Frequently Asked Questions
- What is a trekking trip?
- How do I pick the right trekking trip?
- Are the trek itineraries set or can they be customised / flexible?
- How are the trekking trips graded for experience, difficulty and fitness?
- Is it possible to buy trekking clothes, gear and equipment in Kathmandu?
- What is the climate like in Nepal?
- What will the weather be like during the trek?
- How are you helping the trainee guides that umbrella supports? What is a guide or an assistant (porter)?
- Are the guides and support staff qualified?
- What weight of a bag would the porter normally carry?
- Does you provide specific carrier bags that we can put our things in or does the porter carry our bags?
- What is tea house trekking?
- Is it possible to camp?
- Are the trips environmentally and ethically friendly?
- Can you arrange accommodation in Kathmandu / Pokhara / Nepal for me?
- How much does the return flight to Lukla (start point for the Everest region treks) cost?
- How much does a flight to Pokhara cost?
- What other adventure activities can I do in Nepal?
- What is the local currency, the exchange rate and how do I get /change money?
- What camera equipment should I bring?
What is a trekking trip?A trekking trip is a multi day, adventurous outdoor walking based holiday for people who enjoy nature, scenery, wildlife and mountains. These holidays allow you the chance to experience and absorb the genuine local culture. Trekking does not involve climbing or mountaineering skills as you are only walking along safe mountain trails. The fitness level required can be anything from a basic level of fitness right up a very high level of fitness for more strenuous trips. That said most people of a basic fitness level will be able to enjoy a trekking holiday, many of which will use guides and support staff so that you don’t need to carry a huge rucksack and can enjoy the experience.
How do I pick the right trekking trip?That is entirely dependent on the experience, goals and outcomes you want from your holiday. Is your goal to reach the centre of the great white peaks? Do you wish to pass through villages with many different ethnic cultures? Perhaps you want to get away from it all and disappear into the remote mountains or you might just wish experience a glorious mountain view with little exertion. Another consideration is how much time you have and in what season you would like to trek. The higher passes often close from December to February due to excessive snowfall whereas some lower elevation treks are open year round (for example, the Annapurna Poon Hill trek is open all year round. A general overview of the main treks is listed and we are happy to tailor the treks to suit your needs. Solo travelers or those traveling with friends have the choice of joining one of our regular trekking groups or arranging their own trek itinerary with us. Contact Us for more information on setting your own trekking itinerary.
Are the trek itineraries set or can they be customised / flexible?
Our trek itineraries are very flexible. You can go for as many or as little days as you like. When you are traveling as a group, you can easily request your guide to explore previously unintended areas, extend the trip or cut it down – it is totally up to you.
We are often contacted by people that think that the stated itineraries are very strict, but the reality is that most aspects are flexible once you get here.
How are the trekking trips graded for experience, difficulty and fitness?
Our trekking trips are graded as ‘Easy’, ‘Moderate’ or ‘Strenuous.’ There are definitions below of these categories but it is always best to check with us if in any doubt. The definitions are generally based around length of trip, altitude and hours walked each day.
Easy – Trekking holidays for those of a reasonably active lifestyle. You do not require any special outdoors training or skills although please have a basic fitness level. The most important attributes are an open mind, a sense of humour, adaptability and a positive mental attitude to life.
Moderate – A reasonable fitness level and good health, please expect to walk for up to 4 hours at a time on steep paths, often with sections of large uphill and downhill. You should be exercising a few times a week for this trip to get maximum enjoyment out of the trip.
Strenuous – Trekking for a minimum of 6 hours daily, often over rough terrain at high altitude. You will need to be exercising regularly in the week at a moderate level to increase your endurance levels and any training done on hills e.g. walking, cycling; mountain biking or running at a steady pace is especially beneficial.
Is it possible to buy trekking clothes, gear and equipment in Kathmandu?
You can very easily purchase affordable trekking clothes, gear and equipment in the (over one hundred) specialist stores in Thamel, Kathmandu! There is a very good trekking equipment shop just opposite our office and we will have a member of staff on hand to help you to purchase items at a discount. Because many people come to Nepal unprepared, the shops are well stocked and you can source your bag, jacket, pants, sweaters, t-shirts, gloves, hats, socks, sleeping bag, trekking poles and more for reasonable prices. You can choose to rent, rather than buy, equipment also.
