TRAVEL, EVACUATION, AND TRIP CANCELLATION INSURANCE
We strongly recommend that you purchase travel, evacuation, and trip cancellation insurance. There are cirumstances beyond the control of Nepal Alpine Guides that may affect your travel, such as flight cancellations, lost baggage, medical emergencies, political instability, or natural disaster to name a few. Unfortunately, we are generally not able to issue a refund in these circumstances, and your best means of obtaining a refund is through an insurance policy. Because our participants come from all over the world, we cannot recommend a specific policy that will suit the needs of all of our clientele. We recommend that you search on-line to find a policy that provides the coverage you are looking for. If you are a member of a nationally recognized alpine club, discounted travel and evacuation insurance is often available to members.
FOOD & WATER
We do not recommend that you eat uncooked vegetables or fruit that has not been peeled. Doing so may result in food-borne illness. Water should be either boiled, filtered, or treated with chemicals before drinking. Bottled water is fine as long as the bottle's seal was intact before opening. Whenever possible, we encourage our participants to filter their own water from local taps. This helps protect forests which are cut for firewood to boil water consumed by tourists. We do not recommend that you drink chaang or other alcoholic beverages that are low percentage alcohol and have not been boiled since these may result in illness. Raksi, a high percentage rice alcohol, and toongba, a fermented millet drink made with boiled water, are usually fine.
Food in Kathmandu is varied. It is possible to eat Italian, Mexican, Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Mediteranian, as well as various Nepali cuisines that are specialties of different regions and ethnic groups. Prices range from $2 USD for budget meals to $30 USD for high-end restaurants- many of which include live dance shows.
Food on treks and climbs is either prepared by a cook at a lodge or hotel along the trekking route, or by a basecamp chef. The exception to this rule is if you are doing a technical climb with advanced camps, in which case you will be responsible for preparing your own simple meals when you are above basecamp. The meals prepared at trekking lodges are more varied than you might imagine. They include noodle dishes, soups, curry, chapatis (flat bread), eggs, potato dishes, egg rolls, momos (Tibetan stuffed dumplings), Tibetan fried bread, buckwheat porridge, pizza, muesli, and the ever-present daal bhat (lentils and rice with vegetable curry). Drinks include coffee, black tea, milk tea, hot chocolate, ginger tea, lemon tea, masala tea, local alcohol, bottled soda and beer, and occassionally the famous Tibetan tea or "butter tea". In larger villages you may also find apple pie, cake, yak steak, chicken sizzler, and even cheese fondue. You have a 2,800 NPR per day buget for meals. Meals are much more expensive as you ascend in elevation due to the cost of transporting goods. This budget will cover three meals a day, but will not be enough for you to frequently order the most expensive menu items such as yak steak. If you wish to purchase a special meal, like a yak steak dinner, please ask your guide if it is within the budget. If not, you can still have the meal but you will be asked to contribute toward the bill. Bottled beverages and alcohol are not included in the cost of your trip. Expect to spend between $4 USD and $7 USD for a bottled beer or soft drink. These items are not part of your 2,800 NPR budget. Snacks, such as candy bars, cookies, and chips are also not included in the 2,800 NPR budget. If you would like to purchase snacks, you must do so with your own money. We recommend a daily snack budget of $6 USD. This is usually more than enough, especially if you have brought some of your favorite snacks with you from home or from Kathmandu.
If you are staying at a climbing basecamp with us, our basecamp chef will prepare meals for you each day. These meals are often similar to those served at trekking lodges, though our chefs purchase local ingredients from farmers along the route, so the food is very fresh and most find it more flavorful than the options available at lodges. We also try to make simple foods for the first day or two at basecamp, such as soups, noodle dishes, and sandwiches, to help your digestive system adjust to the altitude. After completing a climb you may be treated to specialty items like fried wontons or cheese and sausage loaded french fries.
What are the causes?
