days and cold nights. A warm jacket either fleece or down can be nice for the evening. Long under wear and wool socks are good for warmth too. We encourage people to bring a light pair of pants and shorts for hiking. Sunscreen and glasses are a must . Rain and hail can appear on a trek so we suggest a Gore-Tex jacket. Most gear can be purchased in Kathmandu or Pokhara at one of the many outdoor gear shops.
20: What type of shoes or boots should I wear?
A: The proper foot wear depends on the trek. Shorter treks can be done in comfortable running shoes while longer ones require sturdy but light weight hiking boots. Shoes and boots are best purchased before arriving in Nepal. Proper fit is a must for boots. And we encourage wearing your boots before the trek to wear them in.
21: What will the weather be like?
A: Weather effects everything in Nepal and trekking is no exception. Sudden rain storms or snow flurries are always a possibility. The weather during the trekking season is somewhat more stable. We pay close attention to weather reports during the trekking season.
22. Will I get altitude sickness?
It depends from person to person, while one may get sick at a lower altitude, the other might not get affected even at a much higher altitude. Altitude sickness can be a worry for many people coming from sea level. Which is why Polar Trek trips give our customers extra days to acclimate to the higher altitudes. Our guides are trained to spot any signs of altitude sickness and know how to react.
23: What happens if there is an emergency?
A: Polar treks prides itself on being prepared for any emergency situation. Our guides are trained in first aid and can deal with most of the basic ailments that occur during a trek. But if a serious emergency occurs, then outside help is needed. Every client should have their own insurance before coming to Nepal. If an emergency occurs, Polar treks will initially cover the cost of an evacuation until your insurance company can deliver payment. All trekking services are included from here till the end of the trek. On our lodge-based trek, we always utilize the best lodge-accommodations available within the area. This can vary dramatically with each community. (Included flight/ transport/ and all trekking service.)
24: How about an insurance?
A: To protect yourself against unforeseen circumstances we strongly recommend you take out a ‘Trip cancellation and medical insurance policy’ in your home country. The medical policy should include coverage of transportation costs in the event of emergency helicopter or surface evacuation being required. We regret that such insurance policies are not available for places like Nepal, Tibet and Bhutan.
25: How much money should I bring for the trek?
A: The amount of money you bring on a trek depends on you. Cold sodas during the day and an occasional beer after a long day of hiking can be awfully nice. These along with any souvenirs and film are personal expenses. We have a safe in our office where plane tickets and money can be kept.
26: How can we respect your culture during our trek:
A: With its diverse ethnic groups and traditional beliefs, Nepal has numerous cultural practices that may appear unusual to a person on his/her first visit to the country. However, to enjoy your stay in this remarkable country of white Himalayas and sparkling rivers it is important to take into consideration the different cultural aspects of the country. Here is a list of things which may be helpful to you.