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Himalaya Trekking FAQ

Himalaya Trekking FAQ

Find answers to your most frequently asked questions about trekking in the Himalayas with Namaste Nomad. Discover how Himalaya trekking is made easy and accessible.

Here you will find everything you need to know about Himalaya trekking with Namaste Nomad. For location-specific information, refer to our dedicated destination pages for Nepal, Sikkim, Ladakh, India and Bhutan.

Himalaya trekking with Namaste Nomad

Himalaya Trekking | Trekking Himalayas | Namaste Nomad Tours & Treks

Who will accompany me during my trek?

The core Himalaya trekking team comprises a guide, a cook as necessary and porters or mules, depending on your trekking destination and food and lodging preferences. All guides speak fluent English.

What sort of experience do your guides have?

Namaste Nomad collaborates with some of the most dependable guides available. All of our guides have years of experience working in the mountains and countryside of the Himalayas. They all speak English, have an in-depth knowledge of the various Himalaya trekking routes and are trained in first-aid and emergency response. In addition, our guides enjoy their work, they are friendly and they are eager to share with you the true beauty of their country.

What kinds of treks do you offer for different budgets?

Currently, we are running three types of treks at different price points, as possible according to the destination. All trips that are run on the classic Himalaya trekking routes (for example, in Nepal) are either via tea house or upgraded lodge treks. All of our off-the-beaten-path treks require us to bring our own camping and kitchen facilities.

Tea House Trek: This is a budget-oriented trip that provides only the essentials necessary for the trek. We provide a guide to show you the way and a porter to carry the gear. You stay and eat in local tea houses along the way.

Upgraded Lodge Trek: We have chosen the nicest lodges available and upgrade the services provided so that you receive the cleanest and most comfortable stay possible. In addition to your experienced guide and porter, we provide a personal cook to prepare all snacks and meals with our own utensils, an extra porter to clean all bathroom facilities to the standards you expect and bed and pillow covers.

Camping Treks: We carry all the gear, pitch every camp and cook all meals. We provide a guide, porters, a cook and in-depth knowledge of these unique areas. All camping spots have the best possible view of your surrounding environment.

What is the typical routine that could be expected during a trek?

Typically, a trek day begins around 6 a.m. with a mug of coffee or tea. Hot water is provided for washing and shaving and drinking water given for your water containers. After a hot breakfast, you begin walking in the pleasant cool of the morning. You typically walk for 2-4 hours before stopping for lunch. This two-hour break also offers an opportunity to write in your diary, read and relax.

By late afternoon, you reach your new destination, where the camp and a full meal are prepared by the trek staff. We usually reach our campsite by 4 pm and enjoy tea and biscuits shortly afterwards. There is time to rest or explore before our evening meal at 6 pm. This is the social event of the day. As we mainly camp near villages, there is usually plenty of time to visit with the locals before or after dinner and sample their home brews.

Evenings tend to be filled with lively discussions by the fire and it’s not unusual for one of the porters to entertain the group with a tribal song while his friends improvise on musical instruments. As night approaches, most people retire to their warm sleeping bags and are fast asleep by 9:30 p.m.

How do you safeguard the environment during the treks?

Part of our mission in sharing the beauty of the Himalayas with visitors is to raise environmental awareness to minimise negative impact by humans.

  • We educate on how to support local indigenous cultures and environmental conservation while trekking.
  • We abstain from using the scarce resources of wood by cooking on kerosene or fuel efficient stoves / LPGs and using bathing water heated by solar energy, hydroelectricity or coal.
  • We recommend against using bottled water and provide safe drinking water to avoid the accumulation of plastic waste.
  • One extra porter has the task to carry and manage all the garbage that our groups make at camp.
  • We invest 20% of our net profit annually for social work and education to safeguard the Himalayas.

We welcome your comments and suggestions for a better way to serve our customers, the local cultures and the natural environment.

About the treks

How difficult are the treks?

The difficulty of a trek depends on both the location and the duration of the trek. Shorter treks tend to be easier while the longer ones require some physical fitness. You do not have to be young, very experienced, or super fit to enjoy most of our treks. Previous walking experience, though useful, is not essential, and the great majority of our treks can be undertaken by anyone who is in good health, enjoys outdoor life and is reasonably fit.

In any case, we have friendly and dependable porters to assist you with your personal gear and help you to reach your goal for your trek. The pace at which you hike is up to you and you need only be prepared for some steep trails if you wish to reach the most impressive views.

Will I be exposed to danger?

In Ladakh, there may be situations where a bridge does not connect the river. It is crucial to follow the advice of the guide, who knows exactly where to put your feet so as not to fall. Velcro sandals come in useful in such situations.

How long are treks?

Every trek duration is defined in the group tour selected. In a private or custom group tour, the trek duration depends on your interest and could last anywhere from 2-3 days to an entire month or longer and we can accommodate day hikes, cultural visits to local villages and relaxing rest days on your trek, as you wish.

Are the trails crowded?

On an off-the-beaten-path trek, you may meet no other foreigners apart from your own group for days on end. At the peak season, you will probably see some other trekkers. Even on traditional treks, there will likely be fewer people than you might see on a normal walking trail at home.

What is included in your treks?

All our treks include a guide, porters as needed (in general one for two trekkers), 3 meals per day and accommodation from departure until the end of the trek. Warm washing water and toilet paper (bring extra) are provided, although showers may not be available every day. We provide boiled water and hot drinks with meals but no bottled beverages are included.

Accommodation, food and drink

Himalaya Trekking | Trekking Himalayas | Namaste Nomad Tours & Treks

What is the arrangement for overnight accommodation? Will we have private rooms and bathrooms?

Where possible, we organise stays in tea houses or lodges, otherwise your porters and guide will set up camp. Private rooms are available in most tea houses, except for those at very high altitudes, however most bathrooms are shared. On our lodge treks, we always utilise the best accommodation available within the area, arrange for the proper cleaning of bathroom facilities for our group and provide bed and pillow covers, as the standards can vary dramatically within each community, even within a single destination. For the camping part of a trek, accommodation is in a shared tent based on double occupancy, while bathroom and sanitation facilities are improvised as comfortably as possible.

What are the tea houses like?

Tea houses are a way of life for most trekkers. They are the combination of guest house, restaurant and social hang out. Trekkers along the popular Everest, Langtang and Annapurna treks in Nepal can enjoy the friendliest, cleanest and most enjoyable tea houses with the best views when joining our tea house treks , thanks to our experience. Most tea houses have running water and many have hot water available for bathing.

Deforestation is a big environmental concern in Nepal and other Himalayan destinations, so we discourage our groups from using water heated by wood fires due to the lack of firewood in most villages.

What meals will be served daily?

Typically, three hot meals plus snacks are served throughout the trip, however packed lunches may be offered when distances between stops do not permit cooking. In our organised tent treks, our trained cook sets the menu and prepares the meals. In our tea house- or lodge-based treks, we choose different menus for three meals each day, but the same menu for the entire group.

What type of food is served on a trek?

All the walking, in addition to the unforgiving cold and fatigue, causes appetites to soar, so we pay a lot of attention to the quantity and quality of food served.  You are typically served three meals plus snacks. A variety of local and continental dishes are prepared and we do our best to introduce you to local foods and tastes. Breakfast may include cereals, porridge (cooked oats), pancakes, toast, eggs, sausages, mashed potatoes, etc. Lunch may be cooked or a picnic including sandwiches, boiled eggs, chocolate bars, biscuits, etc. Typical dinners may include Dal Bhat ( lentils and rice), fresh local vegetables, momos (vegetable dumplings), noodles, potatoes, soup, canned products, etc. Dessert may include ice cream or fruit salad.

Dishes are prepared daily and the menu may vary depending on the food available in the market. In a few villages, cooks may find meat so non vegetarian dishes can be prepared.

How safe is the food?

Food safety is always a concern when visiting a foreign country. The food we serve on camping trips is completely safe and we use tea houses and restaurants with clean and sanitary kitchens. On our lodge treks, we provide a cook to prepare safe and tasty meals with our own set of utensils and hygienic practices.

Where do we get water during the trip?

Your guide will provide you with all the water you need during your trek. All tea houses have boiled water for trekkers and we discourage the purchase of bottled water while on the trail, because plastic bottles are difficult to dispose of and have become an environmental problem in the Himalayas.

Is the water safe to drink?

Your guide will be in charge of all your water needs. He will make sure all water is boiled and treated with iodine, which is 100% effective in killing the bacteria in water. You can also use water filtration tablets if you prefer, however water boiled at the source poses absolutely no problem for consumption. On the first day, take a bottle of drinking water with you.

Health and safety / altitude sickness

Himalaya Trekking | Trekking Himalayas | Namaste Nomad Tours & Treks

What is Altitude Sickness (AMS)?