Traveler’s diarrhea is a “catch-all” that refers to illness that is spread by bacteria, protozoa, and viruses. Contaminated food and water are the most obvious sources. Wind-blown dust contaminated with human or animal feces is another source. Some bacteria and viruses can pass to others by touching surfaces or sharing bedding or clothing. Exposure to high elevation alone can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea- even when there is no microbial infection.
Only consume water that has been boiled, filtered, treated with chemicals, or a combination of the above. I recommend filtered and boiled. Bottled beverages are safe to drink if the seal is not broken, but create plastic waste that is difficult to dispose of responsibly in Nepal. Only consume foods that have been thoroughly cooked. Fresh vegetables and fruits often harbor bacteria. If you would like to eat fresh vegetables/fruit, check to see if they have been treated in an iodine/water solution. You may also peel fruit and veg to reduce the likelihood of infection. Wash hands frequently with soap and water. Use hand sanitizer if hand washing is not possible. Bring two rolls of double-ply toilet paper from your home country. Toilet paper in Nepal tends to be thin and tears easily, making the ‘fecal-oral’ route of contamination more likely- especially if you have diarrhea. Avoid eating an abundance of sweet or sugary food. Bacteria love it. Bring extra pairs of underwear. You never know what could happen if things get interesting “down there”. Women should bring two spare pairs of cotton underwear (breathable) and medication for yeast infections and UTIs. Care for yourself properly and maintain hydration at high elevation.
For those who have traveled previously in the developing world, this is a word of caution. Traveler’s diarrhea in Nepal is not to be underestimated. Dehydration is dangerous, especially at altitude when maintaining proper hydration without an infection is already difficult. Because of our remote setting in Nepal, we do not recommend letting a sickness run its course without using medication. Medication is most effective if it is used as soon as symptoms present themselves. If you wait, you may no longer be able to keep down liquid, and this means you will also not be able to keep down medications. This can require evacuation lasting many days, require the help of other expedition members, and result in a change of itinerary for your group. Needless to say, such a situation can create tension between trekking and expedition members. If you are feeling ill, please inform your guide as soon as possible and take action to treat a possible infection.
Having said this, it is not uncommon for first-time visitors to Nepal to become ill during an extended trip, and when dealt with swiftly and effectively sickness is short-lived and requires little more than a few hours of rest.
Prophylactics (preventative medications)
Bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol)
Many travel doctors recommend taking two, 262-mg tablets of Pepto four times a day with food. This has been shown to reduce the likelihood of bacterial infection by as much as 42%. However, tell your doctor if you will be using Diamox (acetazolamide) to treat altitude sickness, since combining these two medications may prevent the uptake of potassium. You may wish to stop using Pepto at least a day before taking Diamox.
Although using antibiotics as a prophylactic (preventatively) has been shown to be up to 95% effective against bacterial infection, it is not recommended to use antibiotics in this way due to the possibility of developing bacterial resistance. Antibiotics also increase sensitivity to sunlight, which is severe at altitude.
No other prophylactics have been shown to have a significant affect on traveler’s diarrhea. If you would like to use other therapies or medications- even herbal medications- make sure to consult your doctor first. Some herbal supplements can cause problems at altitude.
Treatment (After the first loose stool)
Take an adult dose of loperamide (brand name Imodium) & an antibiotic such as Ciprofloaxin “Cipro” or Azithromycin. In the United States, obtaining antibiotics requires a prescription. Many participants purchase medications in Nepal where they are cheaper, but doing so also presents some risks since you may be allergic to these medications or they interact with other medication that you are taking. A doctor will give you the best information on this matter.
Maintain hydration with electrolytes and warm liquids, and eliminate caffeine, animal fats, and dairy from your diet. Soup, plain noodles, rice, and salty crackers are good choices.
Treatment for Intense bowel cramping, foul smelling gas, diarrhea/nausea
Take an adult dose of Loperamide (brand name Imodium) & begin a course of an antibiotic such as Ciprofloaxin “Cipro” or Azithromycin. Also begin a course of metronidazole or tinidazole (brand name “Flagyl”) or another antimicrobial that targets protozoa such as Giardia. Antibiotics alone will not treat protozoa infections, and if left untreated, these infections are some of the most severe. Symptoms often reemerge after periods of dormancy.
