Trekking in the Himalayas is undoubtedly a rewarding and memorable experience. Several trekkers visit Nepal time and again for some slow-paced long hikes in rugged trails complemented by spectacular and unforgettable mountain views.
However, even though trekking in Nepal is a wonderful experience, it can also be a dangerous and life-threatening experience if you are not careful. It is reported that trekkers often die in Nepal due to altitude sickness, heart attacks, diabetic ketoacidosis, and trauma.
Thus, researching and being fully prepared before and during your trip is crucial. If you are unsure, please read for safety tips to consider if you have trekking plans in the Himalayan Kingdom.
Safety tips to follow before trekking in Nepal
Preparing for your trek before you head out for your trip can make a huge difference. You will be ready for any situation and will successfully execute your trekking without any hassle. Here are some safety tips you can adopt before you head out for your trek:
Make sure to get insurance
One of the most sensible things to do before you head for your trip is to get yourself travel insurance. Make sure to get the insurance that covers the cost of helicopter evacuation.
We hope you do not get into a situation where there is a need to evacuate in the middle of the trekking. But if you do, remember to always keep all the receipts and medical reports. The helicopter companies in Nepal only provide services to you if you assure them payment as they will not bother to deal with your insurance company.
You can provide your cash grantee to the helicopter company through a credit card, your trekking agency, or the embassy. You can file a claim with your insurer later. Beware, most travel insurance does not cover extreme activities like high altitude trekking.
If you are going for a high altitude trekking in places like Everest base camp or Annapurna Circuit, make sure that your insurance covers trek up to 6,000m. Do a check with your insurance company and confirm that you will be insured for all activities, excursions, and destinations. Make sure always to keep a copy of your insurance policy in your daysack.
It ensures you or your guide can easily access your insurer’s contact information if you get into an accident.
There is no legal requirement for trekkers to get any vaccinations for entering and exiting Nepal. But prevention is always better than the cure, so make sure to follow the CDC or WHO’s suggestions regarding which vaccinations you should get before.
Three of the most necessary immunization you should get before you come to Nepal are:
Hepatitis A spreads from food, drinks, or coming in close contact with an infected person. The virus can cause severe damage to your liver. Since you will be eating in an unknown place throughout your trip to Nepal, it is wise for you to get the Hepatitis A vaccination.
People contract typhoid mainly through contaminated water, by eating food washed in contaminated water, or by using a toilet contaminated with the bacteria. The typhoid symptoms can be excruciating as you will suffer from fever, extreme stomach pain, diarrhea, constipation, and cough. So instead of suffering and ruining your trekking plans, make sure to get the vaccine ahead of your trip.
Chickenpox still exists in Nepal. If you are a person who hasn’t got chickenpox yet, make sure to get yourself a chickenpox vaccine before you enter the country.
- This viral infection attacks your respiratory system, like your nose, throat, and lungs. The vaccines for influenza are updated every year, and we highly recommend you get one as Nepal suffers from Swine flu and Bird Flu yearly.
Consult a General Practitioner for your pre-existing medical condition
Suppose you have a pre-existing medical condition and you plan to visit Nepal for trekking, mainly around high altitude trials, in that case, it is best to consult your general practitioner before.
Furthermore, having an official letter from your doctor regarding your condition, medication, and emergency contact can help if something like altitude sickness affects your medical condition.
Similarly, make sure to carry enough medications for your conditions and prepare a kit with clear labels for your hand carry.
Suppose you are going through pregnancy or suffering from conditions like sickle cell disease, pulmonary hypertension, obesity, hypoventilation syndrome, or congenital heart problems. In that case, it is best to avoid going for a trek in high altitude trials in the Himalayas.
Likewise, if you suffer from a pre-existing condition like obstructive sleep apnea, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, neuromuscular diseases, chronic kidney disease, and cystic fibrosis, make sure to be extremely cautious on your trip.
Furthermore, although doctors do not restrict you to trek if you have heart diseases, high blood pressure, epilepsy, anemia, or peptic ulcers, we recommend taking the precautions if you suffer from such conditions.
Prepare the right kit.
Make sure to prepare the right kit for your trip. While there is no restriction on the load that you are allowed to carry in Nepal, that does not mean you should take anything and everything.
Your kit for trekking should weigh around 9kg.
