If you are heading for the mountains in Nepal, here are a few things to consider.
Before you go:
1.) Invest in a good backpack
I bought my first backpacker style backpack while on my trip to China. There’s a saying in Nepali, “Made in China, dui deen bhuiyna” which, in English means: “Made in China, it lasts two days.”
Yup, my backpack fell apart. Slowly. And completely.
First at the seams, then all (ALL!) the buckles broke, I was creative and used clips to tie the straps together. It wouldn’t have been so bad, but I had to carry that backpack for 5-8 hours a day. At one point, I got really frustrated because it was hurting my back and shoulders after climbing the entire morning. Granted, it was a knock-off and I knew it wasn’t a quality brand, but it would be a good idea to invest in a good backpack that lasts more than two days.
It is 7 years old and has been through five continents for a lengthy amount of time. And it in still intact with no tear at the seams and all of its buckles! It is very durable and comfortable. I highly recommend this backpack. I love everything about it. You can read more about the specifics on their website. My favorite is the zipper that allows you to get into the main compartment through the bottom, so you don’t have to take everything out. Genius. The only bad thing is that its very bulky and heavy because of all the padding. But the padding is necessary for more comfort, so there is the compromise.
I haven’t yet replaced my Made in China Backpack, but I do plan to buy a Gregory in the future.
If you don’t have $300 for a backpack and don’t have time to save up for one, I would suggest buying one in Kathmandu instead of at home.
You can find all sorts of hiking and camping gear in Kathmandu in Thamel, the tourist area of the city. Things are cheaper there than in Pokhora, do all your shopping there. You also have the option of renting anything you will need as well.
I saw a few guides on the trail with Kathmandu Brand backpacks, and they seemed to be happy with it. This brand also ranges from $50 to over $300 for a backpack. The one the guides have is the $130 backpack.
2.) Invest in good shoes
You don’t need to buy fancy new shoes for the Poon Hill trek, because you need a comfortable pair that are already broken in to prevent blisters. If you are going in higher altitude, consult your touring agency.
I traveled in Chacos and they were pretty comfortable. It took me a whole summer to break them in, but they are one of my most comfortable sandals now. I was traveling through several countries on this trip and didn’t want to carry my sneakers so I figured I would wear my Chacos, and wear socks for when it got cold.
The good: I was able to tread water in these without worrying about socks getting wet (because I didn’t have to wear socks). The bad: I almost slipped once because at one point, the rocks were too slippery, and as sandals, Chacos can provide no ankle support. However, I slipped just once on my last day because it had rained the night before, and I was tired, otherwise, I was fine.
4.) About Electronics
Don’t take it if you don’t absolutely need it. Extreme temperatures and high altitudes have negative effects on your electronics. One trekker that visited the Annapurna Base Camp (ABC) told me she slept with her camera battery and phone in her sleeping bag in order to use her body heat to keep them at a constant temperature. If you are a blogger, take notes on paper or on your phone. If you plan to work, don’t do it! WHY? You are on vacation! Take a break! Leave the bulky laptop at home. Minimize, minimize. Click here to read my packing list tips.
5.) Be environmentally conscious.
Buy a pack of water purification tablets. You can find these in any pharmacy in Nepal. These are safe to use if used correctly (one tablet per liter, shake until dissolved, wait 30 minutes). These tablets are given to hurricane and flood survivors to clean their water, they are 100% safe. You can refill at any source along the trail.
Please refrain from buying bottled water or bottled anything. Why pay for bottled water when you can refill your bottle directly from a mountain spring? More importantly, why demand an unsustainable practice? Bottled water create more unnecessary plastic rubbish on the trail. The mountains in Nepal are pristine because they are intentionally kept that way. The mountains do not clean themselves. Everyone must do their part. Tourism is a multimillion dollar industry. But we have to be responsible. Don’t do stupid things just because it’s not your country. Always remember you are a guest. There are many small things you can do: take short showers, use biodegradable soap, shampoo, detergent, etc. Everything affects everyone. The trash you produce in Nepal affect you at home.
6.) Go with a good attitude.
Don’t go with any expectations. Each place is unique.
Traveling is a privilege. Some people cannot travel because they don’t have a nationality. Some people can not travel because it can be expensive or their own personal limitation. Respect people and the earth, it’s your home too. Take care of yourself and each other.
Photo credit: Kem Ramirez Photography. Please exercise artistic integrity and ask permission before using.