Maintain hydration with electrolytes and warm liquids, and eliminate caffeine, animal fats, and dairy from your diet. Soup, plain noodles, rice, and salty crackers are good choices.
Treatment of severe nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, bowel cramping
Immediately take an anti-nausea medication, such as Meclizine. Dramamine is a common motion sickness medication that may be substituted, but is not as effective. Wait 20 minutes for the medication to take affect, then follow the directions immediately above, including taking Loperamide, Cipro, and Flagyl.
Treatment for prolonged vomiting, diarrhea, inability to keep-down food
Take nothing. No food, no water, no medication. The goal is not to trigger any more vomiting or diarrhea, since this will result in further dehydration. Wait at least two hours after the last episode of diarrhea/vomiting, and then carefully sip plain water (no electrolytes), a few tablespoons at a time. After ¼ of a liter of water has been kept down, take anti-nausea medication. Continue to rehydrate with small sips of water, changing to an electrolyte solution after ½ of a liter has been drunk. Finally, after a liter of fluid has been consumed, take Luperimide. Eat a cracker or other plain food in nibbles to determine if taking antibiotics will be possible. If the cracker stays down, begin a course of antibiotics. If this medication stays down, wait 20 minutes and begin a course of Flagyl. Take another anti-nausea tablet according to the directions of the medication (usually once every 4 hrs.). Continue to rehydrate slowly with electrolyte beverage. Only after you have drunk at least one liter of water and one liter of electrolyte beverage should you attempt to eat anything. Often it is best to sleep on an empty stomach before attempting food. Always hydrate before taking food or medication. Continue to rehydrate with electrolytes and eat simple foods while finishing the course of your medications.
For more information:
David J. Diemert (2006). Prevention and Self-treatment of Traveler’s Diarrhea. Clinical Microbial Reviews. July; 19(3): 583–594. Online: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1539099/
Most trekking routes and climbing approaches pass through villages where people live for some or all of the year. Many villagers have built additions onto their homes for tourists to use as lodges. Others have built separate buildings that are used exclusively by tourists. Whatever the arrangement, the lodging experience is generally similar. Rooms are constructed of plywood, have a door with a lock, and contain two separate beds, complete with mattresses, pillows, and sometimes blankets. Generally you will use your sleeping bag to ensure you stay warm enough at night. Most lodges have an outhouse containing a squat toilet outside, while some along major trekking routes, like the Everest Base Camp Trek, have Western-style toilets in shared bathrooms within the lodge. Gas and solar-heated showers are available in larger villages for an additional charge (usually between $3 and $6 USD). Meals are served in a separate dining room with a wood-stove at its center. This is usually the only heat available outside the cooking fire in the kitchen. Dining rooms have benches and tables, and in some wealthier villages there may even be televisions that frequently play Bollywood musicals.
If you are on a homestay trek or another trip that contains a homestay, then the lodging experience is quite different. On these trips you will be staying in peoples' homes rather than in lodges. If you are staying in a Sherpa home, then you will sleep on benches that double as beds around the perimeter of a multi-purpose room, just as the family does. There will be no menu, since you will eat whatever meal the family is preparing that day. You may participate in cooking, or may even help pick vegetables from the garden or milk a cow in order to help with meal preparation. Toilets are usually stilted pit-toilets outside the home. On our homestay treks we strive to help you understand local culture by encouraging active participation in daily life.
For climbing trips, we provide spacious and sturdy basecamp tents. These are similar models to the Northface Bastion 4. We also provide a cooktent, and for larger group sizes, an additional dining tent. If you are doing a technical peak requiring advanced camps above base camp, you may be asked to provide your own light-weight climbing tent to use at higher camps. This allows us to move between two or more established camps in order to acclimatize.