Your equipment must include things like boots, warm clothing, rain gear, sleeping bag, down jacket, sun cream, sun hat, first aid, mandatory medications, water, head torch, and whistle.
Also, we recommend you wear your hiking boots instead of keeping them in your luggage while you are flying so that, even if your luggage is lost or misplaced, you can replace other kits in Kathmandu or Pokhara. It will be tough for you to replace a pair of already broken boots.
Safety tips to follow during trekking
Being prepared and packing right for your trekking can make a huge difference but being cautious during the hike time is also essential for your safety. Here are some safety tips you should follow after you land and start your hike in Nepal:
Check weather conditions frequently.
Nepal usually has predictable weather, if you choose to trek in the Himalayas during peak season and avoid visiting during monsoon season. However, there can be times when some places may suffer from sudden snowfall throughout the year.
So, before you head out to ascend the trials, always make sure to be up to date about the weather conditions by checking weather forecasts. Such a step will keep you safe from getting caught in the bad weather in the middle of the hike. You will also be able to pack correct clothing and hiking gear in your daypack.
If you do not have access to the weather forecast, look for heavy clouds or dense fogs to predict the weather.
Water safety is one of the most important things to keep in mind while trekking in Nepal. While water is already a scarce commodity during trekking, most surface or tap water you come across in Nepal is not reliable to drink right away. It would be best to make sure the water is boiled or purified before consuming to avoid contracting any water-borne diseases.
Drinking water that is not boiled or purified can cause you to suffer from bacterial diarrhea, giardia, amoebic diarrhea, and cyclospora. Rehydration is quite crucial if you suffer from water-borne diseases. So, make sure you pack plenty of Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) for your trek.
Furthermore, we highly recommend you not to buy any bottled water during your trip as you can never be too sure where the water comes from, and it also tends to leave a substantial ecological footprint. Overall, only drink boiled water.
It is best to purchase water filters, UV purifiers, or Iodine/Chlorine to filter the water when you do not have access to boiled water. Likewise, some trails also have safe drinking water stations where you get ozone-treated water. You can drink the water found in such stations without any hesitation.
Understand how altitude sickness works
Altitude sickness or Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) is a condition that makes it difficult for oxygen to enter your body due to the low pressure in your surroundings. The higher you ascend, the harder it gets to receive the amount of oxygen you need to function.
Altitude sickness is a significant problem many are concerned about while trekking in Nepal. It can affect you regardless of your age, experience, or level of fitness.
The symptoms of altitude sickness develop when you ascend quickly to a high altitude. The condition mainly affects people from 2,500ft to 8,200ft.
When you suffer from Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), you tend to have symptoms like headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, tiredness, loss of appetite, and shortness of breath. If you suffer from any mentioned symptoms, you must immediately inform your guide or friend during your hike.
Ignoring the symptoms can lead you to suffer from severe conditions like High-altitude cerebral edema (HACE) and High-altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE).
HACE can develop quickly within a few hours if you do not treat AMS. It can cause swelling in the brain due to the lack of oxygen. HACE symptoms include headache, weakness, nausea and vomiting, loss of coordination, feeling confused, and hallucinations.
Likewise, on the other hand, HAPE only appears few days after your arrival at the high altitude surrounding. In this condition, fluid builds up in the lungs, and you suffer from symptoms like a blue tinge to the skin, breathing difficulties even while you are resting, tightness in the chest, consistent cough, weakness, and tiredness.
What can you do to avoid altitude sickness in Nepal?
The best way to avoid altitude sickness is to allow your body to acclimatize to the surrounding. So, after you reach 2,500 meters, try to limit your daily hikes to 500 meters. Also, make sure to have a rest day every three days or after a 1,000-meter trek.
Moreover, make sure you drink plenty of water and ORS and avoid drinking alcohol and smoking.
You can also take medication to prevent altitude sickness. Take Acetazolamide a.k.a Diamox, 1-2 days before you start to hike towards the high altitude.
In conclusion, always prepare beforehand and stay cautious during hikes when you plan to trek around Nepal. We also highly recommend you not to travel or roam around alone while you are hiking. It is always best to hire a guide or plan your trip through a travel agency instead of going for a solo trek in Nepal.
Overall, make sure to follow the safety tips we mentioned above, and you will be good to go for your adventurous trip to the Himalayan Kingdom hassle-free.