We’ve already briefly discussed what is on offer for you when you
go to Nepal, but not in any great detail. We feel that it’s important
to look in more detail at these now, so that when you decide on
your final itinerary, you are aware of what to expect, without losing any of the excitement and anticipation of course.
Chapter one lists some of the major physical attractions in Nepal,
but it is by no means an exhaustive list. We have left out some of
the less time and skill consuming activities, such as paragliding
and bungy jumping from the following discussion, because to be
honest (unless you are doing a paragliding course) these activities do not require much explanation. We’ll discuss the major activities, along with what you will need to enjoy
them, and what to expect along the way.
This is, by far, the biggest draw to the Himalaya
for not only clients of Mountain Quests, but for
people who travel to this part of the World in
general. The sights, the physical challenge, the unique
culture and the escape to the wilderness are all
major draws. So what should you expect? Well, in the vast majority of the treks there are no roads. While this might be bliss for you to
hear, it dramatically affects your trekking experience, in a positive way we believe. Because
there are no roads, everything along the trail
must be carried either by human or animal. Donkeys and yaks are a common sight when in the
mountains, as well as porters, many of whom
are carrying loads you never thought possible
on a human’s back. This means that development and amenities in
the mountains are severely limited. Tea houses (the places you will stay each night on a normal
trek) are small and basic, with rooms that you
will generally share with one other person on a
twin share basis, with washrooms separate and
away from the room. There will typically be a
large dining area, that is cosy and with a warm
fire at night, where you will meet other trekkers
and locals, all eating and relaxing after a long
day trekking. Although basic in amenities, tea
houses tend to be reasonably clean, and the
food is often of a much higher quality than you
might imagine. But don’t expect any luxuries.
These are places to rest and refuel before your
The trekking trails tend to be very well trodden
and distinct, with steps built in to steep sections
using rocks and stones. On less well-trodden
paths in regions not visited by many tourists,
the trails will be less easy and with a lot more
mud on them. There will often be several villages of varying size along the way on a typical
day, all selling tea, soft drinks and even alcohol.
They are great places to relax for a few minutes
after several hours trekking, before heading on.
Expect many steep sections, both up and down. After all you are in the Himalaya! Also expect your
legs to ache a little, especially when going down. Get yourself into good physical shape before your
trip, so that you can enjoy it better. We will be discussing how to train later in this book.
The rewards of a trek are enormous. You hear it all the time, but it really is true that the views are unbelievably stunning. You will also come back with a strong sense of having achieved a difficult physical
task, with renewed confidence in your physical ability. Finally, but in many ways, most importantly, you will have discovered new cultures, witnessed new ways of life and met many incredible people
who will stay with you for the rest of your life.
We won’t dwell on this subject, as the vast majority of mountaineers tend to be self-sufficient, with
years of wilderness experience. This book is targeted at the first-time adventure traveller, so may not
be so helpful to people who have travelled extensively. Having said that, we do get many questions
from people who have been trekking and have caught the mountain bug, asking us the next steps to
The good news is that the Himalaya, and Nepal in particular, is a great place to start learning new
skills required to climb. The Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA -
www.nepalmountaineering.org), in conjunction with the Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal
(TAAN - www.taan.org.np) have earmarked a whole array of mountains that they deem accessible for
beginners. This should be taken with some caution, as not all of the so-called “trekking peaks” are
straight-forward, so you should consult with your adventure travel company before choosing the right
peak for your skill level.
There are also various mountaineering courses being run all over the World, to help teach you the
skills you need to begin your journey on expeditions. Mountain Quests has developed one in the Everest region of Nepal, which is lead by mountaineering guides with international qualifications (IFMGA)
and will teach you all the basics required to get started in high altitude mountaineering.
White Water Sports
The Himalaya is one of the best places on Earth for white water rafting and kayaking. Nepal alone
has nine rivers to choose from, all being fed by monsoon rains and melting glaciers.
It is also a very versatile sport in this part of the World. You can go on a 1 day beginners run in a raft,
with no previous experience (perfect as an add-on to a trek) on exciting, but not really wild rapids, or
you can go on an 8-10 day, 270km expedition on the Sun Kosi, recently voted by National Geographic as one of the 10 best rafting journeys in the World. The rivers are graded between 3+ and 5+ (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Scale_of_River_Difficulty) and you can find one that
suits your needs and skill level.
