DIY Trek Guide to Nepal

DIY Trekking

View from Upper Pisang Annapurnas.

Interactive trekking map of the Annapurnas

ACAP(Annapurna Conservation Area Project)

trekking route

Select EARTH on the map above, you may have to install the plugin from Google Earth. Zoom right into the start of the trek, close to the ground: Besisahar, Beni, Dampus. Use the top eye control and tilt the camera view to look up. Now you are in 3D virtual mode and you can follow the route of the whole trek.

Select EARTH

icon DIY Trekking Guide (2.85 MB 2012-05-14 18:30:41)

Nepal offers some the best trekking and mountain scenery in the world. The three most popular treks:


Thorong La -Around Annapuranas, Besisahar over Thongra la pass and back down to Jomson and Beni. This is a long trek and you need to spend one week acclimatizing in Manang valley to get over the pass. 14 days +

Poon Hill, A short trek can include Chomrong.Take a taxi to start of the trek.

ABC Annapurana base camp, long dark hike to finally reach the base camp.This is not good for a first trek because from Bamboo 2300 you goto 3100m is too rapid. Check out the virtual map of this area.

Manang, From Besishar up to Manang and back again. This can take 10 days or so. You can catch a micro bus (or mini van) on the way to Kathamandu in the morning and get off at Besishar. This will be fastest.

Jomson Muktinath, a short trek can start from Beni via taxi from Pokhara. Jeep is also going to Jomoson.

Which trek is the best ?

The Manang trek i think is one of the best.  The Annapurna's is the best area with easy accessibility for a newbie. Most people will get tired after one or two weeks of daily hiking, unless you have a super energy.  A short trek is to Poon Hill or to Chomrong that can done in three days.

Jomson and Kagbeni is the best for beginners because of the gradual altitude.

Royal Trek - Another option that requires no permit. Good option during high season

Langtang is a short trek near Kathmandu that sees considerably less tourists, then the others.

Everest Base Camp (EBC)

A popular trek but involves five days of back breaking to Lukla, or take the flight. Prob with that is that flight is usually full or cancelled or both!

They are all set up as tea-house trek.  Tea House trekking is an environmental conservative way of experience the Himalayas which was was established more than 20 years ago. For a tea-house trek you don't need a guide, porter, food, tent or much gear. This puts the least amount of pressure on the ecosystem. This in thanks to the local villagers who live in the area and who have created a small lodge system to accommodate thousands of visitor each year.

In fact you are not trekking in Nepal but rather high altitude hiking. You won't be sleeping in a tent (unless you want to)

  • October to December are the best months. The monsoon has ended and sky's are clear blue. December is good too but getting to be cold. A few of the lodges may offer some heating but most are like shacks with wind blowing through the cracks!
  • October is also high season that many groups come in and take over lodges. It can also rain in October. September is good month, but more rain.
  • December to February are good also but cold especially at higher altitudes. By March the dust and pollution, haze of the brown cloud have covered the mountains. You have to very high up to escape it.

When to go trekking in Nepal?

Brown Haze


What about flights to Jomson and Lukla?

Small domestic flights are often delay or canceled due to weather or other political factors. Making plans on these flight often ends up in a surprise... like missing or changing your flight. Flying to Jomson @ 2600m is not recommended due to the altitude.

There are also jeeps that go up the newly built road all the way to Jomson.

Guide or not a guide?

A guide is definitely not necessary. This is because the trekking area are heavily populated and it is not difficult to find the way to the next town. Just follow the path.  They are so many locals you can just ask them if in doubt. Most of the trekkers are independent while there are usually large school groups or seniors with guides and porters.

Guides will also supplement (with bakshesh) their income by taking you to their preferred guest house that gives them the best rates, since you've paid already.

So the guide business contribute to the commercialization of a conservation area causing destruction of the habitat.

Guide will also rob you of the experience of doing it yourself.

What about travel insurance?

It is cheap and advisable to purchase so trip insurance should you to be evacuated and take to a hospital.

How much does it cost?

It is cheap. It won't cost more than $10/ per day even less. Rooms are 60-150 Rs. 150Rs is with attached hot water and bath. Some guest house are new and nice, while others are just basic shacks. You can bargain for meals as well. $150Rs with meals is not uncommon. Food is cheap anyways. Dal Bhat, is rice, vegetables and Dal is usually Rs100, Veg noodles 60Rs.  Water can be expensive, 40-80Rs depending on how high up you are. Remember to bargain. Boiled water should be 10-20Rs per liter. You can bring purifying drops.

Price will increase the higher up you go above 3000m or 4000m near Thongrala pass and the EBC tourist trap.

Actually they have two menus. One they show the groups with guides and one for regular trekkers. The one for the groups is usually double in price.

Trekking permit is 2000Rs. One one entry so don't forget anything.