Altitude sickness, or Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), is a particularly important medical consideration while trekking in the Himalayas. Altitude sickness is the adverse effects of altitude on those who ascend too rapidly to elevations above 3,000 meters. The initial symptoms of AMS may include:

  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Insomnia/sleeplessness.
  • Persistent headache.
  • Dizziness.
  • Light headedness.
  • Confusion and disorientation.
  • Drunken gait weakness.
  • Fatigue.
  • Lassitude.
  • Heavy legs.
  • Slight swelling of hands and face.
  • Breathlessness and irregular breathing.
  • Reduced urine output.

These symptoms are to be taken very seriously. In case of appearance of any of the above symptoms, any further ascent must be reconsidered, otherwise more serious, even life-threatening issues may arise. The only cure for Altitude Sickness is to descend to lower elevations immediately.

How do I avoid altitude sickness?

It is important to ascend slowly and gradually, have good intake of water, good food and good sleep. Acclimatisation by ascending to no more than 300 to 500 meters per day once above 3,000 meters, with the proper amount of rest and hydration, are the best preventatives of AMS. If you follow the simple advice of our trained guides, you should not need to worry about complications from mountain sickness. As a safety precaution, consult your doctor before departure. In any case, our guides are trained to spot any signs of altitude sickness and react appropriately.

I live at sea-level - does this increase my risks in dealing with the high altitude?

Susceptibility to altitude sickness varies from person to person – while one may get sick at a lower altitude, another might not be affected even at a much higher altitude. Altitude sickness can be a worry for many people coming from sea level, but we give our trekkers extra days to acclimatise to the higher altitudes. We design our tours to ensure clients are ready for high altitude and arrange alternative itineraries for those at risk. Our itineraries are designed so that our clients ascend at a sensible and safe rate. The effects of altitude are reduced by gentle acclimatisation. Most trekkers reach their highest point without any problems.

What happens if I get sick while on the mountain?

Although extreme care is taken to avoid high altitude sickness, if you do get sick, support staff will take all the necessary steps for your safety, including offering medication and bringing you down to a lower altitude immediately.

Is there a doctor on the trek?

We can’t guarantee a doctor on every trekking area, but we do try to encourage suitably experienced medical personnel to join our high altitude treks by offering a discount in return for looking after the medical needs of a group. In addition to trek doctors, our group leaders are trained in first aid.

Do you carry First Aid kit?

First Aid Kits are available at all the camps, which offer support for emergencies.

Should I bring a first aid kit and what should it contain?

As a precautionary measure, it may be a good idea to carry a few basic essentials. Include Acetazolamide (Diamox), aspirin, Imodium, Intetrix, a skin disinfectant, bandages, gauze, sun block and a lip cream.

What will the weather be like?

Weather can vary and affects everything, then Himalaya trekking is no exception. Sudden rainstorms or snow flurries are always a possibility. The weather during the trekking season is somewhat more stable. Your guide will pay close attention to weather reports.

What happens if there is an emergency?

Namaste Nomad prides itself on being prepared for any emergency situation. Our guides are trained in first-aid and can deal with the most basic ailments that may occur during a trek. If a serious emergency occurs, Namaste Nomad is prepared to seek external help as required. If an emergency occurs, Namaste Nomad will initially cover the cost of an evacuation until your insurance company can deliver payment.

Practicalities

Trekking Himalayas | Himalaya Trekking | Namaste Nomad Tours & Treks

What kind of insurance do I need?

Every client must obtain insurance before travelling to Nepal with Namaste Nomad.  To protect yourself against unforeseen circumstances, we strongly recommend you take out a ‘Trip cancellation and medical insurance policy’ in your home country. Your medical insurance should include coverage of evacuation costs in the event that emergency helicopter or surface evacuation is required.

How much money do I need for my trip?

This is bit of difficult to assess without knowing your your holiday plan. Furthermore, the cost of living in various destinations varies and you must budget accordingly. You may contact us explaining your intended destination, duration of stay, preferred category of accommodation and interests – e.g. you would like to do a specific tour, trekking, rafting, wildlife safari, shopping, etc. – and we will do our best to give you a fair idea of what things may cost. 

How much money should I bring for the trek?

The amount of money you bring on a trek depends on you. Bear in mind that cold sodas during the day and an occasional beer after a long day of hiking can be rather nice. These, along with any souvenirs, camera film and other personal requirements are to be considered a personal expense. Plane tickets and money can be kept in a safe at our office or your hotel.

How can I change money?

On your arrival in Delhi, you will find several exchange offices at the airport offering attractive rates. Compare the rates of different offices to get the best rate of exchange or use the ATM.

Should I tip my guide/porter and, if so, how much?