Most bathrooms in Nepal contain a squat toilet, a pitcher, soap, a basin of water, and sometimes an additional hand washing area either inside or outside the toilet area. Local custom is to use the toilet, wipe with the LEFT hand, use the RIGHT hand to handle the pitcher in order to wash your left hand over the toilet (not over the water basin), flush the toilet by dumping a few pitchers full of water into the toilet, then open the toilet door with your right hand and complete washing your hands at the hand washing station. Locals always keep the finger nails of their wiping fingers trimmed very short. Many long-time travelers in Asia and North Africa prefer this method, but we understand that most first-time travelers to Nepal from Western countries will not want to adopt the local method. If you prefer not to use your hand to wipe, then be sure to carry toilet paper with you at all times (you will not find it in public restrooms) and be prepared to pack the used TP out in a paper bag that is inside a sealed plastic bag if you are not certain that local plumbing will handle a wad of TP. You can then burn the paper bag full of used TP in a fire-safe location- such as inside the wood-burning stove of a trekking lodge. Do not burn the bag in a cooking fire. This would be like someone burning used TP on your gas stove before you were about to fry eggs in the morning. If you choose to burn the bag outside, then do so in a talus field or another location where you are one-hundred percent certain there is no fire hazard. We have seen several wildfires caused by attempts to burn trash, and these sometimes result in disaster for local people who lose homes, crops, or even loved-ones in the resulting blaze.
How difficult is trekking in Nepal? First, let me state the obvious by saying that difficulty is subjective, and when it comes to trekking, difficulty will depend upon your fitness, health, experience in the particular terrain, weather at the time of your trek, expectations, and genetic factors such as rate of acclimatization. Now let me do my best to answer the question.
If your trek is located in the southern part of Nepal, called the Terai, then your elevation will only be a few hundred feet above sea level. Trekkers in this region will encounter hills which are a few hundred feet high, mud, occassionally dense forest, and possibly river crossings. The greatest challenges will be sun, heat, humidity, and in monsoon season (June-August) torrential rain. Although elevation gain and loss is minimal in this region, many trekkers feel tired due to the heat.
If portions of your trek are located between 2,000 ft. and 10,000 ft. in elevation, then you are trekking in an area known as the "Middle Hills". This area is characterized by deep river gorges that separate steep ridges. This is one of the most agriculturally diverse regions of Nepal due to the variety of elevations and the moderate climate. As a result, the Middle Hills are populated with many subsistence farming communities of various ethnic and caste groups, making cultural trekking very popular. The trekking here requires good leg strength due to elevation gain and loss as trails work their way along ridges, down to river valleys, and back up to ridges and over passes. It would not be uncommon to gain three-thousand feet, lose two-thousand feet, and gain another three-thousand feet before reaching the next village where you would stay for the night. Although the effects of high elevation are minimal at these moderate elevations, many trekkers find trekking in these region physically challenging due to the undulating topography.
If portions of your trek are between 10,000 ft. and 18,000 ft., then you are trekking in the Mountain Zone. Contrary to what you might think, trekking in this zone is often less demanding on your leg muscles than trekking in the Middle Hills. This is because ancient glaciers carved wide valleys that permit trails to more gradually ascend the terrain than at lower elevations. There are places where trails ascend out of a glacial valley, over a pass, and drop into another glacial valley, and these are exceptions to the rule. Although leg strength may not be taxed as much as trekking through the Middle Hills, the Mountain Zone will certainly require aerobic stamina. Your heart-rate and respiratory-rate while trekking will be elevated to equal that of a light jog or even a run at especially high elevations. For this reason it is very important to have good cardiac and respiratory health.
A characteristic of Nepal's mountain topography that may surprise European and North American trekkers is the elevation of treeline and snowline. Treeline is frequently above 14,000 ft., while permanent snowline is above16,400 ft. Grasslands extend as high as 18,000 ft. This is a result of Nepal's latitude, which is similar to that of Florida or Egypt. The result is a high elevation landscape which resembles that of much lower elevations in Europe or North America. It is possible to trek on easily defined trails above 17,000 ft. without any knowledge of mountaineering. A word of caution, however, since if a storm passes through it may dump as much as four-feet of snow in a single night, making travel on foot nearly impossible and introducing the serious risk of avalanche. Many unguided high elevation trekkers have become lost in storms and buried by avalanches because the conditions when they departed their lodge in the morning did not cause them concern.