Isn't it dangerous to trek alone?

Normally, yes, out in the wild. In the case of the popular 'treks' in Nepal you aren't really trekking but high altitude hiking through villages. The trails is very wide with signs showing you the way. Hundreds of donkeys are used to bring supplies to the hundreds of villages without roads.  If you want to hike with others you will soon find friends.  If you go at your own pace you can enjoy and meet many people along the way. Every night the lodges are filled with tourist in season. You'll wish you were alone! This is another reason not to bring a guide or porter, it just means more crowds and two more beds are need as well as food.

What do i do about altitude?

The biggest danger in trekking is altitude sickness. Physiologists don't know why some people have trouble at altitude and may develop illnesses such as acute mountain sickness or high altitude pulmonary edema while others adapt quickly. Everyone needs to be aware of their own condition and be selfish enough to stay behind on their own if necessary. Around 2700m you must rest for 1-7 days, Once you feel completely 'normal' then you can continue. Again at 3000-3200m you must acclimatize for 1-7 days. The rule of thumb is 300m every 24 hrs.

The first signs of altitude is problems is stomach cramps, difficulty sleeping, anxiety. You brain will turn off your stomach and adjust your breathing when your asleep. because it perceives a problem (lack of oxygen.) So remember not eat to much. Many people thing they have a bacterial infection and start popping antibiotics. They are usually with a guide who has pushed them into eating three meals a day. There stomach cramps up and turns into diarrhea.  Avoid too much hard food such as rice and dal. Even though you feel tired avoid the immediate temptation to eat in order to gain energy. Body must rest.

"Viagra Improves High Altitude Exercise Performance Up To 45% For Some

ScienceDaily (June 24, 2006) — Sildenafil (Viagra) significantly improved the cardiovascular and exercise performance measures of trained cyclists at high altitude, mostly because the drug helped some participants improve a lot -- up to 45% -- while others showed little change. Sildenafil provided no benefit at sea level."


What about my trekking permit?

Trekking permit is easily picked up in 15 minutes from the trekking office. Cost is 2000Rs. 1 photo is required. I usually pick it up with the taxi in the morning when I'm leaving on the trek. The office is listed on the Pokhara map.


What if get in trouble or sprained ankle?

In the trekking area are village with some medical facilities and communication. There are emergency helicopter services too (You should have a credit card handy for this.) If you have to go back to Pokhara or Kathmandu they will carry you out in a sling as they do for locals which not expensive.

What about water to drink?

This system in the lodges is to drink boiled water. You will see a large metal canteen with a spout usually with a knit doily on top. This boiled water is filled up regularly by the cooks. Sometimes they charge 10Rs per liter.

There are also water purification stations that charge 30 Rs per liter. You can buy drops of course and purity your own water.


What about alcohol and smoking?

Some people have no problem with smoking and drink at high altitude. While others taking alcohol or smoking at a high altitude has caused serious problems.  It's better not to drink or smoke during the trek.



Where do i put the rest of my stuff while I'm trekking?

Every guesthouse in Pokhara or Kathmandu is familiar with this and usually have a closet or storage area for trekking gear. They don't charge for storage because you stayed there after all and they want you to come back.

What kind of daily schedule do you recommend?

The mountains are clearest in the morning around dawn, often this is the only time if day. Best to have a very light breakfast and start off early, i like to eat minimally until around 2:00-3:00pm then stop in a village and rest, eat and spend the night there. If you are able to buy any fresh fruits such as apples or oranges grown locally, take advantage of it.

What about foot wear?

A good option is a cross trainer type without the ankle support, this is light weight and you can still use it if your traveling on to India.  It is not a running shoe but like a boot without the ankle support. If you have weak ankle then you'll be better with proper hiking boots.  Look for a shoe with some rubber bounce to them to reduce the impact of the many steps going down. Running shoes or any hard type of shoes is not recommended.  Running shoes are likely to  be damage from the terrain. Lastly beware of blisters, you must wear your shoes in first. Blister can easily become a major problem leaving you to hobble back to Pokhara.

What should i pack for the trek?

Remember NOT to pack anything unnecessary, such as an heavy ipod, chargers, tents, cookers, canteens, mattresses or any other other junk. Think minimalistic.

I don't think people should hire a porter because it easy to carry this amount your self and i consider the practice of human slaver to be immoral.

* You can rent or buy most things in Nepal cheap! Nepal has lots of cheap knock off from China, fake Northern Face, Mountain Hardwear etc. This is not bad but will fall apart quickly, but is easily repaired in Nepal by the ubiquitous tailors. Beware if you are renting examine your items very carefully to see if they are clean etc., shop around to see who's renting new stuff. Old gear is heavy and smelly. Name brand manufactures have set up in Kathmandu with authentic gears at authentic prices as well.

