Trekking in Nepal is one of the most rewarding activities that adventure-enthusiasts all around the world love to indulge in. Until just the recent months it was restricted all around the Himalayas due to the COVID pandemic. Trekking during the pandemic now has been starting to resume and each week more and more travelers are entering Nepal for this purpose.
Trekking during the pandemic in Nepal is a bit different and it is helpful to know some changes. There are safety guidelines and you might have to plan your visit in a different way. However, one component that is constant or in some ways even better is the experiences that one can get with treks here following the long break. The trail is better and with some local efforts well managed. Similarly, the local businesses, community lodges, teahouses, and several different sectors are back and running with more positivity than ever. We assure you more extraordinary delights await for anyone trekking in Nepal now during the pandemic.
There are some major and minor changes and trekkers can adapt better knowing this information. Here we share light on the reality of trekking in Nepal now. Also, we will look at both the negatives and positive impacts of the pandemic while trekking in the Himalayas. With guidelines, tips, and bonus hints from our experts, here are the answers on how to trek in Nepal during the pandemic.
Table of Contents
Preparation and Packing Pre-Trek
First thing first you have to have a different packing and preparing format than your usual trekking campaign. Preparation now includes first looking at the real-time restrictions in any sections of the Nepalese Himalayas. As of today, Nepal has opened most of the regular trekking regions for visitors. However, it is always wise to make sure before selecting any trekking package in the Himalayas.
Now for the next step, you might have to do a Covid-test a few days before the trek. It is a compulsion right now but we do suggest it for your own safety. Adding to that, a whole-body checkup before any trekking expedition in the Himalayas is very assuring here. During these times you could also train your body to fitness for the trek. It might be the case for a few travelers out there due to staying at home for a longer time. The goal is to simply be ready for the beautiful and long trekking days in your mountain trail once more.
Parallel to the preparation phase, make a list of things that you should pack for your trek. The regulars must be there and you can make a separate checklist for that. We notify you that most of the trekking shops are open in Nepal for your gears and equipment too. Add extra safety and health items. Masks and sanitizers are the first to go in. If you want, you can also throw in face shields, disinfectants, and gloves. These might be required while you are in the city or big settlements before and during the trek. Similarly, you can add the regular mini first aid kit specializing in the mountains (high altitude).
Also read: Nagarkot Full Day Hiking Tour
Take the Safety precautions seriously
Now, Covid situations in Nepal have improved a lot than what it was some months before. That in no way means you can travel in a similar fashion as before. Remember, you have to be in your best health to complete a trek in the Himalayas. Hence you should not just be safe during the trek but the period before it too. You can meditate and exercise for fitness but not getting the virus or other health issues is significant for trekkers as well.
Now in the second stage of remaining safe, we focus on the travel itself. For most people trekking in Nepal, you have to land at the Tribhuvan International Airport. In the case of several countries, one might have to arrive here through multiple connecting flights and transit points. Be careful in all these processes. The best practice is to carry a sanitizer and wear masks and face shields if necessary. Wash your hands and follow other steps as mentioned in COVID guidelines. These measures might look like a lot but it is always better to be safe than sorry while trekking in the Himalayas.
We do clear you one more thing here. Once you have reached deep into the Himalayas, you can enjoy nature and trek as you wish. We do highly-suggest you take care of yourself in crowded regions. There are comparatively fewer trekkers in the Himalayan trails right now but you could always meet with others in the accommodation or major sites. In case you have any doubts or symptoms, you can opt for an evacuation. On this note, we do suggest you get travel insurance with helicopter evacuation included in it. These are all for unforeseen scenarios but you are more likely to complete the trek smoothly with some basic precautions.
Travel with a friend or a group
This is for those travelers who love solo trekking in the Himalayas. As liberating as it sounds we highly recommend you to make an exception for this period. Even in normal times, we don’t recommend solo traveling in the rural parts of Nepal. For traveling during a pandemic there could be more reasons with health factors ringing the major bell. Travel with a closed group in a bubble-format or at least find a friend to trek in the Himalayas. You can join a fixed departure or find someone interested in the travel forums out there. There are several advantages of trekking in a small group, especially during a pandemic. Here are some of those which might persuade you.
- You can find and complete some of the best treks easily with a group.
- Guides and porters are readily available as well as affordable for group trekking.
- It is in a way safer than solo traveling even during the pandemic. Trekking in Nepal now requires a negative COVID test and you will be traveling in the safest group.
- For off-season travel during the pandemic, a group will assure you will get the Teahouses/lodges operating effectively.