At the time of writing this (2016) wireless internet is becoming widely available at lodges along the Everest Base Camp Trek and in the Annapurna Region. The cost is generally $5 USD for 100 minutes. If you have a smart phone with an international data plan, you can also access internet this way from most locations where you have a clear view in two directions. Local data plans are very affordable. In either case, internet tends to be slow and is best used for email rather than loading websites that have images. In some locations, however, uploading pictures and even using Skype is possible. I suspect internet will only improve in the future. If you are doing a trek in a more remote area, such as Dolpo, Katchenjunga, or the Barun Valley, it is unlikely that you will find internet along your route.
Most hotels in Kathmandu offer complimentary internet. If the service is not fast enough for you, there are numerous internet cafes located in the Thamel district of Kathmandu where you will be staying before and after your trip. Just ask your guide to point one out to you.
Hot showers are available in your hotel room in Kathmandu on either end of your trek or climb. Gas and solar heated showers are available along your trekking route in larger villages for a charge of between $3 USD and $7 USD (not included in trip cost). Showers are also sometimes available at climbing basecamps if you are on a climbing trip. These are solar-heated, and their temperature is dependent upon the weather.
CELL PHONE USE
It is relatively simple to get an international plan for your cell phone for the length of time you will be in Nepal. Check with your provider. To get the best coverage for your phone and the cheapest international rates, consider purchasing a SIM card in Kathmandu. This may require a different phone than the one you own, since not all phones accept SIM cards. Ncell has the best coverage in Nepal at the time of writing (2016), and the SIM card will cost you less than $5 USD. After purchasing the card, you will also need to purchase minutes for your phone. This can easily be done at any of the small shops selling groceries in Thamel, Kathmandu where your hotel is located. At the time of writing, a one-minute call to the UK will cost 5 NPR/minute, to the USA 2 NPR/minute, Germany 5 NPR/minute, Canada 2 NPR/minute, Sweden 5 NPR/minute. Most other countries are 5 NPR/minute or less, with a few countries costing 48 NPR/minute. The current exchange rate for NPR to USD is 1 NPR is equal to roughly 1 cent (0.01 USD).
Cell reception in the mountains of Nepal is getting better every year, and is generally better than what you would expect to find in similarly isolated areas in North America. The Everest Region (Solukhumbu) has reception in most large villages, as does the Annapurna Region. Cities, such as Kathmandu and Pokhara, also have good coverage. If you are heading into a more remote region, or you are located at the bottom of a canyon or gorge, cell reception is likely to be limited or non-existant.
ELECTRICITY AND BATTERY CHARGING
In Kathmandu, there may be no power for twelve to eighteen hours per day, depending upon the load shedding schedule and the current availability of electricity from hydropower. This means that most hotels and restaraunts will not have power from the electrical grid during this time, but most will have solar lights. Larger businesses, or those with more money, will have a generator to supply power during this time. Unfortunately the electricity schedule changes every day, so you must look online or in a local paper to see the load shedding schedule for the week. In otherwords, if you want to use WiFi or charge your devices, you must do so during the hours when there is electricity, or you must find a local business that has a generator. Our favorite place to use internet and charge devices when there is no power is at Himalayan Java Cofee, located at Tridevi Marg, Keshar Mahal Marg, 44600. This is within walking distance of your hotel. Your guide or any local will know where it is located. They also have delicious coffee, sandwiches, and desert.
Because of Nepal's proximity to the equator combined with its impressive spread of altitudes from sea level to over eight-thousand-meters, it is possible to experience 100 F (38 C) and 10 F (-12 C) temperatures within the same week of trekking if you are traveling from the low elevation Terai into the Himalaya. Monthly average temperatures in Kathmandu range from 48 F (9 C) in January to 73 F (23 C) in June, with daytime temperatures as high as 84 F (29 C) in June and nighttime lows as low as 36 F (2 C) in January.