On a one-day trip with a well-run company, you can expect a thorough briefing on the banks of the
river before you head out, and they will provide wetsuits, helmets, life jackets (PFDs) and a paddle.
You should wear shoes or sandals that you can secure to your feet (to prevent cutting your feet on
rocks). A good company will provide food before you go out, so that you are full of energy. Remem-
ber to have a change of clothes and a towel waiting for you at the end of the river run so that you can
get dry and relax.
For multi-day expeditions things a slightly different. You’ll have the same equipment but you will most
likely be doing longer days, so fitness will be important. Your shoulders, arms and back should be
able to endure long periods of paddling. You will also be sleeping either in local tea houses (similar to
the ones on a trek) or camping on the banks of the river with a bbq and a few drinks. This is an incredible experience, as often you will be a long way from any towns or roads and in a very peaceful
All meals on the river are normally included but you will need warm clothes for the evening as well as
snacks should you wish.
It is possible to progress from easier rapids onto harder rivers during the course of your trip. Consult
with your travel company on the best way to go about your trip. Budget anything from a few days to 2
weeks, and remember, you can easily combine a rafting expedition with trekking or canyoning to
have some variety.
The opportunities in mountain biking in Nepal are endless, as well as very varied. You can go as a
novice (although you need to know how to at least ride a bike!) or as an accomplished professional,
and you’ll be challenged either way. In terms of time, you can go for a few days, or for weeks on end.
Single track or gravel roads, mud or rocks, high altitude desert or jungle... It’s all possible.
It’s also possible to either take your own bike or rent one while in Nepal. Many airlines now allow
bikes to be taken as checked in luggage, but it’s best to check before booking your ticket.
There are many bike bags on the market now, which allow you to safely transport your bike in the
hold of the aircraft. If you are not willing to take the risk with an expensive bike (please look to seek
insurance beforehand if possible) your travel company should be able to rent one to you for a small
fee. Don’t expect full suspension, top of the range disc brakes and composite frames though. By deciding to save some hassle and rent, you will lose some of the bells and whistles you might be used
to. It’s a compromise.
Mountain biking trips can be wild and in the wilderness, or on establish paths, staying at tea houses
along the way. When you speak to your adventure travel company they can guide you on the best fit
for what you are looking for.
Mountain Biking trips can be combined with other activities, such as rafting and trekking also. The options are endless really, making these trips really special.
Typically canyoning adventures in Nepal last for 1 to 2 days. They are great as additional activities on
a trip, helping you to see yet another side to this incredible country. In Nepal canyoning takes the
shape of abseiling (rappelling) down waterfalls on ropes, wearing protecting clothing and wet suits
through glacial meltwater. Some of the abseils could be as long as 40 meters, but you will be guided
throughout. It’s not as wild as it may initially sound, but could be a challenge for those of you with a
fear of heights.
It’s an awesome activity to break up a trekking trip, or a great way to get to know other members in
your group, if you’re not traveling with people you know.
The water will be cold, similar to rafting, but you will be constantly moving as well as wearing wet
suits, so it shouldn’t be a big issue.
Paragliding is probably the sport that allows us to most closely mimic winged flight by our airborne
friends; the birds. Both courses as well as one-off tandem piloted flights are possible in Pokhara, Nepal and your instructor will be a Western-trained pilot using good quality gear.
Paragliding involves you sitting in a harness below a curved wing (foil) that uses both forward momentum and thermal currents to allow you to fly up as well as down, allowing people to stay airborne for
hours in the right conditions. In Pokhara you will have the backdrop of the Himalaya as your view, and
you will eventually land (normally after 20-30 minutes) right next to the beautiful Lake Phewa.
Although it might initially look like an adrenaline sport, after experiencing it I would liken it more to a
calm zen-like experience, after you overcome the initial excitement of take off. A great way to finish a
trek before heading home.
We have mentioned other activities in previous chapters, but they are more periphery to the main
ones described here. Please speak to your adventure travel guiding company who will be able to further explain what’s on offer.