Unless you are ready to pay Western prices, it can be difficult to find a reliable pair of locally made hiking boots, and it is strongly recommend that you bring your own with you. You should purchase them in advance of your arrival in Nepal and practice walking in them for up to 2 weeks before your trek’s start date to give them time to adapt to your feet.
What is the climate like in Nepal?
Nepal has four different seasons.
Spring (March – May): The temperature is mildly warm in low lands while moderate in higher altitudes with plenty of opportunities to have tryst with the mountain views. It is also the time for flowers to blossom and the national flower of Nepal – rhododendron sweeps the ascending altitudes with its magnanimous color and beauty.
Summer (June – August): This is also the monsoon season in Nepal. The weather is hot and wet at times. It rains almost every day with occasional thunderstorms in the evening. The rain spreads the pleasantness around with lush green vegetation.
Autumn (September – November): This is the best tourist season in Nepal with the summer gone by and the winter to set in. The weather is highly pleasant so are the mountain views. This is the peak season for trekking as mountain views are guaranteed so best book your flights in advance! This is also the festival season in Nepal with the biggest Hindu festival Dashain closely followed by Tihar.
Winter (between December – February): The weather is cool and the sky is clear with occasional snowfalls at higher elevations. This season is good for trekking in lower elevations. The morning and night is cold and the days are warm when sunny.
Temperature & rainfall: Nepal is the country of extremes. The low-land plains of the Terai can have tropical temperatures and also the mosquitoes. The Himalayas can get to sub-zero temperatures, but the sun blaze can bring some warmth during the day, even in the mountains. The temperature of Kathmandu goes below 1 Degree Celsius (34 Degree Fahrenheit) in winter and rises to an average of 25 Degree Celsius (77 Degree Fahrenheit) in summer.
Average temperatures in Kathmandu during the four seasons:
Spring season ranges between 16-23 Degree Celsius (61-73 Degree Fahrenheit)
Summer season ranges between 23-25 Degree Celsius (73-77 Degree Fahrenheit)
Autumn season ranges between 15-24 Degree Celsius (59-75 Degree Fahrenheit)
Winter season ranges between 9-12 Degree Celsius (48-54 Degree Fahrenheit)
During the rainy monsoon season between June to August, it rains to an average between 200-375 millimeters in Kathmandu. There is occasional rainfall during the other seasons too. In an average, 1300 millimeters of rain falls in Kathmandu every year.
What will the weather be like during the trek?
While it is impossible to completely predict, during the main trekking months the skies trend to be clear from 6 am to approx 1 pm, offering spectacular views. However, during the early afternoon cloud cover usually rolls in and hides the top of most peaks. There may be rain in the evenings or snow (at higher altitudes). At night time it will be cold, but you will be provided with large warm blankets and there will be fire stoves in the dining rooms of each of the teahouses along the way.
What is a guide or an assistant (porter)? How are you helping the trainee guides that Umbrella Trekking supports? What is a guide or an assistant (porter)?
A guide is a friend, guardian, teacher, student, advisor and attendant who can be a wonderful companion and give you the support you need to complete your trek – someone who can not only show you the way, but can enrich your trip culturally with knowledge of the flora, fauna and village life. A guide’s duty is to organise your trek, arranging itinerary, porters, food, and accommodation. Except in the case of an emergency, a guide does not carry your luggage .
As an assistant/trainee trekking guide at Umbrella Trekking Nepal, our youths will be following the guide’s lead in helping you reach your destination. They may help carry your luggage and they will be keen to get to know you and your story, as well as practice their English!
You are supporting these trainee guides by providing them with the opportunity to go on trekking trips and earn, learn and connect. They are paid a fair rate, are learning the skills they need to become full (and better paid) guides and therefore better paid and they have the chance to meet a wide variety of people and make connections with them.
All our guides and assistants are insured in case of injury and we take full responsibility for them, supplying them with adequate clothing, food and accommodation on the trek. Our business is to take care of all the details so you can enjoy your trip.
Are the guides and support staff qualified?The guides are well trained in first-aid, health and safety, English language, nature, history and culture and guiding in remote areas, having done the Kathmandu Environment Education Programme (KEEP) training course. Additionally they are also well equipped, paid a fair salary and well insured with extra training in customer care and liaison skills for working with the clients and the local communities. They are also passionate about nature and the environment and extremely professional whilst maintaining their ethos for nature and the environment.
What weight of a bag would the porter normally carry?Your porter can carry 15kg per client and as they carry the bags for two clients this means a 30kg maximum. However, this is more of a limit than a goal, as 30kg is very heavy for one person to carry so you should think carefully about what you intend to bring on the trek with you. Most hotels offer the services of a luggage store room so it is recommended that you leave any non-required clothes and personal items in a spare bag with them.
Does you provide specific carrier bags that we can put our things in or does the porter carry our bags?Specific common bags are not provided and the porters will carry your individual bags during the trek. It is recommend that, where possible people, share bags. For example, if two people are trekking, they can leave their non-required clothes and personal items in one of their bags at their hotel and then share the other for the duration of the trek.
What is tea house trekking?Tea house trekking is when your accommodation and food is catered for by local village guest houses along the trail. These are of traditional style, with hygienic and comfortable rooms and a varying range of local and western food.
Is it possible to camp?
The vast majority of people trekking in Nepal use the teahouses run by local people and contributing directly to the local economy and population. Their food and bedding is of good quality and in the evenings they light fires in communal areas where you can enjoy your dinner, hang out and dry your clothes.
Some camping areas can be sourced along the trail, but they can often work out more or just as expensive as the teahouses since you would have to purchase/rent – as well as hire more staff to carry – the equipment, food and related materials.
Are the trips environmentally and ethically friendly?
We are fully aware that trekking companies often have detrimental environmental effects on the trails, with the build-up of non-biodegradable rubbish such as plastic bottles being of prime concern. Natural resources such as wood are decreasing rapidly, with individual lodges requiring a minimum of 100 kg of fuel wood per day to provide luxuries such as warm showers. This deforestation can cause landslides, path erosion and other negative effects. The encroaching influence of western tourists’ increasing demands for luxuries and technologies is pushing the simple cultural values of Nepal towards the fast-paced, materialistic western beliefs we travel thousands of miles to the mountains to escape. To minimise the environmental impact in the areas we travel to, and focus on the quality of our treks, we only operate with small groups generally consisting of 2 to 10 people maximum. Additionally, where possible, we actively encourage the use of land transportation instead of flights for all trips.
Can you arrange accommodation in Kathmandu / Pokhara / Nepal for me?Due to insurance reasons we can not arrange accommodation directly for you. However, we are happy to give give recommendations as to where you can find a nice, comfortable place to stay where ever you are in Nepal.
How much does the return flight to Lukla (start point for the Everest region treks) cost?It costs US $325 for a return flight to Lukla
How much does a flight to Pokhara cost?It costs $90-106 (depending on the airline) to fly to Pokhara each way.
What is the local currency, the exchange rate and how do I get /change money?
The local currency is the Nepali Rupee (Nrs / NPR). EUR 1 is the equivalent of approximately 130 Npr (Jan 2014). It is difficult to get Nepali rupees prior to your arrival in country, but there are numerous ATMs and authorised money exchanges (bureau de change) located in the airport upon your arrival and beside your accommodation in both Kathmandu and Pokhara. The bureau de changes will easily exchange dollars or euro for rupees and you can get cash advances on both Visa and MasterCard from the ATMS. However please note that the ATMs don’t accept cards that run on the Cirrus system.
There will not be any available ATMs or money exchanges along the trek, so you should plan to bring some with you for incidental expenses. The Nepali rupee equivalent of between EUR50-100 per person is recommended, depending on your personal spending habits. You can consult the Umbrella Trekking representative upon your arrival in Nepal as regards a more accurate amount of money to bring along the trek.
What camera equipment should I bring?
The answer to this question depends on the equipment you currently own and your enthusiasm for photography. Most people would bring a compact type camera and the ideal kit for this would be a padded carry case, spare memory cards, spare batteries, cleaning kit and a gorilla pod (allows you to stick the camera to objects for photos).
The more serious photography enthusiast would be bringing a DSLR; the kit again is padded carry case, spare memory cards, spare batteries, cleaning kit and a gorilla pod. However you will require UV and polarizing filters to get good quality photos in the strong sunlight.