Nepal has a monsoon climate, which means that heavy rain should be expected almost every day from late May through early September. The best months for trekking and climbing in the mountains are mid October-early January, and late March through late April. The exception is if you plan to go to the far west of Nepal, into such places as Dolpo, which lie in the rainshadow of the Himalaya. These locations can be visited during the monsoon season when they are warmer and inhabitants have not migrated south. Many travelers visit Nepal during the summer monsoon season, and it is still possible to see incredible scenery if you are willing to keep a flexible itinerary to account for flight cancellations and other transportation delays that result from stormy weather. And of course, pack a sturdy umbrella.
Table of Average Monthly Temperatures (C) and Precipitation (mm)
FLIGHT DELAYS AND CANCELLATIONS
Although food and lodging are not covered in your trip cost before or after the trip dates provided on your itinerary, we strongly reccommend that you arrive in Nepal at least two days before the beginning of your itinerary, and depart at least two days after. This is because in the event your flight to Kathmandu is delayed, you will still arrive in time to join the group in Kathmandu before they depart for the mountains. If you arrive after your group has already departed for their trek or climb, we will make every effort to connect you to your group, but doing so may require rebooking your internal flights or hiring private transportation which will have an additional cost. If you are considerably late, it may not be possible to connect you with your goup, and because all permits have been paid and staff have been hired for your trip, it will not be possible to issue a refund. In the event your baggage is lost en route to Nepal, the extra time at the beginning of your trip will also allow time to find your baggage in Kathmandu before departing on your trip. Having extra time at the end of the trip is often even more important, since it is not uncommon for internal flights and other transportation to be delayed or cancelled due to bad weather.
HIGH ELEVATION CONCERNS
Nepal is known for high mountains, and as a result travelers are often concerned about getting altitude illness. We design itineraries that have built-in acclimatization days, a slow rate of ascent, and extra days in the event of bad weather or altitude illness. This adds safety and comfort to our trips that has played a large role in our summit success rate and favorable reputation. This is also why our trips tend to be longer than trips offered by other Nepalese companies.
Unfortunately, despite these measures some trekkers and climbers who travel above 11,000 ft. (3,350 m) will experience mild Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). Symptoms may include headache, nausea, loss of apetite, and general fatigue.
Below is what we reccommend to prevent and treat AMS.
After arriving at a higher elevation (above 7,000 ft.), engage in low intensity exercise, such as walking. Avoid lying down or napping even if you are tired, since this will lower your respiratory rate and exasperate symptoms. Drink plenty of warm fluids with sugar, such as tea or hot chocolate. Caffeine and ibuprofin (400 to 600mg) also tend to help. Do not eat heavy meals when you first arrive at high elevation, particularly those that have large amounts of animal fat or dairy. Stay out of the sun, and keep your body temperature cool. The morning is when people experience the most severe symptoms, since the respiratory rate is slowed during sleep. Upon waking-up, sit-up slowly, wait a full minute, and then rise to your feet. If you have a headache, drink some caffeinated tea and walk for fifteen minutes to increase your respiratory rate and blood circulation. Most people experience relief immediately after light exercise and ingesting fluids.
Those with mild asthma are capable of participating in high elevation trekking, though special precautions should be taken. While trekking dust and dry high elevation air combine to create challenging circumstances for those with asthma. Maintaining proper hydration, moving slowly, and taking breaks in the shade is very important. Albuterol must be carried by participants (two inhalers) and one inhaler must also be provided to the guide or to a family member or friend who knows how to administer it.
If you are traveling to elevations above 11,000 ft., it is advised to take 125mg (½ of a 250 mg tablet) of acetazolomide (brand name Diamox) the evening before ascending above 11,000 ft., and another 125mg every morning and evening you spend above 11,000 ft. Discontinue the dose when you begin descending. Some people with an allergy to sulfa drugs have a sensitivity to acetazolomide, and it can interact with some medications. For these reasons we recommend that you speak with a medical doctor before using acetazolomide. If you have a history of headaches at altitude, we also reccommend you take 400 to 600mg of ibuprofin 45 minutes before ascent. Some participants have also had good results with Excedrin, which contains acetominophen, asprin, and caffeine.
