Nepal is one of the most popular tourist countries, attracting people who like to hike and appreciate the beauty of nature. It is not surprising, since more than 80% of its area is mountainous, and as many as 8 out of 14 eight-thousanders, including the highest one – Mount Everest – are right here!
Not everywhere you can wander alone, and a part of Nepal’s territory is closed for tourists. Fortunately, there are also so-called non-restricted areas, or areas where you can navigate on your own, without a guide. These include regions of Annapurna, Langtang, Dhaulagiri and Everest. Partially closed to independent wanderers areas can be opened by the medium of trekking agencies and a tour guide. Fees vary widely. They depend on the specific location, the length of time trekking and the date of expedition.
Any person who leaves for trekking in Nepal must be registered in TAAN – Trekking Association bringing together trekking agencies. Each person will receive a kind of membership card (the TIMS – Trekkers' Management Information System), which will be checked at the beginning and at the end of the route, and at the checkpoints, and the tourist’s personal details will be entered into the great book. To this day the entire process puzzles us, though undoubtedly the above procedure gives someone employment.
You can register in Kathmandu (Trekking Agents Association of Nepal. Maligaun, Ganeshthan, Kathmandu) and Pokhara (TAAN Pokhara. PO Box 257, Pokhara-6, Lakeside). This can also be done through a number of travel agencies, and often even through the hotel where we will spend the night. For help with formalities, they usually charge a small fee of a few dollars.
The membership card for individual tourists is green and costs $20, and for groups is blue and costs $10. In practice, however, tour agencies offer individual visitors blue cards and advise that in case of questions you should answer that our guide along with the rest of the group drank the day before so soundly that in the morning we decided not to wait for them (nobody asked us about that during the controls). You will also need two photos and a passport for your card (a photocopy of the passport will also be useful). Detailed information is available at TAAN’s website (www.taan.org.np).
Most interesting routes are passing through national parks and protected areas, therefore, you should also be prepared to pay for allowing access to the area. For example, a ticket to the national park around the Annapurna will cost you 2000 rupees (80 PLN) per person, and granted access to the Langtang National Park – 1000 rupees.
Perhaps the most favourable season of the year for Himalayan trekking is the autumn. The monsoon usually backs down in September – the next two months are the time of a very stable weather. The temperature in the mountains is enjoyable, and trails located higher are generally free of snow.
Trekking in December and January is still possible, but you should take into account the low temperatures. February is very frosty. Immediately it is followed by a dry and warm spring. It's, next to the autumn, the best time to visit Nepal. It's beautiful – all of nature comes to life. The sky is pretty often shrouded in clouds, so fans of mountain landscapes can be sometimes slightly disappointed.
Nepal’s climate is the least conducive to tourists in monsoon season – from June to September – when the unendurable heat is accompanied by very heavy rain. Some of the trekking trails change into torrents, and some roads may be cut off from the world by mud avalanches.
When we are planning a trip on our own, it is advisable to recognise the area. The logical step is to purchase a guide and maps. We had stocked up in Poland on a map of Annapurna region, for which on Allegro we had to pay about 50 PLN. On the spot it turned out that the same map costs 250 rupees, which is about 10 PLN. As as you can see, being provident does not always pay off. However, going to areas not covered in our guide, it is worth it to buy some good paper guide before you go. We can recommend The Himalayas of Nepal by Janusz Kurczab, which we used. In Kathmandu, reviewing Nepalese maps, we had the impression that they are characterised by great freedom of interpretation. Comparing maps of different publishers often looked like a game of ‘find the difference', in addition not so difficult. Thanks to the guide, we did not have any major problems with orientation and finding the right way.
Nepal is a country where the carefree drinking of tap water or stream water may end up with a small disaster. As in many other parts of the world, you have to be careful here. Unfortunately, sometimes the water is the habitat of various kinds of bacteria, viruses and protozoa. In the city we can easily buy bottled water, but in the mountains the matter is a little more complicated. In the region of Annapurna Chhomrong is the last place where you can buy liquids in plastic bottles. Above extends a plastic-free zone, where we buy only clearly more expensive cans, drinks in glass bottles or just boiled water. A good idea is to have your own gas cylinder and burner. Cooking is in fact the most effective method of treatment, which allows to get rid of any lurking on our health microorganisms. If you do not have your own camping stove, water should be treated with chemicals. We had provided ourselves with a specific named AQUAMIRA-AQUAVENTURE. According to the manufacturer, this agent effectively deals with any bacteria, viruses and protozoa. It is also easy to use – you have to mix a few drops of phosphoric acid with chlorine dioxide, wait a few minutes and pour into water, which after 15-30 minutes is suitable for safe consumption. On our example, we can say that the measure is effective. We treated this way the water from the streams, and even water supply systems in Kathmandu and have not experienced any unpleasant digestive ailments. With Aquamira we saved us a lot of rupees in Nepal.
A decent cream with a solid filter in Nepal, especially in the high mountains, is absolutely essential. It makes no sense to convince the unconvinced one to prevention of antitumor but perhaps experiences of the male half of our team will give someone food for thought. A few hours spent in the sun in the Annapurna Base and the camera kept in bare, unprotected with cream hands, resulted in suspicious, stinging, and oozing blisters healing with difficulty. Nothing more to add.
At altitudes above 3000 m above sea level cold nights and frosts are the norm. The sun sets after six o'clock, and sometimes the moisture penetrates into every crevice. Under such conditions, a warm sleeping bag (preferably down one) may be the traveller’s best friend.
The device that is completely necessary for trekking is also a decent torch. On the route, electricity is often a scarce product. Sometimes after the sunset we relied almost entirely on our own light source. We do not need to persuade that no torch on the night trip to the light-free bathroom would be a demanding challenge. Lack of access to electricity means also a need to take spare batteries for cameras, torches and other similar equipment and the use of any opportunities that may arise to recharge them. Sometimes you have to pay for using the socket. It should also be remembered that we will extend the battery life by putting them at night into the heated by our own body sleeping bag.
In Kathmandu, you can probably buy all the necessary medicines, but it is advisable to take the first-aid kit with basic equipment from home. It is good to have something for the gastrointestinal problems, since apparently 40% of people taking a journey to high risk countries, which also include Nepal, are suffering from diarrhoea. A broad-spectrum antibiotic will also be useful. If the infection gets you in town, without any problems you will get to the doctor, even through the hotel. Worse case looks on the trail. Without your own drugs, the retreat will be necessary. As for us, only headache tablets were useful (which are necessary after a few hours in the Nepali bus) and hydrogen peroxide (used to disinfect wounds suffered in a challenge with bloodthirsty leeches).
Leeches are annelids subdivision. Most of them live in the water, but there are some that can stay on land. They swim in the water like snakes, and step ashore using the suction cups. They put forward one of their ends, attach themselves to the ground, then shrink the rest of the body. In this way they can move surprisingly quickly.
Leeches feed on vertebrate blood (or body fluids of invertebrates) and can often be found on the Nepalese trails, especially in shady, damp locations. Until today leeches in a controlled manner are used as a remedy for many diseases, such as spinal disorders, varicose veins, arthralgia, rheumatism, hemorrhoids, kidney, liver, lung, heart and ear conditions, hypertension and hypotension, migraines, allergies, haematomas and many others. However, if you do not feel like using such therapy, you should avoid sitting down on the stones in damp places. When the humidity is higher, especially after the rains, it is worth it to put on higher boots that cover the ankles.
Leeches can also attack by jumping off trees and biting into the neck or back, which can often escape our attention, because before the parasite will slot the skin and start to suck the victim’s blood, first it firmly adheres tightly to it and produces analgesic substance that desensitizes the place where it will in a moment plunge its small teeth.
Literature gives some tips for dealing with leeches. Most often mentioned is the usage of salt, which has to be rubbed into place of sucking and then you have to wait until the bloodsucker goes itself. Apparently treating leeches with lighter or spray against insects also works. Leeches do not transmit any diseases, so absolutely you shouldn’t panic. The problem is the hirudin, which inhibits blood clotting. To quickly stop the bleeding, you need a good patch.
Legenda mówi, że ponoć dawno, dawno temu pewnemu pasterzowi uciekł jak i mężczyzna goniąc go, przebył całą dolinę. Stąd miała się wziąć nazwa Langtang, którą można by przetłumaczyć: ‘podążać za jakiem’. Ta...Dolina Langtang (Nepal) – przewodnik
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