Trekking is one of the major drawcards that brings people to Nepal and if you are going to head off walking for a week or three why not do it in one of the worlds most magnificent settings? There are many ways that people trek off into the Himalaya's:
1/ Go on an organised trek that will supply everything you need with a guide and porters.
2/ Organise your own through a trekking agency that will take care of most of the details.
3/ Just do it.
Not being the organised types we have never gone down the path of option 1 but if you are on a tight time frame that might be the best choice for you. We once used a trekking agency that organised our permits, a guide and a couple of porters which we rationalised to ourselves to be providing employment for local workers. It was certainly easier to have someone do the running around before arriving and the guys that accompanied us on the trek were lovely.....but we just felt there was a pressure to get to their planned stopping place each night.
To organise the Trekking Permit yourself is quite easy really and might take a couple of hours but is all part of the experience isn't it? The permit can be obtained from the Nepal Tourism board in Kathmandu, price is dependent on the area of your trek see....HERE, this is also where you will get your Trekkers Information Management System (TIMS) card, for US $20, and must be purchased before heading off. Take your passport, plenty of passport sized photos plus a sense of humour and plenty of patience as it can be a long winded process from desk to desk.There are check points along most trekking routes and they will check your permits so don't try to get away with not getting them.
Now what to expect on your trek? Most people undertake what is sometimes known as a tea-house or lodge trek, this entails staying and eating in the numerous tea-houses along the way. Now I don't know what the term tea-house conjures up in your imagination but the reality is they are mostly 2 storeys high with the lower level taken up with the dining area/ kitchen. There is usually have a slow burner round steel fireplace that becomes the focus on cold nights for keeping warm and drying wet clothes by. Upstairs are the bedrooms with just enough room for 2 single beds and room for your packs. The walls are typically single thickness ply-wood between rooms so not a lot of privacy but you are only there to sleep right?
These days on the more popular trekking routes there is now a standardised menu, which is surprisingly extensive, with standardised prices for food and lodging. One thing that hasn't changed in 25 years is that if you stay at one place the expectation is that you will eat there too, only reasonable I think under the circumstances. Click...HERE..for menu examples. Hot water is usually a first in first served basis so try to plan to get somewhere reasonably early unless you want a freezing shower. Villages on most routes are spaced out around 2-3 hours walk between them so you really are never too far from food and a bed. While on beds, the mattress is of the foam type that never quite seem thick enough but most places supply a thick doona which if you have a decent sleeping bag can be added to the mattress for extra padding.
Water in plastic bottles can be bought only up to a certain point then due to environmental reasons, in other words- rubbish, you can fill your own bottles from a safe water station which is subsidised by the Annapurna Conservation Area National Park. Although supposedly safe for drinking by using a purification system like the Steripen, see our reviews for travel gear, you can be sure of not picking up any nasty surprises.
Weather is something that really needs to be taken into account. Winter, December to February will see snow falls on a lot of the higher passes rendering them impassable. September to November and March to May are the best times for trekking so obviously this is when the trails are most crowded. The wet or monsoon season is from June to August and last year we thought we would slip in a quick walk up to Poon Hill at the end of the monsoon. Unfortunately it was a longer than usual monsoon so it was very cloudy and humid. Luckily at the most opportune time the clouds parted for a few hours to reveal what we had come for, the mountains! The torrential downpours each night meant a lot of the trails were more like streams with lots of land slides having taken the trails completely away.
At one stage coming down through Ghandruk we rounded a corner to see where a substantial bridge had been washed away by a torrent that was still running where we needed to go. Luckily there was a group of men deciding how to repair it with a few tree trunks that were very happy to helps us out by showing us an alternative crossing. They even carried Jo's pack for her as we all forded a quite deep and fast flowing water course, in hindsight we now see how it all could have gone horribly wrong with a very deep drop-off just downstream........... but what are you going to do?