If you will be traveling above 16,000 ft. (4,877m) we also reccommend that you carry dexamethasone (brand name Decadron). This medication is for Cerebral Edema, which is a severe condition caused by inflamation of the brain due to exposure to high altitude. This condition is extremely rare, but can be deadly if untreated. Dexamethosone is a prescription drug in most Western countries, and you should speak with your doctor about obtaining a prescription and other information such as dosage and use.
A list of recommended medication is provided in the packing list associated with your trip.
COSTS IN NEPAL
Below is a table of costs for typical items in Nepal in 2016. Costs are in USD for ease of understanding but payment should be in Nepali Rupees (NPR):
PROTECTING THE HIMALAYAN ENVIRONMENT
We abide by the following practices and ask our trip participants to do the same whenever possible:
Filter your own water rather than purchasing boiled water from villages that use firewood for cooking.
By filtering our own water we help reduce the cutting of local wood to boil the water, which is resulting in deforestation throughout the country.
If your trip takes place away from the popular treks of the Everest Region and Annapurna Region we suggest that you bring your own water filter to reduce the impact of your stay on the local forests. Along popular trekking routes propane, kerosene, and butane are brought-up from major cities for cooking fuel.
Pack-out or burn toilet paper.
Many villages have plumbing that cannot handle toilet paper, or rely on pit toilets where toilet paper will not fully decompose. In these circumstances it is better to carry your used toilet paper with you in a paper bag that is enclosed in a sealed plastic bag (double-bagged) until the paper bag can be burned in a fire-safe location. The same applies if you need to go while you are on the trail. If you need to deficate where there are no toilet facilities, solid waste should be buried four-to-six inches below ground level. If you do not have a trowel, you can dig with the heel of your shoe or a rock.
Pack-out all trash, including beer bottles, soda bottles, wrappers, feminine hygiene products, and wet-wipes.
All trash in Nepal's mountains is disposed of in local landfills. In other words, if you purchase a soda at 16,000 ft. and throw the bottle in a trash can in your lodge, that soda bottle will be thrown in a hole behind the lodge where it will stay indefinitely. If you look carefully while you are on a popular trekking route, you will see overflowing landfills in every major village. By packing-out your trash and disposing of waste in Kathmandu, you help protect Nepal's mountain environment.
Eat local food and drink local drink whenever possible.
By eating food that is grown locally you reduce the impact of food transport while supporting the local economy. You also have a better culinary experience. The impact of food transport includes trucking the food from Kathmandu or Pokhara to trailheads, moving the food by pack animal to higher elevations, and finally using porters to transport the food through national parks and conservation areas where pack animals are not allowed.
Pack-out human waste from climbing basecamps.
With the help of the NGO "Karma Project", we have begun using a blue-barrel system to pack-out human waste from our climbing basecamps. By packing-out our waste we protect watersheds that are used by tourists and locals alike for drinking water. We also preserve the visual and olfactory experience of the mountains for future climbers and trekkers. We were the first Nepali company to use such a system, and we hope that other tourism companies across Nepal adopt this policy too.
PROTECTING LOCAL PEOPLE AND CULTURES
By booking a trip with us you are helping to protect local people in a variety of ways. Nepal Alpine Guides was founded by Karma Geljen Sherpa who experienced abuse as a porter and guide in the mountain tourism industry of Nepal. He was seldom provided with insurance, proper training or equipment, or even basic clothing such as shoes so he could do his work in the mountains. His only payment for some expeditions were tips, which frequently never came. Karma was able to build Nepal Alpine Guides with the help of former clients and friends so that he could employ tourism workers for good wages, provide insurance, and provide proper equipment, clothing, and training. In addition, Nepal Alpine Guides is supported by Karma Project, an NGO that contributes funding to medical treatment, education, and infrastructure in the villages where mountain tourism workers live. Every time you book a trip through Nepal Alpine Guides, you contribute to Karma Project, and therefore to the welfare of hundreds of villagers across Nepal.