- Socially it is better to travel in a group to keep your mind fresh.
- If you need help in any stage of trekking you could find it quickly in a group. Similar can’t be said for solo trekkers in the Himalayas.
- Traveling to the trailhead is safer due to known travelers sharing the transport in comparison to sharing with random people while solo traveling in Nepal.
Learn the basic Local terms and phrases to communicate better
Now, if you have decided to do an unguided trek even during the pandemic, this point is very important. At any time or season, we don’t recommend taking on the trails without an experienced guide. However, if you are determined as well as experienced yourself, we suggest you adapt to the local language. There are several tutorials available in the Nepali language. Knowing some phrases and terms will make your life easier. From navigation to greetings and more, you are better off with spoken skills while trekking during the pandemic in Nepal.
For anyone who has been to Nepal before knows that the use of English is expanding. But, as you head in the rural regions Nepali is the only understandable dialect. If you have a local guide by your side, these are no big deal as most guides are adept in several local and major languages. In the weeks going to the start of the trek, invest some time in learning the general Nepali language. It will help you now and at other times you’ll return for trekking in the Himalayas.
Select the Accommodation Wisely (Tips in the Himalayas)
One assuring news for you is that accommodation in several major trekking trails is fully functional like it was before the pandemic. Inspections and training have resulted in these places being fit and safe for travelers. Giving these responsibilities to certified trekking/tour operators will save you some hassle. Below, there are the notes you will need for an unguided trek. However, if you want the best value for your money and a guaranteed good stay we do recommend some of the types of hotels that trekkers can stay at in Nepal. Before, during, and after the trek here we help you with selecting proper accommodation.
While in Kathmandu or other major cities
Whether you are in Kathmandu, Pokhara, Besisahar, or other city regions, you have a plethora of options to choose from. These can range from simple guesthouses and lodges to star hotels. Now if you want to blow your budget here, we say you go for the best hotels with every kind of service. In a more practical approach, look for a mid-range hotel and if possible slightly outside Thamel. Due to the Pandemic, we still do not recommend sharing your room here.
While in the major settlements during the trek
These are the big villages or centers that you will cross during the trek. It might be Namche Bazaar in Everest, Ghorepani in Annapurna, Jomsom in Mustang, or Taplejung in the Kanchenjunga region. Here, you have mainly two options to choose from. Community homestays/lodges and slightly larger teahouses. The key is to ask for the number of trekkers staying there. Select the ones with less crowd. In this way, you can maintain a safe distance even in the community dining halls and rooms.
Also read: Trekking in Nepal: Expectations Vs Reality
In the rural regions of the High Mountains
Now for the places in the high elevation and extremely rural areas, you have no or few options to choose from. Take precautionary measures yourself. These might include heading slightly before or after the others for the dining room, starting the treks early, and sanitizing frequently. Here as well we don’t suggest you share rooms (more common in certain regions) if not necessary.
Tented/Camping treks during the pandemic
Camping treks are great on the surface but if you have never done it before we don’t recommend you to try during the pandemic. A proper crew/team is required for these treks and for someone not that passionate about camping, these might be more of a hassle.
Also Read: : 5 Best Short Treks in Nepal
Trekking responsibly points to remember as a Traveler
With all these points on how to trek during the pandemic in Nepal, there are few things that travelers have to be responsible for. Some of these are simple and others that you can put some thoughts on. Sometimes a simple gesture might change the journey and reasons you travel. Trekking responsibly during the pandemic in Nepal might include:
- Spending more time as in traveling flexibly. You don’t have to choose the major trails if you can give other less popular ones a go.
- Aid the local economy. Tourism was one of the main sources of income for several locals in the Himalayas. If you can, help and spend a bit generously while trekking here.
- Play your role in environmental conservation. Carry your waste and help in better maintaining the trail.
- Give a tour in the small markets on your stay. You can take back memorable souvenirs that you mightn’t have planned originally.
- Select local guides and porters. Try being an ideal client and be friendly to them too.
- Respect the local customs and culture. Smile more and you will be embraced with smiles and warm hospitality.
- If you have a good experience of trekking in Nepal, spread the word after returning back from here. There are several amazing destinations in the Himalayas not getting the recognition they deserve.
- Be polite and enjoy trekking in the Nepalese Himalayas safely during this pandemic.
- Give suggestions and feedback to those looking to improve. These can be on a personal, local, or community level.
Trekking in the Himalayas is more special than ever the long and tiring lockdown. Take a break in the natural paradise far from the urban jungle to reinvent yourself.
Also Read: Nepal Travel FAQ’s