Before 1951, Nepal was inaccessible to foreign tourists and until 1964, travel to this wonderful and mystical land was exclusively an attraction for the hardy climbers and explorers. In recent years, however, with the introduction of tourism programs and the development of international air links, Nepal has become a haven for all types of travelers. Nepal's combination of undulating topography, varied climate and diversity of culture provide a magical opportunity for visitors.
Amongst other activities, many choose to try trekking, at least once, during their visit to Nepal. Anyone with determination and a strong pair of legs can enjoy walking along ancient foot trails, which meanders through the scenic riverbanks, terraced fields and the forested ridges connecting the picturesque hamlets and mountain villages. For visitors on extended holidays, there is an even more varied spectrum of adventure; from rafting on sparkling rivers and safari in the jungles to trekking to explore deeper into the alpine valleys of the Himalayas.
To "Trek" in the Himalayas means to set off from a given town, village or air field and to wander through fields and hamlets, along valleys and streams or up mountain slopes to any altitude at one's choice. Trekking-hiking along the trails that form the main link between Nepal's isolated villages and settlements is one of the major attractions of the country. The word trekking was almost unheard of in Nepal until the 1960's, but many of today's visitors come to Nepal solely for trekking.
Nepal offers a host of reasons in favor of deciding to trek in the country. Its scenery boasts an entire range of landscape and vegetation from tropical lowlands to alpine meadows. The countryside is also populated by an incredibly diverse range of people including Sherpas, Magars, Gurungs and Tamangs in the highlands, and Brahmins, Chhetris and Newars in the lower altitude. Each of these groups adhere to very different traditions, thus, producing an interesting spread of cultural variety. The trekking experience is usually made special by the friendly attitude of the natives, as well as by the relative safety which explorers are able to enjoy.
Although trekking in Nepal can be organized throughout the year, October through May is considered to be the best months for trekking. From mid-June to mid-September, the monsoon makes traveling wet and warm. However, during these months, the higher valleys and meadows blossom with flowers and lush vegetation and the views are enchanting.
January and February are very cold months and are often accompanied by snowfall at higher altitudes. However, it is still a good trekking period for those who are well equipped. Spring begins late February, bringing with it a paradise of natural grandeur, with an entire spectrum of flowers and birds. April and May is the best time for climbing higher peaks when the temperatures are moderate and mountain views are excellent.
A foreigner intending to trek in any part of Nepal must obtain a trekking permit from the Nepal Tourism Board, TAAN Office and the Government registered trekking companies. Permits are issued for trekking in any part of the country except in areas restricted for foreigners by government regulations. Trekking permits are not essential for general trekking areas such as the Everest, Annapurna and Langtang regions.
Trekking permits should be obtained for the following places :
Note: Trekking to Dolpa, Kanchenjunga, Makalu and Upper Mustang can be undertaken only through registered trekking agencies. For trekking through National Park Areas, an entrance fee of Rs. 1000 is levied. Likewise, ACAP has levied an entrance fee of Rs.2000 for trekking in the Annapurna Conservation Area.
Trekking permits are obtained from Kathmandu (Nepal Tourism Board Office, TAAN Office and the Government registered trekking companies). These permits are issued for trekking in any part of the country except in areas restricted to foreigners by the government regulations.
You need to pay a park fee of Rs. 1000 to enter a National Park or Wildlife Reserve. The fee is payable at the park entrance. Trekkers going to the Annapurna Region have to pay a fee of Rs. 2,000 (Rs. 100 for SAARC nationals).
For more information contact: Nepal Tourism Board (NTB), Bhrikuti Mandap, Kathmandu, Tel: 4256909, 4256229, 4256901. The toll is utilized for environment conservation and maintenance of the area.
Trekking in Nepal need not be considered a risky affair as long as you are physically fit and you take necessary health precautions. The usual consideration of vaccinations, water-borne diseases, headaches, sun burns, diarrhea etc are relevant. Further attention should be paid to emergency procedures, including helicopter evacuation and symptoms of altitude sickness. For detailed information concerning all of the above, please visit the Travel Health Online website at www.tripprep.com/default.asp