Your porter/guide should not ask you for anything. However, if at the end of your trek you feel that he has done a good job and warrants a thank you, feel free to offer a tip or a gift. Each participant is free to give any amount of money they want, because tipping is not mandatory – it is a way of thanking the team for their support during your trek and displaying your satisfaction.

During your trek you will be accompanied by a group which may include a guide, a cook, mule, porters, boatmen or drivers. The average practice for a group of 1 to 4 people is to offer 250 INR per day per person; for a group of 5 to 8 people,  200 INR per day per person; for a group of more than 9 people, 150 INR per day per person. Hand deliver the sum to each member of the team. 

Is communication home possible on the trek?

In many villages along the popular Himalaya trekking routes, there are telephones from which you can make international calls and many places have WiFi. You may also wish to obtain a local SIM card for your phone. If you wish, we can send a daily trekking report to your relatives at home.

How can I charge my electronics?

In most places in India and Nepal, the voltage is 220 volts. Electrical outlets are the same as in Europe but it is advisable to bring an adapter for the less modern hotels. Be aware that there may be frequent power cuts. We advise you to bring enough batteries or a solar charger.

Will somebody pick me up at the airport on my arrival?

Yes, we pick you up at the airport. We wait outside in the Arrivals Terminal hall with a placard from Namaste Nomad with your name on it.

Is it okay to take photographs of village people?

Yes, it is usually fine, however it is better to ask permission before taking photographs. Most village people are happy to be photographed and would enjoy seeing themselves in print, so please make copies and post them back to us so that we can deliver them on one of our future treks.

Packing

Would I need to purchase a lot of expensive gear to go on a trek?

On most treks, we will provide many of the the most expensive items needed, including tents, a sleeping bag and sleeping mattress, so all you need to provide are personal clothing items. On some treks, e.g. in Ladakh, you will need to provide some extra bedding. In this case, be careful and take a warm sleeping bag designed for stays at high altitude (Comfort 10). For more comfort, you could take a small foam mattress and a blanket as well.

What clothing and equipment should I bring for a trek in the summer/winter?

To be comfortable throughout your trek, having the right equipment is one of the essential prerequisites. Do not clutter your bag with unnecessary things. Try not to take more than 15 kilos because porting might become a real challenge.

Bags: A large duffel bag or hiking bag without an external metal frame plus a small backpack of 30 litres would be ideal. Bring a lock if you wish to keep your bag extra safe. Always hang a label on it with your and your service provider details. 

ClothingChoosing the right clothing is very important. You want to have enough clothes to stay warm or cool, without overpacking. Typically, you might expect warm days and cold nights. Pack a warm jacket, either fleece or down, for the evening, long underwear, wool socks, warm sweaters, a hat and a scarf. Bring also a light pair of pants (sweat pants or canvas trousers) and shorts for hiking. Be aware that you will not have the opportunity to wash your clothes every day. 

Equipment: Sunscreen and sunglasses are a must. Bring also a water bottle, a flashlight with spare batteries and a penknife or small knife. You may wish to bring telescopic ski poles and some energy boosters like cereal bars, cookies and sweets. Rain and hail can appear on the trail, so we suggest a Gore-Tex jacket.

Most gear can be purchased at one of the many outdoor gear shops in the main cities, such as Kathmandu or Pokhara in Nepal; Gangtok in Sikkim; and Leh in Ladakh.

Why should I travel with a light pack?

You will leave with two bags: a big bag of 60 to 120 litres (keep the weight under 15 kg) and a smaller one of 20 to 30 litres. During the trek, you carry only the smaller one while the porters or mules carry the bigger one. The small bag will hold your basic necessities on the trek, as listed below.

What should I carry in my daypack?

Plan to pack and carry these items during the day:

  • Water.
  • Packed lunch.
  • Any medicines you need.
  • Sunscreen.
  • Valuables.
  • Waterproof jacket.
  • A sweater, scarf and hat for nightfall.
  • Camera (and film).
What type of shoes or boots should I wear?

The proper footwear depends on the trek. Shorter treks can be done in comfortable trainers, while longer ones require sturdy, but lightweight, hiking boots. Velcro sandals may also be a good idea if you need to cross water (see below). Shoes and boots are best purchased before arriving in your destination. Proper fit is a must for boots and we encourage wearing them before the trek to break them in.

We try to provide as much information as possible about our Himalaya trekking services. However, if you have any further questions regarding our trips or itineraries, please feel free to contact us. We answer all enquiries within 24 hours.

info@namastenomad.ie