I always had a longing to trek in Nepal, but the possibilities were very less. Even my hardcore, long-distance hiker friends had never been to the himalayas. Nepal was in my maybe-someday-I’ll make-it-there list and I started researching about it during my late night travel blog reading hours. Nepal seemed like a feasible option and a few months in Nepal would cost me the same as Pacific Crest Trail through hike. As autumn season was the most favorable season, I still had few extra months to work and save for my journey to the worlds largest mountains.
I knew that going to the Himalayas instead of Pacific Crest Trail was the right thing to do at that moment. It sure was scarier and crazier, but it brought me happiness and that is the only thing that mattered. And who knows, I might still do the PCT someday. Based on my experiences in Nepal, here are 10 reasons why hiking in Nepal is a must:
Getting out of your comfort zone and being a long-distance hiker in the U.S. means walking for 8-10 hours a day, pooping in cat-holes, and sleeping in close proximity to dudes called “Scooby” or “Tequila Jon”. Getting out of your comfort zone in Nepal means eating dal bhat (a popular meal) everyday, learning and respecting local customs, and negotiating through the chaos of a country that is lacking in regulations. Hiking in Nepal is experiencing Nepal in true colors. It is a cultural experience that made me fall in love with it.
Shorter Hiking Days
Trekking in Nepal is not exhausting and is much more laid back. You might leave your guest house between 8-10 am, hike for an hour before stopping for tea, hike a bit more before taking an hour long lunch break, then maybe put in another 2-3 hours before stopping for the night. 4-6 hours a day trekking is adequate and you get plenty of time to read books and socialize. The trekking hours are less due to two reasons: 1) You can’t increase in too much elevation per day because of the risk of altitude sickness and 2) Most people in Nepal are travelers on vacation and not hardcore hikers.
Hiking at a higher altitude is equally fun and challenging. It indeed is more difficult, but it’s a good excuse to hike shorter days. Reaching the top at 18,000 was a true reward and the journey was totally worth it.
The friendly locals made my trip much more convenient and special. Nepali people are warm, kind and always greet you with a smile. When I got lost wandering around Kathmandu City, a Nepali girl went out of her way to flag down a taxi for me and tell the driver where I was headed.
The tea house experience
Trekking in Nepal gives you an opportunity to enjoy the tea house experience. I passed through multiple villages a day that all had tea houses where trekkers could stop for tea, lunch, or spend the night. I could stay for free as long as I ate dinner and breakfast at the guest house. Rooms less than $3 were available at higher elevations. Rooms at tea houses are typically a small rom with two twin beds and a toilet down the hall. Though the rooms are not heated, there is always a wood-burning stove in the dining room. Tea houses are place to bond with fellow trekkers.
Buy a map in Kathmandu for $4-6 before starting your trek. Nepal is full of beautiful trails and there are always side trails with other things to see. When I did the 3 Passes, some trekkers decided not to finish and followed easier, shorter trails back to Lukla. You always have alternatives and you don’t have to confine yourself to just a single trail.
Making new pals is a joy and I loved listening to their stories about the countries they were from and the wonderful places they had been to. It is equally inspiring and motivating to talk to people who have traveled so far, and learn about more places I can visit. Also, I loved talking to Nepal and getting to know more about this beautiful country. Just like with the American trail experience, the people you meet are what makes your hike great.
Guides and porters
Though I didn’t hire a guide or porter, the people who did were happy campers. Getting expert guidance in the region you are trekking in is very helpful and useful. I even befriended with few guides and learned great advices from them. If you can afford it, it is always a good idea to hire a guide or porter.
Pretty much the only thing you will spend money on is food, room charges, and the occasional beer. Prices tend to vary from $15-25 a day.
The most beautiful scenery and biggest mountains in the world
Nepal is the best place I have hiked so far. I know it might sound a little absurd when a 26 year old who has not even been everywhere in the world says it. But, the gorgeous sceneries in my photos are not just viewpoints, those are scenes you see all day. Upon my return to America, a hiker buddy of mine asked me, “Do the mountains actuallyseem bigger than what you see out West?” Yes, they do! They are some of the biggest mountains in the world and they look it.
This post has been excerpted from the original blog post up on http://appalachiantrailgirl.com.Click below to read the full version: