Safety tips for trekking in Nepal
While we talk about the safety aspect of trekking in Nepal, you can be assured that trekking here is a safer experience as compared to the mountaineering. While there have been incidents of disappearances and demise of climbers due to natural disasters, such incidents for trekkers are rare phenomenon. You need to follow the guidelines given by the government and by the trekking company and guide during the trekking expedition. However, for you to complete the trekking successfully, heed to the following safety tips.
Hire a Local Trekking company
While some choose to trek independently, it is advised that you trek with a local trekking company. You are suggested use the services provided by the local trekking companies and guides, for several obvious reasons. Local trekking company and local guide will prove to be a great resource at your disposal. Some of the reasons for hiring a local trekking company are:
- Procedure of obtaining trekking different kinds of trekking permits may be irritating for the foreign nationals while local companies manage it pretty smoothly
- Communication with the local company from the trekking trail is easier than communicating with the trekking company in your native place, should there arise any case of emergency or if you need to report any sense of discomfort during the trek
- Local trekking company and the guides under them know the intrinsic aspects (insights, Dos and Don’ts) not known to independent trekkers or foreign guides.
- Local trekking company and their guides know when to get off the trail, when to push yourself a little more, when to call it a day off and how to get accommodation in a teahouse along the trail in case you are forced to get off the trail quickly.
- You are effectively promoting ‘responsible tourism’ when you hire a local trekking company, using the service of local porters and guides
In case you prefer independent trekking, you need to be well informed of the trail. You must go for well-marked trail and not for an ‘off the beaten’ path as you may get lost in the trail. In case of emergency you are all on your own, if you don’t follow other trekking groups on the trail.
Diversify and transfer your risk! You may be tempted to go for trekking in Nepal without getting a travel insurance, however, it may be counterproductive to you should an emergency situation arise during the trek. Imagine yourself in a situation where you are above 4000 m altitude and are unable to continue further or return back all by yourself either because you are affected by AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) or you are hurt. Then you require evacuation by helicopter, the cost of which isn’t born by the trekking company or government but by yourself. Expensive and dangerous situation, isn’t it? Travel insurance from a reputed company is necessary that covers these costs including the cost due to disturbance of flight. So, be insured to ensure your safety.
It is very much certain that you shall be trekking into higher altitude (above 4000m) if you are trekking in Nepal. In altitude above 3000 meters, trekkers need to provide their body ample of time to get used to higher altitude (thinner air and the resulting internal changes in the body needs some time to get adapted to it). Ignoring this may get you into trouble due to Altitude Sickness. Choose the itinerary that embeds enough acclimatization (the act of providing body enough time to adapt to the increasing altitude and decreasing level of oxygen). Ignoring this may result into health issues including headaches, dizziness, nausea, and even death. ‘Climb High and Sleep Low’ is the guiding mantra during the trekking that ensures best chance of completing the trek while staying healthy.
Leave some identification and description of yours on the trail
The first thing to do is to leave a contact number and address that may be reached upon by the trekking company (for example, a number of someone you know back in your country) in case of emergency. When you go for a trekking in remote destinations you aren’t aware of, you need to leave your identification or description of the further section of the trekking route in teahouses along the route you are trekking in. While the trekking company takes care of these security issues during the trekking, you still need to be careful for personal safety as the trekking company may not be able to notice all the minor details, despite their sincere effort. This is more of a necessity in case you are lost from the trail and tracking you is upon the trekking company or other entities.
Get yourself a tracking device
One of the major reasons leading to the death of trekkers is that they can’t be located or tracked when an emergency situation occurs. The rescuers don’t even have an idea on where to start looking for them. You can carry a GPS Tracker such as a SPOT Satellite Messenger or the DeLorme in Reach to make sure that you are connected to the outside world. Besides, such tracking device can get you much needed assistance when you are in trouble. In case of emergency, press a single button and you can send signal to the rescuers about your exact location for effective evacuation, when needed.
Get a mobile phone with you
You may think that your cell phone may not be of much use while you are trekking in Nepal. Well, that may not be entirely correct! When you land in Nepal, you can still get cheap cell phones and sim cards in Kathmandu and stay connected with your friends and family back in your native place. You may be surprised to know that 3G/4G connections are provided by some telecommunication companies in Nepal that has signals even in Everest Base Camp. You may be surprised how often you can make and receive calls during the trekking expedition.
Inform about your itinerary to few others as well
This doesn’t mean that you need to sort of advertise about your trekking trip; still you must share the detailed itinerary with someone (basically about the destination you are heading to, tentative trekking trail you shall be following, where you’ll be on a particular day and the expected time you will be back). Also keep in mind that the itinerary may be subjected to change due to fluctuating weather conditions; inform others about these fluctuations as well. You may be in touch with your family and friends through internet connections (especially email them) about the changes in your itinerary and convey that you are safe in the trek.
Be prepared for change in weather conditions
Trekking in Nepal can be done depending upon the trekking region and the respective weather condition. Fall is the best season for trekking in Nepal followed by spring season in which all trekking trips are doable where the weather condition stays fairly stable. That said, you must be prepared for unpredictable and rapid changes in weather condition. Be prepared from your side for such fluctuations.
Make sure you have proper trekking gears with you along with the proper clothing that serves the purpose for different weather conditions. Its better that you have proper clothing and gears at your disposal and not using it, than not having it at all at the time of need. Have clothing that suits warm weather as well as cold and occasional drizzles along the trail. Such preparation makes the difference between fully enjoyed and barely completed trekking experience.
Watch out weather forecasts
During the Fall Season trekking is at its absolute best. However, weather in mountainous region can change at a short period of time. Keep an eye on the weather conditions presently on the trekking trail as well as the possible changes in the weather conditions in coming days. This will help you prepare physically and mentally for possible weather changes. Consult some reliable weather forecasting websites including website of Meteorological Forecasting Division of Nepal (www.mfd.gov.np) and others like Forecasts.com and MEteoExploration.com. Consult these websites before leaving for trekking.
Thus, we can say that trekking in Nepal is a wonderful adventurous experience if conducted with careful planning. Guidelines from concerned authorities, guidance from the local trekking companies and guides during the trek and preparation on the part of trekkers are some key ingredients for a successful trekking experience in Nepal. Come, trek and make memories in Nepal!