Packing List for a Nepal Trek:




Backpack, the one you already own can be shrunk down with straps. or you can rent.

Should be a light weight modern design with good straps and fitting properly.


Sleeping bag, down, warm as possible. Preferably your own. 1kg max.


2 x T-Shirts


2 x Underwear, 4 pair socks


Fleece jacket, can be bought cheap in Nepal or rented.


Gortex outer shell wind breaker, rain jacket. Probably need to rent this.

May not use it that much depending on the season. It will provide warmth at higher altitudes. 

It can rain sometimes in October.


Fleece hat. A hat the covers you neck and protects you from the sun might be a good idea too. Hats are cheap in Nepal.


1-2 pairs of Light weight trekking pants. You can buy cheap knock-offs in Nepal,

with the zip-off pant legs, in case it's hot in the lower altitudes and you'll need shorts.

Regular pants or jeans should not be a problem if it is not wet.


Flash light or torch. Will be useful in lodges. High power lion battery that lasts a long time.


Sunglasses, polarized. Preferably dark as possible. Snow blindness is a concern.


Sunscreen, lip balm, petroleum jelly.


Toilet and bath items, also the hand sanitizer stuff is useful you can use instead if a wash if you miss a shower.


Light weight small towel.  Cut a regular towel in half or some fleece.


Laundry powder, or liquid. Laundry will be a bit of concern. Take advantage if it's hot and sunny in the afternoon, you can do your laundry and it might dry in an hour or two.


Camera, prefer SLR because of good battery life, power may be available though bring charger or extra batteries. such l-ion.


Book to read. Small nano, small headphone.


MSP Trekking Annapurna MAP Pack, down load here.


That's it! Anymore and it will get too heavy.

icon DIY Trekking Guide (2.85 MB 2012-05-14 18:30:41)

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0 # Mick 2009-09-18 16:03
KISS - What a great article. Good to see someone cut out a lot of the fuss about trekking DIY. Most areas of the country are accessible by DIY trekkers, even if there are no formal trekking lodges. Sometimes it is good to head off the beaten track and stay in homes. You should contribute for your visit but keep it in balance, not too much and not too scrimpy. 100 rupees per night per person if they fed you (they probably will) is a fair price in the low and middle hills of Nepal, very high up things are more expensive so up that a little.
0 # nina 2009-12-08 00:06
Super site you have. Thanks for all the down-to-earth advice and info. I'm planning a trip to Nepal in January and am really conflicted between getting a guide, and not. This helps.
+2 # Nepal DIY Info 2011-08-19 06:55
Recently we returned from a four-day trek with a friend in the Annapurna Himalayan range. Boasting spectacular scenery, rugged terrain and extremely welcoming locals, I've never visited another place on earth like Annapurna.
I what to thank you for the DIY guide, we uploaded it to our ipod. I am glad we didn't hire a guide, that would have been a complete waste of time and money.
Written Oct 26, 2010
Judy Burns USA
+3 # Stephen 2011-11-02 12:04
I found the information in your article helpful, but I disagree with your strong stand against hiring a guide. I hired a local as a guide for the Annapurna to Muktinath trek. While I agree that a person could follow the trail without much difficulty, I can't imagine the experience without my friend. We had a great time and I found the experience far more enjoyable because I was with someone who could unlock the countryside/cul ture for me. When we stopped at guest houses, we ended up eating in the kitchen with the people who ran it, rather than sitting in the dining room. I think you run the risk of closing yourself off from a great deal of what makes trekking in Nepal unique if you view guides/porters as scam artists. Possibly they're doing some of the few tasks that they can in an economy where there are few other options.
0 # Prem Gurung 2011-12-12 07:57
how you can say that to the Guide ? i think you had bad experience. if you write positiv and negative of the guide it will be better??????? i am sending this web page to TAAN, NMA, NTB by email. thank for very kind information
+2 # markus from Austria 2012-01-26 14:13
Dear Friends,
Thanks for our complete Ideas.It works on our trek. First time we did our trek without guide and porter. It is easy. but sometime trouble for rooms. We have seen only nature. But Nepal is land of diversity of culture and people. We are from Germany.we are interested to culture. It was Very good for culture and religion.
0 # Trekking Guide in Ne 2013-01-15 13:20
Dear Travellers,

!! Namaste and warm Greetings from Himalayan Country Nepal!!

My name is Sanjib Adhikari. As an independent trekking guide and tour operator in Nepal, I would like to introduce myself to you.
I was born and grown up in the rugged and remote district in the Central Himalayan region. I started my career in the adventure tourism at the very young age after completing my high school level studies, working for different trekking companies for seven years in different capacities sometimes as porter, assistant guide and now working as an Independent trekking guide. I have already obtained trekking guide license from the ministry of tourism, government of Nepal.

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