So initially, I was going to tack on this section to the end of my “Part 3” article. But after typing out a few points, I quickly realised how long it is, so figured it deserved a post of it’s own… I’ll keep adding to the list if I think of anything more…
Think about how you’re going to be protect yourself from the sun during the trek, especially the usually uncovered areas like your face, neck and hands. Consider the following:
- Wear a hat or cap – sunstroke has really similar symptoms to altitude sickness!
- Wrap around sunglasses – not only prevent glare from entering from the sides but helps see through dust as well
- Sunscreen (SPF50+ or greater) – reapply ever hour or so!
- A thin neck scarf or buff
- Thin gloves which you can wear any day to protect your hands (where sunscreen wears off the quickest),
- Non-insulated shell jacket or pullover which provides sun protection,
- Try wearing long trekking pants or skins?
- Don’t forget lip balm… You’re going to need it! Double check the SPF rating of it as well
Consider using a polarised filter for your camera. It really helps cut the glare of the sun out, producing rich, blue skies and detail in the snow-capped mountains.
Do you need to shower?
Consider taking ‘wet-wipe’ baths up in the mountains. Sure, you can pay for a hot bucket of water, but do you really need it? Will your towel have enough time to dry in between or will it be frozen stiff come the morning? Besides, it just makes your first ‘real’ shower when you get back to Kathmandu so much more worth it.
Eat as much as you can
I weighed myself after the trek and found that I lost 5kg. This was in lieu of eating a lot of calories each day – typically a 2 egg omelette and toast for breakfast, a Trek and Snickers bars as snacks, dumplings, rice and a curry for lunch and 2-3 servings of dal bhaat for dinner.
The 2-3 servings would generally equate to around 1-2 cups of rice. Yeah, that much rice, plus enough lentil soup (only real source of protein in all the vegetarian meals served) and vegetable curry to eat with it.
Protect your feet
To prevent blisters and to increase the longevity of your socks especially when wearing boots, try using a medicated foot powder. It worked for me with no blisters, dry feet and dry socks every morning.
Plan for cold-like symptoms
Bring some sort of spirit oil, such as Axe Oil or eucalyptus oil, or something like Vicks… Helps clear a blocked nose and even makes you feel better if you get nausea.
I also carried a pack of Fisherman’s Friend which help prevent dry mouths and instantly cleared my nose.
Every lodge up there had WiFi. However, like everything else, it got pretty expensive past Namche Bazaar. However, if you need it, it’s there. Speed will vary depending on the number of users however.
What to do in your spare time?
From reading the net, it seems like most treks finish their day’s trekking pretty early – as early as 2-3pm in the afternoon. Dinner orders are usually required by 5pm and served between 6:30pm and 7:00pm. This means you’re going to have several hours of free time a day. Many in our group, including me brought a book to read if you want some time alone, or playing cards if you want to socialise with others. Either way, try and think of some lightweight, electricity-free ways to keep you occupied.
Batteries and charging your devices
I brought with me 5 spare batteries for my SLR and they lasted the distance. But make sure you keep the batteries warm by sleeping with them and carrying them close to your body during the day, this includes any other electrical items such as phones and GPS units.
If your device uses AA’s, consider buying slightly more expensive lithium AA’s which are lighter and last 4 times longer than typical alkaline AA’s. Or, get some rechargeable’s and pair it up with a solar charger.
I had with me a solar charger to charge my phone as well- if looking to buy one, make sure of 2 things: charge capacity (specified in mAh) and charging current (specified in A). You want at least a couple of thousand mAh capacity and a charging current of at least 1A to enable it to charge devices like an smartphone or tablet. I only bought mine a week before leaving, and quickly found this unit (Poweradd Apollo 7200mAh) which satisfied this criteria and it was relatively cheap… £28.00.
Open the window, sleep warm
When sleeping above altitude, open the window of your room! It makes a huge difference! In light of the above, make sure you don’t skimp out on your sleeping bag. If you don’t want to spend a fortune on one at home, fly into Kathmandu and buy yourself a down bag in Thamel. They’re reasonably priced.
Bring plenty of cash up the mountain
Food on the mountain gets more expensive the higher you go. By the time you hit Gorak Shep, dal bhaat, which normally goes for 300 or so rupees in Phakding now costs 800… Pots of tea get really expensive really fast as well, as it takes a lot of energy to boil water up there. Medium pot of tea at Gorak went for 750 rupees I think. Bearing these costs in mind, I think I spent around $450AUD over the 14 in the mountains, even though the Intrepid Trip Notes indicated that food and drink would total to approximately $300.00.
The exchange rate of excess rupees back to USD is pretty reasonable and you don’t lose much in the process.
Help yourself to drink plenty of water
Take some sort of drink flavouring/electrolyte mix and ration enough to be able to mix a litre of the stuff a day and even if you don’t mix it to full strength, it will still help you down several litres a day and it’s a real morale boost.
I drank anywhere from 3-4 litres of water a day, at least. What really helped me was that I could drink water as soon as I filled up my Camelbak or drink bottle, through the use of my filter and SteriPen – i.e. I didn’t have wait 30min-1.5hrs for my water treatment tablets to do their job.
Having a bladder also allows you to sip on the go. Again, this convenient access to water helped me to drink a couple of litres a day. If you don’t have a bladder, don’t fret as you can pick one up in Thamel for 900 rupees from most shops (bargain it down, it’s the going price).
Toilets and toilet paper
Expect holes in the ground for toilets and consider anything that flushes to be luxury. Be realistic about it- nothing you use on the mountain is going to be as comfortable as your throne back home, so it’s not even worth complaining or getting fussed about it.
Toilet paper – you’re going to need to BYO. You can buy them pretty cheaply as you go, so 2 rolls is plenty to carry.
Time before and after your trek
Perhaps factor in a whole week either before or after your trek in Nepal to check out Pokhara and the Annapurna’s? Though I didn’t get around to doing this, it was highly recommended by others. In terms of time in Kathmandu, you could probably see most of the sights in 3 days, and you can easily book day tours and activities in Thamel.