I was trekking in Himalayas in Nepal together 50 days in November and December 2016. I took 2 treks: Everest trek (Everest base camp, Passes, Gokio lake, 6th lake with Cho-Yu base camp) and Dhaulagiri and Annapurna trek (Annapurna base camp, around Annapurna, Thilicho lake).
I was trekking without guide and without porter. As navigation I used offline maps in my smartphone (Maps.me) and paper maps. Treks are also marked and there are lot of turists. Except Dhaulagiri trek, almost no turists.
In Everest trek, I did not fly from Kathmandu to Lukla, which is popular among turists and expensive and dangerous. Cheaper way is to take a bus or shared jeep from Kathmandu to the closest possible village – Saleri or Phaplu (maybe in 2017 or later will be finished road even closer to Kharikola). This option makes your trek about 3 days longer then flying to Lukla, but more interesting (you can visit mountain monasteries there). Even longer option is taking bus from Kathmandu ti Jiri (another 2 or 3 days longer). The jeep journey from Kathmandu to Saleri takes around 12 (15) hours in very bumpy road. Need to be patient. It is adventure, and you travel with local people.
In Annapurna and Dhaulagiri trek, you just go from Pokhara by local or turistic bus to the village where you want to start your trek (there are many possibilities, ask your hostel reception).
When you trek just by your own without guide or porter, is good to bring these things with you:
- Smartphone with offline maps (Maps.me)
- Paper maps of these treks. You can buy easily in Kathmandu or Pokhara.
- Power-bank (usb batteries). Charging your phone or camera in mountain cottages is very expensive. If you have solar charger, bring it also.
- Sleeping bag; warm clothes; comfortable hiking shoes. Temperature can drop during the night to -20 degree celsius.
- Toilet paper; hats (one warm, second against sun); uv protective sun-glasses; gloves; other hygienic things
- Some chocolates, sweets and instant coffee (tea), because in the mountain cottages everything is very expensive. So, you just buy neccesary food there.
For trekking (Everest, Annapurna) you will need to buy for each trek TIMS card and park permit. You can buy it in goverment trek office in Kathmandu or Pokhara. In Everest trek, you can buy these permits in entry of the park for the same price as in office. But for Annapurna trek, buy it in office, not in the park, because price in the park is double. For just Dhaulagiri trek you do not need any permit, but when you want finish Dhaulagiri trek which is connected to Annapurna trek, you will need Annapurna permits.
In Everest and Annapurna treks, there are many mountain cottages and hotels. You can choose cheaper cottage, ussually it looks older and not so fancy as expensive hotels. Food, when you go more on the top is more expensive. In cottages, they will provide you a blanket, but your own sleeping bag is neccesary, because there are no heaters in the room. They make fire only in the restaurant.
In Dhaulagiri trek, there are mountain cottages only on begining (last in Italy base camp); in the top you have to camp in your tent and bring your own food and looking for the water sources. This is very beautifull and interesting trek. The cottages on the begining are more like homestays and camping in 5000 meters over the sea level is adventure. Prepare for it, because during night, the temperature can be -30 degree celsius. In december 2016, when I did this trek, there were no snow and trek was not dangerous. I was there alone.
If you do not want to trek in high altitude, you can just trek in low altitude, like Poon hill or Lang Tang trek. There are many others. There, you will definitely not need guide or porter.
When to trek:
In Nepal, there are 2 trekking season: spring (March, April) and autumn (October, November, December). Spring season is also climbing expedition season. During summer, there are rainy monsunes and very cloudly in mountain. These trekking season are dry, no cloudly, but more cold. When you want to avoid peak turistic time and save money, go in very begining of spring season (February, March) or, as I did, in the end of autumn season (November, December). You can go in ‘no peak’ season in January, but there are snow, very cold, and some treks and hotels can be closed (need to ask in government office).
Some tips for proper aclimatization for high altitude trekking (ever 5000 altitude meters):
Even if you are in very good physical shape, you can have high altitude sickness.
Everybody have to aclimatize. Stay 2 or more nights in 3700 or 4000 altitude meters (in Everest trek, it is in Naamche Bazar village. There are shops and bars, so you will not be bored.). If you are not sure, stay another 2 nights in 4300 (4400) altitude meters and do sort trek to some peak which is closer to 5000 meters. You can feel little presure in your head after that peak trekking, and when you come down, your body get used to during the night.
Do not be hurry when you entering high altitude. Some guided tours are very quick, and some turists have serious sickness and have to go down by helicopter and pay for it.
Some of my pictures from these treks:
=== Knaper ===